Towards a Nuclear Weapons Convention: A Role for Canada (April 11-12, 2011, Ottawa)
Media Release, April 17, 2011
Experts urge Canadian leadership to ban nuclear weapons
(Ottawa) The Canadian government should join a new international effort to construct a global legal ban on all nuclear weapons, concluded disarmament experts meeting in Ottawa.
“Canada should host a meeting of governments and civil society experts to prepare for negotiations for universal, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament as called for by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,” said former Senator Douglas Roche, Canada’s former UN Ambassador for Disarmament.
Five Canadian civil society organizations urged the Canadian government to act on motions already adopted by both the Senate and the House of Commons calling on the government “to deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative” for nuclear disarmament.
The expert seminar, held April 11th and 12th, was attended by diplomats from 20 embassies, parliamentarians, and government officials to consider the threat posed to Canadians and all global citizens by the 22,000 nuclear weapons still in existence.
Calling for negotiations to start on a legal ban on all nuclear weapons, Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament at the U.N., said use of any nuclear weapon would be “an egregious violation of the most fundamental tenets of international humanitarian law and the laws of war.”
Amb. Richard Butler, Middle Powers Initiative chairman, said Canada has a special role to play because it has the standing to stimulate informal discussions on the legal, technical and political requisites for a nuclear weapons free world that can set the stage for major international negotiations later on. He said the Middle Powers Organization would be prepared to work with Canada in going forward.
Diplomats from the UK, Switzerland, Mexico and Austria responded to H.R. Duarte. Nicolas Brühl, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland stated: “[Nuclear weapons] are fundamentally immoral because they cause massive and indiscriminate destruction in terms of human lives, material resources and consequences for the environment. They are illegal by their very nature with regard to international humanitarian law.”
Dr. John Burroughs of Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy noted the recent Vancouver Declaration that clarifies that both the use, and threat of use, of nuclear weapons breach international humanitarian law.
“A practical and single-focused process leading to a global legal ban on nuclear weapons provides the way to safely rid the world of all nuclear weapons in a secure manner.” said Beverley Delong of Lawyers for Social Responsibility. “And Canada has a unique opportunity to lead the way.”
This seminar was sponsored by the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Canadian Pugwash, Physicians for Global Survival, Project Ploughshares, and World Federalist Movement – Canada.
– 30 –
The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament at (780) 466-8072 or cell (780) 984-8292
Mr. Ernie Regehr, O.C., Research Fellow, Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo
at phone 519-579-4735 or Mobile: 519-591-4421