6th of January, 2021
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
(cc: MP Gord Johns)
Re: UN Treaty for Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (The “Ban Treaty”)
Further to my letter to you of August 3rd , 2020, I am happy to report that the above-noted Treaty has now been ratified by the requisite 50 states and will officially come into force January 22nd, 2021. As you know, this means that under international law, nuclear weapons will now be prohibited and illegal. We might say it’s long overdue, given the horrific damage nuclear weapons have already caused in their use & testing, and the ongoing risk posed to all of humanity by their very existence. We humans often don’t look out for our own best interests until we’re up against the wall!
The time is right for Canada to come on board and sign the Treaty as well. We have been contradicting ourselves by publicly claiming to oppose nuclear weapons, yet consistently voting against measures such as the Treaty. Shamefully we even voted against the negotiation of this Treaty, but negotiation went on without us. Canada stands in the minority now, aligned with the 9 nuclear weapons states, the NATO nations and others with their heads in the sand. The majority of world states (122) has signed the Treaty.
What message are we in Canada giving to the world, and more immediately our children, by our belligerent stance against removing the threat of nuclear war?
We need to make January 22, 2021 a day of massive celebration, in recognition of a major step toward a more peaceful, secure world for us all. COVID has ironically presented us with an opportunity to recalibrate, to put our money where it’s truly needed – renewable energy, jobs, high quality healthcare, affordable education, food security and clean drinking water for all. There are resources aplenty to do that if we reduce military spending and reallocate that money to our priorities. NATO keeps us from signing the Treaty and keeps us in a cold war mindset despite the fact that the actual “Cold War” ended 30 years ago. That mindset keeps us from aligning with those who have now created a clear pathway to eliminating our planet’s most dangerous military threat – nuclear weapons.
Once the Treaty takes legal effect on January 22, next steps are: negotiation of a Nuclear Weapons convention, involving the nuclear weapons states; setting out a timeline and the mechanics for an enforceable, verifiable elimination process. We know we can do this because Russia and the US significantly reduced their arsenals in the Gorbachev-Reagan era, from approximately 70,000 active nuclear warheads to the current approximately 13,400 warheads, still more than enough to destroy the world as we know it. (International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons – www.ICAD.org )
There are numerous treaties limiting testing.* None of these treaties has ever made nuclear weapons themselves prohibited and illegal under international law. Now the US is reinvesting in its nuclear arsenal; other nuclear states are making similar noises. As well, there are a number of “aspirational nuclear states” – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Turkey, South Korea and Japan. In a world of never-ending war, why shouldn’t they have the right to develop nuclear weapons when there are 9 known nuclear weapons states, arguably breathing down their necks? ** Does Canada really want to support an even more dangerous world? We could instead be involved in making our world safer, by signing the Treaty ourselves, and proactively engaging with the UN process of giving the Treaty “teeth”.
Canada has long considered itself a supporter of international law. We were many times an elected member of the UN Security Council but lost out to Ireland this last round. Ireland, by the way, supported the Ban Treaty and we didn’t. Or did our loss have to do with our slavish support of US militarism and empire? If we want to influence at the “big table”, we need to show we are global citizens, not stuck in outdated Cold War thinking.
World-respected intellectual and elder Noam Chomsky will be interviewed January 22nd by the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute’s Bianca Mugyenyi, in a free webinar entitled: “The Threat of Nuclear Weapons: Why Canada Should Sign the UN Nuclear Ban Treaty”. I know you are a very busy person, but this may be worth your while, Prime Minister! As well, www.worldbeyondwar.org offers many ways people can promote and celebrate the Treaty on January 22nd.
Canada has an opportunity right now to set an example for the other NATO nations, by signing and ratifying the Treaty. Let’s be on the progressive side of history. Please show the leadership we need and join the majority of world states – have Canada sign the Ban Treaty!
Thanks once again for reading,
** eg. The Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty – 1963(PTBT); the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – 1968 (NPT); the Threshold Test Ban Treaty between the US & USSR – 1974 (TTBT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty – 1996 (CNTBT).
**** China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, UK, & US (93% of nuclear weapons are owned by Russia & US).