Canada and Afghanistan: A Political, Diplomatic, Security, Economic & Social Assessment
CALL FOR CONFERENCE PAPERS
Proposals Due: May 31, 2012
Conference Dates: October 11-13, 2012
Conference Venue: Ball State University, Indianapolis Center,
50 South Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
The Center for the Study of Canada at State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, in partnership with the Center for International Development at Ball State University and the International Journal, are pleased to convene an international scholarly conference to examine comprehensively and evaluate the impact of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. The conference, titled Canada and Afghanistan: A Political, Diplomatic, Security, Economic & Social Assessment, will be convened at the Ball State Indianapolis Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, from October 11-13, 2012. Dr. Christopher Kirkey, Director of the Center for the Study of Canada, and Dr. Kenneth Holland, Director of the Center for International Development at Ball State University, will serve as the conference coordinators. We invite submissions from doctoral candidates, junior academics, established scholars and practitioners. The deadline for proposals is May 31, 2012.
Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan, following in the wake of the United States-led October 7, 2001 military invasion, has proven to be the most significant Canadian foreign policy initiative since Canada’s involvement in the Korean War. Over the past eleven years Ottawa has made a significant series of commitments to Afghanistan – militarily, politically, diplomatically, economically and socially – that have placed the Canada-Afghan relationship at the centerpiece of Canadian foreign policy.
The most prominent and visible component of that commitment has arguably been Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan. That involvement has, since 2001, grown to upwards of 3,000 members of the Canadian Forces (principally members of the army, supplemented by naval, air force and special operations commando forces) deployed to Afghanistan, principally in Kabul and in Kandahar province. As a member of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) under the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Canadian military presence dramatically shifted from a focus on peacekeeping and logistical support to a direct combat mission and then to a focus on training of 50,000 members of the Afghan National Army. This presence, however, has come at great cost – 158 members of the Canadian Forces have died in the line of duty and more than 600 have been wounded in action.
Canada has further sought to promote law and order in Afghanistan by training a wide variety of law enforcement officials in the country. Efforts have included having civilian and military police oversee the training of sizeable numbers (roughly 3,000) of the Afghan National Police, corrections officers located in Kandahar and officials with the Afghan National Customs Academy in Kabul.
To aid in the effective administrative governance of Afghanistan, Canada has undertaken a variety of initiatives including training, mentoring and logistical support to strengthen the political role of local or community-based governance councils, provided direct administrative and financial oversight and training for key Afghan national ministries, directly assisted in supporting the fledgling Afghan electoral system, including the 2009 presidential and 2010 parliamentary elections; and, has worked to identify and implement a series of confidence building measures between Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the 2010 Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative.
Economic and social contributions made by Canada in Afghanistan have covered a wide range of areas. Pivotal to this effort has been the reconstruction of the Dahla Dam and the Arghandab irrigation system (designed to foster sustainable agricultural output). The Government of Canada has also provided community economic development assistance (grants and loans) for existing and new business opportunities; built, repaired and expanded some 26 community-based schools; worked to develop curriculum, pedagogical training tools, and teacher training for the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education; provided valuable assistance to Kandahar University (including construction of a boundary wall, women’s dormitory and water well); extended vocational and literacy training to 30,000 Afghans; spearheaded a national polio vaccination campaign; trained 1,500 healthcare workers; significantly contributed to the World Food Programme; and, undertook landmine elimination and training activities.
2011 marked a watershed for Canada’s engagement with Afghanistan. The range of commitments, as announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, are now decidedly more limited in scope. Most notably, Canada’s active combat role has concluded. Ottawa is now focused on the ongoing training of Afghan National Security Forces, regional diplomacy, and education, health and humanitarian assistance. Afghanistan, in other words, is now treated much like other developing nations to which Canada provides foreign assistance.
There is a distinct need, in the post-2011 period of active Canadian military combat involvement in Afghanistan, to undertake a systematic review to comprehensively consider and analytically assess the impact of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan across a full range of political, diplomatic, security, economic and social indicators. This conference seeks to fill a scholarly void by examining and evaluating Canada’s multifaceted relationship with Afghanistan. Indeed, a review of the scholarly literature to date focusing on Canada and Afghanistan demonstrates that existing texts have largely chosen to focus on why and how Canada became engaged in Afghanistan following in the wake of the United States-led October 7, 2001, military invasion, how domestic and international political forces affected subsequent Canadian foreign policy decisions, alternatives to, and normative considerations surrounding, Canada’s military involvement.
The focus of the conference is designed to address a wide range of scholarly inquiries including:
• What have the principal impacts been of Canada’s engagement with Afghanistan?
• Are these initiatives sustainable?
• In its own terms, was the Canadian mission in the period 2001-2011, a success?
• Which was more successful, the civilian or the military mission? Why?
• Are there consistent variables or patterns that can be identified that aid in successful project implementation by Canada in Afghanistan across various sectors?
• Is Afghanistan a “special case” (given the ongoing threats to stability posed by the Taliban and al Qaeda) or will Canada succeed by treating it like any other developing country in the post-2011 era?
• Which foreign policy instruments are most likely to advance Canadian foreign policy interests in Afghanistan in the post-2011 period?
• In what areas and on what issues should Canada seek international partners?
• What were the major lessons learned for Canadian involvement in other failed or failing states?
Conference Participation, Timing and Results
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the conference, please electronically forward an abstract not to exceed 300 words (explaining the theoretical approach/empirical evidence to be examined), proposed title and current vitae to the conference coordinators (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) no later than May 31, 2012. All submissions will be examined by a peer review panel and individuals will be contacted no later than June 5, 2012 regarding their submission. Accepted contributors will be provided with detailed writing guidelines (length, format, footnote/reference style requirements, etc). A maximum of 15 proposals will be accepted for the conference.
Confirmed participants will be required to submit their draft contributions by September 15, 2012. We intend to circulate all of the papers in advance, in early October, and to have each of the authors have the opportunity to have read the work of their colleagues. This conference is designed in such a way that we do not expect authors to 'present' their work in a traditional fashion. Rather, we are proposing that each author(s) prepare and deliver a formal comment on another paper in their general area. This paper will be identified by the conference conveners in consultation with the authors.
So, as a practical matter, each of the panel sessions scheduled for October 12th will include a formal comment followed by a brief response by the author for each of the papers and will include a general discussion involving all participants. This model will allow us to keep the group small and focused and allow for maximum individual participation. This is not an event where there will be an audience; rather, we are looking at engaging all participants to the fullest extent possible.
In mid-November 2012, contributors will be provided with a formal written evaluation/analysis of their contribution, reflecting the views and requested edits of your assigned commentator as well as those of the conference coordinators, Drs. Kirkey & Holland. Contributors will have until January 31, 2013 to undertake any requested revisions and to electronically re-submit their papers. Selected proceedings from the conference will be edited (by Kirkey & Holland) and published as a special thematic issue of International Journal, Canada’s pre-eminent scholarly publication on international relations.
Conference Support for Participants
To facilitate involvement in this project, the Center for the Study of Canada and the Center for International Development are pleased to be able to provide conference participants the following support:
o an opening evening reception on October 11, 2012;
o breaks, lunch and dinner, October 12, 2013; and,
o lodging for two nights (arrival October 11 and departure on October 13) at the Hampton Inn Downtown Indianapolis, 105 S. Meridian St. (across the street from the conference venue). A complimentary breakfast is provided.
We trust that you will agree that this is an exciting initiative, one which will lead to a special thematic issue of International Journal. We encourage you to contact us with any inquiries you may have. We look forward to receiving your proposal!
State University of New York College at Plattsburgh
Center for the Study of Canada
Fax: (518) 564-2112 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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