Report on the Expert Seminar held April 11 and 12, 2011 in Ottawa
The expert seminar “Toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention: A Role for Canada” held in Ottawa, April 11 and 12, 2011, included participants from the academic community and civil society, as well as diplomats, parliamentarians, and government officials. The discussions addressed a broad range of legal, political, security, and verification requirements for progress toward a global legal ban on nuclear weapons.
Participants welcomed the unanimous motions in the Canadian Senate and the House of Commons encouraging “the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention” and “to deploy a major worldwide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.”
Participants also took note of the Vancouver Declaration, a statement by legal experts, which holds that both the use and threatened use of nuclear weapons is contrary to international humanitarian law. The Declaration states: “It cannot be lawful to continue indefinitely to possess weapons which are unlawful to use or threaten to use, are already banned for most states, and are subject to an obligation of elimination.”
The seminar discussions included broad encouragement for Canada to assume an international leadership role in exploring and promoting legal, political, security, and compliance measures conducive to the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons.