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Intervention and State Sovereignty Forum

On March 23, Pugwash Canada and Science for Peace helda seminar at theUniversity of Toronto to consider the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s (ICISS) report The Responsibility to Protect.(See theRapporteur’s Report,by Dr. Erika Simpson) Senator Douglas Roche chaired the meeting, which began with a presentation by Ms. Gisèle Côté-Harper, Canada’s Commissioner on the ICISS, a recipient of the Lester B. Pearson medal, and an Officer of the Order of Canada. A barrister and professor of Law at Laval University, she was also the former Chair of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development and a Member of the UN Human Rights Commission. In her thirty-minute presentation, Ms. Côté-Harper highlighted general and specific sections and objectives of the Report; addressed conceptual issues underlying the debate that has since ensued; and considered other initiatives and responsibilities that could be undertaken by individuals, states, and the international community.

Dr. Langille has an M.A. in Conflict Analysis and a Ph.D. in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford; He initiated the development of a multinational peacekeeping training centre in Canada, now the Lester B. Pearson Peacekeeping Training Centre. He was invited to comment upon the report, particularly on the ‘next steps’ for ensuring protection, as well as the prevention, of armed conflict. Having just completed his third book manuscript, Bridging the Commitment-Capacity Gap: Existing Arrangements and Options for Enhancing UN Rapid Deployment forthe Centre for UN Reform in the US, it was suggested by chairman Senator Roche that Dr. Langille’s comments would be particularly apt given the seminar’s focus on not just why — but how — the international community might intervene in deadly conflict.

Dr. Walter Dorn was then introduced as Secretary of the Canadian Pugwash Group and a Research Professor with the Department of Politics and Economics, Royal Military College, as well as a faculty member of the Pearson Peacekeeping Training Centre. With a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Toronto, he assisted with the negotiation, ratification, and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Amongst other points, he commented that the criteria for intervention used in the report are dated and need to be refined for modern times, and that the report should have tested its criteria on recent intervention/enforcement cases.

After the formal speeches, a wide variety of questions and comments were raised by members of Pugwash Canada and Science for Peace. For the sake of clarity, these have been grouped into five major themes and five general recommendations in the Rapporteur’s Report,available at the Science for Peacewebsite.

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