In less than two weeks, the G7 leaders will be meeting in Hiroshima, the first city to be attacked by a nuclear weapon. Because of this history, the G7 leaders cannot dare leave Hiroshima without making concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament. To ensure that concrete action is taken, hundreds of peace and disarmament organizations are ramping up the pressure to show that the world is watching and expecting nuclear disarmament to be a top priority in Hiroshima. As part of this pressure, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Peaceboat organized a three day youth summit in Hiroshima on April 25-27. The G7 Youth Summit brought 50 young participants from 19 countries together to discuss the path towards nuclear disarmament. Our Project Officer, Gillian Flude, was one of the 50 youth who had the opportunity to participate and we would like to share her thoughts on the summit.
My experience at the G7 Youth Summit was as emotional as it was inspiring. ICAN and Peaceboat organized a busy schedule with educational panels; workshops; and a day dedicated to meeting a nuclear weapon survivor, visiting Peace Park and the Memorial Museum. Hearing about the horrors that nuclear weapons have inflicted, on not just Hiroshima but also on Nagasaki and many Indigenous communities around the world which have been affected by nuclear weapons testing, was deeply emotional. These weapons cause an absolutely unnecessary amount of harm to innocent people, and it is so important that they are never used again. Meeting so many other people from around the world who are dedicated to the same cause of eliminating nuclear weapons was inspiring.
The educational panels featured speakers from diverse backgrounds. We heard from Hiroshima University professors who explained in depth the effects of nuclear weapons; we heard from Pacific Islanders who explained the harm that nuclear weapons testing has inflicted upon them and their land; we heard from ICAN staff who explained the strength of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; we heard from a former humanitarian lawyer for the International Committee for the Red Cross; and many more. All of these speakers brought personal experience and expertise and were available for questions afterwards. I was grateful to have the opportunity to approach them and make connections with experts who can help me in my advocacy in the future.
The workshops gave the participants an opportunity to speak and learn from each other. I attended the workshop on lobbying leaders, because next week I’ll be attending meetings with Canadian Parliamentarians and I wanted to be as prepared as possible. In that workshop, we shared stories of lobbying activities that worked well and finished the session by writing a cover letter that we could send to Parliamentarians to share our final youth statement. Another workshop I attended was on social media. In that session, we came up with a worldwide social media campaign for ICAN to put pressure on the G7 before they meet on May 19-21. That session was so fun and it was great to come up with a global social media plan in less than two hours!
We also had the chance to attend a film screening of the documentary “8:15”. This is a film produced by Dr. Akiko Mikamo who is the daughter of two Hiroshima survivors, making her existence a miracle. In it, the story of her father and grandfather are told alongside a re-enactment. The film showcased the horrors that just one nuclear weapon, dropped on Hiroshima at 8:15 AM, can inflict upon a city, and a family. After the film, Dr. Akiko Mikamo spoke and gave us the chance to ask her questions. Dr. Akiko Mikamo will be hosting a global screening soon, so I highly recommend you follow the documentary on Instagram (@813documentary) or visit the website (815documentary.com) to watch the film.
I also had the opportunity to speak at a public event that featured a youth representative from each G7 country. I had the chance to share with other youth participants, the Japanese public, and followers on a live stream about my experience in the last two days and what I will be doing when I get back to Canada.
Although this was all incredible, for me, the most valuable experience was the day we met Ms. Keiko Ogura, a Hibakusha (nuclear weapon survivor) who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima when she was eight years old. Ms. Keiko Ogura shared with us her survival story, and how she got where she is today, sharing her traumatic story to people around the world. Ms. Ogura believes that sharing stories and ideas is extremely important because this can help people in all different countries work towards eliminating nuclear weapons. She told us that she not only had physical trauma, but also has “invisible scars.” As she is getting older, and nuclear weapons are still not eliminated, her survivor’s guilt is getting worse. So many Hibakusha have worked tirelessly to ensure nuclear weapons would never be used again. They have come so far, with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) being adopted in 2017, but Ms. Ogura knows that there is still so much to be done. She said that whether there are 10,000 nuclear weapons or one nuclear weapon, she won’t be satisfied until every single one is gone since she knows the harm that just one can inflict. She asked us to continue sharing her story and continue the legacy of the Hibakusha who worked so hard for nuclear disarmament.
After meeting Ms. Keiko Ogura, we had a tour of Peace Park with members of the organization that she founded, Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace. Peace Park is the park that now stands only metres away from the hypocentre. Once a dense neighbourhood filled with life, this entire neighbourhood was destroyed along with almost everyone in it when the bomb was dropped. The park is full of symbolic memorials to remember victims, such as the Pond of Peace which honours those who called out for water with their dying breaths. After the tour of Peace Park, we had time to explore the Memorial Museum. This Museum was filled with stories and items that survived the bombing. As you are going through the museum, you are inside dark rooms with no windows. But as you walk out of the exhibits, there is a great hall with windows from floor to ceiling overlooking the Peace Park. I remember feeling very emotional when I saw all this light after all the darkness. It made me feel like the message of Hiroshima is one of hope. Hope for peace, hope for a world where all human life is protected, and hope for nuclear weapons to never be used again. I know the Hibakusha, the speakers, the ICAN staff, and the 50 youth participants including myself will do everything we can to make sure this becomes a reality and all nuclear weapons are eliminated.
And Canada can play a major role too. Getting nuclear weapons eliminated is going to require world leaders to make a change. We can and will pressure them, but in the end they are the ones who have the power to stop nuclear weapons. We need to make sure that Canada knows that they have this powerful responsibility, and should use it wisely. A nuclear ban is what Canadians want- almost all major cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, have signed the ICAN cities appeal which declares that they are anti-nuclear weapons; 73% of Canadians indicated in a 2021 poll that they want Canada to join the TPNW even if we come under pressure from the US not to do so; and at the G7 Youth Summit Canadian youth demanded that Canada sign the nuclear ban.
Canadians voices are clear- and they are saying no to nukes. Canada needs to reflect the voices of their people at the G7 summit.
On the final day of International Development Week, we are looking at what is described as the most destructive and inhumane weapon to exist: nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have the power to completely destroy entire cities, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in an instant. But they don’t stop there. Nuclear weapons not only have catastrophic short-term effects, but also long-term effects on people and the environment.
The short-term effects of a nuclear weapon completely destroys any development in the targeted city. Almost all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) would be negatively impacted or even impossible with the detonation of a nuclear bomb. A singular nuclear weapon can destroy thousands of homes, hospitals, schools, roads, water facilities, grocery stores, and more. A concerning point to keep in mind is that the only nuclear bombs to be used in war time, the ones detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had a kiloton (kt) force of 15 kt and 20 kt respectively. A modern nuclear weapon can have a kiloton force of at least 100, and up to 300 kilotons, and there are approximately 13,000 of these weapons in the world right now.
Any sustainable development goal that relates to individual or community health is instantly destroyed, or set back decades. If a community or city no longer exists, or more than half of its population has been killed and infrastructure destroyed, goals such as good health and well-being and quality education are doomed for that area.
The immediate effects of nuclear attack would affect the following SDGs: No Poverty (SDG #1), Zero Hunger (SDG #2), Good Health and Well-Being (SDG #3), Quality Education (SDG #4), Gender Equality (SDG #5), Clean Water and Sanitation (SDG #6), Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG #7) , Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG #8), Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (SDG #9), Reduced Inequalities (SDG #10), Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG #11), Life on Land (SDG #15), and Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (SDG #16). All of these goals relate to building a stronger community through infrastructure and planning as well as the protection of people and the environment. A nuclear blast would either instantly destroy the infrastructure needed to deliver these goals, and/or kill the people who the goals are meant to be achieved for.
The connection between the destruction of an entire city and sustainable development is now clear, so we are going to look at how nuclear weapons harm the environment which in turn affects sustainable development. Nuclear bombs are radioactive and toxic to people, animals, and the environment. Mining uranium, testing the weapons, and dumping the waste all harm the environment before the weapon is even used. Contamination from nuclear weapons facilities, tests, and in Hiroshima and Nagasaki lasts decades. That is decades of unsafe water, unfarmable land, incurable cancer, and unimaginable harm long after the initial blast.
This of course affects sustainable development as land and water is unusable for decades without risk of radiation. Scientists also predict that if even a small-scale regional nuclear war were to take place, the environmental effects would lead to a world-wide famine in which up to 2 billion people could die. The smoke and dust from the blasts would change the climate and lower crop yields by 90%. This threatens multiple SDGs, most notably Zero Hunger (SDG #2) and Good Health and Well-Being (SDG #3).
We can’t let this happen. Weapons today are even more destructive than the enormous blasts that killed and injured hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even though none have been used in combat since 1945, over two thousand more nuclear weapons have been tested. We need to listen to survivors of these attacks and tests and ban these inhumane weapons. Nuclear weapons can destroy sustainable development in an instant, and we can’t let that happen.
Nobody wants doomsday to come. However, unfortunately world-renowned scientists and experts of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have moved the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight which means we are in the most danger of nuclear war since the clock was launched in 1947.
This danger doesn’t come as a surprise, and we know why we are here today. There are nine nuclear armed states in the world and they (and their supporters) are the ones who have put the world in this danger. The Russian invasion of Ukraine and increased tensions between North Korea, South Korea, and the United States are major reasons why scientists moved the doomsday clock.
With only 90 seconds to midnight, it’s time to act. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has a four-step plan to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and you can help. The first step of their plan is prohibition, which means getting states to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Canada needs to take action in light of this danger we are facing and sign this treaty. Many major cities across Canada, including Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver have spoken out in support of joining the TPNW. The Federal government’s position should match what major municipal governments, parliamentarians, and citizens across Canada are asking for. Contact your MP today and urge them to push Parliament to join the TPNW.
After the first step of the plan is taken and more countries (including Canada) have joined, we can move to step two which is creating a stigma around nuclear weapons. This stigma will lead to nuclear armed states negotiating disarmament which is step three in the plan. We know negotiations are possible because a treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons was negotiated in the 1960’s after the Cuban missile crisis. Negotiations will bring us to step four which is the destruction and elimination of all nuclear weapons and with it, the doomsday clock. We have 90 seconds left to act - no more excuses Canada. It’s time to do our part to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons!
Is your money helping to fund nuclear weapons? Maybe you aren’t directly investing in nuclear weapons, but a new report shows that your bank could be. Your bank doesn’t ask where they can put your money, so they use it to invest wherever they please - including in nuclear weapons. But your money and your voice matter. Find out if your financial institution is banking on the bomb, and then act.
PAX and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), regularly publish a report that details nuclear weapons producers and their investors. Their newest report published in December 2022 finds that there are currently 24 nuclear weapons producers in the world - that is one less than in the last report! The company that is no longer producing nuclear weapons is a massive Indian company called Larsen & Toubro which has been very loud about their change, showing that awareness and public feeling against nuclear weapons is growing. There are no Canadian producers, but there are producers from some of our allied countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, and France. A full list of countries who produce nuclear weapons can be found in the report.
But what about Canada? Just because we don’t physically produce nuclear weapons, doesn’t mean Canadian financial institutions aren’t investing in nuclear weapons producing companies. Investments in nuclear weapons can do damage. Without the billions of dollars of investments that go towards creating these weapons, they wouldn't be created. And where do these investments come from? It could be your own bank!
In Canada, there are 12 financial institutions which invest in a nuclear weapon producing company. We are the fifth highest investing country with a total of $26,383,000,000 USD in investments - that’s 35,933,118,340 Canadian Dollars going towards the most indiscriminate weapon to ever exist! Shockingly, that is almost 1 million dollars PER Canadian invested in nuclear weapon producing companies. Here is the list of financial institutions that have invested in one or more of the 24 nuclear weapons producing companies:
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) invests in Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., Airbus Group, BAE Systems Plc, Boeing, Fluor, General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Harris Technologies, Leidos, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon Technologies
- Manulife Financial invests in Airbus Group, and Huntington Ingalls Industries
- Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank invests in Airbus Group, BAE Systems Plc, General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Jacobs Engineering, Harris Technologies, Leidos, Lockheed Martin, and Textron
- Black Creek Investment Management invests in BAE Systems plc
- CIBC invests in Bechtel and Honeywell International
- BMO Financial Group invests in Boeing, Fluor, Jacobs Engineering, Leidos, and Raytheon Technologies
- Scotiabank invests in General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Jacobs Engineering, Harris Technologies, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon Technologies
- Sunlife Financial invests in General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies, and Safran
- CI Financial invests in Jacobs Engineering
- Desjardins Group invests in Jacobs Engineering
- Fiera Capital invests in Jacobs Engineering
- Power Financial Corporation invests in Jacobs Engineering, Harris Technologies, Northrop Grumman, and Textron
If your bank is on the list, now is your chance to take direct action against nuclear weapons. Call, write or email your bank and let them know what you think. Speak with customer service, and just let them know you don’t want your money invested in nuclear weapons companies. Their job is to listen to your concerns. For more tips on how to express your concerns to your bank, visit this page on the Don’t Bank on the Bomb website. Let us know how your call goes by emailing us at [email protected].
With enough calls pouring in, they will reconsider investing your money in places you don’t want it to go. This is already happening - just in the past year 55 new financial institutions divested from nuclear weapons. It is possible for banks and producers to turn away from nuclear weapons. Let’s keep this momentum going – as you have seen above it’s possible for companies to stop producing nuclear weapons! You can help by letting your friends who are from countries where nuclear weapons are produced know that this is happening. They can reach out to their local campaign to abolish nuclear weapons and make some noise!
Your money matters and so does your voice - so let’s use them to abolish nuclear weapons!
In advance of the First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), Mines Action Canada is pleased to release a new briefing paper outlining the links between the Treaty and other international agreements.
Complementarity beyond Disarmament and Non-Proliferation details the synergies between the TPNW and other international agreements on human rights, sustainable development and the environment.
This paper shows that joining and implementing the TPNW will help states meet their obligations under seven other international agreements. Download the paper here.
Mines Action Canada is pleased to release Overwhelmed: Nuclear Weapons and the Health Care System in Ottawa. This report based on the No Place to Hide report from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) examines the potential impact of a nuclear weapons detonation on the health care system in Canada's capital, Ottawa.
The title "Overwhelmed" is an accurate description of Ottawa's health care system in the face of a moderate sized (100kt) nuclear detonation. The report estimates that every doctor that survives the initial blast will be responsible for 72 injured patients and Ottawa would be left with 1,764 hospital beds, which would be woefully inadequate to accommodate over 200,000 injured people.
In advance of the First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Mines Action Canada and Project Ploughshares hosted a webinar for the Canadian public with Canadian and international experts. Thanks the support from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, this webinar asked "What's Next for Canada and the Nuclear Ban Treaty?"
The message was clear - Canada should be participating in the Meeting of States Parties as an observer.
You can watch a recording of the webinar here.
On August 6th, Program Manager, Erin Hunt, was the keynote speaker at the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition's online event to mark the 76th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You can read her remarks here or watch the event below.
A large majority of Canadians want the government to join the nuclear ban.
A new poll released by Nanos Research on 6 April 2021 shows strong support for the nuclear ban among the Canadian public with 74% of respondents expressing support for joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Commissioned by three civil society organizations, Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition, The Simons Foundation Canada and le Collectif Échec à la Guerre, the poll follows an Appeal to Parliament published in the Ottawa Hill Times on January 18 and 20 that was endorsed by over 400 individuals and organizations including Mines Action Canada. Ever since the Treaty’s Entry into Force, more and more voices are questioning the government’s position towards the TPNW. The poll results indicate that only 14% of respondents agreed with the current Government of Canada position towards the treaty.
Support for the nuclear ban treaty remained high even in the face of potential American pressure. The poll found that about 73% of Canadians agreed that Canada should join Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, "even if, as a member of NATO, it might come under pressure from the United States not to do so.” The Government of Canada has frequently (and incorrectly) said that Canada’s obligations under NATO and the alliance with the United States prevent the country from joining the TPNW. These poll results from Canada are similar to the results from a 2020 poll of six European NATO countries. It seems that Canadians, also, want the government to stand strong and make our own decisions on nuclear weapons.
Support for a ban is strong amongst all demographic groups with young Canadians, ages 18 to 34, having the highest level of support for the TPNW.
With young Canadians already facing the existential threat of climate change, it stands to reason that this demographic would also want to end the risk posed by nuclear weapons.
It is not only government policy towards nuclear weapons that Canadians are concerned about. Canadian financial institutions need to pay attention. The poll also found that 71% of respondents would withdraw money from any investment or financial institution that was investing funds in anything related to the development, manufacturing or deployment of nuclear weapons. The Don’t Bank on the Bomb report has found 16 Canadian financial institutions with investments in nuclear weapons producers. Financial institutions just like governments need to be responsive to public opinion. Canadians do not want to profit off a weapon of mass destruction.
Released days just after Montreal and White Rock, BC, became the 13th and 14th Canadian cities to join the ICAN City Appeal, this poll is clear evidence that momentum towards the ban treaty is growing in Canada.
If Canada’s 3 largest cities and ¾ of its citizens support The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it is time for the Government of Canada to take action. The Canadian government should:
- Study the TPNW in Parliament, it is a logical topic for the House of Commons and Senate Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs;
- Send a delegation to participate as an observer in the 1st Meeting of States Parties of the TPNW which must take place within the next year; and
- Support the positive obligations found in the TPWN with regards to victim assistance and environmental remediation through our international cooperation efforts.
These steps are necessary for Canada to begin to follow the direction of its people. For too long, Canadian policy towards nuclear weapons has been divorced from the will of the Canadian people. It is time for Canadian leaders to listen to their citizens and join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Enters into Force
(Ottawa, 22 January 2021) Today Canadians celebrate nuclear weapons finally being prohibited under international law. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), also referred to as the nuclear ban treaty, entered into force today; 90 days after Honduras became the 50th state to ratify the Treaty. The Treaty will become legally binding for the 51 countries which have so far ratified it, and represents a major step forward for nuclear disarmament.
Canada has not yet joined the nuclear ban so Canadians from coast to coast are calling on Parliament to consider joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
The TPNW is the first international treaty that comprehensively prohibits nuclear weapons. It includes absolute prohibitions on developing, testing, producing, stockpiling, stationing, transferring, using, and/or threatening the use of nuclear weapons. The Treaty also addresses, for the first time, the impact nuclear weapons activities have had on indigenous communities. Inspired by the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, this Treaty also includes positive obligations such as the provision of assistance to communities affected by nuclear weapons use and testing around the world.
For the 51 countries now legally bound by the Treaty all these provisions came ‘into force’ today. As with other treaties, such as the Ottawa Treaty, more countries will become legally bound as they ratify the TPNW.
For governments which are yet to join the Treaty, like Canada, the power of the TPNW comes from the message it sends. Nuclear weapons are now prohibited. When weapons are prohibited, investment in their production declines, they become stigmatized and it becomes easier to eliminate them.
The TPNW is the result of decades of work by dedicated activists and diplomats around the world. The International Campaign Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) worked tirelessly for this treaty and was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.
“Despite the global pandemic of 2020, 17 states finished their internal legal work to ratify the Treaty giving the world a shining example of what committed action for a better world, diplomacy and multilateralism can accomplish.
For years the nuclear armed states repeated endlessly that prohibiting nuclear weapons was impossible. Today proves that when we focus on the humanitarian impact of weapons and work collectively it is possible to change the world. 75 years of activism has paid off. Nuclear weapons have always been immoral, now they are illegal.” said Erin Hunt, Program Manager, Mines Action Canada and a member of ICAN’s negotiating team on the TPNW.
Canadians have taken a leadership role in ICAN throughout this process including Japanese Canadian hibakusha or Hiroshima survivor, Setsuko Thurlow who was one of two people to accept the Nobel Prize on behalf of ICAN. A dozen Canadian municipalities have endorsed the TPNW through ICAN’s City Appeal while 27 Members of Parliament and 19 Senators have signed ICAN’s Parliamentary Pledge joining the over 1,000 Canadians who have signed a parliamentary petition in support of the TPNW. Despite the leadership of Canadians, Canada has been slow to join or launch substantial discussion in Parliament regarding the Treaty. Parliament can no longer put off the TPNW.
To celebrate the entry into force, a photo collage of residents in British Columbia and Washington State publicly stating their opposition to further transit of nuclear weapons through the Salish Sea (Juan de Fuca Strait, Georgia Strait and Puget Sound) will be published. Mines Action Canada will also be hosting an Instagram Live with youth activists from British Columbia and Washington State to discuss their nuclear disarmament work.
“Public opinion polls show the public unambiguously supportive of global nuclear disarmament. We know it can be done because Canada led on the international convention which banned antipersonnel landmines. That was one of Canada’s foreign policy initiatives which has had the most significant impact on reducing suffering caused by that weapon on every continent. Prohibition of a weapon comes before its elimination! Canada lost its opportunity to lead on banning Nuclear Weapons but the opportunity to strengthen this new international instrument is in our hands now. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons asks a question that Canada needs to answer: will Canada help end nuclear weapons or will Canada wait until nuclear weapons end us?” said Dr. Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan of Mines Action Canada.
To mark the entry into force of the TPNW, civil society organizations from across Canada have come together to call on Parliament to launch a study on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Canadians deserve a public debate about this groundbreaking treaty.
Negotiated in 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons legally prohibits, under any circumstances, the development, production, testing, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons. It also requires states party to the treaty to provide assistance to victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated and adopted by 122 nations in the United Nations General Assembly. It currently has 86 signatories and 51 ratifications. Canada boycotted the negotiations and remains outside the Treaty to this day. However, Canadian civil society, including Erin Hunt representing Mines Action Canada, played an important role in the negotiations.
Read our new document on myths and reality checks about the TPNW here: https://www.minesactioncanada.org/tpnwmythbusting
The photo collage of residents in British Columbia and Washington State is available at: https://www.minesactioncanada.org/salishsea_photoaction
Public opinion polling in six NATO countries shows widespread support for the TPWN: https://www.icanw.org/nato_poll_2021
A global list of Entry into Force activities can be found at: https://www.icanw.org/events.