Update on the World Court Project (WCP)

Some 14,000 Canadians have signed declarations of conscience against nuclear weapons. When the 110 Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) states presented a WCP resolution at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this past autumn Science for Peace (Toronto Chapter) wrote to Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Minister of Foreign Affairs Andre Ouellet in November asking the government to instruct Canada’s UNGA representative to vote for it. That resolution requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. But the western nuclear powers (the U.S., the U.K., and France), reacting with “hysteria,” according to Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament at the UN, Peggy Mason, applied incredible pressure to discourage the NAM states, including threats of aid withdrawal and trade sanctions. The resolution was withdrawn, though the NAM reserves the right to bring the proposal to a vote in 1994.

Since Mr. Chretien, as Liberal party leader, wrote a letter to president Ms. Bev Delong of Lawyers for Social Responsibility (a key WCP sponsor) that endorsed the WCP “in principal,” we should continue to urge him to support it. Canada must show leadership in this struggle to move step by step to eliminate the threat of nuclear war. Recently the western nuclear powers reportedly put pressure to get the World Health Organization (WHO) to withdraw the WCP resolution it passed in May and to stop the ICJ from hearing the case. SfP (Toronto Chapter) and SfP national thus both wrote to ask Mr. Chretien and Mr. Ouellet to instruct Dr. J. Lariviere, Canada’s delegate to the WHO Executive Board, which met in mid January, to resist any attempts to force the withdrawal or postponement of this legal action.

We have urged that Canadian citizens expect their government to make every effort to move the great powers in the only direction that will lead to enhanced world security, and insist that Canada belongs with the nations committed to taking all possible steps towards nuclear disarmament. Along with the sponsoring bodies, SfP (Toronto Chapter) also asked Mr Chretien and Mr Ouellet to prepare a legal brief for Canada to submit to the ICJ in support of the position that nuclear weapons should be considered illegal under international law.

Letters to the Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien and the Hon. Andre Ouellet can be sent to the House of Commons, Ottawa, Ont., KlA 0A6 — no postage required. The SfP office has copies of the Declaration of Conscience and CPPNW is still collecting them, so you can still approach colleagues to send one in. A phone call, letter, or visit to your new MP to provide information about the WCP and seek support for it would also be useful.

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ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)