Simon Collins is the Herald’s education reporter.

Activist takes N-free battle overseas

Alyn Ware will co-ordinate the global network of parliamentarians from Switzerland from next month. Photo / Natalie Slade.
Alyn Ware will co-ordinate the global network of parliamentarians from Switzerland from next month. Photo / Natalie Slade.

New Zealand marks 25 years of being legally nuclear-free today - but a Kiwi who has made nuclear disarmament his life's mission is leaving the country because of a lack of local support.

Tauranga-born Alyn Ware, who set up a global network of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in 2002, will speak at a concert in Auckland's Aotea Square tomorrow marking the 25th anniversary of the anti-nuclear law.

But the Peace Foundation office in Wellington from which he worked for 10 years has closed, leaving only a part-time worker for the global network in Wellington.

Next month, he will take up an offer of office space at the University of Basel in Switzerland, with support from Basel council.

"The countries that are picking up the disarmament ball are no longer down here. New Zealand is no longer a big player in this," he said.

"I need to be working with the governments that are going to make a difference, countries like Switzerland, Austria, Norway, Germany, Kazakhstan and, actually, Mexico."

A quarter of a century ago, the New Zealand Nuclear-Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act was "groundbreaking".

"It wasn't just about saying we won't have nuclear weapons in our ports. It was criminalising them, it was making it illegal for New Zealanders to be involved in production or in aiding and abetting their production," Mr Ware said.

The Philippines, Mongolia and Austria later passed laws based on the New Zealand model. Legislation based on our model is in the Bangladesh Parliament now, and the text of the New Zealand law will be included in a handbook for the International Parliamentary Union in October.

United States President Barack Obama has picked up the cause, declaring his vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world in a famous speech in Prague in 2009 and following up with three world summits, most recently in Korea in March, aimed at reducing the risk of nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands.

Kazakhstan, which removed 1500 nuclear weapons from its territory after gaining independence from the former Soviet Union, will host a global MPs' conference on nuclear disarmament organised by Mr Ware's group in August.

Norway will hold a conference next March or April to work towards banning the use of nuclear weapons under international humanitarian law.

Norway, Austria and Mexico recently promoted a resolution on similar lines at the United Nations, but withdrew it to build support first.

ANTI-NUKE EVENTS: 2pm todayAuckland Peace City launch, Town Hall reception lounge (invitation only).
Noon tomorrowFree concert celebration, Aotea Square (or Town Hall concert chamber if wet).

- NZ Herald

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