TORONTO -- In 1981 the United Nations General Assembly declared the third Tuesday of September as International Day of Peace. They envisioned the whole world joining together for a minute of silence on this day. Again this year, Canadians across the country will be observing the Day, following the suggestions of "A Peal for Peace" organizer, University of Toronto Professor Donald Evans.
At precisely noon, groups of Canadians will fall silent for one minute. At exactly 12:01, the silence will be broken with other joyous sounds, such as the pealing of carillon bells, drumming by Native Canadians, or the singing of special anthems. Contact Donald Evans at 395 Markham Street, Toronto M6G 2K8.
NEW YORK -- The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has voted to recognize conscientious objection as a human right. The motion was passed on March 10, 1987, with 26 in favor, 2 against, 14 abstentions.
The key passages of the motion read: The Commission on Human Rights... (1) appeals to States to recognize that conscientious objection to military service be considered a legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; 2) Invites States to take measures
aimed at exemption from military service on the basis of a genuinely held conscientious objection to armed service; (3) Recommends to States with a system of compulsory military service, where such provision has not already been made, that they consider various forms of alternative service for conscientious objectors ... and that they refrain from subjecting such persons to imprisonment.
BY BRUCE TORRIE
OTTAWA -- The Canadian Conference on Nuclear Weapons and the Law was held here June 15-18. It was sponsored by the Canadian Bar Association and several other prestigious legal bodies, including Lawyers for Social Responsibility. About 150 eminent lawyers (including Pierre Elliott Trudeau), judges, politicians and activists attended.
The conference was organized and co-chaired by Professor Maxwell Cohen (formerly a judge at the International Court of Justice at the Hague) and President of the Canadian Bar Association, Bryan Williams. In the opening plenary session, Mr. Williams made the purpose of the meeting clear: If nuclear weapons are not illegal, he pointed out, we certainly have to find some way to make them illegal. The purpose of the meeting was for the legal profession to find ways of reaching such a goal. It will not he a simple matter. Not everyone present was committed to such a goal, however. In one debate, Dr. John Polanyi strongly challenged the conclusions of Dr. Edward Teller, the so-called "Father of the H-Bomb," who promoted Star Wars as both feasible and desirable. Polanyi disagreed on both points.
The difficulties of attaining disarmament through the courts was underscored by the keynote speech given by Hon. Ramon. Hnatyshyn, Attorney General of Canada. He pointed out that there is at present no international agreement or rule of customary international law that expressly prohibits the possession or use of nuclear weapons. In the absence of such an agreement, legal scholars have weighed the legality of such weapons by drawing analogies to other existing international laws. Argument by analogy is not sufficient, however, to create laws. Nations do not restrain themselves by reasoning from analogy, but only on the basis of precise agreement. The primary means of creating international law is negotiation of agreements among
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is one of the most important of all existing arms control agreements, Mr. Hnatyshyn pointed Out. Yet, far from outlawing nuclear weapons, the NPT accepts the possession of such weapons as a "given." It formalizes the nuclear weapons status quo. On the other hand, it also requires that all parties to the treaty pursue disarmament under effective international control.
There are several other treaties that limit nuclear weapons or regulate their use, Mr. Hnatyshyn continued. However, to regulate nuclear weapons does not make them illegal, but rather legitimates them. The reality is that the major powers have nuclear weapons, and do not regard them as illegal.
Notwithstanding this reminder about international reality, most of the legal scholars did not discount the possibility of influencing international law through court actions. There was considerable serious discussion of the upcoming challenge to the legality of nuclear weapons now being organized by the Lawyers for Social Responsibility and the World Federalists.
The conference did not attempt to produce a final resolution. However, this is only one of the first steps that the legal profession will be undertaking along similar lines. It will shortly be followed up by a similar conference sponsored both by the U.S. and the Soviet Union, at the OMNI Park Central Hotel in New York, August 29-31.
By Peter Armitage
GOOSE BAY -- The Dutch Air Force started low level flying out of Goose Bay on June 15 with twelve nuclear-capable F16 aircraft Dutch training is occurring despite the fact that a ten-year Dutch agreement to allow such training has not been ratified by the Dutch parliament. Debate on ratification is likely to occur during the fall of 1987.
Jane's Defence Weekly said last fall that the Dutch Air Force is doing simulated nuclear flights out of Goose Bay. The British Royal Air Force may also be doing so. All Tornado squadrons are nuclear capable. Now is a good time to tell the Dutch government that their aircraft are not welcome in the skies of Labrador and Québec. It is important to remind the Dutch of their own responsibility for protecting the environment and native cultures. They should be told that both the FAARO (Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office) panel and the Canadian Public Health Association have called for a moratorium on any further increase in low level flying until environmental and health studies have been completed.
The moratorium should prohibit Dutch training out of Goose Bay. Pressure should be put on the Dutch Parliament by sending letters, telegrams, or telexes to Mr. Dolman, Chairperson of the Dutch Parliament, P.O. Box 20018, 2500 EA, The Hague, The Netherlands. Telex (ND)32653.
BY KOOZMA TARASOFF
OTTAWA -- From June 3-5 the public was not allowed in Ottawa's Civic Exhibition Centre while ARMX '87, Canada's largest-ever arms bazaar was underway. U.S. soldiers extolled the virtues of tanks while peace activists, led by Quakers, handed out leaflets asking the participants to reconsider their involvement.
BY STEVE SHALLHORN
MONTRÉAL: During a Montréal press conference June 17, Greenpeace Canada announced plans to prevent port visits by nuclear armed warships, and opposition to Canada's decision to purchase nuclear powered submarines.
Greenpeace pledged to use nonviolent blockades, speedboats and other dramatic tactics to ensure that nuclear weapons are no longer brought into Canadian port cities. An independent research capability was demonstrated with the release of a "Briefing Document" outlining the dangers of nuclear weapons at sea, and two fact sheets. Greenpeace pointed out that about one third of nuclear weapons are at sea; that nuclear navies are constantly brushing against each other; and that under certain circumstances naval commanders can use nuclear weapons on their own authority. Naval forces are the most usable military force in peacetime. they are usually the first to be sent to world crisis spots, and are used to challenge nations' sovereignty. In war, naval forces armed with both conventional and nuclear weapons blur the nuclear threshold, with the potential of a local conventional war rapidly escalating into global nuclear conflict as naval forces engage each other worldwide.
Greenpeace believes that the Canadian government deliberately misled Canadians as to the teal purpose of nuclear powered submarines. A carefully orchestrated series of leaks gave the impression that the subs were to be operated by Canada in the Arctic, independent of existing naval agreements. But when Liberal defence critic Doug Frith supposed the purpose of the subs was Arctic sovereignty, Associate Minister of Defence Paul Dick yelled back "Wrong!" Minutes before, Perrin Beatty told the House that the subs would be "the most effective way of conducting anti-submarine operations in the Pacific and Atlantic." He listed the "option" of submarine operations under the ice second. The public is also given the impression that Canada will have unilateral operational control of its submarines, and that submarine patrols will not be communicated to allies, notably the United States. The Canadian public is not being told about "water management," whereby the patrol areas of all allied submarines are coordinated to avoid one tracking the other. As the U.S. submarine chief Admiral Bruce DeMars put it, "Somebody has to make sure that two friendly submarines aren't in the same points of the ocean at the same time." Nor is the Canadian public being reminded that standard NATO procedure dictates the carving up of the Atlantic into national command areas, and that all NATO vessels operating in that area are under the operational command of that tegional commander. Canada will not have its own submarine strategy.
The Greenpeace Nuclear Free Seas Campaign will be integrated with the Canadian Peace Alliance's Peace Pledge Campaign to make Canada a nuclear weapons free zone.
Steve Shallhorn is Disarmament Coordatttor with Greenpeace Canada. Office: 416/922-3011.
Peace Magazine Aug-Sep 1987, page 35. Some rights reserved.
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