When we consider the international situation as a new year begins we are saddened to see that armed conflict continues throughout the world, most notably at the moment perhaps in Chechnya and Dagestan. Nevertheless we can surely find some cause for cautious optimism. As scientists, we must all be gratified that the 1995 Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded to Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. It was heartening also to learn very recently that Canada has joined a number of other countries in imposing a moratorium on the manufacture, export, and use of anti-personnel mines. Most important of all several regions that have been tormented by conflict for years and even decades are now enjoying at least an uneasy peace.
In the waging of the kind of small scale wars which continue to plague humanity, light weapons have played an important and sometimes predominant role. Light weapons are arms that can be carried by an individual or a small vehicle and require no particular technical skill for their use and maintenance. The importance of weapons of this kind, and the difficulties of controlling the traffic in them, have been discussed in a collection of essays recently published by the Committee on International Security Studies of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences entitled “ Lethal Commerce: The Global Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons” edited by Jeffrey Boutwell, Michael T. Clare and Laura W. Read. This scholarly book provides a valuable overview of a problem that has not yet received the attention that it deserves.
Here are some other recent books that our readers may find interesting:
- Scorched Earth, by William Thomas. New Society Publications.
- The Unconscious Civilization: The 1995 CBC Massey Lectures, by John Ralston Saul. Anansi Press.
- A Million for Peace; The Story of the Peacemaking Fund of the United Church of Canada, by Shirley Farlinger. United Church Publishing House.
We wish everyone peace, prosperity and happiness in 1996.