This conference will explore the problem of how to protect human rights in the international community from a Canadian perspective, reflecting the influential role of Canada and Canadians in Western responses to mass atrocity crimes since the end of the Cold War.
The common nineteenth-century approach of "humanitarian intervention" re-emerged in the 1990s, but its legitimacy and practical ethics are controversial. As UN peacekeepers, Canadian troops witnessed mass atrocities in Bosnia; they helped to end them in Kosovo, as part of NATO intervention. Yet Canadian academics, practitioners and politicians are among the skeptics of armed humanitarian interventions.
The most significant new approach is the doctrine of "the Responsibility to Protect" [R2P], first proposed in the 2001 report of the Canadian-established independent International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, and subsequently officially endorsed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council and the European Union, and praised by French President Sarkozy and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. The Toronto Globe and Mail declared "the Canadian-sponsored concept of 'responsibility to protect' […] the most significant adjustment to national sovereignty in 360 years." However, progress in “operationalizing” R2P has been slow and it, too, is controversial.
This conference, featuring scholars from the United States, Great Britain and Canada, will locate R2P and humanitarian intervention in the broader context of post-Cold War humanitarian crises and attempts at UN reform. It will explore the ways in which R2P reflects recent Canadian history and Canadian attitudes, and the extent to which these are strengths and weaknesses, before looking to the future, from both a Canadian and an international perspective.
Speakers include the Honorable Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg; formerly Canada’s Foreign Minister
Jeremy Kinsman, Regents’ Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley, 2009-10; formerly Canadian Ambassador to the United Kingdom
Neil MacFarlane, Lester B. Pearson Chair of International Relations University of Oxford
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