Is there a new anti-nuclear movement growing?

It has been 68 years since America’s nuclear attacks on Japan, and world leaders are still discussing nuclear arms reduction and disarmament to be achieved “someday.”

But unprepared to sit and wait while thousands of nuclear weapons remain on full alert, citizens are organizing on every continent to demand their governments establish a convention banning nuclear weapons.

Positive signs of the renewed interest in the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons have been emerging in recent years: from Obama’s goal of achieving a nuclear weapons free world, and the negotiation of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, to the recent support of 389 Members of the European Parliament for the Global Zero Action Plan, which calls for the phased and verified elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Importantly, we are also witnessing a rise in popular mobilization across the globe, by populations calling for the prohibition and elimination of all nuclear weapons around the world.

Throughout Nuclear Abolition Week 2013, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) had campaigners spread across 25 countries, on every continent, calling upon national governments to work together to ban and eliminate all nuclear weapons.

Through organized press conferences, exhibitions, round table discussions, meetings with government officials, and other activities, organizers brought this important topic to the political agenda. The popular response to these initiatives was tremendous: over 5000 people from 126 countries have now signed ICAN’s online petition calling for a negotiated nuclear weapons ban.

Here in Canada, has been supporting ICAN with its “Louder Than the Bomb” campaign, by collecting signatures from citizens, coast to coast, to petition the Government of Canada to work with the international community to establish a nuclear weapons ban.

This petition seeks to pressure our Government to restore Canada’s position as a leader in advancing global disarmament, by encouraging it to work with its international partners to support the desires of the world community.

Canada has an historic role as a leader in nuclear disarmament. From its early support of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the 1950s, to its decision to remove America’s nuclear weapons from Canadian soil in the 1980s, Canada has long been a global champion of nuclear disarmament.

At the close of the 20th century, the Canadian Government stated: “The objective of successive Canadian Governments has been and remains the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.” The Government of the day further declared that Canada would “continue to resist any movement to validate nuclear weapons as acceptable currency in international politics.”

These commitments, unfortunately, have been given low priority by successive administrations governing amidst a global ‘war on terrorism’ that has bolstered the prominence of NATO as an instrument of Western supremacy.

Prior to the so-called ‘war on terrorism,’ NATO was known to have “sufficient conventional forces to withstand any conventional challenge by any imaginable single or combined adversary,” and a host of “co-operative security bodies” to function in conflict prevention, crisis management, roles.

Following a decade of deceitful disinformation surrounding the invasion of Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction, NATO has hardened its posture and reaffirmed its commitments to remaining a nuclear alliance.

NATO remains a defensive collective “committed to the goal of creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons,” on paper. In practice, however, NATO is an offensive military body comprised of three of the largest nuclear weapon states, and 5 undeclared nuclear weapon states hosting U.S. weapons (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Turkey).

According to recent assessments, the overwhelming majority of the world’s population and national governments support a ban on nuclear weapons and efforts to achieve nuclear disarmament. An international poll conducted in 26 countries found that 78 percent of people support a treaty that would outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Similarly, 151 of 195 UN member nations have a stated policy supporting a ban on nuclear weapons. Only 22 nations in the world are opposed to a ban on nuclear weapons, nearly all of whom are members or allies of NATO or the EU.

Canada is one of 22 nations that sit on the fence, shrinking from its historical position as a leader in nuclear disarmament and international peace building.

Canadians must actively encourage our government to once again support the forces of peace over the army of death and work to restore our reputation as a leader in the field of nuclear disarmament.

To advocate for the peaceful disarmament of nuclear weapons from inside NATO would strengthen international peace movements and restore Canada’s clout as an international leader in peace and prosperity.

Citizens of the world therefore, must mobilise in support of ICAN and other peace movements to encourage substantive action by their governments to ban nuclear weapons now.


Celyn Dufay is an activist and student at the University of Ottawa, and is organizing’s “Louder than the Bomb” campaign which has more than 100 volunteer campaigners across Canada this summer. 

Photo credit: ICAN


Tags: Canada, Canadian defence policy, Canadian foreign policy, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, NATO, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Deterrence, Nuclear disarmament, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Nuclear weapons, Obama, United Nations, United States