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.