Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ)

About this Project

In 2007, Jayantha Dhanapala, President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, asked the Canadian Pugwash Group to consider the problem of nuclear weapons in the Arctic, and to put forward potential solutions.

The result was the statement “Canadian Pugwash Call for an Arctic Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone” (24 August 2007), which said:

the declaration of a NWFZ would help move the world towards the exclusion of all weapons of mass destruction from the Arctic and will be a step towards demilitarization.

The paper prompted significant discussion and debate within the Pugwash and wider disarmament community.

Several conferences on Arctic security have been held to consider growing Arctic insecurity and CPG’s statement, including “Arctic Security in the 21st Century” held in April 2008 and organized by the Simons Foundation.

In July, 2008, PNND met at Pugwash Nova Scotia, to discuss “Pugwash, Parliamentarians and Political Will: Advancing the Agenda for Abolition”.

A paper on Arctic NWFZ was presented there by Canadian Pugwash, and an article was subsequently published in SGI Quarterly ( April, 2009).

One of the participants at the Pugwash, NS meeting in 2008 subsequently introduced the concept of Arctic NWFZ in the House of Lords in Britain.

Arctic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone” was held in August 2009 and organized by the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Institute for International Studies.

The latter event, which was co-sponsored by Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), Canadian Pugwash Group and the Swedish branch of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, produced seven recommendations, which included the following:

1. That governments and relevant sectors of civil society collaborate in developing the modalities for establishing a nuclear-weapon-free and demilitarized Arctic region;

2. That such collaboration should include active participation of, among others,
indigenous and northern peoples, inhabitants of the region, parliamentarians,
scientists, health professionals and academics.

Participants in these events and those experts who have been studying the issue are becoming increasingly alarmed at the renewed and rapid pace of Arctic militarization, and the growing possibility of conflict.

At its AGM in November 2009, the Canadian Pugwash Group adopted “A Nuclear Weapon–Free Arctic Research and Campaign Plan 2009-2010.”

The goal of the campaign is

To reduce and eliminate the presence of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems in the Arctic region

A Nuclear Weapon–Free Arctic will be achieved through co-operative security measures and agreements between national governments, with the support of indigenous peoples and other Arctic communities.

This goal supports a strengthened NPT, particularly Article VI (nuclear disarmament) and Article VII (nuclear weapon-free zones), and complements U.S.–Russian Federation disarmament negotiations.

Canadian Pugwash Group,
Arctic Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone