What Canada has done and should be doing at the United Nations edited by John E. Trent
2014 Edition The United Nations and Canada: What Canada has done and should be doing at the United Nations John E. Trent, editor
Dedication: This 2014 volume is dedicated to Claude Campbell, Invermere B.C., whose exemplary commitment to the rule of law, human progress and rights, through the United Nations system, has been persistent and longstanding. This volume has been compiled and published as a project of the World Federalist Movement – Canada - worldfederalistscanada.org The views and opinions expressed in each of the articles are the sole responsibility of the authors. The online publication can be viewed at: UnitedNationsandCanada.org This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0
To order additional copies, contact: World Federalist Movement – Canada 110 – 323 Chapel St., Ottawa ON K1N 7Z2 Tel: (613) 232-0647 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Price: $12 per copy (includes shipping)
The United Nations and Canada: What Canada has done and should be doing at the United Nations Carolyn McAskie Our objective in this publication is to demonstrate that the United Nations, as a universal member-based institution, or set of institutions, is an essential element in the task of ensuring a sustainable global future. We argue that in this context it is not possible for any one country, particularly a world player like Canada, to ‘opt out’ of its obligations as a member state. Engagement is the sine qua non of membership. If one of a government’s primary responsibilities is to protect its own interests in the world, the current snubbing of the United Nations by Canada is diﬃcult to understand. In a world of globalized economic risk, political and security crises, interlinked environmental and health eﬀects, along with ongoing humanitarian crises and pressing development needs, it has become virtually impossible for any one government to stand alone if it wishes to influence global events and decisions. Working together is not ‘going along to get along’. Prior to the time of the current government, Canada played a leading role at the United Nations. A Canadian, John Humphrey, was one of the principal
architects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Canadian diplomacy supported the broadening of membership, decolonization, NorthSouth Dialogue, the Rio Summit on Environment and Development, negotiations to halt ozone layer depletion and acid rain, and eﬀorts to end apartheid in South Africa. More recent Canadian initiatives include campaigns to ban land mines and curtail the trade in blood diamonds, the establishment of the International Criminal Court, and orchestrating awareness of the plight of child soldiers. Canadians have worked with others over the years to improve and reform the UN in response to changing needs. Former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in introducing peacekeeping to the UN. We have worked to improve openness in the Security Council. More recently, Canada funded the Commission that created the concept of ‘Responsibility to Protect,’ putting human rights over outmoded views of national sovereignty. Canada has been an active and generally successful player at the UN.
Carolyn McAskie has had a career in the Canadian International Development Agency, as Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for Multilateral Aﬀairs, and ADM for African Programs, followed by almost a decade in the United Nations, as Assistant Secretary General Humanitarian Aﬀairs, as SRSG of the UN Mission in Burundi and ASG Peacebuilding (launching the UN’s new Peacebuilding Commission).
e United Nations is a multi-faceted, hydra-headed entity which performs a variety of functions through its various organs: regulatory, humanitarian, developmental, human rights and the most high-profile political and security functions. ere are uncountable daily events, aﬀecting us all, regulated and supervised through a wide range of UN bodies, from aviation safety (the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization), postal systems, telecommunications, labour laws, health standards and international agriculture. Global systems of human rights, humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, international law and international peace and security all operate through UN member bodies and activities. In all aspects of the UN’s work and decision making, whether in the Security Council, the UN Development Program, or any of the UN’s member bodies or programs, it is member states that run the show and pay the piper. The UN is not an entity unto itself, engaging in unilateral action. When ‘the UN’ cannot agree on a course of action, it is because member states cannot or will not agree. The outdated Security Council veto compounds the problem but it is member states that have been unable to amend the voting formula. If there are problems and dysfunctionalities, it is up to member states to fix them. Walking away is not a 21st century option. It is in the field of peace and security where the greatest confusion arises, both in the minds of the public and in
the claims of the current Canadian government. We are living in a time of troubling political crises. Syria, Ukraine and the Middle-East are the most prominent, but others, less noticeable in the headlines but equally serious, continue: Central African Republic (CAR), Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). If solutions are hard to find, it is not the fault of a disembodied ‘UN’; the blame lies with intractable players and paralyzed external actors. ese crises can only be solved through careful and consistent engagement. e same is true of longer-term challenges. For example, the complex tinderbox of poverty, famine, drought, environmental degradation, poor governance and terrorism must be tackled in a comprehensive manner, by governments engaging in and across the spectrum of UN agencies that deal with political, security, human rights, environmental, development, and humanitarian issues. In peacekeeping, Canada – still living with twenty year old memories of UN failures in Bosnia and Rwanda – refuses to recognize the massive UN reforms which have supported the creation of successful multi-dimensional UN peace operations in Timor Leste, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi and Somalia. We disparage the lack of UN success in ongoing conflicts in Sudan and the DRC, forgetting that the DRC operation has never had more than 20,000 UN troops. In comparison, Afghanistan had more than 140,000 US and NATO troops and can hardly be called a success. Canada has 118 UN peacekeepers out of 98,800, a statistical
anomaly rather than a contribution. e message here is either engage and support or stop criticizing.
Canada, have simply not made their promised contributions.
Our ability to influence debates and outcomes is further reduced by our behaviour in many UN bodies: not signing the treaty to regulate the arms trade; walking away from the Kyoto Protocol; cutting our aid program, including UN voluntary contributions; slashing our diplomatic capabilities; tightening restrictions on refugees. Our ‘principled stand’ is meaningless if we are not a serious player.
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in 1835 about ‘self-interest properly understood’. e Canadian government has fallen into the trap of preaching self-interest in a narrow ‘what’s good for Canada’ sense, but self-interest ‘properly understood’ means appreciating that the self-interest of others – the global good – is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being.
e point of these discussion papers is not to claim perfection on the part of the UN. It remains an organization in need of reform, something it undertakes regularly. e capacity of the UN to adapt itself to changing conditions is based on its legitimacy as an allinclusive universal organization and its founding principles of peaceful settlement of disputes, supported by economic and social development and respect for human rights. In the UN, reform is a constant. Much of what observers castigate as weaknesses are, in fact, the UN’s strengths. Human rights abusers sit on the Human Rights Council where they can be confronted. Enemies, old and new, sit across from each other on the Security Council, and their representatives talk to each other in the corridors. True, the new Peacebuilding Commission has not done nearly enough to rebuild the states on its agenda that are recovering from conflict, but the truth is that members of the Commission, including
This is not an idealistic view; it is a mark of pragmatism. It is in Canada’s interest, dependent as we are on trade and international mobility, to help create a peaceful, democratic, more equitable and sustainable world. The current concept of a ‘principled foreign policy’ focuses narrowly on short-term and mainly commercial or domestic political issues, and often works against Canada’s longer-term self-interest. Canada cannot absolve itself of its wider responsibilities as a member of the United Nations., We would abandon our allies, leaving them to carry the burden, and we would lose the opportunity to influence world events in a way that will advance our own long-term interests. We hope that readers will find the contributions of our authors – all of whom are writing in a personal capacity – enlightening and informative. If we can help readers to understand more about how the world of the United Nations functions, we will have achieved our objective.
Table of Contents
Warren Allmand One world, one human race, universal human rights
Lloyd Axworthy When will Canada rejoin the UN?
Michael Byers The UN and the law of the sea: from the Arctic to the South China Sea
Ferry de Kerckhove Canada: Absent and invisible
Walter Dorn Unprepared for peace: A decade of decline in Canadian peacekeeping
Robert Fowler Why Canada was not elected to the Security Council two years ago, and why we will never be elected unless and until there is a fundamental change in our foreign policy
Louise Frechette Reforming the UN, one step at a time
Christian Holz Canada as pariah in international climate politics
Naomi Kikoler R2P â€“ Getting back in the game, easier than some might think
Shannon Kindornay The UNâ€™s post-2015 sustainable development goals and Canada
Peter Langille Revitalizing an agenda for peace
Peggy Mason Why UN peacekeeping is indispensable
Alex Neve Canada, human rights and the UN: It starts at home
Diana Rivington Gender equality and the United Nations: Can Canada get back in front?
Douglas Roche Canada and the humanitarian movement to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Allan Rock Selecting the Secretary-General: How to improve the process
Ian Smillie The UN and humanitarian assistance: A little respect, please
John Trent Re-thinking the United Nations
Kathryn White Canadian perceptions of the United Nations
One world, one human race, universal human rights Warren Allmand
ABSTRACT When the United Nations was established in 1945, there was a strong belief that the new international order should be built on a foundation of human rights. The Charter included several significant provisions to this end. Soon a number of important human rights instruments were adopted, notably the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with Canada’s John Humphrey playing a leading role. The UN’s human rights machinery has evolved and improved over the years, although it is still far from perfect. But the solution is not to weaken or dissolve the UN. Our goal must be to strengthen the implementation procedures and oversight mechanisms. Canada in the past has shown great leadership in supporting the UN’s peacekeeping, development and human rights programs. This is a proud tradition, which should be enhanced and continued.
e principle tenet of human rights doctrine is that human rights are universal. ey apply equally to all human beings no matter what their race, their language, their religion, their gender, or age. ey apply to minorities and majorities, to our allies and to our enemies, to Arabs, the Roma, the disabled, the poor, indigenous peoples, and the least developed. In 1945 the United Nations recognized that you could not have world peace without respect for universal human rights. As a result the UN Charter included several significant provisions to this end: the principle of non-discrimination, the self-determination of peoples, and the commitment to international cooperation for the promotion of human rights for all peoples. e UN Charter called for the establishment of a Commission on Human Rights, which was set up in 1946 and its first task was the draing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It must be remembered that these initiatives took place in the aermath of World War II where horrible abuses had taken place – the Holocaust, the indiscriminate bombing of innocent civilians, ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and torture. All of these were still fresh in the minds of those who pressed forward the UN Charter and the International Bill of Human Rights. ere was also a recognition that the other goals of the UN (international peace and security, plus economic and social development) were closely
interdependent with a respect for human rights and all had to be pursued together. Driven by the contributions of Eleanor Roosevelt, Rene Cassin and Canadian John Humphrey, the Commission on Human Rights completed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and it was adopted in the General Assembly by a vote of 48 to 0 with 8 abstentions. is was an outstanding achievement, an important landmark in human history. Eleanor Roosevelt described the Universal Declaration as the Magna Carta for all mankind. It is hard to believe that such a high set of standards was adopted by so many states of diﬀerent cultures, religions, languages, races and political systems but there was the political will at the time to make it happen. is was supplemented by the Convention against Genocide passed by the UN the same week. en, in turn, the UN adopted the four Geneva Conventions, establishing specific war crimes (1949), the Refugee Convention (1951), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1967), plus conventions against Racial Discrimination (1969), against Apartheid (1971) and against Torture (1984). ere were also conventions establishing the Rights of Women (1981) and the Rights of Children (1989). All of this to say that the United Nations has been extremely successful in
adopting human rights standards applicable to the whole world, to all peoples, to all continents and to all races and cultures. ere has been, however, a serious problem with implementation. It was expected that the highest level of implementation would be accomplished by the passage of implementing legislation by the ratifying states, with Human Rights Charters and Human Rights Commissions in all states, all in accordance with the Paris Principles adopted by the UN in 1993. It should be noted that Canada has ratified all the major human rights conventions mentioned above, has legislated these human rights standards, set up human rights commissions and adopted a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Many other countries have done the same. Despite this, there are still too many wars, too many conflicts, and too many human rights violations - Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Ukraine, the Roma in Europe, and Indigenous peoples in the Americas. In fact there is no state without fault. But the solution is not to weaken or diminish the UN and international institutions. Our goal must be to strengthen the implementation procedures and the oversight mechanisms. e adoption by the UN of numerous human rights instruments since 1945 indicates a determination to make these rights a living reality and an essential condition for peace. e International Criminal Court was set up in 1998;
Universal Periodic Review of all UN members in 2006; and the Responsibility to Protect doctrine was recognized by the UN in 2005, while eﬀorts are now being made to fine-tune its implementation procedures. e task for Canadians and for all mankind is to work together to advance the cause of peace, justice and human rights. is cannot be done by individual states or by a small coalition of states. To be truly successful, it must be a universal eﬀort through a reformed, more eﬀective United Nations. Canada in the past has shown great leadership in supporting United Nations peacekeeping, development and human rights. is is a proud tradition, which should be enhanced and continued.
The Hon. Warren Allmand P.C., O.C., Q.C. is the current National President of the World Federalist Movement – Canada. He was president of Rights & Democracy (the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development) from 1997 to 2002. This followed a 33year career as a Member of Parliament, during which he held several cabinet posts, including Solicitor General, Minister of Indian and Northern Aﬀairs, and Minister of Consumer and Corporate Aﬀairs.
When will Canada rejoin the UN? Lloyd Axworthy
Abstract The present government clearly doesn't want to engage with the UN in any meaningful way. Canadians who want our country to be an active international player can do more than simply prepare for the 2015 election. Civil society groups, think tanks, universities, business associations and, in particular, political parties need to re-think and reset Canadian policy, to determine where and how Canada can add real value to a rejuvenated UN. This doesn't mean reinventing the wheel. There are numerous well-established areas of Canadian involvement over the previous seven decades. But new technologies can also play important parts, strengthening capacities for peacekeeping, preventive diplomacy, civilian protection, responses to humanitarian crises and climate change, among other challenges that will undoubtedly confront tomorrow’s UN.
It seems somewhat surreal to be composing thoughts about Canada's contributions to the UN when aside from paying its dues (reluctantly), and taking a role on maternal mortality (constructive), there isn't much to relate. And, while it is always tempting to adopt a prescriptive mode, it’s clear that most ideas or recommendations will never make the ministerial briefing book. e reality is that the present government openly and with forethought doesn't want to engage with the UN in any meaningful way. In fact, it's not particularly interested in any kind of multilateral, collaborative, ‘internationalist’ engagement. So, what should those Canadians who subscribe to the need for our country to be an active international player, other than as a warrior state, do until there is a chance through the electoral process to make a change? e question is not irrelevant. First, there will be an election in 2015. Second, some pundits are predicting that foreign aﬀairs will be an important issue. is would not be such a surprise; I recall several elections when there was debate on our international posture. ink of cruise missiles, free trade, the Iraq war and the Ottawa land mines treaty. And third, it is time that serious thought be given to a revised approach to where and how Canada can add real value to a rejuvenated UN at a time when the international consensus is fracturing, transnational
issues are multiplying and international institutions are struggling. is re-think doesn't need government involvement or support. It can be a public exercise in pre-election agenda-making – the work of civil society groups, think tanks, universities, business associations and, in particular, political parties. ere are two points to make here. One is that these institutions must see foreign policy focused on UN-centred security, development and environmental issues as crucial to their wellbeing and to the presence and power of the country. Centering exclusively on trade, for example, without consideration of how trade only prospers in a rules-based, well ordered global system is myopic. Second, there must be a concerted eﬀort to have the political parties, especially those in opposition, break out of the policy straitjackets determined by spinmeisters and think deeply about how they will govern a world of conflict, environmental crisis, food and water shortage, and now the competition from Vladimir Putin and others who want to re-create a world of empires. Before the 1993 election, Jean Chretien asked me to hold a series of forums on foreign policy that would involve party people at the constituency level, experts and stakeholders of various kinds, and invited guests from international institutions. e session in Vancouver on UN matters was the seedbed for the human security strategy that informed our
government’s outlook for the next ten years. is kind of policy entrepreneurship is imperative to our political system. is doesn't mean re-inventing the wheel. ere are already well established areas of involvement that have defined Canada internationally, beginning with basic support for the UN that goes back seventy years, with various interpretations relating to changes in the global environment. We are at one of those moments now where the principles of international cooperation and engagement hold true but the ways and means of articulating, expressing and implementing them need revision and recalibration. Begin with the fundamental purpose of protecting innocent people from atrocities and other risks to their existence. is was the thrust of Canadian eﬀorts when we were a member of the Security Council, and in setting up the Commission that led to the concept of the responsibility to protect (R2P). 2015 will be the tenth anniversary of the adoption of R2P at the UN World Summit, an appropriate time to review and reinvigorate the concept. A 2014 report from the Secretary General highlights the need to strengthen the capacity to enhance and enforce preventative, non-military interventions under R2P. e same is true for other functions of the UN, including peacekeeping. And, I dare say, to broaden the R2P concept beyond a narrow focus on atrocities. Mass starvation, epidemics and climate
degradation aﬀect hundreds of thousands of people just as badly. ere are interesting discussions around the use of new technology such as drones to reduce direct military involvement and risk. ese new tools can also be used for peace making, early warning, surveillance and monitoring. Digital technology can be used to share information with and in states that are threatened as much by starvation as by extremist militias. ere is some fascinating work being done by certain NGOs (e.g. e Enough Project in New York) on using economic and financial forensics to track down the illegal use of metals by warlords to finance their operations. is information is then supplied to corporate customers such as Apple and Intel to cut oﬀ such supplies. e rise of non-violent protests and resistance movements to topple authoritarian and despotic governments has given rise to research on the eﬀectiveness of such tactics as opposed to armed rebellion (see July/August 2014 Foreign Aﬀairs). All this points to the potential for a new toolkit to apply to R2P initiatives, peacekeeping, refugee protection, large scale drought and starvation. ese are all areas that need discussion, dialogue, research and partnering among Canadians who want a constructive role as a member of the UN. And the time le to make it happen is short.
Dr. Lloyd Axworthy served until July 2014 as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. His political career spanned 27 years, during six of which he served in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and twenty-one in the Federal Parliament. He held several Cabinet positions, notably Minister of Employment and Immigration, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Minister of Transport, Minister of Human Resources Development, Minister of Western Economic Diversification and Minister of Foreign Aﬀairs from 19962000. He graduated in 1961 with a BA from United College (now The University of Winnipeg), and received an MA and PhD from Princeton University.
The UN and the law of the sea: From the Arctic to the South China Sea Michael Byers ABSTRACT A US-flagged ice-strengthened supertanker, the SS Manhattan, sailed through the Northwest Passage in 1969 without seeking Canada’s permission. Canada’s diplomats immediately set to work, crafting a strategy to protect this country’s interests in the event of further challenges to our Northwest Passage claim. Central to the strategy was a close involvement in the negotiation and drafting of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. As a result of Canadian leadership, Article 234 of the Convention allows coastal states to enact laws against maritime pollution out to 200 nautical miles from shore in the Arctic. Canadian leadership also resulted in provisions of the UN Convention that provide coastal states with extensive jurisdiction over seabed resources, a matter of no small importance to Canada which has the longest coastline of any country. From the Arctic to the South China Sea, countries around the world accepted the validity of these rules today. And when diﬀerences of opinion arise, they do so within a legal framework, which reduces the risk of armed conflict.
A US-flagged ice-strengthened super-tanker, the SS Manhattan, sailed through the Northwest Passage in 1969 without seeking Canada’s permission. Canada’s diplomats immediately set to work, craing a strategy to protect the country’s interests in the event of further challenges to our Northwest Passage claim. eir response was the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, which Parliament adopted the next year. e Act imposed strict safety and environmental requirements on all shipping within 100 nautical miles of Canada’s Arctic coast. In doing so, it stretched the limits of international law, which at the time did not recognize coastal state rights more than 12 nautical miles from shore. e United States declared the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act illegal, but Canada’s diplomats persisted. ey focused on a negotiating process that was beginning at the United Nations with the goal of producing a globally applicable UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Canada’s Alan Beesley was elected as the chair of the draing committee, positioning him at the centre of Great Power diplomacy. At one closed-door session with just the American and Soviet delegations, Beesley secured Article 234 of the UN Convention, the so-called “Arctic exception” which allows coastal
states to enact laws against maritime pollution out to 200 nautical miles from shore when almost yearround ice creates exceptional navigational hazards. e Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act was legitimized internationally, just 12 years aer its adoption. Just as importantly, Article 234 sparked the development of a parallel rule of “customary international law” that is today regarded as binding on all countries – including those, like the United States, that have not yet ratified the UN Convention. Indeed, the United States now recommends that USflagged merchant vessels abide by the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act when sailing in or near Canada’s Arctic waters. Beesley and his colleagues also succeeded in advancing Canada’s interests with regards to ocean resources. Under the UN Convention, each coastal state is entitled to a 12 nautical mile territorial sea as well as an “exclusive economic zone” from 12 to 200 nautical miles where, as the name suggests, it holds exclusive rights over the resources of the water column, ocean floor and seabed. Canada’s diplomats also recognized that new technologies and higher prices would eventually lead to the exploitation of oil, gas and minerals more than 200 nautical miles from shore, including in the relatively shallow waters near Canada’s Atlantic and
Arctic coasts. ey helped cra Article 76 of the UN Convention, which accords coastal states rights over an “extended continental shelf ” beyond 200 nautical miles, if the depth and shape of the seabed and the thickness of underlying sediments indicate a “natural prolongation” of the shelf closer inshore. Article 76 specifies that the existence of a natural prolongation is a question of science, not technological competence or military might, and it lays out detailed rules concerning the geographical and geological criteria that must be fulfilled. Countries wishing to claim an extended continental shelf must submit supporting scientific evidence to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, a body composed entirely of scientists. Norway filed its submission in 2006, and Canada, Denmark and Russia are preparing to file their submissions soon. Even the United States, although it has not yet ratified the UN Convention, has been cooperating with Canada to collect scientific evidence from the seabed north of Alaska to support an eventual claim.
because the rules apply globally. China, for instance, is using Article 76 to support its seabed claims in the East China Sea. It is using other provisions of the UN Convention to support its quite diﬀerent claims in the South China Sea, and while those claims are contentious, the fact that the dispute is framed in legal terms reduces the possibility of armed conflict. So the next time that someone says the Arctic is “up for grabs”, that Canada needs to “use it or lose it”, or that China is behaving in an unbridled manner in the East and South China Seas, tell them about the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – and the central role that Canada played in its negotiation.
Michael Byers holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of International Law and the Arctic (Cambridge University Press), which won the 2013 Donner Prize for the best book on Canadian public policy.
Everyone benefits from these rules. e sheer size of the Arctic Ocean and the lengths of uncontested coastlines mean that Russia could legitimately claim an expanse of seabed larger than Europe. Canada, with the world’s longest coastline, could claim an area larger than Alberta and Saskatchewan combined. Most importantly, countries that do not border on the Arctic Ocean accept the validity of this process,
Canada: Absent and invisible Ferry de Kerckhove e Harper government either ignores the world of international organizations or uses them à la carte while criticizing the menu. It has been vociferous in its criticism of the UN’s positions on the Middle East crisis. Foreign Minister Baird has rebutted Navi Pillay, outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, accusing her of being deeply misinformed when she alluded to potential Israeli war crimes in Gaza.
ABSTRACT The Government of Canada continues to have a diﬃcult relationship with the multilateral world. It is highly disparaging towards the UN, particularly with respect to the Middle East and the security of Israel. The realization that Canada is no longer considered to be reasonable or reliable, even amongst those who share our values, should be an inducement for the government to open up to the multilateral world. The Prime Minister should announce at the UNGA that Canada is “back in the game”, but he will have to mean it.
is government does not care about Canada’s reputation abroad. It is no wonder Canada is no longer considered a reliable, even-handed partner in multilateral forums. is evidently does not worry a government whose unoﬃcial foreign policy motto seems to be “we don’t go along to get along.” Some foreign representatives have said privately they will no longer go along with Canada because they no longer get along with it. Compassion is not a strong suit of the Harper government. It has demonstrated limited understanding and fairness with respect to the crises in the Middle East, remaining mute on the continued expansion of Israeli settlements. Its campaign at the UN against the Palestinian call for an observer status at the UNGA is not helping peace and stability in the region. e present government has a tendency to appear systematically antagonistic on nearly every international issue, bullying from the pulpit and even ignoring the interests of its closest ally, as with its
failure to support the U.S. when it began tentative negotiations with Iran. e government has a hard time admitting that the pursuit of Canada’s national interests on the international stage demands greater attention to the interests of others. is may explain why Canada matters so little today. When the President of the United States listed the countries he consulted with on Ukraine, Canada was hardly mentioned. Multilateral cooperation no longer seems to be our thing. Our Prime Minister goes it alone, “strong and free,” with little regard for what others are doing – even when, perchance, the objectives are the same. While the Canadian government takes a lot of pride in what it thinks it has achieved in the field of maternal and infant mortality – albeit with very restrictive policies on reproductive rights – its approach has been very Canada-centric. Canada does work with the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF and the World Bank on this initiative, but it looks at them strictly as executing agencies, not as part of the global commons. Even the language used to describe the initiative doesn’t convey a sense of multilateral partnership. For example, “With multilateral and global partners, such as UN agencies, Canada works in countries where the need is greatest…” And John Baird dismisses UN reform: “It is much more
important to consider what the United Nations is achieving than how the UN arranges its aﬀairs.” Last year the Prime Minister again went to New York at the time of UN General Assembly, but he declined to give the Canadian address at the time of the UNGA opening. Mr. Harper used to appear more comfortable with intergovernmental groupings such as the G-8. It seems of late, however, that the PM tends to play “cavalier seul,” remaining invisible unless he has managed to irritate his closest allies, as with the U.S. initiative on Iran or its negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Global Citizenship is not a very strong motivation. Altering the Harper government’s perspective on multilateral organizations is a challenge, because it feels it has nothing to learn from the multilateral world. Given the crises arising all over the world today, however, Canada will sooner or later have to reenter the multilateral tent because the chambers and hallways of the UN are where many of these issues will be addressed. Canada should be there. Holding the high ground, as it believes it does, on issues of rights, ethics and justice, the Harper government should be prepared to discuss these where they are considered multilaterally, rather than bemoan and blame. e Prime Minister should announce at the UNGA that Canada is “back in the game”, but he will have to mean it. Otherwise, the world will look forward to a change of the guard in Canada.
Although foreign policy issues typically play no major role in elections, the negative perception of Canada within the multilateral world, the realization that Canada is no longer considered a reliable partner, should act as a bellwether. e Government needs to reassure Canadians and the world that multilateral cooperation is again part and parcel of its foreign policy narrative.
Ferry de Kerckhove entered the Canadian Foreign Service in 1973. His postings included Iran, NATO, Moscow, High Commissioner to Pakistan and Ambassador to Indonesia and Egypt. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2011. He is a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Public and International Aﬀairs at the University of Ottawa, Senior Fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Aﬀairs Institute, and Executive Vice President of the Conference of Defense Associations Institute. He is a board member of WIND Mobile Canada. He is President of Ferry de Kerckhove International Consultants Inc.
Unprepared for peace: A decade of decline in Canadian peacekeeping A. Walter Dorn
ABSTRACT Canada’s international reputation as a prolific and proficient peacekeeper has been in decline for over a decade, owing to the country’s disengagement with peacekeeping operations. This loss of experience abroad is compounded by the loss of training at home, leaving Canada unprepared to re-engage with UN peacekeeping at the level it once did. As the peacekeepers of the 1990s retire, and as the courses and exercise that were developed to prepare oﬃcers for the unique challenges of peacekeeping are cut, Canada’s future foreign policy options are being undermined and narrowed. Given the international demands of the post-Afghanistan era, there are a number of things the Canadian Forces and government can do to reengage in peacekeeping.
Peacekeeping has a place of pride in Canadian history and identity. Canadians know that Lester B. Pearson proposed the first peacekeeping force to move the world back from war in the 1956 Suez Crisis, winning him the Nobel peace prize. From then to the mid1990s, Canada was the largest contributor of peacekeepers and the only country to have contributed to every UN mission during the Cold War. From Kashmir to the Congo, from Bosnia to Ethiopia, Canadian soldiers were at the forefront of world order, contributing to peace in war-torn lands. is is still recognized by the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal that they are entitled to wear. e National Peacekeeping Monument (called “Reconciliation”) in Ottawa is another testament to their contributions, as is the female figure on the tendollar bill who wears a blue beret under a banner that reads “Au Service de la Paix – In the Service of Peace.” But what has become of that legacy? Is Canada the prolific peacekeeper it once was? Unfortunately, the answer is no. While Canada once contributed as many as 3,000 military personnel to peacekeeping, it currently provides only 34 – not enough to fill a school bus. While the United Nations currently (July 2014) deploys an all-time high of over 80,000 military personnel in the field, Canada has kept its numbers at
historical lows since 2006. Two months aer the Conservative government came to power, Canada withdrew its 200 logisticians from the Golan Heights, even as the UN mission continued to serve as an important buﬀer between Israel and war-wrecked Syria. Aer 2001, instead of peacekeeping, Canada turned to war-fighting, spending billions on Afghanistan in an unsuccessful bid to defeat the Taliban. e Canadian Forces became a singlemission military with Afghanistan as the sole focus of attention. In that one decade, operating in one country, more Canadian soldiers died than in six decades of peacekeeping in more than 40 countries. To make matters worse, over the past decade, the Canadian Forces (CF) permitted a major decline in training and education for peacekeeping – known as peace support operations (PSOs) in Canadian military parlance and doctrine. e government’s withdrawal of support to the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre caused the demise of that unique facility and meant that Canadian soldiers could no longer train on multidimensional peace operations alongside civilians and foreign oﬃcers. More broadly, the CF provides only half the peacekeeping training activities that it did 10 years ago. Significantly, in training exercises and simulations, Canadian oﬃcers no
longer take on roles of UN peacekeepers as they once did. At the joint command and staﬀ program, the oﬃcers plan and exercise operations of an alliance, sometimes explicitly identified as NATO, but they are no longer given the opportunity to look from within a UN mission or review UN procedures and practices. e 2006–11 combat mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, unquestionably gave CF personnel valuable experience in counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. While there are some similarities between COIN and international peace operations, there are also fundamental diﬀerences in the training, preparation and practice. Peacekeeping requires specialized training as it is a more complex and conceptually challenging task than war-fighting. War and COIN missions are enemy-centric, nonconsensual and primarily involve oﬀensive strategy, whereas peacekeeping is based on a trinity of principles: impartiality; consent of conflicting parties; and the defensive approach on the use of force, though robust peace enforcement action is sometimes required. A major change in mentality would thus be needed to properly prepare the post-Afghanistan CF for future peace operations. Special skills, separate from those learned in Afghanistan, are needed, including negotiation, conflict management and resolution, as well as an understanding of UN procedures and past peacekeeping missions. us, a concerted eﬀort is needed to revitalize the
peacekeeping skills of the Canadian Forces if it is to constructively help the United Nations in a conflictridden world. Since US-led coalitions on the ground are unlikely in coming years, the Canadian military does not have many alternatives to make its army useful in the field. Peacekeeping advances both Canada’s national values and interests in enhancing a stable, peaceful, and rules-based order in world which is sorely lacking in these vital qualities. ere is a constant need for well-trained and well-equipped peacekeepers. Canada’s return to peacekeeping would be embraced by the United Nations and the international community. Such a development could help our country gain more influence and clout, including a future seat in the UN Security Council, and give Canadians something even more important: a sense of renewed pride in the nation’s contribution to a better, more peaceful world.
A. Walter Dorn is Professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College. He teaches mid-level and senior oﬃcers from Canada and a score of other nations. He currently serves on the UN’s Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping. Email: email@example.com.
Further writings on the subject by the author: “Canadian Peacekeeping: Proud Tradition, Strong Future?” Canadian Foreign Policy, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall 2005), pp.7-32, available at http://walterdorn.org/pub/32. “Canadian Peacekeeping: No Myth But Not What It Once Was”, SITREP, Vol. 67, No. 2, Royal Canadian Military Institute, 2007, available at http://walterdorn.org/pdf/CanadianPeacekeepingNoMyth_Dorn_SitRep_April2007.pdf.
Why Canada was not elected to the Security Council four years ago, and why we will never be elected unless and until there is a fundamental change in our foreign policy ABSTRACT The “me-first,” insensitive policies of the current government have caused irreparable harm to Canada’s reputation at the United Nations, including our 2010 bid for a seventh term on the UN Security Council. Canadian environmental policy remains a fiasco. Canada had taken strong stands in the global eﬀort to combat environmental degradation, beginning in Stockholm in 1972, and worked hard to build momentum behind eﬀorts to create a global climate treaty. Our decision in December 2011 to become the first nation to withdraw from Kyoto represented a blow to our international reputation from which we have not begun to recover. But there are numerous other examples. From an “Israel right or wrong” policy on the Middle East to a statistically irrelevant contribution to UN peacekeeping, there is little wonder why Canada has lost support and why our reputation will not be restored until Canada adopts positions on international issues that are seen to be good for the world as well as good for Canada.
Robert R. Fowler How tiresome, how smug and – I will argue – how un-Canadian is the stolid simplicity of the HarperBaird “we won’t go along to get along” mantra. But it is that arrogant, me-first, ‘I’m all right, Jack and to hell with you” posture, coupled with extravagant insensitivity, which destroyed Canada’s bid for a seventh term on the Security Council three years ago. Until that changes, those attitudes will ensure that Canada is excluded from any important role within the community of nations.
worked hard to build momentum behind eﬀorts to create a global climate treaty. e Montreal Protocol to phase out materials that were damaging the ozone layer was a good start. However daunting, our obligations as a Party to the Kyoto Protocol represented a formal engagement, and our decision in December 2011 to become the first nation to withdraw from Kyoto represented a blow to our international reputation from which we have not begun to recover.
e fact is, the pony we had entered in the Security Council lists in the fall of 2010 was lame and there was nothing hard-working Canadian diplomats in New York and around the world could do to disguise that fact. e nations of the world, voting according to their own interests, did not believe that they needed more of the Canada they had been getting on the Security Council. How preposterous it was to claim that our defeat was a triumph of our values over theirs!
Subsequently Canada announced its intention to become the first (and only) country to withdraw from the “UN Convention to Combat Desertification.” 194 states had become a Party to the Convention following its adoption in 1994. Imagine for a moment how those desperately impoverished states suﬀering the daily encroachment of the Sahara felt about Mr. Harper’s insistence that such eﬀorts were but a “talkfest” and that our annual contribution of $350,000 was a waste of money.
Canadian environmental policy was – and remains – a fiasco. Canada had taken strong stands in the global eﬀort to combat environmental degradation, beginning in Stockholm in 1972, and over the years
For the 37 members of the Alliance of Small Island States, climate change is an existential issue. If it isn’t fixed they will be under water. When oﬀered the opportunity to vote on Canada’s disdain for their
concerns, they did so with clarity of purpose. Our refusal to understand – let alone empathize with – such deeply held views has sorely damaged the reputation of our country. I have emphasized the extent to which Canada’s stand on environmental issues has caused much of the world community to lose faith in us, to mistrust our words and misconstrue our motives. But rest assured, we have oﬀered the world community lots of other reasons not to support us. In the eyes of the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference at the UN, the Harper Government’s insistence on an unbalanced “Israel right or wrong” posture which countenances no criticism, while characterizing other states in the region with thinly veiled disdain, is simply an anathema. en there’s the Harper Government’s writing oﬀ of Africa (which accounts for 70% of the Security Council’s business), the largest and most diverse continent; a billion people in 54 diﬀerent countries (and votes); a region deemed not worthy of interest by our Government.
from the discussion of how to better manage international aﬀairs. ese are the areas in which for the first 60 years of the UN’s existence Canada genuinely punched above its weight. By being an exemplary UN citizen we were able, in six successive decades, to win election to the Security Council, despite the fact that the membership of the Organization grew fourfold over this period. e campaign in the late 90s was hard fought, but I never doubted we would prevail. ere was then a huge reserve of sympathy and respect for Canada and Canadians within the Organization. We were seen to be fair but firm, balanced and principled, yet always sensitive to the worries and concerns of others while being very clear about the promotion and projection of our own beliefs and values, and committed to an eﬀective UN. We have, however, squandered that fine reputation, and it will not be restored until Canada adopts positions on international issues that are seen to be good for the world as well as good for Canada.
Bob Fowler, OC was the Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Ministers Trudeau, Turner and Mulroney, Deputy Minister of National Defence, Canada’s longest serving Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador to Italy, and Personal Representative for Africa of Prime Ministers Chrétien, Martin and Harper. He retired in 2006 and is a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Aﬀairs.
In recent years our contribution to UN peacekeeping has become statistically irrelevant in what is an ever more challenging international security environment - the management of which is the Security Council’s mandate. Canadian military professionalism, integrity and steadfastness are greatly missed in UN circles. Indeed, these days Canada is simply absent
Reforming the UN, one step at a time Louise Frechette Any discussion of the United Nations invariably concludes with a call for its reform. What reform and to what end is never entirely clear, other than the hope of a more eﬀective organization to stop conflicts, uphold human rights and help li people out of poverty.
ABSTRACT Any discussion of the United Nations invariably concludes with a call for its reform. Would-be reformers should start by taking stock of the multiple ways the UN has changed over time, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Major reforms have been implemented in all areas of UN activity including peacekeeping, human rights, criminal justice as well as humanitarian and development work. The Security Council’s policies and practices have also evolved significantly. Re-building the UN from the ground up, in a Bretton Woodslike exercise, is not a realistic goal to pursue but step-by-step reform is entirely possible.
Would-be reformers would be well advised to start from the UN as it is today rather than as they imagine it to be. Far from being the sclerotic organization depicted by its critics, the world organization is constantly evolving. e post-cold war period has been particularly fertile in this regard. Peacekeeping is the prime example of a vastly transformed role for the UN. Missions used to be limited to observing ceasefires. Nowadays they oversee every aspect of a country’s life aer a conflict, including the protection of civilian populations through military means if necessary. Modern peacekeeping missions employ police oﬃcers, election specialists, justice experts and many others. Needless to say, doctrine, rules of engagement, administrative systems, everything had to be overhauled in order for the UN to be able to deploy, sustain and command the almost 100,000 people who currently serve in these multi-facetted peacekeeping missions. e early 1990s also saw a major expansion of the UN’s role in the area of human rights. e creation, in
1993, of the High Commissioner for Human Rights post gave the UN a powerful new voice. e institutional architecture was further enhanced in 2006 with the transformation of the Human Rights Commission into a full-fledged Council with reinforced powers. Significant financial resources have been injected in the system, allowing the High Commissioner to deploy human rights missions in hot spots around the world. e issue of criminal justice also received a dramatic boost with the formation, in 1993 of the ad hoc tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, soon to be followed by a similar arrangement for Rwanda. e way was thus paved for the establishment of the permanent International Criminal Court in 2002. It is early days yet but the Court could become a powerful tool to hold leaders accountable for their actions. Despite years of debate, the Security Council’s composition remains unchanged but its policies have evolved very significantly over time. It now routinely deals with conflicts taking place within countries. Human rights and humanitarian considerations influence decisions much more than in the past. e Council has innovated in the use of targeted sanctions and set goals and standards on issues such as protection of civilians and child soldiers. It even occasionally travels to conflict zones to receive first hand information.
e humanitarian side of the UN system has also been strengthened thanks to better coordination, stand-by arrangements and a $450 million revolving fund for immediate responses to humanitarian disasters. UN agencies, funds and programmes involved in development now operate under a single country program, under the leadership of a common country coordinator. ese are just a few examples of the ways in which the UN has evolved and adapted in the last couple of decades. Some of these changes were achieved as a result of comprehensive reform proposals, oen initiated by the Secretary General. Others were the results of day-to-day responses to evolving circumstances. None of this means the UN is serving the world as well as it should. It clearly is not and there is plenty of room for more reform and more innovation. Indeed, it is tempting to argue that the UN should be re-built from the ground up. But people who dream of a new Bretton Woods moment will find little support. Short of a historical cataclysm on the scale of World War II, it is hard to imagine the international community agreeing to such an ambitious overhaul of the international system. More will be achieved by proceeding one step at a time. A readiness to invest time and energy in promoting and explaining proposed reforms to Member States is essential to achieve success. Browbeating does not
work. Good old diplomacy does. Timing is also important. Experience shows that consensus can be found around reform proposals when taking advantage of favourable political conditions. Finally, we should not expect from institutional reform more than it can deliver. A ‘world government’ freed from national interests is not in the cards. e UN will, for the foreseeable future, continue to be a tool in the hands of its Member States. And like all tools, it will not do the job if its owners do not want to use it. Louise Fréchette is the chair the Board of CARE Canada and is a member of the Board of CARE International. From 1998 to 2006, Madame Fréchette was Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. Prior to this, she pursued a career in the Public Service of Canada, serving notably as Ambassador to Argentina and Uruguay (1985-1988), Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1992-1994), Associate Deputy Minister of Finance (1995) and Deputy Minister of National Defence (19951998). Madame Fréchette studied at the University of Montreal and the College of Europe in Bruges, and has been awarded many honorary degrees. She is an Oﬃcer of the Order of Canada.
Canada as pariah in international climate politics Christian Holz e current (2014-15) biennium features crucial opportunities to advance international cooperation on addressing the global climate crisis. For September 2014, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders to New York for a UN Climate Summit. Governments have also committed to agree on a new, long-lasting climate accord at the 2015 Conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. ABSTRACT International climate policy-making is scheduled to culminate in a new climate agreement in 2015, which must be extremely ambitious and maximize international cooperation and must therefore be based on equity, trust, accountability and transparency. Despite those being traditional Canadian values, Canada cannot currently eﬀectively advocate for them owing to its standing as a pariah in international climate policy thanks to its history of trust-breaking. To re-build this trust and become once again a genuine international partner, Canada has to bring its domestic climate policy house in order and fully embrace its responsibility and capacity to act ambitiously and urgently within international cooperation processes on climate change.
Climate change is of course a global problem, since the eﬀects of greenhouse gas pollution impact people everywhere, not just in the places where the emissions originate. As such, climate change can only be addressed eﬀectively through international cooperation, which indicates an important role for the UN system. Despite seemingly contradictory rhetoric from the federal government, among others, Canada is a major contributor to global climate pollution, firmly placed in the top 10 of climate polluters regardless whether greenhouse gas emissions are expressed in total per country, per capita or cumulative historic terms. erefore Canada must be part of the solution and Canadians clearly understand that: a poll of the University of Montreal and Canada2020 found that the vast majority want the federal government to take the climate challenge more seriously including by joining international treaties. A staggering 76% of Canadians supported Canada joining an international climate agreement even if China and the U.S. are not yet part of it.
However, Canada has a serious image and trust problem in international climate politics stemming from a long history of unfulfilled and abandoned commitments. is includes Canada’s failure to meet the greenhouse gas reduction commitment made in 1997 under the Kyoto Protocol and its subsequent withdrawal from the Protocol (the only country in the world to do so). Furthermore, it is all but certain that the substantially weaker commitment made in 2009 in Copenhagen will also be missed, save for an immediate and thorough change in direction from Canada’s federal government. Additionally, aer a short period from 2010 to 2012 of contributing a genuinely fair share ($400 million per year) to a global fund to assist the poorest countries in reducing their own contributions to climate change and dealing with its impacts, Canada’s climate finance contributions have shrunk to very low levels. is is particularly damaging since the 2010-2012 funding was intended to build trust for the next round of climate negotiations with the intention to scale up, rather than stop, this support aer 2012. Coupled with the oen obstructive strategies and tactics of Canada’s deputations in the day-to-day of UN climate negotiations, these failures cause many governments and civil society organizations to see Canada as a cynical pariah within the UN climate system. Given this backdrop, the most important contribution that a Canadian government could make to the success of climate policy-making within the UN system is to work in good faith toward restoring this damaged trust.
First and foremost, this requires bringing its house in order domestically through good faith eﬀorts toward meeting the greenhouse gas reduction target promised in Copenhagen. Canada should, for example, provide substantial government support to renewable energy and energy eﬃciency, and develop and implement policies and measures to drastically reduce emissions from Canada’s leading sources: transportation, oil and gas, and buildings. It would also involve initiating a genuine and honest conversation in Canada about our inevitable transformation away from extracting and burning oil, coal and gas. In addition to getting domestic climate action on track, Canada must re-build trust on the international stage. An obvious starting point is to restore international climate finance to 2010-2012 levels. But the current international discussions are also about each country’s future emissions reductions target. Canada should propose a deep and ambitious target for itself, one that embraces (not denies) Canada’s role as a major contributor to climate change and that this responsibility, coupled with a wealthy country’s high level of capacity, justifies doing more than others and acting with urgency and vigour. e new climate accord to be struck in 2015 can only succeed in the long term if it enables and encourages the largest possible degree of international cooperation on climate change, which requires that the accord is based on trust, equity, transparency and accountability. ese
characteristics reflect traditional Canadian values and suggest that Canada could play an important role bringing about such an accord. But currently, Canada is not a credible ambassador for such values in international climate politics. By embracing a truly fair share – based on its responsibility and capacity to act – and by showing it is serious to meet that commitment and to help poorer countries to do the most they can (for example, by providing finance, green technology etc), Canada could restore damaged trust internationally and help create the long-lasting, equitable, and ambitious climate accord needed to avoid the worst of climate change. Further Reading: IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change): Fih Assessment Report. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5 World Resource Institute: Climate Analysis Indicator Tool (CAIT) 2.0 Climate Data Explorer. http://cait2.wri.org/ Canadian Coalition for Climate Change and Development (C4D): Protecting Our Common Future: An Assessment of Canada’s Fast-Start Climate Financing. http://c4d.ca/publications/policybriefs/protecting-our-common-future-report UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN): Deep Decarbonization Pathways. http://deepdecarbonization.org (especially Country Chapter “Canada”)
Dr. Christian Holz is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies. Prior to joining the University of Ottawa, he served as the Executive Director of Climate Action Network Canada, a network of nearly 100 organizations committed to working together to advance action on climate change at all levels of government in Canada. For the past decade he has also been involved with Climate Action Network International, engaging in various roles related to their advocacy work at the UN climate change negotiations. His main research interests are the role of equity and fairness as enablers of ambitious action in domestic and international climate policy and the role of civil society in international climate change politics.
R2P – Getting back in the game, easier than some might think Naomi Kikoler “We miss them badly,” said the senior Latin American diplomat, referring to Canada’s diminished leadership on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). is simple yet poignant statement captures the sentiments of many foreign diplomats. Canada, the progenitor of R2P and its early champion, has in recent years abandoned this role, and arguably no one has thus far been able to fill the gap created by our absence. e Netherlands, Denmark, and Rwanda have made positive and lasting contributions to R2P promotion and operationalization. Yet none of these governments have been able to establish a vision for R2P’s future, cra a strategy to achieve it, or consistently lead eﬀorts to shepherd this nascent norm. ABSTRACT Canada’s transition from an ardent champion of the Responsibility to Protect to a silent supporter has left a gap in international eﬀorts to advance R2P – a gap that is noticed by diplomats from the world’s smallest to largest nations. As civilians face a seemingly growing threat of mass atrocities in 2014, Canada should re-engage and help lead eﬀorts to advance R2P and save lives. This article outlines four steps that Canada can take immediately to get back into the R2P game.
is gap persists at a time when the need to operationalize R2P is all too glaring. Muslims from the Central African Republic have been largely driven from the country, while Yazidis in Iraq face the threat of genocide. Populations throughout Syria face a daily onslaught of indiscriminate bombings, while the Rohingya in Myanmar are persecuted on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. e promise of a peaceful and independent South Sudan has dissolved into ethnic conflict involving the violent targeting of civilians. Around the world the threat of mass atrocities looms large and the international community continues to engage too little, too late, if
at all, to prevent and halt mass atrocities. In the wake of the international community’s failures in Rwanda and Srebrenica, Canada led eﬀorts to find a way to prevent states from using sovereignty as a license to kill, or being indiﬀerent bystanders to unfolding atrocities. Working with a coalition of committed states, Canada marshaled unanimous support for R2P at the 2005 United Nations World Summit. As R2P approaches its second decade of existence, the international community needs to allocate necessary resources to strengthening the legal and political machinery for prevention and protection at the domestic, regional and international level. Canada should lead those eﬀorts. While we are missed, we are not forgotten. On this issue considerable goodwill towards Canada remains and re-engaging robustly in advancing R2P will be easier than some may think. What would a practical immediate strategy for reengaging on R2P look like?
4To start with, in September, Prime Minister Harper or Foreign Minister Baird would re-aﬃrm the government’s commitment to R2P and announce Canada’s intention to prioritize mass atrocity prevention in their statement at the opening of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.
4is statement should be followed by a declaration 4is should be followed by an investment over the by the government that preventing and halting mass atrocities is a national interest. e United States provides a useful example of how this could be done. In 2011 President Obama declared that preventing mass atrocities was a national interest of the United States and ordered relevant agencies and departments to undertake an assessment of their preventive and protective capacities. President Obama has oen reiterated that mass atrocity prevention is a U.S. national interest.
4e next step in conjunction with this commitment would be to strengthen Canada’s own institutional architecture for prevention. is includes appointing a R2P Focal Point to ‘domesticate’ R2P and formalizing an internal decision-making process involving relevant government agencies and departments. irtyseven countries, ranging from the United States and the United Kingdom to Ghana have appointed senior-level government oﬃcials to serve as R2P focal points for atrocity prevention. ese focal points, and the Global R2P network that they form, help ensure that governments remain vigilant so that ‘Never Again’ does not continue to be ‘again and again.’ Canada should join this broader eﬀort to appoint focal points and systematize early warning and action.
next five years in strengthening our preventive diplomacy capacities and increasing our participation in UN peacekeeping. In practice this would involve re-doubling support for UN and regional mediation capacities; creating forums for problem-solving, strategizing, and coalition building to save lives in emerging crises; promoting Canadians for senior UN positions; reestablishing Canada as a leader in training peacekeepers; and deploying more troops, police and civilian personnel to UN peacekeeping missions. Canada can and should play a larger role in shepherding R2P into its second decade. is need not entail a heavy financial burden. Rather, the cost is one of mustering the political will to act, and accepting that ‘Never Again’ is a shared endeavour. us, to save lives, the Canadian government must prioritize multilateral engagement through the UN, to find solutions to some of the world’s most intractable of crises. We are ‘missed’ because we showed that tenacity, vision, and astute diplomacy could revolutionize international relations. Today our bold leadership is again needed, to ensure that our noble idea of the Responsibility to Protect is not just of interest to international relations textbooks, but that it saves lives.
Naomi Kikoler is a Canadian human rights lawyer who serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect in New York. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Oxford, and McGill’s Faculty of Law, she has worked for the United Nations, Amnesty International, the Brookings Institution and serves as an advisor to organizations on conflict and mass atrocity prevention and international human rights and humanitarian law.
The UN’s post-2015 sustainable development goals and Canada Shannon Kindornay In 2015, governments will conclude negotiations on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of their commitments from the Rio+20 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. e SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire in 2015 with a broad, sustainable development agenda underpinned by a framework of goals, targets and indicators for 2030. Unlike the MDGs, the post-2015 sustainable development agenda will likely be universal, applying to all countries, not just developing ones.
ABSTRACT In 2015 countries will negotiate a set of Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations. These goals, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals, are set to be universal in nature, applying to all countries, including Canada. The “post-2015” agenda aﬀords Canada a number of opportunities to champion a progressive set of goals, support a robust monitoring and evaluation framework, and engage the UN diﬀerently. Monitoring progress on a broad set of SDGs may present an opportunity for a coordinated and coherent approach to UN engagement across sectors and government departments.
Canada is engaging in UN preparations for the 2015 negotiations. To date, much of this participation has been led by the Department of Foreign Aﬀairs, Trade and Development (DFATD). Canada is championing an agenda based on realistic, focused and measurable targets and indicators. Statements by government oﬃcials have emphasized the poorest and most vulnerable as a key focus for the sustainable development agenda. Canada is also pushing on issues that are reflective of the government’s current aid priorities, including job creation and economic growth (with a strong role for the private sector), strengthening accountability and results, and perhaps most importantly, maternal, newborn and child health, which is the highest priority for the Canadian government. e government has also supported post2015 consultation processes through the UN, notably on education and data and accountability. In Canada, a number of steps have also been taken to coordinate within DFATD and between government
departments. ematic, DFATD department-wide working groups meet on a monthly basis and interdepartmental working groups have been set up, meeting periodically. A Post-2015 Task Force was created in August 2014 to coordinate inputs from working groups, consolidate the Canadian government’s position on the post-2015 agenda and support negotiations in 2015. While this engagement sends a positive signal regarding Canada’s participation in the post-2015 agenda, some commentators have noted that Canadian leadership is lacking and that the country could be more involved in international discussions. Further, the Canadian government has been ambivalent to date with respect to endorsing the universality dimension of the post-2015 agenda. Government inputs show a tendency to frame issues from a “development or MDG-like” perspective – i.e. a focus is on maternal, newborn and child health as well as the poorest and most vulnerable in developing countries. Nevertheless, at the national level, DFATD is engaging other government departments and providing information to provincial and territorial governments – which in theory will have a key role to play in realising the SDGs in Canada. Yet, the extent to which sub-national governments (and other government departments) are aware of or engaged in the post-2015 process is unclear. Consultations with civil society on the post-2015 agenda have also been limited, and largely focused on the development community. Given the universality dimension of the agenda, engagement on post-2015
commitments needs to move beyond the usual suspects and certainly beyond DFATD. e post-2015 agenda also presents an interesting opportunity for Canada’s re-engagement with the UN in a number of ways. First, it is likely that the post-2015 SDGs will be as influential as the MDGs in determining sustainable development priorities. Significant eﬀorts (and funding) have gone into ensuring the new framework is developed through a consultative, inclusive process and that it broadly reflects the priorities of all states, unlike the MDGs, which were largely seen as a donor-driven, top-down agenda. Canada should remain engaged to support a progressive sustainable development agenda that will shape and define Canada’s international development eﬀorts beyond 2015. Second, the scope of the SDG agenda is broad. e current “zero dra” list of SDGs has 17 priority areas including poverty reduction, addressing inequality, water and sanitation, industrialization and infrastructure, environmental, sustainable consumption and production, and peace and security. e breadth of the agenda aﬀords Canada an opportunity to engage with the UN across diﬀerent sectors (and levels of government) within a broad sustainable development framework. e interconnectedness of the goal areas (for example, ensuring sustainable consumption and production while also supporting inclusive growth and employment generation) may call for greater levels of coordination among responsible departments and between diﬀerent levels of government to ensure a balanced approach to achieving sustainable development outcomes. e development by Canada of a national plan for realising the SDGs would facilitate this. In addition, monitoring and accountability
frameworks associated with the international agenda may necessitate coordinated engagement with lead UN agencies through various government departments. Finally, given the government’s current focus on accountability and results, Canada also has the potential to champion a robust monitoring and accountability framework under the auspices of the newly created High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. As mentioned, Canada has already argued for realistic, measurable and focussed targets, and supported the global UN consultation on data and accountability. Going forward, there is space for Canada to champion the use of existing UN monitoring mechanisms – such as those that exist under diﬀerent environmental, social, and human rights conventions as well as the Universal Periodic Review – to support the SDG monitoring framework. is would also ground the SDGs in existing processes and avoid duplication of eﬀorts. References For more information on the preparatory process for the negotiations in 2015, see http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/owg.html. For more information on the UN Post-2015 consultation processes, see www.worldwewant.org. CCIC (Canadian Council for International Co-operation). 2014, forthcoming. e Post-2015 Development Framework: International Process and Canadian Priorities. Ottawa: CCIC. Kindornay, Shannon. 2014. “Canada post-2015: Confronting our own development challenges.” Canadian Government Executive (20) 4. Rochon, Paul. 2014. “Millennium Development Goals: A sprint to 2015 and the way forward.” Canadian Government Executive 20 (4).
Shannon Kindornay is a researcher at The North-South Institute. Her research interests include development cooperation, governance of the aid architecture, aid eﬀectiveness, and aid and the private sector. Her current work includes a major study that explores how the post-2015 sustainable development goals can be applied to Canada. She holds an MA from Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Aﬀairs (NPSIA) and a BA in Global Studies and Political Science, from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Revitalizing an agenda for peace H. Peter Langille
ABSTRACT After the Cold War, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali presented An Agenda for Peace, with a bold call for preventive action, including new peacekeeping and peacebuilding mechanisms. The idea of a permanent United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) stemmed largely from Canada’s response to An Agenda for Peace, as well as the Secretary-General’s request for a UN rapid reaction force. Rather than rely on slow, conditional standby peacekeeping arrangements for renting national personnel, a UNEPS would provide the UN with its own standing service. Demand for UN peacekeeping has increased. Calls for rapid deployment have accompanied most recent operations, but contributing states are seldom ready and/or willing to deploy rapidly. By addressing the critical gap in the first six months of complex emergencies, a UNEPS would help prevent armed conflict and genocide, protect civilians at extreme risk, ensure prompt start-up of demanding operations, and address human needs in areas where others either cannot or will not.
e current outlook for global security is worrisome. While our common security depends on governments working together, how can we generate the sense of common cause and the momentum that is now required? With one step the UN might improve its capacity to prevent armed conflict and protect civilians. Aer the Cold War, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali presented An Agenda for Peace, with a bold call for preventive action, including new peacekeeping and peacebuilding mechanisms. His report was prefaced with a caution that, “…the search for improved mechanisms and techniques will be of little significance unless this new spirit of commonality is propelled by the will to take the hard decisions demanded by this time of opportunity.” e idea of a permanent United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) stemmed largely from Canada’s response to An Agenda for Peace, as well as the Secretary-General’s request for a UN rapid reaction force. Rather than rely on slow, conditional standby peacekeeping arrangements for renting national personnel, a UNEPS would provide the UN with its own standing service to fulfill assigned tasks -- a rapid and reliable first responder to save time, lives and resources. Yet then, as now, governments were reluctant to take this step for a more eﬀective UN. Of course, peacekeeping didn’t die and the demand didn’t diminish. Currently there are over 117,000
peacekeepers (civilian as well as uniformed personnel) from 122 countries deployed to 17 UN operations worldwide, a nine-fold increase since 1999. Considerable progress is evident in the UN’s foundation for peacekeeping with new contributors, improved command and control procedures, a global supply and support system, a cost-eﬀective standing police capacity, as well as doctrine for integrated complex operations. e UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support have expanded into highly professional organizations. And, thanks largely to the pioneering work of Canada’s Walter Dorn, the use of surveillance and monitoring technology is improving situational awareness and safety in many operations. Gone are the days when ad hoc improvisation was necessary to ‘re-invent the wheel in the dark’. Yet three long-standing problems remain. e UN has insuﬃcient capacity for rapid deployment, prevention and protection. Calls for rapid deployment have accompanied most recent operations, but there is seldom support from contributing states ready and willing to deploy rapidly. Further, in the current UN system, planning, mounting and deploying a new operation involves a long list of essential tasks that slow response times. UN documents acknowledge this process now requires from six to twelve months, which is far from rapid or adequate for pressing emergencies.
Protecting civilians at risk is another uphill struggle. A recent internal audit found that while UN mandates have increasingly prioritized protection of civilians, the national troops available are oen unwilling to assume the risks entailed. While no panacea, a permanent UN Emergency Peace Service would help. It is intended as a first responder, eﬀectively a multifunctional ‘UN 911’, to address the critical gap in the first six months of complex emergencies. UNEPS was designed to help prevent armed conflict and genocide, protect civilians at extreme risk, ensure prompt start-up of demanding operations, and address human needs in areas where others either cannot or will not. Of course, such an idea will inevitably raise concerns over the financial costs, the political will and whether it may be managed eﬀectively. Is it aﬀordable? Better yet, a UNEPS would be costeﬀective! e UN already suﬀers from insuﬃcient funding, with all operations constrained by austerity and the mantra of ‘do more with less’. Soon, the budget for peacekeeping will exceed what had been deemed the ‘sacred ceiling’ of $8 billion. UNEPS would entail a startup cost of approximately $3 billion and annual recurring costs of another $1 billion. is should be contrasted with annual global military spending, now nearing $2 trillion. Worse, the Global Peace Index estimates that the annual cost of war has risen to $9.8 trillion. It would be a great saving if the UN was able to deter armed conflict, or at least prevent it from escalating and spreading. A UNEPS would reduce the need for many new operations
and reduce the requirement for later, larger, longer and costlier operations. Could the UN manage a UNEPS or provide the support required? As noted, the UN’s foundation for peace operations has improved, with DPKO and DFS already managing and supporting over 120,000 personnel in field missions around the world. A UNEPS would have a static operational headquarters and two mobile missions HQs to help administer, organize and direct operations. Its logistic support could either be provided internally or by the new UN global support system. Could the Security Council be trusted not to abuse a UNEPS? Security Council decisions are followed, analyzed and reported world-wide. As Security Council members would share in the investment required to develop a UNEPS and provide strategic direction, they should be even more inclined to show responsible leadership and ensure its success. For the Security Council, the "will" to do a job may oen depend upon having an appropriate tool for the job, preferably one that is readily available, reliable and recognized as legitimate. At least when you have an appropriate tool, there are fewer excuses for failing to attempt a task.
Dr. H. Peter Langille is a senior research fellow in the Centre for Global Studies, University of Victoria. He was an early recipient of the Hanna Newcombe Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Federalist Movement - Canada for his numerous contributions in support of more eﬀective UN peace operations.
At present, there is insuﬃcient political will to support the development of a UNEPS. Nevertheless, over the years there have been seven occasions – aer bad wars and genocide—when governments have attempted to generate support for vaguely similar proposals (a UN standing force). In the near future taking a few steps to revitalize An Agenda for Peace may not seem like such a hard decision.
Why UN peacekeeping is indispensable Peggy Mason
ABSTRACT Complex political problems lie at the heart of violent conflict and require political solutions, negotiated and agreed by the parties. The structure of the integrated UN mission –with the military, police and civilian components all reporting to the civilian head of Mission – reflects the primacy of the peace process and stands in sharp contrast to the situation where NATO provides military forces under a separate command structure from the UN mission. The demand for UN Blue Helmets has never been greater but significant shortfalls persist in both personnel and equipment. It is time for Canada to re-engage.
e UN has learned a lot about conflict resolution since the first military peacekeepers were deployed in UNEF 1 in 1956 to serve as a buﬀer between the Egyptian and Israeli forces and to provide impartial supervision of the ceasefire. Specifically the UN has learned that peacebuilding is a complex, long-term process of helping the conflicting parties to create the necessary conditions – political, economic, security – for a sustainable peace. At the centre of this eﬀort is the peace process. Complex political problems lie at the heart of violent conflict and require political solutions, negotiated and agreed by the parties. A robust security element may be essential in both the negotiation and implementation phases but it is a supporting element nonetheless. As the Afghanistan debacle has so dramatically and tragically illustrated, no amount of military ‘robustness’ on the part of international military forces can make up for the lack of a credible peace process. Accordingly, today’s multidimensional UN peacekeeping operations are called upon not only to help maintain peace and security and to promote the rule of law, but also to facilitate the political process and support the establishment of legitimate and eﬀective institutions of governance. Increasingly, mandates like that for MINUSMA in Mali, also include security assistance to the transitional government in reasserting its authority nation-wide,
in concert with support for the national political dialogue and reconciliation eﬀorts. For a collective enterprise of this magnitude to succeed – as UN peacekeeping does more oen than not – the international eﬀort must be perceived as legitimate and impartial by all or most of the parties to the conflict. And it must have the broadest possible international support within a coherent legal and operational framework. Only the UN Security Council (UNSC) can mandate such an operation and only the UN Organization can even notionally lead it, if only because there is simply no other single entity acceptable to the international community. Headed by a civilian in the role of the Special Representative of the [UN] Secretary-General (SRSG), with all the other components, including the military and police reporting to him or her, the very structure of the UN PKO reflects the centrality of the peace process. is stands in sharp contrast to NATO-led missions, authorized by the UNSC to assist in stabilizing a conflict. How can the military eﬀectively support the peace process under a separate command structure? My ten years of training exercises with senior NATO commanders have demonstrated time and again that a divided command structure at the operational level is a recipe for an ineﬀective command structure. And further note that, while the NATO-led mission is typically
mandated by the UNSC to ‘cooperate’ with the UN mission, its political guidance comes from the political lead in NATO – the North Atlantic Council, which then has to coordinate with the UN SecretaryGeneral. So the political leadership at the strategic level is divided as well. ere is another stark problem with NATO-led stability operations – they lack the perceived legitimacy and impartiality of UN-led operations precisely because their political and military leadership represent a very specific set of countries and interests, notwithstanding UN authorization and the presence of some non-NATO countries within the coalition. is not only undermines coherence in the international eﬀort, but is a gi to spoilers on the ground decrying ‘foreign occupation’. Of course narrow national interests are still in play in the capitals of UN troop contributors, but the structure of a UN peacekeeping mission at least works to mitigate this tendency in both perception and reality. e demand for UN Blue Helmets has never been greater. But UN peacekeeping cannot begin to live up to its potential to assist countries in transition from civil war to stable governance unless it has the resources to do the job. e almost wholesale withdrawal of western forces from UN peacekeeping, in favour of NATO-led missions in the Balkans and then Afghanistan, occurred even as UN PKO mandates required increasingly capable and well-
equipped military components, operating under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. e latest Report of the UN Secretary-General on the progress of the Mali mission cites significant gaps in both military personnel and equipment, in one of the most logistically demanding operations the UN has ever undertaken, given the distances involved and the lack of infrastructure. Significantly, some NATO countries including the Netherlands and Italy are beginning to re-engage. It is time for Canada to do the same. Peggy Mason is President of the Rideau Institute on International Aﬀairs. While Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN, she chaired UN expert studies on disarmament verification and the regulation of small arms and light weapons. Since 1996 Peggy Mason has increasingly focused on UN post-conflict peacebuilding and the role of military forces in supporting a comprehensive peace process. She works with several civil society organizations and initiatives, including civil society promotion of peace talks in Afghanistan. Peggy Mason was inducted into the Honour Society of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Common Law in 2003.
Canada, human rights and the UN: It starts at home Alex Neve One measure of a state’s engagement with the UN’s human rights system lies on the world stage. We look at responses to human rights situations in other countries, support for new international human rights laws and institutions, and positions regarding global human rights concerns.
ABSTRACT Canada’s global human rights standing has diminished in recent years. Canada’s positions have far too often been more obstructive than constructive. The same is true of Canada’s engagement with the UN human rights system with regards to the country’s own record. The list of unratified human rights treaties grows long. Canada is increasingly dismissive of UN human rights reviews. And there is no political leadership or intergovernmental accords in place to ensure eﬀective implementation of Canada’s international human rights obligations. This weakens domestic human rights protection and diminishes Canada’s international leadership. It is time for federal, provincial and territorial ministers to reform Canada’s approach to international human rights.
ese days Canada’s record on that front is mixed at best. Some admirable initiatives: early and forced marriage, Iran’s human rights record and decriminalization of homosexuality stand out. Considerable disappointment and confusion: refusal to countenance criticism of Israel, backsliding on sexual and reproductive rights, obstructive stance on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and opposition to rights to safe water and sanitation. Another measure is on the home front. How willingly does a government commit to UN obligations and scrutiny of its own human rights record? It is not just about pointing the finger at others.
All have been disregarded. ere is a treaty on enforced disappearances, adopted by the UN in 2006. It is not under consideration. A 1990 treaty dealing with migrant workers is dismissed as irrelevant. e Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, adopted by the UN in 2002, sets up a system of prison inspections to prevent torture. In 2006 and 2009 Canada promised the UN to consider ratifying it. But during a 2013 UN human rights review Canada stepped back and said there are no current plans to ratify. en there is the new Arms Trade Treaty, bringing long-needed human rights rules to the deadly global commerce in weapons. Adopted by the UN in April 2013, it has already been signed (a symbolic but important step) by 118 states (even including the United States) and ratified by 43 (including many close allies). Canada is not poised to do either anytime soon.
Here Canada consistently comes up short.
Signing on to UN instruments is one thing. Living up to them is another.
Consider the glacial pace of signing on to human rights treaties. e number of important treaties not ratified by Canada is growing. ere are three Optional Protocols establishing complaints processes for children’s rights, the rights of persons living with disabilities and economic, social and cultural rights.
at involves UN reviews and eﬀective implementation of the resulting recommendations. at has always been fraught for Canada, partially because of the complexities of federalism and partially because of a lack of leadership. It has worsened substantially in recent years.
roughout 2012 the government responded to UN scrutiny with dismissive and derisive commentary that the UN shouldn’t waste time on a country like Canada. We saw that during a mission to Canada by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, when UN committees dealing with torture and the rights of children carried out their regular reviews of Canada, and when the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights expressed concern about the Quebec student protests. Last year’s response to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) added further concern. e UPR, an unprecedented review of the human rights record of every UN member state, began in 2008. Canada’s second time through was in 2013. Faced with recommendations from dozens of countries Canada said the only ones being accepted were those already underway. It ran counter to the very point of a UN human rights review: to move beyond status quo. Treaties and reviews mean nothing without implementation. Here we see total disarray. ere is no political leadership to translate words at the UN into action at home. No federal minister ensures compliance across departments. No accountability process brings federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments together to make decisions for the whole country. e last FPT ministerial human rights meeting was in 1988.
Why does this matter? First, taking international human rights obligations seriously domestically obviously strengthens human rights protection in Canada. Second, it has major foreign policy implications. Signing on to key UN treaties allows us to press other countries to follow suit. Engaging in UN reviews in good faith means we can demand the same of other governments. And showing we are serious about implementation is essential; as that is where the international human rights system falls short, worldwide. So how to turn this around? e long overdue ministerial meeting would be a good start. Some intergovernmental issues benefit from yearly ministerial meetings. Surely human rights should be discussed more than once every quarter-century. It is time to bring ministers together to generate political will, encourage leadership, and generate momentum for human rights reform.
Alex Neve has served as Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada since 2000. In that role he has carried out numerous human rights research missions throughout Africa and Latin America, and within Canada. He speaks to audiences across the country about a wide range of human rights issues, appears regularly before parliamentary committees and UN bodies, and is a frequent commentator in the media. Alex is a lawyer, with an LLB from Dalhousie University and a Masters Degree in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex. Alex has been named an Oﬃcer of the Order of Canada, a Trudeau Foundation Mentor and has received an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of New Brunswick.
Gender equality and the United Nations: Can Canada get back in front? Diana Rivington
ABSTRACT Canada, with other “like-minded” countries, has played a pivotal role in enlarging the multilateral dialogue on gender equality, building alliances between North and South and encouraging the active participation of civil society, especially at the four World Conferences on Women held since 1975. While Canada played an important role in the creation of UN Women in 2010, in other area’s related to women’s rights, Canada has been retrograde. In the lead up to the Sustainable Development Goals and to the election in 2015, a leaders’ debate on gender equality issues could renew Canada’s leadership.
Since the creation of the United Nations, women’s organizations and national women’s machineries like Status of Women Canada have used the UN both as an arbiter and as a process to shape international and domestic dialogues on women’s status. e halls of the UN became the place where standards for women’s rights and equality could be defined and then brought home to national parliaments as aspirations and models for domestic legislation. Indeed, women’s organizations sometimes had more confidence in the international process than in their own legislatures. Canada, with other “like-minded” countries, played a pivotal role in these processes, building alliances between North and South and encouraging the active participation of civil society, especially at the four World Conferences on Women held since 1975. e recurring themes of these World Conferences on Women are equality, development and peace. e Platform for Action from the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing has nourished autonomous women’s organizations, equality-seeking organizations, and the international cooperation system for almost twenty years. Countries’ commitments to the Platform led to “gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls”
becoming the third Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in 2000. Ambitiously, negotiators have used the UN process to keep moving the goalposts on gender equality. For example, violence against women, hardly mentioned at the Mexico Conference in 1975, is now firmly on the international agenda. It was a “critical area of concern” in Beijing in 1995. Most recently UN Security Council resolutions have declared sexual violence including rape as war crimes. UN negotiations are rarely “clean.” ere may be progress on one issue while another stagnates and a third slowly rolls backward. So it was a welcome victory for women’s organizations when in 2010, as part of on-going UN reforms, their campaign to change the “gender equality architecture” led to the creation of UN Women. is occurred by merging the United Nations Women’s Fund (UNIFEM), the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the Division for the Advancement of Women, and the Oﬃce of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues. Canada was a leader in these negotiations and an early donor, although its core grant of $10 million was recently cut to $9.5 million.
However, Canada has rolled backward on other gender equality issues. ere is the conundrum of having one standard of care and information on sexual and reproductive health and rights for Canadian citizens, and another for citizens in developing countries where lack of knowledge about family planning and HIV/AIDS kills. Canada’s denial of support for a full range of reproductive health services in its Maternal and Newborn Child Health Initiative has led “like-minded” allies to look elsewhere for vision on providing full services to women and girls, especially in areas aﬀected by war. Another longstanding issue, raised at the Beijing Conference and elsewhere, has been how to assess and value unpaid care and domestic work, that is, women’s labour in the home and in family enterprises, including farming. Aer Beijing, Statistics Canada was the first to add a census question to capture both women’s and men’s unpaid work in childcare, elder care, home maintenance, and family business as well as volunteer activities. is question was removed from the Canadian census in 2010 for reasons that remain unclear, while likeminded countries such as the UK continue to support such analysis.
Goals (SDGs) that will replace the MDGs. Over 500 women’s human rights, environmental, and development organizations, organized as the “Women’s Major Group,” have contributed to negotiations to date. While welcoming “Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” as the fih SDG (with 9 sub-goals), they remain concerned that action on women’s human rights is not an integral part of the proposed goal. Against this background, there is a campaign underway to demand a federal leaders’ debate on women’s issues prior to the next Canadian election. e campaigners want all Canadian political parties to demonstrate the nature of their commitment to domestic and international women’s human rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. In the transition to the SDGs, such a public debate would be timely, creating a public space to define how Canada will contribute to the global progress on SDG 5 domestically and internationally. It is an opportunity for Canada to reclaim its role as a leader. Our allies are waiting for Canada to return.
Diana Rivington is a Senior Fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa with a cross assignment between the School of International Development and Global Studies and the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies. She is also a consultant with expertise in gender equality and social equity. She enjoyed a long career at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) where her last assignment was as Director, Human Development and Gender Equality. Ms. Rivington is a member of the McLeod Group.
e MDGs have been viewed as a powerful tool because of their time-bound targets. As 2015 and the end of the MDGs approach, UN members are engaged in defining the Sustainable Development
Canada and the humanitarian movement to abolish nuclear weapons Douglas Roche
ABSTRACT A growing number of states are joining a new movement, emphasizing humanitarian law, to create a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons. Canadian policy is incoherent. On one hand Canada supports NATO doctrine, which continues to maintain that nuclear weapons provide the “supreme guarantee” of security. On the other hand, Canada supports the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which includes important nuclear disarmament obligations. The humanitarian movement to eliminate nuclear weapons fits in with long-held Canadian values. Canada should join with those states calling for comprehensive negotiations to start now, leading to a legal framework for the verified, irreversible, and enforceable elimination of nuclear weapons.
Has the violence-torn summer of 2014 killed any hopes for progress in nuclear disarmament? Have the televised killings in the Middle-East, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq made it impossible to focus attention on the 16,300 nuclear weapons still in existence, any one of which, by design, accident or terrorism, could set oﬀ a catastrophe of epic proportions? On the contrary, global instability is not a time to back away from the United Nations goal of a nuclear weapons free world; rather, when barbarism breaks out, it is time to re-double our eﬀorts to build the rule of law. Canada should step up its work and join with those states that are serious about developing a law to eliminate nuclear weapons. ree events show that nuclear disarmament is still very much on the international political agenda.
4e first UN Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons -- September 26 – now provides a built-in mechanism focused on promoting multilateral negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention – a global treaty to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.
4On December 8-9, the Austrian government will host in Vienna the third in a series of international conferences on the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear weapons. e first of these conferences at Oslo in 2013 attracted 127 states; the second at Nayarit in Mexico last February was
attended by 146. ese meetings, buttressed by civil society campaigners, have spelled out in excruciating detail the horrors that await humanity in the accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons.
4Next May in New York, the Non-Proliferation Treaty will undergo its month-long quinquennial Review Conference, where the good faith pledge of the five permanent members of the Security Council (the principal nuclear weapons states) to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals will again be tested. Since the NPT came into existence in 1970, the big five have been bobbing and weaving on their commitments, all the while modernizing their stocks. If nuclear disarmament had to wait for calm political weather to make progress, we would have nuclear weapons forever. Nuclear disarmament is not something that culminates the peace process, it stimulates it. Eliminating nuclear weapons requires vision and a sense of urgency. A terrorist nuclear attack is an undeniable possibility. How long can the world’s luck hold out? is is the view that drives a number of nations, and thus they want comprehensive negotiations to start now leading to a legal framework for the verified, irreversible, and enforceable elimination of nuclear weapons. But the nuclear weapons states, aided principally by NATO, are holding out for a step-by-step approach: first, get a ban on the production of fissile materials, bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force, get more
U.S.-Russian reductions before attempting global negotiations. is approach, which has been embraced by Canada, has led to today’s virtual paralysis. U.S.Russia bilateral negotiations for deeper cuts are stalled over such issues as the U.S.’s proposed missile defence system in Europe, the militarization of space, and the U.S. intention to militarily dominate air, land, sea, space and cyberwarfare. e Conference on Disarmament in Geneva has become a ritualistic façade. Canada participates in the 12-nation Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, which sees multilateral negotiations taking place only aer the U.S.-Russia reduction process has greatly reduced existing stocks. But this is a dead-end hope. is is why nations like Mexico, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Indonesia are in the forefront of a new movement, emphasizing humanitarian law, to create a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons. “e time has come to initiate a diplomatic process [with] a specific timeframe,” the Mexican chairman told the Nayarit meeting. is is the movement Canada should join. A chief impediment to such action is Canada’s membership in NATO, which keeps insisting that nuclear weapons are the “supreme guarantee” of security. However, a double standard has deeply conflicted NATO. At one and the same time, NATO member states reaﬃrm their commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty goal of nuclear disarmament and their NATO dependence on nuclear weapons. e policies are incoherent. e continued deployment of US tactical nuclear bombs on the soil of Belgium, Germany, the
Netherlands, Italy and Turkey, though resisted by growing numbers of people in those countries, is a standing provocation to Russia, which is consequently disinclined to lower its own huge numbers of tactical nuclear weapons. Russia is unlikely to give up its nuclear weapons while it is virtually surrounded by an expanding NATO. About 15 years ago, Canada tried to get NATO to change its nuclear policies. When NATO resisted, Canada gave up. But Norway, another NATO country, is a leader in the new humanitarian movement. Why can’t Canada give this eﬀort full support? e humanitarian movement to eliminate nuclear weapons fits in with long-held Canadian values. More than 750 members of the Order of Canada have called on the Canadian government to take a major diplomatic initiative to support the UN Secretary-General’s FivePoint Plan for Nuclear Disarmament, which centers on a nuclear weapons convention. A motion supporting this was unanimously passed by both the Senate and the House of Commons. Canada should align itself with the highly respected New Agenda Coalition countries (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa) and commit itself to achieving “a comprehensive and legally binding framework” to eliminate all nuclear weapons in a defined time period. It is not NATO but the UN goals that should drive Canada’s work for nuclear disarmament.
The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., is an author, parliamentarian and diplomat, who has specialized throughout his 40-year public career in peace and human security issues. Mr. Roche was a Senator, Member of Parliament, Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament, and Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta. He was elected Chairman of the United Nations Disarmament Committee at the 43rd General Assembly in 1988. In 2009, he received the Distinguished Service Award of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians for his “promotion of human welfare, human rights and parliamentary democracy in Canada and abroad.” He is an Oﬃcer of the Order of Canada. In 2011, the International Peace Bureau nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Selecting the Secretary-General: How to improve the process Allan Rock
ABSTRACT The process for selecting the United Nations Secretary-General (SG) is sadly lacking. There is no agreed list of qualifications, no search committee to identify prospects, no vetting of potential candidates and little testing of their views and aptitudes – either by the Security Council or the GA – before the final selection is made In 2006, Canada called for reform to the process of selection, to make it more transparent. The proposals we made then are still relevant now. Ban Ki-Moon’s successor will take oﬃce in January 2017. It will be diﬃcult to change a process that has been “owned” exclusively for so many decades by the Security Council (especially the five permanent members). Nonetheless, given what is at stake and the weaknesses of the current practice, I suggest that Canada should renew and press the eﬀort to address its flaws.
For UN member states, few decisions are as important as the choice of a new Secretary-General (SG). Although Article 97 of the UN Charter describes the SG only as “the chief administrative oﬃcer of the organization”, the person who holds that oﬃce is more than simply an administrator: SGs occupy a unique space in the international setting, with singular influence and authority. In the words of Sir Brian Urquhart, they serve as “both symbol and guardian of the original vision of the organization.” Yet the process for selecting the SG is sadly lacking. ere is no agreed list of qualifications, no search committee to identify prospects, no vetting of potential candidates and little testing of their views and aptitudes – either by the Security Council or the GA – before the final selection is made. e Charter provides for the SG to be elected by the General Assembly (GA) on the recommendation of the Security Council. is seems to suggest a mature and deliberative process between the two principal bodies of the UN. In reality, however, the Security Council simply announces its choice following secret deliberations and then expects the GA automatically to approve it as a formality – an expectation that the GA has, regrettably, fulfilled on each such occasion in the past.
How can the process be opened up? Of course the person selected must be someone with whom the Security Council can work, but the GA’s important role in the process must also be respected. In the spring of 2006, I addressed the GA as Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative, calling for reform to the process of selection to make it more transparent. My purpose here is to recall the key recommendations that Canada put forward at that time, and that are just as relevant today as they were eight years ago. I also hope to encourage our current political leaders and diplomats to advance these proposals anew. Ban Ki-Moon’s successor will take oﬃce in January 2017 and campaigning has already begun. ere is nevertheless still time to eﬀect change. So what were our proposals in 2006? ere were five: First, a consensus should be developed as to the qualities we seek in an SG. ose who aspire to the post must know the expectations of member states. In turn, member states should agree on what they are looking for in a leader. ose qualifications may change to reflect the times but they must surely include political and communication skills that have become essential in the post.
Second, we argued for a systematic eﬀort to identify potential candidates. is might include a search committee, a general call for expressions of interest and approaches to specific individuals to encourage them to apply. ird, we suggested that member states hear from candidates well before the selection, so that those making the decision can do so in an informed way. is might be done in sessions organized in Geneva and New York by the GA President, through regional meetings, or in more informal settings. Member states would then be able to make their views known to the Security Council regarding the various candidates under consideration. Fourth, we advocated a deadline by which potential candidates would be required to declare their interest. is would avoid a last-minute entry by someone about whom the GA had not had the opportunity to develop a view. Finally, we proposed that the SG’s appointment be limited to a single five or seven year term, in order to avoid “angling for re-appointment” and also to cause a more frequent use of the open selection process, thereby encouraging broader geographical and gender participation. ere are, of course, many other ideas to be explored in our eﬀort to improve both the process and the outcome in the selection of an SG. For example:
4e Security Council might be asked to recommend more than one name to the GA;
4Rotation might be introduced for gender as well as region;
4Given the increasing importance of the Deputy SG, candidates might be asked before the selection to declare who they would appoint to that post. I am under no illusions about the diﬃculties in changing a process that has been “owned” exclusively for so many decades by the Security Council (and, more precisely, by the five permanent members). Nonetheless, given what is at stake and the weaknesses of the current practice, I suggest that Canada should renew and press the eﬀort to address its flaws.
Allan Rock is President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, a position he has held since July 2008. In 2003 he was appointed Ambassador of Canada to the United Nations, where he was an outspoken advocate of human rights, human security and reforming the UN. At the 2005 World Summit he led the successful Canadian eﬀort to secure the adoption by world leaders of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, which aims to strengthen UN eﬀorts to protect populations from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 1993, he was elected as the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Centre and named Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He has also served as Minister of Health, Minister of Industry and Minister of Infrastructure. This paper benefits greatly from work done by David Malone in 2006 and from research assistance provided by Anaïs DesjardinsCharbonneau.
The UN and humanitarian assistance: A little respect, please Ian Smillie When a humanitarian emergency occurs, donors look for the best and fastest ways of delivering assistance. Although the average Canadian might not know it— given the inevitable preening of the aid minister, the government’s disdain for the UN and the standard NGO fundraising blitz—the favoured channel by far for Canadian government humanitarian dollars is the United Nations. It is also the favoured channel for all major donor governments in the world. ABSTRACT Globally, more than half of all emergency assistance is managed by UN agencies, primarily the World Food Program and UNHCR. Governments have little delivery capacity and the NGO contribution, while important, is patchy and uncoordinated. UN agencies act as a focal point for funders; they serve as coordinators, managers and front-line delivery agencies. They are often the first to arrive and the last to leave, and are frequently the only serious humanitarian delivery mechanism in some of the world’s toughest emergencies. It is still insuﬃcient. The challenge for UN member states, including Canada, is to find ways to build, strengthen and improve the UN’s herculean response to humanitarian need.
Governments and private donors are the primary source of humanitarian funding. In a typical emergency, about 10% of the money will be provided by or through the Red Cross, and 25% through NGOs. But the bulk, usually more than half, goes through UN agencies, primarily the World Food Program, UNHCR (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) and UNICEF. ere are several good reasons for this. e first is that apart from the occasional use of military assets to deliver commodities, most donor governments, Canada included, have zero capacity for on-the-ground delivery themselves. Somebody else has to do it. Local governments can occasionally manage some of it, but emergencies by their very nature stretch local capacities to the breaking point. NGOs can manage some of it, and this is acknowledged in their governmental support, but they have their limits as well. And somewhere in the mix, there has to be coordination.
Led by the Oﬃce for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aﬀairs (OCHA), UN agencies act as a focal point for funders; they serve as coordinators, as managers and as front-line delivery agencies. OCHA created ReliefWeb, the principal online source for reliable and timely information on global crises and disasters. And it created IRIN, a well-respected news agency specializing in humanitarian issues. UN agencies provide advance warning and the longerterm research needed to underpin good practice. ey remind individual donors of “forgotten emergencies” that are not on anyone’s radar; they are oen the first to arrive and the last to leave, and they are frequently the only serious humanitarian delivery mechanism in some of the world’s toughest places. e UN eﬀort is massive. Because of new conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic, and escalating violence in Syria, worldwide there were--as of mid-2014--12 million refugees, 10 million stateless persons and 24 million displaced persons. UNHCR provides shelter, protection, legal aid, health care and food. To do this, it maintains 7,700 staﬀ in 126 diﬀerent countries. e World Food Program was providing assistance to nearly three million people in Darfur and the same number of Syrians in 2014. In addition to its work on child protection, health and education, UNICEF is the world’s premier humanitarian response organization for children.
And other UN agencies play important roles: UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization and the UN Human Settlements Program. In fast-onset emergencies—earthquakes, floods and hurricanes—government donors can be slow in stepping forward. For victims, however, every hour counts, and even small delays can mean the diﬀerence between life and death for tens of thousands of people. e UN system has created general and specific pooled funding mechanisms that allow it move quickly while larger donor resources are being mobilized. ese funds are also useful in more extended, complex emergencies when an opportunity to cross rebel lines or to get assistance through a blockade opens on short notice. UN agencies have clout and credibility, and with the UN’s political oﬃces and its peacekeeping operations, can go places and do things that nobody else can. e UN is sometimes criticized for failures of coordination, as in Haiti, which became a nightmare of confusion aer the 2010 earthquake. Coordination works best, however, when those on the ground want it, and when the political situation is clear. Haiti was confused by the US military presence and by the many hundreds of NGOs crowding in to do their own thing. Elsewhere, the UN has been the unsung humanitarian hero of a dozen disaster situations— East Timor and Sierra Leone, for example, and most
notably today on the Syrian border. “Unsung hero” of course, is not the right expression for those who have to muddle through in situations fraught with chaos, starvation and violence, and who rarely have half the resources they need. In the summer of 2014 there were three million Syrians in refugee camps and another 6.5 million displaced by violence. As of August 1, combined UN appeals were running at about 39% of requirement. e UN is a creation of its member states, and it is as good or as bad as it is allowed to be by its funders, the boards of governors they inhabit, and the managers they contribute. e world’s humanitarian response may leave much to be desired in terms of speed, coordination and eﬀectiveness, but the United Nations is what makes humanitarian assistance today better than it has ever been over the past half century. e challenge for UN member states, including Canada, is to find ways to strengthen and improve the UN’s herculean response to humanitarian need.
Ian Smillie has lived and worked in Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Bangladesh. He was a founder of the Canadian NGO, Inter Pares and was Executive Director of CUSO. He has worked at Tufts and Tulane Universities and as a development consultant with many Canadian, American and European organizations. He is the author of several books, including The Charity of Nations: Humanitarian Action in a Calculating World (2004, with Larry Minear), Freedom from Want (2009), Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade (2010), and Diamonds (2014). Ian Smillie participated in the creation of the Kimberley Process and he chairs the Diamond Development Initiative.
Rethinking the United Nations John E. Trent Whatever we think about the United Nations, most of us can agree that it needs to be fixed. Although reform has been a constant in the UN’s near seventy year history, it has not always been possible to successfully adapt post World War II institutions to a changing world. But more than anything we need to fix the attitudes of nation-states toward international organizations in general and the UN in particular. What is wrong with the world? ABSTRACT Although reform has been a constant in the near seventy-year history of the United Nations, it has not always been possible to successfully adapt UN institutions to a changing world. Meanwhile a multitude of global problems illustrates the growing need for global institutions that can make timely and eﬀective decisions. At the heart of the problem is the attitudes of nation-states, that cling to outmoded concepts of national sovereignty and do not attach suﬃcient priority to the necessary and important steps that would improve global governance. A forward-looking government of Canada would make ‘Rethinking the United Nations’ a central program of the Department of Foreign Aﬀairs.
e world has a desperate need for global institutions capable of making decisions about a multitude of global problems. We are challenged by: armed conflicts (civil and international), climate change, the wealth-poverty gap, terrorism, pollution, global warming, the plight of women and children, fundamentalism, mass migrations, pandemics, financial crises and enfeebled states, etc. But each one of these global challenges has one common denominator: the world is incapable of taking authoritative decisions that will command respect and be adhered to. Syria: no decisions. Ukraine: no decisions. South China Sea: no decisions. Israel and Palestine: no decisions. Nuclear weapons, no decisions. But arms sales flourish and thousands die. Why can’t the UN make the big, urgent decisions? In one word, because of sovereignty – the belief that each state can do as it wants with impunity. e problems of international organizations flow from this outdated
European concept of sovereignty elaborated three and a half centuries ago. I said the UN needs to be fixed. What I really mean though is that the attitudes of states and peoples and short-sighted leaders about sovereignty and nationalism need to be changed. e Security Council veto is founded on the bully principle that the most powerful – not the community – should call the shots. Regional caucuses of sovereign states demand equal representation in all UN aﬀairs including human rights. e bureaucracy of the UN is still corrupted by hiring on the basis of national quotas. But the root problem is, first, countries still put their own ‘interests’ ahead of those of the world community and, second, national foreign policies are still determined by presidents and prime ministers acting like monarchs. ere are few democratic controls. What would eﬀective global institutions look like? First, we should democratize international organizations by including popular assemblies beside their state decision-making bodies. Everyone knows we must limit use of the veto. We need authoritative courts and international peacemakers. Hiring in the UN should be done on the basis of competence and integrity. Criteria for the use of the Responsibility to Protect policy need to be established. Second, we should learn from the European Union’s stepby-step model of gradually building common functional institutions, creating supranational law, rights and
institutions, utilizing weighted voting according to population, particular interests, economic weight and sovereign participation. We need to open our foreign policy apparatus to democratic participation and controls. ird, principles and values are fundamental. Fears of creating an authoritarian global government must be displaced by the certainty that any new institutions will include the techniques of democratic state-cra including: dividing and controlling power, promoting rights and equality, constitutional safeguards, democratic institutions, elections, federalism, liberalism, rule of law, local police and decentralization. How Canada can move the world ahead? A forward looking government of Canada would make ‘Rethinking the United Nations’ a central program of the Department of Foreign Aﬀairs and give it the resources required to carry out this monumental task. e Department would be initiating a quasi-constitutional process with the intention of advancing global governance and encouraging other ‘like-minded’ governments to become partners. States are responsible for hobbling decision-making by international organizations and only they have the resources to solve the problem. Still, we need a publicly supported process to legitimate state policies. Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) can plan, push and prod to get the ball moving, but eventually governments have to buy in. To get the public interested, we can learn from ‘deliberative democracy’
exercises about how to include citizens. is process of democratic assemblies was developed over the past two decades to be both educative and participative and to bring informed public input to policy making. e first step is to start a process that will seek to answer the question, “How do we create authoritative global institutions?” We must analyse: current world problems; a set of values for world governance, creative new global institutions, and a path for achieving them -accompanied by an outreach program of education and communications. Canada can help develop a constituency that values cooperation and global governance. Reform will not be easy. It will be opposed by those who have an interest in war rather than peace; who feel secure within their narrow nationalism; and those who want to keep ‘the ignorant mob’ outside foreign policy decision-making. But I am convinced they will be outweighed by those everywhere who are wise enough to recognize that survival in an interdependent world requires of humanity that we develop the means for our own self-governance. Further Reading: Jacques Attali (2011). Demain, qui gouvernera le monde? Paris, Fayard. W. Andy Knight (ed.) (2005). Adapting the United Nations to a Postmodern Era: Lessons Learned, Houndmills U.K, Palgrave MacMillan.
John E. Trent is a Fellow of the Centre on Governance at the University of Ottawa, where he was formerly a professor and chair of the University’s Department of Political Science. Professor Trent is the former Secretary General of the International Political Science Association (IPSA), Executive Director of the Social Science Federation of Canada, a founding Vice-President of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), past-president of the Société québécoise de Science politique and a member of the International Social Science Council.
Joseph E. Schwartzberg (2013). Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, Tokyo, United Nations University Press.
Canadian perceptions of the United Nations Kathryn White
ABSTRACT Canada’s convening earlier this year of the global summit, “Every Woman, Every Child,” on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) demonstrates that, when it comes to development, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizes the reach, legitimacy and return on investment for his Government through the unique channel of the United Nations. Canadians also continue to demonstrate a deep reservoir of support for the UN. UNA – Canada opinion surveys canvas a particular segment of Canadian society, i.e. what might be called the “civic core” of Canada: the 25% of Canadians with higher household income, are civically active, older, frequently religious and frequently helping others both informally and directly. They are also significantly more likely to vote. These surveys demonstrate greater than 80% support for a range of the UN’s programs and activities. UNA – Canada’s results are backed up by other polls measuring the views of all Canadians.
Late May 2014 saw a major gathering in Toronto organized by, and with the full imprimateur of, the Prime Minister. e global summit, “Every Woman, Every Child,” on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) convened the most significant international protagonists, along with representatives from Canadian development NGOs. Both seasoned specialists and casual observers recognize that Stephen Harper is investing much of his Government’s future and legacy in making a real, concrete diﬀerence in this singular – and unquestionably singularly important area of development. Tellingly, the summit was a very large gathering of the most senior United Nations oﬃcials. From the dynamic and outspoken World Health Organization’s Margaret Chan, through Ertharin Cousin, head of the UN World Food Programme; Tony Lake from the UN Children’s Fund; Babatunde Osotimehim of the UN Population Fund – right up to the UN SecretaryGeneral, Ban Ki-moon, himself, the UN had a central and formidable presence. e reason is clear: on issues of development, the UN has both the ears of the General Assembly and the executive political functions of the Security Council, along with eyes and feet on the ground – in other words, real capacity to deliver, or scale up, promising development practices. It has been doing so since it was created to deal with the terrible aermath of World War II.
What does this have to do with Canadian’s perceptions of the United Nations? Clearly it tells us something of one Canadian’s perception of the UN and one who matters: when it comes to development, Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizes the reach, legitimacy and return on investment for his Government through the unique channel of the UN. From the United Nations agencies of development there is an equally clear valuing of Canadian leadership on maternal, newborn and child health as well as in the Canadian government’s investment in accountability, governance and scaling up promising innovation. To add some broader context of Canadians’ perceptions of the United Nations, and trends in that perception, UNA-Canada regularly surveys Canadians. ere are important and exclusive biases in our ‘sample’. First, the survey goes to those who have previously given to charities (not UNA-Canada) or who are subscribers to periodicals which might have an international, development or national focus. Based on the research of charitable giving by Canada’s leading charitable giving scholar, Paul Reed, formerly of Statistics Canada and currently at Carleton University, our sample is biased to be representative of the “civic core” of Canada: the 25% who, by and large, have higher household income, are civically active, older, frequently religious and frequently
helping others both informally and directly. ey are also significantly more likely to vote. We believe this set or cohort of biases makes their input particularly valuable. Additionally, my own assessment is that they also have a significantly higher likelihood of following news – and therefore may be, contrapuntally, both more likely to support the UN and more likely to do so with a critical eye, or higher expectations, of the Organization. With these caveats in mind, the Canadian civic core remains steadfast in their support of the United Nations and its work. An astounding 88% of respondents say that Canada needs to commit strongly to UN initiatives that address environmental issues; 84% believe that Canada should lead on activities on the UN principle of the Responsibility to Protect; 81% endorse supporting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the follow up goals. at this support has remained solid in the face of some countervailing views expressed by some Canadian leaders speaks to an awareness of the need for this ‘global table’ during times of conflict and geopolitical change. While the overall statistics remain remarkably stable year over year, there are two noteworthy changes in the numbers from our 2014 survey. ere is a decline in how Canadians rate Canada’s participation in the UN, from 61% in 2012 who feel we are doing well to 46% in 2014. Secondly, in 2014, a year of egregious
violence, the uprising of extremism and terrorism, conflict in eastern Ukraine, ongoing conflict in the Central Africa Republic and South Sudan, 65% of Canadian believe that the UN oﬀers the best alternative to resolve conflict – up from 59% in 2012. In the interests of fully representing this data and analysis, there was a matching decline, from 41% in 2012 to 33% in 2014, of those who answered ‘unsure’ to the question of whether the UN oﬀers the best alternative to resolve conflict. is suggests that in the face of increased global conflict, those Canadians who are giving, volunteering, helping their neighbours and voting, believe even more strongly that the United Nations is the best hope for resolution. ese indicators are supported by other polls. For example, the well-regarded Pew Global Attitudes Project, which measures public impressions of the United Nations in 39 countries around the world, reported in 2013 that among Canadians, 62% have a favourable view of the UN, while only 25% hold an unfavourable view. For those who wonder where Canadians sit on our role in the world and our relationship and ‘perceptions’ of the UN, it is clear they don’t sit – they stand with the United Nations, in support of a better world.
Kathryn White is the President and CEO of the United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada), since 2004. She also serves as elected Chair of the Board of the World Federation of UN Associations (WFUNA). Prior to her work at UNACanada, she had been the head of Black & White Inc. an Ottawa-based international consultancy specializing in foreign and social policy research, and development. Ms. White has published on issues including the role of civil society in global health pandemics – which instigated a change of architecture at the UN in response to avian influenza; on successfully integrating dissent into global conferences; and on the perceptions of facilitators in the negotiation towards the Good Friday Accord in Northern Ireland.