In June 2001, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called for the ‘mainstreaming’ of conflict prevention within the UN system, urging international and regional organizations to work more closely with civil society.  The underlying premise of the Secretary General’s statement was that conflict prevention can only be successful if it rests on the coordination of activities between the UN, regional organizations, states and civil society organizations (CSOs), capitalizing on each group’s expertise and skill.


In response to this call for more concerted action, the European Centre for Conflict Prevention (ECCP) initiated a process of transnational networking to address the challenges of more effective civil society involvement in conflict prevention.  Since 2001, the ECCP has collaborated with both regional and international partners to work toward a global strategy of research, dialogue and consultation leading to a number of regional conferences and culminating in a major international conference at UN headquarters in 2005.  The objective of this process is to increase the effectiveness of conflict prevention by improving coordination and interaction among CSOs, the UN, regional organizations and governments.[1]





In order to contribute to the global process, as well as to build civil society conflict prevention capacity within Canada , the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee (CPCC) and its Conflict Prevention Working Group established a Canadian Conflict Prevention Initiative (CCPI). The activities and expected outcomes of the CCPI include the following:









Expected outcomes









Consultations to Date


In cooperation with the ECCP, several regional conferences have been held, for example in West Africa, South Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and Western Europe, in preparation for the July 2005 UN conference on conflict prevention.  The action agendas that have resulted will not only feed into the global agenda but will inform the work of conflict prevention professionals in these regions.  Recommendations for action have generally focused on two-tracks: those that should be undertaken by CSOs in the region, and those that should be undertaken by other actors in conflict prevention, namely governments, regional bodies and intergovernmental organizations such as the United Nations.  The substance of the meetings has been region-specific, often focusing on the underlying causes of recent or current conflict situations and mapping out the way forward.


In Canada , it was determined that an important first step was to identify the Canadian individuals and organizations involved in conflict prevention, and their interests and needs.  The CCPI therefore undertook a survey for these purposes, as well as to begin to define the unique Canadian perspective on conflict prevention.   Respondents included a range of actors in eleven categories covering a wide variety of conflict prevention activities, with their views often solicited both by email and follow-up interviews.  Conducted from July to September 2003, the survey culminated in a final report released in October.  This report was distributed widely in Canada , and presented to a Canadian government and civil society audience during the Canadian Peacebuilding and Human Security Consultations, which took place in Ottawa in October 2003. 


The final report also informed a meeting immediately following these consultations, organized by CCPI, of conflict prevention professionals from Canada , with the involvement of experts from Latin America , the United States and Europe .  Through presentations and facilitated break out sessions, participants sought to help identify the unique areas in which a Canadian voice could contribute to the dialogue on global partnerships for conflict prevention.  The results of this meeting were widely circulated to Canadian conflict prevention professionals, who have been encouraged to continue to help shape emerging ideas.


The CCPI is now working with Canadian, US and Latin American colleagues toward both North American and hemispheric meetings on conflict prevention, tentatively scheduled to take place on consecutive days in early December of this year.[3]  The CCPI is preparing a Canadian Action Agenda to help inform these discussions, on the basis of the input of Canadian conflict prevention professionals.


Content of the Canadian Action Agenda


Through the processes outlined above, many important areas of Canadian expertise in conflict prevention have been identified.  The CCPI hopes to continue to deepen the dialogue on these issues at the national level, engaging practitioners, academics, government representatives, youth, the media and other constituents.


At the same time, the CCPI feels it is important to focus on a few of these areas, that may receive greater attention at the 2005 UN conference as a result of Canadian input.  Falling into the categories of both structural and operational prevention, these have been tentatively identified as:


·        National governance models, such as federalism, separation of powers, rule of law, and mixed economy.

·        The “human security” approach, including such specific initiatives as the landmines treaty, the International Criminal Court, conflict diamonds, and women, peace and security.

·        International law and global governance, including the Canadian experience with the UN, OAS and OSCE.

·        Operationalizing the “responsibility to prevent”, for example early warning and analysis, and direct prevention efforts including political, diplomatic and preventive military measures. 


These issues will be examined through the lens of collaboration among CSOs, government, regional bodies and the United Nations.   The focus will be on the role of the various actors and the interaction between them.


From an examination of these experiences will flow recommendations for greater collaboration among these actors as they seek to enhance the effectiveness of their conflict prevention activities.  Following the lead of other regional processes, the recommendations for action will focus first on CSOs, and then on others, including the Canadian government, other national governments, regional bodies and the United Nations. 



Next Steps


This Background/Concept Note is being distributed to Canadian conflict prevention professionals such as the national membership of the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee and the participants in the CCPI survey, with encouragement to distribute it further to their own members and colleagues.  Input is being sought on the proposed content of the Canadian Action Agenda, and all are invited to a meeting in Ottawa on November 2 where a draft of the Action Agenda will be discussed.  Revisions will then be made, with further opportunity for comment, and a final document will be distributed prior to the North American and hemispheric meetings. 


It should be emphasized that this dialogue will remain on-going in the lead up to the 2005 UN conference.  It is also expected that the UN conference itself will serve as a catalyst for greater awareness of and interest in conflict prevention activities, including in Canada .  The CPCC and the Canadian Conflict Prevention Initiative hope to continue to engage all interested parties on these issues. 



Please direct your comments to:


Jayne Stoyles


(613) 237-1884



Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee

1 Nicholas Street, Suite 1216     Ottawa , Ontario K1N 7B7 , Canada

Tel (613) 241-3446  Fax: (613) 241-4846

cpcc@web.ca     www.peacebuild.ca


[1] Carment, D. and Marriott, K., “Conflict Prevention in Canada : A Survey of Canadian Conflict Prevention Professionals”, September 2003, prepared for the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee.

[2] “Canadian Conflict Prevention Initiative 2003-2005 Program Concept Note”, 28 May 2003.

[3] Note that these meetings were intended to coincide with the 2004 Canadian Peacebuilding and Human Security Consultations in mid-November, but the Consultations have now been moved to January 2005 and the CCPI made the decision to proceed with these meetings before the end of this year.


Some Key Points proposed by Canadian Civil Society

October 31, 2004

prepared by the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committe



In addition to providing the global and national context for the development of the Canadian Action Agenda, the preamble should set out the principles upon which we base all of our recommendations.  To this end, the Canadian Action Agenda could consider endorsing, in whole or part, the “Guiding Principles”, set out in the Dublin Action Agenda on the Prevention of Violent Conflict, adopted at the European Conference on “The Role of Civil Society in the Prevention of Armed Conflict” Dublin Castle , Dublin , March 31- April 2, 2004 .  These include:


1. Shift to Prevention

Promoting peace and security in the 21st century requires a fundamental shift in how we respond to the challenge of violent conflict. Our priority is to prevent it from occurring and, thereby, to avoid the massive human and economic cost of war. We believe that CSOs can have a major impact in bringing about this shift away from ‘reaction’ to ‘prevention’ and overall transformation.


While Chapter VI of the UN Charter provides a strong mandate for preventing violent conflict, collective security has been pursued largely by reacting to crises rather than by preventing them. Instead of only reacting to crises, when it is often too late to act effectively without the use of force, we must focus on addressing the root causes of conflict and the factors that enable them to become deadly. Non-military prevention activity will obviate the need for the deployment of force. Whilst there is no single reason why violent conflicts erupt, experience demonstrates that most wars are fought in countries that have a poor development record and a weak system of governance.


Efforts to prevent violent conflict necessitate strengthening systems for peacefully managing competing interests, challenging the abuse of state power, upholding human rights, promoting humanitarian values and directing resources to fulfil basic human needs. We see some of the strategies deployed in the ‘War on Terror’ as counter-productive because, by further entrenching cycles of violence, they risk being ultimately self-defeating. The ‘War on Terror’ can also be used as a cloak under which CSO actors, including those who promote human rights, are targeted.


2. Building a ‘Culture of Prevention’ and ‘Culture of Peace’

The key to fostering sustainable peace and security over the longer term is to generate a ‘culture of prevention’ and ‘culture of peace’ from the bottom-up as well as from the top-down. This will require governments and IGOs to mainstream conflict prevention and constructive conflict management as fundamental goals of their security institutions and instruments, as well as of their other policies and programmes. To do so successfully they will need to look beyond short-term considerations, ensure a re-orientation towards preparedness for prevention and address basic human needs and human rights. Historically, the emphasis has been on strengthening the institutional capacity for military response. The emphasis now needs to be on strengthening the institutional capacity for non-violent civilian response.


Efforts to generate a sustainable culture of peace must be rooted deeply in the population. A holistic and pluralistic approach is required. Education for peace is a fundamental element of this transformation. Special attention should be paid to providing everyone - and the young in particular - with conflict resolution life skills. Context is critical, and education in divided communities must be culturally sensitive. People of all ages have to be empowered to become agents of change to address conflicts from the grassroots. As their knowledge about prevention of violence and of conflict transformation grows, it should become entrenched in the mainstream consciousness.


3. Security for People, as well as for States: Human Security


As CSOs committed to conflict prevention, we affirm the essential value of the human security paradigm. We are committed to promoting the security of people: their physical safety, their socio-economic well-being, respect for their dignity and identity as individuals and as members of communities, and the protection and promotion of their rights and fundamental freedoms. We acknowledge the particular role played by women in promoting this concept. We are especially concerned to protect vulnerable and disadvantaged groups as well as those experiencing discrimination. We affirm that the security of people is as important as the security of states. We believe that each has the potential to be mutually reinforcing.


4. Responsibility to Prevent and Protect

We share the view of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which concluded that the international community has a responsibility to act decisively when states are unwilling or unable to fulfil their basic responsibilities to their citizens. We welcome the Commission’s call to “all members of the community of nations, together with non-governmental actors and citizens of states, to embrace the idea of the responsibility to protect as a basic element in the code of global citizenship, for states and peoples, in the 21st century”.[1] This responsibility must be fulfilled with extreme care and only pursued in accordance with clearly defined criteria, as articulated by the Commission. It does not mean a free license for military intervention. CSOs can play a vitally important role in non-military protection, as well as in prevention and peacebuilding. We welcome the adoption of the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict, including the EU`s commitment to consider appointing a Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict.  


5. Multilateralism

Fulfilling an expanded vision of human security can only be achieved on the basis of a truly co-operative endeavour. Major global problems can only be addressed effectively through the co-ordinated efforts and policies developed collectively through multilateral fora - above all through the UN - and not on the basis of unilateral action. This approach is one built on the principle that international norms and standards should apply to all and be complied with by all. We call on our governments to fulfil their commitments and to demand the consistent adherence to these standards by all countries. This will counter the destabilising effects of unilateral action. An effective system for conflict prevention, therefore, should be undertaken within a strong multilateral framework that includes co-ordinated and systematic responses. We believe that CSOs have an important role to play in an expanded conception of multilateralism.


6. A New Partnership for Prevention between Civil Society, Governments and IGOs

Effective conflict prevention requires the creation of collaborative, strategic partnerships for prevention at the national, regional and international level. CSOs can undertake initiatives that government officials cannot and are well placed to mobilise wider societal support for prevention. The effectiveness of this partnership hinges on official acknowledgement of the legitimacy of CSOs that are representative and accountable in peace and security matters; recognition of their roles in the conflict prevention partnership; and mechanisms and resources to fulfil their potential operationally. This new partnership will serve to affirm and build on the principle identified in UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Report on “The Prevention of Armed Conflict”, where he recognised that conflict prevention cannot happen without civil society involvement.


7. Primacy of Local Ownership

Primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with local actors: a key role belongs to those local CSOs that directly represent the conflict-affected populations. Governments must live up to their responsibilities to protect, to prevent violent conflict and to build a culture of peace. For prevention to be sustainable, the people must feel that the process is ‘theirs’ and that it is not externally imposed. Generally, initiatives should be internally generated and externally supported in order to build on existing capacities. The international community – foreign governments, multilateral institutions, and international NGOs – should create spaces and support inclusive processes that enable people directly involved to build their own capacity and to make decisions on ways to resolve violent conflict. As a general rule, ‘outsiders’ should avoid displacing local initiatives. Where democratic institutions do not already exist, the international community should encourage their creation. It should also promote the inclusion in conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes of all relevant groups – particularly women, youth and minority groups – which are often excluded.


8. Inclusion and Equality

A failure to ensure effective political participation is often one of the root causes of conflict because those who feel excluded invariably try to defend their interests through other means, sometimes through violence. One of the difficult challenges for preventing or resolving violent conflict is to generate sufficient confidence and establish specifically agreed arrangements to ensure that this exclusion is addressed and does not repeat itself. The will of the people can only be truly represented if there are effective mechanisms for genuine public participation by the different elements that comprise that society. To promote human security, governments, international agencies, and CSOs must ensure that their actions actively promote gender equality, and include people from diverse political, ethnic, religious, cultural, socio-economic and other minority backgrounds in processes that promote social justice. This is particularly relevant to immigrant and diaspora communities in the European context. We strongly support UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security that specifically addresses the impact of war on women, and women's contributions to conflict resolution and sustainable peace. We call on relevant decision-makers and agencies to resource its full and consistent implementation.


9. Learning from practice and accountability

To become more effective in our work, we need to reflect upon and examine the lessons we are learning from that work, and how we are learning them. We must aim to be reflective practitioners: cognisant of our role, mandate, and contribution at every stage. There are various approaches and methodologies to guide us in this task. Monitoring and evaluating our own activities is, however, just a starting point for a more generalized learning. A significant body of knowledge on best practices in the field of conflict prevention can only be assembled if practitioners understand that they have a responsibility to pass on the knowledge they gain to those who are likely to face similar challenges in the future. This task is an essential aspect of developing the accountability, not only of CSOs, but also of governmental and inter-governmental institutions, and of the field as a whole. It will also be a vital component of developing effective and accountable partnerships for prevention involving CSOs, governments and IGOs.


10. Sustainability

All the points mentioned above will combine to produce an integrated, holistic and more sustainable approach towards conflict prevention. Without a culture shift towards prevention over the longer term, security for the people, true multilateralism and new partnerships, local ownership and inclusion of people from different backgrounds, no conflict prevention effort can be sustainable. The obstacles to achieving this sustainability should not be underestimated and will necessitate persistent effort on the part of CSOs, as well as their partners in governments and multilateral institutions. Traditionally, CSOs have a long-term perspective towards conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. They, in turn, require increased funding to enhance their sustainability.


The challenge is to achieve sustainable peace in a context that is characterised by a lack of conflict sensitivity by a range of actors, passively condoned or actively promoted by governments and IGOs. Some areas of trade policy and investment promotion are major obstacles to the goal of preventing violent conflict, for example. This lack of policy coherence undermines some governments’ and IGOs’ own objectives for sustainable development and peace. Therefore CSOs need to ensure that advocacy for social and economic justice is at the core of our own work for sustainable peace. In addition, governments and IGOs need to involve CSOs in designing broader policy frameworks on trade, security and development that are strategically coherent with peacebuilding objectives.


Additional “foundational principles” were proposed in a draft paper entitled “Canadian Action Agenda: Core Principles and Priorities,” prepared by Lowell Ewert, June 28, 2004 .  [Note that those that overlapped significantly with those of the Dublin Agenda have been omitted].


·        Many effective strategies to prevent armed conflict currently exist.  The overarching focus of the Conflict Prevention Initiative to prevent armed conflict can lead to an implicit assumption that armed conflict is the norm in international affairs and that peace is abnormal.  Without minimizing the appalling consequences of the numerous armed conflicts that continue to plague the world, it is important to keep in mind that most nations and most peoples, most of the time, live together and interrelate mostly without violence.  Many effective strategies to prevent, resolve or contain conflict currently exist.  The challenge is not to replace these effective mechanisms, but rather to build on the foundation of peaceful co-existence that exists, strengthen mechanisms that have been proven to be deficient, and to develop new mechanisms that can address the increasingly complex conflicts that exist. 


·        A vision for peaceful co-existence already exists and has been adopted by the world community.   The goal of creating an “armed conflict free” world is not an unrealistic utopian dream.  The world’s most thoughtful and creative diplomats have already given shape to a realistic and achievable vision of peace with which the vast majority of nations have concurred.  This vision is spelled out by two sets of documents -  the United Nations Charter and the International Bill of Rights (composed of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).  The Universal Declaration of human rights most clearly articulates this vision by its claim stated in its Preamble that armed conflict is avoidable if fundamental human rights are respected.  Its provisions together with the United Nations Charter, operationalize the collective wisdom of the world community gleaned from the lessons of two horrific world wars on how armed conflict is to be prevented.  These principles are still valid but need to be reaffirmed and operationalized more effectively.


·        Armed conflict not authorized by the United Nations is prima facie a breach of international law.  As defined by its Charter, the United Nations was created in order “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind.”  It’s mandate is to “maintain international peace and security, ... to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”   As such, the decision to pursue political goals by resort to warfare resides with the United Nations and not with individual nation states.


·        Every sector of society has a duty to avoid armed conflict.  All sectors of international society (international organizations, governments, the business sector and civil society) have a duty to abide by and promote agreed fundamental international human rights which have as their purpose the prevention of armed conflict, to adhere to basic rules of international law designed to manage, limit and mitigate conflict, and to rely on legal processes to resolve disputes that cannot be resolved through bi-lateral or multi-lateral negotiation.  Although the extent of this duty on the part of non-state actors to avoid violent conflict is still evolving in international law,  the clear trajectory of responsibility is to expand this obligation to apply to these non-state entities.  In some circumstances, non-state entities have greater practical impact on peace and stability than do some governments and the move to recognize this in international law is a logical next step.






Through the processes outlined in the Background/Concept Note circulated in October 2004, many important areas of Canadian expertise in conflict prevention have been identified.   For the purposes of the global process, the CCPI feels it is important to focus on a few of these areas, that may receive greater attention at the 2005 UN conference as a result of Canadian input.  These have been tentatively identified as:


·        National governance models, such as federalism, separation of powers, rule of law, and mixed economy.

·        The “human security” approach, including such specific initiatives as the landmines treaty, the International Criminal Court, conflict diamonds, and women, peace and security.

·        International law and global governance, including the Canadian experience with the UN, OAS and OSCE.

·        Operationalizing the “responsibility to prevent”, for example early warning and analysis, and direct prevention efforts including political, diplomatic and preventive military measures. 


The following section sets out some of the key points that have been made with regard to these issues by Canadian academics, NGO representatives and other Canadian experts in the field of conflict prevention. 


I.        National governance models, such as federalism, separation of powers, rule of law, and mixed economy.


A.        The Canadian Experience


Canada ’s “Political Creed”

·        our history has lent itself to a unique inflection to our democratic values, defined in our first constitution as “peace, order and good government”, in contrast with the Jeffersonian vision of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, and these commitments remain anchored in the Canadian constitution

·        in balancing liberty and order, free enterprise and government action, we believe that freedom without order risks violence, and liberty without government action risks injustice and inequality

·        what is distinctive about the Canadian political tradition is the idea that government action is a precondition both for economic development and the creation of a political community that is equitable between classes, religions and regions; our intuition is that human rights and tolerance have to be anchored in good institutions, with separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, free press, entrenched minority rights guarantees and the rule of law[i]

·        Canada has a free market system, but with public provision of health care, unemployment insurance and social security, along with redistribution of revenues from rich provinces to poorer ones


Canada ’s Federal System

·        Canada is a parliamentary federation, ie a federal system in which sovereignty is divided between central and regional governments, both constituted according to the principles of British parliamentary democracy

·        it is a divided rather than a shared model of federalism, including:  watertight compartments for the division of powers; independent taxing authority for both orders of governments; and weak provincial representation at the centre

·        Canadian federal experience since World War II has been shaped by several forces:  the construction, consolidation and then constraining of the Canadian welfare state; the emergence in the 1960s of a form of liberal nationalism in predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec; the ‘province building’ enterprises of several Canadian provinces; the aspiration for self-determination of Canada’s aboriginal peoples;[ii] and the increasing ethno-cultural diversity within the country


The Role of Municipal Government

·        municipal government in Canada reflects a basic democratic structure and has two primary dimensions:  democratic governance (and promoting democratic values at the local level) and service delivery

·        municipal governments have established credible, trusted, accountable and responsive systems of administration, budgeting, hiring and procurement at the local level, with the participation of citizens from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds as an established feature

·        in the area of service delivery, municipalities in Canada are relied on and trusted to manage the delivery of basic services such as drinking water and garbage collection, transportation systems, roads, urban planning and land use, etc. in an equitable manner

·        municipalities strengthen new immigrant and refugee communities by increasing their access to employment and municipal services through language training, subsidized daycare and public transit; they also support local economic development, manage subsidized housing etc. in a way that cuts across racial, ethnic, religious and socio-economic boundaries[iii]


Minority Rights

·        the history of Canada’s treatment of its aboriginal communities is a painful example of the failure of the ‘peace, order and good government’ creed; in more recent history, the government is developing a compensation model for historical government policies that damaged aboriginal identity and caused physical and emotional harm to aboriginal people, and is negotiating some land claims settlements and self-government[iv]

·        Canada has managed the relationship between the majority English and minority French-speaking citizens in part through the recognition of French language rights; including: provisions for use of either language in Parliamentary processes dating back to Canada’s first constitution in 1867; the passage of the Official Languages Act in 1969 with the objective of the equality of French and English in Canadian society; the creation of the Commissioner of Official Languages in 1970; and further entrenchment of French language rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms passed in 1982[v]

·        two parliamentary resolutions have also addressed this issue: one acknowledging Quebec (the province with a majority of French-speaking citizens) as a distinct society and the other promising to recognize a veto for Quebec over future, general constitutional amendments; in addition, responsibility for several policy fields was transferred to the provinces chiefly in recognition of Quebec concerns and Canada sought an advisory opinion on its legality of Quebec secession from the Supreme Court of Canada

·        with regard to newer Canadian minority communities, Canada has adopted a ‘vertical mosaic’ philosophy which encourages the maintenance of ethno-cultural identities; this is in contrast to the ‘melting pot’ philosophy of the United States

·        minority rights are also protected by both federal and provincial human rights and employment legislation



B.        Recommendations



·        incorporate activities to strengthen institutions and practices for good governance as a key facet of long-term peacebuilding efforts[vi]

·        build awareness that local government capacity-building is necessarily a long-term process intended to enable municipal government to prevent or mitigate the likelihood of violent conflict, and seek to keep this on the agenda of other partners in the peacebuilding process[vii]

·        enhance research on the role played by respect (or non-respect) of minority rights in the incidence of violent conflict, and incorporate minority rights into conflict prevention work[viii]


The Government of Canada

·        focus foreign policy on the crisis in state order that is sweeping the world, undermining “peace, order and good government”, understanding that this is not just a humanitarian issue, but one with direct national impact on domestic immigration, on national security, environmental degradation, and on our efforts at effective global governance and development[x]

·        make development assistance more effective and efficient by identifying areas where resources can have the largest structural impact, through distributive justice, encouraging the rule of law, protecting fundamental human rights, and fostering the growth of democratic institutions[xi]

·        put the Canadian institutional memory about the legislative and legal requirements for the accommodation of linguistic and religious diversity to work, helping countries on the path to democracy, monitoring elections, assisting in the design of courts, prosecution services, police services, creation of central banks and writing of property and inheritance law

·        specialize both in a policy framework that brings all our “governance” activity together in a single powerful program of action, making available a tool kit of preventive intervention:  conflict resolution at the village and community level, political dialogue at the national level, constitutional change, in the form of devolution to empower disenfranchised regions or groups and minority rights guarantees to end discrimination and injustice; these should be put together with economic assistance, into a coherent stand-by capability, bringing together NGO, government and professional capacities and serving as a co-ordinating forum to respond to acute institutional failure accompanied by violence

·        adapt Canadian government capacities to serve this agenda, which requires making better use of our governance capacity and developing a national civilian capacity to promote peace, order and good government; an agency would broker requests for assistance, maintain a government-wide roster of experts in government and out[xii]


Other National Governments

·        commit to non-discrimination and effective participation of all citizens, including minority groups, in government decision-making and in economic activity

·        respect and support the rights of minorities to use their own languages, enjoy their cultures and practise their religions[xiii]


Other International Actors

·        work to ensure that development processes adequately address the concerns of minorities and benefit all communities, for example by offering services and programs in minority languages, and allowing minority groups to participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs affecting them[xv]

·         in the domain of economic policy, give priority to infrastructure rehabilitation, social investment and macro-economic stabilization in the short run; stabilization and growth are crucial but should not be pursued at the expense of goals such as poverty reduction and equity (rural-urban, gender, etc.)



II.  The “human security” approach, including such specific initiatives as the landmines treaty, the International Criminal Court, conflict diamonds, and women, peace and security.


A.        The Canadian Experience


·        Canada has defined ‘human security’ as “freedom from pervasive threats to people’s rights, safety or lives”, placing a focus on the security of people as opposed to security of the state; implicit reference to preventive measures are part and parcel of most definitions

·        the concept of human security, promoted most prominently by Canada , while presenting ideas that were not necessarily new, was quickly picked up by academics and policymakers and presented and discussed as a serious companion (or an alternative) to the prevailing and dominant national security paradigm[xvii]

·        Canada has played a major leadship role in all of the major international humanitarian campaigns, including landmines, the International Criminal Court, child soldiers, conflict diamonds and others; these have been successful in putting individual needs ahead of state interests, providing a concrete example of theory becoming practice and of the importance of partnerships between governments, civil society organizations and inter-governmental bodies[xviii]



B.        Recommendations



·        engage in making human security the cornerstone of local and global governance; expand and build a culture of human security, both in the North and the South, not as a substitute for national security but as a complement to it

·        work towards the development of new institutions to act as counterweights to existing state-centred intergovernmental decision-making forums to give a voice to human security concerns

·        focus on cases where basic human security needs are neglected, addressing the challenge that prevention must take place in a culture of reaction rather than proaction; in other words, reaction to ‘observed slippage’ in the provision of basic security needs can amount to the prevention of eventual violent conflict and war

·        be wary of reference to human security and human rights being used as a useful tool to sell one’s public on military intervention for possibly quite different purposes[xix]

·        consider the lessons learned from previous ‘human security campaigns’ in considering collaborative action in new areas, for example:  the importance of focusing campaigns on the regional and national levels; the desirability of creating a network of ‘like minded’ governments; the power of ‘soft power’ tactics such as persuasion, communication, negotiation and organization; the need for a clear message that resonates as part of the humanitarian discourse; the desirability of working within a coalition framework despite disagreement on particular issues; the utility of establishing a coalition steering committee to help shepherd the process; and the need for a dedicated coalition secretariat to coordinate and support the work of member organizations[xx]


The Government of Canada

·        continue to have the concept of human security as the guiding principle of Canada ’s foreign policy

·        emphasize the need for economic equality and self-sufficiency; ensure that the security of individuals is not subordinated to the needs and wants of multinational corporations, including the exploitation of the resources of Southern countries by corporations of the North, and pursue reforms to the global trade system to increase its equitability[xxi]

·        pursue with determination measures to ensure the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security[xxii]

·        increase Canadian foreign aid to the goal of 0.7% of our Gross National Product, with an emphasis on food security

·        use membership in the G8 Global Partnership to pursue economic policies and support to other countries which encourages self-sufficiency[xxiii]


Other National Governments

·        at the national level, Ministries of Peace and Human Security should be created, endowed with a distinct mandate to promote human security as guiding principle of foreign policy making in collaboration with Ministries of Culture, Education, Foreign Affairs and Defence

·        these institutions could base their work on human security initiatives currently being proposed and discussed, such as a Human Security Audit and Human Security Report

·        horizontal collaboration between these bodies would have to be supplemented with vertical collaboration with the UN, regional organizations and national governments[xxiv]


Regional Organizations and the UN

·        power sharing arrangements need to be worked out between regional organizations and the UN, with the UN maintaining a degree of authority to monitor the actions of regional organizations and ensure that effectiveness will not come at the cost of injustice and noncompliance with UN prerogatives and human security concerns

·        a Peace and Human Security Council, a parallel institution to the Security Council (SC) should be established, with the power to consider actions brought to the SC, consult the SC and veto SC actions that disregard human security concerns because of national security prerogatives

·        similar institutions are needed within regional bodies (Note that the African Union is planning to set up such a council)





III. International law and global governance, including the Canadian experience with the UN, OAS and OSCE. 




·        Canada has been a strong advocate and supporter of multi-lateral institutions, in particular the United Nations, and the development of international law

·        Canada has played a role in opening up the OAS to greater CSO participation and has been credited with diffusing the traditional tensions between the United States and the other OAS member states, as well as serving as a bridge to the rest of Latin America due to its historical relationship with the English Caribbean

·        Canada has not yet addressed the fact that engagement with civil society in regional organizations occurs in a haphazard fashion, due partly to the complexity of multilateral processes and structures in the region, with overlapping institutions and processes developing separate mechanisms for the participation of civil society[xxv]

·        with regard to the OSCE, Canada mandates and funds a non-profit NGO to register and assist in the placement of Canadians with skills in human rights, peacebuilding, democratization, elections, policing, governance, rule of law, admin-logistics, security, reconstruction, and other field expertise[xxvi]






·        develop a good understanding of the processes and structures of regional organizations, and clearly define policy input

·        exchange information about activities and plans with other CSOs in order to increase transparency within the community and prepare the ground for joint action

·        consult with governments at an early stage, including ensuring that CSOs have a hand in developing agenda items before they are circulated to government officials[xxvii]

·        with regard to the OSCE, there are a number of mechanisms and opportunities which CSOs can take advantage of to provide input and increase cooperation:

- the OSCE uses CSOs as a source of information on human rights, environmental, economic and security matters, with the main contact poin the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, or ODIHR, and its NGO Unit

- through a number of assistance projects, it seeks to establish constructive dialogue between CSOs and government or state reps on legislation affecting civil society and on important human rights issues

- in post-conflict areas, the ODIHR brings together actors from different parties involved to support reconciliation efforts; it builds public awareness of national human rights provisions through TV and radio programs; and it enhances the capacity of CSOs, facilitates their participation in major OSCE events such as summits, review conferences or human dimension meetings and seminars

·        focus on the gap between early warning and early response by the OSCE, finding ways to push the organization to get around the challenges inherent in its consensus-based decision-making processes and the sensitivities of member states around issues affecting their own region[xxviii]


The Government of Canada

·        continue to endorse and promote the indispensable role of the United Nations in preventing and solving conflict and the necessity of achieving security through peaceful rather than military means

·        work to change the policies of countries with poor human rights records, and promote adherence to international humanitarian law, laws against torture and laws about the rights of women and children[xxix]


Regional Organizations

·        with regard to the OAS, there is a need for a single cross-organization strategy for public consultation (the Summit Process currently has two separate tracks, and the OAS has approved a set of guidelines for CSO accreditation and a new strategy for participation in sustainable development initiatives)

·        CSO input must be fed directly into the decision-making spaces

·        national governments must consult with their own civil society organizations on agenda items in a comprehensive fashion[xxx]

·        OIDHR and OSCE missions should facilitate networking between regional NGOs and those based in the capital, local international NGOs, local NGOs and governments

·        OSCE missions should organize regular meetings with local NGOs to inform them about OSCE activities in support of civil society

·        OSCE missions could offer to be a coordinating framework for international organizations working to increase interaction with local NGOs in the countries where they are active

·        work towards a better conceptualization of the place and role of CSOs in the OSCE[xxxi]



IV.     Operationalizing the “responsibility to prevent”, for example early warning and analysis, and direct prevention efforts including political, diplomatic and preventive military measures. 



·        Canada has played an important role in encouraging the international community to respond to both the causes and consequences of violent conflict; nevertheless, there has not been a shift in orientation towards conflict prevention, the link between development activities and conflict prevention (in terms of their potential both to address and to exacerbate conflict) has not been made, and prevention has been considered only a facet of development and not an end in itself[xxxii]

·        Canada’s most distinct contribution to peacebuilding was to propose the first deployment of an international peace force under the UN flag; since that time there have been over 50 peacekeeping missions and Canada has served in almost every mission

·        Canadian involvement in international peace support operations has expanded in response to the changing nature of conflict, for example to include deployment of personnel with a variety of skills to work with military personnel; this takes place not just through the UN but through regional forums such as NATO, the OSCE and the African Union[xxxiii]





·        increase involvement in the UN Framework for Coordination on Early Warning, an interagency/departmental mechanism for information sharing, situational risk analysis, and identification of potential preventive measures[xxxiv]

·        support Canada ’s efforts to build new norms around evolving notions of sovereignty involving responsibilities and not just rights, including advocacy to support the effort to pass one or more resolutions in the General Assembly to this effect

·        advocate for the creation of a civilian contingent of 10 million volunteers (with 10 countries each contributing 1 million), whose basic needs would be provided for by the contributing country, to be sent to an area of conflict with the goal of having their presence contribute to peaceful resolution of conflict[xxxv]


The Government of Canada

·        create a civilian peace service, using the model of those established in European countries[xxxvi]

·        pursue the integration of risk assessments into strategic and contingency planning, perhaps beginning with developmental aid, in order to develop coherent, sustainable and long-term policies on conflict prevention; this requires a clear understanding of the structural factors responsible for violence

·        link risk analysis to a five-step process including:  closer integration of risk assessment data into the foreign policy activities of all relevant departments; use of assessments to identify links between conflict processes and activities in which the end user is engaged; use of information that helps plan for contingencies;  harmonization of effectiveness measurements; and the establishment of a research bureau under a conflict prevention secretariat[xxxvii]

·        emphasize conflict prevention when promoting the keys findings in the Responsibility to Protect report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, including seeking ways to increase the political will for early response to emerging conflicts[xxxviii]


Regional Organizations

·        increase conflict prevention capacity, for example by establishing a function similar to the OSCE’s High Commissioner on National Minorities (HSNM), including its root causes, problem-solving, human rights-informed approach which combines preventive diplomacy, policy advice and technical assistance, addressing situations where leaving problems unresolved may lead to violent conflict[xxxix]


The United Nations

·        continue to develop field level tools for early warning and conflict management

·        invest in more training to enhance the understanding of conflict prevention and management mechanisms by those who use them; in particular, those working in the field need to understand the UN headquarters (HQ) mechanisms, and those working at HQ need to develop a better appreciation for the relevance of field-based tools to their work

·        make wider, more practical use of the Headquarters (HQ) forums, including identifying vulnerable countries earlier through the UN Development Group, with a need to raise UN consciousness about how to mainstream CP approaches

·        increase vertical information-sharing within the organization

·        move away from results-based planning and monitoring in conflict prevention situations as this approach cannot be transferred from normal development situations to those of civil and political unrest

·        seek to take strategic leadership, remaining flexibility about the organization’s role depending on the involvement of regional organizations, bilateral actors, and others, while still providing strategic vision[xl]

·        consider designating a single body with overall responsibility for early warning, including the coordination of an early warning system; this body should: be able to draw upon national information and intelligence agencies; be in close contact with UN human rights agencies; develop partnerships with CSOs engaged in early warning; monitor early warnings issued by other organizations; explore new information-gathering norms; be accountable for failures at early warning; incorporate a learning mechanism; issue regular reports on early warning to the UN Secretary General and UN membership; and contribute to the identification of options in response, without having primary responsibility for this role

·        consider the creation of an Information and Analysis Centre or Unit with responsibility for handling information at all stages of conflict[xli]

·        focus on the translation of early warning into early response[xlii]

·        become better prepared for diverse peace operations, including modest enforcement, rapid deployment, the protection of civilians and the prevention of armed conflict, with the understanding that these are overlapping and not distinct objectives including: reinforcing existing arrangement such as SHIRBRIG, UNSAS and the UN Emergency Service; consolidating capability in a sound operational environment, including a UN rapid deployment base and an operational-level headquarters at the UN; co-locate national contingents; and initiate a UN Emergency Service[xliii]

·        the UN Commission on Human Rights should draft an Optional Protocol establishing a treaty-monitoring body to the Genocide Convention, with a mandate to consider communications and petitions from persons/groups or their representatives alleging violations of the Genocide Convention

·        the High Commissioner for Human Rights should establish within her Office a Special Adviser on Minorities to head an expert analyzing unit[xliv]



Other issues and ideas proposed by CPCC members:

·        peace education: the development of a teaching program that involves a number of components, drawing from the Earth Charter, the UN Global Compact, the UN Millennium Development Goals and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[xlv]

·        weapons proliferation: oppose unequivocally Canadian participation in the US missile defense system and any measures towards the weaponization of space and act to achieve the total abolition of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction[xlvi] and pursue policies and treaties in the United Nations that seek to reduce stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons worldwide; we should also work to stop the arms trade, by focusing first on stopping the Canadian arms trade



[1]Responsibility to Protect’, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian Government, para 8.33. Found at: http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/iciss-ciise/report2-en.asp#foreword




[i] Michael Ignatieff, “Peace, Order and Good Government: A Foreign Policy Agenda for Canada”, transcript of the OD Skelton Lecture at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, March 12, 2004.

[ii] David R. Cameron, “ Canada ”, a publication of the Canadian Forum of Federations, date?

[iii] Federation of Canadian Municipalities, “Building Capacity for Peace and Unity:  The Role of Local Government in Peacebuilding”, March 2004.

[iv] Terry Glavin, “Canada’s Native Peoples Fight for Self-Government on Many Fronts,” in Federations, What’s New in Federalism Worldwide, Vol. 1, No. 1, November 2000.

[v] Canadian Heritage, “History of Bilingualism in Canada ,” at www.canadianheritage.gc.ca.

[vi] Colleen Duggan, “UN Strategic and Operational Coordination”, in Albrecht Schnabel and David Carment, Conflict Prevention: from Rhetoric to Reality, Volume 1: Organizations and Institutions, ( Maryland , USA : Lexington Books, 2004), p.346.

[vii] Federation of Canadian Municipalities , “Building Capacity for Peace and Unity.”

[viii] John Packer and Erik Friberg, “Genocide and Minorities: Preventing the Preventable,” Minority Rights Group International, Briefing, April 2004.

[ix] Stephen Baranyi and Kristiana Powell, “What kind of peace is possible in the post-9/11 era? Local agency, transnational coalitions and the challenges of sustainable peace,” Draft, (North-South Institute, July 2004).

[x] Ignatieff, “Peace, Order and Good Government.”

[xi] David Carment and Karen Garner, “Early Warning and Conflict Prevention: Problems, Pitfalls and Avenues for Success,” NPSIA, Carleton University , accepted for publication in Canadian Foreign Policy (Winter 1998).

[xii] Ignatieff, “Peace, Order and Good Government.”  An emphasis on promoting democracy by supporting political participation and accountable and transparent governance was also emphasized by Kawartha Ploughshares, “The Role of Canadian Society in Conflict Prevention,” October 2004, submitted to CPCC by email.

[xiii] John Packer and Erik Friberg, “Genocide and Minorities.”

[xiv] Stephen Baranyi and Kristiana Powell, “What kind of peace is possible in the post-9/11 era?”

[xv] John Packer and Erik Friberg, “Genocide and Minorities.”

[xvi] Baranyi and Powell, “What kind of peace is possible in the post-9/11 era?”

[xvii] Albrecht Schnabel, “Human Security and Conflict Prevention”, in Albrecht Schnabel and David Carment, Conflict Prevention: from Rhetoric to Reality, Volume 2: Opportunities and Innovations,   ( Maryland , USA : Lexington Books, 2004). p.109.

[xviii] Lloyd Axworthy, Navigating a New World: Canada’s Global Future, ( Canada : Alfred A. Knopf Canada , 2003), p.152.  Also see Ignatieff, “Peace, Order and Good Government.”

[xix] Schnabel, “Human Security and Conflict Prevention”.

[xx] Don Hubert, “The Landmine Ban: A Case Study in Humanitarian Advocacy,” Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, Occasional Paper #42, ( Rhode Island , USA : Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, 2000) and Axworthy, Navigating a New World .

[xxi] Kawartha Ploughshares.  These recommendations were echoed in the email submission to CPCC by  Religious Society of Friends – Quakers, Simcoe-Muskoka Monthly Meeting, 19 October 2004 .

[xxii] Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice (Toronto Branch), resolution for Biennial Conference, submitted to CPCC by email.

[xxiii] Kawartha Ploughshares

[xxiv] Schnabel, “Human Security and Conflict Prevention”.

[xxv] Yasmine Shamsic, “Engaging with Civil Society:  Lessons from the OAS, FTAA, and Summits of the Americas ”, ( Ottawa , Canada : North-South Institute, January 2002).

[xxvi] See CANADEM website at www.canadem.ca.

[xxvii] Shamsic, “Engaging with Civil Society.”

[xxviii] Monika Wohlfeld, “The OSCE as Primary Instrument of Conflict Prevention in Europe : Frameworks, Achievements and Limitations of the OSCE’s Preventive Action”, in Albrecht and Carment, Volume 1 page 167.

[xxix] Kawartha Ploughshares.

[xxx] Shamsic, “Engaging with Civil Society.”

[xxxi] Wohlfeld, “The OSCE as Primary Instrument of Conflict Prevention.”

[xxxii] David Carment and Karen Garner, “Early Warning and Conflict Prevention.”

[xxxiii] Foreign Affairs Canada , “ Canada and Peace Support Operations,” see website: www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/peacekeeping.  See also the website of the United Nations Association-Canada at www.unac.org.

[xxxiv] Duggan, “UN Strategic and Operational Coordination.”

[xxxv] Home Planet, submitted by email to CPCC, October 2004.

[xxxvi] See the proposal of a coalition of Canadian CSOs at www.superaje.com.

[xxxvii] Carment and Garner, “Early Warning and Conflict Prevention.”

[xxxviii] Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice ( Toronto Branch).  See also Kawartha Ploughshares.

[xxxix] Kawartha Ploughshares.

[xl] Duggan, “UN Strategic and Operational Coordination.”

[xli] Walter Dorn, “Early and Late Warning by the UN Secretary-General of Threats to the Peace: Article 99 Revisited,” in Albrecht Schnabel and David Carment, Conflict Prevention: from Rhetoric to Reality, Volume 1: Organizations and Institutions, ( Maryland , USA : Lexington Books, 2004), p. 305.

[xlii] See Anton Ivanov and David Nyheim, “Generating the Means to an End:  Political Will and Integrated Responses to Early Warning”, in Albrecht Schnabel and David Carment, Conflict Prevention: from Rhetoric to Reality, Volume 2: Opportunities and Innovations, ( Maryland , USA : Lexington Books, 2004). p.163 for suggestions on translating early warning into early response, including planning, roundtables, etc).

[xliii]  Dr. Peter Langille, “UN Efforts and Options to Improve Diverse Peace Operations: Protection of Civilians, Prevention of Armed Conflict, Modest Enforcement and Rapid Deployment,” paper prepared for the World Federalist Movement Canada, Seminar, Montreal , May 7, 2004 . 

[xliv] John Packer and Erik Friberg, “Genocide and Minorities.”

[xlv] Home Planet.

[xlvi] Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice ( Toronto Branch).  See also Kawartha Ploughshares, as well as the Religious Society of Friends – Quakers.