Interview with Douglas Roche, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

Douglas Roche, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, a featured speaker for the current "Hiroshima Conference for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020" co-hosted by Mayors for Peace and the City of Hiroshima, was interviewed at Hiroshima City Hall. He stated that civil society, on which he pins his hopes, must pursue the new strategy of advancing a nuclear weapons convention.

How do you view the timing of this nuclear abolition conference?
Since the tragedy of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 65 years ago, A-bomb survivors have appealed to the world for the tragedy to never be repeated and for nuclear weapons to be abolished. Support for a nuclear weapons convention now serves to further the momentum for this effort.

At the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation) Review Conference held this past May, such states as Norway and Austria voiced their support for a nuclear weapons convention. So far, two-thirds of the states in the world have expressed support for such a convention. I think the timing for the conference is quite good.

What are your thoughts about Japan, which has not expressed support for a nuclear weapons convention?
Based on its experience, Japan should be playing a major role in the quest to abolish nuclear weapons. This would also help galvanize the support of U.S. President Barack Obama, who has advocated "a world without nuclear weapons." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who will visit Hiroshima on August 6, has clearly shown his support for a nuclear weapons convention. It's high time that Japan took a stand on this issue.

What role can Mayors for Peace play in advancing a nuclear weapons convention?
Mayors for Peace has member cities around the world. It can serve as a bridge between nations that have expressed support for a convention and those that have not and urge these latter cities to take action. It has great potential to make an impact in this way.

What are your hopes for this conference?
I hope a new strategy for civil society can be formulated. Perhaps creating a framework for a new network involving leaders of civil society, including lawmakers, and Mayors for Peace?

The final document adopted at the 2010 NPT Review Conference referred to the five-point plan by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a nuclear weapons convention. This has brought us new energy. We must now take advantage of this tailwind by seeking more concrete measures for advancing our efforts for nuclear abolition.


Douglas Roche
The Hon. Douglas Roche was born in Montreal, Canada in 1929. He was a Senator, Member of Parliament, Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, and Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta. He was elected Chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Committee at the 43rd General Assembly in 1988 and was the founding Chairman of the Middle Powers Initiative, an international network. He has received numerous awards including the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation for World Peace Award (Canada).

(Originally published on July 28, 2010)