A Report on the 2022 Project Ploughshares workshop series 'Canada and the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons'

April 3, 2023

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Project Ploughshares organized and hosted a series of virtual interactive workshops throughout 2022 with the goal of providing a knowledge-base to enable grassroots support for furthering Canada’s disarmament agenda, in particular as it relates to its engagement with the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW or “Nuclear Ban Treaty”).

The adoption (July 2017) and subsequent entry into force (January 2021) of the TPNW has come to embody the frustration of the majority of the world’s countries with policies and actions that perpetuate nuclear weapons possession, and the lack of demonstrable progress toward nuclear abolition.

The ongoing maintenance and stockpiling of nuclear weapons constitutes a clear and present threat to global security, with nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons still in existence.  The devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences of the possible accidental launch or intentional use of a single warhead are clear. However, progress to eliminate nuclear weapons at the international level has been slow.

Although Canada’s official position is that it supports the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons, it continues to endorse the nuclear deterrence doctrine of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), even as the multilateral policy landscape on which nuclear disarmament negotiations occur is being reshaped. Like most NATO members, Canada boycotted multilateral negotiations on the TPNW and did not attend the first TPNW meeting of states parties held in June 2022.

The first workshop in this series provided information about the state of affairs in the global nuclear disarmament regime, as well as the process leading to the negotiation and adoption of the TPNW and expectations ahead of the first meeting of states parties. The remaining workshops took stock of what transpired at the meeting of states parties and considered actions that the Canadian government could take to advance nuclear disarmament.

The workshops were segmented into thematic modules with recognized experts in the field as facilitators. They were designed to spark conversation and advance knowledge of the issue of nuclear disarmament at the grassroots level. The target audience was  youth and faith-based constituencies as well as the wider general public. Participants were informed about the context and implications of the TPNW, as well as the role that Canada must play multilaterally to advance the goal of a world free from the scourge of nuclear weapons. The events were attended by a wide range of individuals from across Canada and abroad, offering diverse perspectives.

All workshops were recorded and are available for viewing.

Read the full report.