There is a growing consensus expressed by world leaders on the urgent need for ridding the world of nuclear weapons, well expressed by the Global Zero movement. A Nuclear Weapons Convention is widely recognized as the best negotiating process yet devised to bring about nuclear disarmament. In a recent speech to the UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “All parties to the Non Proliferation Treaty could consider negotiating a nuclear weapons convention, backed by a strong verification system, as has long been proposed at the United Nations.” However, the vision of the elimination of all nuclear weapons, put forward by President Obama and many others today, requires the political will of governments for it to be achieved.

Accordingly, we call on all member States of the United Nations – including Canada – to endorse, and begin negotiations for, a Nuclear Weapons Convention as proposed by the UN Secretary-General in his five-point plan for nuclear disarmament.


Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) seeks to inform and educate Canadians on the increasing danger of nuclear proliferation and nuclear war. We support and endorse the UN Secretary-General’s five point plan for nuclear disarmament, including the endorsement of a nuclear weapons convention. We seek to engender political will by educational means, resulting in the adoption of a nuclear weapons convention as a component of Canadian foreign policy. We are non-partisan, open to all members of the Order of Canada, and are focused on this single issue.

Growing Support: There is a growing consensus expressed by world leaders on the urgent need for ridding the world of nuclear weapons, well expressed by the Global Zero movement. A Nuclear Weapons Convention is widely recognized as the best negotiating process yet devised to bring about nuclear disarmament.

Read more:

Toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention

Toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention: A Role for Canada, April 11-12, 2011
Venue: Brittany Salon, Cartier Place Suite Hotel, 180 Cooper Street, Ottawa, ON

Summary Report:
Toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention: A Role for Canada (pdf in english)
Vers une convention d’interdiction des armes nucléaires : un rôle pour le Canada (pdf en français)

April 11: “Implementing the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament”

Program: [here: pdf]


arrowrt Keynote Speaker: H.E. Ambassador Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament
“Implementing the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament” [here: pdf]



The Hon. Douglas J. Roche
O.C., Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and
Mr. Ernie Regehr
, O.C., Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies,
Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo

Ambassador Werner Brandstetter, Embassy of Austria [here: pdf]
Counsellor Julian Juarez, Embassy of Mexico [here: pdf]
Mr. Nicolas Brühl, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland [here: pdf]
Mr. Clive Wright, Head of Foreign Policy Team, British High Commission, Ottawa [here: pdf]

We express our sincere gratitude to the sponsors of this seminar: Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Canadian Pugwash Group, Physicians for Global Survival, Project Ploughshares, and World Federalist Movement – Canada.

April 12: “Experts Seminar”

Agenda: [here: pdf]

Theme: The Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference took note of the UN Secretary-General’s Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament, which proposes, inter alia,

“consideration of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention or agreement on a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a strong system of verification.”

This seminar is being held to develop a broadly shared understanding of the main elements and requirements for a global convention to prohibit nuclear weapons; to build Canadian capacity in the expert and disarmament advocacy community on key issues linked to advancing the global movement toward a nuclear weapons convention; and to engage the Government of Canada to encourage early and concrete support for working toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

arrowrt Legal Aspects of a Nuclear Weapons Convention
Elements of a legal architecture for a nuclear weapons prohibition/framework of agreements.
Implications of an International Humanitarian Law approach to progress on NWC

Dr. John Burroughs
Dr. Erika Simpson
Dr. Michael Byers

Dr. Erika Simpson, Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario and Vice-Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group
Dr. John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy [here: pdf]
Dr. Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law,
Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia [here: pdf]

arrowrt Verification and Compliance Aspects of a Nuclear Weapons Convention

Dr. Trevor Findlay
Ms. Peggy Mason
Mr. Jo Sletbak



Ms. Peggy Mason, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and Advisory Board
Chair, Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance, Carleton University
Dr. Trevor Findlay, Director, Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance [here: pptx (original) pdf]
Mr. Jo Sletbak, Minister Counsellor/Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy [here: pdf]

arrowrt Luncheon Keynote

Ambassador Richard Butler
Ms. Bev Delong

Ms. Bev Delong, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Guest Speaker:
H.E. Ambassador Richard Butler, A.C., Chairperson, Middle Powers Initiative [here: pdf]

arrowrt Political and Security Requirements for a Nuclear Weapons Convention
How can security relationships be used as stepping stones toward a NWC?
Delegitimizing Nuclear Weapons through Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones, and Nuclear Doctrines

Mr. Ernie Regehr
Mr. Simon Rosenblum
Mr. Simon Rosenblum, Mr. Ernie Regehr,
Hon. Landon Pearson




The Honourable Landon Pearson, O.C., member, Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention
Mr. Ernie Regehr, O.C., Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies,
Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo; Fellow, The Simons Foundation [here: pdf]
Mr. Simon Rosenblum, World Federalist Movement – Canada [here: pdf]

arrowrt Roundtable on the Role of Canada

Mr. Paul Meyer, Dr. Adele Buckley, Hon. Douglas Roche




Dr. Adele Buckley, Past Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group
Mr. Paul Meyer, former Ambassador for Disarmament; Fellow in International Security,
Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University; Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation [here: pdf]
The Honourable Douglas J. Roche, O.C., former Ambassador for Disarmament [here: pdf]


Organizing committee:
The Honourable Douglas J. Roche, O.C.
Mr. Ernie Regehr, O.C.
Dr. Dale Dewar, Executive Director, Physicians for Global Survival
Dr. Trevor Findlay, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance
Mr. Fergus Watt, Executive Director, World Federalists Movement – Canada
Mr. Cesar Jaramillo, Program Associate, Project Ploughshares
Ms. Bev Tollefson Delong, Chairperson, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Advisors: Amb. (Ret.) Paul Meyer, Mr. Murray Thomson, O.C. and the late Dr. Michael Wallace
Administrative support: Project Ploughshares

Sponsors: Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Canadian Pugwash Group, Physicians for Global Survival, Project Ploughshares, World Federalist Movement – Canada
Funders: Canadian Pugwash Group, Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, Lawyers for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, Project Ploughshares, Science for Peace, Sisters of Service of Canada, anonymous donor.

Letter from Bill Siksay MP


Letter from Bill Siksay MP, head of Parliamentarians for Non-proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament in Canada to the Hon Lawrence Cannon regarding Government of Canada support for the motion of the House of Commons asking Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention.


Douglas Roche Named Honorary Citizen of Hiroshima, Calls for Start on Legal Ban of Nuclear Weapons

On July 28, 2010 Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and Chairman Emeritus of the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI), and past Chair of Canadian Pugwash, was named a Special Honorary Citizen of Hiroshima

Read Senator Roche’s presentation to the Hiroshima 2020 Conference [pdf, external link]

A Nuclear Weapons Convention: The Time Is Now

Address by Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
To Hiroshima International Conference, July 28, 2010

A new moment has arrived in the long struggle to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

For the first time, the subject of a Nuclear Weapons Convention –- a global treaty to ban all nuclear weapons — is on the international agenda with the agreement of all states.

Consider the progress that has so far been made:

Two-thirds of all national governments have voted at the U.N. to start negotiations on a convention. In 21 countries, including the five major nuclear powers, polls show that 76 percent of people support negotiation of a treaty banning all nuclear weapons. The governments of China, India and Pakistan, all with nuclear weapons, are committed to negotiations. The European Parliament has voted for a convention along with a number of national parliaments. Long lists of non-governmental organizations want it. In Japan, 10 million people signed a petition for it. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has spoken repeatedly in favour of it. There is no doubt that historical momentum is building up.

No organization has done more to bring about a nuclear weapons free world than Mayors for Peace. This courageous group, led by Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, now embraces more than 4,000 cities around the world, which have joined in a common call for action to eliminate all nuclear weapons by the year 2020, the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The unprecedented growth of Mayors for Peace, now representing more than three-quarters of a billion people, shows the determination of local leaders to protect their citizens from nuclear annihilation. I take heart from this valiant work.

But we must not rest. The opposition is still strong. We must renew our work.

Nuclear weapons are about power, and governments have never given up that which they perceive as giving them strength. The powerful military-industrial complexes are still trading on a fear that has been driven into the public. There is a virtual mainline media blackout on the subject, which makes it all the harder to have national debates. Yet, despite these obstacles, the tide is turning.

The strong opposition to a convention at the 2010 Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty by a powerful few shows that it is no longer ignored, but has entered the mainstream of governmental thinking. The Final Document of the NPT meeting said: “The conference notes the Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which proposes inter alia consideration of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention or agreement on a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a strong system of verification.”

This language is weak, and the nuclear weapons states had to be dragged along to agree to this much. Yet the consensus reference to a Nuclear Weapons Convention that survived the diplomatic battles is far from toothless. For the first time in an NPT document, the concept of a global ban, with all the work necessary to achieve it, is validated. In fact, grudging though it may be, the reference is given more heft by the statement preceding it: “The conference calls on all nuclear weapons states to undertake concrete disarmament efforts and affirms that all states need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.” The concept of a convention is now embedded, and the advocates of a nuclear weapons free world have an agreed document we can build on.

Our task now is to figure out the best way to get negotiations started on a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Advocates tried to have the NPT Review Conference call for the Secretary-General to convene a conference in 2014 for this purpose, but their proposal was blocked by the powerful states. A conference to amend the NPT has been suggested, but since India, Pakistan and Israel, all with nuclear weapons, are not members, the NPT is not the most propitious route. A special session of the U.N. General Assembly is sometimes proposed, but, with the major states voting no, it would be unlikely to get very far. Similarly, the Conference on Disarmament, a permanent body operating in Geneva, is stymied by the consensus rule. Short of mass demonstrations around the world demanding that all states convene to produce a convention, a comprehensive negotiation forum seems elusive at the moment.

The most likely practicable action would be a core group of countries calling their own conference to which interested states would be invited. This work could evolve, when some momentum is achieved, into the full-scale international conference called for by numerous commissions. The crucial point is to start preparatory work now before the present window of opportunity closes.

In 1996, Canada called an open-ended conference of states concerned about the humanitarian, social and economic devastation caused by anti-personnel land mines. The “Ottawa Process,” as it was called, demonstrated a willingness to step outside the normal diplomatic process and work with a group of civil society experts. It was so successful that it produced a treaty within a year. It quickly entered into force and today 80 percent of the world’s states have ratified or acceded to the Ottawa Convention, and many of those that remain outside have adopted its norms.

In 2007, the government of Norway followed a similar process to build support for a ban on cluster munitions, weapons that eject clusters of bomblets with delayed explosive force. Again, within a year, a legally binding treaty was produced, prohibiting the use and stockpiling of cluster munitions “that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.” The signing ceremony in Dublin was attended by 107 nations, including 7 of the 14 countries that have used cluster bombs and 17 of the 34 countries that have produced them.The treaty was opposed by a number of countries that produce or stockpile significant amounts of cluster munitions, including the U.S., Russia and China. But when Barack Obama became president, the U.S. reversed its position and signed on. Opponents of the weapons hailed the decision as a “major turnaround in U.S. policy,” which overrode Pentagon calls to permit their continued export. This action immediately started to influence other holdouts.

Some observers say that the “Ottawa Process” cannot be replicated for nuclear weapons, which are an order of magnitude beyond conventional weapons. But they may perhaps be too timid in their assessment. A global process of law-making against weapons of mass destruction is an inescapable requisite for survival in a globalized world. Non-nuclear states have not only a right but an obligation to build an international law based on safety for all humanity. Not to exercise that right would be to surrender to the militarism that drives the policy-making processes of the nuclear states. If a national government’s primary duty is to protect its own citizens, how can it rationally sit silently in the face of threats from outside its borders?

Neither the land mines nor the cluster munitions produced perfect agreements. But they overcame diplomatic roadblocks, raised international norms, and forced the recalcitrant states into a “pariah” mode. A Nuclear Weapons Convention, developed and signed by a majority of states, may well be rejected by the major states at the outset, but the opinion of their own populaces, seeing how other states are moving ahead, may then becoming a determining factor in approval.

The fact that China, one of the big five, has already voted at the U.N. for a convention and spoken out in favour at the NPT Review Conference means that the nuclear weapons states do not have a united front. The United Kingdom has accepted that a convention will likely be necessary in the future and has started the requisite verification work. Even India and Pakistan, opponents of the NPT, have committed themselves to participate in global negotiations.

Once a convention has become a reality, pressure will mount for all states to sign. Some, however, may not sign immediately, and there may be a few holdouts for years. It should be remembered that it took several years for China and France to join the NPT, which simply was started without them. Even if a Nuclear Weapons Convention does not come into effect until all the nuclear weapons states and nuclear capable states ratify it, the world would be far better off than at present. The risk of starting a disarmament process without knowing in advance its completion date is a far less risk than continuing the status quo in which a two-class nuclear world acts as an incentive to proliferation and heightened dangers.

The process for nuclear disarmament, once it starts, will embolden many states, which have hitherto been deferential to the major states. NATO states particularly have been inhibited from acting to end the incoherency of maintaining their loyalty to the NATO doctrine that nuclear weapons are “essential,” while agreeing in the NPT context to an “unequivocal undertaking” to total elimination.

Already, Norway, Germany and Belgium, all NATO members, are chaffing at the alliance restrictions. They are ready to join important like-minded countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Brazil and Chile, which have openly called for a convention. A group of non-aligned countries, led by Costa Rica and Malaysia, have already met to start the process. When significant middle-power states enter the discussions, a new compact will be in the offing.

Today, I am calling for middle-power countries, which have already declared themselves in favour of a global legal process to ban nuclear weapons, to step forward, and invite interested states to preparatory meetings.

This will reinforce the leadership of President Obama, whose aspiration for a nuclear weapons free world is thwarted by those within his own administration, who say such an achievement is not obtainable. Middle-power governments and publics must support leaders such as President Obama and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who have taken strong stands for nuclear disarmament. The forthcoming visit to Hiroshima of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sends a historic message to the world that our hopes for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons are grounded in reality.

Now is the time for us to raise our voices to say for the entire world to hear: a Nuclear Weapons Convention is not just a vision, it is a work in progress. A model treaty already exists.

Shortly after the International Court of Justice rendered its 1996 Advisory Opinion stating that all nations have an obligation to conclude comprehensive negotiations for nuclear disarmament, a group of experts in law, science, disarmament and negotiation began a drafting process. After a year of consultations, examining the security concerns of all states and of humanity as a whole, they submitted their model to the United Nations, and it has been circulating as a U.N. document ever since. The model treaty was the basis of a book, Securing Our Survival: The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. In the foreword, Judge Christopher Weeramantry, who participated in the Court’s Advisory Opinion, called the logic of the model treaty “unassailable.”

The model treaty begins with the words, “We the peoples of the Earth, through the states parties to this convention…” and continues with powerful preambular language affirming that the very existence of nuclear weapons “generates a climate of suspicion and fear which is antagonistic to the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights…”

It lays down the obligations of states. “Each state party to this Convention undertakes never under any circumstances to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.” This is spelled out to ensure states will not “develop, test, produce, otherwise acquire, deploy, stockpile, retain, or transfer” nuclear materials or delivery vehicles and will not fund nuclear weapons research. Further, states would destroy the nuclear weapons they possess. Turning to the obligations of persons, the treaty would make it a crime for any person to engage in the development, testing and production of nuclear weapons, and would facilitate whistle-blowers.

The model treaty specifies five time periods for full implementation. In Phase One, not later than one year after entry into force of the treaty, all states parties shall have declared the number and location of all nuclear materials, and production of all nuclear weapons components ceased. In Phase Two (not more than two years after entry into force), all nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles shall be removed from deployment sites. In Phase Three (five years), the U.S. and Russia will be permitted no more than 1,000 nuclear warheads, and the U.K., France and China no more than 100. In Phase Four (10 years), the U.S. and Russia will bring their nuclear stockpiles down to 50 each, and the U.K., France and China down to 10 each. Other nuclear weapons possessors would reduce in similar proportions. All reactors using highly enriched uranium or plutonium would be closed or converted to low enriched uranium use. In Phase Five (15 years), “all nuclear weapons shall be destroyed.”

All this disarmament activity would be supervised by an International Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons established by the Convention and verified by an International Monitoring System composed of professional inspectors. Baseline information would be gathered, prescribed disarmament steps monitored, and re-armament prevented through detection of any objects or activities indicating a nuclear weapons capability. Emerging technologies, including satellite photography, better radioisotope monitoring, and real-time data communications systems provide increasing capacity for the necessary confidence-building. A country found in violation of the Convention would be brought before the U.N. Security Council and appropriate economic and military sanctions imposed. If a dispute arises between two or more states, it would be referred to the International Court of Justice and its mechanisms for compulsory settlement of disputes.

The model Nuclear Weapons Convention doubtless needs refinement. Perhaps there are other ways to frame the issues. As the process unfolds, new insights will be gained on the best way forward. The immediacy of the nuclear weapons problem demands that we start active work on elimination now.

The limited capacity of the NPT and associated safeguards, the deceptive arms agreements that are always accompanied by enlarged modernization programs, and the retention of nuclear doctrines have all undermined the non-proliferation regime. Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have joined the nuclear club. Iran is in advanced stages of uranium enrichment. Without a comprehensive plan to shut down all nuclear weapons, they are bound to spread further.

The list of immediate dangers includes terrorism. The opportunities for terrorists to acquire fissile material and fabricate a crude nuclear bomb are now alarming world leaders. A Nuclear Weapons Convention would make it very difficult for a terrorist organization to steal the materials for a nuclear bomb. Perhaps not impossible, but the verification systems under a convention would make it easier to discover a potential terrorist threat.

Another immediate benefit of a convention would be the strengthening of humanitarian law. The principle of one law for all, which a Nuclear Weapons Convention underscores, also bridges the ongoing debate about which comes first: non-proliferation or disarmament.

The holistic approach to nuclear disarmament through a Nuclear Weapons Convention has one other great, and perhaps determining, attribute: involvement of civil society. It will be states that negotiate and ratify the treaty, but the involvement of leading individuals and organizations in education, public policy, law, health, human rights, environmental protection, social justice, ethics, religion and other fields will bring a deep human dimension to work that has too often in the past been dominated by bureaucrats and arcane terminology.

It was civil society leaders who wrote the model treaty. Now that the subject is on the international agenda, the way is open for scientists, engineers, technicians and corporations working in the nuclear field to contribute their expertise to ensure that nuclear bombs are banished. The combined efforts of citizens and non-nuclear weapons governments can lead the way in mobilizing public opinion for a global treaty.

A Nuclear Weapons Convention is understandable and attractive because it is a single-focused idea to get rid of all nuclear weapons in a safe and secure way. It provides a legal basis for phasing in concrete steps with a visible intent to reach zero nuclear weapons in a defined time period. The public can easily understand this clear notion.

The work of Mayors for Peace, already a powerful worldwide movement, is now clear. It must mobilize its powerful constituency of cities to demand that their governments start active work now on a Nuclear Weapons Convention. Mayors are increasingly speaking out, as the U.S. Conference of Mayors has done in calling on Congress to redirect spending on nuclear weapons to the needs of cities. Mayors for Peace are challenged at this opportune moment.

Finally, we who are working in this field must have confidence in ourselves because we are on the right side of history. We take strength from the historical momentum now building up towards the abolition of nuclear weapons. Informed public opinion is with us. It is our job to energize the public at large.

We must constantly appeal to the conscience of humanity to take steps to ban the instruments that would destroy all life on the planet. Through art, films, books, the Internet, and all forms of modern communication, we must reflect, inspire, deepen and utilize the feelings within all civilizations that the threat of mass killings cannot be tolerated.

The hibakusha animate us. Their suffering must never be in vain. In their name, we will succeed in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear motion adopted: the Senate of Canada, 2 June 2010

Motion to Recognize the Danger Posed by the Proliferation of Nuclear Materials and Technology to Peace and Security Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth,

That the Senate:

(a) recognize the danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology to peace and security;

(b) endorse the statement, signed by 500 members, officers and companions of the Order of Canada, underlining the importance of addressing the challenge of more intense nuclear proliferation and the progress of and opportunity for nuclear disarmament;

(c) endorse the 2008 five point plan for nuclear disarmament of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations and encourage the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General;

(d) support the recent initiatives for nuclear disarmament of President Obama of the United States of America;

(e) commend the decision of the Government of Canada to participate in the landmark Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., in April, 2010 and encourage the Government of Canada to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House to unite with the Senate for the above purpose.

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I would like to discuss the motion moved by Senator Segal to recognize the danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology to peace and security. I will also take this opportunity to draw your attention to a few related issues.

Honourable senators, I am encouraged by the great strides achieved over the past year in the context of the international campaign to promote nuclear disarmament. The Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and the ever-increasing co-operation between the United States and Russia seem to confirm that the nuclear problem is definitely considered a top international priority.

However, there is still a lot of scepticism about whether these measures are really leading somewhere and whether the intentions are genuine. I must admit that I understand that scepticism. Years of diplomatic efforts, although encouraging, have not always had the results we could rightfully hope for. The situation seems to have gotten worse in many respects.

Senator Segal’s timely and relevant initiative is necessary to establish Canada’s position on security and nuclear disarmament. Although Canada joined like-minded countries to help create the International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957, and to help pass the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 1970, since then, Canada has been remarkably silent in recent years. Nevertheless, I think we could do a better job than simply highlighting the declarations and initiatives made by others.

I understand that it is important to show our support for the initiatives described in the motion. However, I think it is also time for us to start thinking seriously about how Canada can help the discussions on the abolition of nuclear arms move forward.


We need to ask ourselves two questions: does Canada really believe in this? If so, how can Canada use its resources to ensure that future generations will live in a world without nuclear weapons? If we really believe in abolishing nuclear weapons — and I think we do — then we have to prove it. We need to know how Canadians can make a credible, constructive contribution to improving nuclear safety and achieving the goals of nuclear non-proliferation and, ultimately, nuclear disarmament. Our contribution must be in line with those of our allies and the international community.

Canada has extensive and unique expertise and experience that are directly relevant to preventing nuclear proliferation. Shouldn’t we make the most of that expertise and experience and put those skills to use?


I believe that one area in which Canada could make a significant and invaluable contribution is around verification. Nearly every initiative outlining the necessary steps moving forward on nuclear disarmament, including those mentioned in Senator Segal’s motion, stress the need for an effective and, therefore, meaningful system of verification. The key element of such a system will be unrestricted access by the inspectors.

An agreement on arms control and disarmament without meaningful rules for verification will no doubt give rise to grave consequences. It could lead to violations being overlooked or to unfounded accusations of non-compliance. Either way, the system will have been weakened. If it is unable to get off the ground in the first place, it will certainly not be able to maintain the commitment or adherence of its members.

Some institutions have risen to the challenge of devising a system that could work. As one example, VERTIC, the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre, in London, has been carrying out research in international simulations to test new ground in arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament verification.

Despite this work, there are still aspects of the existing proposals that fail to respond to the concerns of interested countries. For instance, how can verification of a treaty be undertaken without relying on the national technical means of participating countries, without requiring countries to disclose justifiably classified information and without violating their state sovereignty? This is only one of the policy and legal challenges in verification. On technological grounds, the limits of my knowledge of the science involved prevent me from going much further into the challenges that have been raised.

However, let me assure honourable senators that although the road ahead seems long, notwithstanding the knowledge and the experience gained by the IAEA since it began implementing its first nuclear safeguard systems in 1967, there is room to advance and to achieve the aim. That there are complex legal, scientific and engineering challenges in developing a credible system of treaty verification of nuclear disarmament, is one of the loudest arguments made by those opposed to disarmament. Opponents can easily point to the fact that the existing international treaties have not prevented certain states from developing clandestine nuclear weapons programs. The IAEA’s nuclear safeguard system has been very effective insofar as the nuclear programs declared by states and those states concerned. However, undeclared clandestine programs are beyond the vigilance of the agency. Why undertake the process of disarmament if it cannot be verified? Why commit the political capital and diplomatic resources if cases of non-compliance cannot be identified?

There is undeniable scope for taking on joint research among countries and for sharing information on verification research more broadly. This is valuable not only because it improves the thinking and available machinery for verification but also because it serves to enhance confidence between countries as they cooperate in overcoming their common problems. I think we can see that that area represents a clear need for action and a great opportunity.

Where is Canada in all of this? Honourable senators might be aware that Canada has a proud history of leading the field of verification research for arms control and disarmament. By bringing together the very best experts in government, the academic community and the private sector, Canada was able to develop important technological, legal, and institutional tools of verification. We can rightly claim that these tools constituted a significant contribution to the international framework upon which the watershed arms control agreements in Europe in the 1980s were negotiated and implemented.

My point is not to dwell on the past initiatives or past accolades, though as a side note it is worth noting that the Verification Research Program operated successfully on an annual budget of only $1 million. Rather, I want to draw attention to Canada’s demonstrated ability to respond to the needs of the international community in the very practical and meaningful way, as we have done in the past.

This is the kind of thinking we need now. We need this country’s leadership. We need this country’s grey cells to take on this role. Verification is but one issue central to the disarmament objective. Achievement of this objective cannot be dismissed as a matter dependent on the political will among the great powers. Its achievement will require the dedicated effort of countries like Canada to promote transparency, act as an honest broker and put all the required multilateral processes into action. We actually initiate, create and anticipate. Moreover, efforts to strengthen tools of verification should be combined with sustained efforts to address some of the issues that lead to proliferation, including poverty, resolution of regional and global tensions, such as the Middle East and the Far East.

Our Prime Minister should be seen to be solidly supportive by regularly speaking out on nuclear proliferation and disarmament, not just when the issues are topical, such as the Washington Summit. This has to be a consistent message and be made whenever and wherever opportunity presents itself. Canada should be clearly and strongly associated with the resolution of these challenges to world peace and prosperity and be universally known as the non-nuclear weapon world advocate.


I would also like to draw the attention of the Senate to another issue related to this motion, which is the fact that there is no mention of the Arctic, and I am talking about the Far North.

The Arctic is opening up more and more, and neighbouring countries are fighting each other for a share of the Arctic coastline and ocean floor. We can therefore expect a certain degree of militarization. To date, the process has been mainly peaceful and co-operative. We can say that there is no place for nuclear weapons in the Arctic.

The Canadian Pugwash Group, along with a host of other international organizations, has spent the past few years looking at the problem and gathering support for an Arctic nuclear-weapon-free zone. As part of this campaign, the organizations are calling on Arctic nations that do not have nuclear weapons, such as Canada, to do the following: first, negotiate a nuclear-weapon-free zone to be created on their land north of the Arctic Circle;


Second, as a preliminary measure, include in these negotiations any states possessing nuclear weapons, so that these states include their own Arctic territory in an Arctic nuclear-weapon free zone; third, in order to actively promote a step-by-step approach, first target land territories, then, through negotiations, work on air space and marine areas; fourth, urge NATO to remove all restrictions from its member states that would impede the creation of an Arctic nuclear-weapon-free zone, for example, a nuclear arms storage agreement during times of war.

Canada must take this issue very seriously. Creating an Arctic nuclear-weapon-free zone will be a long process. Now is the time to launch this initiative, while the Arctic is being shaped, because this opportunity will not exist for long.

Honourable senators, I urge you to support Senator Segal’s motion. It is a major effort to initiate a debate in our country and draw attention to an issue that Canada could and should be more actively involved in. Nuclear weapons, by their very nature, threaten human rights around the globe. We need to take the opportunities that are given to us and do everything in our power to ensure that this world is safer for future generations.


I would like to end with an anecdote regarding a speech I gave at a high school just south of Winnipeg. After I spoke, a grade 11 student asked me: “Why are we worried about plastic bags and dirty water, when we have the ability to completely obliterate and eliminate the whole of the environment, the whole of the surface of the Earth?” I stood back and I said that, yes, she was right. We have nuclear weapons that can actually do that.

It is rather surprising that developed countries, over the last 20 years since the end of the Cold War, have invested nearly $1 trillion in modernizing these nuclear weapons, for absolutely nothing. We have not invested $1 trillion in protecting the environment.

We should not be surprised if the youth of this country think that we send mixed messages and that we are not necessarily consistent in how we see the future and the future of humanity.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Segal that the — shall I dispense?

Hon. Senators: Dispense.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

(Motion agreed to.)

PNND Update

From Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament Update 29, July 2010:

“On June 2, 2010, the Senate of Canada unanimously adopted a motion submitted by Senator Hugh Segal (Conservative Party), which, inter alia, endorsed the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Plan for nuclear disarmament and encouraged the government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. The Senate sent the motion to the House of Commons with the aim to achieve a common resolution following the summer recess. The overwhelming support by the Senate for the Nuclear Weapons Convention follows the release in March of a letter supporting the NWC from over 500 recipients of the Order of Canada -– the country’s highest civilian honour.

PNND Special Representative Roméo Dallaire, speaking in the debate on the draft resolution, indicated a number of areas in which Canada could contribute to nuclear disarmament – including verification for a NWC and the establishment of an Arctic Nuclear Weapons Free Zone as a step towards global nuclear abolition.”