Friday, November 22 - Halifax
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November 22-24, 2019

Halifax, Nova Scotia




Welcome On the record

Mr. Peter Van Praagh, President, Halifax International Security Forum

Opening Remarks On the record

The Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, Canada 

2019 is a year of anniversaries. One hundred years ago, the Treaty of Versailles was signed and the ‘War to end all Wars’ was over. In reality, the seeds were planted for a conflict far worse. Seventy-five years ago, the Second World War would take young Canadian men from their homeland to fight and die on the beaches of Normandy – alongside British and American allies. And thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, ending the Cold War and ushering in a new era of peace and democracy. But democracy is in peril and large belligerent states, like Russia and China, seek to disrupt the international rules based order. At every turn, we think the job is done. But it isn’t.

Halifax International Security Forum President Peter Van Praagh opened this year’s Forum, noting this weekend will provide an opportunity for all to reassess the global situation in 2019. Are we able to work together to restore and spread democracy? Are our global institutions still up to the task? Are we? The dialogue continues in Halifax.

Canada is not immune from a rapidly changing world in which internal conflicts, climate change, and technological threats, are the new norm. All the while, some of our allies undermine alliances, treaties and the international rules-based system. This was the backdrop to Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s remarks about the new and grave challenges to Canada and the world at the start of the 2019 Halifax International Security Forum. Threats to the Canadian way of life cannot be met head-on solely by the military. The private sector, think-tanks and citizens all have a role to play in defending the values we hold dear. Sajjan emphasized Canada’s commitment to multilateralism and noted his willingness to work with the country’s friends and allies – many represented at the Forum this weekend – for the security of Canada and the world.


Plenary 1: Revolutions of Our Time: Freedom Without US On the record


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Moderator Ms. Jeanne Meserve

Member, Homeland Security Experts Group

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Professor Yascha Mounk

Contributing Editor, The Atlantic; Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University

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Professor Steve Tsang

Director, China Institute, School for Oriental and African Studies, University of London

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Dr. Nancy Okail

Executive Director (fmr.), Tahrir Institute

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Ambassador Isadora Zubillaga

Deputy Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, National Assembly Venezuela and Ambassador of Venezuela to France

All around the world, democracy is retreating as authoritarian regimes gain ground. From Hong Kong to Venezuela, from Chile to Lebanon, protesters are not willing to let freedom and democracy go without a fight. The first plenary session of the 2019 Halifax International Security Forum began by asking: what role should the United States, and the broader international community, play as this crisis of democracy unfolds?

Isadora Zubilaga believes the international community has an indispensable role to play. The breakdown of democracy in one country can spread beyond its borders. But rocking the boat can have undesired outcomes. How long can emerging dictatorships sustain their legitimacy? Yascha Mounk asserts it’s up to citizens who have the courage to raise their voices. And with protests in Hong Kong raging, leaders of the world continue to scratch their heads on whether to take a stand or watch from the sidelines.

Coffee Break

Coffee Break


Plenary 2: Values Trade: Our Way or the Huawei On the record


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Moderator Dr. Gideon Rose

Editor, Foreign Affairs; Peter G. Peterson Chair, Council on Foreign Relations

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Mr. Josh Rogin

Columnist, Foreign Policy and National Security, The Washington Post

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Admiral Karl Schultz

Commandant, United States Coast Guard

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Lady Pauline Neville-Jones

Member, House of Lords

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Ms. Emily Lau

Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Democratic Party, and Former Chairperson, Democratic Party, Hong Kong

Almost thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world is in the midst of a new Cold War. But unlike the Soviet challenge, China threatens the west in more than just the ideological sense. It rivals the political and economic influence that we have spent decades building across the globe. As China continuously challenges the West on numerous frontiers, is the world watching?

All people of the world aspire to liberal democracy, right? What’s better than people choosing who will lead them? Unfortunately, many democracies’ reach exceed their grasp when it comes to facing global challenges and threats. How can a democracy begin to think strategically when every four years, the main players and plans could change? China, with it’s one party, one leader, and tight grip on the diplomatic, information, military, and economic levers is not only strengthening itself, but subverting democracies of the world. From cheap goods, 5G technology, to Huawei phones, it’s time we turn off silent mode and listen to the alerts.


Halifax Chat


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Moderator Mr. Robin Shepherd

Vice President, Halifax International Security Forum

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Senator James E. Risch

Senator from Idaho, United States Senate

This year’s first Halifax Chat kicked off with a question: Can China continue to play dirty games with western businesses and get away with it? Moderator Robin Shepherd and U.S. Senator Jim Risch explored this question in depth. They agreed that the international community must be more forceful in insisting that China follow established rules and abide by global trade norms. This is particularly crucial in regard to intellectual property, which China correctly sees as the currency in the 21st century. When the world does not give it what it wants, China has shown that it is more than willing to take it. When will the world say that enough is enough?


Shuttle to Pier 21

LOCATION: Westin Lobby



LOCATION: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21


Gala Dinner

Presentation of the Builder Award
 to Ms. Nancy C. Southern, Chair, President & Chief Executive Officer of ATCO Ltd. and Canadian Utilities Limited; Recognition of the 2019 Class of Peace With Women Fellows



Climate: Change


    • Dr. Chaitanya Giri, Fellow, Space and Ocean Studies, Indian Council on Global Relations, Gateway House
    • Senator Angus King, United States Senator for Maine, United States Senate
    • MODERATOR: Ms. Molly Ball, Political Correspondent, TIME and Political Analyst, CNN

Hong Kong’s Summer, China’s Fall


    • Ambassador Joseph Hockey, Ambassador of Australia to the United States, Embassy of Australia to Washington
    • Mr. Dolkun Isa, President, World Uyghur Congress
    • Dr. Lobsang Sangay, President, Central Tibetan Administration
    • Dr. Daniel Twining, President, International Republican Institute
    • MODERATOR: Ms. Karen DeYoung, Associate Editor and Senior National Security Correspondent, The Washington Post

Make Elections Safe Again


    • Mr. Michael Abramowitz, President, Freedom House
    • Ms. Lisa Kaplan, Founder and CEO, Alethea Group
    • Mr. Vladimir Milov, Economic Advisor to Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny
    • Admiral Michael Rogers, 2nd Commander, United States Cyber Command
    • MODERATOR: Mr. Blake Hounshell, Editor in Chief, POLITICO Magazine




From Hanoi to Halifax, everyone is worried about China
Josh Rogin

This weekend, the Halifax International Security Forum will convene in Canada to kick off a new effort to fill that gap. Trump’s new national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, will be in attendance. Halifax Forum President Peter Van Praagh told me the effort will focus on how democracies can come together to confront a rising authoritarian China.



Halifax security conference has unscripted moments that help spread democracy, says organizer
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

It’s often the unscripted moments at the Halifax International Security Forum that support the spread of democratic values, according to Robin Shepherd. The vice president of the annual gathering recalls one such instant during a November 2016 session with the late U.S. senator John McCain, as the Republican issued a growling warning to then president-elect Donald Trump.



Revolutions of our time: Freedom without US leadership
Nancy Lindborg

A number of recent reports paint a grim picture for the future of global democracy. According to democracy and human-rights watchdog Freedom House, 2018 marked the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.



Thomas S. Axworthy: As Russia and China step up their Arctic activity, Canada misses the boat
Thomas S. Axworthy

The annual Halifax International Security Forum runs from Friday to Sunday of this week. To mark the occasion, the National Post is presenting a series of essays written by conference participants. Today, Thomas S. Axworthy explains how Canada’s Arctic neighbours are outpacing our own northern efforts.



West’s tense relationship with China expected to dominate Halifax security forum
Murray Brewster

How Western democracies deal with the conundrum that is China is expected to be a major focus of the annual Halifax International Security Forum, which convenes for the eleventh time this weekend in the Nova Scotia capital.



Security conference hosted by defence minister Harjit Sajjan gathers in Halifax
Staff, The Canadian Press

The Halifax International Security Forum begins its three-day annual conference on Friday with some high-profile guests in attendance. Re-appointed Liberal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is the official host of the 11th annual event, which is expecting participants from more than 80 democratic countries. Former Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko will speak on Sunday. Richard Spencer, secretary of the U.S. navy, will also be at the gathering, as will Republican Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s foreign relations committee.


In Pictures