Implementing Canada’s International Policy Statement: A Human Security Framework for Canadian Foreign Policy

Kenneth Epps

Authors
John Siebert and Kenneth Epps

Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade

I. Introduction

Project Ploughshares is an ecumenical agency of the Canadian Council of Churches. Established in 1976 to build peace and prevent war, Project Ploughshares works nationally and internationally with churches, governments, and non-governmental organizations to identify and advance policies to build conditions for sustainable peace and the reduction of the resort to military force in response to political or social conflict, to strengthen controls on the supply of arms, and to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

Project Ploughshares is supported financially by over 8,000 individual Canadians, as well as by grants for specific projects from foundations and the Government of Canada. We gratefully acknowledge a grant from The Simons Foundation for recent work on Canadian foreign and defence policy.

This response to the International Policy Statement (IPS), released in April 2005, focuses on Canada’s contribution to international peace through a “human security framework,” with particular recommendations on the role Canada can play in building human security through nuclear disarmament, the control of conventional weapons, and addressing the scourge of small arms and light weapons. Our colleague at Project Ploughshares, Ernie Regehr, met with the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs on 27 Oct 2005 and presented a brief focused more directly on Canada’s military contribution to international peace and security.

II. The Human Security Framework

The IPS states that human security is at the heart of Canada’s approach to Diplomacy. Human security focuses on the threats to individuals and communities where people are most vulnerable, particularly where states are unable to adequately address these threats to their own citizens:

Our strategy to address the multiple challenges posed by failed and fragile states is focused, first and foremost, on prevention, through development strategies, support for human rights and democracy, diplomacy to prevent conflict, and contributions to human security. (IPS Diplomacy, p. 9)

We want to commend the IPS on this point. Project Ploughshares believes that the security challenges faced by Canada, and the international community more broadly, are most effectively addressed by social, economic, and political initiatives rather than depending solely on a defence policy aimed at securing borders and repelling real or anticipated external military threats. Canada’s history, geography, and military alliances all play a part in the relative security of Canada’s borders. This security and Canada’s wealth create the opportunity – and, in our view, the obligation – for Canada to make real and lasting contributions to human security in other parts of the world. In the conclusion we will recommend that Canada bring the ratio of spending on military defence and development in line with this commitment.

III. Nuclear Stalemate and the Non-Weaponization of Space

Sadly, 60 years after the atom bomb was first used on Hiroshima, the potential use of nuclear weapons, by choice or by chance, remains the greatest threat to human security. Canada’s historical leadership in international nuclear arms control and disarmament has been critical in building multilateral support for tangible steps toward a nuclear-weaponfree world. A commitment to continuing this role is stated in the IPS:

Foreign Affairs will play a major role in pursuing Canada’s strategy, including through the use of our participation in the G8, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Proliferation Security Initiative.… (IPS Diplomacy, p. 13)

The failures in the past year in the nuclear disarmament machinery provide alarming evidence of a crisis in our ability to stop proliferation and reduce overall numbers of nuclear weapons. The failures include the collapse of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May 2005, the continued stalemate on agreeing to an agenda for  the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, and the inability to agree on any language on the nuclear threat in the final document at the United Nations World Summit in mid-September 2005. At the same time nuclear terrorist threats seem increasingly plausible, and the number of known states in possession of nuclear weapons outside the framework of the NPT continues its slow growth to now include Pakistan, India, Israel, presumably North Korea, and possibly soon Iran.

The IPS expresses concern about “irresponsible states who are in possession of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] or who pursue their development,” but acquisition or possession of nuclear weapons by any state is an irresponsible act.

Consistent with the human security framework, effective non-proliferation requires a comprehensive approach that deals with the social, economic, political, and cultural factors that drive the demand for nuclear weapons, while affirming that all nuclear weapons, whoever holds them, are unacceptable and illegitimate tools of terror. Canada should continue to work consistently to reduce the political legitimacy and value of nuclear weapons in order to accelerate progress toward their elimination.

The nuclear doctrine held by NATO maintains that nuclear weapons are essential to preserve peace and will be retained indefinitely. Canada’s commitment to reduce the political legitimacy of nuclear weapons is compromised by its membership in an alliance that continues to uphold nuclear weapons as the ultimate guarantor of peace.

Recommendation 1:

That Canada continue to work with other like-minded non-nuclear NATO states to call for a review of NATO’s nuclear doctrine, to bring it into line with international commitments.

In spite of gains made in the immediate post-Cold War period, the current trend is toward nuclear weapons retention and modernization by the five nuclear weapon states recognized by the NPT – China, France, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The international community must encourage continued tangible reductions in the arsenals of the nuclear weapon states, including through the NATO alliance and within the context of the NPT. We commend Canada for actively and publicly encouraging the nuclear weapon states to make further verifiable and irreversible reductions in both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and demonstrate measurable progress toward fulfillment of Article VI of the NPT.

The IPS notes the possibility that WMD will one day fall into the hands of terrorists and adopts a counter-proliferation approach to these threats. It highlights Canada’s efforts to control the supply of nuclear materials through export controls and threat reduction programs, including the G8 Global Partnership Program. The cases in Iraq, Libya, and  North Korea suggest that diversion of nuclear materials from civilian programs to clandestine weapons programs is a very real proliferation concern that must be addressed.

Recommendation 2:

That Canada maintain a policy fully in line with the international norm that precludes any civilian nuclear cooperation with a state, unless there is a verifiable commitment (full-scope safeguards) to forego the acquisition of nuclear weapons, while continuing to enforce export controls and support threat reduction.

One of the greatest obstacles to making headway on the disarmament agenda is the inability to engage in substantive discussions, mainly because of the stalemate in the CD. Canada has supported innovative solutions to compensate for the institutional deficit of the NPT and the abuse of the consensus system in the CD, but more coordinated effort is required.

We encourage Canada to continue exploring all avenues to rejuvenate the multilateral arms control negotiating process and to engage states in substantive discussions toward negotiation and implementation of new tools of disarmament.

Recommendation 3:

That Canada work to raise the necessary support for a resolution in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly to create four ad hoc committees and commence discussions on the issues that are currently blocked in the CD, while at the same time exploring “the possibility of bringing NPT States Parties together next year [2006] in a special session that would address the reform agenda and go  some way to make up for the time wasted this May.” (Opening Statement to UNGA60 First Committee by Paul Meyer, Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN for Disarmament, 3 October 2005)

Among the issues that are being suffocated by the impasse in the CD is space security. This appears on the CD agenda through a resolution called the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space. While continuing to promote a range of means to break the CD deadlock, Canada must support informal discussions on space security themes, including important technical concepts. Resolving key debates over definitions, building understanding around complex technical concerns, and engaging all space actors, including the civil and commercial sectors, will help to build consensus on the way forward to preserve the peaceful uses of space for all.

Recommendation 4:

That Canada facilitate discussions on the technical, commercial, scientific, and political considerations of the space security debate and definitions of central concepts, including the parameters of ‘outer space’, to lay the foundation for negotiations on a treaty to ban space weapons.

IV. Small Arms and Light Weapons

Since the end of the Cold War in 1989 the widespread availability of conventional weapons – especially small arms and light weapons (SALW) – has contributed to the deaths of millions of combatants and civilians in dozens of conflicts around the world. The IPS refers to the illicit trade in small arms:

But pressing issues remain. For instance, each year more than 500,000 people are killed by the 640 million small arms and light weapons in the world today.… (IPS Diplomacy, p. 14)

In the past Canada has been a leader in multilateral efforts to address the problems caused by the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons around the world. The IPS indicates that Canada will continue to provide diplomatic and financial assistance and promote its efforts as part of the human security agenda.

Foreign Affairs will renew action on the human security agenda by giving fresh impetus to international action on controlling the illicit flow of small arms into conflict zones, including urban areas. (IPS Diplomacy, p. 14)

Although we welcome these statements, especially the call for a renewed emphasis on international action to control the spread and misuse of these weapons, with the exception of a reference to CIDA’s role in supporting disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration and weapons collection programs (IPS Development, p. 13), the IPS is silent on where and how Canada will realize this commitment. We encourage Canada to continue to make the control of small arms and light weapons a primary objective of Canada’s disarmament (small arms) agenda and an integral part of Canada’s human security agenda.

The 2001 UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA) has been the focus of multilateral efforts to combat SALW. In July 2006 the international community will meet to review the PoA. Canada should publicly recommit itself to leadership in this forum.

Recommendation 5:

That Canada work with like-minded states and civil society to ensure a substantive and comprehensive agenda for the PoA Review Conference in July 2006 and to ensure that the PoA continues after that date and is subject to an ongoing review process.

Canadian civil society has been working with government officials to develop credible policy alternatives. Project Ploughshares has worked through the Small Arms Working Group of the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee (CPCC), a network of Canadian organizations and individuals working on small arms research and policy development. A set of policy recommendations covering a wide range of issues related  to small arms was provided to officials by the Small Arms Working Group in 2005 in support of the PoA. These include the following:

Recommendation 6:

That Canada support greater international controls regulating small arms possession and use by individuals. More specifically, there is a growing consensus that there are no legitimate grounds for the use of military assault weapons by civilians.

That Canada seek a legally binding international instrument on marking and tracing arms and ammunition.

That Canada develop national legislation or administrative procedures to regulate arms brokers – those individuals and companies acting as ‘go-betweens’ in many international arms deals. Apart from providing regulation of the activities of Canadian arms brokers, a Canadian law on arms brokering would demonstrate Canadian leadership in this neglected area of conventional arms control.

That Canada support international preventive measures such as restraining the legal and illegal circulation of existing weapons, and simultaneous proactive micro-disarmament measures such as the collection and destruction of weapons.

V. Conventional Arms Control and Disarmament

The trade in conventional weapons, largely a story of states in the North supplying states in the South, is unencumbered by a single international agreement. National controls to regulate the trade have widely varying standards, with the result that states regularly supply weapons that have been denied by their allies.

A more comprehensive formulation of Canada’s international policy would bring needed attention to the international trade in all conventional weapons and commit Canada to measures to control and reduce the arms trade in order to prevent irresponsible transfers and excessive and destabilizing accumulations. To this end Canada should take action at the international level by promoting the negotiation of an international treaty, and at the national level, by reviewing its own arms export control system.

Recommendation 7:

That Canada increase its efforts to build strict, universal standards for the transfer of conventional weapons by promoting the development of an effective international arms trade treaty.

Canada’s export control system includes important criteria for restricting military exports, but these are essentially unchanged from 1986 – the height of the Cold War. Canada’s export control system would benefit from a thorough review that took into account the emerging international attention to additional criteria such as responsibilities under international law.

Recommendation 8:

That Canada’s military export control system be reviewed, with the goal being more comprehensive, transparent, and consistently applied criteria.

The export control review should also attend to a number of weaknesses in the current system. For example, responsibility for export permit decisions was transferred from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Minister of International Trade in December 2003. Because arms exports are fundamentally foreign policy transactions, Foreign Affairs Canada, in consultation with other Departments and Agencies, should have final responsibility for ensuring that Canadian military exports are consistent with Canadian values, objectives, and obligations. Additional weaknesses, arising from the special exemption of arms exports to the US, inadequate end-user controls, and limited transparency, suggest the need for the following:

Recommendation 9:

That management of the military export control system be returned to Foreign Affairs Canada from the Department of International Trade, with final responsibility for decisions on export permits lodging with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

That Canadian military exports to the US be subject to the same export permit requirements that apply to military exports to all other destinations.

That Canada’s military export control regulations be applied to all equipment destined for military end-users.

That Canada exercise full disclosure of all Canadian exports to military end-users, with enough detail to assess possible human rights concerns, as well as full disclosure of export permit decisions.

VI. Conclusion

Some of the challenges of building a human security framework have been laid out by the Government of Canada in the International Policy Statement. Project Ploughshares commends the IPS where it provides concrete directions to meet these challenges. And we commend to this Committee, through our recommendations, several areas where more detail is required or more commitment must be demonstrated.

In conclusion, with respect to Canada’s spending and the human security framework, we would raise the question of whether these priorities have been translated into funding decisions. While the February 2005 budget was welcomed for its promise of defence spending increases, its management of the balance among the full range of human security measures was less impressive.

The defence-to-development spending ratio now stands at just under 4:1. If we actually met our national target for Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) of 0.7 per cent of GDP, while still allowing significant increases in defence spending to about 1.4 per cent of GDP, we would significantly expand the overall security envelope and shift the defence-to-development ration to 2:1. This ratio would be similar to that of countries such as the Nordics and the Netherlands.

Recommendation 10:
That Canada meet its ODA target of 0.7 per cent of GDP, in keeping with its
commitment to a foreign policy guided by a human security framework.

LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Recommendation 1:

That Canada continue to work with other like-minded non-nuclear NATO states to call for a review of NATO’s nuclear doctrine, to bring it into line with international commitments.

Recommendation 2:

That Canada maintain a policy fully in line with the international norm that precludes any civilian nuclear cooperation with a state, unless there is a verifiable commitment (full-scope safeguards) to forego the acquisition of nuclear weapons, while continuing to enforce export controls and support threat reduction.

Recommendation 3:

That Canada work to raise the necessary support for a resolution in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly to create four ad hoc committees and commence discussions on the issues that are currently blocked in the CD, while at the same time exploring “the possibility of bringing NPT States Parties together next year [2006] in a special session that would address the reform agenda and go some way to make up for the time wasted this May.” (Opening Statement to
UNGA60 First Committee by Paul Meyer, Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN for Disarmament, 3 October 2005)

Recommendation 4:

That Canada facilitate discussions on the technical, commercial, scientific, and political considerations of the space security debate and definitions of central concepts, including the parameters of ‘outer space’, to lay the foundation for negotiations on a treaty to ban space weapons.

Recommendation 5:

That Canada work with like-minded states and civil society to ensure a substantive and comprehensive agenda for the PoA Review Conference in July 2006 and to ensure that the PoA continues after that date and is subject to an ongoing review process.

Recommendation 6:

That Canada support greater international controls regulating small arms possession and use by individuals. More specifically, there is a growing consensus that there are no legitimate grounds for the use of military assault weapons by civilians.

That Canada seek a legally binding international instrument on marking and tracing arms and ammunition.

That Canada develop national legislation or administrative procedures to regulate arms brokers – those individuals and companies acting as ‘go-betweens’ in many international arms deals. Apart from providing regulation of the activities of Canadian arms brokers, a Canadian law on arms brokering would demonstrate Canadian leadership in this neglected area of conventional arms control.

That Canada support international preventive measures such as restraining the legal and illegal circulation of existing weapons, and simultaneous proactive micro-disarmament measures such as the collection and destruction of weapons.

Recommendation 7:
That Canada increase its efforts to build strict, universal standards for the transfer of conventional weapons by promoting the development of an effective international arms trade treaty.

Recommendation 8:

That Canada’s military export control criteria be reviewed, with the goal being more comprehensive, transparent, and consistently applied criteria.

Recommendation 9:

That management of the military export control system be returned to Foreign Affairs Canada from the Department of International Trade, with final responsibility for decisions on export permits lodging with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

That Canadian military exports to the US be subject to the same export permit requirements that apply to military exports to all other destinations.

That Canada’s military export control regulations be applied to all equipment destined for military end-users.

That Canada exercise full disclosure of all Canadian exports to military end-users, with enough detail to assess possible human rights concerns, as well as full disclosure of export permit decisions.

Recommendation 10:

That Canada meet its ODA target of 0.7 per cent of GDP, in keeping with its commitment to a foreign policy guided by a human security framework.

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