Don’t use Ukraine as an excuse to abandon nuclear disarmament: Roche
Roche's Hiroshima connection spurs action
This week I was in New York to attend a conference titled "Nuclear Weapons and Tectonic Geopolitical Change” where well-known Canadian former diplomat, Parliamentarian and author Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C. gave an important presentation emphasizing the critical state of the global nuclear disarmament crisis and the urgent need for comprehensive action.
Hon. Douglas Roche O.C.
In his speech, delivered via teleconference from his home in Edmonton, Roche highlighted the collaboration of four prominent Canadian organizations dedicated to nuclear disarmament: Canadian Pugwash Group, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and Project Ploughshares. These groups jointly convened an expert roundtable, attributing the current crisis to the breakdown of nuclear weapons treaties, the rise of destabilizing weapons technologies, and the modernization of existing nuclear arsenals.
Addressing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Roche urged against using it as an excuse to stall nuclear disarmament efforts but rather as a catalyst for expedited progress. He stressed the importance of trust-building communication in the contemporary multi-polar world, emphasizing the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any nuclear weapon use.
Roche advocated for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and criticized the reluctance of nuclear weapons states, including Canada, to engage with it. He called on Canada to play a bridging role between nuclear and non-nuclear weapons states, rejecting the notion that nuclear weapons are a "supreme guarantee" of security.
"My bond with Hiroshima and the hibakusha started when I was a young parliamentarian and visited Hiroshima for the first time."
The speech concluded with a personal reflection on Roche's connection with Hiroshima and a call for immediate action. He proposed the resumption of U.S.-Russia talks, promotion of No-First-Use policies, and advocacy for de-alerting nuclear weapons. Roche underscored the immoral and illegal nature of nuclear weapons, positioning their abolition as a prerequisite for global peace and a paramount human rights issue.
In closing, he emphasized the continuous commitment to the abolition of nuclear weapons, rejecting the notion of their inevitability and urging a collective effort to achieve peace in the 21st century.