Who in their wildest dreams would have thought that the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, would feel compelled earlier this month to plead with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to deny access by an increasingly unstable president to the nuclear launch codes, for fear that he might order a nuclear strike? As if this were even possible, since, under U.S. law, no one can counter such an order by the commander in chief.Continue reading “So many words, but so little action on nuclear disarmament”
photo credit: OPANAL
On February 14, 2014, as the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons came to an end, conference Chair Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo—then deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico—captured the sentiment in the room in the powerful last few words of his closing remarks: in global efforts toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, this conference marked a “point of no return.” His optimistic conclusion was met with a roar of applause.
Read further: here
With the treaty banning nuclear weapons about to become international law, Global Affairs Canada has softened its opposition. But it’s still on the wrong side of history, according to Project Ploughshares executive director Cesar Jaramillo. Read further: Nuclear arms and Canada
Douglas Roche, October 30, 2020 in The Hill Times: In a subtle diplomatic move, the Government of Canada has ceased its opposition and now “acknowledges” the reason for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which will enter into force on Jan. 22, 2021.
Douglas Roche: “The Canadian government has said it cannot make such a commitment because of its membership in NATO. But the letter contests this stand, arguing that nothing in the new treaty precludes a NATO state joining, as long as it never assists the use of nuclear weapons.”
EDMONTON—Lloyd Axworthy, Jean-Jacques Blais, Jean Chrétien, Bill Graham, John McCallum, John Manley, and John Turner.
These seven names hardly need an introduction to readers of The Hill Times, and certainly not to the Government of Canada. Two of them are former prime ministers, three are former foreign ministers, and two are former defence ministers, who ran and served Liberal governments.
All of them signed an open letter [en français], released on Sept. 21, that features 53 former high officials of NATO countries expressing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is an astonishing rebuke of NATO’s moribund policies on nuclear weapons, and the most serious challenge to NATO’s nuclear orthodoxy in the organization’s 71-year history. Even two former NATO secretaries-general, Javier Solana and Willy Claes, as well as former U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, joined in this protest.Continue reading “Roche: Canada can’t hide behind NATO in refusal to sign treaty on nuclear weapons prohibition”
That Covid-19 has created a new global reality is clear. If there is any positive aspect to this unfolding situation, it could be a deeper appreciation for the fact that the well-being of people throughout the world is inextricably linked. The COVID crisis might also serve as a cautionary tale, helping us to avoid other threats to humanity. Read the pdf
In a world that seems
every week to be further jettisoning
international law on global security as ugly
national populism rises, is there any hope
for the elimination of nuclear weapons?
Continue reading… Roche021920_ht
Open pdf attachment here: DROCHE_HT_Feb12_2020
Geneva (ICRC) – Millennials see catastrophic war as a real likelihood in their lifetime. In fact, most millennials surveyed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) believe it is more likely than not that a nuclear attack will occur in the next decade.
Nuclear Armageddon is the global peril that time forgot. But amid all the concern about environmental degradation, disarmament remains imperative, says Nobel laureate John Polanyi. Read full essay: Do more to prevent nuclear war
“To understand the extent of Canada’s retreat from staunch defender of meaningful steps towards increased nuclear restraint and eventual disarmament to the shocking role of U.S. nuclear weapons apologist, it is necessary to review the position of Canada in the context of the NPT and NATO.” (Peggy Mason is President of the Rideau Institute.)
Download pdf here: From nuclear disarmament stalwart to nuclear weapons apologist
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Opinion: Earl Turcotte,
Chair, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
On June 19th, The Guardian and a host of other media reported that on June 11th the U.S. Joint Chiefs released a document simply entitled “Nuclear Operations”… Continued
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MILITARY STATEMENTS ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS
“US military leaders would reject illegal order for nuclear strike, senators told,” The Guardian, Nov. 14, 2017
As senators raise concerns about ‘unstable’ Donald Trump’s decision-making, former commander says military is ‘not obligated to follow illegal orders’
Dec. 6, 2014 – Statement by US General (Ret) Lee Butler speaks for a ban on nuclear weapons
Address by General Lee Butler to Canadian Peaceworkers, March 11, 1999, Ottawa.
General Lee Butler, Remarks to National Press Club, Dec. 5, 1996
Joint Statement on Reduction of Nuclear Weapons Arsenals: Declining Utility, Continuing Risks by Generals Lee Butler and Andrew J. Goodpaster, Dec. 4, 1996, National Press Club
Letter to Bill Graham M.P., Chair, Standing Committee on oreign Affairs and International Trade from Lee Butler, General, USAF, Ret., July 1998
Douglas Roche: Church leaders step into political realm to show they’re serious about scrapping nukes. Feb 6, The Hill Times … Roche_HTFeb6,2019
Canada must be clear-eyed about nuclear disarmament
ERNIE REGEHR AND DOUGLAS ROCHE
Globe and Mail
JANUARY 20, 2019
Ernie Regehr is the chairman of Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a project of Canadian Pugwash, and the former executive director of Project Ploughshares. Douglas Roche was a senator from 1998 to 2004, and was the Canadian ambassador for disarmament.
The world is about to lose one of the most important nuclear disarmament agreements ever made – and distressingly, Canada is silent.
The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, signed by then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan and former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev, marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. It bans the possession, production and flight-testing of ground-launched missiles within the 500-to-5,500 kilometre range and bans launchers for such missiles. Also, it resulted in the elimination of 2,692 Soviet and U.S. missiles based in Europe, and it was key to building an innovative system of verification, data exchanges, and mutual consultations.
Now, U.S. President Donald Trump has said the United States intends to suspend its participation in early February, leading to its termination six months later. The United States says the Russians are cheating. Russia says the United States is stretching the treaty’s boundaries. The debate over who’s right is what verification procedures and diplomatic talks are all about.
The stakes are very high. Mr. Gorbachev, now in retirement, and George Shultz, who was Mr. Reagan’s secretary of state, have issued a dire warning that “abandoning the INF” would undermine strategic stability and be a step towards an immensely destructive war. Retired senator Sam Nunn and Barack Obama’s former energy secretary Ernest J. Moniz, two giants in the realm of U.S. arms control who now run the Nuclear Threat Initiative, have also warned of a “cascade of negative consequences” if the INF treaty is abandoned. Those risks include the unfettered deployment by Russia of intermediate missiles sparking a new arms race, serious division within NATO, and the undermining of efforts to rally the world to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons and missiles.
The end of the INF also portends the collapse of the U.S.-Russia New START pact, which is due to expire in 2021 unless it is renewed. The United States has signalled it isn’t interested in renewing the one nuclear disarmament pillar left to hold a new outbreak of long-range missiles in check, and the nuclear-armed states are already modernizing their nuclear stocks.
Countries such as Canada must intervene and demand a diplomatic review of INF compliance procedures because we have a big stake in whether the world will lapse into a new nuclear arms race – and that could be where things are headed.
The importance and success of this treaty cannot be in doubt. The Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, the international organization that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995, warns against “a world ungoverned by treaties constraining actions of states with nuclear weapons,” and concludes that “decades of effort to build an architecture of restraint are unravelling because key lessons from the early years of the Cold War seem to have been forgotten.”
In 2018, both the Group of Seven and NATO summits – two groups that include Canada as a member – declared that the preservation of the INF treaty is a key to Euro-Atlantic and international security. That’s a good start. But we are disappointed that the government of Canada has itself remained inexplicably silent in the face of the Trump administration’s threat to abandon the treaty.
This is not simply a European or U.S.-Russia matter. Canada definitely has a stake in averting the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of any nuclear weapon. As the great Canadian diplomat George Ignatieff once said, “No incineration without representation.”
This is not a time for quiet diplomacy. Canada has a voice and stature in the world. We must be heard by those who control our fate of whether we will live or die in a nuclear war. What the world should be witnessing is not the collapse of nuclear arms control treaties, but new agreements to provide for further reductions in deployed and stockpiled nuclear weapons.
Silence is an abrogation of responsibility. We urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government to provide bold, public, and insistent leadership, because continued silence won’t do anything to stop the loudest and most tragic explosion.
The Moral, Spiritual, Legal, Practical Response to Humanity’s Greatest Threat: Nuclear Weapons
By Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Address to Panel at Parliament of the World’s Religions
Toronto, November 5, 2018
An excerpt: Political action against nuclear weapons is indeed possible. But such action, on a global scale, requires the emergence of a global ethic based on the common good. Let us not despair at the magnitude of this challenge. The very existence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an expression of global conscience. So are the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Global Compact on Migration. Political action against nuclear weapons is indeed possible. But such action, on a global scale, requires the emergence of a global ethic based on the common good. Let us not despair at the magnitude of this challenge. The very existence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an expression of global conscience. So are the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Global Compact on Migration. …To continue reading, speech is linked here:
20181107 Roche ParliamentWorldReligionsspeech
This op-ed originally appeared in Embassy magazine, September 11, 2013
UN Meeting Offers Chance for Disarmament Progress
EMBASSY, Wednesday, September 11, 2013
An unprecedented high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament will be held at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 26.
For the first time in the 68-year history of the UN, heads of government or at least foreign ministers will devote their attention to “the complete elimination of nuclear weapons” as “essential to remove the danger of nuclear war.”
Though the UN resolution setting up the meeting was adopted nearly unanimously, the United States, United Kingdom and France abstained (Russia and China voted yes). Given this lack of enthusiasm by the three Western nuclear powers, what is this special meeting likely to achieve?
With world attention riveted on Syria, nuclear disarmament does not rate high in polls of public concerns. But as Syria showed with the actual use of chemical weapons, public outrage will skyrocket if an aggressor ever launches a nuclear device of some sort. Every informed observer knows that the only guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons is the complete elimination of all 17,000 of such weapons still remaining.
While the international spotlight has been on Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons, the heart of the nuclear weapons problem remains the intransigence of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the same five original members of the nuclear weapons club, who each possess a veto and who could not agree on Syria.
Even though calls for nuclear disarmament escalated through the years, the nuclear weapons states have consistently dodged any real efforts for nuclear disarmament. This year alone, they boycotted a Norway government conference attended by 127 states on the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of the use of nuclear weapons, and ignored three special inter-government meetings in Geneva called to do preparatory work for negotiating the end of nuclear weapons.
The US and Russia have engaged in bilateral rounds of reductions, but the trumpeting of lower numbers has masked their continued modernization of warheads, delivery systems and infrastructure. The 2013 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute states that the nuclear weapons powers, which continue to deploy new nuclear weapons and delivery systems, “appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely.”
A double standard has deeply conflicted NATO, which continues to claim that the possession of nuclear weapons provides the “supreme guarantee” of the security of its 26 member states. At one and the same time, the NATO states reaffirm their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty goal of nuclear disarmament and their NATO dependence on nuclear weapons.
The policies are incoherent. The US, UK and France drive NATO and have made it the world’s biggest nuclear-armed alliance. The continued deployment of US tactical nuclear bombs on the soil of Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey, though resisted by growing numbers of people in those countries, is a standing provocation to Russia, which is consequently disinclined to lower its own huge numbers of tactical nuclear weapons. Russia is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons while it is virtually surrounded by an expanding NATO.
US-Russia bilateral negotiations for deeper cuts are stalled over such issues as the US’s proposed missile defence system in Europe, the militarization of space, and the US intention to militarily dominate air, land, sea, space and cyberwarfare. Nuclear disarmament is inevitably caught up in geopolitical tensions. US President Barack Obama, who in 2009 convened the first Security Council meeting devoted to the issue, has tried to move nuclear disarmament forward, but received little support from his allies.
Maybe the nuclear powers won’t do much at the extraordinary meeting on Sept. 26, but this is definitely an opportunity for non-nuclear weapons states to make their views heard. They should demand that the long-awaited Middle East conference on removing all weapons of mass destruction from the region take place. Had this preventive diplomacy action been taken in a timely manner, the Syrian crisis might never have erupted.
In 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon suggested that the international community start work on a nuclear weapons convention or a framework of instruments to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world. This work would amount to a global legal ban on all nuclear weapons.
This brings us to Canada’s role at the Sept. 26 meeting. In 2010, both the Senate and the House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion calling on the government of Canada to support Ban Ki-moon’s proposals and to launch “a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.”
This Parliamentary action was spurred by a campaign by members of the Order of Canada, now numbering 700, who signed an appeal for the government to act on building a global ban on nuclear weapons. Many parliamentarians and Order of Canada members have united in calling on Canada to host a meeting in Ottawa of like-minded states to push this work forward. The Middle Powers Initiative, a civil society organization working with middle power states on this issue, convened such a meeting in Berlin earlier this year.
Canada has an opportunity on Sept. 26 to make an important contribution to the verified elimination of nuclear weapons, before the world experiences another crisis over weapons of mass destruction. It should be remembered that Foreign Minister John Baird was, at the time, the government house leader who pushed through Parliament the unanimous motion calling for action.
Former Senator Douglas Roche, author of How We Stopped Loving the Bomb, is working on a new book on world peace issues, to be published in early 2014. email@example.com
At the 2010 Review Conference on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the delegates agreed on text considered somewhat progressive that read as follows:
“v. The Conference expresses its deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and reaffirms the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.”
Information on the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) rules can be found at the International Committee of the Red Cross website www.icrc.org) and are summarized in Appendix A.
In February, 2011, the Vancouver Declaration was developed with the input of a conference in Vancouver, Canada, organized by The Simons Foundation and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. Signed by eminent experts in international law and diplomacy, the Vancouver Declaration affirms that nuclear weapons are incompatible with international humanitarian law, the law stating what is universally prohibited in warfare. The declaration observes that with their uncontrollable blast, heat, and radiation effects, nuclear weapons are indeed weapons of mass destruction that by their nature cannot comply with fundamental rules forbidding the infliction of indiscriminate and disproportionate harm. ….[T]he declaration concludes by calling on states to commence and conclude negotiations on the global prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons as mandated by the legal obligation unanimously proclaimed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 1996. An annex to the declaration specifying the applicable law states: “It cannot be lawful to continue indefinitely to possess weapons which are unlawful to use or threaten to use, are already banned for most states, and are subject to an obligation of elimination.” (Excerpted from Media Release from the conference.)
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Council of Delegates Resolution 1 of 2011 regarding nuclear weapons:
In 2011, the ICRC Council of Delegates passed an historic Resolution 1 calling for action on nuclear weapons. The Council’s resolution:
“1. emphasizes the incalculable human suffering that can be expected to result from any use of nuclear weapons, the lack of any adequate humanitarian response capacity and the absolute imperative to prevent such use;
- finds it difficult to envisage how any use of nuclear weapons could be compatible with the rules of international humanitarian law, in particular the rules of distinction, precaution and proportionality;
- appeals to all States:
- to ensure that nuclear weapons are never again used, regardless of their views on the legality of such weapons,
- -to pursue in good faith and conclude with urgency and determination negotiations to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons through a legally binding international agreement, based on existing commitments and international obligations,…”
Norway then decided to hold a conference in 2013 on the Impact of Humanitarian Law on Nucleqr Weapons. Many states, including Canada, attended. We have not as yet been provided with a copy of Canada’s statement at that meeting.
In the ICRC news release published just prior to the Oslo conference, they commented:
“The sheer number of people likely to be in need of help would be enormous. The challenges involved in bringing relief to survivors in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion would be immense,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer. “To name only a few, humanitarian agencies would need to organize the triage, treatment and possible decontamination of very large numbers of injured victims, many of them severely burned, and their transfer out of affected areas. There would also be significant concerns about the safety of those providing assistance and the risk associated with their exposure to ionizing radiation.”
These points were raised in a study of the ICRC’s capacity, and that of other agencies, to assist victims of nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical weapons. The study concluded that it is highly unlikely that the massive investments required to expand the capability to provide effective relief would ever be made and, if they nevertheless were made, they would likely remain inadequate. This finding should not, however, discourage efforts to meet the challenges and to be in a position to provide as much assistance as possible.
The ICRC’s Information Note is a major statement on absence of assistance should such a disaster occur.
Online you can find the Chairperson’s summary of the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons (conference), Oslo, 4 – 5 March 2013 wherein these “key points can be discerned”:
- It is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected. Moreover, it might not be possible to establish such capacities, even if it were attempted.
- The historical experience from the use and testing of nuclear weapons has demonstrated their devastating immediate and long-term effects. While political circumstances have changed, the destructive potential of nuclear weapons remains.
- The effects of a nuclear weapon detonation, irrespective of cause, will not be constrained by national borders, and will affect states and people in significant ways, regionally as well as globally.
South Africa has been working since the Oslo Conference to build consensus on a summary statement on IHL and Nuclear weapons. Their statement was read April 24, 2013 in the NPT Preparatory Committee meeting in Geneva. Eighty countries supported the statement but not Canada. However discouraging this might be, it is important to note that Canada did comment on IHL and nuclear weapons in two other statements.
As a member of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, Canada’s views were part of a statement by that group presented by the Netherlands in this speech which included these comments:
“The members of the NPDI participated in the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Weapons that took place in Oslo, Norway on March 4th and 5th 2013. The NPDI remains deeply the risk for humanity represented by the possibility that nuclear weapons could be used and by catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from their use. The discussions at the Conference illustrated once more the devastating immediate and long-term humanitarian weapon detonation. We welcome the offer of Mexico to convene a follow-up conference on this issue.”
And then again at the NPT on April 25th, Amb. Golberg’s statement on behalf of Canada during the Cluster One debates included these comments:
“Canada shares the concern expressed in South Africa’s earlier statement about the humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons. Canada welcomed the March 2013 conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons held Oslo, as an opportunity for valuable fact-based discussions on these consequences and on humanitarian preparedness for a nuclear weapons detonation. We welcome the offer of Mexico to convene a follow-up conference on this issue.”
June 11, 2013
Nuclear Weapons and Compliance with International Humanitarian Law and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Charles J. Moxley Jr.,* John Burroughs,** and Jonathan Granoff
Excerpted from FORDHAM INTERNATIONAL LAW JOURNAL [Vol. 34:595]
- Summary of the Main Rules of International Humanitarian Law
Applicable to Nuclear Weapons
The following is a summary of key rules of IHL applicable to nuclear and other weapons.
The rule of distinction/discrimination prohibits the use of a weapon that cannot discriminate in its effects between military targets and noncombatant persons and objects. It is unlawful to
use weapons whose effects are incapable of being controlled and therefore cannot be directed against a military target. If the state cannot maintain such control over the weapon, it cannot ensure that such use will comply with the rule of discrimination and may not lawfully use the weapon.
The rule of proportionality prohibits the use of a weapon whose potential collateral effects upon noncombatant persons or objects would likely be disproportionate to the value of the
military advantage anticipated by the attack. The rule of proportionality requires that a state using a weapon be able to control the effects of the weapon. If the state cannot control such effects, it cannot ensure that the collateral effects of the attack will be proportional to the anticipated military advantage.
The rule of necessity provides that a state may only use such a level of force as is necessary to achieve the military objective of the particular strike. Any additional level of force is unlawful.
The corollary rule of controllability provides that a state may not use a weapon if its effects cannot be controlled because, in such circumstances, it would be unable to believe that the particular use of the weapon would comply with the rules of distinction, proportionality, or necessity.
International law on reprisals provides, at a minimum, that a state may not engage in even limited violations of the law of armed conflict in response to an adversary’s violation of such law,
unless such acts of reprisal would meet requirements of necessity and proportionality and be solely intended to compel the adversary to adhere to the law of armed conflict. The reprisal must be necessary to achieve that purpose and proportionate to the violation against which it is directed. These requirements of necessity and proportionality for a lawful reprisal are analogous to the requirements of necessity and proportionality (discussed immediately below) for the lawful exercise of the right of self-defense.
A state’s right of self-defense is subject to requirements of necessity and proportionality under customary international law and the Charter of the United Nations. A state’s use of force in
the exercise of self-defense is also subject to the requirements of IHL, including the requirements of distinction, proportionality and necessity, and the corollary requirement of controllability.
International law as to individual and command liability provides that military, government, and even private industrial personnel are subject to criminal conviction for violation of the
law of armed conflict if they knowingly or recklessly participate in or have supervisory responsibility over violators of the law of armed conflict. Such potential criminal liability of commanders extends not only to what the commanders knew but also to what they “should have known” concerning the violation of law.
Nuclear weapons convention
Negotiation of an agreement among all states with nuclear weapons which will:
define the process for eliminating nuclear weapons
prohibit further development, stockpiling, use and threat of use
It is anticipated that many elements required to prohibit the development, production, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons and provide for their elimination. will be negotiated within a Nuclear Weapons Convention.
Ambassadors to the United Nations have not started negotiations on a Convention as yet.
A model Convention has been drafted and filed at the United Nations. Commentary on this model Nuclear Weapons Convention (mNWC) can be found at: http://lcnp.org/mnwc/
The revised Model Nuclear Weapons Convention (UN/62/650) is now accessible in the six UN languages on the UN Documents website.
You can go directly to the following language versions:
For further information on the proposed Nuclear Weapons Convention, check out:
International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms
and International Campaign Against Nuclear Arms