Working Groups

This has been a significant year, with the active continuation of most Working Groups (WGs), and the introduction of a new one, the Education WG. The membership of the new WG is Anne Goodman, Julia Morton-Marr and Janet Hudgins (at Simon Fraser University). The raison d‘ĂȘtre of this group is the need for SfP to follow the progress of the development of proposals for a Canadian Peace Institute (CPI), and to foster graduate programs in peace studies within Canada. While the WG is not restricted to these activities, the two needs had already brought up at a Board meeting during the year. Anne Goodman and Janet Hudgins had already been following the email debate on CPI, a project of Robert Stewart of Calgary. There is to be a conference on CPI in November, and I have asked members of the WG to consider attending, since at least one of them needs to be present. With regard to graduate studies, there is already agreement between the WG and myself that a truly useful peace studies department in a university must be interdisciplinary.

In view of the foregoing, I propose that the Board be asked to prepare a budget for WGs next year, and that the budget would include travel funds for the WG on Education to attend the CPI conference in November. I also call upon all the WGs to put their budget requests to the Executive as soon as possible in order to facilitate preparation of the budget.

A report has gone to the Prime Minister on the Nuclear Energy Act and the Nuclear Liability Act. While these efforts may not have had much effect yet, we note that a discussion of the Nuclear Liability Act has taken place in the Senate. More recently SfP has struck a committee to make a report on security, and a small committee (Helmut Burkhardt, Ross Wilcock and myself) has prepared and presented a Brief to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

It is about the Brief that I mainly want to speak. We could spend the rest of our days scurrying to find alternatives for each new blow struck against civil rights, democracy, and peace by the powerful governments of the world, by the militarists, and through the drive for corporate control of almost everything. I have the impression that they, the rich and powerful, are currently able to remain two or more steps ahead of us.

The Brief, however, makes an attempt to get away from fighting rearguard actions against all of these formidable forces. What we did was to build upon ideas that are already common to several of us, and present a framework upon which sound policy could be built. In fact the framework was intentionally so broad and general that we think it would be applicable to policy making in all** fields. Time will not permit me toexpound it here, but the Brief is available on disk and in hard copy, both in English and in French, and I urge all members of SfP to read it, at least the first few pages, which set the tone and the skeleton of reasoning in all that follows.

The point to be made here is that we, as scientists with a responsibility to do research and communicate the findings, may perhaps do better by putting forward well thought out general principles and guidelines, than by promoting particular policies. The SfP Committee members that actually appeared before the Standing Committee were Helmut Burkhardt and myself. We emphasized that, while we might not be able to advise on all policies, we had had the luxury of doing some fundamental thinking, and that the conditions in the world had changed greatly over the past 100 years. It is these changed conditions that lead logically to the requirement of a new paradigm in the approach to policy making. The Brief outlines the paradigm.

My purpose here is to call for support in generalizing the paradigm for publication. It could well become a major contribution of SfP to the world community, something we are perhaps better at than fighting the aforesaid rearguard actions. I propose that SfP use the Brief as a starting point for a Statement (or Manifesto) by SfP, something in the nature of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto of 1955, which singled out the nuclear age as the reason we needed to change our thinking. Our Brief, though totally unlike the Russell-Einstein manifesto, could be turned into its natural sequel, since it takes into consideration all that was not dealt with in 1955, and indeed did not appear necessary at that time. The world has changed very much since 1955 in all ecological aspects and in the development of much dubious technology. Also, the world has recently plunged into a new wave of militarism, without the kind of threat that traditionally would have caused such a trend.

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