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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:

wwnwGroup08-16-2012The Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955 was a call to action in the campaign to prevent war and to realize nuclear disarmament. It 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

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:

Canadian Pugwash Group member Setsuko Thurlow accepts the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN (jointly with executive director Beatrice Fihn, right).
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.

Why Canada needs a cyber security foreign policy

Following is an op-ed inspired by the May 24 conference “War or Peace in Cyberspace: Whither International Cyber Security?” in Waterloo for which CPG was a co-sponsor.

Hill Times | June 14, 2018

War or peace in cyberspace? This basic question was the theme of a recent gathering of cyber security experts held at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Ont. Unlike many such meetings, the focus was on international policy and the status to be accorded this vital, if vulnerable, environment.

There has been a steady “militarization” of cyberspace in recent years, with states moving from an exclusive focus on cyber defence to an open acknowledgement of offensive cyber capabilities.

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Canadian Action for Nuclear Disarmament

Address to “How to Save the World in a Hurry” Conference | Toronto | May 30, 2018

Metta Spencer, that valiant champion of how to save the world in a hurry, has urged us to speak briefly when addressing the immense question of planetary survival. In focusing on nuclear weapons, which are the paramount threat to global security, I can think of no more succinct warning than the operating principle agreed to by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev while the Cold war still raged:

A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.

Those twelve words need to be driven into the minds of every political leader in the world. If they cannot yet agree on what, exactly, constitutes nuclear disarmament, they surely can agree on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences resulting from any use of nuclear weapons and the consequent need to completely eliminate such weapons.

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Sleepwalking towards the 2020 review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

First published in opencanada.org | 8 May 2018

If ensuring smooth proceedings was your chief criterion for judging the second preparatory committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that concluded May 4, then the meeting was a clear success.

This was the second of three preparatory committee meetings held in the run-up to review conferences, which are held every five years to review implementation of the treaty and decide on future action. With 191 state parties, the NPT embodies the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Some 105 of these states participated in the recent two-week session in Geneva, alongside many NGO representatives.

Key procedural decisions were taken, such as the selection of the chair of next year’s preparatory committee, or PrepCom (Malaysian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York Muhammad Yaakob), and the setting of dates for the 2020 Review Conference (April 27 to May 22).

This year’s PrepCom chair, Polish Ambassador to the UN in Vienna Adam Bugajski, also duly produced a 19-page factual summary of the proceedings issued under his personal authority, which avoided the difficulties that would be attendant on any effort to have the meeting adopt such a summary as its own. (This did not spare the chair from numerous expressions of disappointment by delegates, however.)

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Trump’s Terrible Nuclear Posture: More weapons, higher spending, lower threshold, less control

Published in Cape Breton Observer, 7 March 2018

On February 2, the United States released its first Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) since the 2010 study commissioned by President Barack Obama. The Obama NPR disappointed many disarmament advocates in its doctrinal timidity – its failure to declare the US would never use nuclear weapons first, and only ever use them in response to a nuclear attack on itself or its allies – and its strategic conservatism – its recommitment to a ‘triad’ of land-, sea- and air-launched long-range weapons. It did, though, seek to both diminish the number of warheads in the American arsenal (and, through arms control negotiations, the arsenals of the other nuclear-armed states) and limit the role of such monstrously indiscriminate ‘weapons’ to always and only deterring war.

In stark contrast, the Trump NPR seeks, at immense cost, new ways to make nuclear war more thinkable, ‘practical’, and ‘winnable’, including deploying new, ‘low-yield’ systems blurring the lines between conventional and nuclear conflict, and lowering the ‘threshold’ at which their use becomes ‘acceptable’. While building on Obama’s ill-conceived, 30-year $1.2 trillion modernization of the triad, the Trump blueprint has been widely denounced (by both champions and critics of deterrence) as a defence of the indefensible, nuclear war as a legitimate exercise of military power, at a time of heightened nuclear danger in the Korean peninsula and beyond.

Read More (external link, Cape Breton Spectator, 7 Mar 2018)

Folding the Umbrella: Nuclear Allies, the NPT and the Ban Treaty

Summary

The adoption of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibi­tion Treaty (NWPT) by 122 states in July 2017 introduced a powerful new dynamic into the stagnant realm of nuclear disarmament. The decision by the nuclear weapon states (NWS) and their nuclear dependent allies to boycott the NWPT negotiations created a schism within the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) community that will not be easily repaired. The NWPT did not come out of the blue, but was in itself a manifes­tation of the building frustration of non-NWS over the failure of the NWS to deliver on their nuclear disarmament commitments. While shar­ing some of this frustration, the nuclear depend­ent allies opted to privilege adherence to the doctrine of nuclear deterrence over advancing nuclear disarmament goals. If the NPT regime is not to suffer serious erosion, these nuclear de­pendent allies will need to convince their NWS partners to undertake tangible nuclear dis­armament action. The Nonproliferation and Dis­armament Initiative grouping of states (which includes both pro and anti NWPT states) may have a special role to play in this regard.

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