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)


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


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.


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.

Canadian Pugwash Group activities 2018-20

1. Statement on USA-Iran confrontation. January 15, 2020

2. September 2019 CPG Conference:  Speeding Towards the Abyss: Report
The contemporary arms race in its various dimensions was the theme of a conference co-sponsored by Canadian Pugwash and the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa on September 26, 2019. The conference brought together academic and civil society experts to examine how the “arms race” of the Cold War is reviving and spreading beyond the nuclear weapons arena to new domains such as outer space, cyberspace and AI.

3. Erosion of Arms Control Panel
Paul Meyer on October 17, 2019 was invited to participate in the subject panel held as a side event during the current session of the UN’s First Committee. The panel was chaired by Sergio Duarte, President of International Pugwash and included Prof Nina Tannenwald of Brown University (author of the “nuclear taboo” thesis); Anne Kempaiinen (Minister Counsellor-EU Delegation Geneva) and Andrey Baklitskiy (PIR Centre Moscow).

4. The UN, Peacekeeping and Technology project had this article published:
Cyberpeacekeeping: New Ways to Prevent and Manage Cyberattacks; authored by
Dr. Walter Dorn.

5. Publication as part of UN/PK and Technology project: Eliminating Hidden Killers: How Can Technology Help Humanitarian Demining?, authored by Dr. Walter Dorn.
This paper calls for new ideas, renewed innovation, and new sources of governmental and non-governmental support for this often-neglected aspect of international security.

6. Setsuko Thurlow, who jointly accepted the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN, was interviewed in Toronto, June 2019 at a luncheon in her honour.

7. Two members of CPG, Dr. Adele Buckley and Dr. David Harries, attended the EuroPugwash meeting in Bristol, UK, Feb 28 & Mar 1, 2019, and both made presentations.

8. CPG sponsored or co-sponsored four panels/side-events at the NPT PrepCom May, 2019, led by Dr. Erika Simpson, assisted by Dr. Adele Buckley

  1. Strategies for Advancing towards a World Without Nuclear Weapons
  2. NATO’s Strategic Concept and the 2020 NPT Review Conference
  3. Lessons of NATO Operations for the 2020 NPT Review Conference
  4. Cooperation Toward Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

9. The Canadian Pugwash Group co-sponsored the Group of 78 (G78) Annual Policy Conference on “Global Markets, Inequality and the Future of Democracy” at University of Ottawa on September 27-28 2019. Members of the Canadian Pugwash Global Issues Project, including Peter Venton, participated in the research and planning of this Conference

10. CPG organizes annual research roundtables:
In 2019, topics included:

  • The UN Enters Twenty-first Century Technologically
  • Outer Space and the United Nations: Harnessing Science for Human Rights and Sustainable Development
  • International institutions in the postcolonial era: For an inclusive peace
  • Researching a Framework for Transnational Collaboration on Common Security
  • What prospects for controls on military applications of AI?
  • Can Trees Save Us?
  • A Besieged Kashmir: South Asia’s Nuclear Precariousness Gets Dangerously Routinized

In 2018, topics included:

  • Bertrand Russell Revisited: regaining a mobilized public and political establishment
  • NATO: Canada in or out?
  • Attack Helicopters and Other Crucial Technologies in UN
  • New Posture for Life
  • Climate change: a discussion about Project Drawdown

11. War or Peace in Cyberspace: Whither International Cyber Security Policy? Paul Meyer organized a policy conference in May 2018,  Waterloo, Ontario.

12. CPG co-sponsored three panels/side-events at the NPT PrepCom May, 2018, led by Dr. Erika Simpson, assisted by Dr. Adele Buckley

13. May 2018: CPG was a participant in and cosponsor of: “How to Save the World in a Hurry” conference at the University of Toronto. Conference organizer was Prof Metta Spencer, CPG emeritus member. A list of 25 policies — the “Platform for Survival” — was adopted by consensus.

14. CPG continues to be the administrative home of Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC). In February 2020, CNWC hosted a visit of UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Izumu Nakamitsu. She met parliamentarians, government officials and gave a public lecture. CNWC co-hosts expert panel discussions, and also presents an annual award to a Canadian who has made a significant contribution to a peaceful world.

15. In 2020, CPG became the administrative home of the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW). CNANW is asking Canada’s Prime Minister to be keynote speaker at the 75th Anniversary Commemoration of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, August 6,2020 in Ottawa.

16. CPG sponsors two well-used discussion groups arctic-nuclear-weapon-free@googlegroups.com and cdnpugwashgrp@googlegroups.com , managed by Adele Buckley and Robin Collins respectively.

17. A new CPG Board of Directors was elected at the Annual General Meeting in September, 2019. Details can be found at www.pugwashgroup.ca

18. The CPG website was actively used, with over 50 new items posted in 2019.

CPG was a signatory (and/or co-author) to several Canadian NGO co-organized statements.
In addition several reports, publications, op-eds were produced by individual CPG members.