Why Canada Should Withdraw from NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed (1949) under a Treaty renouncing “the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” The Treaty calls for military action only in response to an attack upon a member. By reserving the liberty of deciding when military action is required, it usurps the authority the UN Charter supposedly confers on the Security Council to make such decisions. But NATO’s assault on world peace goes much farther. Plainly, its many military initiatives (as in former Yugoslavia in 1992 and 1999, and in Libya in 2011) and its military “exercises” threatening Russia on its very borders (up to the present) have violated NATO’s self-declared limitations. One might regard this as sufficient reason for a peace-seeking member nation to withdraw.

Almost from its beginning, NATO has committed a still more serious breach of the spirit and letter of international agreements: it systematically strives to impose its will by the threat of nuclear war. On the one hand, Science for Peace can not condone Canada’s adherence to an alliance which insists on its readiness to be the first to resort to nuclear arms (discussed, e.g., by the Arms Control Association); but on the other hand, even were NATO abruptly to accept the principle of No First Use, the use or threat of nuclear war even in retaliation incurs absolutely unacceptable danger to the survival of humanity and must be repudiated. The rationale of nuclear deterrence, far from shielding Canada or anyone under a “nuclear umbrella”, acts to multiply the ways a nuclear war may be triggered, and magnifies the destruction it threatens1.

Despite the increasingly potent threats to human survival through nuclear war and climate change, the public is largely uninformed by media, the government, and to a great extent within academia. Knowing the historical context is essential. With regard to laws and implementation of regulations that need to truthfully provide human security: “The malleable, indeterminate, and oft-ignored ‘rules’ of the [U.N.] Charter concerning use of force can plausibly be marshaled to support virtually any U.S. military action deemed in the national interest. Limited or ambiguous U.N. Security Council approval, where available, is easily stretched.” 2 In 1996 the International Court of Justice declared that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles of humanitarian law”3 and yet there is silence about these threats coming from President Trump or implicitly from NATO’s first-use policy.

Similarly indeterminate and lacking in meaningful constraints have been the agreements around nuclear weapons. The U.N. Non-Proliferation Treaty has not resulted in sanctions or limit-setting in any of the states already possessing nuclear weapons and has not addressed former president Obama’s $1.1 trillion allocation for nuclear weapons proliferation. The public is uninformed about the significant escalation of danger since 1991: George W. Bush’s withdrawal from the Anti Ballistic Defense Treaty with the consequent development of a missile defense system that effectually increases NATO’s belief that after a first strike a missile defense system could stop a nuclear counter-attack and that a nuclear war is winnable.

Challenging the ambiguity and compromises of the U.N. Security Council in order to address the mounting threats of human extinction, non-NATO nations and civil society members joined together to implement a nuclear ban treaty. Canada, bowing to NATO pressure, did not even participate in the meetings leading up to the treaty. Canada is also bowing to NATO pressure to increase military spending.

Science for Peace calls on the Government of Canada not only to withdraw from NATO and to cease from colluding with NATO’s pretence of pursuing defensive goals, but to join in condemning its violations of international peace and security. We call on the Canadian government to also sign the treaty to ban nuclear weapons and to work towards dismantling NATO altogether and to oppose the global trends towards militarizing the many urgent and devastating humanitarian situations.

Lastly, it is the responsibility of an informed public to engage politically and demand the deep changes required for human survival.


1 Daniel Ellsberg. The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Bloomsbury. New York. 2017.

2 P. 99-101. Michael Glennon. National Security and Double Government. Oxford University Press: Oxford 2015.

3 P. 213. Mohammed Elbaradei. “Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe” in Richard Falk and David Krieger, At the Nuclear Precipice: catastrophe or transformation? Palgrave. New York. 2008.

Science for Peace Resolution on the Don’t Bank on the Bomb Campaign

Approved by the Board Nov. 5, 2018

Recognizing the existential threat posed to human civilization and to life on our planer from the nearly 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world;

Deeply concerned by the absence of any meaningful nuclear disarmament negotiations;

Noting the plans by all nuclear-armed states to modernize and indefinitely retain their nuclear arsenals;

Realizing that a major reason for the intransigent perpetuation of these weapons is the tremendous financial profit they generate for the weapons producing corporations;

Noting that many financial institutions are invested in nuclear weapons producers:

Understanding that societal pressure can motivate these institutions to withdraw their financial support from nuclear weapons producers;

Resolved, that Science for Peace, and its members, support and promote the international ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ campaign calling on all financial institutions to divest from all nuclear weapons producers.


  • Monthly meetings to educate ourselves on this issue and develop strategies to move nuclear weapons divestment forward
  • Timely and informative email exchanges keeping us up to date
  • Writing letters to Canadian financial institutions encouraging them to divest from nuclear weapons producers
  • Engaging and networking with activist groups across Canada on this issue
  • Holding actions at Canadian bank branches to raise awareness
  • Engaging and networking with groups internationally

For more information see Don’t Bank On The Bomb.   Canadian specific information

Each of the major Canadian banks has a Corporate Responsibility/Responsible Finance webpage setting out ethical investment policies. Most mention nuclear weapons. For example, the Toronto Dominion Bank states that “TD has established policies, procedures and reporting mechanisms to identify environmental and social risks. TD does not finance transactions relating to . . .  the trade in, or manufacturing of, material for nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, or for land mines or cluster bombs.” However, TD has been identified as having transactions totaling over US$ 2 billion with nuclear weapons producers during the last four years. The other banks have similar inconsistencies.

As individuals, we can raise this issue with our bank managers and financial advisors. As they hear from more people it will raise the issue in their consciousness and begin to have an impact on their policy decisions.

Science for Peace Resolution on Canada and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Approved by the Board Nov. 5, 2018

Noting that there are approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world;

Deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons;

Stressing the risks related to the existence of nuclear weapons;

Realizing the plans by nuclear-armed states to retain indefinitely and modernize their nuclear arsenals;

Recalling the obligations of states parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”;

Despairing the absence of progress in nuclear disarmament by nuclear-armed states; and the growing threat of nuclear war.

Remembering the unanimous motion adopted by Canadian Members of Parliament and Senators in 2010 that “encourages the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the United Nations Secretary General” and “to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament”;

Observing Canada’s support for the 2014 Inter-Parliamentary Union’s resolution entitled, “Toward a Nuclear Weapons-Free World”, that “recommends that parliaments urge their government to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or on a package of agreements to help achieve a nuclear weapon free world.”;

Welcoming the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW);

Resolved, that Science for Peace call on the Government of Canada to promptly sign, ratify and faithfully implement the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and urge other nations to work immediately to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.


  • Monthly meetings to educate ourselves on the issues and develop strategies to move nuclear disarmament forward
  • Timely and informative email exchanges keeping us up to date
  • Letter writing to, and meetings with MPs and Global Affairs Canada, to encourage the Canadian government to sign and ratify the TPNW
  • Op-eds and letters to the editor in newspapers to raise public awareness of Canada’s wrong-headed position on the TPNW
  • Petitions garnering public support for Canada to sign and ratify the TPNW
  • Encouraging financial institutions to divest from nuclear weapons producers
  • Engaging and networking with other activist groups across Canada on nuclear weapons issues
  • Membership in the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW)
  • Partnership in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Peace

For a copy of the text and background information on the TPNW see Reaching Critical Will at:

For campaign reports and treaty news see ICAN at:

For scholarly data, analysis and research on the TPNW see the Nuclear Ban Monitor at:

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