A Tonic for Bad News: Murray Thomson and the Pugwash Group Prescribe a Remedy

Murray Thomson, A Dean of Canadian peace activism

Murray Thomson, A Dean of Canadian peace activism

Each edition of Canada’s Good News Service is topped by a delightful image. For “Early Fall 2013” it’s a rainbow of fall foliage along a woodland path.  http://www.pugwashgroup.ca/index.php/good-news

There are a scattering of good news sites to be found on the web. Our own Good News Service is published online by the Pugwash Group, a venerable Canadian peace organization

The good news digest offers a tonic for the grim if-it-bleeds-it leads newscast imperative. The Pugwash Good News Service is in part the brainchild of one of Canada’s national treasures. Murray Thomson, now in his tenth decade, is a founder of Project Ploughshares and longtime member of the Canadian Pugwash Group.

Murray is an initiator of Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention initiative, currently backed by over 650 recipients of the Order of Canada. The CNWC is led by John Polanyi, C.C., Douglas Roche, O.C., and Murray. It calls for international negotiations to achieve a Nuclear Weapons Convention – a verifiable treaty on the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. http://www.nuclearweaponsconvention.ca/

GOOD NEWS SERVICE: September 1st, 2013: This issue comes at a time when the world faces a time of  fear and uncertainty resulting from huge unsolved problems. Among them are the presence of several million refugees from the civil war in Syria, compounded by the death of 1,400 civilians, many of them children, resulting from the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons; the failure to solve any of the major problems facing the Middle East; the continuing signs of climate deterioration and the lack of  progress in reducing nuclear weapons. Yet, there are also many positive developments which give rise for hope, as reflected in the article by Frances Moore Lappe, below. Despair, and hope; always our choice to make.


By Alyn Ware

An Open Ended Working Group was established by the UN General Assembly to  come up with multilateral disarmament proposals. For the first time, members of civil society were included in the discussions. The chairman stressed that all proposals should be transparent, verifiable and irreversible. Here are the elements considered to be most important from those summer meetings of the OEWG held in Geneva:

1)    There is an agreed need for disarmament proposals to be contained in an overall framework with an unequivocal commitment to implementing them.

2)    Maintaining a moratorium on the production of fissile materials used for nuclear weapons, and one requiring international verification.

3)    A moratorium should be maintained on nuclear weapon testing, on  developing new types of nukes or upgrading current nuke systems.

4)    Reducing the role of nuclear weapons in national alliances towards their complete elimination;

5)    Maintaining or declaring the no first use of nukes.

6)    Enhancing the role of NW Free Zones and establishing new ones.

7)     Developing verification tools and mechanisms for all of the above.

8)    Finding a way to universalize the NonProliferation Treaty.


CCPA Monitor, July/August 2013: Six women Nobel Peace Laureates urged G8 leaders, prior to their June Summit meeting in Belfast, to reduce spending on weapons of war to ensure a peaceful world for future generations. The six members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative called on the G8 leaders to “redirect military spending to education, training and social services that will improve livelihoods and address the root causes of violence.”

“Our world has been ravaged by conflict, time and time again,” said Mairead Maguire, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in helping to end the conflict in Northern Ireland.  “And yet, instead of investing in our women, children and future generations, our government continues to spend more money on our militaries.”

Another Nobel Peace Laureate, Jody Williams, deplored the failure of the  G8 nations to tackle some of the worst effects of war on women, including rape and the destruction of family homes. “Instead, they continue to be the world’s highest arms exporters and among the largest investors in drones and other new weapon technologies.”