Canadian Perspectives and Contributions

Human Security: Canadian Perspectives and Contributions
A Selection of Media Clippings and Academic Publications
The London Free Press


October 2, 2000, Monday, Final EDITION
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The following is an excerpt from an address by MP Sue Barnes (L — London West) to a conference on equality in London Friday.

I want to remind us of what I believe is the intrinsic core value system of Canadians, values given voice by the international treaties we have ratified, beginning with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, now nearly 52 years old, and ranging up to Bill C-23 on modernization of benefits, which received royal assent only a few short months ago in June.

Canadians have always been leaders when addressing human rights and equality issues. How many of you are aware that Professor John Humphrey of Quebec was a drafter of the United Nations declaration? The Canadian Charter of Rights and

Freedoms, adopted in 1982 and enacted under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chretien, includes the equality rights section 15. We can justly be proud of the recognition of human rights in the basic constitutional fabric of our country. In addition, the Canadian Human Rights Act provides protection against discrimination in areas within federal jurisdiction.

What is compelling and pervasive is the language of human rights and inclusiveness. Canada has always sought to balance the rights of the individual with the collective good. We have various institutions to monitor, educate and authoritatively speak on these legislated statements of our values, including the Supreme Court and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the Commons Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Status of Disabled Persons, and many non-governmental organizations that help promote and monitor the non-discriminatory rights of our citizens.

Two Januarys ago, I sat listening to country reports being presented at the United Nations on the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In the question period after formal presentation, countries were encouraged to press actively for even more progress on women’s rights. Canada, by the way, was one of the first countries to ratify the convention in 1981.

Canada was founded upon the pillars of peace, order and good government. We are the first country in the world to table comprehensive implementation legislation for the International Criminal Court which will be able to deal with the human rights atrocities which continue in our world.

Through our minister of foreign affairs, Lloyd Axworthy, we have been pressing the world to adopt a human security agenda. The preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights calls for “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

Article 1 begins with the statement “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

I know everyone in this room believes in these sentiments. One would even think a discussion of a person’s rights should be non-controversial. But some people in Canada are frightened by these discussions. They feel threatened. Misguided fears descend to an “us-vs.-them” mentality. Exclusion instead of inclusion.

Confrontation instead of confirmation.

As chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, travelling to hear testimony on the Nisga’a Treaty, I witnessed sentiments of racism. I have witnessed a complete lack of understanding of inherent treaty rights of our native peoples.

The mail I received from those opposed to adding sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act would surprise you. I fail to understand why some among us only welcome each other as sinners deserving redemption rather than as full members of the human family.

I have values. I have a family — I have never met a human being not from and in a family. And I am a woman. I am as equal to you as you are equal to me.

Together, we form and shape our society. We look to our laws, institutions and communities to provide and protect and value all of us.

Canada is multicultural, multi-faith and a great democracy. We have a country large enough in geography, spirit and justice to include all of us. We value peace. We value education. We value rights and what is right.

Some in our Canadian society will not agree. They also have a right to do so.

They also may believe, in their own wisdom, that they are right. It is our ongoing work to always keep to a high road, working for all Canadians valuing human rights, democracy rights and legal rights.

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He made us feel bigger for the uncomplicated reason that others thought he was big. (Some of course, Margaret Thatcher, Richard Nixon, a number of Ronald Reagan’s aides, especially those who enjoyed waging the Cold War, thoroughly loathed him.)

As well, some part was just nostalgia for the temper of the times when he first came among us – of Expo and mini skirts and peace and love and the energy, idealistic if confused, of the baby boomers when they still were barely past their babyhood. He always reminded us of when we were younger, more innocent, more hopeful.

But there was more to the relationship, a lot more. Its depth and its longevity has to mean, surely, that within ourselves there is some quality, however latent, that is larger and bolder than the limitations and the inhibitions imposed upon us by history and tradition, by the weather and by the mesmerizing expanse of our geography, by the intimidating presence of our superpower neighbour, so that, as a people, our highest aspiration has always seemed destined to be that of survival/la survivance.

In this sense, Trudeau’s appeal acted like a mirror of what could be called the inner Canadian.

No one is surprised that the Americans should have elected a Kennedy and a Franklin D. Roosevelt, or the British, a Thatcher, or the French a Charles de Gaulle. Neither, therefore, should we ourselves be surprised – nor outside observers either – that we have shown ourselves capable of electing a Trudeau.

The relationship between him and us was always full of creative tensions. A good many Canadians – Westerners, Quebec nationalists, business leaders – cordially detested him. At one period – 1978-79, his pan-Canadian popularity was the

lowest ever recorded in the polls (although later exceeded, easily, by Mulroney).

One part of the tension between him and us was that he was so UN-Canadian. He was utterly unlike all the rest of us in his capacity for ruthlessness, in his self-discipline, in the way he honed himself to intellectual and physical excellence, in his sophistication, his worldliness, and his fearlessness, whether in refusing to duck from the Coke bottles thrown at the reviewing stand in Montreal on St. Jean Baptiste Day in 1968 or in declaring “Just watch me” when asked how far he’d go to crush urban terrorists.

Above all, he was unlike the rest of us in his implacable, unapologetic, self-confidence.

He was capable of exceptional, UN-Canadian, grace, by one-liners like, after he’d won back power, “Welcome to the ’80s,” or when he crossed the floor of the Commons almost like a dancer to pin a rose on the lapel of the aged ex- prime- minister John Diefenbaker on his birthday.He was capable also of uncommon, and UN-Canadian, cruelty, dismissing MPs as ” nobodies,” more cruelly still, dismissing Biafra, where thousands were then dying in a savage civil war, with the terse, “Where’s Biafra?” Most of the rest of us are much more predictable. His character – deliberately – did not scan.

He was of course sexier and sassier than any of us were or dared imagine we might be. He was quite simply magnetic. In his presence – “a sheathed cleverness, inhibiting all but the most self-confident” in the phrase of British writer Jan Morris – men grew uneasy and women grew excited.

Most relevant of all to his relationship with us, he was the least Canadian – by far – of all our leaders. Shrewdly, Joe Clark once described him as “a European Canadian, not a North American Canadian.”

He spent little time in the English-speaking provinces (not counting skiing at Whistler, B.C.) and while he loved Quebec, comparatively few there loved him in return.

The part of Canada he was always most at ease with was the North – where there are few Canadians. He always seemed more at home abroad, at some conference of high-domed intellectuals or back-packing through Asia. A Swedish journalist once wrote, astutely if a bit woundingly from our perspective, “He seems uncomfortable being a Canadian.”

The Canadian doctrine of fairness – the commonest word in our political discourse, as “freedom” is for Americans – translated to him as gibberish. He didn’t play fair, didn’t know the meaning of the term. He always made certain not only that he had won but that he was seen clearly to have won.

Yet he was one of us. He could never have said, as John A. Macdonald did, ” British I was born, and British I will die,” nor would he ever have said that he was French. He was not, like Brian Mulroney, an American wannabe.

Canada excited him, stimulated him and, for all that he was a self-described ” Citizen of the world,” this society provided him with the stage upon which he performed his entire life. And it provided him with the raw material for his mental gymnastics.

More accurately, it could be said that it was Canada’s potential that excited Trudeau and stimulated him. He once described this rather sedate society, located off-centre from the power centres of the world, as a “brilliant prototype for the building of tomorrow’s civilization.” To allow this society to be split apart and therefore, almost inevitably, to vanish not long afterwards, would be “a crime against humanity,” he said. Had anyone else, Canadian or foreign, made such observations we would, at best, have dismissed the praise with a self-deprecating shrug, more probably we would have – defensively – dismissed the author as clearly incompetent to judge.

Trudeau, as prophet about Canada’s potential, we at least half-believed, and wholly wanted to believe. We knew he had committed his whole being and his life to the pursuit of excellence. We knew be believed in reason over passion. We knew therefore that when he made such comments he was not engaging in sentimentality nor in political advantage. We knew he meant them, so they had to mean something.

Trudeau lauded Canada, more exactly challenged it to pursue excellence, because he believed this strange country could actually do just that.

He made us believe in ourselves because we believed in him.

Because he was so unlike us, because he was to a substantial extent not a Canadian at all, and because it was so utterly UN-Canadian – certainly way back then – to pursue excellence, since to pursue excellence involves accepting the possibility of abject, humiliating failure, the relationship between him and us was always stressful, volatile, liable at any time to break asunder. Like the relationship between ill-matched but intimately- bonded lovers, alternating between the stormy and the passionate.

It is this relationship between him and us that is central to the Trudeau mystique and the Trudeau legacy, far more so than any of his actual policies, important though they may have been from the National Energy Policy to wage and price controls. The only parts of his policy legacy that will endure and that will always shape this nation are bilingualism and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Early on, two sharp-eyed observers came about as close as it’s possible to come to capturing the nature of the bond between Canadians and Trudeau.

The late Charles Ritchie, that shrewd old diplomat and observer of life, wrote his impressions as a series of questions in his diary after first meeting Trudeau in London, when he was High Commissioner there in 1969. “Will his methods work in a country like Canada, traditionally governed by compromise and subterfuge? Will Canadians long endure Trudeau’s explicitness of will?”

A year earlier, during the election that made Trudeau prime minister, Carole Tessier, a 24-year-old junior reporter on the small town daily, the Sherbrooke Record, wrote up their encounter during which she, with the easy daring of youth, had taken up Trudeau’s challenge and had followed him into a hotel sauna wearing only a towel. “I felt I was pulled along,” she wrote. “He was the elusive jester who dared us to catch him, and laughed when we tried.”

We never caught Trudeau of course. He was always several steps ahead of us.

He arrived out of nowhere and swept the whole country along behind him. Almost defeated in 1972 after running a “rational” campaign, he switched overnight into a hard-knuckle political pro, spending money freely and ridiculing his opponent’s policy of wage and price controls – “Zap, you’re frozen” – and then, once back in office, quickly implementing the exact same policy.

He married Margaret Sinclair, a flower child who bore him three sons, the first two on Christmas Day. When she went off chasing the Rolling Stones, leaving him a cuckold, he turned his attention to his sons and to the beauties of the day, Liona Boyd, Barbra Streisand. He never blinked, never criticized Margaret, and he never apologized. Defeated in 1979, he popped right back again when he spotted the chance to regain power and also after reading the commentaries on his then 11 years in power – his “obituaries” – which chronicled how little he’d achieved after so long.

He left power suddenly, in 1984, making up his mind while walking through a late February snowstorm even though the polls showed he could have won yet again. In retirement, he devoted himself to bringing up his sons, and to travel. But every now and then he re-emerged, transforming the political landscape like an immense whale breaking the surface, by his pronouncements on the Meech Lake constitutional deal and on the Charlottetown referendum.

He did everything his way, including siring a daughter when past 70. And he had an infinite number of masks to beguile us and distract us and confuse us – of philosopher prince, of solitary canoeist, of demon lover, of brawling street fighter, and, although contradictorily he possessed little sense of humour, of wit, quipping effortless when asked about his Mercedes, ” Do you mean the car, or the girl?”

Always he was just out of our reach, the jester, the magician, the magus, laughing as we tumbled after him.

In one vital sense, though, we did catch Trudeau. We caught up with him by accepting his explicitness of will – about Canada.

We allowed ourselves to believe – dared to believe because he’d told us, that Canada actually might be a “brilliant prototype” for others. We accepted that when he said this and when he said it would be “a crime against humanity” to let this country fail, he was saying what he really believed.

He thereby transformed our consciousness about ourselves.

Trudeau, of course, inherited a Canada that was already three-quarters formed.

Long before him, major leaders had shaped this country – Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier, Mackenzie King. Important strands of our contemporary character and values can be traced back to long before him – the internationalism of Lester Pearson, the welfare liberalism that goes back to prairie collectivism and to the social gospel movement.

The “peace, order and good government” tradition, which served Trudeau so well when he imposed the War Measures Act to smash the urban terrorism of the FLQ terrorists, can be traced back all the way to the Loyalists coming north so they could still be ruled by hierarchy rather than by populism. Much of our national character comes from the simple fact of our northernness.

To a remarkable extent, though, an extent for which there are few national parallels outside of Canada excepting among countries that have newly won independence or that get re-assembled after some devastating war, the Canada of today is Trudeau’s Canada. More exactly, this is true of the English- speaking part of Canada.

This point was first made by York University political scientist Kenneth McRoberts. To heighten his credibility, McRoberts is a harsh critic of Trudeau’s constitutional policies, accusing him of having brought Canada to ” the point of collapse” by his hard line towards Quebec.

But about Trudeau’s impact upon all other Canadians, McRoberts is unstinting, however reluctantly, in his appreciation of the scale of Trudeau’s effect. ” It is a profound irony,” McRoberts has written, “that Trudeau, the self- declared anti-nationalist, is embraced by much of English-Canada as the ‘saviour’ of the Canadian nation, and ultimately emerges as the champion of Canadian nationalism.”

In fact, this is a misuse of the word nationalism. The better one would be Canadianism, since it has no ethnic base but is grounded instead in the notion of “civic nationalism” or of a people defining themselves by their attachment to certain values and institutions.

Among these: Bilingualism, multiculturalism, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the ideal of tolerance, the rule of civility (something that Trudeau learned from Canadians rather than the other way around), a sense of obligation towards the losers in life. Lastly, internationalism, Trudeau having revived Pearsonianism by his 1984 peace initiative.

As well, the entrenched conviction (outside of Quebec, and excepting also among native peoples) that all individual Canadians are equal and that all provinces are equal. It is this political legacy of Trudeau that explains the extent of the opposition in English-speaking Canada to the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown referendum.

The Charter, his Charter, above all. It has become the symbolic, and substantive, statement of Canadianism. It determines how we relate to each other as individuals and as groups, in the legal sense but in lockstep also in the cultural and social sense. It is more popular than any other instrument or institution that defines the country, from the flag to the RCMP. It’s how Canadians see themselves, tolerant, civil, protective of the weak and of minorities.

An argument can be made that this Canada of Trudeau’s is now becoming yesterday’s Canada. Increasingly, contemporary Canada is an Americanized Canada.

This is happening through the effect of continental free trade which has caused the border to fade away, perhaps, before that long, to vanish entirely in an economic sense through a common currency and full economic union with freedom of movement of people as well as of goods.

It has happened as much because the dominant political creeds of today – the supremacy of the marketplace, globalization, free trade, small government, low taxes, individual responsibility rather than collective institutions, are essentially America’s creed, not Canada’s, and most certainly not Trudeau’s.

In this sense, Trudeau is, or seems to be, Yesterday’s Man, more so, curiously, than Chretien who has balanced the budget that Trudeau left so deep in the red, and who has embraced the free trade, continental and global, that he resisted.

What endures is the pride in Canadianism that Trudeau did so much to liberate and to magnify.

And not just pride in the country itself. Add to this an attachment to some of the values Trudeau came to embody, and to enhance. The massive public support for universal, public, health care, and entrenched hostility to an American-style two-tier system, is a direct echo of the “Just Society” that he once proclaimed could be within Canada’s reach.

The “human security” agenda crafted by Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, for which again popular support is overwhelming, has as its origins, initially Pearsonianism and subsequently Trudeau’s “peace initiative” of 1984-85.

Canada’s immigration and refugee program, the most generous in the world, is the logical extension of his policy of multiculturalism. If Canada really is, as the United Nations keeps saying, the most agreeable society to live in in the world, some important part of that achievement has been effected by the protections that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides to minority groups of all kinds, ethnic, cultural, religious, sexual.

He’s gone now. For some years, his advancing years, Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer and the psychological effects of the death of his son Michel, have reduced Trudeau from being a presence in our lives to being a memory.

It’s a memory, though, that remains alive. It’s the memory of what Canada once was, and therefore, can again be. In this sense, the famous phrase, “He haunts us still” remains true.



Pierre Trudeau hams it up for the camera, striking a pose by a waterfall during a 1974 visit to Guyana. REUTERS FILE PHOTO


A playful Pierre Trudeau enjoys an amusement park ride in Concord, Ont. in May, 1982. Less than two years later, he announced his retirement from politics.

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IT’S A SHAME that Lloyd Axworthy didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize.

The loss that counts isn’t his personal one. Neither is it Canada’s. It is instead that an opportunity was missed to advance an important new idea in international relations Axworthy was nominated for the 1998 prize and was a serious contender. But the judges opted, unimaginatively, to give the prize only to Jodi Williams, the head of the Campaign to Ban Land Mines, rather than also jointly to the politician who had cajoled and motivated other governments into joining the project.

The idea Axworthy was espousing – it was realized when some 120 countries agreed to sign a treaty banning land mines and providing for the removal of those already planted – was that of a partnership between the so-called ” civil society” of voluntary organizations and public interest groups and of progressive governments in order to achieve some particular international cause or institutional project.

This idea, I would argue, is the most important of the ideas Axworthy brought to his office, significantly more so than his better-known ones about the use of “soft power” and about “human security.”

Axworthy, who has now announced that he will step down from his portfolio in December to join a new international think-tank in Vancouver, has been Canada’s most important foreign minister in the near half a century since Lester Pearson held that post way back in the 1950s.

Pearson put Canada on the international map by performing as what he called ” a honest broker” initially between the U.S. and Europe, subsequently globally by the concept of peacekeeping for which he won the Nobel Prize in 1957.

During the years in between there have been capable foreign ministers, most especially Joe Clark during the time Brian Mulroney was in power. But Axworthy is the first to have come up with a new idea about how Canada can use its potential to best advantage in international affairs.

For all their attractiveness, the concepts of soft power and of human security have serious weaknesses. Soft power is in the end, well, soft. Human security, or the notion that all people everywhere should have the same basic human rights, depends upon the same governments that are oppressing their people to allow the outside world to intervene to protect them, or be forced to do this.

Real, hard power – military, financial, economic, political – still matters critically. Effectively, though, it’s all now concentrated in one place -Washington. It’s the single superpower, the “indispensable nation” in the phrase of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

She’s right. Where the U.S. chooses to go, from Haiti to Kosovo, something happens, whether for the good or the bad. Where it choose to stand aside, as in most of Africa, chaos reigns.

Here’s where Axworthy’s idea of combining civil society groups, many of which are based in the U.S. together with progressive governments – Tony Blair’s New Labour was an important addition – comes in. Civil society groups, with their skill at lobbying and their credibility with the public, can play a critical role in achieving objectives such as the land mines treaty and the treaty establishing an international criminal court.

These campaigns, though, embarrassed, and therefore, irritated, many in Washington. For reasons of national interest and pride, the U.S. refused to sign either treaty. Similarly, Axworthy’s most recent campaign to halt the use of child soldiers has infuriated the Pentagon because it threatens its recruiting of 17-year-olds.

An anti-Axworthy campaign has been underway for some time in Washington (rather similar to the one against Pierre Trudeau when he undertook his 1984- 85 peace initiative). It hasn’t helped that Alliance MPs have taken up the cry that Axworthy is “anti-American.”

The Nobel Prize would have given Axworthy the stature, not just on the international stage but, as really counts internationally, in the U.S. itself, to offset this whispering campaign. This is the opportunity that the Nobel judges missed. Had he won the Nobel, Axworthy probably would have stayed on in his portfolio and would have continued to be, on the inside, a champion of the outside civil society groups.

With Axworthy gone, the partnership between progressive governments and civil society groups is going to lose some important part of its momentum and vigour.

The international agenda will become more conventional and less ambitious.

This sad fact does confirm Axworthy’s importance. He’s our first foreign minister since Pearson about whom it could be said that he actually made a difference internationally.

Richard Gwyn can be reached at


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HEADLINE: WORLD NEWS: THE AMERICAS: Foreign affairs minister to quit NEWS DIGEST


Foreign affairs minister to quit

Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s often controversial foreign affairs minister, is preparing to quit federal politics after 21 years. In his four years as foreign minister, Mr Axworthy was a passionate advocate of a “human security” agenda, pushing trade, development and humanitarian issues to the centre of Canadian policy, but often drawing the ire of the US.

Mr Axworthy, 60, said he wrote to Jean Chretien, the prime minister, to say he would not run in the next federal election, which must be held within a year.

The move comes as Mr Chretien is pondering the exact timing of the poll, and could open the way to a cabinet reshuffle.

Speculation has been building for months that Mr Axworthy was considering stepping down to take up an academic post. Widely credited with achieving a relatively high profile for Canada in international diplomacy, he urged an international ban on land mines, and was a forceful advocate of an international court of justice.

However, his outspoken support of such policies, and a willingness to pursue better relations with Cuba, provoked tensions with Washington. Mr Axworthy was also an early critic of the US’s proposed National Missile Defence System. Ken Warn, Toronto

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Lloyd Axworthy could have been a fiercer critic of America’s infatuation with The Bomb. He could have been harder on China for jailing democrats or on Russia for turning Chechnya into a smoking cinder. He could have pushed harder to sanction a Canadian company for fuelling war in Sudan. But Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s government has always been reluctant to defy powerful allies, trading partners and business interests. Axworthy did what he could, given Ottawa’s self-imposed constraints.

Canada’s outgoing foreign minister is one of the best in memory. He brought idealism, energy and passion to the job. That’s rare in the cynical corridors of diplomacy. He also made a difference.

Ottawa today has more credibility, thanks to his efforts.

Now that Axworthy has confirmed he is quitting politics, Chretien should appoint a successor with the same qualities.

Defying American skepticism and hostility, Axworthy used his impish charm and his talented staff to bring together political leaders, humanitarian agencies and engaged citizens to lobby for an International Criminal Court, for a ban on land mines, for curbing small arms and for helping children in war zones.

He also marshalled opposition to Washington’s misguided missile defence program. Critics derided these campaigns as quixotic or wrong-headed. But Axworthy helped make idealism and activism respectable again.

A staunch defender of the United Nations system, Axworthy also won praise for inviting a debate on how and when the Security Council should intervene in sovereign states to protect civilians at risk. So that Rwanda or Bosnia become less thinkable.

He called for greater foreign aid, debt relief and freer trade with developing countries, though Ottawa’s penny-pinching undercut that appeal.

And when Slobodan Milosevic attacked Kosovo, Axworthy ably defended Canada’s decision to go to war to prevent a million Europeans from being driven from their ancestral homeland.

Scholars bandy around terms like “soft power” and “human security” to describe Axworthy’s people-centred coalition building.

But his strength was political, not theoretical. Knowing that idealism is a potent force he enlisted it where he could, to shame governments into action.

At the Security Council, indifference to genocide is no longer an option. War criminals don’t sleep quite so well. Fewer children are threatened by mines.

People are demanding that globalization be made to work for the poor. It’s a start.


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There was much ambitious talk about reforming the United Nations from the bottom up as the General Assembly kicked off its fall session this past week. There always is.

But Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy is a scarred veteran of the diplomatic trenches. He’s also preparing to swap politics for an academic career. His own contribution to the debate was refreshingly down-to-earth.

Canada would be happy, he told reporters, if U.N. diplomats would simply remember why they are posted there.

It is to “ensure that indifference and inaction … are no longer an option” when people are imperilled.

That thought pretty much sums up an impressive 4-year run as this country’s chief diplomat. Though some dismissed Axworthy as a dreamer for urging the Security Council to make “human security” more of a priority, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and others have now echoed his plea to “put people first” in their speeches at the Millennial Summit leading up to the General Assembly.

In his own address last week Axworthy briefly sketched some of Ottawa’s ongoing priorities: fostering an international debate on just when and how the Security Council should set aside national sovereignty and intervene in civil conflicts; lobbying the big powers to live up to their pledges to rid themselves of nuclear weapons; establishing a universally accepted International Criminal Court; encouraging business to make globalization work for the poor; helping war-affected children; and promoting aid, trade and development.

Diverse though the agenda is, it hangs together well enough, and will hang together even better if Ottawa put in the requisite energy and resources.

It invites our many partners at the U.N. to “rethink what it means to be responsible sovereign states … to serve the world’s people.”

Meaningful words, from an activist diplomat who has helped nudge the U.N. down a better path.

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BYLINE: Allan Thompson

to live in perpetual terror, every day? . . . Why should we be the martyrs of these stupid, ridiculous conflicts?’ Youth delegate to International Conference on War-Affected Children make moving call for action to stop war Axworthy


WINNIPEG – Young people touched by war had a blunt message yesterday for cabinet ministers from around the world who joined the international conference on war-affected children. Grow up. The clarion call for serious action by the adults who run the world was stated most clearly by youth delegate Florian Bizindavyi, who has endured seven years of conflict in the tiny African country of Burundi. “How do I explain to you, or make you understand, how hard it is to live in perpetual terror, every day?” the 18-year-old told the opening ceremony for yesterday’s ministerial session, attended by ministers and ambassadors from more than 60 countries.

“I was lucky not to lose my parents, or siblings, but I can’t forget my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my friends, who were massacred,” he said. “Why should we be the martyrs of these stupid, ridiculous conflicts?” he asked. The cabinet ministers yesterday joined the gathering that began a week ago and has included several days of youth sessions and expert panels.

It is to wrap up today with publication of an agenda for action. But activists fear the document will stick to generalities, rather than obliging governments to take action. The draft agenda in circulation is a much tamer document than the one put out by the panel of experts who met here earlier this week.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who spearheaded the conference as part of his human security agenda, made an urgent plea to his fellow ministers for concerted action.

“It’s crucial that we take the actions to fulfill the hopes of those children who have spoken so eloquently and effectively this week,” Axworthy said. He repeated his call for a campaign to ratify the International Criminal Court and new rules banning the use of child soldiers, in time for next year’s U.N. special session on children.

The assembled ministers were also scolded by Graca Machel, the Mozambican children’s rights advocate who authored a landmark U.N. report in 1996 on the impact of war on children, and came to the conference to deliver an update on her findings.

Machel blasted governments for turning a blind eye to the plight of children. “We can’t continue to sacrifice our children and continue to say, in our political discussions, ‘We’ll take all measures to protect them,’ and then go home and make blind eyes. “I’m speaking because I’m a mother. You are also mothers and parents . . . Imagine if your children of 7, 10, 12 would be in the position of these poor children who are in the field with arms. “You wouldn’t sleep. You would remove everything to get your child back home. The problem with our politicians is we look at those children as other people’s children, not our children.”

Machel, a former cabinet minister in Mozambique, is the widow of former Mozambican president Samora Machel and is now married to South African statesman Nelson Mandela. She called for: Legal measures banning the use of child soldiers. Increased funding to combat HIV/AIDS, a disease that is intertwined with conflict and afflicts millions of children.

An end to the use of comprehensive sanctions that inevitably hurt children, and a switch to more targeted sanctions such as travel bans, which hurt leaders. A treaty controlling the transfer of small arms, which are the real weapon of “mass destruction” and kill more kids than they protect. A decision about which U.N. agency should take primary responsibility for people displaced by war, many of whom are children.

An end to the double standard in emergency relief budgets that saw war- affected children in Africa receive a fraction of the aid channeled to child victims in Kosovo.



Honorary conference chairperson Graca Machel speaks to foreign ministers and youth delegates in Winnipeg yesterday. She laid out a clear agenda of action.

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IN WORLD WAR I, 90 per cent of the victims were soldiers, but now 90 per cent of the victims of most wars are civilians. The end of the Cold War reduced wars between states but increased ethnic and religious conflicts within nations.

States have greater security but millions of their minorities are being killed, maimed, injured, raped and made homeless. What to do with states that abuse, sometimes slaughter, their own citizens? The world’s response in the last decade has been uneven – from Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, Kosovo, Kashmir and Chechnya to East Timor. The United Nations, and its principal power, the United States, were confused, for several reasons: Neither was prepared for the way the 1990s unfolded.

Traditional peacekeeping proved inadequate where there was no peace to keep. Bill Clinton was still feeling his way through foreign policy, often reacting only to headlines and TV footage.

Policy coherence was slow to emerge around a Canadian idea that human rights be safeguarded, globally. Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy’s “human security agenda” included banning land mines and child labour, and prosecuting those committing genocides and crimes against humanity. The special tribunals on Rwanda and Yugoslavia paved the way for the proposed permanent International Criminal Court. But there’s been less consensus on humanitarian intervention in areas of conflict, including military intervention. It collides against two realities: the veto of the five permanent members of the Security Council, and the well-entrenched principle of the sovereignty of states.

“Human rights are no reason to interfere in the internal affairs of a state,” said Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in reaction to world outrage at the Russian onslaught on Chechnya. Slobodan Milosevic said so about NATO’s air war against Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. So does China regularly, fearing outside interference in Tibet and Xinjiang. So would India, which wants no meddling in Kashmir. More credible sources also make the same argument. International experts worry about the ill-defined and arbitrary nature of such interventions. With no Security Council consensus, it was NATO that bombed Yugoslavia. But similar circumstances brought no action by anyone against Russia on Chechnya.

A middle way has to be found between respecting borders and turning a blind eye to civilian slaughter. Axworthy found an ally in U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and, surprisingly, Clinton. In a ground-breaking speech last year, Annan said: “Nothing in the Charter precludes a recognition that there are rights beyond borders.” In 1994 he had taken much flak as head of U.N. peacekeeping for its inaction in Rwanda. The blame for that really rested with the U.S., which didn’t want to touch Africa after Somalia. But Clinton eventually conceded that the inaction was a huge mistake. By last year, he was coming around to the Canadian view, as he put it, that “the internal affairs of a nation can legitimately become the concern of the international community.” He was also addressing the inconsistencies in international responses, due to domestic politics or global strategic imperatives: “We can’t respond to every tragedy in every corner of the world, but just because we can’t do everything for everyone doesn’t mean that, for the sake of consistency, we should do nothing for no one.”

He also agreed with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe that human rights have primacy over state sovereignty. That represented huge progress, given American reluctance to sign on to the Criminal Court or the land mines treaty. (The intransigence is anchored partly in a historic argument over whether international law can override the American constitution.)

Speaking recently to the U.N. summit of 150 leaders, Clinton said internal ethnic and religious wars pose a huge challenge: “We must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity. But whether it is diplomacy, sanctions or collective force, we must find ways to protect people as well as borders. How shall we do that?”

A U.N. commission just set up by Axworthy has been asked to come up with a doctrine of intervention that would allow the U.N. to act, either itself or through such regional security organizations as NATO or the Organization of American States or the Organization of African Unity.

This is a historic development, an inevitable outcome of the post-Soviet era in which nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population lives under democracy, as opposed to 35 per cent just 20 years ago. The demise of ideological and authoritarian certainties did spark some ugly nationalism. But a widening rule of law invites protection of human rights and the nurturing of a global consciousness.

Recognizing it ahead of others, and shaping it, constitutes Lloyd Axworthy’s, and Canada’s, lasting contribution to the new world order.

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LOAD-DATE: September 17, 2000
Copyright 2000 News World Communications, Inc.
The Washington Times
September 02, 2000, Saturday, Final Edition
LENGTH: 267 words
HEADLINE: ‘Altruism may be overshadowing realism’ in column

Lloyd Axworthy’s Aug. 29 Op-Ed piece (“Real human security”) is a lucid and cohesive treatment of the concept of human security. His argument, however, would have been more credible had he addressed the framework of stability that is essential for human security to be assured. In most cases, that framework is built and maintained by combat-capable armed forces. Since that point is not treated in the column, I suspect that the idea’s altruism may be overshadowing realism.

Mr. Axworthy also seems to put the cart before the horse. Unless aggression is blocked or reversed – and peace enforced by conventional military operations – human security programs cannot be applied successfully. This point has been driven home against a backdrop of horrors stretching from the Balkans, through Rwanda, to Sierra Leone.

One cannot help but wonder how human security came into prominence in Canada and elsewhere. Did it grow from the “common security” concept proposed by the peace movement component of the international left starting in the mid-1980s? It is significant that since the end of the Cold War, many so-called peace groups seem to have reinvented themselves as non-government organizations (NGOs). While most NGOs pursue laudable objectives, others clearly seek to circumvent national governments and pursue their own agendas under the banner of humanitarianism. In the end, there is a need for balance to make progress in human affairs. Signs have emerged recently that this may be occurring between proponents of human security and military forces.



LOAD-DATE: September 2, 2000
Copyright 2000 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto Star
July 29, 2000, Saturday, Edition 1
LENGTH: 857 words


IN A CAPITAL where almost everyone is talking about the next election, it is Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy’s silence that is most intriguing. With all the studied ambiguity bred in the bones of diplomacy, Axworthy is neatly keeping his options open amid speculation he will leave politics long before an election expected no later than spring. So far, Axworthy’s only response to reports he will abandon government to head a University of British Columbia international relations think-tank has been to confirm he is considering an offer, but won’t make a precipitous decision. In fact, the decision has been in the making, and in the wind, since Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s office began signaling that Axworthy’s four-year tenure in a job he loves might not be open-ended. Axworthy’s response to the possibility he would be moved as part of a plan to shuffle Finance Minister Paul Martin into foreign affairs tells a lot about Axworthy and almost as much about the ugliness of the undeclared Liberal leadership race. In public, Axworthy reveals none of the anger and hurt those who know him well say he felt. While cabinet ministers serve only at their leader’s pleasure, Axworthy and those around him believe his performance in foreign affairs, his party work in Western Canada and his loyalty to Chretien warranted better treatment.

They have a point. Unlike so many pretenders to the crown, Axworthy can make a credible case that he is the most significant foreign minister since Lester B. Pearson. Operating from the sprawling, Sphinx-like Sussex Dr. complex named after the man who pushed Canada into the vanguard of international affairs, Axworthy continues to put a unique, if controversial, stamp on Canada’s foreign policy.

A measure of Axworthy’s stature, one that echoes Pearson’s achievement, was his Nobel Prize nomination for work on the 1997 international ban on the production, deployment and sale of anti-personnel land mines. Even though the U.S., Russia and China refused to sign, more than 130 countries ratified the treaty, making the world, and particularly the developing world, a safer place.

Important as that agreement is, Axworthy’s greatest contribution has been his proselytizing of the principles of soft power and human security. Those principles are now regularly demonstrated in peacekeeping operations and in the commitments of international organizations. But the real significance is that they globalize foreign policy. Intellectually, Axworthy twisted the focus from the state and its interests to the protection of those who can’t protect themselves. With some justification, critics argue Axworthy’s soft power depends on the big stick of others. They also point out that while he pursued an activist agenda, the Prime Minister, through Raymond Chretien, his nephew and Canada’s ambassador in Washington, controlled our critical relationship with the U.S. And it is also true Axworthy would leave behind a department where morale has been driven dangerously low by uncompetitive salaries, stressful working conditions and glacial advancement.

Still, Axworthy’s record tilts heavily toward positive. His agenda raised Canada’s profile while providing cover for the government’s slow drift right on the political spectrum. Politically, he remains a cornerstone in a region where the Liberal superstructure is suspect.

So why, then, is a minister at the top of his form in a coveted portfolio edging toward the exit? Part of the answer is in the question. At 60, and after 21 years in Ottawa, Axworthy’s value and prospects have peaked. Even though the Martin scenario has been largely beaten back by the finance minister’s resistance, Axworthy, who is too far left to mount a leadership challenge, has nowhere left to go here.

In contrast, the real world beyond Ottawa is full of promise. For an ideologue with an academic bent, a think-tank is an attractive interim destination enroute to a prestigious post with a non-governmental organization or the rich remuneration of the private sector. Either would allow pursuit of his policy interests while giving Axworthy more time to spend at home, particularly with his son.

From Canada’s perspective, his departure is far less appealing. At least partly due to the damaging internal dynamic of the Liberal party, one of a handful of ministers with a firm grasp of their portfolio is leaving public service while he still has much to offer. Worse still, none of his prospective successors – trade minister Pierre Pettigrew, intergovernmental affairs minister Stephane Dion or long-shot Elinor Caplan, the immigration minister – is likely to impose him- or herself so forcefully on Canadian foreign policy.

While Axworthy is leaving his options open, his staff is preparing for a transition that likely wouldn’t occur before key human security summits planned for the United Nations and Winnipeg in the first week of September. If he leaves, Canada will be richer for his time in foreign affairs and the Liberal party poorer for his passing from the political scene.


There is speculation in Ottawa this summer that Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy might soon end his 21-year federal political career.

LOAD-DATE: July 29, 2000
Copyright 2000 Micromedia Limited
Canadian Business and Current Affairs
Copyright 2000 Hill Times Publishing Inc.
Hill Times
July 24, 2000
SECTION: (547) Jl 24’00 pg 6; ISSN: 0848-0427
CBCA-ACC-NO: 4911576
LENGTH: 993 words
HEADLINE: Dynamism, independence frame Axworthy’s uneven legacy
BYLINE: Liddar, Bhupinder S

Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy’s rumoured departure would be a great loss to Canadian foreign policy into which he injected a much needed dose of essential ingredients of dynamism, romanticism, direction, and above all independence. Axworthy came to the portfolio after having served as foreign affairs critic and he was endowed with well-grounded knowledge of world affairs as a result of his academic training at Princeton University. Perhaps this helped steer him away from becoming a captive of the bureaucrats at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

This bureaucratic trap often ensnares cabinet ministers, forcing them to side with their respective department’s bureaucratic agenda, rather than make difficult policy decisions with the possible political risks. While Axworthy did not always have his way in cabinet — e.g. the NATO bombing of Kosovo — he did succeed in getting support for such important initiatives as the ban on anti-personnel land mines, the creation of the International Criminal Court and the human security agenda. The latter places the well-being of an individual above that of the state. These accomplishments will be credited to Axworthy’s dynamism and philosophy. Axworthy’s other positive contributions include helping halt illicit diamond trade which finances civil wars and bringing to the attention of the world the sole super power, U.S.A.’s arrears to the United Nations. The foreign affairs minister never deviated from his fundamental pursuit of ensuring justice and peace. In this regard, Canada condemned nuclear explosions by India and Pakistan and he was among the first to question the United States’ wisdom of developing the National Missile Defence system. The impending recognition of North Korea, considered a ”rogue state” against whom the NMD is to be directed, may render the system futile and show the Americans an alternative route than reliance on use of force. Similarly, he never showed much enthusiasm for NATO expansion in the absence of an enemy. It would be wiser to strengthen institutions such as the European Union, which provide real security in terms of economic and social benefits.

Axworthy’s policies on engagement with Sudan, rather than isolating it, will perhaps bear fruit. But he failed to implement similar policy towards Myanmar, even refusing to send delegates to the respected international police organization — the Interpol conference a couple of years ago. The conference was to discuss the drug trade problem, which remains a concern of Canada and many in the international community. Canada could have used this opportunity to express whatever its concerns are about Myanmar. If one can pursue engagement and dialogue with Cuba, why not Myanmar? For that matter, little engagement was generated vis-a-vis Iran even after its small steps towards democratization in recent elections.

Axworthy’s tenure as foreign minister will be remembered for its effective use of coordinated international effort to restore democracy in Nigeria, but failing to talk about human rights in China. No doubt the pursuit of trade overruled the need to rant about human rights abuses in China. Axworthy also failed to take a strong stand against Ethiopia, which in the matter of a week, was on the one hand begging for food to feed its people, while on the other engaging in a wasteful exercise of bombing its tiny neighbour Eritrea over disputed border and losing planes worth millions of dollars.

Axworthy failed to see that ”soft power” in itself is not sufficient and, at times, one needs to carry a big stick. This was evident in Sierra Leone, where ”soft power,” in isolation, failed to render any results, unless and until coupled with threat or actual use of force as the British forces demonstrated.

At the expense of upsetting the Europeans, Canada under Axworthy actively pursued relations with countries of the hemisphere. The entry of Canada, in 1990, into the Organization of American States under Prime Minister Brain Mulroney, laid the groundwork for Canada to become an active member of the family of nations closer to home than across the Atlantic. Although the Axworthy era accomplished much, there is much left that did not get the necessary attention. There is no coherent policy towards Iran, and Canada remains on the sidelines in the Middle East. The situations, such as in Zimbabwe, have failed to capture the attention necessary to play a constructive role. Canada ought to continue the legacy of democratic institution building, encouraged by Axworthy, as in the case of Guatemala.

A fitting tribute to Axworthy and his legacy will be to continue to strive to make Canadian foreign policy truly independent — at least as independent as it can be in today’s interdependent or globalized world. When Canadians think of an ”independent foreign policy” they only think of it being independent of the United States. However, it needs to be independent also of the former colonial powers, such as Britain. Canadian diplomats and cabinet ministers are too often in too frequent consultations with London, Paris and Brussels. These former colonial powers have their own agenda, which most of the times is at odds with a country such as Canada with no colonial past. Canada may listen to them but it should cast its consultation net wider to include representative countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Axworthy set an example of this in developing the Human Security Agenda by collaborating with like-minded countries such as Norway, Thailand, Chile and South Africa.

Axworthy’s successor, whether it is Herb Gray, Paul Martin, Herb Dhaliwal, Art Eggleton, Sheila Copps or Allan Rock, has big shoes to fill. Bhupinder S. Liddar, is editor of Ottawa-based Diplomat & International magazine, and can be reached at

LOAD-DATE: October 5, 2000
Copyright 2000 CTV Television, Inc.
CTV Television, Inc.
June 5, 2000 7:08:10 – 7:11:40 Eastern Time
LENGTH: 697 words
HEADLINE: OAS Meeting Attracts Protesters of Many Stripes
ANCHOR: Dan Matheson
GUEST: Ian Boyko, Canadian Federation of Students

MATHESON: Hundreds of protesters were in Windsor, Ontario yesterday. Police moved in, they detained 40 demonstrators. The occasion is the meeting of the Organization of American States and it was there that the prime minister said that freer trade will spell good jobs and new opportunity for the people of the Western Hemisphere.

Ian Boyko was there too. He was demonstrating. He’s with the Canadian Federation of Students. He joins us now from Windsor.

Good morning, Ian.


MATHESON: Why were you there and what were you protesting?

BOYKO: I’m sorry? When was I there?

MATHESON: Yes, sir. [sic]

BOYKO: I was there yesterday from about noon until about 5:30, six o’clock yesterday and I was protesting with all the other demonstrators. We were talking about free trade, we were talking about the kind of things that the Human Security Agenda is going to be used to justify.

MATHESON: I’m sorry? The Human Security Agenda?


MATHESON: What’s that?

BOYKO: This is Lloyd Axworthy’s kind of brainchild that he’s talking about now. Instead of recognizing states we’ll be recognizing individual citizens of other countries. But we have some questions about what that’s actually going to be used to justify.

MATHESON: Now, Ian, according to Canadian Press, the protesters were made up of not just anti-free trade crusaders but environmentalists, anarchists, labour activists, human rights activists.

BOYKO: Right.

MATHESON: Did you run into all these people?

BOYKO: Oh, absolutely. Everybody was standing side by side and it was exhilarating to see everybody on the same page for this one.

MATHESON: Relatively peaceful?

BOYKO: Relatively peaceful. The only violent thing I saw from the protesters was I think I saw somebody through an empty pop can over the fence. And that’s the only thing that I saw all day long.

MATHESON: Now, I think the key question, though, in the wake of this — and of course it may not be over and I’ll ask you about that in just a second — but you know what happened at Seattle. It was a battle and I think an eye opener for a lot of people. In Washington there were over 1,300 arrests. But the argument’s been made that these protests didn’t make one bit of difference.

BOYKO: Oh, I think that couldn’t be farther from the truth. As you behind me here, Windsor has turned into a fortress. And the people of Windsor don’t like it, it makes them very uncomfortable. And I think — me anyway — I saw some police behaviour yesterday that was very disturbing. And I think it’s changed a lot of people’s minds. I think we don’t have to shut the entire conference down to make a difference. MATHESON: So what is it then that you want to see from the protest? Obviously, you’re not looking for direct action from the Organization of American States. You’re trying to, what, shape public opinion?

BOYKO: Absolutely. That’s just one of the things we’re trying to do. We’re trying to bring attention to the free-trade area, the Americans, and about what that’s going to do to — like you said before — labour standards, environmental standards, the whole nine yards.

MATHESON: Ian, how do you know you’re right about free trade?

BOYKO: How do I know I’m right about free trade?

MATHESON: Yes, sir. And I ask because, as you know, economists

are really split on this.

BOYKO: Well, I mean when we’re talking about free trade it’s pretty clear we’re talking about not only removing all tax barriers to move things across borders but we’re also talking about removing all regulations, period, that will create uneven ground for competition. We’re talking about labour standards, we’re talking about environmental standards, we’re talking about health and safety standards. That’s what we’re talking about: removing them. We’re talking about creating an equal playing field. MATHESON: And does the protest continue? I need a very short answer.

BOYKO: Yes, it will.

MATHESON: Ian Boyko, thank you very much.

BOYKO: You’re welcome. Thank you.

LOAD-DATE: June 5, 2000
Copyright 2000 Sun Media Corporation
The London Free Press
June 3, 2000, Saturday, Final EDITION
LENGTH: 2074 words

Twenty years ago, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean were largely an afterthought for Canadian governments. Rights-abusing military governments, stagnating and closed economies and abject poverty and indebtedness confined them to the margins of Canadian foreign policy. Foreign service officers even dreaded being assigned to an inter-American desk or bureau position and studiously avoided postings to the region itself. Now, all of that has changed dramatically.

Coinciding with the end of the Cold War, democratic (or at least civilian) governments have taken root in the hemisphere and human rights issues are given more scrutiny from within and outside many of these countries. Their economies have been liberalized and foreign investment is being aggressively courted by the Mexicos, Chiles and Cubas of Latin America and the Caribbean. Diplomatic appointments to the Americas and related positions in the bureaucracy are currently coveted as career stepping stones.

Clearly, the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the prospect of a Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) by 2005 have energized Canadian political and business elites. Trade with Mexico has grown exponentially over the last five years and Canadian business people are seeking commercial and investment opportunities in a host of countries in the Americas. No wonder — with a population of some 800 million and a combined GDP of over $ 10.3 trillion US, the trade component alone is enough to attract numerous provincial trade delegations and Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s own Team Canada mission in January 1998. It seems increasingly likely — as Europe fades from Canada’s trade sights, as the Asia-Pacific region continues to be mired in financial woes and as Africa fails to even register on the radar screen — that the Americas will hold the key to Canada’s economic future. Accordingly, the whole region has taken on greater political and diplomatic

prominence for the Canadian government. It’s obvious that both Chretien and Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy are interested in the region and committed to an energetic policy of engagement in the Americas. Our serving as host to a wide range of inter-American events and meetings — the Pan American Games, the FTAA ministerial and the Organization of American States (OAS) general assembly in Windsor this weekend — is clearly indicative of this commitment. In fact, the Windsor gathering, which will be attended by each OAS member state’s foreign minister, will mark Canada’s 10th anniversary as a full-fledged partner in the region’s principal political institution.

There is a firm belief in official Ottawa that Canada can make a significant difference in the region and a valuable contribution to the inter-American agenda. One could even make the argument that Canada is actually more involved and engaged in the Americas than the United States, the most powerful country in the hemisphere. As one senior Canadian official opined: “In the Americas (and within the OAS in particular), Canada is actually punching at its own weight.”

Since joining the OAS in 1990, Canada has maintained a steady commitment to a short list of important issues: democratic development, institutional reform, hemispheric security and human rights. With an overall contribution of roughly $ 15 million to $ 17 million (including $ 2 million earmarked for the voluntary fund), Canada is the second-largest contributor to the body. And in an era where budget cuts are all the rage and government downsizing is commonplace, Canada’s OAS mission in Washington has actually seen an increase in resources and personnel. Interestingly, a good many of the 35 member states of the OAS looked to Canada for guidance in shaping their own government positions. It seems clear Canada’s voice does carry some weight within the forum. Moreover, several Canadians have also held prominent positions in the OAS bureaucracy, including the executive co-ordinator of the Canadian- inspired Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, Elizabeth Spehar. This isn’t to suggest Canada should rest on its laurels or that the OAS is problem-free. Indeed, some critics have accused Canada of being too timid withinthe organization, too closely intertwined with the United States and too susceptible to charges of hypocrisy. For instance, while Canada talks a good game on the inter-American human rights front, it has yet to sign and ratify the American Convention on Human Rights. Although part of the blame rests with the provinces, Ottawa is very uncomfortable with provisions in the convention on the right to life, extradition and censorship. Clearly, Canada could also be doing more on issues of economic development, Cuba’s reintegration into the hemispheric fold and environmental sustainability.

Regrettably, many of these issues won’t be on the agenda for this weekend’s OAS general assembly in Windsor, which is intended to set the tone for next April’s Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Instead, as host of the gathering of foreign ministers, Canada has decided to focus on two broad areas: human security and modernization of the OAS. Within these, Canadian officials have committed themselves to dealing with a multitude of related issues — specifically, democracy, indigenous peoples, banning/restricting the use of small arms, landmines, strengthening the inter-American human rights system, civil society, gender equality and corporate social responsibility.

For the first and second plenary sessions of the general assembly, Canada previously circulated a discussion paper on “human security.” This, of course, is one of the pillars of Foreign Affairs Minister Axworthy’s foreign policy — along with “soft power” and “internationalism.” Basically, human security, as the discussion paper highlights, “is best seen as a shift in perspective which takes people as the principal point of reference in international affairs.” The human-security agenda, moreover, “seeks to address a range of threats to the safety and security of people.”

For purposes of the OAS meeting, human security will take into account efforts to promote democratic pluralism and strengthen the inter-American human rights system. It will also consider ways of minimizing the impact of drug trafficking and transnational crime on people’s well-being, and of lessening the vulnerability of children (especially war-affected children). Finally, human security will also place emphasis on the promotion of corporate social responsibility.

On the democracy front, Ottawa will continue to push for the strengthening of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD). There will also be discussions on introducing a preliminary fact-finding phase — before moving to a more activist and interventionist scenario under Resolution 1080 (which is supposed to ensure the maintenance or restoration of a functioning constitutional government) — in cases where democracy has been illegally interrupted by military coup, fraudulent elections and rule by decree. Corridor banter will likely focus on potentially troublesome presidential elections in Mexico and Haiti (and the illegitimate elections in Peru last weekend) and the ongoing political instability in Paraguay and Venezuela. In addition, Canada will reaffirm its intentions to support enhanced civil society participation and the fledgling Parliamentary Network of the Americas — which brought together the chairpersons of member states’ foreign affairs committees in Washington this past April.

From a human rights standpoint, Ottawa will be pressing for a more vibrant, streamlined and financially stronger Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Besides making the commission more responsive, Canada will be spearheading an initiative to link national human rights agencies and tribunals through the creation of a Co-ordinating Office of National Human Rights Institutions.

Lastly, Canada’s delegation will be endorsing efforts to improve the administration of justice in the hemisphere, particularly by ensuring greater support for the Justice Studies Centre of the Americas. For some, the OAS could never go far enough in disentangling itself from conspiring with globalization and corporate power. Something calling itself the OAS Shutdown Coalition (with a helping hand from Maude Barlow’s Council of Canadians) has indicated its intention to prevent the OAS delegations from actually making their way to the downtown conference venue. Seeking to sustain whatever momentum was gained from the anti-WTO demonstrations last November and April’s furtive protests against the World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings, the Windsor gathering has simply become the logical next target.

This seemingly motley crew of organizations includes the Hamilton Action for Social Change, Blood Sisters and the Metro (Toronto) Network for Social Justice.

Blocking traffic, staging sit-downs and teach-ins and getting arrested (presumably in line with its civil disobedience training sessions) are their main weapons for upstaging and disrupting the OAS gathering. Simply put, they see this meeting as merely the Canadian chapter or version of Seattle and Washington, D.C. Clearly, they have their eyes firmly fixed on the FTAA and its philosophical embrace of global markets.

Curiously, the general assembly is set to deal with the FTAA in only a cursory manner. Interestingly, the rather aggressive and confrontational attitude of the OAS Shutdown Coalition has fractured the tenuous civil society front. Indeed, some groups have openly split with both the coalition’s intent and analysis, while those such as the Canadian Labour Congress are searching for ways to distance themselves from any effort to close the meetings down. More important, the Canadian Council of International Co-operation, the Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights, Oxfam and Amnesty International are all committed to participating directly in the civil society space created especially for this OAS general assembly.

What particularly upsets official Ottawa is the great lengths to which the Canadian government has gone to incorporate the voices of civil society within the OAS. For more than four years, Canada’s OAS delegation in Washington waged a lonely battle — confronting institutional intransigence, outright hostility from some member states (which tend to equate civil society groups with the official opposition) and even resistance from a handful of NGOs themselves — to carve out some space for the “popular sector.” To its credit, it was able to secure agreement on establishing what has become known as the Committee on Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities.

As both the OAS and Canada, then, enter the 21st century, one thing is certain: The Americas are going to become increasingly important in international affairs. The Windsor meeting will highlight the fact that the organization is transforming and revitalizing itself into an institutional force no longer dominated by the U.S. and one to be clearly reckoned with in the new millennium.

While it isn’t without its flaws and weaknesses, it is becoming more responsive, inclusive and policy-oriented. It will not, however, be taking on any future regional peacekeeping role or adopting a Chapter VII function like the UN (which justifies intervention when international peace and security is broached). But one of the sure signs of a refurbished OAS and a changing hemispheric face is the fact that 14 or 15 new (democratically elected) leaders will be attending the Quebec Summit of the Americas next year.

With respect to Canada, our engagement in the hemisphere is likely to increase and deepen. There is little doubt that Canada’s future economic, political and trade interests lie in the Americas — especially as connections with Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa wane. And our commitment to a reformed OAS, where Canada can make a difference and shape the direction of the body, will not be diminished in the coming years. As OAS secretary-general Cesar Gaviria indicated during his official visit to Ottawa in early May, he expects Canada to be the organization’s most active and enthusiastic member. Ultimately, though, Canada’s role as a legitimate and contributing inter-American partner will be a function of Ottawa’s political will and long-term commitment.


Peter McKenna is a Halifax-based political scientist and the author ofCanada and the OAS: From Dilettante to Full Partner.

LOAD-DATE: June 4, 2000
Copyright 2000 Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse
April 19, 2000, Wednesday
SECTION: Domestic, non-Washington, general news item
LENGTH: 853 words
HEADLINE: Annan urges Security Council to enhance rapid reaction capacity

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the Security Council on Wednesday to support a proposal for a UN rapid reaction force to protect civilians threatened by conflict.

He told council members that “our most important obligation under the Charter” of the United Nations and “our first duty in any conflict is to protect the innocent civilians.”

He was speaking at the start of a debate called by Canada, which holds the council’s rotating presidency this month, to push forward recommendations which Annan had made in a report on September 8. “Perhaps the most far-reaching of the recommendations related to the creation of a rapid deployment force,” he said. He recalled that “in the very same week that I urged this step,” East Timor was plunged into chaos by opponents of the territory’s massive vote in favour of independence from Indonesia. Events in East Timor “offered the clearest evidence of the need for such a capacity, he said. “Thankfully, the Australian government, supported by other council members, stepped in to fill the vacuum.” The crisis “underscored the importance of having a more systematic rapid-reaction capacity in the United Nations,” he said, before urging the council “to consider taking further steps towards this fundamental strengthening of the Organisation’s ability to protect civilians in armed conflict.”

Annan emphasised two other recommendations in his report, for the preventive deployment of UN troops, and for improving the security in refugee camps.


The Security Council invited UN member states on Wednesday to warn it of conflicts brewing beyond their borders, so it could take preventive action to protect civilian populations.

After a long open debate, the council unanimously approved a resolution which condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians in armed conflict as a potential threat to international peace and security.

The debate followed what US Representative Nancy Soderberg described as “long and painstaking negotiations,” and underlined differences over the limits tonational sovereignty.

The resolution endorsed several recommendations in a report to the council by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on September 8. But it did so in qualified terms, saying for example that it would apply them “where appropriate and feasible”. Annan opened the debate by urging the council to support his “most far-reaching” proposal, to beef up the UN’s rapid reaction capacity.

“Our first duty in any conflict is to protect the innocent civilians,” he said. He recalled that he had made his recommendations “the very same week” that East Timor was plunged into chaos by opponents of the territory’s massive vote in favor of independence from Indonesia.

The crisis had “underscored the importance of having a more systematic rapid-reaction capacity in the United Nations,” he said. Among other recommendations endorsed by the council was one to improve security in refugee camps and another for establishing temporary security zones and safe corridors for the protection of civilians.

Chairing the debate, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy said Annan’s recommendations had been “the blueprint for action,” and the resolution would be “the handbook”. But Singapore’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kishore Mahbubani, pointed out practical difficulties in implementing some of its paragraphs.

The resolution said that, “where appropriate, UN peacekeeping missions should include a mass-media component that can disseminate information about international humanitarian and human rights law.” Mahbubani asked “how does one explain humanitarian law to combatants who are often under-age, poor and illiterate, let alone expect them to comply?”

In an unusually blunt speech, he said a key question — the cost of peacekeeping — was “often unmentionable in the Security Council”. He estimated that it would cost Australian taxpayers 1,000 dollars each to pay for the international force in East Timor. “How many taxpayers in democracies are prepared to do this? he asked. But another diplomat said the council’s invitation to member states “to bring to its attention any matter which in their opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security,” could help protect civilians preventively. British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock described this as “a wake-up call to the Security Council”. Several speakers warned the council, however, not to infringe on national sovereignty.

“It is sovereign states that should bear the main responsibility for protecting civilians in armed conflicts,” China’s representative Wang Yingfan said. It was against the UN Charter, he said, “to wantonly interfere in other countries’ internal affairs or even attempt to overthrow a legal government under the pretext of protection of civilians and by politicizing humanitarian concerns.” Anticipating such remarks, Axworthy had said that “human security does not weaken sovereignty, but strengthens it by reinforcing democratic, tolerant, open institutions and behavior.”


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HEADLINE: Axworthy’s army: the foreign minister advocates an international
human-rights strike force
BYLINE: McFeely, Tom

NATO”s massive bombing campaign last spring against Serbia over the fate of Kosovo appears to have whetted Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy’s appetite for further humanitarian combat. In recent speeches, Mr. Axworthy has contended that such military actions are fully justified, even when they violate traditional norms of international law. He has also argued that human-rights strike forces should continue to be assembled outside of UN auspices when one or more of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council vetoes UN involvement.

“Human security” is a featured element of Mr. Axworthy’s foreign policy. As defined in a February 17 speech he delivered at the University of Calgary, the term covers issues such as protection of human rights, suppression of drug trafficking and trade in small arms, and other social, economic and environmental concerns that cross national borders. In this interconnected international context, Mr. Axworthy claims it is the “duty” of “all Canadians…to act when human security is at stake.”

“Humanitarian intervention” is part of that duty, warranted when “preventive and non-coercive” tactics fail to deter a government from grave human-rights transgressions. Since the Second World War, it has been the function of the UN Security Council to authorize such interventions, but Mr. Axworthy complains that “some council members have been unwilling to consistently apply a broader definition of the [UN] Charter”s peace and security mandate.” When this Security Council “paralysis” occurs, as with Kosovo where both Russia and China opposed UN-sponsored military strikes, he insists actions like NATO”s bombardment are justified. Still, such ad-hoc coalitions are only a temporary expedient until changes are made at the UN and elsewhere to enshrine the principle of “universal participation” in humanitarian intervention.

Critics of human security arguments (a group that includes most of world”s major military powers) point out there is scant evidence of a significant change in attitudes towards utilizing force solely for “moral” objectives. Even in Kosovo, says Dalhousie University political scientist Denis Stairs, geopolitical concerns such as maintaining European stability had at least as much to do with NATO’s intervention as did humanitarian concerns.

Moreover, the Kosovo intervention was a completely one-sided air campaign that caused massive physical damage and substantial loss of life to Serbia while NATO remained almost totally unblemished. It reflected an understanding that Western electorates have little stomach for sacrificing their citizens” lives for purely “moral” considerations. “This is the body bag problem,” Prof. Stairs comments. “It”s not clear that the humanitarian drive to intervene would survive a lot of casualties.”

Canada is particularly open to charges of hypocrisy, given its low level of defence spending and its consequent incapacity to make a substantial military contribution to interventions. And Mr. Axworthy’s incessant hectoring of other nations to promote “human security” may have become a significant irritant to Canada”s diplomatic relations, particularly with the U.S. Indeed, Prof. Stairs says that he has a “sneaking suspicion” that this irritation accounted for the vehemence of the American government”s condemnation last month of Canadian oil company Talisman Energy’s commercial activity in strife-torn Sudan (see story, page 50).

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JUNE 7, 1999, MONDAY
LENGTH: 214 words
HEADLINE: canada’s windsor to host general assembly of oas
DATELINE: ottawa, june 7; ITEM NO: 0607321

Canada announced monday that windsor, south of canada, will be the host city for the 30th general assembly of the organization of american states (oas) from june 4 to 6, 2000. “i am very pleased and especially proud that windsor will be ‘hosting the hemisphere’ at the first oas general assembly of the new millennium,” said deputy prime minister herb gray in a release. the deputy prime minister noted that windsor can expect to receive about 700 people at this event, approximately 500 of whom will be official delegates. “over the past nine years, canada has become an influential and respected voice within the organization, and has succeeded in putting human security firmly on the oas agenda,” said foreign affairs minister lloyd axworthy in the same release. “hosting next year’s general assembly will enable canada to put greater emphasis on its priorities in the oas, such as hemispheric integration, civil society participation, democratic development and the fight against drugs,” added the foreign minister. the oas is the western hemisphere’s principal forum for political, social and economic dialogue. this will be the first time for canada to host the oas general assembly, which is held at the level of foreign minister.

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Behind The Headlines
June, 1999
SECTION: v.56(3) Ap/Je’99 pg 16-23; ISSN: 0005-7983
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HEADLINE: Canada on the Security Council
BYLINE: Oliver, Michael

In the UN, Canada has long found that it is possible to do good while doing well, and during previous terms on the Security Council, contributed to many significant achievements. Now we are back on the Council, promoting our agenda at a time when the established notion of common security is at risk.

Canada has a long history of commitment to the United Nations and has always sought a strong role in shaping its evolution. It has been a non-permanent member of the Security Council often enough to promote the idea that it has a claim to a seat every ten years or so. At the end of last year, after a vigorous campaign, Canada was again elected for a two- year term, but this time Canada asked for support to promote a policy: no less than revising the definition of the crucial word ‘security.’ To put Canada’s new propositions in context, we should look at existing ideas on the meaning of ‘security’ for the Security Council.

Common Security

A commitment to common security should not be confused with the pursuit of either national security or collective security, both of which posit an enemy: some state(s) threaten(s) our state(s); we must be prepared to resist. Common security identifies war itself as the enemy of all states and peoples and seeks ways of assuring that no state will resort to war.

By steadily reducing the risk of war — by disarmament, by agreed systems of inspection and surveillance, by early warning systems, and by the maintenance of a common military capacity to deter and if need be to intervene — everyone’s security is increased. Common security asks states and peoples to see how they can be less threatening to one another; it is quite different from meeting with allies to map out a collective defence against ‘others’ who constitute a common foe.

The UN Security Council is an imperfect but significant embodiment of the common security approach. It falls short of the ‘ideal’ because the concepts of national security and collective security against tacitly identified enemies were present in the framers’ minds. National security was recognized in the individual and unrestricted vetoes given to five states which allowed them to pursue national self-interest against any and all comers. (The rights of other states to national self-defence could be trumped by a Security Council resolution over which they had no veto.) The concept of collective security was honoured by the assumption, expressed most clearly by President Franklin Roosevelt, that the major war victors, now the five permanent members of the Security Council, would act in concert against any recrudescence of aggression.

The idea of common security was elaborated over time and eventually applied not only to the arms race but to regions like the north, with its complex mix of circumpolar interests; to the economic and social security that could be provided only by effective development policies and by global economic equity; and to environmental security.(f.1) This extended view of common security — as a general system of ‘peoples in secure co-existence’ — is presented in condensed form in figure 1.

Human Security

An alternative view on ‘security,’ put forward by Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, Lloyd Axworthy, and its ambassador to the United Nations, Robert Fowler, is ‘human security.’ The Security Council has paid far too little attention to the security of states, they charge, and to the security of persons. It is individuals who need protection against any force that violates their fundamental rights, from outside or inside their home state’s boundaries. After all, states don’t suffer, bleed, and die; people do. This concept of human security comes out of the heart of the liberal tradition in focusing attention on individuals and their rights. It grows out of the same concerns that found statement in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), and in the other ‘rights treaties’ (on women, children, torture, racial discrimination) monitored by the UN Committee on Human Rights.

The concept is illustrated in figure 2. It can be summed up as vision of ‘rights-bearing individuals in a global setting.’ However, no matter how noble the vision, it should never replace that of common security because it suffers from the characteristic weakness of liberal theory, namely a reluctance to see persons embedded in social settings, with identities that derive from groups to which they belong and which they value. In remedying the weakness of the concept of common security — burying the person in a state — human security sets up a rival goal — interchangeable rights-bearers protected within a single world order that ensures justice to individuals. Yet surely these disembodied individuals are so remote from people as we know them that they cannot be our sole concern in defining the proper role of the Security Council. Human security complements common security; it cannot replace it.

Who is Responsible for What Security?

It is obvious that some elements of security are better handled by bodies other than the Security Council. On the question of environmental security, since the great debates of the UN Conference on Security and Development at Rio de Janeiro in 1992, treaties, weak and strong, have been negotiated (or re-enforced) on global warming, endangered species, fisheries, and many other topics. For each, follow-up bodies work alongside broader organizations such as UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and the Commission for Sustainable Development. In this plethora of organizations, the Security Council has little place. The same holds true for the concerns under security of statement which can be given global protection, we must hope, by a strengthened Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Commission with provision for tribunals and some assurance of effective follow-up.

Economic and social security, which appear in both figures, are given only the most glancing attention in the vision of human security outlined by Axworthy. They are in figure 2 not because the Canadian exponents of human security put them there but because they are essential elements, especially for third world countries, in any discussion of rights. The Security Council is not the body to exercise jurisdiction over violations of this crucial kind of security, of these rights. Instead, an economic and social security council, with binding powers, has been urged by many would-be ON reformers. The secretary-general, Kofi Annan (and Canada’s Maurice Strong), opted in the 1997 package of reforms for a strengthened ECOSOC, but I suspect that clumsy body will not do in the long run. One way or another, however, the Security Council should not be preoccupied with the protection of economic and social rights or with the creation of common social and economic policy for a shrinking world. That leaves three sectors — interstate security and cultural security from figure 1 and physical security from figure 2 — which should be the special responsibility of the Security Council.

Nothing could be clearer than the Council’s responsibility for maintaining a regime of non-aggression among states, a system of common enforcement of interstate security. Chapter 6 of the UN Charter deals with the ‘pacific settlement of disputes’ and chapter 7 with ‘action with respect to threats to the peace, breaches of the peace and acts of aggression.’ Together they are the core of the Security Council’s mandate. Indeed, Canada’s critique of the work of the Council is centred on its excessive concentration on these provisions.

Humanitarian Intervention

The Council’s role in protecting cultural security and individual physical security is much less clear. Yet together they make up the grounds for ‘humanitarian intervention.’ And the obligation of the Security Council to make such interventions, including the deployment of armed force, has now, somewhat hazily, joined the unambiguous duty of the Council to provide a regime of non-aggression and to control situations that threaten the peace among states.

When we look at humanitarian intervention (with its roots in a human security approach) and intervention to keep interstate peace (common security) together, we would be wise to heed Brian Urquhart, a distinguished former UN undersecretary-general, who wrote: ‘However the world has changed, preventing deadly conflict, especially involving nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, must take precedence over other goals.'(f.2) For deadly conflict I read war between states; for though we may get terrifying glimpses of the consequences of non-state possession of chemical and biological weapons, at least for now states are the potential annihilators. No individualized view of human security should distract us from demanding that the Security Council make itself capable of much more effective intervention, including armed intervention, in interstate wars.

I am impressed by Stanley Hoffmann’s argument that armed humanitarian intervention can be an evasion of Security Council responsibility to prevent aggression by one state against another(f.3). The international response to the break-up of Yugoslavia was unco-ordinated and ill-conceived. Recognition was accorded quickly and generally to Slovenia.

Croatia posed greater problems: its assurances of respect for minorities, especially the Serbs, were far from convincing. But recognition was given, first by individual states, led by Germany, and then by the General Assembly. Once the pattern was set, recognition for Bosnia-Herzegovina followed. When fighting broke out, the UN could have treated the conflicts under chapter 7 as primarily interstate aggression. But the Security Council fudged the issue: rather than piercing the thin disguise of a purely civil war which veiled Serbian aggression against Bosnia, it followed the path of humanitarian intervention. The Blue Helmets were given the role of escorting food convoys and assuring the safety of medical personnel and the UNHCR, and safe areas were designated. But humanitarianism had been chosen because it was supposed to involve a smaller commitment of ground forces than defending Bosnian sovereignty; and when the crunch came at Srbrenica, there was nothing like the number of ON troops available to make a safe area safe. Here, the humanitarian fudge turned into sticky treacle. Nonetheless, the case for effective humanitarian intervention by the Security Council remains compelling both from the human security and the common security perspectives.

The Need for a Humanitarian

Intervention Treaty Above all, there is a need for an international treaty on humanitarian intervention that could give coherence and consistency to the Security Council when it considers whether or not to accede to a call for humanitarian intervention. Such a treaty would make clear that armed intervention would be contingent on massive and persistent violations of human security and/or the persecution and denials of autonomy to ‘peoples’ within the offending state. Another precedent on which such a treaty could be built (by acceptance or rejection of what was done) looks to be in the making under NATO auspices in Kosovo, to join the precedents of Somalia, Rwanda, Iraqi Kurdistan and Marsh Arab land, and Bosnia. Canada provided a John Humphrey for the definition of human rights; it could and should contribute to the production of a new international law of humanitarian intervention.

Kosovo merits a further word. It provides a telling example of how giving priority to human security considerations over UN Charter obligations on common security can make a bad situation worse. Serbia violated the human rights of the Albanian minority in its province of Kosovo. It was assumed (undoubtedly correctly) that the Security Council would not intervene to protect these community and individual rights because of the Russian veto.

Therefore, NATO organized the only kind of intervention that its dominant member, the USA, would tolerate: bombs and more bombs over Serbia. Not only was this contrary to international law, specifically the ON Charter, it also provoked an intensified attack on, and expulsion of, Kosovo’s Albanians. The costs of sacrificing the only legal instrument for forceful intervention for common security, the Security Council, for a botched and illegal assertion by a collective security alliance (NATO) of a right to bomb to protect human security, are daily becoming more evident.

The Effectiveness of the Security Council

The Security Council has a crucial, unique responsibility — the deployment of force to ensure the security of states and, it must now be added, of persons being persecuted by states. The Council has learned how to deploy Blue Helmets efficiently to police cease-fire agreements between state-parties. The next steps of using arms effectively for peacemaking and peace enforcement have proved much more difficult.

One of those steps is the creation of a rapid response capability. This favourite theme of Brian Urquhart was taken up by Canada, duly elaborated and watered down, and urged upon the UN, where it has since been chewed over, if not chewed up. An early warning capability is the logical accompaniment of an ability to react rapidly, and again useful work has been done in Canada, especially at York University. Beyond these changes stretch an infinitude of operational reforms from matching terms of engagement with requisite force, to controlling the creeping expansion of the scope of missions, and indeed all the improvements identified by those who scrupulously examine the mistakes and achievements of intervention in Somalia and Bosnia and the non-responses in Rwanda and southern Sudan. A full grasp of the barriers to Security Council effectiveness requires us to go beyond these specifics, however. It is important to state openly and bluntly that the United States creates a large fraction of Security Council difficulties. First, and most obviously, it does not pay its ON bills. This means that only those armed UN interventions that it selects as vital to its national security — like the Gulf War and Haiti — can count on adequate funding. Secondly, if the us does not think it is useful to get ‘world community’ support for an armed intervention, or if it thinks such support is too hard to get, it acts alone and paints over its violations of the Charter with a transparently self-serving interpretation of the right to national self-defence. The list of recent us acts of this kind is distressingly long: Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Libya, and, only months ago, Sudan and Afghanistan. As Noam Chomsky wryly pointed out in reaction to the Sudan and Afghanistan bombings, if the Clinton doctrine on unilateral retaliatory self-defence is accepted ‘then all around the world there are countries that have a perfect right to set off bombs in Washington.'(f.4)

But a UN without the us would be even more ineffectual than the League of Nations was without it; for the us in 1999 looms even larger on the world stage than in 1918. For states that believe in the UN, strategies for coping with the us are of paramount importance. Any strategy begins with the assumption that the us is not villainous, just extraordinarily powerful, willful, and self-centred. (Other states share these attributes, except for the first.) Once this is registered, the elements of a strategy fall into place: building coalitions without the us (but not aimed at it) such as those that pushed through the anti-personnel landmines treaty and created the International Criminal Court.

Canada and the Security Council

In Canada’s intense campaign to secure election to the Security Council, Axworthy, Fowler, and many others described the contributions Canada could and should make to global security. They reminded the world of Canada’s lead in pushing through the landmines treaty and of the work it had done in creating the International Criminal Court. They spoke of a commitment to a new small arms control and limitation treaty and to Council transparency, of Canada’s record as peacekeepers and its willingness to work with like-minded countries, great and small, to push forward items in a common agenda for peace and security. But what of Canada’s distressing weaknesses. We used to have a good reputation for sharing our wealth with less fortunate countries, for showing solidarity with peoples in the South in a framework of common economic and social security. We never came close to reaching the old commitment of 0.7 per cent of GNP for Official Development Assistance(ODA), but we built the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and created the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Today CIDA and IDRC struggle with slashed budgets and ODA contributions are a fraction of what they used to be.

I have argued that the Security Council is not the right body within the UN system to preside over the economic aspects of common security. But states who put themselves up for UN leadership roles should not be vulnerable in their contribution to common economic development work. Canada is vulnerable. When we promote human security, we do not have a good response to those who ask: What about social and economic security? What about the poverty of the South? What about building a new global community as an integral part of a balanced concept of security? The government’s reluctance to pay the price of principled commitment to either human or common security is reflected in its failure to fund an appropriate military capacity as well as in its niggardly allotment for international economic development and equity.

In spite of these shortcomings, Canada has many assets. It has given strong support to forging links among peoples and to a sense of world community by encouraging non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to participate in UN bodies and events, especially the series of world conferences on children, the environment and development, population, women, etc. Finding a role for NGOs in the operation of the Security Council should be a main objective of Canada, and we can be pleased that this government pays attention to it.

As a member of the Security Council, Canada is in a good position to redouble its efforts at coalition-building, so successfully pursued for landmines abolition. It can play a key role in devising ‘non-American’ coalitions for effective intervention when the us will not (and indeed often should not) act multilaterally. It has developed co-operative skills within the ON over many years, particularly with the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. In an intriguing and potentially very valuable development, international NGOs are promoting the ‘middle powers initiative’ to eliminate nuclear weapons, and they have been welcomed by those middle powers that are trying to build the New Agenda Coalition within the UN. Regrettably, Canada is not part of this eight nation coalition. More often than not, a middle power approach leads to virtuous coalitions. But frequently such coalitions do not include the countries of the South in anything like suitable proportions. The difficulties of North/South coalitions are great and deep-rooted, but we increase the chances of effective UN intervention for security of all kinds if we overcome those difficulties.

A Final Word

Let me return to the discussion of common and human security with a brief and perhaps cryptic anecdote. At a recent conference on human rights, someone asked: ‘How do you compare the value of a war crimes tribunal with that of a truth and reconciliation commission?’ No one answered. But we might reflect that war crimes tribunals are part of the approach of ‘human security’; they try to do justice to persons. Truth and reconciliation commissions try to restore a shattered sense of community, the only basis, for ‘common security.’ It is essential for the Security Council, and for Canada as a member of it, to respect both approaches and to get the balance right between these two complementary perspectives if it is to do its job effectively.


(f.1) Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, Common

Security: A Blue Print for Survival (New York: Simon & Schuster 1982); Group of 78, et al, Canada and Common Security: The Assertion of Sanity (Ottawa: Group of 78, 1987).

(f.2) Brian Urquhart, ‘Looking for the sheriff,’ New York Review of Books, 16 July 1998, 52.

(f.3) Stanley Hoffmann, The Ethics and Politics of Humanitarian Inter-vention (NotreDame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1996), chap. 3.

(f.4) Noam Chomsky, Toronto Star, 22 August 1998.

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International Journal
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SECTION: v.54(2) Spr’99 pg 306-323; ISSN: 0020-7020
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HEADLINE: Competing rationales for Canadian development assistance: reducing global poverty, enhancing Canadian prosperity and security, or advancing global human security
BYLINE: Pratt, Cranford


After 1945, a cosmopolitan dimension gradually became a feature of the political cultures of most industrialized societies as they came to accept that they had obligations to promote basic human rights beyond their borders and to aid the development of the world’s poorest peoples and countries. However, the attachment of most governments to these obligations has never been other than fragile,(f.1) and their impact on public policy has often been overshadowed by national interest imperatives, both economic and political. Nevertheless, from a human perspective, the emergence of a cosmopolitan ethic that asserts in particular an international obligation to advance basic human rights and to promote the development needs of the poorest is a significant development.(f.2)

By the mid-1960s, Canada had begun to respond more than minimally to these newer obligations, and, until quite recently, the official rhetoric of the Canadian government located the objective of its development assistance squarely within the emerging cosmopolitan ethic. Both major cabinet-endorsed policy statements on Canadian aid between 1975 and 1993 defined the primary objective of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in humanitarian rather than commercial, political, or security terms.(f.3) This was also the judgment of Canadian parliamentarians on the four important occasions between 1980 and 1994 when committees of parliament gave detailed consideration to Canadian aid policies.(f.4) During the same period, public opinion overwhelmingly held to the view that the primary purpose of aid programmes should be to help the development efforts of the poorest countries and peoples.(f.5) A recent professionally sophisticated poll demonstrates that public support for development assistance remains surprisingly strong, and for essentially ethical reasons.(f.6)

Those who embrace the humane internationalist perspective have always recognized, indeed stressed, that development assistance was in Canada’s long-term political and economic interest. Foreign aid can reasonably be expected to contribute to a healthy global economy and to a less strife-riven world, both of which are clearly to Canada’s advantage.

Nevertheless, the primary motive behind foreign aid was and should remain humanitarian rather than the pursuit of any national interests, economic, political, or security. Mitchell Sharp made the point over 25 years ago: ‘if the purpose of aid is to help ourselves rather than to help others, we shall probably receive in return what we deserve and a good deal less than we expect.(f.7)


The emergence of a substantial Canadian aid programme did not happen in isolation from domestic politics in Canada. The programme simultaneously reflected the major shift in social values that had, in the same era, led to the development of extensive social welfare programmes in Canada without, however, challenging that particular responsiveness of public policy to corporate interests which is a feature of the Canadian political system.(f.8) The interaction of these influences meant that transplanting liberal welfare values to foreign policy through an expanded aid programme quickly encountered powerful pressures from within government and from the corporate sector for the aid programme to promote other foreign policy objectives, including, in particular, the advancement of Canadian trade interests. Thus from its early years, CIDA was, in the words which open the most comprehensive parliamentary review of Canadian aid policies ever undertaken, ‘beset by a confusion of purpose.(f.9)

For many years there has been a struggle inside government between those who want to ensure that CIDA is ever more responsive to trade and other foreign policy objectives and those, primarily within CIDA, who want to limit the erosion of CIDA’s putative primary focus on helping the poorest peoples and countries. Each group had its allies outside of government.

Those advocating greater responsiveness to trade interests were supported y powerful corporate lobbies those seeking to check this trend were supported by the active community of Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and recurrently by parliamentary committees. Most observers agree that there has been a gradual and serious erosion of the humane internationalist emphasis of Canadian aid in the years since 1977.(f.10) Although the proponents of this emphasis are beleaguered, they are not yet overwhelmed. Many within CIDA, the NGO community, and elsewhere continue to fight a sustained rearguard action to protect and augment CIDA’s development work with the poorest. Had humane internationalist motivations been entirely swamped by trade and national security considerations, Bangladesh would not still receive substantial quantities of Canadian bilateral aid more than 40 per cent of Canadian bilateral aid would not still go to Africa emphasis would not still be placed on meeting basic human needs and there would not be within CIDA today a significant effort to ensure that poverty reduction is the common element in all of CIDA’s policies and programmes.

Nevertheless, the federal government’s commitment to official development assistance (ODA) has weakened significantly in recent years. Expressed in 1998 dollars, Canadian ODA has fallen by over 35 per cent since 1994. Moreover, as the most recent budget by the finance minister, Paul Martin, demonstrated, there is little evidence to suggest that, with the elimination of the deficit, CIDA will significantly recoup these cuts. Finally, the 1990s have witnessed a profound shift in the dominant values of Canadian society. Canadians have become less caring towards their own poor and much swifter to blame them for their hardships. Canadian values have moved away from the socially responsible and pragmatically interventionist liberalism that had for decades been their dominant characteristic. As a society, Canadians, or at least their dominant opinion shapers, became increasingly sceptical about the efficiency of government interventions to promote equity and justice and developed instead a remarkable confidence in the social and economic advantages of the unfettered operation of the market, both nationally and internationally.

In this atmosphere, an alternative conceptualization of the primary objective of Canadian development assistance policies emerged which argued the case for foreign aid, not primarily in terms of ethical responsibility to peoples and countries in severe poverty but rather in terms of putative importance to Canadian prosperity and security. More recently still, some have cast their advocacy in terms of human security. These contrasting rationales for development assistance should not be dismissed as a distracting debate over alternative rhetorics. Their intellectual foundations are different, and the choice which Canadians finally make among them is likely to have major consequences.


For many of its supporters, the security component of these new rationales never focused narrowly on national security concerns. Rather it was and is integral to an ethically grounded imperative to prevent wars through international initiatives to promote global common security. This commitment to common security was thus almost as distinct from the pursuit of national security through the development of national armed forces as a commitment to global development is different from the pursuit of national prosperity.(f.11) Indeed a concern with banishing war through an effective international commitment to common security can be seen, along with the international environment movement, as further components of that emerging cosmopolitan ethic which first emphasized international human rights and the development of the world’s poorest countries.

After 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union, many recognized that Canada’s security needs were radically transformed. Since the major threat to Canada’s security was no longer the possibility of global war, they rejected the dominant view in defence circles that Canada still needed military forces capable of engaging in full-scale land, sea, and air operations. Their argument was in part that Canada’s military needs were now different, that a whole range of interconnected non-military threats could be contained only through collective action. The litany of these threats is well known. It includes the international drug trade the increasing prreviewence of civil wars and ethnic conflict massive, uncontrollable movement of peoples in flight from poverty or civil strife the spread of nuclear weapons and mounting environmental degradation.

Thus it was that many of those who were primarily sensitive to the need for a radical reformulation of the role of the Canadian armed forces also suggested that unless there were sustained international initiatives to alleviate poverty, oppression, and injustice, common security and therefore Canadian security would be threatened.

This position was developed a few years ago by Canada 21 Council, a group of influential Canadians formed specifically to affect the 1994 parliamentary foreign policy review. The Council was primarily concerned with integrating defence and foreign policies and thereby securing that major redefinition of Canada’s defence needs which, with good reason, it championed. It stressed the need for co-ordinated decision-making on a wide range of policies relating to Canada’s foreign relations. Amongst the reforms it called for was that ‘the management of Canada’s policies towards the South [be] integrated and coordinated with the broader set of political, financial and military instruments we use to build common security.’ The Council did want a strong and effective development assistance programme but it cast its case for it in security terms. It argued that ‘threats to common security will intensify unless a determined effort is made to deal with the underlying causes of poverty which will provoke increasingly violent conflict’ and that Canada’s ‘development assistance programs must recognize the threat to Canadian security of the crippling burden of poverty in the South.(f.12)

This alternative rationale for development assistance had been formally embraced by the Liberal party before the 1993 election. The ‘Red Book,’ which was the Liberals’ primary electoral programme, cast its references to foreign aid in security terms. It promised that a Liberal government ‘would adopt a broader definition of national security, encompassing such goals as sustainable development, a capable defence, and the eradication of poverty and social inequality.(f.13)

By 1994, arguments of this sort were frequently delivered in tandem with the ethical arguments of aid advocates. For example, the 1994 Special Joint Parliamentary Committee which reviewed Canadian foreign policy identified ‘shared global security’ as Canada’s central security concern, indeed as its central foreign policy concern. However, when it presented its case for foreign aid, it did so directly and entirely in ethical terms: ‘Help for those most in need expresses the basic moral vision of aid and corresponds closely to what the vast majority of Canadians think development assistance is all about. Accordingly … the primary purpose of Canadian Official Development Assistance is to reduce poverty by providing effective assistance to the poorest people, in those countries that most need and can use our help.'(f.14) The committee’s specific policy recommendations about aid were faithful to this rhetoric.(f.15) Not so the government’s final position.


The Liberal government in its policy statement, Canada in the World, carefully avoided identifying its commitment to development assistance as a response to a compelling ethical obligation. Instead it declared that ‘International assistance is a vital instrument for the achievement of the three key objectives being pursued by the Government. It is an investment in prosperity and employment. It connects the Canadian economy to some of the world’s fastest growing markets … [It] contributes to global security… [and] is one of the clearest statements of Canadian values and culture.(f.16) Thus, emphasis was given first to trade and security considerations and only then, weakly and indirectly, to ethical obligations.

Global security, it will be noted, remained in the rhetoric. However, in its transcription to official policy, the rhetoric of common security lost much of the innovative and radical internationalism that its proponents outside of government had attached to it. The language of this genuinely internationalist commitment to a common global security was gradually being hijacked and deployed by those whose focus was more narrowly national.

That Canada in the World marks a significant shift towards a more narrowly national set of foreign policy objectives is particularly apparent in its statement of CIDA’s mandate, which significantly dilutes the poverty focus of the mandate proposed by the joint parliamentary committee. The recommended mandate ‘to reduce poverty by helping the poorest people in the poorest countries that most need and can use our help’ became a mandate ‘to support sustainable development in developing countries, in order to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world.'(f.17) The mandate thus replaces any special reference to countries most in need with a clause that is so general it could cover almost any programme which the Department of Foreign Affairs might desire.

As well, the official statement does not accept any of the recommended safeguards designed to protect CIDA from those powerful forces outside and inside government that often press it to channel resources to trade and foreign policy objectives. Moreover, it recommitted CIDA to several programmes which link aid spending to trade promotion. It ignored the recommendations that Canadian aid be concentrated in the poorest countries. It rejected suggestions that there should be a legislated charter for CIDA and that trade-oriented activities should be transferred out of CIDA. It also brought into CIDA the administration of Canadian assistance to eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and announced that aid policies would be determined by an interdepartmental committee, chaired not by the president of CIDA but by the deputy minister of foreign affairs.

A further aspect of the policy statement complicates any effort to understand the full significance of these major concessions to trade and foreign policy objectives. There is no evidence that CIDA was forced, reluctantly, to yield to the policy demands of Foreign Affairs. The aid chapter in which these concessions appear was drafted in the first instance by CIDA officials, substantially in the form in which it finally appeared. Many factors help to explain why CIDA acquiesced so readily in this diffusion of its humanitarian focus. Some within the agency were convinced that CIDA could not win any battle to secure a mandate closer to that recommended by the joint parliamentary committee and that advocacy of that mandate would only marginalize it. Indeed, the majority of senior decision-makers positively preferred that CIDA claim for itself a broader foreign policy role. For the same reason, there was also support within CIDA for an emphasis on trade and political objectives in countries of major political and economic importance to Canada. The line dividing those who championed a poverty focused aid programme and those who were willing to attach greater importance to commercial and political objectives was, therefore, not the line dividing Foreign Affairs and CIDA. Rather the line ran through CIDA itself.

The concessions to Canadian economic and political interests which are made in the development assistance chapter in Canada in the World, did not constitute a total surrender. Poverty reduction remained within the new CIDA mandate, five of the six programme priorities for CIDA which the Special Joint Committee had recommended are reaffirmed, and the statement committed 25 per cent of CIDA’s budget to basic human needs. Nevertheless, the fact remains that in defining the objectives of Canadian development assistance, Canada in the World substantially replaced the ethical rationale recommended by the joint parliamentary committee with a focus on Canadian prosperity and security. Some Canadian internationalists have embraced this basic orientation or at least accept that it is politic to cast their support for foreign aid in such terms. The Canadian Labour Congress, for example, did so in its 1994 submission to the Special Joint Committees on Foreign and Defence Policies.(f.18) An even more dramatic illustration of employing arguments reflecting national interest rather than ethical obligation came in November 1996 with the publication of Connecting With The World: Priorities For Canadian Development Assistance. The report was produced by a task force created six months earlier by three publicly financed agencies, the International Development Research Centre, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and the North-South Institute. Its chair, Maurice Strong, and its eight other members(f.19) are all highly knowledgeable internationalists, whose careers demonstrate that they have long been close in spirit to the older humane internationalist perspective on foreign aid.

Yet all appear to have abandoned that perspective. The report is bereft of any articulated ethical commitment. It notes that ‘the absolute number of those without the most basic of human necessities remained too high and continues to grow’ and that ‘international development will have to be dramatically transformed.’ However, it then immediately deduces from this, not that Canada has an obligation as a rich country to do what it can to correct this deplorable situation, but rather that ‘Canada’s response to this challenge will determine our future position among the nations of the world and will be central to our own prosperity.'(f.20)

In discussing development assistance the report impatiently dismisses altruism and concentrates instead on Canada’s self-interest. It suggests that it is better to act now in many situations of growing poverty in Third World countries in order to avoid ‘the much greater and more frightening cost of providing a remedial response later.’ It refers to the goodwill that comes from being a good global citizen and it sees foreign aid as increasing Canada’s competitive position. Finally, in discussing how to explain its recommendations to the Canadian public, the report argues that they ‘must be related to the ultimate product: greater security for Canadians, the environment, and jobs.(f.21) The decision of the committee to cast its recommendations so uncompromisingly within a narrowly self-interested national framework demonstrates at the least its judgment that this is the rationale most likely to persuade the present government.


In the immediate aftermath of Canada in the World, deploying a rationale for development assistance based on its contribution to national security and prosperity was defended as tactically shrewd. It was argued that the shift in Canadian values that had occurred, along with the integration of development assistance fully into the nexus of Canadian foreign policy and the severe cuts to CIDA’s budget, meant that the era of development assistance was coming to an end. Proponents of greater Canadian responsiveness to the needs of the poorest countries should no longer look to an ever-weakening CIDA as their primary interlocutors in government.

They should instead cultivate their links with the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Finance and argue their case in terms that are more likely to appeal to these departments. Realist arguments that effective development assistance lessens the threats to Canada’s security from widespread anarchy, international terrorism, and uncontrollable mass migration, it was suggested, were more likely to be persuasive to them than arguments founded on considerations of ethics and human solidarity.

What then are the counter-arguments to relying on a security/prosperity rationale for foreign aid? The most fundamental challenges the concession it makes that national self-interest must be the primary concern of development assistance. Abandoning the language of justice and solidarity in favour of that of Canadian security and national interests would mark a significant erosion of our fundamental values as a people, a giving up of any championing of that component of basic Canadian values that stresses sensitivity towards the basic human rights and development needs of the world’s poorest.

It would, moreover, likely be a retreat to no avail. Relying on arguments of national security is unlikely to win more support for generous aid policies for the poorest. Fear of the poor is, in one guise or another, at the root of the security case for development assistance as many employ it. However, fear is a vastly less reliable foundation on which to construct humanitarian policies than is empathy and justice. Hostility and anger rather than generosity or solidarity are more frequently the by-products of fear. Exploiting fears of mass uncontrolled migration, say, or of spreading anarchy is more likely to generate uncomprehending antipathy and a determination to build effective barriers than to spark generous interventions. This is as true internationally as it is in Canadian cities.

If Canadian foreign policy makers are unlikely to regard Canadian security arguments for an expanded poverty-oriented aid programme as persuasive, they are even less likely to accept that such programmes should be supported because they contribute significantly to Canadian prosperity. Once it is accepted that the dominant motive for development assistance should be Canadian security and prosperity, then it will follow that Canada will be highly selective in its responses to Third World needs and will act but minimally in distant areas of little economic or geopolitical interest. It is similarly reasonable to fear that the response of the Canadian government to the need for effective international action on environmental issues will not be adequate if they are founded primarily on a concern about the impact of environmental degradation on the welfare of Canadians. Considerations of long-term national interests alone are rarely sufficient to generate re-ordering a government’s political and economic priorities, especially if the anticipated long-term benefits cannot be guaranteed and require for their realization the active participation of most wealthy countries.

There is thus a fundamental commonality to the various strands of the emerging cosmopolitan ethic that is widening Canadian perceptions of their global responsibilities. Canadian initiatives, whether to lessen global poverty, promote international human rights, increase common security, or safeguard the global environment, are likely to be adequate only if they reflect an ethically rooted concern for the welfare of those beyond Canada’s borders.


Since he became minister of foreign affairs, Lloyd Axworthy has made ‘human security’ central to his many expositions on Canadian foreign policy.(f.22) He wants the security of individuals rather than state security to be the central preoccupation of Canadian foreign policy, and indeed of the foreign policies of as many other states as he can influence. He stresses Canada’s use of ‘soft power,’ that is, influencing governments through effective advocacy, persuasion, and the skilful mobilization of international support designed in the first instance primarily to mobilize public opinion. ‘In this kind of campaign,’ as Daryl Copeland has said, ‘the real battles are fought using PR ordinance.'(f.23)

To increase the effectiveness of soft power, Axworthy advocates and indeed practices co-operation with like-minded sections of civil society in the pursuit of his specific objectives. Because of the multitude of issues on the international agenda and Canada’s limited resources, Canada must choose its issues carefully. Indeed, although he has not taken up the term ‘niche diplomacy’ to underline this aspect of his approach, it is clearly a fair description of his practice.(f.24)

Commentators have been quick to point out that the ‘Axworthy doctrine’ seriously underestimates the importance of military capabilities peace and stability can be advanced in many areas of conflict only through the use of force.(f.25) Others have noted that Axworthy’s approach entails a dramatic retreat from engagement with at least some of the fundamental issues that most directly threaten our globe, long a hallmark of Canada’s foreign policy – the risk of nuclear war, the inability to contain gross abuses of power by renegade tyrannical states, increasing global poverty, the negative consequences of globalization on the world’s poorest, and the multiple threats to the global environment.(f.26)

Canada’s ability to provide dramatic leadership on the sorts of issues with which Axworthy has had some success is in part a product of the international reputation Canada gained over the years from the generous expenditure of resources and effort on such humane internationalist objectives as peacekeeping and development assistance. Canada’s reserves of goodwill will dissipate and nations will be more sceptical of Canadian initiatives as they become aware of Canada’s more recent limited contribution to lessening the root causes of major long-term Third World problems.

Axworthy’s exposition of his human security approach to Canadian foreign policy is fully consistent with the government’s intense commitment to fiscal constraint. Axworthy has not advocated an expanded military, capable of playing a more significant role in those countries where significant military intervention is an essential prerequisite to effective peace-building. He has taken in stride Canada’s major retreat from the commitments it made at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development at Rio. He has not addressed the adverse consequences for the poorest states of the neoliberal international economic order or the self-interested character of Canada.