ADVOCACY TOOLS

Thank you for your interest in getting involved with Back from the Brink! These advocacy tools are designed to help make your organizing efforts as easy as possible. If you have any questions, run into any roadblocks, or have suggestions for how to improve these tools, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@preventnuclearwar.org. We’re here to help!

Organizing Guide for Resolutions,
Proclamations and Public Statements

(Click here to download a pdf of this guide.)

Securing support for “Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War” from organizations, elected officials and legislative bodies, is a critical way to demonstrate broad and politically influential support across the country for the initiative and the five fundamental changes in US nuclear weapons policy for which we are advocating. This document offers some suggestions and best practices for how to pursue these efforts effectively.

Establish Goals and Desired Outcomes

Determine which elected official or municipal legislative body (such as a town or city council or county board) that you would like to engage. If possible start close to home, so that you begin the process with the inherent power that you have as a constituent. If you want to approach a legislative body, familiarize yourself with the terminology for its prior statements of support on other issues. Many municipalities refer to such statements as resolutions, but others refer to them as memorials, or proclamations, or statements included in their administrative record.

A sample resolution and request for support can be found here which you can customize for your municipality. You may wish to include “whereas” statements about your municipality’s history related to nuclear disarmament, the health and environmental impact of a nuclear weapons-related facility if there’s one nearby, or the staggering nuclear weapons-related costs to taxpayers in your municipality (this guide may help.) Thoughtful whereas statements that highlight the intersections between nuclear weapons and other issues – such as climate change or economic, environmental, and racial justice – can strengthen your resolution and help you build a diverse coalition of support. The only requirement for the resolution to be considered part of the Back from the Brink initiative is that it includes support for all five points in our policy platform. We also strongly recommend language indicating that the municipality will send a copy of the resolution to that area’s congressional delegation and the President (per our sample resolution.)

Our sample resolution includes an optional “let it be resolved” calling on the United States to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW.) Municipalities that include this statement in their resolution will be included in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ Cities Appeal, which is a movement to gain support for the TPNW from cities throughout the world that was inspired by Back from the Brink.

Working with Allies/Building a Coalition

Identify and reach out to your existing partner groups and other community leaders and seek their involvement and ideas BEFORE approaching the elected officials that you want to work with you on this effort.

1. Ask organizations in your area to endorse Back from the Brink. Peace, faith, health, environmental, policy and justice groups are natural allies, but you may want to reach out to other local civic organizations as well. A sample request for support is on our website here.

2. Review the list of organizations who have endorsed Back from the Brink on our website here. Many have chapters or members throughout the country, possibly near you, who could join you in your efforts.

3. Contact Back from the Brink organizers at info@preventnuclearwar.org and we will help connect you to others in your area.

Throughout this process, we urge you to build and strengthen relationships with groups in your community working on an array of critical social issues, especially racial justice. We who work for peace and justice cannot be silent about systemic racism. We must work together to dismantle systems of oppression in the U.S., from our original sin of racism to the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation. We hope that the relationships that you build while organizing for Back from the Brink will be lasting and mutually beneficial for your community.

Learn the Local Process and Rules

Every legislative body has different rules for how they operate, when and what types of issues can be considered, filing deadlines, legal vetting, etc. Research these rules and talk to the appropriate staff members, such as city clerks, staff for your representative, or the office of legislative counsel in a state legislature. In particular, research the procedures for resolutions or proclamations, as those kinds of items may have a different process than legislation.

If you have a relationship with a representative on the legislative body from which you’re seeking support, contact that person and ask for his or her advice on introducing a Back from the Brink resolution. Ask your local partners or allied groups if they have helpful relationships or experience with that legislative body and if so, if they have recommendations on how to proceed or if they would make an introduction to any officials who have championed their efforts. Research the legislative body and prospective resolution sponsors. How have these kinds of initiatives been managed in the past? Which elected official/s would be most likely to sponsor or introduce a Back from the Brink resolution?

Be persistent and make sure to follow up if your queries go unanswered for more than a week or two. Don’t assume that a lack of response indicates an unwillingness to consider a resolution, as it may simply be that the person to whom you’ve reached out is busy. If it appears that getting a resolution adopted by a legislative body is unlikely, you may want to approach a community leader such as a Mayor, Council President, or your own local representative, and ask if that person will endorse Back from the Brink

If an elected official agrees to sponsor your resolution, consult with them to make sure you know the date and time the resolution will be heard in the legislative body including any committee hearings. They may also have helpful advice on which elected officials need extra attention from you, such as calls or a meeting, in order to gain a supportive vote. Ask your allies and partners to submit letters of support and to attend and testify at meetings where the resolution will be up for a vote. Learn the rules for public testimony, such as when the testimony is heard (at the beginning of the meeting or just prior to the resolution vote), how community members sign up to speak, and importantly, how much time each community member will be allotted for public testimony. Share information on social media to educate your community, and tag elected officials in your posts to put pressure on them to support the resolution.

Talk to Groups Who Have Experience Doing This

Reach out to groups who’ve helped conceive and manage successful Back from the Brink efforts and can share lessons learned and things to avoid. One lesson we’ve learned is that while the resolution processes have commonalities, each has also been a little different in its own way. Some have required months of effort and individual meetings with multiple legislators, while other processes were more simple and streamlined. We can help you get started, connect you with groups who have experience with Back from the Brink resolutions, and provide support all along the way – just contact us at info@preventnuclearwar.org.

Share Your Progress

Be sure to let us know when your Back from the Brink resolution has been introduced, when it is up for a vote, and the results of the vote so that we can help support you and amplify your success. Take photos during and after relevant meetings, post them on social media (tag us on Facebook @preventnuclearwar, Twitter @backfrombrink, and Instagram @backfrombrink) and send photos to us so we can share them too. Write a press release or summary of your experience and sent that to us to share as well. If your resolution also included support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, remember to contact ICAN at info@icanw.org so that they can add it to their Cities Appeal campaign. Finally, remember to thank the elected officials who championed your resolution and the legislative body that adopted it.

Help Build the Movement

Once you’ve had time to celebrate and rest, consider approaching another nearby town or city. Each Back from the Brink success inspires others and helps build our movement for a safer, nuclear weapons free world. Consider scheduling a visit with your Congressional representative to let him or her know about the growing support in your community for our five-point policy platform. Two of those policies – Renouncing First Use (H.R. 921 and S. 272) and Restricting Presidential Authority (H.R. 669 and S. 200) are currently represented in legislation before Congress, and all five of our policy points are included in House Resolution 302 (H.Res302.)

 

Sample Request for Endorsement

 

Municipality or Elected Official

(Click here to download a pdf of this letter and click here to download an editable MS Word document of this letter.)

Dear ________________________

I’m writing as a constituent to ask you to join many municipalities and organizations in endorsing Back from the Brink: Call to Prevent Nuclear War, a simple, 5-point set of common sense, practical policy solutions (see below) that would greatly reduce the real and immediate risks posed by nuclear weapons and the chances that they will ever again be used.

Drafted by two prominent national organizations, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility, the purpose of Back from the Brink is to build broad, bi-partisan public and congressional support for fundamental changes in U.S nuclear weapons policy.

As the head of (town/city/elected official), endorsing the Back from the Brink is a simple way to lend your voice and stature on an issue that affects every one of your constituents and all of humanity.

This is not a partisan issue. This matters to me, my family and our community, regardless of political affiliation. As (title of office), you have a solemn duty to do what you can to keep your constituents safe – and nuclear weapons should be no exception. In that regard we hope that you will not only endorse Back from the Brink but also issue a public statement about your endorsement to our local/state media, as well as inform our congressional delegation of your support.

Today, nine nations possess nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons, most of which are far more destructive than those that killed over 100,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. The detonation of even a small number of these weapons could have catastrophic global consequences.

And the threat of nuclear war is growing. Global tensions are on the rise and, in our own country, there are plans to rebuild the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal at the staggering cost of $1.7 trillion over the next three decades. This includes plans to build more “usable” nuclear weapons for nuclear war fighting, increasing the chance that these weapons could be used. U.S taxpayers already spend some $2 million every hour of every day maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Right now, President Trump, like all U.S. presidents before him, has sole authority to order the use of US nuclear weapons. This is deeply troubling and illustrates the dangers of leaving such a momentous decision in the hands of one person.

Nuclear weapons don’t make us safer, and the enormous sum of money we spend to build and maintain them makes it more difficult to fund other critical programs for our cities and towns, such as responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and related unemployment, public housing & education, environmental protection, anti-poverty programs, rural internet access, combating the opioid epidemic, and more.

Your endorsement of Back from the Brink is a simple step you can take that will send a powerful signal to members of our congressional delegation and other leaders in Washington that it’s time for a fundamental shift away from thinking of nuclear weapons as instruments of security; instead we must start moving toward a world free of them. Please go to the following link to formally endorse the Back from the Brink campaign – preventnuclearwar.org/endorse.

More information can be found at preventnuclearwar.org. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

_________________________________________________________

Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War

We call on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:
1) renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
2) ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack;
3) taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert;
4) cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons; and
5) actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Organization

(Click here to download a pdf of this letter and click here to download an editable MS Word document of this letter.)

Dear ________________________:

I’m writing to ask ORGANIZATION to endorse an important and exciting grassroots campaign called Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War.

To date, over 300 health, environmental, academic, peace, faith, and justice organizations have endorsed Back from the Brink, and numerous U.S. municipalities and states have adopted resolutions supporting its policy solutions. A full list of endorsements to date is here https://www.preventnuclearwar.org/whos-on-board.

The reason this campaign is growing is simple–and terrifying. The threat of nuclear war is greater today than ever before. The Trump Administration has pulled out of critical nuclear security treaties, is planning to replace our entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons, and has revised US nuclear policy to make it easier to launch a nuclear weapon, even in response to a non-nuclear strike. These weapons do not keep us safe; they put us at greater risk and threaten all that we hold dear.

In addition, the enormous sum of money we spend to build and maintain nuclear weapons diverts resources away from our communities at a time when so many people are struggling. U.S taxpayers already spend some $2 million every hour of every day maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and the U.S. plans to rebuild its nuclear arsenal at the staggering cost of $1.7 trillion over the next three decades. No moral society should prioritize new, humanity-destroying weapons over the needs of its citizens.

Nuclear weapons intersect tragically with the most critical issues of our time. For example, climate change is already causing resource scarcity that leads to forced migration, political instability, and increased conflict, making the use of nuclear weapons more likely. Nuclear weapons are intrinsically linked to environmental and racial justice, from the colonial aspects of uranium mining on indigenous land, to radiation exposure suffered by workers and communities near nuclear production, waste, and testing sites. And, if we build and test new nuclear weapons, we will cause more harm to the environment and vulnerable communities. Humanity cannot afford to get this wrong.

Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War

We call on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:
1) renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
2) ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack;
3) taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert;
4) cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons; and
5) actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Several of these policy proposals are already represented in current legislation before Congress, but grassroots support is critical to building the political will to move them forward.

Visit preventnuclearwar.org/endorse to endorse the Back from the Brink campaign and we’ll keep you informed of further opportunities to take action. Together, we can create a safer, healthier, and more just world.

Sincerely,

_________________________________________________________

 

Sample Back from the Brink
Resolution/Proclamation

(Click here to download a pdf of this sample resolution, and click here to download an editable MS Word document of this resolution.)

Whereas nine nations collectively have approximately 14,000 nuclear weapons in their arsenals, most of which are far more destructive than those that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945;

Whereas the detonation of even a small number of these weapons could have catastrophic human and environmental consequences that could affect everyone on the planet;

Whereas the United States maintains several hundred nuclear missiles in underground silos on hair- trigger alert, capable of being launched within minutes after a presidential order, which greatly increases the risk of an accidental, mistaken or unauthorized launch;

Whereas the United States continues to reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first, which reduces the threshold for nuclear use and makes a nuclear war more likely;

Whereas the U.S. president has the sole and unchecked authority to order the use of nuclear weapons;

Whereas the climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and recent racial justice uprisings have highlighted the need for greater investment in our healthcare system and our communities; 

Whereas over the next 30 years, the United States plans to spend an estimated $1.7 trillion to replace its entire nuclear arsenal and the bombers, missiles and submarines that deliver them with more capable, more usable versions;

Whereas taxpayers spend over $2 million every hour of every day to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal;

Whereas a grassroots movement called “Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War” has been endorsed by over 300 health, environmental, academic, peace, faith, and justice organizations and has resulted in resolutions approved by numerous municipalities, including the cities of Los Angeles, Baltimore, Salt Lake City, and Washington DC, as well as the states of California and Oregon;

Whereas the United States, as well as Britain, China, France and Russia, are obligated under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to take concrete steps toward eliminating their nuclear arsenals;

Whereas in July 2017, 122 nations approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which, upon entry into force, will make it illegal under international law to develop, test, produce, manufacture, or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

Therefore, (name of city or town) calls on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

  • renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
  • ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack;
  • taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert;
  • cancelling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons; and
  • actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

And be it further resolved that (name of city or town) calls on the United States to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

And be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution will be sent to (names of U.S. Representatives and Senators) and President Donald J. Trump.

Organizing Materials

 

Here are some materials that may be useful for your Back from the Brink organizing efforts:

Video of Back from the Brink webinar “Organizing Locally to Prevent Nuclear War”

Back from the Brink PowerPoint and script that can be customized for your community

Writing Op-Eds that Make a Difference – guide from Indivisible and The Op-Ed project

Nuclear Weapons Community Cost Program – project of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles to calculate how much your community spends in tax dollars on nuclear weapons programs

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Interactive Map

Use the interactive map below to see where Back from the Brink resolutions have been adopted and are under consideration, and to find active organizations (blue houses) in your area. To view the map key, click the small square with the arrow in the upper left corner. If there is no one in your area, feel free to email info@preventnuclearwar.org and we’ll help you get started!

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