MISSION OF THE CDRPC
Created in 1984 in Lyon, France, the CDRPC has as its basic mission providing information on questions of defense and security that is reliable, different (to the extent necessitated by facts) from that furnished by government sources, and understandable to nonspecialists.
HISTORY AND BASIC APPROACH OF THE CENTER
Researchers, members of the academic community, and peace activists founded the CDRPC to meet the information needs of workers for peace in the Lyon area. There have since been major changes within the French peace movement, and to compensate for the disappearance of two other information sources, the CDRPC gradually expanded its work. Now it is the only nongovernment center in France answering questions from the public on the broad range of security issues; and it serves students, activists, researchers, journalists, and government officials throughout France and in foreign countries from Belgium to Australia.
Nuclear weapons have been the subject of research at the Center since its founding. In 1994 the CDRPC broadened its subject coverage : the Center set up an Observatory of Arms Transfers, which centers in a computerized database on the French conventional weapons industry and on transfers of weapons to and from France.
The Center furnishes information in several ways:
- At its office is a collection of thematic dossiers, containing government documents, clippings from periodicals, and reports from associations; more than a hundred periodicals received on a regular basis; and some three thousand books, many of them standard reference works. The public can consult these materials.
- The Center conducts research and publishes the quarterly Damocles, containing articles by the Center's staff, board members, and other specialists in security issues; a quarterly Letter of the Observatory in French and in English; the annual report of the Observatory; and occasional books and reports on special topics. Its members also publish in periodicals other than those of the Center.
- The Center responds to queries by furnishing information or documents; compiles dossiers about particular topics on request; and invites consultation of its computerized database. Highlights from the database are accessible through the Center's World Wide Web Home Page (www.obsarm.org).
The Center also sponsors and participates in educational events such as debates and colloquiums.
The organization has four paid, full-time employees, Bruno Barrillot, director and researcher ; Belkacem Elomari, journalist/researcher, who is responsible for the operation of the Observatory of Arms Transfers, Stephane Petit, documentalist and webmaster, and Nathalie Wolff, administrative assistant. Various volunteers carry out such tasks as maintaining the Center's files of clippings, laying out its publications, and drawing up financial reports.
Information on current or past accomplishments
The CDRPC is widely respected as a source of information on issues relating to national security and armaments, as the following examples from the past three years illustrate.
In 1994, a major study carried out by Bruno Barrillot and Mary Davis on "French Military Nuclear Waste" was the subject of a two-hour television program in the series, La Marche du siecle, among the most respected television series in France. The study stimulated public discussion, which led to the creation of Local Information Committees at several of the sites studied by the CDRPC, including Cadarache and Valduc where respectively the fuel for French submarines is made and French nuclear weapons are assembled. It also caused a member of parliament to ask for an epidemiological study of the area around the Marcoule weapons production site, and forced the company managing the site to admit that it has polluted the groundwater.
In 1995 the CDRPC officially launched the Observatory of Arms Transfers to allow elected representatives and the public to look more critically at arms sales and to create a network that supports conversion of the weapons industry. The Observatory published two reports in 1995: "French Arms Transfers, 1991-1995" and the first of a series of annual reports. These and other reports published by the Observatory have made its work known and have caused journalists to turn to it for information. The annual reports are already regarded as the standard works on the subject of weapons transfers that involve France and are frequently cited in the media.
In 1995 and 1996 the CDRPC carried out a study on French nuclear testing. After President Chirac announced in the summer of 1995 that France would resume nuclear testing, many periodical and television journalists sought information critical of the tests from the CDRPC, in the face of official French propaganda. Furthermore, at that time the World Council of Churches translated into English and distributed to churches across the world a chapter of the CDRPC's report, "Les essais nucléaires français 1960-1996. Conséquences sur la santé et l'environnement." (French Nuclear Testing 1960-1996: Consequences on Health and the Environment). As is well known, the French government is now closing its Mururoa test site.
In February 1997, the CDRPC published, on behalf of the international association "Handicap International," a study on the French production of landmines." There were numerous articles in the press about the report, and the major television chanel, Canal Plus, presented it in prime time. Naming the study, a deputy in the National Assembly questioned the administration in writing about the mines. As a result of the study and a campaign of Handicap International built around it, the French government was persuaded to file a bill that would ban production of antipersonnel mines. The French law on the elimination of anti-personnel mines was published 8 July 1998. It provides for the participation of NGOs in the process of verifying the application of the law.
In February 1999, the CDRPC launched its latest work, Audit Atomique by means of a three-page article with color photographs in Le Nouvel Observateur, a widely read national weekly that appeals in particular to people of socialist tendencies. The article in the Nouvel Observateur on Audit atomique is headed, "To endow itself with strategic nuclear weapons, France spent, each year for more than forty years, sums much higher than imagined. Bruno Barrillot, an independent researcher, reveals the enormity of the expenditures, contracted in the ignorance or indifference of elected representatives."
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