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News from The Markland Group

(Editor’s Note: Science for Peace takes an interest in the activities of The Markland Group, which describes itself as “a citizen organization for the protection and strengthening of arms control treaties”. The President and founder of The Markland Group is Science for Peace member Douglas Scott who was instrumental in organizing the debate on nuclear submarines which was presented on May 18 in the lecture series of the Toronto Chapter of Science for Peace. The following article describes two academic workshops recently conducted by The Markland Group.)

The Markland Group is attempting to persuade the Canadian government to get involved in the drafting of the compliance system for the new Chemical Weapons Convention. We take the view that, under multilateral treaties (unlike bilateral treaties), an effective compliance system must consist of two components: (1) the usual type of verification clauses; and (2) an international agency to administer the verification clauses and to deal with compliance problems. The only treaty so far containing this type of compliance system is the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968. That treaty confers upon the International Atomic Energy Agency the responsibility for administering its inspection provisions.

For many years the superpowers were flatly opposed to extending this concept beyond the Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, news from the Conference on Disarmament (CD) now indicates that the superpowers have altered their position and are on record as accepting the necessity of an international agency to administer the Chemical Weapons Convention. (See the CD interim report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Chemical Weapons, February 2, 1988, CD/795). But although the CD negotiators appear to have accepted the fact that multilateral treaties require a compliance system involving these two components, the rest of the world seems almost oblivious to the importance of constructing such a system.

What should be the structure of this new agency? What powers should it be given? Should there be a dispute settlement mechanism? These and many similar questions are of crucial importance, yet surprisingly little discussion is taking place about them, either among the various negotiating governments at the CD or in academic circles. Apparently everyone assumes that drafting the constitution of this new arms control agency must be left to the superpowers.

To arouse interest in these questions among academics and experts in arms control, two workshops were held at the University of Toronto in 1987. Under the joint sponsorship of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs and The Markland Group, they concluded that a committee should be established immediately to formulate concrete proposals to be presented to the government of Canada. A copy of the report of the second workshop is now available. (Write: “Workshop On Treaty Compliance Systems” c/o CIIA, 15 King’s College Circle, Toronto, Ontario. M5S 2V9, and enclose a cheque for $9.00 payable to The Markland Group.)

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