We call on our leaders to act. The Earth Charter says, “This is a moment of great peril and great promise.” These words point to a realization that true security for global society must look at a broad vision of sustainability based on “respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace”. Global Peace Alliance believes this broad vision is vital to moving forward in security and peace.
A Time of Peril
The climate crisis looms large and results in world conflict and forced migration due to starvation and wars. Without protection and prevention we face environmental disasters such as devastating flooding, fires, tornadoes, landslides and more. We are watching our seas rise, the arctic ice melting affecting marine and land animals.
Pandemic(s), due to humanity’s interference in the natural world, have become an alarming reality. COVID-19 has thrown the world into an economic, social and health crisis from which long-term recovery will be needed. And there is no guarantee that future pandemics can be avoided. This pandemic has revealed starkly long-standing social, racial, gender, age inequalities which are leading, in some cases to violence and death. Universal human rights are not being respected. Just distribution of vaccines is critically needed. Canada must commit to the COVAX Accord with over 100 other countries, and help to force the WTO’s hand, Canada will remain responsible for the spread of future variants.
The vast gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing; during the pandemic. While there was a call, at the beginning of the pandemic, for “being in this together” with cooperation and care, adequate evidence of true cooperation and working for the greatest common good, is still lacking. A Just Recovery is desperately needed if the world is to live in a sustainable way.
The Doomsday Clock 2022, announced by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, puts the clock, for the second year, at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest to midnight it has ever been. While there has been some reduction in nuclear weapon arsenals, at the same time, there has been renewal of existing weapons, and trillions budgeted to create modernized weapons. Nations such as North Korea and Iran threaten to build weapons. The present invasion of Russia into Ukraine and declaration of war where nuclear weapons could possibly be used, makes real the great danger in the world. If we look on and do nothing, even an accident could trigger a nuclear war with vast devastation to large parts of, or the greater part of the earth. With growing focus on power through arms, there are increased dangers due to cyberwar, undetectable missiles and drones. Roughly 13000 nuclear warheads remain in the world, 1800 of which could be used in under 30 minutes even before an attack is confirmed. Research shows that since 1950, there have been more than 1000 occasions when nuclear weapons have been nearly launched due to human error, or communications and technical faults.
On 3 Jan 2022, the five nuclear powers who are States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), issued a Joint Statement in which they stated that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, and they renewed their commitment to the NPT, including Article 6. Swift response from international civil society welcomed these words but asserted that ACTION was needed immediately for trust to be possible. The world stands waiting with no certainty that nuclear elimination can be a reality. (5)
Anxiety, Depression and Addiction in the populations of the world are on the rise due to many of the factors mentioned above such as: economic and employment instability and uncertainty, Climate Crisis, social isolation due to the pandemic, inequalities of many kinds, an unsafe world with violence and nuclear fears, hopelessness about the future. These mental health issues are particularly prevalent among youth.
A Time of Promise
With greater connection and communication across the world due to the internet, ordinary people can join voices, and organize. These combined voices are becoming louder and more assertive, even among children and youth. This was especially evident at COP 26. Voices of the world are now calling for faster, bolder action to deal with the climate crisis, pandemics, nuclear weapons. They want less bla-bla, more action with definite goals accompanied by time-lines and accountability.
During the pandemic, the scientists of the world collaborated and broke records in developing vaccines. They knew that the health of each individual, each nation, depends on the health of all the world. For that reason, the UN and WHO called Big Pharma to relax patent rules so that poorer countries could produce their own vaccines, and get them quickly into arms. They called for the health of people over the profit of corporations. With research and accumulated experience, the world now possesses increasing knowledge to feed the world, organize best-practices for health care, establish just economic measures, build collaborative social supports, and achieve sustainable climate and ecosystems to contribute to the interconnected health and well-being of all.
Recovery from the pandemic, with such mechanisms as a Green New Deal, and policies for a Just Transition to a resilient future, can be worked on as a way for every society to move forward. Creativity, knowhow, technology and financial resources from all wealthy countries can be shared to attain a just and caring world where poverty, hunger, deadly diseases such as AIDS, water and air pollution, human rights and economic equality for all can be addressed and greatly improved. As we see ourselves as an interconnected world community, we can build a common security for all.
We ask the Canadian government to:
Divert military budgets to meet the urgent needs of society and the planet at home and abroad e.g. health, education, decolonization, climate action, sustainable development, a just transition to a green economy, economic justice. Assist in the resettlement of war refugees and once crisis is resolved help in the rebuilding of Ukraine. Instead, Ottawa has promised to increase military spending by $62.3 billion and is buying fighter jets. Canada is escalating and prolonging the conflict in Ukraine.
Urgent calls to change military planning
- Scrap plans to purchase Canada’s first unmanned armed drones
- Cancel Canada’s planned purchase of 88 new fighter jets.
- Stop producing and selling weapons.
- Immediately cease all programs providing military-grade equipment and training to police and other countries
- Expedite the clean-up of all former Canadian military bases, concretize plans to return land to Indigenous communities
Take immediate steps to pull back from war assistance and military power in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
A. Ask both NATO (US) and Russia to take missiles off hair-trigger alert to avoid nuclear war.
B. Call on both sides to avoid all threat of nuclear weapons use, and live up to their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as well as their Joint Statement of January 3, 2022: “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” Dialogue and diplomacy must be used for lasting peace
C. No to NATO Membership for Ukraine, but a commitment to neutrality and sustainable peace. Review Canada’s place in NATO. Ensure a negotiated peace agreement includes above as well as the withdrawal of surrounding NATO forces and sanctions.
A. Recognize Russia’s legitimate fears of encirclement (3); encourage NATO’s pullback. Encourage re-commitment to the Minsk Accords. (4)
B. Renew diplomatic initiatives at Pugwash and at OSCE (4)
C. Work diligently for arms control; urge all nuclear nations for a No-First-Use of nuclear weapons for the common security of the world
D. Create a non-militarized nuclear-free zones around Ukraine and in the Arctic. This is in the national interests of both Canada and Russia
Turn back the Doomsday clock. Create common security.(5)
A. Join our NATO allies, Norway and Germany, as an observer at the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Nuclear Ban Treaty (TPNW). Almost 200 countries have already signed this Treaty, 59 have ratified. It is time for Canada to sign and ratify the Ban Treaty with the growing number of nations in the world. Freeze, reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons (which an overwhelming majority of Canadians have wanted for more than twenty years: 80% In the most recent NANOS poll (1).
B. At the upcoming NATO Policy Review Summit in June, 2022, Canada can facilitate a discussion of NATO nuclear policy of deterrence. Advocate for withdrawal from this policy, and call, rather, for nonviolent international dialogue and diplomacy to resolve conflicts. Assist with a new European security architecture based on an indivisible security for all nations and improve the functioning of the UN.
C. Take leadership at the 11th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in August, 2022, by calling on all NPT States to act decisively on their solemn promise under Article 6, to take steps toward nuclear disarmament. Urge cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons by 2025, general and complete disarmament by 2045.
(2) Major nuclear treaties:
Public pressure forced leaders to sign many of the major nuclear treaties: read the full story in Nuclear Arms – An Enduring Peril by Échec à la Guerre.
NPT Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1968
ABM Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty 1972-2002
IRNF Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces treaty 1988 (Reagan-Gorbatchev)
CBTB The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty 1996 – eight nuclear powers refused to ratify
New Start 2010 extended to 2026, but both Russia and US accuse each other of cheating.
(3) NATO encirclement
Just-opened US archives show US and NATO repeatedly breaking their solemn promises not to expand “an inch to the east”made in 1989. “Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, NATO swallowed up thirteen countries that previously belonged to Soviet or Yugoslavian spheres of influence: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia”: Pierre Jasmin of Artistes pour la Paix 10 Sep 2021 translated in https://www.pressenza.com/2021/09/militarism-and-antimilitarism/
A 2019 RAND report to the US Army, Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground urges “Geopolitical Measures” to over-extend Russia – provide arms to Ukraine, promote regime change in Belarus, exploit tensions in the South Caucasus, reduce Russian influence in Central Asia. Most of this is still in the future, which does not reduce Russian fears. If it is ever to be effective again, OSCE, a regional conference of NATO (see fn5), would have to reject such aggressive intentions.
(4) Pugwash, OSCE and Minsk
The Pugwash Conferences, answering a call by Bertrand Russell and Alberta Einstein, hosted scientists and diplomats from both sides of the Cold War in Pugwash NS from 1957 and won a 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for helping end the Cold War. In June 2021 the organization appealed to Biden and Putin to hold regular dialogues to lower nuclear war risk. Nothing prevents the present Canadian government from supporting a re-start of the Pugwash dialogues.
OSCE, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, began with the 1975 “Helsinki process” to work for common security, arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections. US diplomats argue OSCE could help negotiate “frozen conflicts” but Russia has refused because of NATO encirclement. On 14 Jan 2022 the Polish Foreign Minister and OSCE Chair Zbigniew Rau warned that Europe faced “the greatest risk of war in 30 years”.
The Minsk Protocol of 2014 for a ceasefire in the Donbas region of Ukraine was an agreement by the Trilateral Contact Group (Ukraine, Russia and OSCE) with mediation by France and Germany (the Normandy Format). It reduced but did not end clashes, creating another “frozen conflict”. Many possible steps forward in the Minsk process are listed by the International Crisis Group on 2 Feb, Ceasefire.ca on 22 Jan, and the Canadian peace groups’ Joint initiative of 18 Jan 2022.
(5) Common security. The nuclear powers’ statement, and reactions of the peace movement
Common security, as defined by the Commonsecurity.org initiative of Olof Palme International Center, Sweden, of which Pugwash International is an affiliate: “International Security must rest on a commitment to joint survival rather than a threat of mutual destruction.”
On 3 Jan 2022, as a scheduled NPT review was postponed, a Joint statement by the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon States on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races promised future talks, and admitted that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. Responses from the peace movement include:
WILPF (Disarmament Arm of the Women’s International League League for Peace and Freedom), Reaching Critical Will: disarmament has stalled, and the NPT is not working.
PNND (Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament) Statement to all States Parties to the NPT Review Conference: halt new weapons, no first use, disarm by 2045 (the 75th anniversary of the NPT), and divert budgets and investments to public health, climate stabilization and sustainable development.
CNANW (Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), Canadians call on NATO: reduce nuclear risks 30 Jan 2022: no first use, impacts on human health and environment, join the 127 TPNW states.
Abolition 2000, Nuke-Speak should be turned into Real Action: welcomes the joint statement but distrusts the powers’ argument for “deterrence” that includes possible first use.
No First Use Global’s Fulfil the NPT and World Beyond War’s Petition of 2021 ask nuclear powers to declare no first use anywhere, anytime; sign and ratify the TPNW (Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons); start a process for monitored and complete disarmament by 2045.