Cities are increasingly becoming a force for peace in the world, no more so than on the issue of abolishing nuclear weapons, as evidenced by the extraordinary growth of Mayors for Peace. Hiroshima and Nagasaki founded the organization in 1982. Their experiences in 1945 of the destructive power of nuclear weapons lent great force to their opposition to nuclear arms. From 1982 to 2003, 550 cities expressed their solidarity by joining Mayors for Peace. Since 2003, thousands of cities have been inspired to join Mayors for Peace in support of its ‘2020 Vision’ of a world free of nuclear weapon by the year 2020. The total number of citizens represented worldwide by Mayors for Peace is approaching one billion.

Mayors for Peace membership includes well over half of the capital cities and largest cities of the world. U.S. membership has reached 188 cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Boulder, Denver, Des Moines, Akron, Chicago, Wilmington, Orlando, Atlanta, Honolulu, Boston, Baltimore, Detroit, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, Albany, Buffalo, Houston, Seattle, Spokane, Madison and Milwaukee.

At its annual meeting in June 2011, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the nonpartisan national association of mayors of cities with populations of 30,000 or more, unanimously adopted a resolution “cal[ling] on President Obama to work with the leaders of the other nuclear weapon states to implement the U.N. Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament forthwith, so that a Nuclear Weapons Convention, or a related set of mutually reinforcing legal instruments, can be agreed upon and implemented by the year 2020, as urged by Mayors for Peace.” The resolution also “calls on the U.S. Congress to terminate funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex and nuclear weapons systems, to reduce spending on nuclear weapons programs well below Cold War levels, and to redirect funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.”

In the coming months and years, Mayors for Peace will be tackling the challenge of conveying to its citizens and national leaders the extreme urgency of eliminating the nuclear threat. Thousands of nuclear warheads are ready to be used literally within minutes. No matter how professionally these forces are commanded, exposing humanity to such profound danger is inherently irresponsible, indeed reckless endangerment. Mayors for Peace believes that we must work urgently and unrelentingly to commence, pursue, and conclude negotiations to establish a nuclear-weapon-free world by 2020.