What Can You Do Through Mayors for Peace?

A speech by Phyllis Creighton for the Canadian Peace Alliance Conference, 6 Dec. 2008 at Ryerson University, Student Campus Centre

Mayors for Peace is potentially a useful instrument in the dangerous times we live in. The world bristles with vast nuclear arsenals — 25,000 nuclear weapons. The probability they will be used is increasing. The US, UK, France, and Russia – hence NATO—have first-use policies. In both Russia and the US several thousand nuclear missiles on launch-on-warning, could be dispatched within 15 minutes. Far more powerful than those used in 1945, today’s nuclear weapons could end civilization and even much of humankind. Since there’s also an inextricable link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power, massive proliferation looms—some 30 currently non-nuclear weapons states have nuclear power. Disarmament stalls interminably, the world’s leaders sleepwalk towards annihilation, and the public is unaware, or apathetic.

Mayors for Peace came into being in the Cold War, at the 2nd UN Special Session on Disarmament in June 1982 when Hiroshima’s mayor proposed a program to promote solidarity of cities toward nuclear weapons abolition. The mayor of Nagasaki soon joined him to call on the world’s mayors to join in. Mayors for Peace is now a UN NGO having special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council; 2,536 mayors from 133 countries and regions are mayors for peace, including 70 Canadians. In 2003 it launched the 2020 Vision campaign for a world free of nuclear weapons by 2020. In 2006, on the tenth anniversary of the International Court of Justice advisory opinion declaring use or threat of use of nuclear weapons in general illegal, Mayors for Peace took the next step. It issued the Good Faith Challenge to states parties to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty governments to fulfil their obligation, under its Article 6, to accomplish total nuclear disarmament, an obligation the court had reiterated. Remember the Good Faith Challenge: use it to prod our government, which signed the NPT, to act for disarmament. Remember, too, that India, Pakistan, and Israel, all nuclear weapons states, did not sign the NPT.

Cities, where more than half of humanity now resides, are age-old targets for attack. The capacity to destroy them remains at the core of the nuclear weapons states’ national security policies. Mayors for Peace also launched in 2006 CANT – Cities are not Targets! The purpose of CANT is to raise a loud “NO” from cities, mayors and citizens saying “you may not target cities, you may not target children!” National governments need to know that cities expect them to act. In 2007 Hiroshima sent letters to the governments of Japan and of all the nuclear-armed states demanding nuclear weapons be abolished and in the meantime cities not be targeted. The hope is, then, not to shift the nuclear threat away from cities but to promote abolition. To that end there is a petition on the Mayors for Peace website (www.mayorsforpeace.org/) open for citizens to print out and sign. In October Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima submitted petitions with 370,221 signatures to the President of the UN General Assembly.

He also told him about the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, which Mayors for Peace put forward in May 2008. This protocol is complementary to the NPT and is designed to facilitate fulfilling the obligations under Article VI. Its aims are set out in two articles. Article I covers activities of nuclear weapons states that are to cease—activities related to acquiring nuclear weapons and incorporating them into their military doctrines and practices, but forbidden to non-nuclear states parties by the NPT. It also covers the need for them to place their nuclear weapons and weapon-usable fissile material in safe, secure storage as soon as possible and for all NPT states possessing weapons-usable fissile material to deal with this material similarly.

Article II stipulates that states parties to this protocol shall pursue in good faith negotiations to standardize and legally codify these measures to be taken, with agreement and implementation of them by 2015. Negotiations are also to address the elimination of nuclear weapons as well as of their delivery vehicles, launch platforms, and command and control systems, production and testing facilities, and weapon-usable fissile material stocks. These negotiations are to have a Nuclear Weapons Convention or Framework Agreement as their objective. The article also stipulates a secretariat be set up and remain in operation until negotiations are concluded and says every effort should be made to ensure agreement and implementation of the elimination measures by 2020. The implementation is to take place under strict and effective international control and international institutions capable of ensuring maintenance of a nuclear weapon free world are to be provided.

The Mayors for Peace website has a Cities Appeal in support of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol for print-out and signing by any mayor or governor, city councilor, or other elected local authority representative. Signing it doesn’t make you a member of Mayors for Peace. This Cities Appeal challenges all states to consider and adopt the Hiroshima-Nagasaki protocol as a direct means of fulfilling the promise of the NPT by 2020, and to undertake in good faith to present to the 65th General Assembly in September 2010 the envisioned Nuclear Weapons Convention or Framework Agreement. Mayors for Peace also brought delegations of mayors to the two Preparatory Committee meetings for the 2010 NPT Review Conference, to do this for PrepCom 3, and urges heads of governments to lead their delegation to that conference and ensure the NPT review process lays the foundation for actual nuclear disarmament during the coming UN Disarmament Decade, 2010-20. .

It’s five minutes to midnight on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’s clock. The Hibakusha who suffered the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and carry the searing memories of that fiery hell, cry “Never again!” Their growing fears that nuclear weapons will be used again must not come true. Get your fellow citizens involved! Remind your mayor that mayors are responsible for their citizens’ safety and security and should work with them! Aroused cities demanding the abolition of these ultimate weapons of terror can be a crucial political force to save the future.

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ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)