RI President to speak at Group of 78 conference: Getting to Nuclear Zero

On Saturday, September 23rd Ambassador (ret’d) Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute, will speak on Panel 4 of the Group of 78’s annual policy conference: Getting to Nuclear Zero.  This panel entitled, Canadian Leadership for Common Security, will advance ideas for action by CanadaKeynote speaker Tariq Rauf, an Advisor at the Office of the Executive Secretary of CTBTO, is the second panellist and the moderator will be Ernie Regehr.

Registration and conference outline can be found below.


Conference 2017

Annual Policy Conference 2017

group-of-78_2011 small


Group of 78 Annual Policy Conference
In cooperation with:

Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Physicians for Global Survival
Rideau Institute on international Affairs

Cartier Place Suite Hotel, Ottawa, September 22-23, 2017

Eventbrite - Annual Policy Conference: Getting to Nuclear Zero Building Common Security for a Post-MAD World

 Conference Registration forms:           English   French

 Conference Outline

The quest for global sustainable peace is at a critical juncture. The considerable majority of countries, through the United Nations, is actively pursuing the crafting of a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. This action faces many challenges, notably the opposition of most nuclear weapons states and some of their allies, including Canada.

Nuclear disarmament ultimately requires a shift from the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) to a commitment – in mind, policy and practice – to mutual security, through a sustainable common security regime rooted in global interdependence, the rule of law, and a recognition of the limited utility of military force in responding to political conflict. Common security is built on UN Charter principles and on mutual security arrangements, rather than competitive military alliances, and focuses on war prevention and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

These issues will be examined and debated in the Group of 78’s 2017 policy conference. Speakers and presenters will provide analysis of the process and prospects for abolishing nuclear weapons and seeking to define the elements necessary to transition to a post-nuclear weapons world. They will provide an overview of current international initiatives, delve into the status and prospects of the negotiations at the United Nations to eliminate nuclear weapons, assess the impediments to developing a common security framework without nuclear weapons, identify the building blocks for such a security system, and outline how Canada can play a constructive leadership role in this enterprise.

The aims of the conference will be (1) to provide participants with a thorough and cogent analysis of what’s involved in complete nuclear disarmament and building common security for the global community, and (2) to articulate ideas and recommendations to the Canadian government for its participation and leadership in this process.

Among the questions that the conference will address are: How realistic is the idea of, and what are the steps involved in, achieving complete nuclear disarmament? How does one overcome the objections of those who hold nuclear weapons now? What does a post-nuclear weapons world look like? How can public opinion be mobilized toward a safer, non-nuclear planet? What positions and actions can Canada bring to the table to accelerate movement to this goal? What can civil society undertake to encourage and support the Canadian Government in this role?

Further information on the detailed program and range of speakers will be available in the near future. Possible participants can contact the Group of 78 (http://group78.org/) for information as it becomes available and to express interest in attending the conference.


Friday, September 22– Dinner

Introduction and Welcome: Roy Culpeper, Chair of the Group of 78

Keynote Address:

Tariq Rauf, Advisor at the Office of the Executive Secretary of CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-test-ban Treaty Organization), and former Director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Programme at SIPRI/Sweden

Mr. Rauf will address, in broad scope, the opportunities and challenges of nuclear disarmament and building an alternative common security system. He will identify the key questions and issues the international community faces in this quest that can be explored further by conference presenters and participants.

Saturday – September 23

Introductory Remarks – Hon. Douglas Roche

Panel 1 – Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations: Status and Prospects

This panel will take stock of the status and/or results of the (GA Res 71/258) UN-mandated negotiations that will have concluded on July 7th.


Bev Delong, co-founder, Project Ploughshares Calgary; Chair, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; Board member, International Association of Lawyers Against           Nuclear Arms


1. Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director at Project Ploughshares

2. Irish Diplomat Michael Hurley (invited, tbc)

Panel 2 – Common Security: Major Impediments

This panel will identify and analyze key impediments to greater international cooperation toward common security and how they might be addressed.

Moderator: Metta Spencer, Science for Peace


1. Marius Grinius, Former Canadian Ambassador to Vietnam, South Korea and   North Korea; Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament

2.Tom Collina, Director of Policy, Ploughshares Fund (USA); formerly, Research Director of the Arms Control Association

Panel 3 – Achieving and Sustaining Common Security: Key Elements

This panel will identify elements to be addressed in order to achieve greater common security.

Moderator:   Tamara Lonincz


1. Peter Langille, Specialist in peace and conflict studies, United Nations peace operations, conflict resolution and mediation; author of the concept of a UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) and advocate for Sustainable Common Security

2. TBD

Panel 4 – Canadian Leadership for Common Security

This panel will explore the role Canada might play in order to help achieve common security in the world and advance ideas for action by Canada.

Moderator:      Ernie Regehr


1. Tariq Rauf, Advisor at the Office of the Executive Secretary of CTBTO

2. Peggy Mason, Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament; President, Rideau Institute

Conference Conclusion and Closing RemarksRoy Culpeper


Group of 78 Annual Meeting to follow immediately.

Read More

Pathways to Peace in Syria and Iraq


On March 10th, The Rideau Institute, Group of 78, and CIC jointly hosted a public forum entitled Pathways to Peace in Syria and Iraq, featuring panelists Payam Akhavan, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University; Marina Ottaway, Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; Mokhtar Lamani, Former Head of the Office of the UN-Arab League of States Joint Special Representative for Syria in Damascus; Sebastien Beaulieu, Director for Middle East Relations, Global Affairs Canada; and moderator Paul Dewar, former MP for Ottawa Centre.

The following summary outlines a few of the highlights from the wide-ranging panel and audience discussion.

Marina Ottaway cited two big reasons why all the various peacemaking efforts in Syria have borne so little fruit to this point. The first is the lack of a “mutually hurting stalemate” whereby all sides realize that they cannot win militarily. The second is the lack of focus on mechanisms to bring extremely disparate groups together in a new governance structure.

Calling for “inclusive democratic institutions” in her view will go nowhere without a move away from the current centralized, “top down” state structures to provide for greater autonomy at the local level. The issue is much more complex than Sunni, Shia, and Kurds because there are many sub-divisions within each of these three groups. If real solutions are to be found, discussion of new, more decentralized governance structures must be facilitated among these groups.

But the peace process itself cannot move forward without progress first being made in convincing all sides that they must unite against Islamic State. Here the regional and international backers of the various factions have a huge role to play. Russia, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey must all stop supporting their various proxies and make it clear that the only way forward is at the negotiating table.

Mokhtar Lamani underscored the complexities on the ground and the “new realities” created because of the length of the conflicts and the many, disastrous mistakes made by international actors in Iraq, from the US-led invasion onward. He noted that 70% of ISIL fighters in Iraq are Iraqi, the result of the vicious sectarianism practiced by the al Maliki government, while only 20% of ISIL fighters in Syria are Syrian. He decried the extremist nature of the Shia militias fighting against ISIL in Iraq, which he characterized as “at least as dangerous” as ISIL.

Like Marina Ottaway, he highlighted the conflicting agendas of the regional and international actors in Syria and how “removed” from the realities on the ground were the Russians and Americans. The focus in both Iraq and Syria, he too urged, has to be on isolating ISIL. To do this in Iraq there must be “inclusive national reconciliation efforts”, including reaching out to the cadre of disaffected former officers in Saddam Hussein’s army who have joined up with ISIL. In Syria, that means allowing Al Nusra and related fighters to join the peace process as well.

In summation he asked:

Why is the international community not planning a Summit to develop a multifaceted strategy to promote a culture of respect?

Payam Akhavan focused on the fundamental importance of accountability mechanisms in Syria and Iraq for egregious human rights abuses. This does not necessarily mean recourse to the International Criminal Court, but could include mechanisms such as a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Audience members underscored the importance of civil society involvement in the peace negotiations, leading Canadian diplomat Sebastien Beaulieu to highlight Canadian support for civil society and women at the negotiating table.

In summing up, Peggy Mason for the Rideau Institute raised three points:

The first key issue is how the conflicting agendas of the international and regional backers of the parties to the civil war in Syria are preventing the achievement of a ‘hurting stalemate’ and in turn any hope of isolating Islamic State.

The second is the importance in the peace negotiations of finding the right balance between peace and justice and the vital role of civil society, including women to this end.

In that regard she noted that the UN Special Envoy and peace mediator for Syria, Steffan de Mistura, has established a series of Advisory Groups composed of civil society members, including one specifically of women, and that this is a step towards their greater inclusion in the peace process.

The third is the need for deep thinking on how to promote inclusive national reconciliation in Iraq and whether more decentralized power structures might contribute to such efforts in both Iraq and Syria.


For a recent update on the UN-facilitated peace process, see Don’t look now, but peace in Syria may be inching closer (CBC.ca, 14 March, 2016).

Read More

President of the Rideau Institute Peggy Mason to talk at the Canadian Club of Kingston

On Thursday January 22nd Ambassador (ret’d) Peggy Mason, the President of the Rideau Institute will give a talk entitled “Countering the Islamic State: Why Canada needs to Change course” hosted by the Canadian Club of Kingston. Talk is open to all.

Read More

Ottawa Peace Festival event – “Pursuing an Afghan Peace: Women, Civil Society and Blue Helmets”

The Rideau Institute is pleased to invite you to an event it is hosting along with Afghanistan: Pathways to Peace, as part of the Ottawa Peace Festival.

What: Panel Discussion “Pursuing an Afghan Peace: Women, Civil Society and Blue Helmets” 

Who:  Dr. Walter Dorn, Professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada
Najia Haneefi, Co-founder of Afghan Women’s Political Participation Committee

When: Monday, September 29, 2014

Time: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Where: Auditorium of the Ottawa Public Library (Main Branch) at 120 Metcalfe Street, Ottawa


Dr. Walter Dorn, Professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and editor of the new volume Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace, will speak about his new paper, entitled “Peace Talks and a Peacekeeping Force for Afghanistan?”. He will look at how the United Nations might facilitate a peace process in Afghanistan and, in that context, will consider the role that a UN peacekeeping force could play in building a viable and sustainable peace.

Najia Haneefi, Co-founder and Executive Board member of Afghan Women’s Political Participation Committee, will speak about efforts to empower Afghan women to promote and engage in a comprehensive peace process.

A question and answer period will follow the panel discussion.

Introductory remarks:
Gerry Ohlsen, Chair of the International Steering Committee of Afghanistan Pathways to Peace, will provide short comments on the role of Afghanistan Pathways to Peace in promoting civil society participation in, and support for, a comprehensive peace process for Afghanistan.

Peggy Mason is the President of the Rideau Institute. Her career highlights diplomatic and specialist expertise in the field of international peace and security, with a particular emphasis on the United Nations, where she served as Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament from 1989 to 1995.

For more information contact the Rideau Institute at operations@rideauinstitute.ca.

We look forward to seeing you at this event!

Unable to attend? Follow the action on twitter using #PursueAfghanPeace.


Read More

Group of 78 Annual Policy Conference – Sept 26 – 28


“World War I and Contemporary Policy on War and Peace”

Sept. 26 – 28, Barney Danson Theatre, Canadian War Museum

On the centenary of World War I this conference brings together historians and commentators from civil society, the diplomatic and military communities to reflect on how lessons from the “Great War” are relevant today to reduce the incidence of armed conflict and reinforce the foundations of a more stable, peaceful world.


For more information or to register, please visit: http://group78.org/

Read More