Community Sustainability Working Group [CoSWoG]
This year we had Community Sustainability (CoS) Working Group meetings in June 2016 but then took some time off before we had our next meeting in December 2016, after which we had a meeting in February, March and April of 2017. Our January event was a Lecture by Dr. Sandy Smith with the Title, “Invasive species in our Forests”, which took place on January 25th at the University of Toronto (University College, Room 144).
Our main sub-projects continue to be the “Musical Bio-filter” project — mostly led by Dr. Brad Bass, the “Rouge National Park” proposal and White Paper (RNUPP) — led by Harry Ha, and the “CSV Gardens” project — which is now being led mostly by FBSC (independently of Science for Peace). We are no longer talking about the Sustainable Ontario by 2050 (Medium-Term Sustainability in Ontario) sub-Project nor the “Sustainable Urbanization” sub-Project.
And while we had brought the idea of creating “SDG Clubs” in the GTA with the various Institutional partners [like UofT, Ryerson, York U and the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council & “Food-by-Ward” campaign of Sustain Ontario etc.] — for the purpose of SDG Education & Entrepreneurial Training led by local youth-oriented groups who are interested in these issues — we are no longer working closely with the Climate Smart Ag Youth Network | CSAYN (Canada) to deliver these programmes.
We have now also launched a new “Climate Smart Food” campaign and programme, which would likely include developing such things as protocols and marketing materials that would define criteria for understanding how to monetize and market: 1. Measurable increases in soil carbon, 2. Support by all supply chain actors for the SDGs and 3. Focused campaigns for participants within entire supply chains (within various key sectors), along with protocols for verification and certification by related professional bodies, for ensuring transparency and accountability.
At our latest meeting on April 24th, Harry Ha also announced a new sub-sub-project of the ‘RNUP Project’ at the York University “Maloca Gardens”, where sustainable biochar systems will be introduced to the people (including students) who are involved in building, maintaining and coordinating these gardens.
Overall the CoS Working Group made less progress than we would have hoped for since the last SfP AGM, however we wish to continue our good work on the two  projects which are now attracting the most attention: RNUPP and the “Climate Smart Food” campaign / programme.
— Lloyd Helferty
Cybersecurity Working Group
Description of the Working Group
The cybersecurity working group was formed in January 2017 to discuss public policies regarding cybersecurity: the protection of computers, cell phones, and other network-enabled devices or equipment, electronic data and communications, and computer networks including the Internet from unauthorized or unlawful access, interception, interference, exploitation, disruption, damage or attack.
This topic touches on many important areas including:
- Cyber warfare and the cyber arms race.
- Mass surveillance.
- Industrial and state espionage.
- Big Data.
- The Internet of Things.
- Governance of the Internet.
- Government regulation of the Internet.
- Privacy and freedom of speech.
- Cyber crime.
- Software and communication protocols standards and design.
- Civil and regulatory liability.
- Cyber treaties.
The committee originally had two co-chairs, Sam Lanfranco and Jack Gemmell. Sam has begged off being a co-chair due to time constraints. Volunteers?
The committee had its genesis in November 2016 when Science for Peace made a submission to the Federal government’s consultation on cyber security urging that Canada work toward the development of a treaty to prohibit cyber attacks on critical civilian infrastructure.
The committee has held two meetings since its establishment. Paul Meyer, the former Ambassador of Canada to the UN and author of “Give Cyber Peace a Chance” based on his Eric Fawcett Memorial Lecture (Peace Magazine, Jan-Mar 2017), has attended by Skype.
Create a web page on SfP for the work group with links to the abundance of material in this area.
Possible speakers suggested include:
- Michael Walma, Canada’s expert at the last instance of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Cyber Security and director of foreign policy planning at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, where he leads on Internet foreign policy issues.
- Ronald Diebert, Christopher Parsons or other person from The Citizens Law
- Deepa Kundur, Engineering Science, U of T
- John Adams, former head of CSE
- Edward Snowden (?!)
- Working towards cyber peace.
- Bill C-59 and Canada’s use of offensive cyber attacks.
- The new National Defence cyberwar policies.
— Jack Gemmell
Working group on Drones
Evolving towards legal non-lethal drones
Newspaper articles have been reporting lately on strikes by armed drones and on the destruction of airborne drones by fighter planes and other means. These reports confirm what had been predicted by several recent books on armed drones (also referred to as UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles), and by the Stimson Center April 2015 report on US drone strike policy, namely that drone warfare is now part of armed conflicts.
US drone strike policy is partly secret, but its results, thousands of casualties in several countries, some of them innocent civilians, have come to the fore. The US targeted killing policy set in motion by George Bush, Jr., and continued by Barrack Obama, has become controversial everywhere, including in the U.S. It seems that Donald Trump is pursuing the same policy.
Very soon the accuracy of armed drones will reach into the millimeter range so that a drone operator, member of the military or some police force, could choose to shoot a small-caliber projectile into the arms or legs of a person and only minimally injure him/her. The projectile could carry an electromagnetic emitter that would allow military or police forces to locate him/her for later questioning and possible detention. The idea is that drone technology could be used to help settle conflicts, or maintain law and order in cities, without killing people.
Within the larger scope addressed by Metta Spencer in her 10 June 2017 article “Toward a Platform for Survival”, legal non-lethal drones could contribute to the basic humanitarian goals of saving lives while also protecting the public in every country.
— Michel Duguay, Laval University, Dept. of electrical and computer engineering (418-802-2740)
Freedom for Research Working Group
Concerns of this group are especially the restrictions on the scientific enterprise imposed by governments and employers, and the distortion of research effort and literature resulting from pressure of corporate sponsors and lobbies.
Ongoing work on these issues has been reported to the Group. A campaign was conducted to urge Canadian response to offset the new attack on science in the USA. An open letter
We are due for a spring meeting to lay out plans for the coming year. Unfortunately this has not yet been scheduled.
— Chandler Davis
Good Global Governance Working Group
Activities report 2016 – 2017
This working group was created at the 2014 SfP AGM. It has now eight members:
Helmut Burkhardt (chair), Norman Dyson, Rose Dyson, Brydon Gombay, Julia Morton-Marr, Tom Simunovic, Peter Venton, Adnan Zuberi
Group Website: www.goodglobalgovernance.org,
Public input: firstname.lastname@example.org
The group has monthly meetings together with the Toronto Chapter of the World Federalist Movement – Canada. The meetings are on Sundays 2 pm to 4 pm at Metro Hall Toronto, 55 John St. They are open meetings usually with a guest speaker, everybody is welcome.
- A ‘Facebook’ group was created called Toronto Peace Network (TPN).
The address is: www.facebook.com/groups/1790225331207146/events/ The purpose is to announce events to all members of the Toronto area peace groups
- Paradigm Shift.
Global governance was a term accepted by social and political scientists, while global government was a taboo. This is changing. A group of leading social and political scientists now advocates claims Global Governance in various domains needs to be coordinated by a Global Government. wgresearch.org/workshop-the-practical-politics-of-global-integration/ , wgresearch.org/why-a-world-state-is-democratically-necessary/, wgresearch.org/global-governance-against-world-government/. Our group has accepted this Paradigm shift. We do work towards the creation of a world government, particularly one in form of a World Federation of Nations.
- Reviving a Toronto Branch of the World Federalist Movement – Canada. (WFMC Toronto)
It turns out that the objectives of our SfP Working Group on Good Global Governance were similar to the objectives of the World Federalist Movement. We contacted Fergus Watt, the Executive Director of the WFM – C, and he supported the creation of a Toronto Chapter of the WFM-C. In October the Toronto chapter was officially established, and since then the SfP Working Group on Good Global Governance has monthly meetings jointly with the WFMC Toronto Chapter.
- Canadian Peace Research Association (CPRA) Conference Panel
The CPRA Conference is part of the 2017 Congress of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Helmut Burkhardt proposed a panel discussion on the topic: “Desirability and Feasibility of a World Federation”. The CPRA accepted this proposal and the panel is scheduled for Thursday, June 1, 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm in Room 387, Kerr Hall West, Ryerson University, 379 Victoria Street, at the Corner of Gould Street. The speakers on the panel will be: Helmut Burkhardt: “Priorities for a Culturally Unbiased World Federation”, Peter Venton: “Peace Dividend of a World Federation”, Walter Dorn: “World Federalism and more Technologically-enabled United Nations”, John Trent: Getting There”, Shreesh Juyal: The Non-Aligned Foreign Policy Determinants of India”, and Danny Goldstick: “A Case Against”.
- CPRA Conference individual presentation
Helmut Burkhardt will present at the CPRA conference on: “Surprising Synergy Between Globalism and Localism”. This is scheduled for Friday, June 2, 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm in Room 387, Kerr Hall West, Ryerson University, 379 Victoria Street.
- Co-hosting the AGM of the World Federalist Movement – Canada
On June 2 and 3 our SFP Working Group on Good Global Governance will help the WFMC Toronto Branch organizing space and events for the National WFM – C.
— Helmut Burkhardt, 2017-05-05, email@example.com
Militarism Working Group
The Militarism Working group is very small, so small that it does not make sense at this time to have various officers. We communicate easily with each other by email, and one member attends our meetings via Skype. We only began meeting several months ago, and while there was interest and support from by a number of people, only four or five people attend meetings. There is agreement to focus particularly on militarism and especially its salience in terms of climate change. We hope to reach out to other groups and to collaborate on political and educational activities. We have already organized the Global Day of Action Against Military Spending and collaborated with Voice of Women to bring Dr. Gretchen Roedde to Toronto. As a physician with MSF, she has worked in over thirty countries and spoke about women and war. The talk was filmed and is hopefully up on SfP website. Unfortunately there was low attendance.
We also organized a protest against Canada’s non-participation in the nuclear weapons talks in New York, June 15-July 7. We sponsored a panel on June 11 that featured Erin Hunt, Steven Staples, and myself, and the talks are on you-tube. As a result of the discussion that evening, we initiated a vigil at Chrystia Freeland’s office on June 17th in collaboration with Voice of Women, Independent Jewish Voices, Centre for Social Justice, Quaker Peace and Social Action, Physicians for Global Survival. A professional filmmaker took videos and it should soon go up on Facebook.
We are in the process of thinking through how to bring public attention to nuclear weapons and are collaborating with other groups. My article on Canada and nuclear weapons is in NOW magazine which has a large circulation. As we are such a small group, and we want to be as effective as possible, The focus is on individual initiatives, so one member will be able to give a talk for the Vital Discussions series, another member is especially interested in petitions and public statements, and another will cultivate connections with news media like the Real News. The GDAMS talks are always poorly attended though we’ve had excellent speakers. I find that at present, the back-up help from an office coordinator is a real drawback; it has been difficult to publicize this event and today the SfP website is down. Generally, there are no announcements of these talks on the website and I’ve had to set up the facebook event site myself —- and it is not circulating to SfP members. To make SfP more effective, it would be helpful to better promote events and articles. Also, it would be desirable to clarify a budget for working groups.
Lastly, there are constraints on everyone’s time so individual initiative is important as well as keeping up communication outside of face-to-face meetings.
— Judith Deutsch
Non-Violence and Civil Society Working Group
The Non-Violence and Civil Society Working Group was established in 2015 to explore the research on non-violent resistance, in order to gain insight into current movements of change, and to, where possible, provide them assistance.
We’ve met four times since January, and our subject matter has included:
- discussion of a TED talk by Erica Chenoweth, co-author of Why Civil Resistance Works, the key text empirically demonstrating that unarmed movements are twice as likely to succeed as armed ones
- a presentation by Greenwood Secondary high school teacher and WG member, Linda Kalafatides on her amazing one-of-a-kind anti-violence curriculum, a participatory course researching the history of violence, the relationship between empathy, self-regulation and the brain, and the use of non-violence in social action and community engagement.
- a superb and detailed lecture by political scientist and WG member Richard Sandbrook on the rise of contemporary populism using the model developed by Karl Polanyi in his The Great Transformation. Today’s right-wing populism, Sandbrook argued, doesn’t meet the criterion for fascism, though it has fascistic aspects. In the Polanyi thesis, fascist movements grow when markets fail to function, not quite the situation today, but potentially a scenario for tomorrow, Sandbook emphasized, as he pointed out the variety of trends that might make it possible.
- an insightful précis prepared by Linda Kalafatides on the book Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Non-Violent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World, co-authored by Srdja Popovic, leader of Otpor. The book includes critical lessons from the upsurge that overthrew Milosevic in Serbia – the importance of branding, of identifying and targeting the pillars of power, of playfulness, fun, and the refusal to be provoked into violence.
WG discussions are revealing a certain frustration. Members feel that in the current political emergency, the group should not only continue its exploration of civil resistance theory and best practices, but ought to be more in touch with the burgeoning movement against Trump-ism, as it expresses itself here in Canada, as well as the broader social change constituency. Conversation has recently turned to exploring the potential, with the approval of the SfP executive, of serving as a sort of activist flank, representing the organization in broader political activities. There will, no doubt, be more reflection on this. The group is also considering a fall meeting with proponents of the LEAP Manifesto and/or hosting an activist panel. More talk needed; more work to be done.
— Ellie Kirzner
Nuclear Weapons Working Group
A world without nuclear weapons is not only possible, but a necessity to our survival. Humanity has the right to live with dignity, free from the fear and threat of nuclear annihilation. The possession, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons is abhorrent to morality and the principles of civilization. Any nuclear detonation-whether accidental or intentional-will create a crisis of catastrophic proportions.
The Science for Peace Nuclear Weapons Working Group exists to inform citizens and political leaders of the continued existential threat from nuclear weapons. We engage with other organizations to stay abreast of international developments and initiatives, and through visits, letters and emails ensure that Members of Parliament are kept up to date on these issues. In collaboration with the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons we strive to influence government policy and decisions relating to nuclear weapons.
This is an exciting and historic time. Between March 2013 and December 2014, over 100 states, along with international organizations and civil society met in Norway, Mexico and Austria to discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, through a diplomatic process known as the Humanitarian Initiative. Remarkably, these conferences were the first time the international community had discussed the humanitarian harm caused by nuclear weapons and examine our capacity to respond should nuclear weapons be detonated again.
The result was Resolution L.41 adopted by the United Nations to convene negotiations in 2017 on “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” The resolution was approved despite aggressive opposition from the permanent members of the UN Security Council and will place nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as other weapons of mass destruction, which have long been outlawed.
The first round of negotiations was held from March 27 to 31, 2017 in a conference attended by 132 states. Ambassador Elayne Whyte of Costa Rica, the president of the conference, is now developing a draft of the treaty that will be circulated in May or early June. The hope is that the treaty will be concluded by the end of the second round of negotiations taking place from June 15th to July 7th, 2017. Much of the preparatory work has already been done by the UN working group on nuclear disarmament that met in Geneva last year.
Once the treaty has been concluded, it will be opened for signature by all states. After signing the treaty, it will be ratified, enter into force, and become part of international law. No nation has the power to block the negotiations. The treaty is not subject to approval by the UN Security Council, where five nuclear-armed nations wield a veto.
Although 132 states joined the talks, more than 40 states, those with nuclear weapons and their allies (including Canada), have boycotted the negotiations, saying that they are futile. However, the ban treaty is an interim but important step towards a world free of nuclear weapons. It will create the political space to stigmatise nuclear weapons and those who have them will come to realize that these weapons are immoral and a detriment to global progress.
The aim of the ban treaty is not to force nuclear-armed states to give up their nuclear weapons but to create an atmosphere in which they themselves understand that there is no prestige, security or power in having these weapons. It will strengthen the taboo that has kept states from using nuclear weapons since 1945 and challenge the entrenched doctrine of deterrence by which states justify the existence of these weapons.
This treaty is not an end in itself. There is a long way to go before nuclear weapons are eliminated from our world. We are, however, greatly encouraged by what is being accomplished and have reason to hope. Our Nuclear Weapons Working Group will continue to advocate that Canada rethink its position and become a signatory to the treaty in keeping with its legacy on disarmament issues.
We thank the members of the Nuclear Weapons Working Group for their commitment to this vital work and the Board of Science for Peace for its support.
— Rob Acheson
Ocean Frontiers Research-Working Group
There are four broad categories of activities under the Ocean Frontiers Working Group:
- Peace Research Lecture Series: under this series, a guest lecture on a peace and security theme related to the maritime domain is organized once every month, in the Fall-Winter terms of the academic year. This maritime peace research lecture series was launched in September 2016 at York University. Since then there have been six guest lectures under this series, engaging Science for Peace members and other significant scholars across Canada. These lectures were largely attended by undergraduate and post graduate students interested in ocean ecologies as well as faculty members researching on ocean space governance and maritime security matters.
- Annual Spring Round-Table: an annual workshop (structured as a round-table) engaging scholars, government officials and non-governmental heads was launched on April 28 th 2017 – but the planning for this event started in Summer 2016. This was organized as a collaborative effort with administrative support and financial assistance from the Robarts Center for Canadian Studies and York Center for Asian Research. Hon. Mdm. Peggy Mason, the former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and the Current President of the Rideau Institute delivered the Keynote. The Deputy Director of the Oceans Law Division at Global Affairs Canada, Allison Stewart opened the series of paper presentations. Prof. Ted McDorman from Univ. of Victoria, formerly seconded to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs and currently seconded to UN Ocean conferences chaired a plenary session of papers on Arctic governance. Other scholars who straddle the government and academic sectors spoke on various threats and opportunities in the trans-pacific frontiers of our world. Since this first Round-Table was deemed an engaging platform across multiple sectors to discuss maritime security, governance and policy issues, it was consensually decided to organize a second one in Spring 2018. This future Round-Table is again poised to be a collaborative one with various research centers of Ontario-based Universities. The theme of every year’s round-table would vary though maritime domain would be the framework within which multiple security issues would be discussed. In 2017, the theme was, “The Geotechnical Politics of Ocean Frontiers: the Canadian North and the Indo-Pacific”. For 2018, the major consensus is on the topic, “Exploring Comprehensive Security across Ocean Frontiers”. Participation of scholars and officials in this round-table is largely on invitation basis. The papers to be presented at the Spring 2018 Round-Table will also be published posthumously in a special edition of a journal by end next year.
- Guest Lectures, as part of the Annual Lecture Series on Human Security: these lectures are organized by inviting leading scholars to talk on ecological and political disasters affecting human health, livelihoods and the environment. Since there is scope for two guest lectures in this annual series at University College, two scholars were invited to analyze the interconnectivity between climate change, ocean science and maritime security. Dr. Mark Winsfield, a renowned climate protection advocate, environmentalist, and a Professor with York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies delivered his talk in Oct 2016 on Ontario’s climate policy. The second guest lecture was by a renowned scholar connected to the Ocean Frontiers Research-Working Group: Dr. Stephen Bocking, former Chair of the Environmental Studies Dept at Trent University and well known Arctic Security Scholar talked on Cold War Science and its relation to international security at University College in November 2016.
- Ocean Frontiers Panel Discussion: this was a collaborative effort with the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York, but organized as a public forum at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). This public series was organized May 24 th in contradistinction to the Round-Table that was by invitation basis only. Dr. Philip Steinberg (Univ. of Durham, UK), Dr. Cindy van Dover (Duke University, U.S.) and Dr. Catherine Coumons (Mining Watch Canada, Ottawa) were the main speakers. One of the main preoccupations of this discussion was on answering two major sets of questions: i) what are ocean frontiers, and how are they are imagined, divided, controlled and governed? ii) Furthermore, how is the deep seabed as a new resource frontier being commercialised and exploited in synergy with the environment? or is deep seabed mining regime disregarding the environment?
This public event was followed by a two-day workshop engaging scholars on science policy, and governance of borders and boundaries. While the April Round Table (first in the series) focussed on transboundary maritime security at regional and global levels due to militarization and arms race, the May workshop (within a month’s gap) focussed on the interface between science policy, international governance of ocean space and emerging environmental threats from increased industrialization.
It has been a busy year engaging institutions and institutional heads, scholars, governmental and non-governmental officials in workshops and guest lecture series. The next year is set to be similar in terms of research and educational activities. One major on-going effort – in addition to the integration of working group meetings with the guest lecture sessions and workshops – is to organize the working group’s research papers into annual publication/s that can serve as educational resource material for all concerned. These publications are envisioned now as a body of online resource material, to be accessed through the main website of Science for Peace. Alternatively, a special annual edition would be produced through collaboration with a major journal such as that on maritime affairs or international affairs. The publication effort is a work in progress.
— Venilla Rajaguru
Working Group Co-ordinator’s Report
The following Working Groups are listed in our website:
- Climate Change Education —
- Cold War II? —
- Community Sustainability —
- Cyber Security —
- Drones [meets by Skype] —
- Freedom for Research —
- Good Global Governance —
- Middle East —
- Militarism —
- Nonviolence —
- Nuclear Weapons —
- Ocean frontiers —
A meeting of Working Group leaders was held in UC Rm 44 on June 8, 2017.
The following were present:
- Rob Acheson (Nuclear Weapons)
- Helmut Burkhardt (Good Global Governance)
- Ellie Kirzner (Nonviolence)
- Jack Gemmell (Cyber Security)
- By Zoom: Michel Duguay (Drones); Venilla Rajaguru (Ocean Frontiers)
- Metta Spencer (SfP President)
- Margrit Eichler (SfP Secretary)
- Martin Muldoon (Chair of Meeting)
- Regrets: Chandler Davis, Judy Deutsch, Leon Kosals
The meeting noted the Message from the President: On June 4, Metta Spencer wrote to the Working Group Chairs concerning this meeting and the upcoming AGM. They were asked to do the following:
- Provide a report on their Groups activities in ’16-‘17 plus a proposal for continuing their Group in ’17-‘18.
- Suggest a member of the Group as co-chair or secretary.
- Pick one or two regular dates for monthly meetings.
- Submit names of 4-5 experts (on topics related to the group) as speakers for the SfP weekly lectures.
- Provide information on the Group for the SfP web site.
- Have a regular person or persons who will submit material to the SfP Bulletin for the group.
- Have Whatsapp installed on cell phone of WG Chair.
- Learn the use of “Zoom” (a videoconferencing app).
- Provide the SFP office with a list of email addresses for WG attenders.
- Know how to access the SfP calendar and the manual “How to Run SfP”.
Metta’s message included several pages from the “How to Run SfP” manual, describing the responsibilities of WG Chairs as well as a description of the position of the “Working Group Manager” to be appointed by the Executive Committee.
The Group leaders present (including by “Zoom”) presented reports on their activities leading to some fruitful discussion. Most of these and a few others have also submitted written reports.
— Martin Muldoon