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Friday, May 14, 2021

Canberrans invited to mark nuclear weapons ban

A celebratory event will be held tomorrow, Saturday 23 January, in Canberra’s Nara Peace Park to mark the Nuclear Ban Treaty entering into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

The Treaty legally comes into force today, 22 January, just 90 days after it received its 50th ratification. The new treaty prohibits all activities associated with nuclear weapons, including the development, testing, production, use and threat of use.

Hosted by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW)  and International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the event is one of several across Australia.

From 11am, Canberrans are invited to gather at the Rotary Peace Bell at Nara Peace Park to mark this historic event. Speakers will include His Excellency Ambassador Vargas-Araya of Costa Rica and Her Excellency the Honourable Dame Annette King, New Zealand High Commissioner, while ambassadors of 16 other nations will be present, along with seven local parliamentarians.  

Dr Sue Wareham, president of MAPW Australia and board member in Australia for ICAN, said the event will also include messages from the organisations that have worked globally to bring about the treaty, as well as Alicia Payne MP and Shane Rattenbury MLA.

“There will also be a ringing of the peace bell to recognise nations working together for the common good,” Dr Wareham said.

Since 1945, Australia has been the site of 21 nuclear weapon tests. She said these tests have disproportionately affected First Nations communities and Australian Defence Force personnel.

Australia has not yet joined the Treaty in the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; the national policy still supports the use of US nuclear weapons on the Australian Government’s behalf.The ACT Greens are calling on Australia to join the nuclear weapons ban treaty.

“With climate change upon us, the ACT Greens believe that there has never been a more urgent time for Australia to join its 86 international counterparts and show its commitment to a more peaceful and sustainable future for all of us,” said Jo Clay, ACT Greens MLA for Ginninderra.

Dr Wareham said there are implications for Australia not signing.

“We’re calling on the Australian Government to reject that the weapons can be used on our behalf,” she said.

“The implications are that Australia’s policies are remaining that the use of these weapons is acceptable … they contribute to a dangerously unsafe world.”

According to Dr Wareham, MAPW is also calling on Health Minister Greg Hunt to state it is a medical and health imperative to ban nuclear weapons.

“They must never be used in any circumstances,” she said.

All ACT Greens MLAs have signed a parliamentary pledge initiated by ICAN, calling on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

The Australian Government has consistently opposed the Treaty; however, ALP policy is to support the Treaty when next in government. 

“We need one rule for all nations, and that rule must be that no nuclear weapons are acceptable,” said Dr Wareham.

This is a COVID-safe event. To register your attendance, email [email protected] and wear a face mask if current ACT regulations require.

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