The Annual General Meeting of Science for Peace was held on Saturday, May 27, 2000, presided over by outgoing President Mel Watkins.
Mel thanked all present for asking him to head Science for Peace despite his lack of scientific background. He also stated that throughout his tenure as President, he became more aware of the wide range of activities undertaken by the many members of Science for Peace. Certainly in his mandate, Nuclear Weapons Abolition was still one of the foremost issues requiring his efforts. This has become even more relevant as the USA continues to push for the development of a National Missile Defence system. In this regard and in the context of nuclear weapons abolition, Mel pointed out a number of important events and initiatives undertaken during his tenure. In particular, the joint conference with the Pugwash group chaired by Senator Douglas Roche, resulted in a strong statement opposing Canada’s participation in these activities.
As was noted by many other members of Science for Peace, the contributions of Mel Watkins to Science for Peace were numerous, energetic and thoughtful. His leadership will be missed, although his continued participation in Science for Peace activities indicate that his formidable talents will still be of benefit for Science for Peace and, indeed, all Canadians.
A significant event of the day was the inauguration of the Hanna Newcombe Anatol Rapoport Award, newly established by Science for Peace. Through the establishment of this award, Science for Peace aims to acknowledge and encourage the endeavours of the younger generation to realize the goals of peace and justice. In practice the award will highlight the exemplary contributions of one member of this younger generation of peace advocates.
The award was presented to Dr. Samantha Nutt, MD, in recognition of outstanding commitment to and advocacy on behalf of women and children in regions of conflict. Dr. Nutt is the founder and director of the Canadian branch of War Child, an organization that ministers to children affected by war throughout the world. In her remarks to the AGM, Dr. Nutt explained that her work involves direct contact with children in many different countries, advocacy work in Canada and, of course, fund-raising. She spoke of the War Child initiated campaign to stop the sale and distribution of weapons, primarily the relatively cheap rifle, the AK47. She reminded us that since World War II, wars and the situations of children around the world have become steadily worse. She felt that the time had come to stop trying to change the world by working with those in power but to take the issues directly to the people.