Mayors call for action against nuclear war

Frank Cownie

At the close of its 91st Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on June 5, 2023, the final business plenary of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) unanimously adopted a new resolution, titled, “Calling for Urgent Action to Avoid Nuclear War, Resolve the Ukraine Conflict, Lower Tensions with China, and Redirect Military Spending to Meet Human Needs.” This is the eighteenth consecutive year that the USCM has adopted a resolution submitted by U.S. members of Mayors for Peace.

The resolution’s lead sponsor, Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines, Iowa, (pictured) and U.S. Vice-President of Mayors for Peace, commented: “This resolution carries on the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ proud tradition for nearly two decades of standing for the non-use and global elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Jackie Cabasso, Mayors for Peace North American Coordinator, added: “For the first time, a U.S. Conference of Mayors resolution on nuclear disarmament lends the organization’s support to a specific legislative measure, H. Res. 77, ‘Embracing the Goals and Provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’.”

Res. 77, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on January 31, 2023, calls on the United States to adopt the Back from the Brink Campaign’s comprehensive policy prescriptions for reducing nuclear risks and preventing nuclear war. More than 70 cities, towns, counties and states have passed Back from the Brink resolutions, and more than 400 organizations have endorsed the Back from the Brink platform.

The new USCM resolution opens with a warning that, “we are living in a time of extraordinary nuclear dangers, with all the nuclear-armed states qualitatively, and in some cases quantitatively, modernizing their nuclear arsenals.” It goes on to elaborate the dangers of Russia’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine “intensified by Russia’s repeated nuclear threats,” and names “other potential nuclear flashpoints includ[ing] the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan, South Asia, and the Middle East.”

The resolution notes that “the President’s FY 2024 Budget request fully funds implementation of the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review,” which includes the planned replacement of the entire “nuclear triad” of intercontinental ballistic missiles, ballistic missile submarines, and long-range bombers with new systems, and points out that in 2022 the U.S. accounted for 39% of record high $2240 billion global military spending.

The resolution warns that “intensified military competition among the world’s most powerful states not only diverts resources from human needs but impedes cooperation on a wide range of other goals, including the elimination of poverty and the provision of health care, education, reliable renewable energy, and other essential services to all our communities.”  And it underscores that “cities are playing an increasingly important role in subnational diplomacy, and Mayors for Peace, founded in 1982 and led by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is working for a world without nuclear weapons, safe and resilient cities, and a culture of peace, in which peace is a priority for every individual.”

In the resolution, the USCM “welcomes the November 17, 2022, Declaration of the G20 Leaders meeting in Bali, including leaders or foreign ministers of China, France, India, Russia, UK, and U.S., that ‘The threat of use or use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible’.”

The USCM “condemns Russia’s illegal war of aggression on Ukraine and its repeated nuclear threats and calls on the Russian government to withdraw all forces and equipment from Ukraine immediately and unconditionally.” At the same time, the USCM “calls on the U.S. government to work to re-establish high-level U.S.-Russian risk reduction and arms control talks to rebuild trust and work toward replacement of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the only remaining bi-lateral nuclear arms control treaty, set to expire in 2026.”

The USCM also “calls on the government of the United States to make renewed efforts to reduce tensions with the government of the People’s Republic of China, seeking opportunities for cooperation on such global issues as the environment, public health, and equitable development, and take the initiative in new approaches for the control of armaments that might avoid a costly and dangerous new arms race.”

As recognized in the resolution, as of April 1, 2023, Mayors for Peace has grown to 8,247 cities in 166 countries and regions, with 223 U.S. members. The USCM is the official nonpartisan association of more than 1,400 American cities with populations over 30,000. Resolutions adopted at its annual meetings become USCM official policy that will guide the organization’s advocacy efforts for the coming year.

The 2023 USCM resolution was sponsored by Mayors for Peace U.S. Vice-President Mayor Frank Cownie of Des Moines, IA, and co-sponsored by Mayor Jesse Arreguin of Berkeley, CA, Mayor Lucy K. Vinis of Eugene, OR, Mayor Daniel Biss of Evanston, IL, Mayor Farrah N. Khan of Irvine, CA, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison, WI, Mayor Sheng Thao of Oakland, CA, Mayor Frank C. Ortis of Pembroke Pines, FL, Mayor Ryan Sorenson of Sheboygan, WI, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth, NJ, Mayor Joy Cooper of Hallandale Beach, FL, and Mayor Ben Walsh of Syracuse, NY. (Headline photo of Mayor Frank Cownie by Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Read the full resolution


Support Beyond Nuclear

Help to ensure a safer, greener and more just world for all