Insecurity is spreading. Another hot war in the Ukraine, a climate emergency, another Cold War and nuclear arms race, another long war just announced, 100 million people displaced by conflict and climate change, vast inequality and precarious conditions everywhere. Our new global neighbourhood looks rough and risky.
Whatever happened to security, “the state of being free from danger or threat”?
Our Common Agenda is a blueprint for dealing with the enormous risks facing humanity today ranging from the prolonged pandemic and climate deterioration to a renewed nuclear arms race and the new move into cyber warfare…
It’s no longer postponable. Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown, in a demented and terrifying way, why the possession of nuclear weapons must be outlawed now. Far from closing down the little that remains of nuclear disarmament agreements because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this seminal moment in the history of the 21st century must be seized.
The contradictions in Canada’s nuclear disarmament policies have got to be fixed. Sand castles won’t stop a tsunami. We and our NATO partners can no longer go on professing a desire for an end to nuclear weapons while supporting the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence, which leads to even more than the present 13,000 nuclear weapons…
Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention welcomes Canada’s participation in the 16-nation Stockholm Initiative (SI). The initiative’s recommendations, in the form of a series of “stepping stones,” have the important virtue of being well-established, practical, and doable – and all the measures advanced are still urgently needed actions to pull our planet back from the precipice of nuclear catastrophe. To be sure, much more is required, but the SI affords Canada an important opportunity, as part of its multilateral engagement with like-minded states, to elevate attention to nuclear arms control and disarmament internationally, and to pursue it as a clear national priority.
Paul Meyer and Cesar Jaramillo The Hill Times, Sept 16, 2021
Excerpt: We see three near-term steps that Canada could take to demonstrate leadership on this challenging issue.
First, Canada should help heal the rift between TPNW supporters and opponents by attending, as an observer, the first meeting of TPNW states parties (currently 55) slated to be held in Vienna March 22-24, 2022. Such participation would be a welcome sign of engagement with fellow NPT states which have adopted a different route to fulfill the nuclear disarmament obligation.
Second, Canada should advocate for the inclusion in the Stockholm Initiative package, support for a “No First Use” declaration on the part of nuclear weapon states. Such a step would help counter a destabilizing (and proliferation-friendly) expansion of rationales for the use of nuclear weapons on the part of some nuclear states. It would also be timely given the favourable attitude towards such an adjustment of policy expressed earlier by President Joe Biden and the resumption of strategic stability talks between the U.S. and Russia.
Third, Canada should elevate its involvement in the Stockholm Initiative, including participating in the meetings at the ministerial level. Such engagement on the part of Foreign Minister Marc Garneau could be coupled with an invitation by Canada to host a meeting of the group this fall to prepare for the NPT Review Conference.
by Robin Collins and Dr. Sylvie Lemieux, Co-chairpersons, CNANW
A recent Nanos poll found 80% across-the-board support for nuclear weapon elimination. A strong 74% majority believe Canada should join the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (“the ban treaty” or TPNW), even if there is pressure from the United States to stay clear. Those results are no surprise. Similar enthusiasm is found in older polls, and in Canadian municipalities where Councils have supported “nuclear-weapons-free zones” for many years
And yet, almost half “believe nuclear weapons are an effective instrument of deterrence.”
How can this be?
There lingers a belief that possessing a nuclear arsenal may protect you from enemies. There is also a lack of political leadership countering this dangerous illusion.
For example, just recently the United Kingdom announced they would increase their Trident submarine nuclear warhead limit. There are also plans to “modernize” the arsenals of most nuclear-armed states, including Russia, the USA and China. Some militaries see these weapons as war-fighting options, or as an appropriate response to an overwhelming conventional weapon attack.
And the Canadian government has snubbed the new ban treaty. Rob Oliphant, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the ban is “inconsistent with Canada’s collective defence obligations” as a member of NATO. Within the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, however, we point to NATO’s own policy in support of “eventual” nuclear weapons abolition. And Canada has options: Either sign the treaty while pushing back against alliance nuclear deterrence policy; or work harder for a nuclear weapons convention, as Canada did before. Get back in the game.
Canadian disarmament practice hasn’t always been so hesitant – over decades, leadership was shown on antipersonnel landmines, but also nuclear weapons policy. A resolution was supported by all members of the House of Commons and Senate as recently as 2010. It called on the government to “engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention” and to “deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative” towards that end. Despite the all-party mandate, the last ten years saw little initiative by Canada.
There is, however, a new effort — that includes Canada — known as the Stockholm Initiative. Sixteen states are engaged, including ban supporters New Zealand, Indonesia and Kazakhstan, but also NATO members Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain, as well as two non-NATO nuclear umbrella states (South Korea and Japan). Will this be a fresh start?
“The initiative is positive in principle, but it is too soon to tell whether it will have any meaningful impact,” says Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director of CNANW member group Project Ploughshares. “Efforts to reframe, rename and relaunch a series of steps or stones or blocks are also not new.” Canada should participate, and at the ministerial level, if this is to be a serious contribution.
Canada can also at minimum sit in as observer to the inaugural meeting of States Parties (likely in January 2022) of the new TPNW to show solidarity with the goals of its 122+ supporting or signatory states. This is also being considered by Germany.
A new global campaign for No First Use (NFU) of nuclear weapons has been established and encouraged the US and Russian leaders Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin at their bilateral meeting in Geneva to engage in talks to reduce nuclear risks. US President Biden is on record as questioning “first use” of nuclear weapons for the US. At the NATO summit of leaders this month, Canada had a chance to promote NFU for the alliance as a game-changing safer policy, but also as an early step towards nuclear weapon elimination.
This opens up the urgently needed discussion of alternatives to nuclear deterrence, a shift to sustainable common security for all peoples, and protection of the global environment. Canada needs to be there.
A new poll shows significant support by Canadians for nuclear disarmament and for the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. But, the Chair of Canadian Pugwash Group, Paul Meyer writes, Ottawa refuses to support the treaty. Why is there such a disconnect between government policy and public preference? Read on….
“To maintain strategic stability, we look forward to immediate action to extend the New START Treaty for 5 years. At the same time, we are concerned by the deterioration of the European security situation in recent years.” Read on.
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.
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.
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.
Strong arguments are being made to rid the world of the risk posed by reliance on nuclear deterrence. We should adopt a mutual security policy based on sustainable common security principles.
The Palme Commission in 1982 proposed the concept of Common Security: “All states, even the most powerful, are dependent in the end upon the good sense and restraint of other nations. Even ideological and political opponents have a shared interest in survival. In the long run, no nation can base its security on the insecurity of others. True security requires a cooperative effort, a partnership in the struggle against war.”
What are some “tools” of common security?
“non-offensive” defence (NOD)
What are “Confidence and Security Building Measures” (CSBM)?
States wanting to improve their security can develop techniques of gradually developing confidence between themselves and states they perceive as threats. During the Cold War, the NATO and Warsaw Pact states agreed through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to participate in:
Annual mutual exchanges of military information
Consultation and cooperation re: unusual military activities
Cooperation re: hazardous incidents
Voluntary hosting of visits to dispel concerns about military activities
Visits to bases, academies, language facilities, conferences, sporting, cultural events
Use of Preventive Diplomacy to avert violent conflicts
Reference of inter-state disputes to the International Court of Justice
Maintain peace in pre- or post-conflict regions through use of UN peacekeepers
The International Criminal Court enables prosecution of international criminals in cases of war crimes where their own country does not act, or where national prosecution is not believed to be fair and credible.
Intrusive inspection measures such as “Open Skies”: The “Open Skies” Treaty of 1992 allows states parties to conduct observation flights over each other’s territories and provides warning of surprise attack, reduces misperceptions and thereby promotes mutual confidence.
Conversion of industry and transfer of priorities; creation of new jobs in public infrastructure, climate sustainability sectors
Scholars, Studies and Reports proposing alternative security options:
Mary Kaldor:Dismantling the global nuclear infrastructure, 11 August 2009 Beebe, Shannon D., and Kaldor, Mary (2010), The ultimate weapon is no weapon: human security and the new rules of war and peace. PublicAffairs Books, New York, USA
Delegitimizing Nuclear Weapons: A report sponsored by the Swiss and New Zealand governments for presentation at the 2010 NPT, with research and writing by the Monterey Institute.
The Nuclear Turning Point: A Blueprint for Deep Cuts and De-alerting, edited by Harold Feiveson.
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
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