Conference: "Canada and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons"

Initiated and convened by Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC)
and The Simons Foundation Canada
The Fairmont Château Laurier Hotel
Ottawa, Canada
November 29-30, 2021


The Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is the most significant event for nuclear disarmament since the Gorbachev/Reagan meeting at Reykjavik in October 1986, when the two leaders came close to agreeing to eliminate their entire nuclear arsenals. As such, the TPNW has the potential to spur the kind of urgent, concrete action on the full range of disarmament measures needed to fulfil the Reykjavik vision.

The two-day conference built a strategy for bringing Canada into conformity with the TPNW through re-energized and re-focused action on disarmament and by challenging NATO’s current strategic posture of reliance on the threat of nuclear attack.

The successful negotiation, adoption, and entry-into-force of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on January 22, 2021 is a notable bright spot in the grim picture of the failure to move forward on nuclear disarmament.  This breakthrough was achieved by a majority of United Nations members acting together. The Treaty they negotiated bans nuclear weapons possession by States Parties to the Treaty, and it thus parallels the treaties banning biological and chemical weapons. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls it a “historic” development that will “form an important component of the nuclear disarmament and non- proliferation regime,” and will reinforce the global norm against nuclear weapons.  The inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden has bolstered hopes for progress on global security issues, and it has already joined with Russia to extend the New Start Treaty.  But nuclear disarmament is still in crisis, with comprehensive negotiations for the elimination of nuclear weapons still far off, and with all the nuclear weapons states modernizing their nuclear arsenals.

The Treaty outlaws nuclear weapons for all who join it, and it directly challenges the military threat and counter-threat doctrine of nuclear deterrence. The Treaty framers recognize that neither morality nor law can justify the continued possession, by any state, of weapons that threaten to annihilate humanity.  It strengthens the foundational Treaty on the Non-Proliferation Treaty of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and challenges all states with nuclear weapons to enter into the meaningful, good faith negotiations leading to the elimination of their respective arsenals, as mandated by the NPT.   

The conference was launched with a keynote address by Austrian diplomat Alexander Kmentt, the President-elect of the forthcoming First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW. Experts from Europe, the United States, and Canada examined the humanitarian and legal implications of nuclear weapons use, the role of the TPNW and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in advancing nuclear disarmament and arms control, and NATO’s nuclear policies and posture.

The Ottawa Declaration emerged out of the “Canada and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons" conference.  

The Declaration’s policy proposals include:

  • a call on Canada to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and to join NATO allies Norway and Germany in participating as observer in the forthcoming First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW; and
  • a call, first issued by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence, for Canada to “take a leadership role within NATO in beginning the work necessary for achieving the NATO goal of creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons.”

See the link below for the text of the Ottawa Declaration and a list of endorsers which includes conference participants (indicated by an asterisk) and also CNWC supporters, all of whom are recipients of the Order of Canada. Affiliations are included for identification purposes only and do not indicate institutional endorsement. 

OTTAWA DECLARATION

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

"Canada and the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons" Conference Report
Initiated and convened by Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) and The Simons Foundation Canada
Ottawa, Canada
November 29-30, 2021

"Ottawa Declaration hits sensitive nerve inside federal government"
Opinion by The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
February 14, 2022

"Two kinds of security: the PM’s and the world’s"
Opinion by Jim Creskey
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
December 7, 2021

"‘Extremely dangerous’ nuclear weapons arms race needs to be confronted, says Austrian diplomat"
By Neil Moss
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
November 30, 2021

"New nuclear arms race is upon us, an architect of weapons ban treaty warns"
By Steven Chase, Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Published by The Globe and Mail
November 29, 2021