Nuclear Weapons Convention

An all-party parliamentary forum on nuclear disarmament was held in the Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, on December 5 to mark the first anniversary of the motion (adopted by both the Senate and the House of Commons) calling on Canada to support negotiations for a legal ban on nuclear weapons.

The motion-passed unanimously by the House oN December 7, 2010-called on the government to support UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament, which includes negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention. The motion, which also asked the government to launch “a major worldwide diplomatic initiative,” was sparked by Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, comprising more than 550 members of the Order of Canada, who signed a statement urging the government to act.

Speaking for the government, Conservative MP Scott Armstrong said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird plans to meet with former Senator Douglas Roche, O.C., founding chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative, to consider an international meeting hosted by the Canadian government to examine ways to prepare for comprehensive negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The meeting, chaired by Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache, was also addressed by Hélène Laverdière, foreign affairs spokesperson for the New Democratic Party, John McKay, national defence critic for the Liberal Party, and Ellen Michelson, shadow critic for foreign affairs for the Green Party. All speakers reiterated their party’s support for Canadian government action to start a global process to eliminate all 20,000 nuclear weapons still held in the arsenals of nine countries. A Briefing Paper spelling out ways for the Canadian government to act was presented by Ernie Regehr, O.C., former executive director of Project Ploughshares.

This project was led by Murray Thomson, O.C., who was honored with the first Annual Achievement Award of Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention for his leadership.

Source: Douglas Roche, O.C.

Department Of Peace Bill

Alex Atamanenko, MP (BC, Southern Interior), was joined at a press conference on November 30, 2011 by fellow peace advocates, along with Elizabeth May of the Green Party and Liberal Jim Karygiannis to herald the introduction later in the day of his private membes bill to create a federal Department of Peace. May and Karygiannis are co-seconding the Bill [C-373].

Atamanenko’s bill is a slightly amended version of retired NDP MP Bill Siksay’s bill from the last parliament, notable for the non-partisan support it had garnered. Karygiannis says on this issue, party politics should not get in the way.

The bill exemplifies a global movement in 30 countries promoting structures of nonviolent peace within governments, with peace ministries and departments in three countries-most recently Costa Rica.

Source: Koozma Tarasoff

Middle East Nuke Free Bid Moves to Finland

The bid to free the Middle East from all weapons of mass destruction will move next year to Helsinki, as Finland will host an international conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone liberated from all kinds of arms that bring about complete destruction.

The announcement of the venue was made by the UN on October 13, 2011. The decision coincides with a strong, increasing wave of popular protests in some key Arab countries against Israel, the only country in the region to have nuclear weapons, estimated at 210 and 250 atomic warheads. This number is equivalent to more than double the combined atomic arsenals of India and Pakistan.

Jaakko Laajava, under-secretary of state in Finland’s foreign ministry, has been appointed facilitator of the conference, which is expected to take place in 2012.

Source: Baher Kamal, IDN-In-Depth News Analysis.

Report of Bahraini Government Abuses

In November the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry released a 500-page report into human rights abuses committed during the demonstrations this spring.

In harsh language it criticized the authorities, especially regarding torture and impunity. Human Rights Watch had already documented such abuses. However, the report puts the figures of persons detained since February much higher(about 3,000) than the 1,600 that Human Rights Watch had estimated.

Source: Human Rights Watch

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2012

Peace Magazine Jan-Mar 2012, page 2. Some rights reserved.

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