PNND Founding Chair Hon Douglas Roche on peace, disarmament and human security

PNND's Founding Chair Douglas Roche discusses peace, disarmament and human security in a podcast interview released earlier this week by Youth Fusion, the global youth network for nuclear disarmament.

"The combination of global warming, the COVID pandemic and the threat of nuclear weapons have highlighted the vulnerability of humanity that we have not seen before in human history,"  according to Hon Douglas Roche OC, KCSG, Founding Chair of PNND, in a podcast interview released earlier this week by Youth Fusion, the global youth network for nuclear disarmament.

"This crisis requires a cooperative and integrated approach that also encompass the sustainable development goals in a framework of common security," he says in the  podcast which explores key issues and Mr Roche's hands-on experiences that have relevance for youth of today.

Mr Roche has served as a Canada’s Disarmament Ambassador, as well as being a parliamentarian - with terms in the House of Commons and the Senate – university professor, civil society leader and prolific author with over 20 books published on peace, development, disarmament and security issues.

In the podcast, Mr Roche highlights problematic issues of for humanity, but focuses primarily on inspiring and positive examples of policy and political initiatives, and how individuals can make a difference.

He laments the huge budgets allocated to militarism and the lobbying power of the military-industrial complex to keep those budgets high. But he counters this with numerous examples of political leadership in Canada and globally, as well as exciting civil society movements. He notes, for example, that the ideas of Common Security that are reflected in the establishment of the United Nations and promotion in the 1980s by Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme, are today gaining wide support and application as part of a broader human security framework which advances peace, disarmament and sustainable development.

He notes that Canada has made positive steps in the past on nuclear disarmament, most notably during the time of Pierre Trudeau, who as Prime Minister ended Canada’s hosting of US nuclear weapons and championed nuclear disarmament globally. And he holds hope that the current Canadian government, led by Pierre Trudeau’s son Justin, will take additional nuclear disarmament measures/initiatives if pushed by Canadian parliamentarians and civil society.

Mr Roche welcomes the inter-generational framework of Youth Fusion, noting that youth and not-so-young can both contribute meaningfully to the issues of today. We see the youth energy, for example, in the climate movement. And we see important leadership on key issues from some of the “grey-haired community”, including current US President Joe Biden. Mr Roche notes that President Biden is reshaping US relations with a return to diplomacy and multilateralism that is vital for the world, even though, like the Obama administration, he is hampered by domestic political forces and vested interests in militarism.

Most importantly Mr Roche discusses the role of ethics in politics - the need for equity, and to treat others as we would have them treat us (the Golden Rule in most religious faiths). He notes that this is not an unrealistic ideal, but a sound framework for basing our international relations.

And finally he highlights the opportunities for youth today to make a real difference. "The growing understanding and development of a Culture of Peace, combined with advances in global communications, science and health, make this a marvelous time to be alive," he says. "To be a 20-year old, to grasp the enormity of today's situation and to realise what you can do to contribute to a stronger, safer world, this is an incredibly empowering moment."

The Podcast with Mr Roche is part of the Youth Fusion Elders Podcast series which also includes interviews with Bruce Kent, Uta Zapf, Mogens Lykketoft, Ana María Cetto, Tolegen Mukhamejanov, Andreas Nidecker and Scilla Elworthy.

With the permission of Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), the Youth Fusion podcast series is opened and closed with excerpts from Two Suns in the Sunset, the classic anti-nuclear song re-made by Roger Waters in June 2020 to highlight the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists setting the Doomsday Clock to 100 Seconds to Midnight.