History of the Group of 78
The Group of 78 is an informal association of Canadians seeking to promote global priorities for
peace and disarmament, equitable and sustainable development, and a strong and revitalized
United Nations system.
It began in 1980 when a small group including Andrew Brewin MP and Peggy Brewin, Murray
Thomson of Project Ploughshares, Robert McClure, former Moderator of the United Church, and
King Gordon, formerly of the United Nations Secretariat, drafted a statement on how best
Canada could contribute to the building of a peaceful and secure world. In November 1981 that
statement, Canadian Foreign Policy in the 80s, was sent to Prime Minister Trudeau. It was signed
by 78 Canadians- a group of 78.
The statement set out three inter-related objectives:
1) removal of the threat of nuclear war;
2) the mobilization of world resources to achieve a more equitable international order and bring
an end to the crushing poverty which is the common lot of the majority in the Third World;
3) the strengthening and reform of the United Nations and other global institutions designed to
bring about a pacific settlement of disputes, foster international cooperation, promote the growth
of world law and the protection of basic human rights.
That was the beginning of a dialogue between the Group of 78 and the Canadian government. In
the following years, members of the Group discussed, and made their views known, about new
issues facing Canada in international relations and their implications for the central and universal
objectives of policy already mentioned.
While the original objectives, as set out above, remain valid, the Group is conscious of the need
to adapt these objectives to meet the new challenges of the 90s and beyond. Examples are:
beyond sovereignty (1992 report), the global refugee crisis (1993 report) and Canada's relations
with the Pacific Rim (1994 report). The Group believes, however, that these and other aspects of
international relations, such as the global environment, human rights, and UN peacekeeping,
cannot be treated as isolated phenomena. Governments have to establish foreign policy priorities
in accordance with their domestic and other circumstances. Moreover, trends and conditions
overlap; for example, conflict breeds refugees and damage to the environment.
The Group attempts to keep in focus two sets of overlapping considerations about foreign policy.
Since 1945, Canada has had compelling reasons of national interest, and of obligation as a good
world citizen, to attribute particular importance to its role in the United Nations, related
multilateral agencies and world financial institutions. The objectives on a global level remain
constant. At the same time, for closely related, but diverse and changing reasons, Canada has also
maintained, or sought, associations with particular groups of nations: NATO, the
Commonwealth, la Francophonie, the Group of Seven, the Organization of American States, and
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, among others. The Group of 78, in reviewing different
sectors of our involvement in world affairs from year to year, assesses the ways in which our
policies support, or fall short of constant goals, particularly in relation to global conflict
management, development and equity and institutional governance.
Questions, concerns or comments can be forwarded to the Group of 78 at: firstname.lastname@example.org.