Speech by Senator Romeo Dallaire


BY Andrea Levy
29 April 2008




Distinguished parliamentarians, friends and guests:

I am extremely proud to accept the honour of acting as special representative of the parliamentary network for nuclear disarmament, the pnnd. Look around you today. There is real power and great potential in this room, in this organization of over 500 parliamentarians in over 70 countries world-wide. Together, we have the ability to save humanity from itself– not in some abstract way, but in a very real and concrete sense.

Governments around the globe have become so intoxicated by power, so addled by the lucre associated with bloated military contracts, so influenced by considerations of political and economic aftermaths, that they have forgotten their most basic mandate: to first & foremost protect the lives and human rights of their citizens.

There is simply no greater threat to humanity than that posed by nuclear weapons. It is our challenge to launch a global political campaign to abolish these weapons of mass destruction before they annihilate us all.

What can we as parliamentarians do?

1) Education:

First we must continue to educate ourselves about the issue and keep up with current international developments. We must educate each other, our constituents, our friends and families.

I am sure that most of you are familiar with a recent six-country poll conducted by the simons foundation and angus reid strategies. The results are most disturbing and bear repetition.

O in Israel, 70 % of respondents think their country would be justified in deploying nuclear weapons either during a conflict or as a deterrent.

O 24.9 % of respondents in the United States, 16.9 % of British and 15% of French think the use of nuclear arms during war is justified.

O supportive of the use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent against possible attack are 37.1 % of French respondents, 28.6% of British and 20.2 % of Mmericans.

This is pure ignorance. Have the tragic lessons of Hiroshima & Nagasaki gone unheeded? We must spread urgently the word that nukes are immoral tools of genocide that should never be used under any circumstances.




2) Take political action:

We must use the tools at hand: implement legislation (such as criminalizing trafficking in nuclear weapons materials); bring motions to reinvigorate government concern and action (as i am proud to say we have accomplished in canada); form meaningful liasons with other governments, ngo’s, academics, the private sector, and persons of influence; write articles; give speeches; do anything we can to get the word out and make this a political priority; take action on all fronts from the local, regional and national to the international. We need to investigate a wide range of actions which are only limited by our creativity. We need to demonstrate unprecedented levels of tolerance, understanding, and flexibility to make the advances necessary.


3) Target youth:

Our collective hope is dependent upon our ability to educate and politicize youth. The youth of today are not apathetic; they are simply not adequately informed. They feel disconnected from politicial leaders and processes and feel that they cannot make a difference. It is our task to enlighten them.

4) Protect the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT):

The NPT review conference in 2010 is of critical importance. Many have said that another failed conference could bring an end to the world’s most successful international treaty and spark an unparallelled nuclear arms race. We must take on all threats to the npt which include: inconsistencies between nato nuclear weapons policy and NPTs disarmament obligations; the dangerous precedent which the US-India deal might pose if approved; modernization of nuclear arsenals; stalled entry into force of the comprehensive test ban treaty and the fissile material cut-off treaty; the emergence of new nuclear capable states; the threat of nuclear terrorism; nuclear testing by North Korea; the nuclear program of Iran; and more.


5) Negotiate a nuclear weapons convention:

The NPT does not go far enough. It is silent as to the legality of nuclear weapons and does not require a ban on their possession. It is immaterial who possesses a nuclear weapon. The very nature of a weapon whose sole purpose is to cause the massive annihilation of innocent civilians is evil. A nuclear weapon is the ultimate tool of genocide; the superlative instrument of indiscriminate murder. If we are truly civilized, it is our duty to abolish them outright.


6) Restore the rightful place of disarmament:

Nonproliferation without disarmament is unsustainable. . The core bargain of the npt is that states agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons (while preserving the right to access peaceful civilian nuclear technology) if in return the nuclear weapon states agreed to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. . We must continue to press nuclear weapon states not only to honour, but to implement disarmament commitments under the treaty in a timely fashion.

The current message of the nuclear weapons states is dangerously hypocritcal: they need to retain nuclear weapons in this perilous world, but will not allow others to acquire them. It is similar to a cigarette company owner telling his child not to smoke as he expands his manufacturing plant and pays for another marketing billboard with a lit cigarette in his mouth.

7) Descry nuclear deterrence:

Nuclear deterrence is no longer a viable strategy in the new world order. The seminal article by messieurs Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn in the wall street journal on January 4, 2007, makes this clear far from acting as a deterrent, the very existence of nuclear weapons, not to mention proposed modernizations, is in reality a spur to proliferation. If nukes represent the new currency of power, then everyone wants to get them.

8) Link nuclear weapons to the environment:

to successfully launch a global initiative it is critical to be aware of one’s context. Right now the hot button issue is clearly global warming and we must be smart and forge a natural link. What are nuclear weapons if not the ultimate global warming? It is simply inconceivable to envision the level of international cooperation necessary to cure transnational environmental problems without true global security. Further, scientific experts agree that even an isolated nuclear incident could conceivably damage our already compromised climate beyond repair.


9) Underscore the misallocation of scarce global resources:

since the end of the cold war some 12 trillion dollars has been spent on perfecting technology to blow our planet up several times over. What an obscene and immoral diversion of shrinking global resources. Worse, this misallocation continues and grows today. Just imagine the contribution that those funds could make to strengthening world peace and global security if they were used to feed, educate, cure and employ the poor?

10) Highlight the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons:

To err is human. People, even highly educated/skilled people entrusted with global security, can and will make mistakes.

If arguably the greatest military power in the world was able to have a massive security breach the result of which was the cross country flight of a nuclear armed b-52 by accident, during which the destructive force of 60 Hiroshimas was out of authorized command and control for more than a day, continued possession of these weapons is untenable.

Beyond operator error, we must make allowances for defects in the weapons themselves, the delivery systems and the supporting computer systems. Leading scientists around the globe agree that a nuclear incident is inevitable through deliberate act or accident. We shall only be safe when they are abolished.