• Blog
  • November 16th, 2017

New publication on Canada and UN peacekeeping

Canada and the UN 2014

With the United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference having taken place in Vancouver earlier this week, the World Federalist Movement Canada has released the 2017 edition of “The United Nations and Canada: What Canada has done and should be doing for UN peace operations”, a collection of ten articles by civil society experts on the state of Canada’s involvement with international peacekeeping.

“Peacekeeping has become an essential element of international security in a globalized world… There is a compelling case for Canada doing more to fulfil its responsibilities. We are needed by the UN and by the world…” – John Trent, editor and current Fellow of the Centre on Governance (University of Ottawa)

At a time when Canadian involvement with UN peacekeeping efforts has stagnated, it is more important than ever for citizens and civil society organizations to demand greater participation from the Canadian government in mediating and resolving these complex global challenges. The articles included in this publication make a strong and wide-reaching case for how and why Canada should seek more robust re-engagement with UN peacekeeping mechanisms, particularly if we hope to acquire a seat on the Security Council in 2020.

Walter Dorn, President of the World Federalist Movement – Canada, highlights the atrophying of Canadian peacekeeping under the Harper government and the lack of forward progress under the Trudeau Liberals, despite repeated promises of Canada’s return to multilateralism.

“Two years after Trudeau claimed on election night that Canada was back (a claim he reiterated in his 2016 UN General Assembly address), we have yet to see the peacekeeping promises fulfilled.” – Walter Dorn

Meanwhile, Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason outlines why UN peace operations are worth the risk in her article, The “Value Added” of UN Peacekeeping.

“When properly mandated, resourced and managed, UN peacekeeping offers the best chance for a society emerging from violent conflict… Many current UN missions may have comprehensive mandates to build sustainable peace but they manifestly lack the professional forces and equipment to provide the secure environment necessary for peace to take hold.

The full potential of UN peacekeeping will not be realized until countries like Canada meaningfully re-engage.” – Former Disarmament Ambassador Peggy Mason

Another important discussion comes from former Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, in his article Peacekeeping and security for refugees, regarding one of the most pressing elements of contemporary peacekeeping: refugee management.

“With climate change, famine, armed conflict all on the rise, the way the world comes to grips with the rising number of refugees needs a major re-set… Our contributions to peace operations and to refugee system reform can provide important reasons for other UN member states to view positively Canada’s candidacy for election in 2019 for a two-year term on the UN Security Council in 2020-21.” – Lloyd Axworthy

Beth Woroniuk, coordinator and co-founder of the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada, in her article, Gender Perspectives and Peacekeeping: More than Deploying more Women, highlights the importance of non-military solutions:

“… the value of the women, peace and security agenda is its potential for transformation rather than greater representation of women in existing paradigms of military response.” – UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000).


The 2017 edition of “The United Nations and Canada” and previous versions can be found at https://unitednationsandcanada.org/


Photo credit: WFM-Canada

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New RI Report on flaws in Arms Trade Treaty implementing legislation

ATT- Report Bill C-47 (Oct31)

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  • Blog
  • October 30th, 2017

Major amendments needed to Canada’s Arms Trade Treaty legislation

IMG_4271-1-300x225PRESS RELEASE:



Canada’s welcome commitment to accede to the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) risks being fundamentally undermined by troubling shortcomings in the federal government’s proposed approach to implementation warns a group of ten human rights, arms control, and disarmament organizations in a briefing paper submitted to Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

The briefing paper, Bill C-47 and Canadian Accession to the Arms Trade Treaty Civil Society Concerns and Recommendations, warns that legislation introduced in Parliament in April 2017 to ready Canada for accession, in its current form, would not meet critical obligations of the Agreement, including by failing to apply the deal to the majority of Canada’s arms exports. The document is endorsed by Amnesty International Canada (English branch), Amnistie internationale Canada francophone, Project Ploughshares, Oxfam-Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Rideau Institute, Group of 78, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, World Federalist Movement-Canada, and the Human Rights and Research Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.

“The uncontrolled global flow of deadly arms is a crisis whose annual cost is measured in the lost lives of countless children, women and men conflict-ravaged regions such as Myanmar, Yemen, Syria, South Sudan and Iraq,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

“Canada’s long overdue commitment to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty is a warmly welcomed contribution toward ending this scourge. However, we are deeply concerned the government’s implementation plan is gravely flawed and threatens effectively to gut this commitment. Thankfully, there is time to get this on track, and that is what the government must do.”

Among the most pressing concerns outlined in the briefing paper is a critical failure to apply ATT obligations to arms exports to the United States, including in cases where those weapons may be further transferred to other governments and armed groups. The value of arms exports to the United States, which has signed but not ratified the ATT, exceeds the worth of all other Canadian arms exports. This exclusion represents a major gap in Canada’s proposed implementation.

“The notion that Canada could uphold its commitments under the ATT while failing to apply the Agreement to its single largest arms export market is untenable and must be rectified,” says Anne Duhamel, Director of Policy, Oxfam-Québec.

“The alarming impact of this shortcoming cannot be overstated, particularly given that the United States has not ratified the ATT and Canadian weapons could be transferred onwards to other foreign entities with abysmal human rights records, including war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Other shortcomings in the legislation include a failure to address arms transfers by the Department of National Defence or to acknowledge the critical role of the Canadian Commercial Corporation, whose role includes arranging arms exports to other countries — most notably the recent sale of Canadian-manufactured light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia. It also allows broad powers for Cabinet to provide exemptions to the obligations of the Treaty, opening the door for a significant loophole unless further conditions and limitations are introduced.

“While C-47 does make improvements to the status quo, it falls significantly short of ensuring compliance with the Treaty across all relevant government bodies implicated in arms transfer decisions, including Cabinet,” says Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute.

“Unless we see substantive amendments to address these concerns, the integrity of Canada’s ATT accession will be deeply compromised and its commitment to the Treaty will be rightly called into question.”

The briefing paper also raises concerns that the government intends to implement integral requirements of the ATT through regulatory mechanisms to be announced after the passage of Bill C-47. Among the critical obligations to be addressed this way are the establishment of standards and procedures for authorizing arms exports, adherence to prohibition obligations such as arms embargoes, prevention of the diversion of military exports, reporting standards and brokering regulations — all of which are central elements to the integrity of the ATT.

“The issues the government plans to address via undisclosed regulatory measures include much of the “meat and potatoes” of the whole deal. We need all the information on the table and an opportunity for meaningful engagement and amendments if we want to get this right,” said Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director, Project Ploughshares.

“We must remember that the stakes here are enormous, which is why we are calling on the government to make significant revisions to C-47 in order to achieve the full intent of acceding to the Treaty, which is ultimately to prevent grave human rights abuses from being committed abroad with Canadian weapons.”

Background: Human rights groups have been calling on Canada to sign on to the global Arms Trade Treaty since it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013 and welcome the Trudeau government’s decision to take that important step. Canada committed to accede to the ATT and tabled Bill C-47 in Parliament to prepare for accession. The ATT has already been ratified or acceded to by 92 other countries, including many Canadian allies. It is the first international legal instrument to establish robust global rules to stop the flow of weapons, munitions, and related items to countries when it is known they would be used to commit or facilitate genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or serious human rights violations. Among the countries which have already ratified or acceded to the Agreement are the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, and Nigeria. The United States, which accounts for the majority of Canadian arms exports, has signed but not ratified the Agreement.

Photo credit: Jacob Kuehn

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  • Blog
  • October 3rd, 2017

Civil society conference offers practical way forward on nuclear disarmament

Ottawa signing ceremony


The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. — General Omar Bradley, 1948.

From Friday, September 22nd to Saturday, September 23rd, this year’s Group of 78 Annual Policy Conference, Getting to Nuclear Zero: Building Common Security for a Post-MAD World, brought together a diverse group of concerned citizens to engage with each other and learn more about how to achieve a nuclear-weapons free world. Many thanks go out to the sponsors, organizers, speakers, and members who made this important event so successful and thought-provoking. (The Rideau Institute was a sponsor, part of the organizing committee, and panel contributor.)

The conference had many highlights and noteworthy presentations, including a panel on nuclear disarmament negotiations and three major panels on aspects of common security: how to achieve and sustain common security; major impediments; and the role of Canadian leadership in moving the international community closer to a sustainable peace and common security architecture.

This blog post will focus on the keynote address by one of the leading Canadian and international nuclear verification experts,  Tariq Rauf, who did an outstanding job of contextualizing the conversations that would follow throughout the conference.

Mr. Rauf, whose long and distinguished career has given him vast technical expertise on the issues being tackled at the conference, gave a speech that was both diagnostic and prescriptive. He provided fascinating insights into IAEA verification processes and their relation to nuclear disarmament. Most important of all, he offered an elegantly simple, yet effective, way forward on the central issue of verifying irreversible nuclear disarmament.

In my view, the practical way forward would be for each of the nine nuclear-armed States to follow the South Africa model — dismantle their own nuclear warheads and make available records for international verification, and place all nuclear material from dismantled warheads under international monitoring and verification.

He also discussed the importance of nuclear risk reduction, recommending that Canada champion the establishment of Global Nuclear Risk Reduction and Strategic Stability Centres with the participation of nuclear-armed states, to reduce the myriad risks associated with the possession of nuclear weapons.

On Canada’s unfortunate non-participation in the recent historic negotiations leading to the adoption by 122 UN member states of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Mr. Rauf had this to say:

For Canada, the first country ever to formally renounce nuclear weapons,to be absent at the General Assembly conference negotiations on a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty and place its chips with those of the New Procrastination and Delay Initiative (NPDI) — I mean the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative — and with NATO, that has the self-contradictory policy of being a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist, is a betrayal of the aspirations of Canadians.

To read the full text by Tariq Rauf, clickRestoring Canada’s leadership in Nuclear Arms Control and Disarmament (speaking notes; final edited version to come).

Photo credit: unknown.


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  • Blog
  • September 18th, 2017

Diplomacy and dialogue the only sane way forward with North Korea

U.S.-ROK military exercise

We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table. Neither shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bolstering up the nuclear forces chosen by ourselves, unless the hostile policy and nuclear threat of the U.S. against the D.P.R.K. are fundamentally eliminated.” [Emphasis added.]

Former Senior American official, and now Visiting Professor Robert Carlin, has catalogued recent North Korean offers to negotiate which typically are along the lines quoted above.

Troublingly, western media all too often report the first, but not the second, part of the North Korean statement.

Also less well-known is that the USA has yet to offer dialogue that is not conditional on North Korea first renouncing nuclear weapons before talks can begin, clearly a non-starter insofar as North Korea is concerned. U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein believes that must change:

“The United States must quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions… In my view, diplomacy is the only sound path forward.”


“To put this another way, this means that diplomacy has not yet been given a meaningful chance to work.” – former Ambassador Peggy Mason

There is a role for Canada in promoting a diplomatic solution.

Canada needs to get behind the call for dialogue without preconditions. We also need to support the recent offer of diplomatic “good offices” from the UN Secretary-General.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered to play the same diplomatic role with respect to North Korean talks as Germany played in the successful “6 plus one” nuclear talks with Iran.

North Korea may have gone too far down the road of nuclear armament to renounce them entirely. But freezing their capability may be an achievable goal.  And this is the thinking behind a recent joint Russian-Chinese proposal that merits close attention.  They summarize their proposal as follows:

“The Parties are putting forward a joint initiative, which is based on the Chinese-proposed ideas of “double freezing” (missile and nuclear activities by the DPRK and large-scale joint exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea) and “parallel advancement” towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the creation of peace mechanisms on the peninsula, and the Russian-proposed stage-by-stage Korean settlement plan.”

It is especially urgent that Canada join the call for dialogue between the US and DPRK without preconditions in light of the ominous statements made by President Trump in his UN General Assembly speech on September 19th.

“If [the United States] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing, and able, but hopefully that will not be necessary.”

For the full text of testimony by Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Defence on September 14th, click here.

For journalist David Pugliese’s highlights of the Committee hearings click: Analysis: U.S. would let a nuke missile wipe out a Canadian city – then maybe it’s time for a new ally?

To hear a discussion on CBC’s the Current on Monday, 18 September featuring CBC journalist Murray Brewster, Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason and RMC professor Christian Leuprecht, click: Should Canada join ballistic missile defence program?


Photo credit (ROK-U.S. military exercise): Wikimedia.


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