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2 years ago

Address by Dr Trevor Findlay, Director of the - Carleton University

Address by Dr Trevor Findlay, Director of the - Carleton University

Australian High

Australian High Commissioner, Bill Fisher, whom I have known for many years, is withus. You will also find at your tables some fine representatives of Australian wine.Ladies and gentlemen, my task here tonight is, I believe, two-fold: first, to set out therationale for the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance and, second, to give you someidea of its likely undertakings.In one respect the rationale for the Centre should be apparent to all. Since the tragicevents of September 11 the potential nexus between global terrorism and weapons ofmass destruction (WMD) has emerged as an international security challenge of the firstorder. Both as a matter of logic and reality this challenge—despite the measures that anyindividual state may take— must be met through international, multilateral, cooperativemeasures. This will necessarily take the form of new international treaties, agreements orarrangements or the bolstering of existing ones. Compliance with such internationalaccords is of course vital in the realm of international security, where undetected orpoorly managed non-compliance cases—especially those involving WMD—could havepotentially disastrous consequences.Nor is this just theoretical. At the heart of all of the most recent and current crises ininternational affairs there lies a compliance issue. Think of Iran and North Korea andtheir violation of their treaty obligations not to acquire nuclear weapons. Think of theintense Security Council debate over the extent to which Iraq had complied with itsobligations under resolution 1441. And the resulting invasion, which many, including theUN Secretary-General, argued was not in compliance with the UN Charter. Think also ofthe accusations traded by Israel and Palestine about their respective non-compliance withthe Oslo Accords, and where that has led us.And while not exactly a world crisis, one can be certain that the Review Conference forthe Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in May will be characterised by bitterrecriminations centering on non-compliance. The non-nuclear weapon states will accusethe nuclear weapon states of not pursuing nuclear disarmament with enough vigour. The2

United States and other Western states will press for new constraints on the acquisition ofpeaceful nuclear technology on the grounds that it permits ready ‘breakout’ from thetreaty, the highest form of non-compliance, by 'wannabe' members of the nuclear club.Compliance is currently, of course, a contested term. Developing countries argue that theword evokes images of the US and other great powers acting as judge and jury, imposingever more stringent restrictions on them, while they themselves do not comply with alltheir treaty obligations or express a willingness to shoulder new ones. The current USadministration, for its part, argues that for too long treaty parties, including the US, havepaid lip service to compliance, turning a blind eye to infractions for the sake of short-termpeace and harmony. The Europeans would counter that this makes doubly mysteriouscurrent American opposition to the establishment of effective verification regimes tocollectively detect and determine non-compliance—especially in respect of biologicalweapons, strategic arms limitations and a fissile materials cut-off treaty. So not only isthe compliance issue substantively important, right now it is also politically salient.Compliance mechanisms are the most neglected part of multilateral arms control anddisarmament agreements. My own experience participating in negotiations on theRadiological Weapons Convention, which were never concluded, is salutary. We werefixated on the scope of the draft treaty, showed considerable interest in verification, butwere almost totally neglectful of the compliance arrangements. Presumably we thoughtthat any non-compliance case that arose would be ‘kicked upstairs’ to the UN SecurityCouncil, as these matters often are. Clearly more research attention needs to be paid tothe negotiation of compliance mechanisms.To further explain the rationale for the Centre I would like to quote someone I normallydo not find myself agreeing with:‘…as we know, here are known knowns, there are things we know we know. We alsoknow there are known unknowns, that is to say we know there are some things we do notknow. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know’.3