Alternatives to Warships

You might think that we need warships to protect our sovereignty in the North. However, there are several practical, fiscally responsible, and peaceful alternatives to warships.


Maritime disputes can be settled without military force through diplomacy and international law. In 2003, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS, 1982).

In the preamble, UNCLOS explains:

“[UNCLOS is] a legal order for the seas and oceans which will facilitate international communication, and will promote the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans”

For example, Russia-Norway recently settled a territorial dispute in the Barents Sea with international law and diplomacy. Currently, Canada and Russia are negotiating a dispute over the Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean using the UNCLOS process. There was no need for warships.

Learn more about UNCLOS here


The Ottawa Declaration of 1996 established the Arctic Council as a high level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection. Arctic Council Member States are Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America.

With cooperation not warships, we can solve conflicts in the Arctic.

Learn more about the Arctic Council here


In 1995, Seymour Melman, an American Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering at Columbia University, wrote a book entitled Disarmament, Economic Conversion And Jobs for All. Melman was also the Chairman of the National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament and a member of the Advisory Board for the National Jobs for All Coalition. He showed how more jobs could be created by disarming and demilitarizing in the United States. His lessons apply to Canada.

In Canada, the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) publishes a quarterly newsletter called “Press Conversion” that focuses on the military industrial complex in this country.

Find out more about the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade here


One Billion Rising logo

This is a credible solution– disarm and demilitarize and instead create a green economy. Van Jones, an American environmental advocate and attorney, wrote the book “The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems" and started the organization in the US called Green For All. Jones has explicitly made the links between inflated military spending, climate change and poverty and argued that a green economy could overcome these challenges. Likewise in Canada, we could hire more Canadians building a sustainable, low carbon economy and society than building warships.

There is an international push to green the global economy. In June 2012, the UN held Rio +20 the Earth Summit in Brazil with the theme “The Green Economy”. It was the largest UN gathering in history.

The UN recognized that we must green the economy to tackle climate change and poverty. Agenda 21 was also re-affirmed.

At Rio +20, the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES) pushed for disarmament for development and shifting military spending to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Learn about INES here

Learn more about Rio +20 here

In Canada, there have been many important reports released by labour and non-governmental organizations that show how we can green our economy:

2009 Canadian Labour Congress & Council of Canadians’ report Green, Decent & Public

2011 Pembina Institute’s Reducing Pollution, Creating Jobs

2012 Building Canada’s Green Economy

2012 More Bang for Our Buck: How Canada Can Create More Energy Jobs and Less Pollution

See Building the Creative Economy in Nova Scotia

See Valuing Culture: Measuring and Understanding Canada's Creative Economy