November 2021


The goal of a peaceful world ultimately depends on building global cooperation and achieving human security for all, within the regenerative limits of our finite planet.

But humanity currently faces two existential threats to its existence: nuclear annihilation and ecological collapse, the latter arising mainly from global warming and species extinction.

Military strategists, and their political collaborators, believe they can deliver collective security against these harms through the ruling doctrine of “national security”. They believe they can deter the threat of potential nuclear aggression through accumulating more destructive nuclear weapons, and thus keep the peace. Ominously they are now extending this same reliance on militarization to the task of dealing with the destabilizing effects of global warming; climate change, too, is seen as an ever more exigent national security threat. These strategists have identified extreme weather as a “threat multiplier”, exacerbating national conflicts, generating political disorder, and providing fertile terrain for terrorism and civil war. Severe weather events, intolerable temperatures, desertification and famine also foment northward migration, and, in their framing, put border security at risk. Finally, climate change is seen as opening up new regions for resource extraction and navigation (the Arctic), and hence new theatres of military contestation.

What follows from the national-security doctrine is an unending justification for the expansion of military budgets. More funding is allegedly needed to build new generations of weapons, to buttress operational capabilities in new theatres, to intervene in collapsed states, to fortify borders, and to build the analytical, police, digital and intelligence skills to assert hegemony in this dangerous world. Not coincidentally, expanded military and security budgets also serve the interests of the military-industrial-security-intellectual complex. This vast amalgam of vested interests is an expansion of the “military-industrial complex” about which President Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans in 1961. It is a powerful buttress of conventional thinking about security.

But militarism and the national-security system are not the solution to the civilizational challenge, but a major element of the problem. States, on a global level, plan to spend vast sums on new generations of nuclear weapons and expanded military and police capabilities in the next decade. However, citizens will end up more insecure and vulnerable as a result. Bloated militaries will not save us from new pandemics, global warming, mass poverty and vast intra-national and international inequalities. New, complex nuclear weapons systems increase the risk of accidental exchanges, and the potential for a nuclear winter. And the armed forces are a major source of the greenhouse gas emissions that propel global warming.

Beyond these immediate concerns lies a deeper reality. Indirectly, militaries and security forces buttress the status quo, which in our case is a fossil-fuel status quo. But what we need is systemic change to deal with problems, especially global warming and inequities, that are deeply rooted in our socio-economic system.

We need a redirection of the vast sums expended on weapons systems. These funds need to be channelled into climate-change mitigation and adaptation, into overcoming poverty, into forestalling pandemics, and into alleviating global injustices. We, as a society, need to rethink our priorities and, above all, what it means to be “secure”.

We at Science for Peace, along with many other peace, environmental and social-justice organizations, call for human security and global cooperation as an alternative to obsolete notions of national security. This proposal is not Utopian, but a practical necessity. Our present course leads to societal and ecological destruction. We need an alternative vision.

“Human security” emerged in the 1990s to challenge both mainstream development doctrine, with its focus on growth through markets rather than on human needs, and the doctrine of national security. The latter is a state-based notion of security, which is premised on military prowess and the ability to deter or defeat all “threats” to maintaining a country’s economic and political power. In contrast, human security proposes that the proper focus for security is the individual within society, not the nation-state.

Peace on a global basis is possible only if the basic rights of all, as spelled out in the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, are met. Human security encompasses four sets of fundamental rights: political/personal security, economic security, health (including food) security and The last is the prerequisite for life itself, and thus a prerequisite for all other rights.

Global cooperation is also essential to the survival and flourishing of human beings and other species. The challenges posed by nuclear weapons, global warming and species extinction are global in scope and require global cooperation and action. Yet this cooperation is unlikely to arise if states are armed to the teeth and if a powerful military- industrial-security-intellectual complex prevails, with its vested interest in the prevailing national-security doctrine. The deep tensions between the United States and its two nuclear-armed adversaries, China and Russia, not only raise the spectre of a nuclear exchange, but also undermine the cooperation needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

We need therefore to re-envision what we mean by security. The measure of a state’s success is not military prowess and the ability to intimidate other states. It is to advance human security, which can only be achieved through disarmament, the redirection of financial and intellectual resources from military uses, global cooperation, and ecological balance. The fate of our species and of our fellow species, whose survival is intrinsically as important as our own, depends on our finding this new path.



Science for Peace, inspired by this vision, must focus its limited resources and energies to be effective. Aware of the mutually reinforcing relationship between militarization and global warming, a major area of concentration for us is the interaction between demilitarization (including denuclearization) and decarbonization in the realization of human security. In addition, we focus on Canada’s actions, policies and movements, mindful of our own major contributions to global warming and militarism through NATO membership and arms sales.

Our strategy emphasizes civil society. The market, left to itself, will not solve our problems, while states are slow and often yield to vested interests We thus advocate a bottom-up.approach of non-violent movement politics. This emphasis, however, does not preclude engagement with government, the commons, households and the private sector.

The strategy we propose works back from the long-term outcomes we seek to medium-term and short-term outcomes.


Long-term outcome (LTO): 30 years

Medium-term outcome (MTO): 10 years

Short-term outcome (STO): 5 years


MTO 1-1.     Demilitarization of the Canadian Armed Forces is in progress

STO 1-1. Demilitarization has started and has a sustainable process

STO 1-1a  Canada has joined the TPNW and FFNPT

STO 1-1b The Canadian Armed Forces have begun to transition to a Human Security mission

        • Canadian Armed Forces acknowledge publicly the need to take on a Human Security mission:

There is an active consensus among key influencers that government funds for militaristic purposes must be substantially reduced. 

There is a consensus among key influencers that the mission of the Canadian Armed Forces should transition to human security from “national security”.

        • Canadian peacekeepers are more proactive in supporting communities, peace and environmental rehabilitation during their missions, and at least one environmental peacekeeping mission has been authorized.
        • Canadian Armed Forces transition toward a Canadian Safety Force as they undertake new missions in Canada to support Human Security (e.g., tree-planting, toxic-waste clean-up, stopping oil pollution, building low-income housing, installing solar panels, providing support during health-care crises)
        • Budget of the Canadian Armed Forces has begun to shift towards Human Security.

STO 1-1c Canada honors its own regulations concerning no arms exports to belligerents. Moratorium on further arms exports from Canada while the whole issue of supporting authoritarians abroad is debated.

STO 1-1d Canada opposes notion of “Fortress America” and advocates internationally against the militarization of borders.  

        • Canada presses internationally for a new definition of “refugees” that acknowledges that the distinction among “political”, “economic” and “environmental” migrants no longer makes sense. Pushes idea of newly defined refugees as “International Citizens” and national annual quotas for all countries in accepting such international citizens.


MTO 1-2  Canada’s private sector produces fewer armaments and military-related goods and services


STO 1-2a Pressure on Canadian banks to divest from companies producing components of nuclear weapons and armaments for export succeeds.

STO 1-2b Government regulation leads to Canada’s public and private sector diverting or ending production of military and military-related goods and services.


 MTO 1-3     Canada’s foreign policy reflects a pro-active non-militaristic and equitable approach to supporting regional and local security and a healthy environment. Such policy recognizes that collaborative, non-aggressive relationships between nations, under just rules of exchange, are the key to a successful global climate strategy.


MTO 1-3a   Canada has disengaged from NATO 


STO 1-3 Canada advocates for the development of an informal international agreement to outlaw the recognition of military coups in other countries provoked or supported by rich nations.


MTO 1-4. Societies have become sexually and socially egalitarian and peaceful. Policies have been  promoted and developed to end threats to human security based on race, religion, sex,  sexual orientation or gender identity.


MTO 2-1. Oil sands have been wound down.

STO 2-1. Oil sands are being wound down.

MTO 2-2. Transition to a zero-carbon economy is well underway.

STO 2-2a. No new pipelines permitted

STO 2-2b. Policies of a green economy are accepted: end of subsidies on fossil fuels, retrofitting, green energy subsidies, high carbon tax, movement to regenerative agriculture, mass transit, etc, in an integrated program.

MTO 2-3. Political conditions for a green transition, both nationally, and globally, are being built.

STO 2-3a. Canada adopts and advocates for IPCC’s (2018) emissions reduction scenario, with a genuine net zero by 2050.

STO 2-3b. Canada lives up to its obligations under the Paris Agreement to transfer substantial funds each year to developing countries via the Global Climate Fund.

STO 2-3c. “Decisive decade” (decade for eradicating threats of nuclear war and environmental collapse) is widely accepted as a unifying narrative in civil society.

STO 2-3d. Broad coalition of peace, climate, and justice groups is forming around idea of a just transition. The peace-keeping role of women is acknowledged and integrated into all decision levels of society, and diversity and inclusivity is accepted as a prevailing operating principle.

STO 2-3d. Idea of the mutually reinforcing nature of decarbonization and demilitarization is widely recognized, leading to action.

MTO 2-4. Military-related environmental impacts are recovering at a measurable pace and new impacts are reduced – both on a clearly defined path to full mitigation and prevention.

STO 2-4a. Specific remediation of contaminated military sites is undertaken in Canada.

STO 2-4b. Canadian Armed Forces has a new integral program to mitigate and prevent negative environmental impacts

STO 2-4c. Carbon emissions of armed forces, now included as part of national emissions, are being monitored and reduced.



Means of Exerting Influence:

    • Position statements/petitions
    • Campaigns
    • Debates, lectures, webinars
    • Social media, website
    • Policy briefs, fact sheets
    • Communications with political leaders
    • Alliances


    1. Policy briefs, fact sheets. (coordinator: R. Sandbrook)
      • Decarbonization and demilitarization: how they are mutually supportive.
      • What is a realistic and just refugee/immigration policy in this era of global warming?
      • What is the role of peace-keepers, peace-builders in this era of global warming, environmental devastation and state collapse? How can they help build equitable societies? What is the relation of peace-keeping to the other regenerative activities needed to restore our eco-systems?
      • Why and how human security is an alternative security system to the traditional notion of “national security.”
      • Why and how gender parity and inclusivity in all decision=making spheres is crucial to human security.
      • What are the parameters of a “conversion economy” – conversion of both military production and carbon-intensive activities into industries supportive of human security and well-being more generally.
    1. Webinars, seminars, lectures. (coordinator: J. Filmus)
      • Use of the term “decisive decade” to popularize the idea that this decade is decisive for security both from nuclear war and ecological collapse, especially as propelled by global warming.
      • Global warming and social collapse: the danger.
      • Other aspects of ecological collapse: the danger.
      • How nuclear war can produce a nuclear winter, with dire results
      • Dealing with the threat of nuclear war and achieving abolition: a student symposium
      • Decarbonization and demilitarization as mutually supportive goals -fighting one advances fighting the other.
      • Elaborate and disseminate the idea of human security as an alternative security system to “national security,” with primacy to ecological security, personal security from all forms of violence, especially for women, children, and minorities, and global cooperation.
      • Debunk the MAD deterrence logic, especially at a time when we face environmental collapse.
    1. Campaigns, communication with political leaders, petitions, coalitions. (coordinator: V. Dahl)
      • Work with others to have Canada sign the TPNW and the FFNPT AND influence other states to sign.
      • Work with others on disarmament issues: no fighter jets or warships; instead, icebreakers and rescue vehicles.
      • Work with others to stop pipelines, reduce dependency on fossil fuels; phase out coal and oil sectors; shift to renewable energy.
      • Push for a department of national safety (rather than national defense), with personnel skilled in dealing with disasters as well as armed defence.
      • Work with others to include gender parity and inclusivity in all decision-making spheres, so that all are represented.
      • Call for, and explain the reasons, for Canada’s withdrawal from NATO (aggressive moves, refusal to adopt ‘no first use’, pressure to expand military budgets) and, while Canada is still a member, advocate for a constructive role for Canada in reshaping NATO’s rules, such as those relating to the use of tactical nuclear weapons and the circumstances in which nuclear missiles will be launched.
      • Work to ensure Canada doesn’t modernize/replace weapons (except for truly defensive purposes), but rather dismantles them in order to use released resources elsewhere
      • Urge Canada not only to fulfill its obligations not only to reduce GHG emissions, but also, as agreed under the Paris Agreement, to transfer generous funds annually to the Global Climate Fund to assist developing countries in adapting to a changing climate.
      • Climate, peace, gender equity and justice movements operate in separate silos. Persuade these groups that they have common interests and can develop a common narrative of demilitarization and decarbonization to advance human security.
    1. Social media and website. (coordinator: J.Vargas)
      • Attune media and website to the themes outlined above.
      • Convert all to a common format, colour so they are recognizable as SfP
      • Learn how to use hashtags and keep abreast of most commonly used ones (Twitter and Instagram)
      • Increase followers by 20% each year.


Action Plan Committee:

Babcock (preliminary versions), Danny Harvey, Ellie Kirzner, Richard Sandbrook

Comments and corrections: Bill Browett, Phyllis Creighton, Judy Deutsch, Veronica Dahl, Arnd Jurgensen

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