The Peace Calendar Vol.1 No.7
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Jon Spencer — August 1983
Eudora Pendergrast — August 1983
In a decision that startled no one, the Canadian government signed an agreement last month to permit the United States to test the guidance system of the air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) in Canada.
The tests are scheduled to begin in January, 1984, in north-western Canada, and are planned to take place over a five-year period. At least four tests are allowed per year, between the months of January and March.
In announcing the agreement at a press conference in Ottawa on July 15, External Affairs Minister Allan MacEachen said that the agreement was signed in order to further the cause of peace. According to MacEachen, if any signs of progress are seen at the Geneva peace talks the tests can be halted.
The speedy response to the U.S. request was criticised by many, including the Progressive Conservatives, who indicated that the agreement had been signed without waiting for possible success at the Geneva negotiations.
Disarmament supporters across Canada were swift in responding to the announcement. In Ottawa, NDP MP Pauline Jewett accused Prime Minister Trudeau of lying to Canadians. “Trudeau is continuing to misinform the Canadian public when be says this (cruise testing) is a NATO obligation,” she said. “Norway remains a part of NATO and has refused such testing. He’s saying we’ll have to get out of NATO if we refuse — and that’s an absolute, total lie.”
Also in Ottawa, Operation Dismantle indicated that it plans to take the government to court because the agreement violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees Canadians the right to life and security.
In Toronto, a press conference was held at City Hail, two hours after the government announcement, by a number of peace and disarmament groups.
“The government has announced today that the cruise missile will he tested in Canada,” said Matthew Clark of the Toronto Disarmament Network. “We are here to announce that it will not.”
Clark called the issue “far from settled,” and referred to statements by parliamentary experts indicating the decision can yet be annulled. “The campaign for peace is not over; it is just beginning.”
Prime Minister Trudeau’s argument that Canada must test the cruise or leave NATO was called “unacceptable” by Angela Browning, chairperson of the Against Cruise Testing coalition.
Browning said that Canada must take a stand and remain a world force for peace. “If the world is to be safe from nuclear holocaust, we must do more than make concerned speeches at the U.N.,” a reference to Trudeau’s speech to the 1978 United Nations Special Session on Disarmament advocating a “strategy of suffocation.”
According to Browning, the peace movement will make cruse testing “the most prominent issue in the upcoming federal election.”
Several of those present referred to the manner in which the government announced its decision. “The fact that the announcement was made on a Friday at 5 PM before a long weekend (while Parliament is not in session) is a frank attempt to manipulate the news” said United Auto Workers Director Bob White in a statement read by George Ehring.
“Obviously the government is concerned about the strength of the anti-cruise movement.”
Bonnie Greene of the United Church of Canada called the agreement “collaboration with one of the major nuclear powers in a unilateral effort on its part to escalate the arms race.”
According to Dr. Frank Sommers, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility, the U.S. has to fight and prevail in a nuclear war. Sommers pointed out that if one armed cruise missile was delivered on Toronto, 124,000 people would be killed immediately, and 159,000 people would be injured by the same warhead. “All the medical capacity in all of Canada would not be sufficient to deal with the injuries arising from one of these warheads. For purely medical reasons, testing such a missile is unethical,” said Sommers
Demonstrations are planned over the next few months, with the primary focus on halting the testing of the cruise. Rosemary Cooke of the Cruise Missile Conversion Project referred to the July non-violent civil disobedience action at Griffiss Air Force Base in New York, the departure point for B-52 bombers which will carry the cruise missiles to the Alberta testing range. Other protests are planned at Litton Systems in Toronto.
Angela Browning announced that a vigil would begin the following day at Liberal Party Headquarters in Toronto. She also indicated that demonstrations would be held across Canada on July 23, one week after the announcement.
It is imperative that the Canadian people respond to this indefensible decision by the Cabinet. As ACT made clear at the July 15 press conference, “the Canadian government must honour its commitment to democracy by cancelling the testing of the cruise missile on our land.”
Beth Richards — August 1983
On July 20, Operation Dismantle, a major Canadian peace group, filed a request for an interim court injunction to reverse the recent cabinet decision to permit testing of the U.S. air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) in Canada.
The group was joined in this precedent-setting action by 26 other organizations, including the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, the National Union of Provincial Government Employees, the Ontario Federation of Labour, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, and 21 peace groups and coalitions from across the nation.
According to Operation Dismantle lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, the federal court suit will be based on Article 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to ‘life, liberty and security of person, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.’ Mr. Greenspon and his clients intend to demonstrate that the tests threaten the security of Canadians because they represent an escalation in the arms race. They will also argue that the nature and small size of the cruise make treaties designed to limit its development and deployment impossible to verify.
In a telephone interview just prior to the filing of the suit, Greenspon agreed that this lack of verifiability means that the development and deployment of the cruise will undermine the two-track doctrine currently endorsed by NATO.
Under the two-track doctrine, NATO is supposed to negotiate arms limitation treaties with the Soviet Union, while simultaneously developing and proposing to deploy additional nuclear weapons. These weapons are intended to establish a position of strength from which to negotiate and an arsenal which can be deployed if treaty negotiations fail.
The development and deployment of the ALCM calls into question the validity of this doctrine, because arms limitation treaties are meaningless without the possibility of verification.
Greenspon acknowledges that his clients face an uphill battle, largely because their request breaks new ground in the application of Article 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There have been other legal cases based on the application of this section, a few of which have been successful. However, none of these has involved an executive decision of the Canadian government.
The court case will have two stages. The first is the request for a preliminary injunction. If the injunction is granted, it will immediately prevent the Canadian government from pursuing any further action in support of cruise testing until a second stage, a full hearing of the substance of the case, is completed. If the second stage is successful, a permanent injunction against cruise testing would be imposed by the federal court.
When asked about the chances of success, Greenspon noted that the granting of a preliminary injunction depends upon the successful demonstration that the case has some merit and that the interim period before a final hearing could be conducted would result in further costs. The costs in this instance would be the daily expense, borne by Canadian taxpayers, of planning for the cruise tests.
For the purposes of the preliminary injunction, Greenspon and his clients will submit written affidavits by Canadian and U.S. defense and arms experts. At the second stage, defense experts would be called to testify in person.
Operation Dismantle was founded in 1977 in order to promote global referenda on nuclear disarmament. In keeping with this objective, it has helped organize municipal referenda on the nuclear disarmament issue across Canada. In 1982, for example, 132 referenda were held, 76 of which resulted in votes in favour of a mutual and verifiable freeze on the production by the United States and the Soviet Union of nuclear arms.
The organization has 3100 members at present, with more than a dozen branches across Canada. Operation Dismantle’s main office can be contacted in Ottawa at Box 3887, Station C, Ottawa KlY 4M5, or by telephone at (613) xxx-xxxx.
Copies of the statement of claim on which the anti-cruise suit is based are available at the CANDIS office.
— August 1983
The placard held by the protester outside the Canadian consulate in Boston said, “No War! No Cruise! Canada — Don’t Be Used!”
On July 23rd that message was carried in pickets, vigils and rallies staged in front of every one of the fourteen consulates Canada maintains in the U.S. The message is clear. As anti-cruise protests mount over the coming months, Canada/U.S. solidarity could become the strongest feature of the peace movement. But it won’t happen by itself.
Protests in the U.S. on July 23rd may have appeared to be a spontaneous expression of solidarity, but behind the scene a handful of individuals worked day and night after the announcement of the Cabinet decision to test the cruise.
Two of those individuals, Norman Solomon and Ada Sanchez, deserve some recognition and thanks for their efforts. Solomon and Sanchez staff the National Clearinghouse for the People’s Test Ban in Portland, Oregon. After the umbrella testing agreement was signed in February, they contacted Canadian peace activists to discuss ways in which we could work together to ‘refuse the cruise.’
One of the suggestions raised by Canadians was to hold simultaneous demonstrations on the Saturday following the cruise testing agreement. At that time most of us assumed the agreement would be signed toward the end of the summer and the July announcement took us somewhat by surprise. Nonetheless, Solomon and Sanchez quickly contacted peace groups in every state. The response was immediate and enthusiastic.
There are at least 26 manufacturing plants for air-launched cruise missiles in the U.S., and these plants have witnessed many vigils, rallies and civil disobedience actions over the last few years. Although the cruise testing may be taking place in Canadian airspace, the B-52s that carry the missiles are scheduled to leave from Griffiss AFB in New York state, because the tests are an international issue, peace activists in the U.S. and Canada have recognized the necessity of a coordinated international response.
Along this line, solidarity action on July 23rd provided a practise run for Canada/U.S. Solidarity Days scheduled for December 2nd and 3rd. This call for simultaneous actions to ‘refuse the cruise’ has been sent to over eight hundred U.S. organisations and has already received positive responses. In Canada, CANDIS will issue the call for endorsement to several hundred peace groups.
The emphasis is on solidarity, and in consideration of the differing priorities of peace groups in various regions, the call is carefully worded to suggest that people initiate what-ever actions they feel are appropriate on those days.
Judging by the success of July 23, it is evident that a solid communications network can develop over the coming months to facilitate a decentralized and very successful joint protest.
It’s important that we plan now for actions following the October 22-23 Disarmament Week demonstrations. The December 2 and 3 Solidarity Days should provide the necessary continuity.
The greeting sent to Canadians on July 23 from the People’s Test Ban contained a succinct and encouraging message “… To officials intent on squandering precious resources and human energies by testing new nuclear weapons for inflicting global holocaust, we serve notice that today marks the beginning of a new and expansive unity among the people of the United States and Canada. Together we can stop cruise testing. Together we can stop the arms race.”
Bob Penner — August 1983
Last November, John Evans, a ticket agent with VIA Rail in Toronto’s Union Station, decided to wear a button expressing hit opposition to nuclear war, an opposition presumably shared by those both for and against the current build-up of nuclear weapons. Mr. Evans wore the button, which shows a crossed out mushroom cloud, for just over a day before his employer ordered him to remove it. When Evans refused, he was moved to a backroom job, out of the public eye. After consulting his wife, his lawyer and his union, Evans decided that the most constructive way to pursue the issue was not through defiance but through existing legal channels. He removed the button and filed a grievance with his union, The Canadian Brotherhood of Railway, Transport and General Workers, citing management’s attempt to curtail his freedom of expression, in violation of Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Mr. Evans achieved an important victory in gaining the support of the national office of his union. However, when the matter was taken to arbitration, the ruling handed down by Mr. J.F.W. Weatherhill supported VIA’s right to make Mr. Evans remove his button, on the grounds that VIA passengers should not be subjected to controversial political or social views by either the rail company or its employees. The basis given for this ruling by Mr. Weatherhill is that the rights of free speech and expression have limits which emerge where the exercise of the rights impinges on the rights of others.
In a July 11 press conference responding to the arbitrator’s decision, Mr. Evans stated that “nuclear disarmament is an issue that transcends the limits of politics.” He also questioned why he had been allowed to wear a poppy in remembrance of those who died in past wars to preserve freedom, but was denied the right to exercise the freedom they had gained in order to “do what I can to prevent the next and what will be the last war.” He then removed his button from the front of his jacket lapel and pinned it underneath.
Mr. Evans notes that in the brief period during which he openly wore the button at work, neither he nor VIA Rail received any complaints. In fact, he received two clear expressions of support.
There is a strong parallel, Mr. Evans pointed out, between the arbitrator’s decision and the initial decision of Volkswagen Canada to withdraw its support from the Toronto Symphony following the Sound of Peace concert given by conductor Andrew Davis and other members of The Toronto Symphony. In both eateries, Evans notes, serious efforts to promote peace were treated as expressions of personal political opinion. Presumably, he says, there is no political party that advocates nuclear war. Why then is the advocacy of peace “political?”
Mr. Evans plans to pursue his right to express his views on nuclear war through the courts. Readers of The Peace Calendar who wish to support his effort to wear an anti-nuclear war button on the job can do so by writing M. Pierre Faranche, President, VIA Rail Canada, P.O. Box 8116, 1801 McGill College, Montréal, P.Q., H3C 3N3.
— August 1983
On October 22 and 23, millions of people in Europe, the United States and Canada will participate in demonstrations against the deployment in Europe of the cruise and Pershing II missiles, now scheduled for December of this year.
At international meetings held last fall, it was decided to coordinate the opposition of national peace movements to these first-strike weapons. The October dates were chosen because they represent a peak in the campaign to prevent deployment, and because they are at the start of this year’s United Nations Disarmament Week.
At present, coalitions in 20 major cities from Vancouver to Halifax have begun preparations for the October 22 demonstrations.
In Toronto, the campaign is being co-sponsored by the Toronto Disarmament Network and the Against Cruise Testing coalition. An office has been opened at CANDIS in Holy Trinity Church, behind the Eaton Centre. Organizing work has been going on since May to prepare for a 2-month public campaign publicizing the October 22 demonstration.
Initially, the TDN-ACT coalition focussed their attention on the publicity blitz and door-to-door canvass set to begin in September. In August, they will be recruiting the 50-100 volunteers needed for this effort. Regular orientation nights are planned for new volunteers, who will not only mobilize support for the demonstration, but also create an unprecedented public presence of the Toronto nuclear disarmament movement.
The peace movement has shown no signs of weakening, despite the July 15th Cabinet decision to permit cruise testing in Canada. According to Beth Richards of CANDIS, in the days following the government announcement, the CANDIS phone lines were busy with calls from people who had never before attended a demonstration, but who were enraged by the decision.
To find out how you can actively contribute to the success of the October 22 demonstration in Toronto, call the TDN-ACT coalition office at xxx-xxxx.
Terri Hilliom — August 1983
At its 30th General Synod held recently in Fredericton, the Anglican Church of Canada approved a series of resolutions concerning nuclear weapons, disarmament, and biological and chemical warfare.
The principal resolution, as finally adopted, contains seventeen recommendations directed to the government, to Canadians and to the church and its institutions, primarily concerning the escalation of the arms race, and the means of resolving conflict and making peace.
After prolonged debate between disarmament supporters and representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces, the Synod agreed that the development, production or use of nuclear weapons are contrary to the will of God and the mind of Christ.
In addition to the principal resolution, the Synod also urged Parliament to pass Bill C-678 declaring Canada a nuclear weapon-free zone, and outlawing the production and use of chemical and biological weapons.
John Pendergrast — August 1983
The grassroots campaign to make Ontario a nuclear weapon-free zone is building across the province with key organisers in 15 towns and cities.
The campaign was launched in April when Richard Johnston (NDP MPP, Scarborough West) introduced a resolution into the provincial legislature which would prohibit the deployment, testing, construction and transportation of nuclear weapons in Ontario. Now a non-partisan Resolution I Committee is busy distributing NWFZ window signs and petition forms to peace groups across the province.
The committee has received requests for over 20,000 signs and petition slips from more than 40 communities from all areas of the province. Local peace groups in these communities are organizing door-to-door canvasses, setting up booths in shopping centres and distributing the petition slips at local peace events.
The committee hopes to have window signs up in homes across Ontario and thousands of signed petition forms by the time the resolution is debated in October. For more information on how you can help, call 416 xxx-xxxx.
anon — August 1983
These are not the beautiful people. They sit or lie uncomfortably on the sidewalk next to the Liberal Party headquarters on King Street, handing around a bottle of organic apple juice. The monotony of their vigil is broken by friendly calls of mock derision from supporters in a passing streetcar and by a desultory, mildly abusive denunciation from a middle-aged pedestrian.
On the Sunday following the July 15 Cabinet decision to permit cruise testing in Canada, there were twelve campers. This was down a bit from the eighteen or so who used to be at Queen’s Park, but the sidewalk is smaller, and concrete is harder than grass.
The peace camp has been a continual presence in Toronto since May 20, when a group of friends set up tents outside the Parliament buildings at Queen’s Park. There has never been a formal organization; there have simply been stubbornly asserting their right to stay where they are and to deliver their message against the cruise missile.
Although the stated purpose of the peace campers is to keep the issue of the cruise missile in the public eye. a number of the campers are self-proclaimed anarchists, and though they do not seek confrontation with the police, there is a limit to how far they will go to avoid it. According to Josh Grossman, a grade 13 student who has been at the camp since the start, “we are willing to get arrested to protest the Orwellian super-country of NATO.
“The cruise missile is a tool of Reagan to bring the NATO countries together as a solid block.” Grossman emphasizes, however, that the peace camp as such is not anarchist, and not all of its members share his views. People of all persuasions and all ages come and go; the point is to be there, against the cruise.
The strategy adopted by the police seems to be to make the campers as uncomfortable as possible. They are no longer allowed tents or sleeping bags; twice they have been ordered off the grass at Queen’s Park; and some have been arrested. On the Sunday after the decision, Grossman had had only six hours of sleep in the previous four days. But he was far from discouraged, maintaining that the peace camp was successful, and that public support was growing. By the time this article appears, the campers will have ended their vigil outside Liberal Party headquarters and should be back at Queen’s Park.
The attitude of the peace movement as a whole towards the campers has been somewhat ambivalent. Undoubtedly this is because of the unconventional appearance and occasionally abrasive manner of some of the campers. Their determination and sheer physical endurance, however, has earned them the support of many who were initially offended by the style and rhetoric of some of the more outspoken campers. There is little doubt that the campers will continue to be harassed, and they would appreciate encouragement. Honk if you want peace!
— August 1983
- Be sure your group is in the latest edition of the Canadian Peace Listing. A second edition is being prepared for spring 1984. If you know of any new or unlisted group or organization, please send their names, addresses, phone number and contact persons to: A Canadian Peace Listing, 2420 Douglas St., Ste. 4, Vancouver, B.C. VST 4L7. The Peace Listing includes more than 500 Canadian peace, disarmament and development organizations by province on local to international levels. The first edition is available at the same address for $5.
- E.P. Thompson, social historian and leader of the European peace movement, has been invited to lecture in Toronto toward the end of August. As The Peace Calendar goes to press, details have not been confirmed, but such a programme is likely to take place. For fuller information, call CANDIS at xxx-xxxx.
- The Peace Calendar is looking for a few good regional correspondents, people who can write well and who are in touch with peace activities in their community. If you’re interested, call Jon Spencer at xxx-xxxx.
- “March for the Future of our Children” is a 300 mile walk being sponsored by the Saskatoon Against the Cruise group from Grand Centre, Cold Lake via Meadow Lake and North Battleford to Saskatoon. They will carry a life size model of the cruise, covered in photos of children. They’ll he leaving Grand Centre Oct 6th and plan to arrive in Saskatoon Oct. 22nd. They need participants for part or all of the walk, kids’ photos, transportation, billeting along the route, funds, press or publicity in your community, any ideas. Write or phone immediately, SAC, Sutherland Sub P.O. Saskatoon, Sask., S7N 2H0, or call Margarete Simpson at xxx-xxxx, or xxx-xxxx.
- Bring the cruise missile to Trudeau. Saskatoon Against the Cruise wants to take their model of the cruise, covered in children’s photos, to Ottawa after their march from Cold Lake to Saskatoon (Oct 6-22). They need a cross-country relay transportation system. If you are travelling between Saskatoon and Ottawa after Oct. 22 contact SAC as soon as possible. For contact info, see preceding event.
- The October 22nd campaign has opened a mobilisation office in Holy Trinity Church, 10 Trinity Sq. It will be staffed full-time from Aug. 8th on. Please drop by.
- Bug owners beep for peace. Volkswagen owners for Peace have formed a group. They have a 1000 bumper stickers saying “another Volkswagen Owner for Peace.” Get one for $1 at Friends House, 60 Lowther, CANDIS, at Holy Trinity Anglican, or Christian Movement for Peace, Trinity United Church.
- Cold Lake Peace Camp will he the site of a women’s peace camp Aug. 19-22. Women from Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will gather together. All women are welcome. For more information write Box 333, Grand Centre, Alberta, TOA 1TO or contact Emile Drzymala in Calgary at xxx-xxxx or xxx-xxxx.
- Women’s Action for Peace will he having a grand annual Rummage Sale Sat. Oct. 1. We need your gizmos, widgets and junque. All proceeds to WAP’s peace work and legal defense fund. Call xxx-xxxx for pick-up/drop-off throughout the summer.
- NDP Anti-War Committee will be leafletting for the Ontario NWFZ campaign in August at various subway stations. People who are interested in helping contact Gord Doctorow at xxx-xxxx or Cheryl Swelger at xxx-xxxx.
- Dateline Halifax, Nova Scotia; If a nuclear missile-carrying submarine is spotted on any Friday, a demonstration will begin at l2 noon in Victoria Park on Saturday; if one is spotted on Saturday, the demonstration will be at 12 noon on Sunday, same place. Contact Anti-Submarine Watch, xxx-xxxx.
- Lovers of Survival — Begin planning the big Disarmament Party for 1984. Aquarian Research is inviting everyone to commemorate the hoped-for cancellation of the arms race all over the world. Think positive. Tentative dates Oct 30 ’84 in every town and city of the world. If disarmament is lagging by then the party could become an organising tool for a worldwide disarmament party in the political sense. Contact Aquarian Research, 5620 Morton St, Philadelphia, PA 19144.
- “Projet Conservons les Emplois” is collecting information on the shipbuilding industry in Canada with the purpose of discussing conversion from the production of military frigates. If you have any relevant info, write to Stewart Stilitz, 1440 Bernard Ave W, No 7, Montréal, PQ.
- The Peace Resource Centre is moving to a new office at the Native People’s Friendship Centre, 600 Bank St (upstairs), Ottawa. Also, the PRC has prepared a comprehensive index guide for newspaper clippings. Includes thirty alphabetical headings under the general heading of “Arms Race”. Contact Anka at the PRC.
- The Regina Coalition for Peace and Disarmament has drafted an open letter which they are sending to groups across Canada. Anyone planning events for October 22 are asked to sign the letter which will be placed in newspaper ads across the country. For more information contact Bill Stahl, xxx-xxxx.
— August 1983
- Arms Maker, Union Buster: Litton Industries: A Profile, by Len Desroches, Tom Joyce and Murray MacAdam. Litton’s products may be what we’re rallying against, but their methods are just as deplorable. This book is a fine example of the madness in the method of arms making and the meanness of union busting.
- How Effective are Peace Movements? by Bob Overy, 1982. Drawing on his twenty years of experience in the British peace movement, Overy has provided a sympathetic and critical review of the effectiveness of a diverse range of peace groups.
- Canada and the Nuclear Arms Race, edited by Ernie Regehr and Simon Rosenblum. James Lorimer & Co., 1983. In this book some of Canada’s most distinguished critics of the arms race examine our drift toward annihilation, show how Canada is contributing to it, and explain the policies Canada could adopt to encourage the reversal of the arms race. $12.95.
- World Military and Social Expenditure 1982, by Ruth Leger Sivard. The purpose of this report is to provide an annual accounting of the use of world resources for social and military purposes. In bringing together military costs and social needs for direct comparison, the report bridges a gap in the information otherwise available to the public. $5.00
- The Time Has Come, 25 min. Based on the massive protest at the U.N. in New York in June 1982, this film shows many diverse groups, their actions and reasons for opposing nuclear war. The film shows how groups of people can organize for nuclear disarmament. Available from CFSC, 60 Lowther.
- Nuclear Countdown 27 min. Outlines the history of international nuclear arms agreements and points out the increasing world insecurity as nuclear arsenals are built up. United Nations 1978.
Metta Spencer — August 1983
Demonstrations, marches and rallies are occasions for us to express our anger, sorrow, humanity and solidarity, as well as our determination to have our concerns recognized and dealt with. The success of these gatherings depends on the energy and creativity that each individual contributes and comes away with.
As the peace movement grows, and as more people become involved, we need ideas on how people can creatively participate in these occasions.
If you’ve got an original idea, send a brief description to us, along with your name and phone number if you want to he involved. We’re keeping a file on ideas for organizers and individuals to use.
Ideas can he funny or serious. So far, we’ve received such ideas as:
- mime artists;
- clown marshals;
- a “businessmen’s contingency,” for representing the corporate sector;
- a “laughing brigade” to deal with counter demonstrators on an appropriate level; and
- street theatre.
We’ll he publishing some of the best ideas in a future issue of The Peace Calendar, and the originator of the most creative idea will win a Human T-shirt. To enter the contest, contact the Creative Capers Contest, CANDIS, 10 Trinity Square, Toronto M5G 1B1.
Peace activists have been following the cruise and Pershing drama with such horrified fascination that we have failed to notice another international development that contains enormous potential: the “Helsinki process.”
What follows is a synopsis of its history and current prospects.
The crowning accomplishment of the brief period of US/USSR detente was a 1975 agreement called the “Helsinki Accords.” It represented the commitment of 35 nations (the NATO countries, plus the Warsaw Pact countries, plus all other European nations except Albania) to negotiate solutions to a number of thorny problems left unresolved after World War II. The problems were categorized into three “baskets.”
Basket I includes such security concerns and such principles as the obligation to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms; the principle of co-existence; a pledge that frontiers should he changed only by peaceful means and that states should co-operate and refrain from intervention in the internal affairs of other nations.
Basket II comprises a commitment to economic, technical and scientific co-operation, and includes problems of trade and the environment.
Basket III deals with human contacts such as emigration rights, cultural and educational exchange, and the free movement of people, ideas and information.
The Accords caused great joy at the time they were made, since they represented binding commitments on the part of the European nations, as well as the U.S. and Canada, who participated in the talks because they were members of NATO. Unfortunately, the optimism was unfounded, since détente was already deteriorating by the time the agreement was reached, and many of its pledges have never been actualized.
A number of self-appointed committees have functioned as “Helsinki Watch” groups, attempting to hold the USSR to its promises on human rights matters, and to focus world attention on Soviet shortcomings. So far, the extensive publicity on human rights has generally led people to assume that the Helsinki process deals only with human rights issues, which is far from the case.
Nevertheless, Helsinki resulted in the establishment of a series of follow-up meetings to occur over many years, during which time the nations would work out and implement the specifics of the initial agreements. It also established that negotiations were to depend on consensus instead of majority vote. This means that every new agreement must be approved by all member nations.
The first of these follow-up meetings, held in Belgrade in 1977-78, failed completely. The spirit was bitter and no new proposals were introduced.
Another series of meetings began in Madrid in the fall of 1980. Again, the prospects were most unfavorable, but no one walked out and some other Central European countries (Romania, Austria, Yugoslavia, and West Germany) kept the negotiations alive by pressing for agreement on at least some of the issues of nuclear proliferation.
The neutral countries — mostly Yugoslavia, Finland, Sweden, Austria and Switzerland — played an extremely important role as brokers in the Madrid negotiations, and, despite the extreme tension between the NATO and Warsaw Pact alliances, ultimately produced a document in July 1983, which all the participating nations agreed to sign.
The agreement has kept the last vestiges of détente alive, and as a result it may he revived, to the benefit of humanity especially if the peace movement exerts pressure in the right way.
There will be additional meetings for consideration of particular points in the years ahead. For example, experts on Human Rights are slated to meet in Ottawa in 1985.
The most immediate opportunity however, will began in 1984 in January, when a conference will convene to discuss (a) confidence-building and security measures and (b) disarmament. In practice this means that disarmament will probably not be discussed in Stockholm for many years, since the first topics will take so long
When the Stockholm meeting begins, the member nations will immediately agree over the definition of their mandate:“confidence-building measures.” The neutral countries (on the prompting of their internal movements) will say that this mandate includes the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones, and will want to discuss such proposals.
The United States will probably want to rule out the topic. However, it will be in a weak moral position as it is the only nation which blocks such a discussion as it is certain to be — unless Canada follows Reagan’s lead. Canadian peace activists must initiate a major lobbying effort to see that the nuclear weapon free zone proposals are admitted to the Stockholm discussions. It is a unique opportunity. Fortunately, this is the kind of opportunity that Mr. Trudeau may personally wish to pursue, and for which he may need strong public support. If so, it will provide an objective for the European and North American peace movements to work toward.
A second (but quite separate) opportunity may arise when the neutral countries (probably under the leadership of Sweden’s Olof Palme) propose a new standard for determining which nations should be in the negotiations in Geneva over the Pershing and cruise missiles. So far these negotiations include only the U.S. and the USSR, on the grounds that they are the actual owners of the missiles and should therefore control them. However, these is the strongest possible case for the demand of the non-nuclear countries for a voice in Geneva: The decision ought not to he made by the owners of the bombs, but also by the people who are likely to he killed by them.
If and when the European neutral countries clearly demand a seat at the Geneva negotiations, Canadians need to recognize the importance of supporting their claim.
Dr. Spencer teaches Sociology at the University of Toronto. She is also on the Board of Directors of CANDIS, and executive officer of Science for Peace. Much of the information in this article is based on Dr. Spencer’s discussions with John Ernest and Aaron Tovish at the Conference on Non-violence at Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik in July of this year.