Wendy’s Wedding



Wedding Ceremony of Wendy Dorn (sister) and Calvin Winter

Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia, 27 July 2013


Arrival of the bride …

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Beginning of the walk down the isle …

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The wedding party …

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With my three sisters

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Holding up the groom … sideways …

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Reception, toast to the bride …

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Some crazy dancing with nieces …

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TFS Graduation Address 2013

Address to Graduating Class 2013 of the Toronto French School

Dr. Walter Dorn, Toronto French School, 31 May 2013

Monsieur le directeur géneral John Godfrey, directeurs, faculté, les familles fières et tous les élèves finissants.
To those graduating students, I say, this is your day! Congratulations and well done! [Ad lib: And thank you for caring! Hearing these eloquent descriptions of your achievements makes me super proud. Now I’ll have to watch the film “Superpowers”!] Today we celebrate your achievement and rejoice in your intellectual maturation. Today you are moving from students of the Toronto French School to my fellow TFS alumni. And I am thrilled to spend this special moment with you … a proud moment for you, your family and our school.

The year after I entered the TFS, 1975, the school graduated its first class: 13 graduates. There are now over 3,000 alumni and today we will be made stronger with your presence.


In my own graduation ceremony in 1979 the graduation address was given by Dr. Robert McClure, born in the year 1900, a Canadian physician, medical missionary, and former Moderator of the United Church of Canada. He offered a powerful analogy to the graduating class, one which have not forgotten over the decades and I`d like to share that same theme with you.

Each of you has constructed your life-ship. Today we are christening it. The champagne bottle is ready to be struck against the bow. You have made a sturdy hull to keep the ship afloat on the seas ahead, be they calm or stormy. Your teachers have taught you the controls but yours is the freedom to chart your own course. In the helm, your mind has many options for places to go and new lands to see. There will be rough waters as you travel the high seas but as you are buffeted by the waves of life, you can remain confident that you have been well prepared. Your teachers, your family, your friends have helped shape your life-craft. They have instructed you and provided valuable feedback, both positive and negative— you can see all of it as useful. The school has put you to test, including with some tough exams. Most importantly, you learned good study and work habits. The teachers and leaders have encouraged and inspired you and also overseen some of the trial runs of your life-ship. They trained your faculties (body, emotions and mind) for the great voyage. Because of the testing you`re stronger. And [after hearing about the award recipients] I know the teachers and families deserve to be proud of their graduates.

As you set off from the TFS dock yard, and your boat goes into the open waters, you have a marvellous adventure ahead of you, with every day moving you to new waters. You can marvel at the vastness of the glistening sea and maybe feel some natural apprehension but you can take heart. You`ve been well prepared. Your life-boat now contains the essential parts. The engine is your life-force and the crew are your faculties. The mind-captain is on the ship`s helm, trained through many courses for many explorations and situations, and guided by the strength of your conscience. Above the night sky can guide you. Those are your spiritual principles. But your surest guide is within you—your own heart. Your own calling to the uncharted seas.


Principal Godfrey has asked me to share experiences in my own life journey.

Now he`s given me the one subject where I can truly claim to be the world’s foremost expert – that is, me! I will do so with modesty, knowing how many flaws I have. But I can tell you that my life boat has travelled to places I could not have conceived of at graduation.

I remember a fellow TFS student, Jaffna Cox, saying before graduation that he was planning to study the humanities in university and if that didn`t work out he would do an “about face” and take the sciences route. My own travel was the opposite.

I did better in the sciences than the humanities in TFS. In fact, I remember my first mark in history after I had arrived from Montreal at TFS. It was 40%. (So take heart, if you bombed a course yourself.)

I entered university thinking I would pursue a combination of life and physical sciences, namely biophysics and biochemistry, because I marvelled at life and yet was more comfortable with the tools of physics. Equations and diagrams can be beautiful and powerful things.

In my first year biology exam I studied the wrong material and did poorly in the final exam so I shifted to physical chemistry and computer science. (Incidentally, we were doing our computer programs on 80-column punch cards that we had to physically insert into a hopper each time we would run the programme. Technology has come so far since then!)

Despite my sciences focus, I kept an active interest in history and international affairs. When in the early 1980s, with the Cold War running high, we feared the possible end of the world as we knew it through a nuclear exchange. So I joined a new organization which physicists and chemists had created, called “Science for Peace.”

Now Science for Peace had applied to the United Nations in New York for associate status as a non-governmental organization. I happened to be in New York taking a tour of the United Nations. So I made a phone call from within the building to inquire about the status of the SfP application. The UN official on the other end said: `We`re so sorry, we had summer help and they misfiled the application so we haven`t gotten back to the organization but we`ll get right on to it!” When I came back to Toronto I attended a meeting of 40 or so professors. At the time I was a starry-eyed undergraduate student who thought all professors were gods – I certainly know better now! But to my surprise I became a kind of hero for getting the application on track. A year later they asked me if I’d accept the volunteer job of the organization’s Representative to the UN. I said I knew almost nothing about the world organization but I’d give my time to learn and I reluctantly accepted.

I went on to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Toronto. But four years into my Ph.D. work in chemistry I realized I was in the wrong field. Science was fascinating but I was becoming so specialized. We say that in Ph.D. studies you know more and more about less and less, that in the end you know everything about nothing. If you want to know the definition of eternity, it’s how I felt then, trying over the years to work to finish. I needed something more meaningful. The international affairs work was not only fascinating but also offered a more immediate opportunity to work on things that changed people’s lives. I explored a switch to political science but I was too far along, so I started to look at how science could be used for arms control. Specifically, how sensors could detect chemical and biological warfare agents. Soon I became involved in a treaty to ban chemical weapons and I was hooked. I still had to finish my Ph.D. but it now had both intrigue and meaning.

I finally finished the Ph.D. and immediately switched to international relations, while still trying to use my science background. In fact, this week I was in Washington, DC, speaking about how monitoring technologies can be used in UN peace operations.


From the half century experience in my life-boat, I could draw some lessons that might be helpful to you:

Take initiatives, even if they are just small and seemingly helpful only to others. If I had not made that phone call on behalf of Science for Peace, my career would probably have been very different.

– Keep up your interests. They may become your future employment! Most people experience several careers in their lives so don’t feel that you’ll be locked into only one. Be curious. Stay intellectually engaged because you have a wonderful opportunity for life-long learning. Your intellectual adventure certainly does not end with high school. It only begins there.

– The Liberal arts, as taught at TFS, provides a great way to initiate your interests and educate you for different careers. It teaches people how to think, how to approach problems and solve them. Your linguistic diversity will also help you to understand different cultures and different ways of thinking, feeling and expressing.

– Appreciate that “connaissance est force.” The TFS motto is true! In our knowledge-based economy information is key—the right information in the right hands. It is not a coincidence that my current employer, the Canadian Forces College, where we teach officers in command and staff work, has the same motto as TFS, except in Latin: “Scientia Potestas Est.”

– Seek to serve a cause, whether it be in your work or in your spare time. Placing service above self is in the end the best way to serve yourself. Altruism is merely enlightened self-interest. In this world of crying needs, there are an infinite number of opportunities for service and altruism. Find a cause and serve it; find a hurt and heal it. We do live in a suffering world but, precisely because of that, it’s also a world of opportunity. You can freely and generously express your skills, your empathy and your help. You can express your much-valued Canadian citizenship in so many ways, including at the ballot box. You can express your world citizenship by remembering your humanity and working in some way for humanity. Just do one-seven billionth of the work. Doing more than that is doing more than your share of the world population.

Finally, appreciate what’s around you. It’s easy to see how imperfect the world it. But there is also much to praise all around, especially in this blessed land we call Canada. We have so much to be grateful for, including each other.

So on this special day, we rejoice in your achievement and you can also rejoice in your opportunities and appreciate those who helped you get to this day. It’s easy to take for granted the hard work and toil of your parents and teachers. One of my own regrets in life is that I didn’t thank my father enough before he passed away. He is the one who sent me to the Toronto French School to get such a solid basis in my life. And now I can only thank him in spirit. You have an opportunity in coming hours and days to express your appreciation to your parents, teachers and your school. It is up to you. Carpe diem, seize the day!


Congo Visit 2009

Congo Visit 2009

In February-March 2009, I was served on a UN Technical Assessment Mission (TAM) that examined the status and future of the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC), renamed a stabilization mission (MONUSCO) in 2010. Here is a brief “picture story” of some of the sites we visited.

Arrival at dawn in Kinshasa, capital of the DRC, on a Kenya Airways flight:


Outside MONUC headquarters, I saw Peacekeeper standing guard atop an armoured personnel carrier (APC), with machine gun:

Guard in APC with machine gun outside MONUC headquarters

Sign at the UN mission headquarters showing the threat level in the city:

sign with threat level in Kinshasa

Carlog system in UN vehicle (with carlog antenna on dashboard) that allows its route and speed to be tracked. Also the vehicle cannot be started unless a pass code is first entered.  The radio communication system is beneath the carlog system.

Carlog system in mission vehicle that allows its route and speed to be tracked

Roadside ad for the DRC president declaring: “In peace, let’s reconstruct our country Joseph KABILA”
(Dans la paix, reconstruison notre pays)

advertisement for President Kabila

Independent Electoral Commission headquarters in Kinshasa (has a hard time avoiding political pressures):

Independent Electoral Commission headquarters in Kinshasa

US embassy in the DRC capital, which has been “intimately” involved in DRC politics from Lumumba to Mobutu to the Kabilas (père and fils):

US embassy in the DRC capitol

From my room in the Memling Hotel, here are the skyscrapers of Kinshasa with the Congo river in the background:

Skyscrapers of Kinshasa with the Congo in the background

Flying from Kinshasa to the Eastern Congo aboard a UN-contracted aircraft:

Flying from Kinshasa to the Eastern Congo aboard a UN contracted aircraft

Emergency exits on the Antonov-24, which I did not have to use (fortunately):

Emergency exits on the Antonov-24, which I did not have to use (fortunately)

View of Lake Kivu shoreline:

View of Lake Kivu shoreline

View from the air:

View from the air

Rock protrudes from deep jungle:

Rock protrudes from jungle


Arriving at airport in Bunia, capital of the Ituri province:

Arriving at Bunia airport

UN part of the Bunia Airport, including the control tower:

UN section of the Bunia Airport, including temporary control tower

Housing along road next to refugee/IDP camp which was established for protection near the MONUC logistics base near the Bunia airport (old UN guard tower on left):

Housing near refugee/IDP camp next to MONUC logistics base (old guard tower on left)

The refugee/IDP camp, which was once several times the current size when violence was widespread in Bunia between conflicting tribes:

refugee/IDP camp

The reach of the Lions Club extends even to Bunia, as advertised at a traffic circle:

Lions Club reaches to Bunia

The satellite communications hub for the UN’s Bunia headquarters:

the communications hub for the Bunia headquarters

Map of tribal areas in Bunia (from wall in Ituri), important as UN tries to keep the peace between the tribes:

map of tribal areas in Bunia as UN tries to keep the peace between them

Boarding a UN helicopter to visit Dungu in Gamamba National Park, where the large Uguandan-Congolese-S.Sudanese Operation “Lightning Thunder” was  underway to squash the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which has still creating havoc in the northeastern DRC and its neighbours.

Boarding a UN helicopter to visit Dungu in Gamamba National Park, where a large Uguandan-DRC-UN operation was being undertaken to find the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has still creating havoc in the northeastern DRC and its neighbours

Unloading the Mi-8 helicopter (contracted from Russia, as evidenced by the flag on the tail):

Unloading the Mi-8 helicopter (contracted from Russia)

LTCOL Orisi Rabukawaqa, the experienced Fijian peacekeeper, was a key member of the TAM:

Orissi, the experienced Fijian peacekeeper, was a key member of the TAM

The Moroccan UN base with a preventive moat and protective barbed wire:

the Moroccan UN base with a preventive moat and barbed wire

Meeting with Moroccan officers. The head of the TAM’s military cluster, US Col Bryan Norman, is to my right:

Meeting with Moroccan officers. The head of the TAM's military cluster, Col Bryan Norman, is on my left.

Leaving the Moroccan base with Col Norman:

Parting the Moroccan base


Meeting with DRC officers at the Dungu base where the joint hunt for the LRA was being spearheaded:

Meeting with DRC officers at the Dungu base where the joint hunt for the LRA was spearheaded

Hercules aircraft taking off on the dirt runway …

Hercules aircraft taking off

with UN vehicles on road alongside runway …. (note: the high vent is typical of vehicles operating in such environments,
where water and sand could clog a regular exhaust pipe coming low out of the back of the vehicle)

with cars on road alongside runway

Viewing out the helicopter window with ear muffs because of the loud engine noise:

Viewing out the helicopter window with ear muffs because of the load engine noise

Katherine Clarke, a MONUC official, who accompanied us on part of the trip:

An official with MONUC mission who accompanied us on part of the trip


Later … landing in Goma:

Landing in Goma

A rusting plane long in retirement:

A rusting plane long in retirement

Goma airport building:

Goma airport building

Like Kivu from MONUC headquarters:

Like Kivu from MONUC headquarters

Zodiac patrol with machine gun along Goma’s waterfront:

Zodiac patrol with machine gun along Goma's waterfront

Another patrol boat … keeping watch as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon visits Goma (coincidentally at the same time as the TAM):

Another patrol boat ... keeping watch as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon visits Goma:

Back in Kinshasa before leaving the D.R. Congo. The signs of global culture are apparent ….
Will Smith, CNN, Japanese figures … and commercial activity …. a cash exchange, an international press kiosk, etc.

Back in Kinshasa before leaving, the signs of the global culture are there: Will Smith, ESPN, CNN, etc


There’s hope …. Vive la paix! Vive le commerce! Vive le Congo!



(Images categories above: Kinshasa, UN aircraft; Bunia; Dungu; Helicopter views; and Goma.)






PEACE-KEEPING SATELLITES: The case for international surveillance and verification

PEACE-KEEPING SATELLITES: The case for international surveillance and verification.

Peace Research Reviews, Vol. X, Nos 5 and 6, Peace Research Institute-Dundas, Canada, 1987, 173 pp.

The increasing interest in the concept of peace-keeping satellites is reflected by a rapidly swelling flow of publications and by several initiatives and recommendations discussed in a number of international or regional intergovernmental or non-governmental forums. Under the circumstances, this thorough analysis of the available literature by Walter H. Dorn constitutes a welcome contribution. The references cited constitute but a selection.

In this study a peace-keeping satellite is defined as an observation satellite operated under the aegis of the international community, which could be used to perform one or more of the following functions:

  • verify international treaties, in particular, arms control and disarmament treaties;
  • monitor conflicts or crises;
  • support peace-keeping operations, such as those performed by the United Nations;
  • predict and manage natural catastrophes.

At the heart of the peace-keeping satellite concept are the notions of ‘common security’ and ‘internationalism.’ The former is the recognition that the security of any nation is dependent on the security of all others; that the threat to the peace of any nation is one and the same as the threat to international peace and security. The latter word describes the belief that a stronger international order involving greater international cooperation is necessary to maintain peace and security in this interdependent world. The peace-keeping satellite concept can therefore be characterized by the intersection of three different fields of study: (1) satellite remote sensing; (2) international law, including space law; and (3) peace studies, in particular the role of international organizations in the maintenance of peace and security.

The review covers in seven chapters the most basic questions one can ask about a peace-keeping satellite: What?, Why?, How?, Who?, When?, and Where? The analysis thus covers the concept (What?), the need or motivation (Why?), the technology (How?), the specific proposals made during the past 10 years and past and present political reactions (Who?), a few possible scenarios for the creation and development of a peace-keeping satellite (When and Where?), and the desirability and feasibility of such a system. The expertise of various countries is also summarized and their potential contributions to an international peace-keeping satellite project are considered.

The book is very useful for all who, for professional or political reasons, are in need of an overview of peace-keeping satellite concepts, their background, history and development. In the chapter on technology they will find information on military satellites today and on civilian programmes of various nations. This last section is unfortunately rather incomplete and lacks up-to-date information on Soviet, Chinese, Indian and Japanese missions. The information on the current Canadian Paxsat studies is also rather brief. However, no other weaknesses were noted in the book.

C. Voûte
International Institute for Aerial Survey and Earth Sciences, ITC
The Netherlands

by Walter H. Dorn.

Review by C. Voûte of PEACE-KEEPING SATELLITES: The case for international surveillance and verification, first published in BOOK REVIEWS SECTION, SPACE POLICY, VOL. 4, NO. 1, FEBRUARY 1988.

Becoming a Peace Researcher: A Profile of Walter Dorn



First published in Peace Magazine, Vol. XII, Issue 4, July/August 1996.


Walter Dorn was an undergraduate science student when Science for Peace chose him as its UN representative. He has never looked back.

When you first meet Walter Dorn, you may size him up as a corporate technocrat on the fast track—or perhaps a military officer. That’s just his manner: neutral, focused, factual, and orderly. Get to know him better and you discover an idealistic guy, an up-and-coming peace researcher who is visionary, productive, and 1000 percent committed. At age 35, he’s also a Canadian scientist with a new Ph.D. whose face has been a familiar sight inside the United Nations for 15 years. Remarkably, Walter Dorn has managed to combine lab research with the technical aspects of peace-building.

It all began in 1982 when, as a second-year undergraduate in physics and chemistry at Scarborough College, he went to the United Nations with Professor Eric Fawcett for the Special Session on Disarmament. He became fascinated by the organization and started going down there about every two months. He particularly likes to attend meditations at the U.N. conducted by his spiritual teacher, Sri Chinmoy.

Once he heard by chance that Science for Peace had applied for membership in the U.N. but that the process seemed stalled. On his next visit to New York he inquired about it. The application had been misplaced but, because of his inquiry, it was put back on track. Reporting back in Toronto, Dorn became a minor hero and was appointed Science for Peace’s official representative to the U.N. So enthusiastically did he tackle the job that, by 1988 at the Third Special Session on Disarmament, he was given the privilege of addressing the General Assembly.

Observing the U.N.

Dorn spent five years observing the organization before he felt competent enough to write about it. One of his first articles was for Peace Magazine.

After finishing a masters degree, he wrote a book, Peacekeeping Satellites:

The Case for International Surveillance and Verification and then he reviewed a proposal that was popular at that time for establishing a U.N. reconnaissance capability. As a scientist, he took a special interest in the verification of biological and chemical weapons disarmament treaties. He took a leave from his Ph.D. program to work at Parliamentarians Global Action (PGA), an organization based near the U.N. that enables parliamentarians of many different countries to work together.

The Chemical Weapons Convention was nearing the final stages of negotiation, and PGA wanted to promote the process and inform parliamentarians about their responsibilities under the treaty. Dorn was expected to attend some of the meetings of the negotiators and make suggestions. At that time he was also participating in the Markland Group, a Canadian NGO that developed a proposal of its own: to include a clause requiring that the international law be enforced by domestic law enforcement agencies. All signatory countries would have to pass penal legislation in their parliaments to enforce compliance with the treaty. This suggestion was actually adopted as a feature of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Because of that clause, parliamentarians would have more responsibility than in connection with any previous treaty. They would have to set up a national authority in each of their countries to cooperate with the new international inspectorate. They also had to enact national laws making it illegal for anyone to violate the Convention. They had to review the arms restrictions on imports and exports required by the treaty. They had to pass laws on searches and seizures because this treaty allows for inspections anywhere, at any time. It is the most intrusive inspection regime of any treaty applied on a global basis. Dorn toured parliaments and briefed parliamentarians about their obligations regarding the treaty. In Canada, for example, he testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee, which produced an acceptable law. So far, only about a dozen countries have complete legislation. About 150 countries have signed the Convention but only about 50 countries have ratified it.

“I went to the Nonaligned Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia,” Dorn said, “and asked them to support the Chemical Weapons Convention. Some countries were holding the treaty back and I lobbied for progressive wording in the final declaration. For example, I remember briefing the Pakistani representative, who came around and produced something pretty positive supporting the Convention.

“Also, at the French parliament in 1993 I organized a meeting of parliamentarians from 20 countries who later were going to attend the ceremony in the UNESCO building where 130 states would sign the treaty. In fact, one of my tasks was to make sure the parliamentarians for whom I had obtained passes could actually get through security and into the UNESCO building.” He chuckled, recalling the event. “The limousines were arriving with the ministers who would be signing the treaty. Barbara McDougall had been escorted in and was standing next to a French guard, who had a silver helmet and a sword held up in the air in front of him. But then he yawned and dropped his sword. If she hadn’t ducked, Ms. McDougall would have been hit by this sword. She gave him a disapproving look but I don’t think he knew this was the Foreign Minister of Canada, so he didn’t care. Anyway, I wrote the first draft of the parliamentary declaration in support of the Chemical Weapons Convention and I’m glad I can say that over 1,000 parliamentarians have signed it in 30 or 40 parliaments. There’s a campaign going on now to support the ratification process, which is being held up because the United States and Russia have not ratified it. Russia is holding out to get money from the U.S. to help it disarm because the chemical weapons destruction will cost upwards of five billion dollars.”

He is confident that the Chemical Weapons Convention can be enforced. “Some cheating may go on,” he said, “but to make it militarily significant would be difficult because if one country wants to challenge another country, it can sponsor an inspection. Within 12 hours the international agency goes in and inspects the area that is named. So I think it will be very difficult for a country to maintain secrecy over years. Libya is one of the few countries that will hold out. They do have chemical weapons and might consider using them. However, if both the U.S. and Russia ratify the treaty, it will be hard for Libya to invent any excuse for keeping such weapons.”

Membranes, Ions, and Verification

In 1993, Dorn returned to the University of Toronto and his research in physical chemistry. He received his Ph.D. in 1995. His basic research on methods of detecting chemicals can be applied to many different areas, including chemical and biological arms control. It is based on the processes by which ions move through membranes. Dorn is continuing his work on the technology for peacekeeping and arms control. Now he is writing a paper on a variety of surveillance technologies: ways of sensing landmines, ways of detecting troop movements early, and so on. This will be a chapter in a book to be called Technology for Peace. He has a number of friends who strongly favor the greater use of technology by the U.N. for peacekeeping operations, and he thinks Canada in particular should specialize in communications technology – especially remote sensing systems. This is actually happening. “Canada has formed a group called ‘Friends of Rapid Reaction’ with the Dutch,” said Dorn. “They’re promoting the idea of giving the U.N. a vanguard force, a 24-hour operations centre so they can mobilize quicker. I’d like to see Canada do a lot more of this kind of thing.”

As an NGO representative to the U.N. Walter Dorn often goes around the Secretariat, dropping into offices and trying to be helpful. The Secretariat and the Secretary-General’s office have grown in responsibility more than any of the other U.N. organs, and Dorn disagrees with criticisms that the Secretariat is wasteful. Sometimes he is able to assist with one of their tasks. For example, he compiled a 60-page index for the Chemical Weapons Convention.

During these visits Dorn became acquainted with a Swede, Colonel Christian Harleman, who had set up a training unit in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Ethiopians had asked Harleman to help them set up an institute for the training of diplomats and for research in the horn of Africa. When Harleman left the U.N. he invited Dorn to serve with him on a five-member planning team to establish an institute for peace and development in Addis Ababa. On the first trip Dorn worked on writing up a research program with some other people, including the military leader and the foreign minister, and he expects to return there this summer. He also set up an e-mail system for the Ethiopian foreign ministry and is developing for the institute an information management system similar to the one the U.N. uses. The Organization for African Unity, just a few miles away, is setting up an early warning mechanism, and the Ethiopian institute will cooperate with them and with the U.N. to provide input to a common information system warning of conflicts in Africa. They will train not only Ethiopians but also Somalis, Eritreans, Kenyans, and Sudanese.

Secrets of the Archives

Although he finds the institute a wonderful challenge, Dorn does not want to be based in Addis Ababa for a lengthy period, so he will just consult there for a few months at a time. He will also do some research in the U.N. archives. “I love to read other people’s mail,” he explained. “Especially the Secretary-General’s mail. And there’s a lot to be learned from the archives. The U.N. never had a propaganda machine to tell the world about its tremendous contributions – and besides, it was often in the U.N.’s interest to play humble and give credit to the parties that settled the dispute. So on many occasions the U.N. played a very significant role that has not been properly credited. This summer we’re studying the Cuban Missile Crisis, where we think the Secretary-General had a decisive role. He made the proposal that Khrushchev accepted. The Kennedy administration wanted to make it look as if they did it single-handedly, but we recently discovered that there were negotiations at the U.N. and U Thant mediated them. In fact, they developed a 19-article treaty that is never mentioned. Subsequently there was an agreement that was signed in secret. The Soviet missile withdrawal from Cuba was tied with a U.S. pledge of nonintervention and withdrawal of U.S. missiles from Turkey.

“This is just one example of the Secretary-General’s effectiveness. I don’t think anybody in the world does as much good in so many places in the world as the U.N. Secretary-General in trying to keep peace where there’s so much animosity. His job has been called the most impossible one in the world but he and his staff do an amazing job.

“As long as I believe that human beings are good,” Dorn said, “and that our future can be bright if we work at it, I will continue to believe in the United Nations.”

More than just believing in the U.N., Walter Dorn is devoted to making it work.


Metta Spencer edits Peace Magazine and teaches Sociology and Peace & Conflict Studies at University of Toronto.

Imagine a Peacekeeping-Industrial Complex

First published in The Ottawa Citizen, Sunday, 14 June 1998


by Juliet O’Neill, The Ottawa Citizen


One of the freaky things about Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda — and this comes from a Los Angeles mortuary director — was that his body had not decayed one bit 20 days after he died.

It’s the sort of morbidly fascinating fact that would impress most little boys, although Walter Dorn probably wasn’t your average 13-year-old Toronto kid when he was swept away by Yogananda’s life story, Autobiography of a Yogi, in the mid-’70s.

“I was entranced,” he recalls now. “I was entranced. I was lifted to another world.” Mr. Dorn’s recollection stops.

“That sounds pretty hokey. Wouldn’t you rather talk about ionic conduction of lipid membranes?” Not really.

But for the record, that was the subject of Mr. Dorn’s University of Toronto PhD, findings useful in the development of devices used to sniff out chemical and biological weapons. He finally got the PhD in 1995, after years of playing hooky in the library when he should have been in the lab peering through a microscope.

If he wasn’t in the library reading history and United Nations documents, Mr. Dorn was at the United Nations researching his book on satellite use in arms-control verification or writing the 60-page index to the chemical-weapons convention — probably the best arms-control treaty in existence.

Mr. Dorn, 36, has been the Canadian Science for Peace representative to the United Nations since its inception in 1982.

A man who says the only constant in his life is his e-mail address, he is based this year as a fellow at the Peace Studies Program at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, writing a book about UN monitoring and verification.

He travels constantly to give lectures and fulfill contracts, including his latest one at the Sandia National Labs in New Mexico, where he is surrounded by nuclear scientists.

Mr. Dorn is only half joking when he describes his effort to convert the military-industrial complex to a peacekeeping-industrial complex.

He is one of the few scientists in the world specializing in the subject of peacekeeping technology, something with which he believes the UN should be equipped, although it has neither the money nor the personnel to do so. Nor does the UN have its own military force.

Often, his current work is a matter of distinguishing the destructive from the constructive use of military technology.

“Take a knife: it can be used to cut bread and share with someone, but it can also be used to hurt someone,” Mr. Dorn notes. “For example, night-vision devices can be used to monitor somebody trespassing in a demilitarized zone or, as the Serbs did in Sarajevo, to target sniper fire at night.”

Thousands of scientists work in the development of war machinery, so Mr. Dorn wonders: why not have some devoted exclusively to equipment helpful in preventing and stopping conflicts?

It was in 1978 that Mr. Dorn first went to a talk by John Polanyi — co-winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for chemistry — at the U of T about the International Satellite Monitoring Agency. That the most advanced technology — satellites orbiting the Earth — could be used for conflict prevention captured Mr. Dorn’s imagination.

“He was saying science could be used in the service of peace.”

Mr. Dorn specifically remembers Polanyi’s using India and Pakistan as an example of where this could be useful.

Both countries recently exploded nuclear devices and there’s been controversy over how U.S. satellites didn’t see India’s preparations but did see Pakistan’s only days later.

“I thought that science would be able to provide me with truth, but I’ve since discovered what a human activity science really is and that although nature does abide by certain laws, much more is determined by human emotions and motivations than by nature,” he said.

“Science is the physical world, one aspect of truth, just a small part of what life is all about.”

Wary of coming off as a bit of a kook, Mr. Dorn puts himself in the company of the great scientist Albert Einstein, quoting him as having said that the highest experience that a human being can have is a cosmic religious experience.

Often, Einstein would solve a physics problem intuitively, then work back through his equations to explain it. “When he was a boy, Einstein wondered what it would be like to ride on a beam of light,” Mr. Dorn said.

The theory of relativity Einstein discovered as an adult showed that if you rode a beam of light, time would stand still and you would become infinite.

Mr. Dorn scrawls the relativity equation, his favorite, down on a piece of paper. “It tells me that when you go out to the speed of light or beyond, you are going to a realm which our human mind, caught in three dimensions, cannot possibly understand.”

He doesn’t expect world peace for several centuries. “And then world peace will depend on inner peace, too,” he said. “We’ll need to have people who are able to find a reservoir of peace within themselves, so they can’t imagine themselves resorting to killing other people.”