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About Canadian Pugwash Group

We are the national affiliate of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, an international organization, which had its birthplace in Pugwash, Nova Scotia in 1957 and which was awarded the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize together with its founder Sir Joseph Rotblat. The purpose of the Pugwash Conferences is to provide scholarly insights into the prevention and resolution of armed conflict, including nuclear and conventional disarmament, control of the arms trade, the peaceful settlement of disputes and to contribute to solutions for environmental threats to human security.

Education on global security, in a broad sense, is the mandate of the Canadian Pugwash Group, carried out by sponsoring conferences, roundtables and other events to foster informed discussion and to generate ideas and proposals relevant to the formulation of government policy. For example in recent years Canadian Pugwash has organized a conference on “Canada’s Contribution to Global Security” (July 2017) and one on “Towards a World Without Nuclear Weapons” (July 2015), both of which yielded a set of policy recommendations that were conveyed to the Government of Canada for consideration.

Canadian Pugwash Bylaws

On July 2, 2014, the Canadian Pugwash Group received a Certificate of Continuance under the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (NFP Act). The original incorporation of the organization was July 12, 1990. This followed a period of activity that dated as far back as the Pugwash foundation meeting in 1957.

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs:

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 was a call to action in the campaign to prevent war and to realize nuclear disarmament. wwnwGroup08-16-2012It was the inspiration behind the establishment in 1957 by the philanthropist Cyrus Eaton of the Pugwash Conferences and the gathering of scientists from East and West at his summer residence in the small seaside village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia (now the National Historic Site of “Thinkers Lodge”). Pugwash members continue to uphold the principles set out in the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.

Nobel Peace Prize

Canadian Pugwash Group member Setsuko Thurlow accepts the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN. Photo: Jo Straube

For more than sixty years the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs have been working for the control, reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. It was in recognition of these efforts that Pugwash, together with its President of the time, Joseph Rotblat, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In December 2017, Canadian Pugwash was honoured that one of its members, Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, was selected to receive alongside the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) the Nobel Peace Prize for ICAN’s efforts to ensure the negotiation of a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Membership:

The Canadian Pugwash Group has two categories of members: full members who are elected by the current Board of Directors on the basis of a nomination originating with one or more of the current members. New members have made significant contributions in their professional lives to advancing the goals of the Pugwash movement. A category of Associate Members is aimed at individuals at an earlier stage of their careers or those unable to participate on a regular basis with Canadian Pugwash activities, who nevertheless support the principles of the movement and who wish to engage with like-minded colleagues. Associate Members are appointed by the Chair upon consultation with the Board of Directors. All members have access to a dedicated listserv for the sharing of articles and other information relevant to Canadian Pugwash’s mission. Please feel free to contact the Chair or Vice-Chair for information about becoming associated with Canadian Pugwash.

Please use the menu to explore our website and to find out about current peace and security issues and initiatives involving Canadian Pugwash members.

Peacekeeping games, anyone?

So many people play online as warfighters but, in stark contrast, no one plays as peacekeepers. The immediate explanation is simple: there are no such games. But that is a mystery to me. Peacekeeping is more intellectually and ethically challenging, more deeply meaningful, more emotionally rewarding (saving people), and still includes the challenges (and excitement) of combat. So I began to explore the possibilities of peacekeeping gaming which led to publishing of a detailed paper recently: “From Wargaming to Peacekeeping: Digital Simulations with Peacekeeper Roles Needed” (pdf) in the journal International Peacekeeping.

I first asked myself and my research assistants, avid gamers who became my co-authors: what existing games come close to peacekeeping? A search online for “peacekeeping” games yielded some ridiculous results at first. For instance, the game Peacekeeper – Trench Defense describes itself this way:

Fight epic battles, slay endless waves of enemy hordes, and restore the peace! You’re the Peacekeeper, one of the world’s toughest elite soldiers. A relentless onslaught of enemy troops is invading your land. It’s up to you to restore the peace, and what better way to do that than with your huge arsenal of guns?!

Not exactly what we had in mind.

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25 Years After the Indefinite Extension of The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: A Field of Broken Promises and Shattered Visions

VIENNA (IDN) – Attending my second NPT review conference as a member of the Canadian delegation, I can still recall that early afternoon on 11 May 1995 when delegates from 175 countries, after four weeks of hectic negotiations that went late into the night in a small conference room at the United Nations in New York that reeked of an admixture of cigarette smoke, perfume and disgusting body odour, finally came together in the General Assembly Hall to make the world less dangerous from the overhanging threat of nuclear devastation and agreed without a vote to indefinitely extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

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From Wargaming to Peacegaming: Digital Simulations with Peacekeeper Roles Needed

A. Walter Dorn, Stewart Webb and Sylvain Pâquet

Originally published in International Peacekeeping, 27:2, 289-310 (2020). (pdf)

ABSTRACT

Militaries around the world have benefited from computerized games. Many recruits have been attracted to the military through military-style video games. After recruitment, games and simulations provide an important means of soldier training, including before actual deployments. However, electronic games are lacking for UN peace operations. The multidimensionality of peacekeeping has yet to be simulated in serious games to complement the many games that too often depict a binary battlefield of blue-team versus red-team (or, often in public games, good versus evil). Not only could soldiers benefit from nuanced and ambitious peace-related games, so too could civilian peacekeepers, and the public at large. Peacekeeping gaming should not be merely at the tactical level; the operational and strategic levels can be gamed as well. The decision-making in future peacekeeping simulations could help instruct conflict-resolution and critical thinking skills. The paper posits that such digital games could be an important tool for current and future peacekeepers, both military and civilian. Commercial games could also help educate the public on UN peacekeeping. The paper suggests that the United Nations partner with some member states and perhaps the video game industry to provide in-depth training simulations that mirror the challenges and complexities of modern peace operations.

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Overcoming the NPT’s “institutional deficit”: A Canadian saga

Abstract

Ever since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995, Canada has promoted the concept of “permanence with accountability.” Canada led on an ambitious initiative to enhance accountability via a reform package to overcome the NPT’s “institutional deficit.” Launched prior to the failed 2005 Review Conference, the effort was sustained for a decade. The priority goals were to establish annual meetings of states parties; to create a standing body of past, present, and future chairs; and to provide for the convening of extraordinary meetings. These ideas attracted support, but also opposition, from quarters less interested in having more effective tools of accountability put into place. The history of this initiative sheds light on the dynamics of multilateral diplomacy in the nuclear realm and on weaknesses in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty process that continue to threaten the authority of the treaty.

Contact International Journal if you seek full text access to this paper.

Letter to Justin Trudeau re the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
7 April 2020

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

The organizations below urge that Canada renew its commitment to UN peacekeeping, in particular through a substantive contribution to the UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

This is a crucial time for MINUSMA. The UN Department of Peace Operations has announced new mission requirements to implement the Force Adaptation Plan. That Plan calls for certain capabilities that Canada is well positioned to offer. This includes helicopters (both Chinooks and Griffons, that Canada provided once before), monitoring capabilities, and rapidly deployable units. At a time when MINUSMA is under practical and financial pressures, Canada can help achieve the mission’s important objectives, which include buttressing a still-fragile peace process, supporting democratic governance in Mali, blunting the influence of terrorist groups and spoilers, strengthening national police capacities, and (not least) protecting civilians.

A contribution at this crucial time would help show that Canadian support for peacekeeping is constant and dependable, long-term and not episodic. We are encouraged by the Government of Canada’s often expressed support for multilateralism and a rules-based international order (RBIO). We assert that the surest way to create a better and sustained RBIO is through a well-functioning UN system. Canada pioneered the concept of peacekeeping forces and needs now to support it. As Lester B. Pearson said in his Nobel peace prize speech in 1957:

“We made at least a beginning then. If, on that foundation, we do not build something more permanent and stronger, we will once again have ignored realities, rejected opportunities, and betrayed our trust. Will we never learn?”

Canada did learn and, for four decades, continuously provided about 1,000 uniformed personnel for UN peacekeeping. If Canada is not able to renew to such a level, at least it can reach the numbers your government promised in 2016: up to 600 military personnel and 150 police officers. Furthermore, at the 2017 Vancouver ministerial, Canada pledged a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) for UN service but has yet to fulfil that promise. The QRF would make a substantial contribution to MINUSMA.

A renewed Canadian contribution to UN peacekeeping would support Canada’s bid for a Security Council seat.

We recognize that these are uniquely challenging times for Canada and the world. We urge that Canada make provision for a renewed personnel commitment to the peace support operation in Mali, including with the pledged but yet to be registered QRF. Canada can be quick and committed.

Thank you for considering this.

Sincerely,

Artistes pour la Paix
Prof. Pierre Jasmin jasmin.pierre@uqam.ca

Canadian Pugwash Group
Paul Meyer, Chair pmeyer@sfu.ca

Project Ploughshares
Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director cjaramillo@ploughshares.ca

Rideau Institute
Peggy Mason, President pmason@rideauinstitute.ca

World Federalist Movement – Canada
Prof. Walter Dorn, National President walter.dorn@rmc.ca

Warring parties must lay down weapons to fight bigger battle against COVID-19

UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s plea to ‘silence the guns’ would create corridors for lifesaving aid and open windows for diplomacy in the war-torn zones in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the central areas of Africa.

The Hill Times, 6 April 2020 [version français ici]

EDMONTON—”The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.” In one short sentence, UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the door to a new understanding of what constitutes human security. Will governments seize the opportunity provided by the immense crisis of COVID-19 to finally adopt a global agenda for peace?

In an extraordinary move on March 23, Guterres urged warring parties around the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19 the common enemy now threatening all of humanity. He called for an immediate global ceasefire everywhere: “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

His plea to “silence the guns” would create corridors for life-saving aid and open windows for diplomacy in the war-torn zones in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the central areas of Africa.

But the full meaning of Guterres’s appeal is much bigger than only suspending existing wars. It is a wakeup call to governments everywhere that war does not solve existing problems, that the huge expenditures going into armaments divert money desperately needed for health supplies, that a bloated militarism is impotent against the new killers in a globalized world.

All the armies in the world can’t stop COVTD-19. It’s a dark and scary moment when a bunch of microbes brings humanity to its knees. We’ve come to a turning point in world history. The old ways of building security—bigger and better weapons—are completely irrelevant now.

So what do we do when a virus blatantly crosses borders and ignores strategic weapons systems? More of the same thinking that deceived people into believing that as long as we had big guns we would be safe won’t do. We have to overhaul our thinking.

“Big thinking” is not just a bromide. It’s now essential for survival. We have to build a system to provide common security. In the midst of the Cold War four decades ago, an all-star international panel led by Swedish prime minister Olof Palme established the principle that, in the age of weapons of mass destruction, no nation by itself can find security. Nations can only find security in cooperation and not at one another’s expense. Common security, Palme argued, requires an end to arms competitions, national restraint, and a spirit of collective responsibility and mutual confidence.

Over the following years, the idea of common security broadened out beyond military measures to include new streams of cooperation in economic and social development and protection of the environment.

Suddenly, in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union imploded.The Cold War ended. In 1992, the UN secretary-general at the time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote a stunning document, Agenda for Peace, incorporating the ideas of common security into practical programs for peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping.

But instead of overhauling the global security system to provide common security for everyone, governments lumbered on and threw the peace dividend they had in their hands out the window. The Western countries expanded NATO up to Russia’s borders. Russia invaded Crimea. Arms expenditures shot up. Governments squandered a magnificent opportunity to build a world of peace.The culture of war was too strong and the moment was lost.

Three decades ago, the great historian Barbara Tuchman and author of The March of Folly was right when she wrote: “Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of pre-conceived notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs.”

Now, in the current crisis, Guterres is telling us that continuation of the “folly” of war is jeopardizing the security for all—the rich as well as the marginalized.The Trump administration’s call for $46-billion more for nuclear weapons when the country can’t even provide enough masks for health workers in treating COVID-19 is obscene beyond words.

And what about Canada? The government plans to increase defence spending to $32-billion by 2027. Why? To appease U.S. Donald President Trump’s gargantuan military appetite driving NATO states to spend two percent of their GDP on weaponry and all that goes with it. We can beat COVID-19 by spending money on health and development measures, not arms.

Far better to cut Canada’s planned defence spending by 10 per cent and put an extra $2-billion to $3-billion into the UN’S Sustainable Development Goals, the 17-point program centring around huge improvements in maternal health, water systems and sustainable agriculture. But we can’t get there with a continuation of “ordinary” planning. We need truly bold thinking to beat back the threat posed to common security by COVID-19.

The Canadian government wants to show what it could do on the Security Council. Switching political thinking from the culture of war to a culture of peace would be worthy of the greatest health challenge Canada has faced in the past hundred years.

Douglas Roche, a former MP, Senator and Canadian ambassador for disarmament, is the author of Hope Not Fear: Building Peace in a Fractured World.