Category SfP Bulletin April 1995

President's Message

Governments have never been so impotent and held in such contempt as in 1995! The world is in continual expanding crisis, ranging from the destruction of fish stocks (with the threat of species-extinction), to latter-day holocaust in Central Africa, to the threat of massive environmental degradation and social strife in China… Governments command vastly greater resources, both human (in particular, the military) and financial, than Non-Governmental Organizations (NG0s), but the latter seem to offer the better hope of dealing with these complex problems.

Thus, Greenpeace talks more sense about the ecological crisis on the Grand Banks than the Spanish and Canadian government officials with their preposterous “fish-war”. Medecins Sans Frontières helped the suffering Rwandan refugees more than any government agency. Dr. Tad Homer-Dixon’s Program on Environmental Change and Acute Conflict at University College, a joint project in collaboration with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, addresses the fundamental problems in China, while the U.S. and other governments seem concerned only with economic opportunities and intellectual property rights of their business communities.

In the present Bulletin, we have a good example of the importance of NG0s. Government in Russia, under the stress of continuing economic chaos and the failed Chechen war, threatens to revert to totalitarianism, and according to Andre Kamenshikov only NGOs can deal with this dangerous situation.

Science for Peace is a relatively smallorganization, but we should never underestimate its importance, which I believe is second to none in Canada in matters of Science and World Affairs.

From the Editor

In this issue we present messages from our new president, Eric Fawcett and our new Membership Secretary, Shirley Farlinger. There is nothing for me to add to these thoughtful and eloquent statements. I would however like to call your attention to two important meetings announced in these pages. One is our Annual General Meeting on May 6 and the other the conference on Knowledge Tools for a Sustainable Civilization, which a limited number of Science for Peace members may attend for a greatly reduced registration fee. These both should provide exceptional opportunities for exchange of views on matters of the greatest concern to us.

Marion Dove has brought to my attention an error in my report on the visit of Noam Chomsky in the December issue of this Bulletin (Vol.14 No.5). I ought to have said that the Lois and John Dove Memorial Lecture on October 24 was sponsored by the John and Lois Dove Memorial Lectureship, a fund established in 1989 in memory of her late parents, Lois and John Dove. The Dove Memorial Lecture Committee invited Professor Chomsky to Toronto and its Chair, Sue McClelland, coordinated his trip. His visit to Toronto was organized by the Dove Memorial Lecture Committee in collaboration with Science for Peace, the Student Christian Movement and the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation, which jointly sponsored Professor Chomsky’s public lecture on October 25.

Have a happy spring.

Canada And Renewal Of The Non-Proliferation Treaty

With thanks to Alan Phillips

On 17th April, a month-long conference starts at the United Nations, New York, on renewal of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. One hundred and seventy-four states have signed this treaty, which has been in force for twenty-five years. The treaty recognizes 5 countries as “Nuclear Weapon States” (NW States), and by “Article VI” binds them to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. The rest of the treaty is concerned with binding the other signatories, called “Non-Nuclear-Weapon States” (Non-NW States), not to acquire nuclear weapons. In consideration of that, the NW States promise to assist the Non-NW States in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes, while not letting them have the materials or technology for making nuclear weapons. Any state can withdraw from the treaty on 6 months notice.

The treaty has come up for review every five years until this crucial 25th year, when it has to be either renewed permanently, renewed for one or more fixed periods, or terminated. It can not in practice be revised because to do that would require, among other things, unanimous consent of the whole of the U.N. Security Council.

Of the states that have not signed the treaty, Israel is known to have a substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons. Two others, Pakistan and India, are known to be in a position to assemble them quickly if they do not already have them; and several states (signers and non-signers) are suspected of working to acquire them. South Africa claims to have had 6 nuclear weapons, and to have dismantled them.

At each review conference, some pressure has been put on the 5 NW States by the Non-NW States to do their part under Article VI. Until the last few years the NW States have in practice done the opposite they have developed and increased their nuclear arsenals. At the present time, all of them appear to be bent on continuing development; all except Russia and U.S.A. are still increasing their arsenals. Neither of the treaties for nuclear weapons reduction (START I and START II) includes Britain, France, or China.

Preparation for the 25-year conference

The NW states, especially U.S.A., Britain, and France, are pressing very hard for a decision to renew the NPT permanently, without any new conditions, such as a time-table for reduction of nuclear arsenals towards zero, which many Non-NW States want. They are also pressing India and Pakistan to sign the treaty as Non-NW States of course. We interpret their intention as being to perpetuate the discrimination of the countries of the world into NW States and Non-NW States, with a strong mechanism to prevent the latter from acquiring the weapons, and no mechanism for enforcing Article VI.

Although, for the most part, peace organizations regard the Treaty as having some value in spite of its manifest flaws and failures, almost all are opposed to indefinite extension without conditions. A series of limited time extensions is preferred by most, with a strict time-table for nuclear arms reduction by the NW States, and finally replacement by a treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. Some, such as Greenpeace, are fundamentally opposed to the treaty as it stands, because of its encouragement of nuclear power. They and some others advocate amendment, not perhaps realizing how impractical this is because a single adverse vote in the Security Council or the International Atomic Energy Agency can block amendment.

Science for Peace has written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs advocating a Canadian vote for limited extension, with periodic review for progress towards nuclear arms elimination and towards a treaty for abolition. Many individuals and other organizations have done the same. Both of SfP’s U.N. representatives, Tom Davis and Walter Dorn, will be in New York for some part of the Conference.

The Canadian government is however strongly supporting the U.S. demand for unlimited, unconditional extension. We regret to report that Foreign Affairs, in the person of Christopher Westdal, Ambassador for Disarmament, has been lobbying many small nations to vote the same way.

Foreign Affairs has arranged a series of 3 so-called “Consultations” with NGOs and academics in the field of international affairs, in Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver. Walter Dorn and Terry Gardner represented SfP at the one in Toronto. Christopher Westdal was the government representative, meeting a dozen NGO representatives, and the meeting was not in fact a consultation, but rather a briefing on the government position. There was plenty of time for questions and comments, but not for anyone except the ambassador to speak at length. He listened to all comments, but he would not admit any validity for the points we made against the government position: he only spoke to refute them. He often used mere debating techniques, which we did not have much opportunity to rebut. He repeatedly said that the Canadian government position was independent of and different from the U.S. position, but when questioned he failed to show a single point of difference. What we did manage to do was to show very clearly that the government is not representing this segment of Canadian opinion.

We believe it is worth writing to the Prime Minister, with copies to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador for Disarmament, and your own MP, if you have a point of view on this matter, or can support the SfP position. The article by Derek Paul in the current issue of Peace Magazine, March/April 1995 [to which every member of SfP should by now have a subscription (at $17:50 p.a.), since SW regularly publishes its material therein] will be of help. The government is not likely to alter its vote, but it is right for them to know that they are going against the wishes of a significant number of voters, the people they are supposed to represent.

The Future of Russia

Andre Kamenshikov, a sociologist and activist for peace and human rights from Moscow, spoke on Friday, March 31, in the series of University College Lectures in Peace Studies, on: “Human Rights and the Chechen War: The Future of Russia”

He is the C.I.S. representative of an important Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Nonviolence International, and gave an eye-witness account of the Russian-Chechen conflict. Andre Kamenshikov believes firmly that only NGOs can provide a solution to this, and many other, conflicts. He urges Science for Peace members to make contact with NGOs in Russia (and there are many) by e-mail, or otherwise.

Contacts through whom you might find the addresses of these NGOs include:

  • Andre Kamenshikov: omegaandre@glas.apc.org
  • Ross Wilcock: rwilcock@web.apc.org, fax: 519-837-8816
  • Eric Fawcett: fawcett@physics.utoronto.ca, fax: 416-978-7606
  • Andrew Pakula: apakula@web.apc.org

Copies of his talk are available from the Science for Peace office.

Barbara Noske Lecture

Barbara Noske is an anthropologist and philosopher from the Netherlands, author of a book entitled, Humans and Other Animals, and a visiting scholar in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. On January 18 she delivered a lecture in the University College series in peace studies under the sponsorship of Science for Peace and the Alumni Association of University College.

Her lecture was entitled “Humans, Humanism and Animals”. Her argument was that humanism, as the term is usually understood today, while laudable in many respects, emphasizes the rights and interests of people to the extent that it often undervalues the rights and interests of members of other species. It tends to see a sharp discontinuity between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom, which she believes is wrong.

She discussed this question as one of general concern to the human race, which it is. It is of particular concern however to many scientists, especially those in the biological and medical sciences, who must decide whether possible benefit to humanity justifies the use of animals in experiments that may cause them pain and fear and probably lead to their death.

A transcript of her talk is available through the Science for Peace office.

Landmines: A Deadly Legacy

Members who read the Ploughshares Monitor are aware that in each issue there is a feature entitled “20-minute peace workout” in which readers are asked to write to appropriate authorities on a topic of concern. In the most recent issue (Vol.XVI, No.1, March 1995) the topic is “The landmine crisis: bolder action needed”. Uncleared antipersonnel landmines, some of them laid years ago in wars that have long since ended, kill or injure tens of thousands of civilians every year.

There is an increasing demand throughout the world for effective action to put an end to these tragedies. The United Nations, some governments, and many non-governmental organizations are attempting in various ways to limit or ban the use of these weapons and to provide funds for mine clearance. The Canadian government is seeking to strengthen the UN Inhumane Weapons Convention, and Canadian personnel are assisting in mine clearance in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia. The United States has proposed a landmine control regime which many see as a backward step. The Ploughshares Monitor has asked readers to take the following action:

“Write letters to Foreign Affairs Minister Andre Ouellet (House of Commons, Ottawa, K 1 A 0A6, no postage required) commending the Canadian government on its response to the landmine crisis to date and urging it to step up efforts by:

  • announcing an export moratorium on landmines;
  • supporting an international convention banning all anti-personnel mines; and
  • increasing support for humanitarian landmine clearance and victim medical and rehabilitation programs.

Also write to President Bill Clinton (the White House, Washington, DC 20500, USA), urging the US government to reclaim its leadership on landmines by dropping its proposed control regime and by moving quickly toward a regime that would eliminate all landmines.”

Book Review: Rape of Canola

The Rape of Canola. By Brewster Kneen. NC Press, Toronto. 1992. 230 pp., paper. $17.95. ISBN 1-55021-066-1.

Rape is a cruciferous plant resembling mustard. The oil obtained from its seeds has been used for a long time in many parts of the world for food and fuel, but is of poor quality according to western standards. Shortly after the Second World War an informal group of Canadian scientists from government laboratories, universities, and industry developed a stain of rape producing oil suitable for food, and economically competitive with other oil seeds. This was named canola, to distinguish it from the original rape. It is now the principal domestic source of edible oil in Canada and it is also an important crop in other counties.

The author describes this impressive achievement of Canadian science, but he is more concerned with subsequent events. Further development of canola strains has been largely controlled by large corporations, with the aim of making profits for their shareholders rather that providing a profitable crop for farmers and a wholesome product for consumers. The author sees this as part of a general trend, which he attributes in part to the government that was in power in Ottawa for most of the last decade, and its ideological counterparts in other counties. It is clear however that he feels that the roots of the problem go much deeper, and involve the very nature of science and the organization of modern society. He sees a need for the creation of means whereby a policy for science and technology and agriculture can be decided at the grass-roots level.

This is an important and disturbing book, which should be read by everyone concerned with the future of the scientific enterprise.

Conferences

Canadian Peace Research and Education Association: Annual Conference

Wed & Thu, June 7 & 8, with AGM Fri Jun 9
Place: UQAM, Montreal (Learned Societies’ Conferencee)
Program: Dr Raj Dhruvarajan dhruva@ccu.umanitoba.ca, fax: 204-261-0090 or Dr Jos P Gavin sylvia@vax2.concordia.ca, fax: 514-848-7799

Knowledge Tools for a Sustainable Civilization.

June 8, 9, & 10, 1995.
PURPOSE: To find, create, and promote knowledge tools needed in achieving a sustainable society. To establish action priorities, and call for action.
PROPOSED THEMES: Global and long term issues of a sustainable society Effective knowledge tools for the solution of complex problems Transideological and transdisciplinary knowledge The individual’s, the corporation’s, and the nation’s means to further a sustainable society Ethical issues related to environmental degradation and population growth The role of the humanities, the social sciences, the natural and engineering sciences, and of governance, industry and trade in a sustainable future The power of education, the media, and of information technology to effect a non-violent change to a sustainable civilization.
PARTICIPANTS: Public office holders, business leaders, professionals, researchers, teachers, graduate students in any branch of knowledge. All those in an effective utilization of knowledge, and in global, interdisciplinary, and long term interest.
SPONSORS: International Society for the Systems Sciences; Science for Peace, Canada; Ryerson Polytechnic University, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Toronto, Ontario; Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Toronto Section; Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Society on Social Implications of Technology.
HONORARY CONFERENCE CHAIR: Anatol Rapoport, one of the founders of the International Society for the Systems Sciences.
LOCATION: Oakham House, Ryerson Polytechnic University, 63 Gould Street, Toronto, Ontario.
SPECIAL: WORKSHOP for teachers and conference participants on: “The K-12 curriculum and the sustainable future.” Saturday, June 10, 1995.
REGISTRATION: The early registration fee until April 30, 1995 is $170, for students $100, for members of the sponsoring institutions $140. Late registrations will be accepted, subject to room capacity, from May 1 until the conference with an extra fee of $20. The fee includes lunches, snacks, and a dinner. Registration applications, with a check payable to Ryerson Polytechnic University, should be sent to John Valleau, cio Science for Peace, University College, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont. M5S 1A1
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Contact J.P.Valleau, tel.(416)-978-3595, jvalleau@alchemy.chem.utoronto.ca, or H.Bmichardt, Department of Physics, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5B 2K3. E-mail: burkhard@acs.ryerson.ca, telephone: (416)979-5000, Ext. 7246. Fax:(416)979-5064

Supplementary Ways for Increasing International Stability (SWIIS) ’95

September 1995.
LOCATION: Vienna, Austria. The call for papers, with abstracts requested for April, 1995, gives the following description of the scope of the Conference:
“International stability refers to conditions in which nations, in an interdependent fashion, interact with one another in ways which permit gradual changes with time in a mutually acceptable scale and direction. This development under stable conditions is considered with respect to social, political, ecological, national and international, regional and global aspects.
This workshop should extend the ideas of lFAC events on international stability in Laxenburg 1983, Cleveland 1986, Budapest 1989, and Toronto 1992. The goal should be the beneficial application of systems engineering methods but scientists from other fields as political science, economics, social science, and international studies are cordially invited to come and present papers and other ideas.”
Contact: swiis@ihrtl.ihrt.tuwien.ac.at, fax: 43-1-504-18359

International Network of Engineers and Scientists (INES) for Global Responsibility Congress on “Scientists and Engineers for Sustainable Development” June 27-29, 1996.

LOCATION: Moscow State University, Moscow.
Ethics Protection Initiative is a new INES project designed, “to offer help to persons acting in a responsible way, especially employees, who suffer or fear reprisals because of their ethically motivated selfless efforts”. Initiatives are planned at national and international levels.
Contact: Dr. Ciinter Emde, Fax: 49-8624-4178
INESnet has been set up as an e-mail discussion group to explore the possibilities of electronic networking within INES, which has proved popular in the first three months of its existence. To join this group, send a request to: inesnet-owner@fy.chalmers.se. Science for Peace is a member of INES.

World Conference on Quality of Life

August 22-25, 1996
The University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, B.C., Canada will host a World Conference on Quality of Life, August 22-25, 1996. People will come from all parts of the world to collectively explore the meaning of the idea of a good quality of life, ways to measure our movement toward or away from it, ways to monitor changes, and strategies to improve the quality of life in all its rich varieties. There will be sessions on such things as resource conservation, environmental degradation, waste management, forestry management, urbanruralcommunity development, aging, elder abuse, crime and justice systems, family life, friendship, feminist studies, employment, trade and globalization, health, happiness, time use, good government, human rights, peace and security, taxation, fiscal and monetary policy, poverty, education, science and technological innovation, sports and other recreation activities.
The organizers of this conference invite suggestions and volunteers to arrange for special topics, symposia and work shops, as well as contributed papers. Names of people interested in serving as a chair of a session, commentator on a paper or panelist are also welcome. People on e-mail are welcome to become actively involved with the international network serving as the planning committee. To facilitate planning, proposals should be submitted before February 1, 1996. All inquiries should be directed to Alex C. Michalos, Faculty of Management and Administration, University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, B.C., Canada, V2N 4Z9; telephone 604 960 6697, fax 604 960 5544, email michalos@unbc.edu.

Dundurn Press and Science for Peace announce _United Nations Reform: Looking Ahead After Fifty Years_

edited by Eric Fawcett and Hanna Newcombe

The United Nations, after 50 years, is in need of reform. It can respond adequately to the political, economic and environmental crises of the 1990s only if its member-nations live up to the lofty ideals of the U.N. charter. Without reform, the U.N. will lack the credibility and capability to meet the challenges of the imbalanced and alienated world whose outline is now on the horizon of the 21st century.

Canadians have made unique contributions to the functioning of the U.N. in its first half-century. The 25 distinguished authors and commentators writing here include John Polanyi and Geoffrey Pearson. The papers fall into the following categories: The U.N. system, peace and security, human rights, environment and development, and international law, each section being introduced by a commentary on the papers. A prologue by Geoffrey Grenville Wood (past president UNA, Canada), and epilogue by Douglas Roche (past ambassador for disarmament ) complete the book.

The book is designed for the general reader who will gain considerable insight into how the U.N. operates (or fails to work) at present, and learn of proposals for its reform. It is at the same time suitable for courses in International Relations in the U.S.A., U.K., Australia, etc., as well as in Canada. This book will provide a valuable Canadian perspective in this 50th anniversary year of the United Nations.

350 pages, 150 × 230 mm 0-88866-9534
March 1995
Dundurn Press /Science for Peace

Eric Fawcett is the founding president of Science for Peace. Hanna Newcombe is a director of the Peace Research Institute, Dundas.

Full text version of all articles from SfP Bulletin April 1995. A PDF edition is also available.

Science for Peace Bulletin | ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)