Rendez-Vous Ottawa highlights growing support for a ban treaty
November 5, 2014
By Erin Hunt, Mine Action Canada
On October 25 and 26, Mines Action Canada, ICAN, Project Ploughshares and Physicians for Global Survival hosted Rendez-Vous Ottawa, bringing Canadian and American civil society together to discuss the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Meeting at the University of Ottawa just minutes away from where the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines was signed gave the participants proof that civil society and governments can ban indiscriminate weapons.
This two day event focused on bringing the humanitarian impact conversation to a new audience in North America. Saturday was all about Setting the Stage for a Ban. An elder from the Kitigan Zini Anishinabeg First Nation welcomed all the participants to Algonquin territory with a blessing and a reminder that we are all interconnected so we have to protect one another and the Earth. A fiery keynote speech from retired diplomat and former Canadian Senator Doug Roche set a great tone for a morning of panels about what would happen if nuclear weapons were ever used again. The afternoon was focused on ways to disarm both through legal instruments and political action. By the end of the day, the whole room was ready to make a ban on nuclear weapons happen!
On Sunday, participants had the opportunity to gain skills and get deeper in to the issues that will allow us to campaign for a ban. On a day themed Moving towards a ban, there were workshops on gender and disarmament, working with decision-makers and campaigning for a ban as well as inspiring lightning talks and campaigner updates. The afternoon included open space discussions where the participants chose the topics and broke into small group discussions. By the end of the day there were concrete plans for parliamentarian outreach before Vienna and before the NPT Review Conference next spring, as well as plans for events on campus and further public engagement in both Canada and the United States.
You can see how the weekend unfolded on Storify and view some of the presentations on the event website www.rendezvousottawa2014.org/programme. It might take time to get Canada and the United States on board with a ban on nuclear weapons, but Rendez-Vous Ottawa has shown that there is a dedicated group of campaigners ready and willing to work hard to make it happen!