Civilian-based defence considered

Official consideration of civilian-based defence (CBD) received a boost this June, when about fifty political leaders, defence specialists, and scholars of nonviolent action from nine countries gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania for a conference on "The Relevance of Civilian-Based Defense for the Baltic States."

It was the first time that defense ministry representatives from four different countries-Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Sweden-have come together to consider the potential of civilian-based defence for their countries. Other conference participants came from Australia, England, Poland, Russia and the United States

The three-day conference was co-sponsored by the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania and the Albert Einstein Institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was organized with the assistance of the Nonviolent Action Center in Vilnius.

Among the topics discussed during the conference were the recent experiences of the Baltic states with improvised civilian resistance, various strategies of CBD, and international assistance to countries using CBD.

Lithuania and Latvia are in the process of drafting their defence policies and plan to include civilian-based defence as a component of their over-all policies. Estonia is considering that option, but is not as far along in the defence planning process as the other two Baltic states.

- By Roger Powers, from Civilian Based Defence: News and Opinions.

Conversion plans

A Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on External Affairs and International Trade has recommended establishing a national economic conversion resource centre. The proposed Canadian Diversification and Conversion Resource Centre will gather and distribute data on diversification and conversion resources and projects in Canada and elsewhere.

The proposed resource centre will incorporate several of the functions suggested by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade to the subcommittee. It will provide information on new (nonmilitary) products and markets and en-courage the establishment of conversion committees in industry. The proposed centre will also monitor military production in Canada and abroad

A second recommendation made by the Arms Export Subcommittee was to expand the Defence Industry Productivity Program (DIPP) to "focus primarily on technologies with significant civilian spinoff potential." This proposal departs from recommendations by churches, peace and development groups across Canada to replace DIPP with a Conversion Productivity Program. According to COAT the idea that military research has significant civilian spinoffs has long been discredited.

Recommendations to reduce military spending and eliminate military research in universities were rejected by the subcommittee.

- By Richard Sanders, from the Peace and Environment News of October 1992

All systems are go for Space University

At the initiative of the Premier of Ontario, representatives from the Toronto Disarmament Network, Earthroots, and Members of the York Community Concerned about the Future of York University (MYCCFY) met July 23 with members of the Ontario International Space University Bid Committee to discuss some concerns that have been raised about the ISU.

The ISU Bid Committee confirmed some of the worst fears which have been raised by environmental, peace, and social justice groups.

Philip Lapp, a member of the Bid Committee and an executive of Spar Aerospace, stated quite unequivocally that ISU faculty would be free to accept contracts from military agencies and contractors.

Bid supporters admitted no consultations were held with community groups on or off the York campus before the bid was submitted, but also said that ISU would have enormous social and economic consequences for Ontario.

On top of providing funds for capital construction 2nd annual operating grants, the federal and provincial governments are now also prepared to donate taxpayer's money to foot the bill for the overwhelming portion of the annual tuition fees of U.S. $25,000 per Canadian student.

There was also no commitment from the province that annual operating grants of $3.5 million per year they have promised to give to ISU wouldn't come at the expense of the existing, publicly-funded universities.

"The meeting has strengthened our view that the ISU is potentially dangerous and unwise in terms of an industrial and education policy for Ontario," said Nick Marches of MCCFY.

The Toronto Disarmament Network, Earthroots, and MYCCFY are now consulting with the 40 or 50 groups and coalitions that have come together in opposition to the ISU and are preparing a schedule of public actions to lobby the NDP government to withdraw their support for the bid. Contact Nick Marchese at (416) 736-5324.

-From MYCCFY Press Release

Peace Magazine Nov-Dec 1992

Peace Magazine Nov-Dec 1992, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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