Posted by Abolition, 10th Jan 2008 | Category: Nuclear Weapon News
Today over half of a total of 589 Belgian Mayors demand a worldwide ban of nuclear weapons before 2020. In the northern region of Flanders this is almost 70%. Remarkable is that in the Flemish province of Limburg counts the highest number of members with 75%. This is the province where the US deploys an estimated 20 nuclear bombs on the airforce base of Kleine Brogel and confirms the growing democratic deficit with regard to NATO nuclear policies.
The network of Mayors for Peace was founded 25 years ago by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during a UN Special Session on Disarmament. The 2 Japanese cities were destroyed with an atom bomb in 1945.
Mayor Bruno Tuybens declared: "I became a member because it is my duty to take up my responsibilities as a Mayor. There are today an estimated 26,000 nuclear warheads owned by 8 nuclear weapon states (US, Russia, France, UK, China, Isra?l, India and Pakistan). We can murder the entire human population many times over. This was also a reason why I demonstrated at the nuclear base in Kleine Brogel in the past."
Mayors for Peace has 3 regional secretariats in Belgium since 2005: in the City of Brussels (Brussels region), Ypres (Flanders) and Huy (Wallonia). Belgian Mayors are playing a pioneering role in the international network where membership grew from 6 in 2004 to 296 today (list attached). The Belgian network received leadership form former-mayor and Senator Patrik Vankrunkelsven (Open VLD - Liberal) and Mayor Luc Dehaene (CD&V - Christian Dem) from the town of Ypres. Both have an active role in the international steering group of Mayors for Peace. In 2006 it ws decided to establish the international secretariat for the Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision campaign in the City Hall of Ypres. The City of Ypres was completely destroyed during the first World War and witnessed the first use of chemical weapons in 1991.
Mayor Luc Dehaene is very encouraged by the results today: "We are mid-way. De recent growth of the network can be explained by the launch of the 2020 Vision campaign in 2003. Cities and municipalities demand respect for the disarmament obligations under Article VI of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As Mayors we ask the nuclear weapon states to dismantle their nuclear arsenals before 2020. Nuclear weapons continue to be a serious threat to humanity".
Senator and former Mayor Patrik Vankrunkelsven welcomes the growing involvement of cities and municipalities: "Cities can not be targets. Our people can no longer be held hostage to the international nuclear policies where just a few countries refuse to disarm their nuclear arsenals. Seen the large political consensus in Belgium our government needs to withdraw the estimated 20 US nuclear bombs from Kleine Brogel (Belgium) as soon as possible."
In Wallonia where the campaign started at a later time there are today 26% of members. This week a cross-party letter will be mailed to Mayors in Wallonia to invite them to join the vision to elimate all nuclear weapons by 2020. The letter is signed by seven Mayors from Wallonia: Anne-Marie Lizin (PS Social Dem. - Huy), Jean-Jacques Viseur (cdH - Christian Dem - Charleroi), Jean-Michel Javaux (Ecolo - Amay), Willy Demeyer (PS - Li?ge), Benoit Dispa (cdH - Gembloux), Bruno Tellier (cdH - Vresse sur Semois) and Serge Bodeux (MR - Liberal, Habbay).
Belgian cities and municipalities have also taken leadership and pledged financial support to the international campaign which was for the past 25 years financed solely by the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today already 47 Belgian Mayors have released funds for the campaign, often 0,025 euro/inhabitant/year. The international Executive Conference of the Mayors for Peace decided in November 2007 to high-light this Belgian pilot-project and they have now requested financial support from all the member cities in 126 countries.
It is under the leadership of Tadatoshi Akiba, the Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace, that the network engaged in the 2020 Vision campaign. The organisation, which has a consultative status within the UN, received the support of the 2nd world conference of the UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments), the world largest and most widely recognized mayoral association. In their final declaration on October 31st 2007 the UCLG demands the elimination of all weapons of mass-destruction.
More information www.2020visioncampaign.org