Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'm here representing the Middle Powers Initiative, which submitted a report called “Towards 2010: Priorities for NPT Consensus” to the recently concluded first preparatory meeting for the 2010 review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Mr. Chairman, I've attached this report to my statement. I think it has been distributed to the members in both languages.
This report summarizes seven priorities for action identified by the MPI based on four meetings of the Article VI Forum, which were held over an 18-month period in New York, The Hague, Ottawa, and Vienna, involving 30 invited like-minded states, including Canada.
The seven priorities are as follows: verified reduction of nuclear forces; standing down of nuclear forces, which is known as de-alerting; negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty; bringing the comprehensive test ban treaty into force; strengthened negative security assurances; regulation of nuclear fuel production and supply; and improved NPT governance.
I want to thank the Government of Canada for the support received for the Article VI Forum process. I commend the work of officials in the foreign affairs department, notably the Ambassador for Disarmament, Paul Meyer.
Canada has consistently upheld the need for a balanced implementation of the NPT's three pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. But more high-ranking political leadership is now urgent. MPI’s analysis of the Canadian and other middle power statements made at the NPT preparatory meeting shows that stronger political weight is needed to respond effectively to the present nuclear crisis.
The facts are stark. The total number of 27,000 nuclear weapons is, in the words of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, headed by the Swedish diplomat Hans Blix, “extraordinarily and alarmingly high”. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the world is sleepwalking toward nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism. Yet the declared nuclear weapons states are all engaged in efforts to modernize their nuclear arsenals, despite the ruling by the International Court of Justice that they must conclude negotiations toward elimination.
Moreover, India and Pakistan each have an estimated 50 to 60 nuclear weapons, and Israel has 200. These three countries do not even belong to the NPT and all are engaged in modernization. The eight countries now in the nuclear club have a combined population of 3.1 billion, which means that 48% of the people in the world live in a nuclear weapons state.
World attention is focused on North Korea, which tested a nuclear weapon in 2006, and Iran is now claiming an ability to move toward large-scale enrichment of uranium. Of course neither country should be allowed to build nuclear weapons. But these states are flashpoints off a volcano. The volcano is the present arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The nuclear crisis can be stated in a nutshell: a two-class world in which a few states arrogate unto themselves the possession of nuclear weapons while proscribing their acquisition by any other state is not sustainable.
Where is the voice of Canada in this world crisis? Where is the policy statement by the Government of Canada addressing the totality of nuclear weapons, the paramount security issue in the world? Is there not a two-class standard in criticizing Iran for enriching uranium while remaining silent on the U.K. government’s decision to extend its Trident nuclear system well into the second half of the 21st century?
The moral, legal, and military case against nuclear weapons is better understood than ever before. The intellectual argument that nuclear weapons are needed for security is now largely rejected by most states as baseless.
Nuclear weapons opponents recently gained surprising support when four prominent American figures, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry, and Sam Nunn, who have all held high posts in the U.S. administration and Congress, came out for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In an op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal, they warned that “the world is now on the precipice of a new and dangerous nuclear era”.
Their article, calling for a series of action steps, was in vivid contrast to the negativity displayed by the Bush administration. Of 31 votable nuclear disarmament resolutions at the United Nations Disarmament Commission in 2006, the U.S. cast the sole no vote 12 times. Altogether, the U.S. was in a minority of four or less 20 times.
What is Canada doing to work with such like-minded states as the New Agenda Coalition, comprised of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden, to influence the most powerful country in the world that its policies must be revised to save the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2010? What is Canada doing to press the U.S. to get its tactical nuclear weapons out of the European countries: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Turkey? NATO’s continued insistence that nuclear weapons are “essential”—that's their word—flatly contradicts the NPT. Canada cannot have it both ways: to support elimination of nuclear weapons through the NPT and also to support NATO’s continued nuclear weapons.
The Canadian government should show a greater sense of urgency in dealing with the overarching problem of nuclear weapons. This is the point made by Senator Roméo Dallaire, who, on April 17, 2007, said, “Why does Canada, as a middle power that does not have any nuclear weapons, not take this leadership role and initiate the process to abolish and eliminate these nuclear weapons?” On May 3, he returned to the subject, stating, “It is Canada's moral obligation to assume a proactive leadership role to save the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty—our last best hope to stave off a frightening cascade of nuclear proliferation from which there can be no rescue.”
Mr. Chairman, it is Senator Dallaire's motion, which was unanimously adopted by the Senate on May 3, that urged: “That the Senate urge the Government of Canada to take a global leadership role in the campaign of eradicating the dire threat to humanity posed by nuclear weapons.”
On July 5 to 7, 2007, the Middle Powers Initiative will join with the Pugwash movement and work with Senator Dallaire in sponsoring an international extraordinary workshop, Revitalizing Nuclear Disarmament, to observe the 50th anniversary of Pugwash. This is a moment for Canada to step forward.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity to be here. I'm pleased to address the committee on behalf of both Project Ploughshares and Veterans Against Nuclear Arms.
We've produced a longer paper on the subject of our disarmament agenda for Canada, and I'll see to it that all members of the committee receive a copy. I encourage you to review the brief history of VANA in that report in particular. It is an extraordinary organization of veterans who understand the realities of war, who know that the virtually limitless destructive power of nuclear weapons is not a source of security in the world, and who have channelled their particular experiences as veterans into a decades-long call for the world to end this overarching danger.
This year’s preparatory committee for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference has confirmed two central realities. First, if the ailing NPT is to fulfill its foundational role in advancing global security, it must be solidly balanced on its three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation, and peaceful uses. Second, the international community is now well beyond simply debating a range of disarmament and non-proliferation options; rather, it is looking for meaningful implementation of an already agreed-to agenda.
While all states are bound by the articles of the NPT treaty, there are four types of states in the non-proliferation regime. Each type of state faces particular implementation roles and challenges.
The biggest category is non-nuclear weapons states. In exchange for forgoing nuclear weapons themselves, they have received the legally binding promise of disarmament by the nuclear weapons states, and they have access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Access requires that they continuously verify their non-weapons status through safeguard agreements with the IAEA. Many have yet to fulfill their obligations, and of course Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are in much more serious violation of their safeguards and NPT obligations. Furthermore, about three dozen of these states are in possession of nuclear power technology and thus must sign and ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty before it can enter into force. Several of them have yet to do that.
Nuclear weapons states, the second category, are under legal obligation to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. They renewed their commitment to do that at the 2000 review conference, although they are not bound by a specific deadline. In the meantime, nuclear weapons states are obliged to fulfill specific commitments they made through the NPT and through the review conferences of 1995 and 2000. I won't go through that list; Senator Roche has already referred to much of it. Irreversible and verifiable cuts to arsenals are at the core of their obligation. Failure to meet these obligations constitutes non-compliance with the treaty, just as failures by non-nuclear weapons states to meet all of their safeguard requirements does.
In the third category are India, Israel, and Pakistan. They are de facto nuclear weapons states, but they are not signatories to the NPT. That does not mean they escape all disarmament obligations. They are bound by the NPT norm of nuclear disarmament, and as members of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, they are certainly obligated to pursue in good faith the currently agreed objectives of that body, which includes the prevention of an arms race in outer space, legally binding negative security assurance to non-nuclear weapons states, and a fissile materials cut-off treaty. The CD also negotiated the test ban treaty. All three states with nuclear technology must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force. India and Pakistan also are in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1172, which unambiguously calls on them to end their nuclear weapons programs.
The fourth category is non-nuclear weapons states within NATO, a group that obviously includes Canada. They find themselves facing a stark contradiction: affirming within NATO that nuclear forces are essential to alliance security, while at the same time affirming within the NPT that nuclear disarmament is essential to global security. It is a contradiction that must be resolved in favour of the latter commitment.
So what priorities should Canada pursue within this broad and essentially agreed disarmament agenda?
The first and foremost item is that to continue to set the right course, each new Canadian government should, as a matter of course and at the highest level, reaffirm Canada's fundamental commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons. With that unwavering goal always at the core of its efforts, Canada should continue to actively promote the early implementation of the broad nuclear disarmament agenda that we've been talking about.
There will necessarily be some shifts in priorities according to their circumstances, but within that, Canada should focus on several items that it has a good opportunity to influence. First among these is attention to the disarmament machinery. Nuclear disarmament depends first and foremost on the political will of states simply to do it, but the institutional mechanisms through which they pursue that fundamental and urgent agenda are critically important.
The continuing dysfunction in the CD suggests that it is once again time for Canada, along with like-minded states, to explore having the first committee of the United Nations General Assembly form ad hoc committees to take up the fourfold agenda that lies dormant now in the CD—that is, the non-weaponization of space, negative security assurances, the fissile materials cut-off treaty, and new approaches to nuclear disarmament broadly.
In the context of the NPT, Canada should continue to press for a more effective governance structure involving annual decision-making meetings, the ability to respond to particular crises such as the declaration of a state party's intent to withdraw, and a permanent bureau or secretariat for the treaty. In that context, Canada has made and should continue to make a point of promoting transparency through regular reporting by states on their compliance efforts and fuller NGO participation in the treaty review process.
Second, the conflict regarding Iran's uranium enrichment program raises important issues about the spread of weapon-sensitive civilian technologies to which all states in compliance with their non-proliferation obligations are now legally entitled. It is in the interest of nuclear disarmament that access to these technologies be severely restricted and placed under international control through non-discriminatory multilateral fuel supply arrangements. Canada, as a state with high levels of competence in relevant technologies, should take an active role in investigating and promoting international fuel cycle control mechanisms.
Third, the U.S.-India civilian nuclear cooperation deal has led to proposals to exempt India from key guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Canadian technology and interests are directly engaged. Canada must be at the fore of international efforts to bring India, Israel, and Pakistan under the rules and discipline of the nuclear non-proliferation system. In particular, and at a minimum, Canada should insist that the Nuclear Suppliers Group require that India ratify the test ban treaty and abide by a verifiable freeze on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes before any modification of civilian cooperation guidelines is considered.
Finally, Canada cannot avoid promoting within NATO a resolution of the NATO-NPT contradiction, in favour of the NPT disarmament commitment.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here.
Now, I want to get on to a more practical side of things, the evolution of nuclear weapons for a certain purpose—I don't need to go into that history—and the recent example of over a million troops being on the border of India and Pakistan, almost a million troops on either side, eyeball to eyeball. I think if they had not had nuclear capacity, there would have been a war that had terrible impacts.
This is a response to what you said, sir, that nuclear weapons for security is not valid anymore.
You also said that you need a stronger weight. I don't know who you're referring to, perhaps the U.S., Russia, China? Who was that heavyweight, that stronger weight that you require?
Given that the nuclear weapons exist and given that nuclear science exists and is advancing, don't you think it is naive to assume that we can turn the clock back and eliminate or even control the science?
What I'd like to hear, sir.... This is a very complex question, and by no means do I support nuclear proliferation, but can you give us a comprehensive and attainable solution? I don't think statements in the United Nations are going to bring about any good. Is that a realistic approach? Is it attainable? Can it happen?
Those are the kinds of answers I'm looking for, sir.
Thank you very much, Mr. Khan.
First, on “weight”, what I meant was that the Canadian government should speak at the highest levels, go to the highest levels—the Prime Minister, the foreign minister. The full exposition of the policy of the Government of Canada on this subject is very much needed.
On the security, it's pretty clear that nuclear weapons cannot be used and have not been able to stop the wars that have taken place over the past 30 or 40 years.
On India and Pakistan, the presence of nuclear weapons in both countries, in my view, exacerbates the situation rather than having an ameliorative effect. We have moved beyond a period when any one nation can hope to guarantee its own security by an overpowering military might, including nuclear weapons. Modern history is replete with examples of this.
And with respect to being naïve in aspiring to a nuclear-weapons-free world, this is not just a sermon or a homily; it is a legal requirement under the non-proliferation treaty. All states are obliged to pursue negotiations toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
Moreover, from a political point of view, it is totally impractical to think that in the 21st century we can go on with the status quo, the status quo being defined as a number of states holding to themselves the right to have nuclear weapons while proscribing their acquisition by any other state. It's simply not working.
In the words of Kofi Annan, the recently departed Secretary-General, we are “sleepwalking” toward a catastrophe.
I cited the four prominent American statesmen—Shultz, Kissinger, Perry, and Nunn—who, in a remarkable piece in the Wall Street Journal, said that the time has now come for a nuclear-weapons-free world and to pursue this by certain steps that need to be taken.
No one thinks that the abolition of nuclear weapons can occur overnight. That's not the idea. It is the refusal of the major states to start heading down that avenue in a concrete, practical manner that is destabilizing the international regime today and weakening the non-proliferation treaty, which is the single best guarantee we have against nuclear warfare.
I'll deal with the first question, and Mr. Regehr will deal with India.
First, I was puzzled by your use, Mr. Obhrai, of the word “exempt”. I'm not sure if you meant to imply it, but let me state clearly that the major nuclear powers are not exempt from their obligations under the non-proliferation treaty. With respect to reporting and ignoring, I would not say that the major states are ignoring the non-proliferation treaty. They come to all the review conferences. There was just a two-week meeting in Vienna preparing for the 2010 review; the nuclear-weapon states all participated. But they are trying to have it both ways. They are trying to pretend that their modernization programs are off on the side, and they want to keep the focus on Iran and North Korea.
I want to assert, as a person who believes in the elimination of nuclear weapons, that of course Iran and North Korea and any other country should be stopped from getting a nuclear weapon, but it's not going to be a successful campaign as long as those who have them think that they can go on pursuing them and ignoring their obligations.
They are deficient in their reporting, but Hans Blix says in his report—and eminent people from around the world say—that there are 27,000 nuclear weapons, that 95% of them are held between the United States and Russia, and that of that number about 2,500 strategic nuclear weapons, the smallest of which is about eight or ten times more powerful than the bomb that went off in Hiroshima, are being held on what's called alert status, meaning they could be fired on fifteen minutes' notice. So the risk of an accident, of a computer malfunction, of something happening, or of a destabilized regime somewhere infiltrating the whole nuclear weapons system is very high for the world.
When Mr. Dosanjh asked me what the single most important thing is and I answered that it was the CTBT, if he had given me two things to say, I would have said the second single most important thing, the second single thing, is to get those weapons off alert status. Why cannot Canada go after the United States and Russia together to say, it is wrong, you're endangering humanity by keeping those weapons on alert status, and for heaven's sake, at least show your goodwill by getting them off alert status?
Thank you to our guests. It is indeed an honour to have you here today, and we are well resourced with your briefs and also your backgrounds.
It is depressing sometimes to look at how far we had come, and in what direction we are going. That's certainly in your brief, and for anyone looking at this issue, part of our challenge is that people have decided that this isn't an important issue. Nothing could be further from the truth, as you mentioned in the quote about sleepwalking into this.
Not to mention that when you have people of the stature and background of Misters Schultz, Nunn, Perry, and Kissinger, this isn't an ideological issue. This is a humanitarian issue, and that was clear from their op-ed. I'm absolutely delighted that they provided the world community with their opinion, because it's worth hearing.
What we're trying to establish here is Canada's position. I know that from Hansard, on May 17 in the House, Mr. O'Connor said to the Speaker in response to a question, “Mr. Chair, we are a member of NATO and we stand by NATO's policies. NATO, at this stage, has no policy of disarming from nuclear weapons.” Then in response to the person asking the question, he went on to say, “As the member knows, Canada chose, back in 1945 when we participated in creating the nuclear weapons, not to have nuclear weapons. That is our national stand.”
This kind of underlines the confusion here. I don't say that to embarrass anyone, because it's what you've already laid out. On the one hand, we are saying that as a nation state, Canada, we are not in favour of the use of nuclear weapons. On the other hand, we have this dilemma with NATO, and it's so critically important that Canada use its role in NATO to establish a position. We can do that without compromising. We can do it by way of stating—and I think your point is an excellent one—a declaration of principle that can be adopted within NATO.
My question to start with, maybe to you, Mr. Roche, is how can we do that? This is a goal—I think there'd be a consensus amongst everyone—that we should attain, but how do we do that within NATO?
The chairman would probably like me to be brief in my answer, so I will be.
First, on “depressing”, that's true in some ways, but you have to turn that coin around. I submit that there is an historical momentum occurring toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. It was done through the indefinite extension of NPT in 1995, making the obligations permanent.
The International Court of Justice said that they have a duty to conclude negotiations. In 2000, there was a unanimous agreement for an unequivocal undertaking in 13 steps. It's only in the past few years that there has been this downturn.
So we have to help turn this around. You're right that this is not an ideological subject; nuclear weapons are a human rights subject. It is the most gross violation of human rights around the world, let alone to those who are actually going to suffer the direct attack. So it should be approached from a human rights point of view.
Last, on Canada and what the minister said, of course we're grateful that Canada is not a nuclear weapons country. We don't have them as such, although I'll leave the history aside. But it isn't enough just not to have nuclear weapons; we must be active in the international community in ridding the world of the scourge of the possession of nuclear weapons. This is endangering humanity.
Finally, I'll make my concluding comment today on what we can do in NATO. This committee, Mr. Chairman, has an illustrious reputation and experience in dealing with nuclear weapons all through the years, as you pointed to earlier in the meeting. Of all the things you study in the 21st century—I realize you have a big agenda, and there are a lot of important things going on in the world—there are two overarching problems: climate change and nuclear weapons. If we turn our back on the obligation to reduce and eliminate the danger to the world of nuclear weapons, we are not fulfilling our responsibilities.
So the Canadian government should be pressing NATO to review its strategy, and this committee is well positioned to advise the Government of Canada to exercise its influence and leadership in joining with like-minded states in NATO—certainly Norway, Germany, and Belgium would be three such states—to work together to revise NATO's policy. This is an achievable goal.
Mr. Chairman, I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to appear before you in my capacity as Canada's Ambassador for Disarmament. Since my last session with the committee in December 2004, there have been a number of developments that affect the prospects for progress in the field of non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament, which we can discuss.
In keeping with the committee's previous interests, I will focus primarily on the situation surrounding weapons of mass destruction, but I will also touch upon initiatives relating to conventional arms control and outer space.
Canada has long supported an international order that is premised on a rules-based system that seeks to ensure peace and security through the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes. With respect to weapons, Canada has sought to eliminate the most devastating category, the so-called weapons of mass destruction, or WMD, and to work out accords to control other weapons with a view to minimizing the potentially harmful effects in terms of security, international and human. Both strategic and humanitarian motivations have therefore driven our non-proliferation and disarmament policy at the international level.
Chemical and biological weapons are the subjects of complete bans under widely respected international treaties, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1975 and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1997, under which these weapons have been or will soon be eliminated from state arsenals. The need to ensure the implementation of these accords is, however, ongoing and demands sustained engagement.
The biological weapons convention, for example, which lacks verification provisions, concluded a successful review conference last December with an agreement to strengthen its operations. Annual meetings of state parties as well as separate annual meetings of experts to consider specific relevant topics were agreed, as was the creation of a small implementation support unit comprising three full-time staff members in Geneva. These measures, while modest in appearance, are actually vital signs of commitment by the 155 states parties to sustaining the power of the treaty and enhancing its implementation.
The situation with chemical weapons is even more encouraging. It has 182 states parties and another six signatory states. Of the six declared possessor states, four will have completed destruction of their chemical weapons well before the April 2012 deadline, while the remaining two, the U.S.A. and Russia, are making steady progress towards this goal.
Of particular significance, the CWC has an excellent verification mechanism in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, headquartered in The Hague, and it has a highly effective inspectorate.
Nuclear weapons, while dwarfing the other WMD in terms of their destructive power, have not yet been subject to the same type of comprehensive ban as that applied to biological or chemical weapons. The international treaty governing nuclear weapons is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, which enjoys almost universal adherence.
The NPT, which was signed in 1968 and entered into force in 1970, is a relatively simple treaty that, however, enshrines a complex tripartite bargain between the five nuclear weapons states recognized by the treaty—the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, and China—and the other 184 states parties. The former, nuclear weapons states, commit to good faith efforts toward nuclear disarmament, in article VI; and the latter, the non-nuclear-weapons states, undertake not to produce or acquire nuclear weapons, in article II. In parallel, all states commit to facilitate cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in article IV, subject to assurances that such cooperation will not contribute to the development of nuclear weapons, in article III.
Although the NPT is arguably the most important international security treaty in existence and has yielded over its 37 years immense security benefits, it is also a treaty that is currently under considerable strain. The last few years have witnessed a variety of attacks on its norms: the covert nuclear weapons programs of Iraq, Libya, and North Korea—the last being the first state to actually withdraw from the treaty—the unmasking of the Pakistan-based A.Q. Khan nuclear black market; the protracted non-compliance of Iran with IAEA; and now UN Security Council resolutions regarding the need to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of that country's nuclear activities.
In addition to these problems for the non-proliferation side of the treaty, there was also serious questioning by many non-nuclear weapons states as to how committed the nuclear weapons states were to fulfilling their obligations for nuclear disarmament, pursuant to article VI of the treaty and the decisions made at the 1995 and 2000 NPT review conferences. Many of these internal tensions were evident at the May 2005 NPT review conference, which failed to produce an agreement on any form of substantive document, an outcome that itself was symptomatic of the difficulties the treaty was experiencing and the breakdown of consensus around its current priorities.
Having just led the Canadian delegation to the first preparatory committee of the new NPT review cycle, which concluded May 11 in Vienna, I can tell you that much more work will be needed to bridge the gaps existing amongst the NPT members and to restore that crucial sense of common purpose that is required for its proper implementation.
Canada and its diplomats, however, do not shrink from a challenge, and I can assure the committee that we have played a leading role in terms of remedial action to reinforce the NPT's authority and integrity. We have consistently advocated for concrete and comprehensive implementation of the treaty across all three of its pillars.
We have also presented innovative ideas for enhancing the authority and accountability of the treaty via the establishment of annual meetings of states parties, a standing bureau for the treaty, provision for emergency meetings of the membership, annual reporting on implementation, and an increased role for civil society.
We will need concerted action across the spectrum of the NPT membership if the core commitments and norms that this treaty contains are to continue to function on behalf of humankind.
Let me now turn from the WMD to the other end of the weapons spectrum, the area of conventional arms. It has also been recalled that civilians, rather than combatants, continue to make up the vast majority of victims of these weapons. These are the weapons that continue to impede sustainable peace and development and for which humanitarian factors, and indeed the obligations under international humanitarian law, play a particularly prominent role.
Multilateral efforts to restrict the use of certain weapons that have indiscriminate or excessively injurious effects have been ongoing for well over a century. The Hague declaration of 1897, which banned the use of dumdum or exploding bullets, is an early example.
The CCW, or the Convention on Prohibition or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects—you may now appreciate why there's a penchant for using acronyms in our business—was concluded in 1981, and under its auspices several protocols have been developed prohibiting the use of such arms as blinding lasers and napalm. The latest—fifth—protocol addressed the responsibility of states with respect to explosive remnants of war.
Recently, attention has been given within the CCW to the issue of cluster munitions while in parallel several countries met in Oslo in February to start a process towards an international ban on cluster munitions that have unacceptable humanitarian consequences. Canada was one of 75 states participating last week in a follow up meeting in Lima, Peru to consider what the principal elements of an eventual legal instrument might look like.
The CCW will be moving ahead simultaneously with the meeting of the Group of Governmental Experts in June 2007, which will aim to provide recommendations for a negotiating mandate to be considered at the CCW meeting of states parties in November 2007. Canada supports both processes, as they are complementary to each other, in our view.
The Ottawa process resulted a decade ago in the Ottawa Convention banning antipersonnel landmines. That treaty which now has 153 states parties continues to make a major contribution to global security with an estimated 40 million stockpiled mines already having been destroyed pursuant to the treaty and the international trade in landmines virtually eliminated. Canada remains one of the most active supporters of the convention and mine action designed to implement it.
Combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is an important aspect of Canada's foreign policy. Canada supports full implementation of the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and continues to take active measures to address the humanitarian and development impact of the proliferation and misuse of small arms while ensuring that the existing and legitimate interest of firearms owners, producers, brokers and retailers are respected.
We also support the UK initiative to develop an arms trade treaty which would provide a comprehensive legal regime to govern international transfers of conventional arms of all types. We hope to participate in the group of government experts which will be developing the framework for such a treaty.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, let me briefly turn to outer space—the “final frontier”, as a celebrated Canadian once described it. Our global village has become increasingly dependent on satellites for a wide array of practical services. We all have a major stake in sustaining secure access to space, free of threats of attack.
In Geneva, Vienna, and New York, discussions are under way in a variety of fora to identify further measures that the international community can take to preserve a benign space environment. At a conference on disarmament in Geneva, recent discussions and working papers have focused on two broad approaches—the development of a treaty prohibiting the placement of weapons in outer space and the identification of transparency and confidence-building measures that could contribute to ensuring that outer space does not become a new arena for military conflict.
At the UN in Vienna, much useful work has been done on space debris mitigation guidelines, with some attention now turning to space traffic management. Regulating this dimension of state activity poses many challenges, but through constructive international engagement, I see considerable potential for this sphere of arms control as well.
Mr. Chairman, this has necessarily been a very compressed survey of what the government has been doing in the field of non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. Given the time constraints, there are several areas of relevance that I was not able to touch upon in these opening remarks—for example, the global partnership at the G8, where Prime Minister Harper recently announced an additional $150 million contribution by Canada.
I want to assure you that I would be pleased to address those other areas. I would welcome very much any comments or questions coming from members of the committee.
Thank you, sir.