Flying the flags – councillors mark UN ban on nuclear weapons

Hollington and Silverhill councillors Maya Evans and Margi O’Callaghan very publicly celebrated a historic moment last week when a United Nations (UN) treaty came in to force that, for the first time, places a ban on nuclear weapons.

The two women flew the UN flag and the flag of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons group (ICAN), which was pivotal in the treaty happening.

In what leading campaigners are describing as ‘a new chapter for nuclear disarmament’, the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons came in to force on Friday (Jan 22nd) after Honduras became the 50th member state of the United Nations to ratify the treaty.

Councillors O’Callaghan and Evans were pivotal last year in bringing a motion before Hastings Borough Council asking that the town should back the treaty – the motion passed by a comfortable majority seeing Hastings join town and cities around the world including Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Philadelphia and Edinburgh in endorsing the 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 .

“Keeping a peaceful and nuclear free world is important to me and it was imperative that this was marked within my community.”

Councillor Margi O’Callaghan

Hastings Against War has warmly welcomed the news and praised the councillors actions, pointing out that nuclear weapons have been controversial since being used by the US air-force against Japan in 1945 when attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused an estimated 185,000 deaths, including those who perished from radiation-sickness years after the atomic blasts.

A spokesman for Hastings Against War said this week: “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, 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. .

On the day the Treaty entered came in to force the blue and white colours of the UN shone in Bottle Alley.

Ms O’Callaghan said 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.”

From last October’s council meeting,

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