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Bottle Alley reflects the blue and white colours of the UN to mark the coming into force of the ban on nuclear weapons.

UN nuclear weapons ban comes into force

Friday 22 January marked a historic moment as a United Nations ban on nuclear weapons officially came into force. Hastings was among the many municipalities to support the treaty when Hastings Borough Council voted in favour last October. The Hastings Against War group recently issued a press release detailing what this will mean for the continued global bid towards nuclear disarmament. Words and pictures supplied by John Enefer.

History was made on the 22 January when for the first time a ban on nuclear weapons came into force. The United Nations (UN) Treaty was backed by a majority of countries in 2017 and ratified last year. Hastings gave its support for the treaty last October when a Council motion passed by a comfortable majority.

The vote meant Hastings joined municipalities including Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Philadelphia and Edinburgh in endorsing a treaty which makes it illegal for participating nations to produce, test, stockpile or transfer nuclear weapons, and to have nuclear weapons deployed on their territories .

Nuclear weapons have been controversial since being used by the US air-force against Japan in 1945. The attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused an estimated 185,000 deaths, including those who perished from radiation sickness, at times years after the atomic blasts.

 The indirect effects of a deliberate or accidental use of nuclear weapons could potentially be deadlier than the direct impacts, with people’s access to food across a vast area being affected in the aftermath as a result of changes caused to the climate and the normal flow of life.

A 2013 report, Unspeakable Suffering, which drew on expert opinion from different fields, detailed how even a regional nuclear war would threaten the food security of well over a billion people as a result of crop yields being reduced, food prices rising and food exports being suspended. It was these concerns about the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons which lay behind the UN Treaty coming into being.

The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons follows earlier bans of less lethal weapons – landmines, cluster bombs, biological and chemical weapons. Although the ban isn’t legally binding on those states like Britain which have not signed the treaty, campaigners hope it will rob nuclear weapons of their ‘respectability’ and begin their gradual elimination from the world.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has estimated that Britain’s nuclear weapons system, Trident, will cost £205 billion over its lifetime, including the ‘decommissioning’ costs at the end of its lifetime.

Cllr Margi O’ Callaghan (left) and Cllr Maya Evans  marking the moment in Silverhill.

The ban will make it more difficult to finance nuclear weapons as many financial institutions will not want to be seen to be funding armaments outlawed across the world. ABP, Europe’s largest pension fund, has already committed to scrapping its investments in nuclear weapons producers.

On the day the Treaty entered into force the blue and white colours of the UN shone in Bottle Alley as the council marked the day in a Covid-secure way.

Two of the local Councillors who spoke in favour of the Council Motion last year, Maya Evans and Margi O’Callaghan, publicized the ban coming into force at a busy Silverhill intersection, bearing the UN flag and a flag of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was pivotal in the treaty happening.

Margi said she was “happy to fly the UN flag today in Silverhill to mark the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Keeping a peaceful and nuclear free world is important to me and it was imperative that this was marked within my community.”

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Posted 19:01 Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021 In: Campaigns

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