History was made on the 22nd of January 2021 when, for the first time, a ban on nuclear weapons came into force. Hastings gave its support for the treaty last October with 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.

The council marked the day the Treaty came into force by shining the blue and white colours of the UN in Bottle Alley. Two of the local Councillors who spoke in favour of the Council Motion last year, Maya Evans and Margi O’Callaghan, publicised 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 being made. 

Talking about flying the flags, Margi said: “Keeping a peaceful and nuclear free world is important to me and it was imperative that this was marked within my community.”

The UN 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.

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.

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