ICAN today launches the Cities Appeal, a commitment by cities and towns to show support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and call on their governments to join. Major cities such as Baltimore, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Sydney and Toronto have already committed themselves to the Appeal which states:
Our city/town is deeply concerned about the grave threat that nuclear weapons pose to communities throughout the world. We firmly believe that our residents have the right to live in a world free from this Threat. Any use of nuclear weapons, whether deliberate or accidental, would have catastrophic, far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for people and the environment. Therefore, we warmly welcome the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by the United Nations in 2017, and we call on our national government to join it.
Why cities? Why do they matter when the decisions about international affairs are made at a national level?
Nuclear weapons pose a particular threat to cities, which are in many cases the primary targets for an attack. Nuclear weapons are designed to inflict comprehensive damage upon their targets. It is the very nature of the nuclear threat to a rival country’s most important places that underpins the theory and practice of nuclear deterrence, which is promoted as a legitimate defense strategy by all nine nuclear-armed states, and the several dozen more that endorse the use of nuclear weapons. These governments are putting their citizens’ lives at risk by subscribing to this strategy, which has been undermined time and again by near misses and miscalculations which very nearly unleashed nuclear war. Local governments bear a special responsibility for the safety of their residents. It is therefore incumbent upon cities to speak out against nuclear weapons.
Engaging the cities is an important way to pressure governments to be responsive to the will of their people. When cities call on their governments to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it’s a tangible reminder that citizens are against these weapons of mass destruction and that governments are consistently ignoring this view. A new coalition of cities and towns around the world will amplify these voices and compel governments to ditch any involvement with nuclear weapons and encouraging their peers to follow suit.
What can I do?
Reach out to your city council or elected representatives and urge them to endorse the Cities Appeal. This process is different in each city, so get in touch with your local authorities to ask which steps you’ll need to take. Or you can help spread the message on social media by sharing a photo or a story of a place that you love in your city with #ICANSave. Find out more at nuclearban.org/icansave