Statement by Senator Douglas Roche to the Senate

May 31, 1999

I want to inform the Senate of two important meetings on world peace I recently attended.

The first was the Hague Appeal for Peace, an international conference attended by 7,000 persons at The Hague, and addressed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Held on the centenary of the first such conference in 1899, the conference was a jamboree of some 400 seminars, working groups and concerts.

The new Hague Appeal challenges the assumptions of today's skeptics who have given upon the essential U.N. idea that succeeding generations can be saved from the scourge of war. The Hague Appeal launched a citizens' "Agenda for Peace and Justice in the 21st Century," in which citizen advocates, progressive governments, and official agencies work together for common goals to build a culture of peace.

The second meeting was a preparatory meeting for the 2000 Review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, held at the United Nations, New York. This meeting exposed, once again, the deadlock persisting between the Nuclear Weapons States, which refuse to give up their nuclear weapons, and the leading Non-Nuclear Weapons States, which want the nuclear powers to honour the commitments they have made.

When the Non-Proliferation Treaty was indefinitely extended in 1995, the Nuclear Weapons States - the U.S., Russia, the U.K., France, and China - pledged to make "systematic progress in eliminating their nuclear arsenals. Since then, NATO, containing the three Western nuclear powers, has reaffirmed that nuclear weapons are "essential." Seeing that the major nuclear powers are not sincere in their commitments to elimination, India and Pakistan have joined the nuclear club.

The whole non-proliferation regime today is in crisis. New arms races are under way.

Both of these meetings - at The Hague and at the U.N. - were overshadowed by the Kosovo war. The war has had inestimable consequences in setting back the efforts for peace and security in the world and brought nuclear disarmament efforts to a standstill. Only a decade after the end of the Cold War, the hopes for a cooperative global security system have been dashed. The trust, engendered by the early post-Cold War years, is shattered.

We should take seriously what Secretary-General Annan said in The Hague: "The ultimate crime is not to give away some real or imaginary national interest. The ultimate crime is to miss the chance for peace, and so condemn your people to the unutterable misery of war."

This is a lesson Canada should take to heart in using our place on the U.N. Security council to ensure that the Security Council is restored to its preeminent position as the sole source of legitimacy on the use of force.

Canada must strengthen the United Nations to bring about both nuclear disarmament and a new global security architecture for the 21st century.