Saturday, November 20 - Halifax
forum banner

2021 Halifax International Security Forum

November 19-21, 2021

Halifax, Nova Scotia






On the record

The John McCain Prize for Leadership In Public Service
Presented by Cindy Hensley McCain

The fourth 2021 John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service was awarded to the Afghan Female Tactical Platoon (FTP) for their leadership, bravery, and commitment to human justice and security. Enshrined in the values of the late Senator John McCain, this award embodies the global goals of freedom and justice. Cindy Hensley McCain presented the award to the FTP and reinforced the importance of local female leadership for fighting oppression. A platoon member accepting the award on behalf of the FTP, shared with HFX 2021 attendees how these women placed their country over their personal safety and societal pressures. The resurgence of the Taliban has undone much of the past two decades of progress in the social advancement of women and integration of ethnic and religious minorities. The FTP’s courage reminds us that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. The international community must remain active advocates of women’s right to education, work, and agency, of ethnic and religious freedom, and peace and democracy in Afghanistan.


Plenary 3 – W.W.J.M.D? (What would John McCain do?)


img repeaters

Dr. Nancy Okail

Scholar and advocate of democracy and human rights

img repeaters

President Petro Poroshenko

5th President of Ukraine

img repeaters

Moderator Mr. Vladimir Kara-Murza

Russian Opposition Politician

In the face of today’s geopolitical challenges, moderator Vladimir Kara-Murza reminded participants to consider the question: what would John McCain do? to address global problems. After returning from Vietnam, where he had been held as a prisoner of war, Senator McCain continued his mission of defending democratic principles for almost four decades in Congress. Dr. Nancy Okail and Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reflected on their memories of Senator McCain as a leader in the face of crises.

The COVID-19 crisis shed light on the cracks in policy infrastructures and gave people the chance to rejuvenate outdated and inefficient processes. However, it also allowed for dictators to carry out unjust measures under the guise of health and safety. Dr. Okail outlined the Biden administration’s focus and approaches on anti-corruption, anti-authoritarianism, human rights, and climate change concerns. Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussed the emerging threat of Russia and how NATO and allies must support Ukraine with military assets and sanctions to stand up for democracy in Eastern Europe.

Honoring Senator McCain’s legacy requires exhibiting courage despite fear. The speakers reaffirmed the need for strategic and holistic policy making that considers the human and social aspects of security problems and creates effective directives for democracies worldwide. Democracy is complicated but invaluable—facing our current global crises, ask yourself: WWJMD?


Coffee Break


Halifax Address On the record


img repeaters

Admiral John Aquilino

Commander, United States Indo-Pacific Command

img repeaters

Moderator Ambassador Mark Lippert

Vice Chair, HFX Board of Directors

Where are the military and economic centers of gravity? According to Admiral John Aquilino, the growth centers around the Indo-Pacific region. It houses vast populations, hosts three of the world’s largest democracies, possesses influential naval and military resources, and accounts for 60% of the world’s GDP.
The region’s size and strength means its actions produce ripple effects across the rest of the globe. Admiral Aquilino recognized that the rules based international order is being challenged. He underscored the need for security relationships via bilateral and multilateral alliances, as are strategic partnerships to preserve shared values and protect peace. Forming non-traditional alliances to protect the Taiwan Strait and prevent nuclear attacks by North Korea are crucial for global stability. Integrated deterrence across domains—both physical and in cyberspace—is necessary for effective security strategies that leverage allied advantages. There is no doubt that the Indo-Pacific region is a potential flashpoint, but when joined by global partners, democracies in the region grow even more resilient.

10:45- 11:45

Plenary 4 – #StandTogetherOnChina On the record


img repeaters

Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret


img repeaters

Mr. Ram Madhav

Former National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, India

img repeaters

The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull

29th Prime Minister, Australia

img repeaters

Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Republic of Croatia

img repeaters

Moderator Mr. Robin Shepherd

Vice President, Halifax International Security Forum

China has clearly signaled it will not seek common ground with democracies across the world. China’s unwillingness to cooperate with the liberal-democratic world order must be met with a collective call to action, said the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull, former Prime Minister of Australia. Democracies around the world need to renew their cooperation with each other to take a firm stance on China.

In addition to representatives from the Indo-Pacific, Croatian Minister Gordan Grlić-Radman and French Senator Hélène Conway-Mouret noted the importance of European presence in the region. After years of Chinese influence in Europe, nations are now taking steps to maintain a geopolitical presence in the Indo-Pacific. The goal is to maintain peace and security, as well as containing Chinese regional hegemony. Ram Madhav, former National General Secretary of the Indian BJP emphasized that the power has shifted away from the Pacific-Atlantic towards the Indo-Pacific. This means that India and ASEAN will play vital roles as advocates for liberal democracy in the region.

Coordinated democratic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region has already faced challenges. Will in-fighting sabotage coordinated responses to Chinese nuclear and military proliferation? Tensions between some of the world’s oldest democracies raise concerns about global efforts to rally against emergent Chinese aggression.

The battle for democracy in the Indo-Pacific cannot be won by a few democratic powers engaging with China. It will take the entire international community to band together and demonstrate the strength of democracies united.


Halifax Chat On the record


img repeaters

Senator James Risch

United States Senator for Idaho

img repeaters

Senator Chris Coons

United States Senator for Delaware

img repeaters

Moderator Mr. Robin Shepherd

Vice President, Halifax International Security Forum

To meet the challenge China poses, democracies must do more than geopolitical security positioning. According to Senator James Risch and Senator Chris Coons, democratic countries must invest in their own economies and in national innovation incentives. These are necessary pathways to mitigate China’s autocratic and undemocratic global influence. They also discussed shared enthusiasm for bipartisan and multilateral agreements to advance freedom. Investing in local talent, protecting intellectual property rights, and getting ahead in the technology race are all opportunities for transatlantic and Indo-Pacific partners to work together. Senators Coons and Risch concluded that commitments to new technologies, research and development, and social prosperity can further the democratic mission at home and abroad.


Mid-Day Meal


Halifax Chat
On the record


img repeaters

General David Thompson

Vice Chief of Space Operations, United States Space Force

img repeaters

Moderator Mr. Robin Shepherd

Vice President, Halifax International Security Forum

Space, the final frontier, or the new great power battleground? General David Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations for the United States Space Force spoke to Robin Shepherd about the pressing issues facing the first new branch of the U.S. military in over 70 years, at the cutting edge of military technological development.

Mutually assured destruction of satellite capabilities threatens not just military tactics that the world’s great powers adopt, but the day-to-day life of all people. Space capabilities are ‘woven into the fabric of day to day life’ according to General Thompson. This Halifax chat gave invaluable insight into the technologies that are at the forefront of this new space race. Chinese capabilities threaten not just existing space technologies but also technological developments over the decades ahead. With the advent of hyper-sonic missiles capable of travelling around the earth at five times the speed of sound, America has never been more vulnerable to falling behind its adversaries in the security arena.

This is no longer science fiction, Russia and China are already going boldly where none have gone before. Is the U.S. willing to alter risk averse strategies when it comes to the security dilemma in the upper atmosphere? Does America have the technological ability to match China and Russia on the international stage? The creation of space norms may not be enough to grapple with the new security atmosphere.


Plenary 5 – Post-Pandemic: Heed Expectations, Heal Globalization


img repeaters

President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu

President, Republic of Kosovo

img repeaters

Mr. Bright Simons

President, mPedigree

img repeaters

Senator Roger Wicker

United States Senator for Mississippi

img repeaters

Moderator Mr. Justin Vogt

Executive Director, Foreign Affairs

How can we ensure that lessons learned are not lessons forgotten when the COVID-19 pandemic retreats? How have citizens responded to governments wielding unprecedented power over their rights and freedoms? How do our global democracies recover and become more resilient in the face of potential future pandemics?
Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, President of the Republic of Kosovo; Senator Roger Wicker and Mr. Bright Simons, President of mPedigree discussed the health, equality and security challenges that were unleashed on the world in December 2019 with the outbreak of COVID-19.
Building more resilient democracies depends on countering the malign influence of misinformation. The COVID-19 pandemic has showed that vulnerability globally. At the same time, the global infrastructure of vaccine procurement and distribution continues to hinder the healing process for the economies and political cultures of many nations.
Trust in institutions and in democratic governments has been called into question, often provoking a visceral reaction from some citizens to vaccine mandates and lockdowns. The tension between incredible advancements in genomics and health research, and democratic backsliding in a few leading democracies made it difficult for this panel to reach a consensus.
In many ways, the pandemic has been a great equalizer. Combatting the symptoms of systemic inequality will be important in democracies, regardless of their size or degree of development. The pandemic may well be the shot in the arm needed to address the greatest threats to the survival of the liberal world order in the 21st century.


Coffee Break

16:00- 17:00

Plenary 6- Fires and Landslides and Droughts, Oh My! On the record


img repeaters

General Onno Eichelsheim

Chief of Defence, Netherlands Armed Forces

img repeaters

Kendra MacDonald

CEO, Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

img repeaters

General Rocky Meade

Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force

img repeaters

Admiral Karl Schultz

Commandant, United States Coast Guard

img repeaters

Moderator Ms. Jeanne Meserve

Security Analyst, Canada’s CTV News

Climate change is a clear and present global danger, but how are militaries responding? That was the question moderator Jeanne Meserve tried to get her panelists to answer. Generational floods and “storms of the century” have been occurring with increasing regularity around the world. The unprecedented flooding in British Columbia, one of the costliest natural disasters in Canadian history, served as an ominous backdrop for the discussion.
General Rocky Meade, the Jamaica Defence Force’s Chief of Defence Staff, called on democracies to look past their innate “short-termism”. They must focus on the technological developments and strategic planning necessary to manage the long-term threat of climate change. General Onno Eichelsheim, Chief of Defence of The Netherlands Armed Forces emphasized the infrastructure challenges faced by advanced militaries when they have to respond to threats at home and abroad. Joined by Commandant of the US Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz and Canada ocean expert Kendra MacDonald, the panel ignited a lively debate over the destabilization of governments caused by climate disasters.
The challenges exacerbated by climate change include terrorism and trans-national migration flows. Oceans are not just a threat because of rising sea levels. Waves of climate refugees are also a security concern. How can the military tackle fire, ice and everything in between? The consensus of the panel was it won’t be easy, but there is no choice but to find a way.


Halifax Chat On the record


img repeaters

Anatolii Petrenko

Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine for European Integration

img repeaters

Moderator Mr. Robin Shepherd

Vice President, Halifax International Security Forum

The build-up of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine is a pressing concern for the Deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine for European Integration, Lieutenant General (Retired) Anatolii Petrenko. At the same time, it is a sensitive security consideration for the international community at large. In response to questions posed by Robin Shepherd, General Petrenko provided his unique insight, and a Ukrainian perspective into the military buildup that is at the top of the security agenda. Tactically, Russia’s ability to wield energy leverage in Eastern Europe in the winter and, specifically, to influence Ukrainian politics and economic matters, is felt across the globe. Rising gas prices is just one example General Petrenko presented to illuminate this subversive threat. As its neighbor, and nemesis, what can Ukraine teach us about how to handle an increasingly belligerent actor, Russia under Putin’s control. All eyes remain on the Ukrainian border.



Arctic Allies

  • Host: Roland Paris

The African Century

  • Speakers: Mr. Japheth Omojuwa, Founder, Alpha Reach; Bright Simons, President, mPedigree; Mr. Leslie Campbell, Senior Associate and Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
    Programs, National Democratic Institute; Dr. Nancy Okail, Scholar and advocate of democracy and Human rights
  • Host: Ambassador Peter Pham, Distinguished Fellow, Africa Center at the Atlantic Council; Former Special Envoy for the Sahel Region of Africa

Battlespace: Tech

  • Speakers: Admiral Michael Rogers, CEO, The MSRogers Group LLC; Dr.Szu-chien Hsu, Deputy Secretary-General, National Security Council, Taiwan
  • Host:Mr. Robin Shepherd, Vice President, Halifax International Security Forum

Belarus Hijacked

  • Speakers: Mr.Valery Kavaleuski, Chief of the Cabinet and Representative on Foreign Affairs to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarus; Ambassador Andrei Sannikov, Chairman, European Belarus Foundation
  • Host: Ambassador Kurt Volker, Distinguished Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis

Caribbean Matters

  • Speakers: Ambassador Carlos Vecchio, Ambassador of Venezuela to the United States, Acting Government of Venezuela; General Rocky Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Senator Peter Boehm, Senator for Ontario, Canada; Bruce Friedman, Deputy Director at the Office of Brazilian and Southern Cone Affairs, United States Department of State
  • Host: Dr.Chris Sabatini, Senior Fellow for Latin America, Chatham House

Corruption Corrosive

  • Speakers: Mr. Peter MacKay, Senior Advisor, Deloitte Canada; Mr. James Kirchick, Visiting Fellow at Brookings Foreign Policy
  • Host: Dr. John Glenn, Senior Director at the International Forum for Democratic Studies, National Endowment for Democracy

Culture Change: Making Militaries Stronger

  • Speakers: Ambassador Jacqueline O’Neill, Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security,
    Canada; Mr. C. Dixon Osburn, Fellow, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Mr. Nico Lange, Chief of Executive Staff, Federal Ministry of Defence, Germany
  • Host: Ms. Heather Hurlbert, Director, New Models of Policy Change, New America

France + Aukus = Fracas                                                                             

  • Speakers: Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, Member, House of Lords; The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull, 29th Prime Minister, Australia; Ambassador Joseph Hockey, 25th Ambassador of Australia to the United States
  • Host: Mr. François Lafond, Special Adviser, Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government for the Republic of Serbia

Forward Defense: Ameri-can or Ameri-can’t

  • Speakers: Mr.Yasushi Noguchi, Director General for International Affairs, Defense Policy Bureau, Ministry of Defense, Japan; Dr. Byung-Ho Chung, Professor Emeritus, Hanyang University, South Korea
  • Host: Mr. W. Bruce Weinrod, Adjunct Professor, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

The Importance of Indo-Pacom

  • Speakers: Admiral John Aquilino, Commander,United States Indo-Pacific Command
  • Host: Dr. Michael Auslin, Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia, Hoover Institution at Stanford University

Iran and its Proxies of Evil

  • Speakers: Mr. Jason Rezaian, Global Opinions Writer, The Washington Post; Dr. Liam Fox,
    Member of Parliament, United Kingdom
  • Host: Dr. Jerrold Green, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles

NATO’s Winning, Russia’s Whining

  • Speakers: ASG Bettina Cadenbach, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, NATO; Mr. Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russian Opposition Politician
  • Host: Mr. Randy Scheunemann, Vice Chairman, International Republican Institute

Private Space

  • Speakers: Mr. Stephen Matier, President and CEO, Maritime Launch; General David Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations, United States Space Force; Cassandra Steer, Senior Lecturer and Mission Specialist at Australian National University College of Law and ANU Institute for Space
  • Host: Dr. Ian Brodie, Program Director, Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Quad: Join the Q

  • Speakers: Mr. Ram Madhav, Former National General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party, India; Dr. John Lee, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute
  • Host: Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, Senior Fellow at the Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard Kennedy School, Belfer  Center for Science and International Affairs

Supply Chain Solutions: Rare Earth Recycled

  • Speakers: Mr. Robert Kang, CEO of Blue Whale Materials; Dr. Richard Florizone, President and CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Host: Mr. Justin Vogt, Executive Director, Foreign Affairs

Taliban’s Survival, Global Jihad’s Revival       

  • Speakers: Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, Senior Director, Counter Extremism Project; Ambassador Ms. Kamila Sidiqi, CEO Kaweyan Group of Companies and Former Deputy Minister of Commerce, Afghanistan
  • Host: Dr. Dov Zakheim, Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Senior Fellow at CNA Corporation

Tracking Hacking: AI, Quantum and Whatever Comes Next

  • Speakers: Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Digital and New Media; Mr. James Appathurai, Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, NATO
  • Host: Ms. Lisa Kaplan, Founder and CEO, Alethea Group

Ukraine: Liberty on the Line

  • Speakers: Mr. Roman Mashovets, Deputy Head of the Office of the President responsible for Defence and Security, Ukraine
  • Host: Dr. Constanze Stelzenmüller, Senior Fellow, Fritz Stern Chair on Germany and trans-Atlantic

Without Merkel: Europe and the Future of Transatlantic Relations

  • Speakers: Mr. Nicolas Tenzer, Chairman, Center for the Study and Research on Political Decision and Editor of Le Banquet; Mr. Roderich Kiesewetter, Member, The Bundestag;
    Congresswoman Jane Harman, President Emerita, Distinguished Fellow, Wilson Institute
  • Host: Dr. Josef Joffe, Publisher and Editor of Die Zeit and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution

Xinjiang: Genocide 2022

  • Speakers: Mr. Dolkun Isa, President, World Uyghur Congress; Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Former President, Central Tibetan Administration; Jeffrey Ngo, Advisor, Hong Kong Democracy Council
  • Host: Mr. James Coomarasamy, Senior Presenter, BBC Radio and World Service