Mr. Peter Van Praagh, President, Halifax International Security Forum
The Hon. Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, Canada
One hundred years ago, the ‘War to End All Wars’ ended. As the guns fell silent, there was a feeling of optimism, that there was a better, more peaceful world in our future. But it was not to be. And 100 years later, the world again grows skeptical and disenfranchised. Multilateralism is fading. Isolationism is growing. Populism is spreading further around the globe. The stakes have never been higher.
This is why – more than ever – we need a security conference of democratic states that seeks to strengthen democracy. This is why we need Halifax.
The 2018 Halifax International Security Forum kicked off with remarks by Forum President Peter Van Praagh. He welcomed and invited all participants to extend their hands, push their limits, and speak their minds. Van Praagh opened his remarks by paying tribute to the late Senator John McCain, who passed away in August 2018, and warmly welcomed the United States congressional delegation.
Participants were welcomed to the Halifax International Security Forum by this weekend’s host, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, the Hon. Harjit Sajjan. Minister Sajjan reminded participants that as they gather to discuss these important issues this weekend, they must remember those who fought and died defending the values of democracy, liberty, and freedom.
Despite over a century of relative global peace and prosperity since the end of the First World War, there are growing concerns for the trajectory of the liberal democratic order. Populism, nationalism, and growing distrust for the media are disrupting the status quo. Emerging threats from China and Russia challenge not only global security, but also the values that have underpinned the rules-based international order.
The first plenary session of the 2018 Halifax International Security Forum examined how liberal states and institutions can continue to champion their values. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach affirmed how the US and other NATO member states are demonstrating their commitment to collective security through their actions, such as Exercise Trident Juncture 2018 held in Northern Norway. US Senator Roger Wicker reiterated this point, speaking to the significance of this year’s NATO Summit, which reaffirmed all 29 members’ commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
The Hon. Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of National Defence and US Senator Jeanne Shaheen both made the point that liberal states and institutions need to communicate the value of multilateralism to their citizens to combat the misinformation that is eroding public trust. The speakers were unanimous in their view that NATO remains an effective and unified institution.
“We are stronger together. We have a single set of forces, aligned to a NATO command structure that is adapting quickly to the threats it faces.”
“The west is not very good at public diplomacy. These command and control societies where the top leader gets to run the television studios are just better at that. We need to get more in tune with the time and with new media in terms of telling our story.”
“What decisions do we want to take now so that our grandchildren, 100 years from now, can look back and not ask “what were they thinking?”
“A successful democracy in Ukraine where people are engaged sends a powerful message to Russia.”
Picture this: an autonomous vehicle made in China with Chinese tech driving on American streets. Threat to U.S. security, or benign technological innovation? Panelist Janice Stein from the Munk School of Global Affairs posed this thought provoking scenario during the discussion, ‘Present Tense: Treachery in Tech, Trouble in Trade. The digital era is upon us – from our smart phones, to artificial intelligence to social media. In some cases, digital technology is making lives better, but it also poses new risks and challenges. With enormous multinational companies wielding unprecedented power, how should governments engage with these actors to ensure liberal institutions and values remain upheld?
Another point of discussion was the role that technology plays in opening up ‘grey-areas’ for state and non-state actors. Georgetown University Law Professor and Associate Dean Rosa Brooks discussed how technology is opening up new methods of coercion and confusion that are displacing traditional hard power. Why bother with military intervention when you can accomplish the same goals using misinformation campaigns and hack-attacks? Finally, Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi, Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Digital and New Media, discussed the rapid pace of technology adoption on the African continent and how China is providing enticing alternatives to Western partnerships.
“Tech is not neutral…from a programmed car to a programmed person, these are potentially all dual-use technologies”
“Increasingly yesterday’s bystanders are becoming today’s active agents, and technology is making that possible”
“We can never enter a market without first having to assess what we are doing there, what is our mission.”
“Is the decline of American leadership and of the West bad for the world, or just bad for the West?”
LOCATION: Westin Lobby
LOCATION: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Presentation of the Builder Award to Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator from New Hamsphire, United States Senate & Recognition of the Inaugural Class of Peace With Women Fellows
“Churchill’s “story of recrimination” among allies is one of our own times, too. And it is one that will hang over the participants in the Halifax International Security Forum as they begin their 10th year of discussions Friday. The 300 invitees are a who’s-who of political, military, government, NGO, scholarly and entrepreneurial leaders from democratic nations. All have a shared interest in a vision of global security that embraces economic, environmental, democratic and human well-being.
“The head of North America’s leading event on geo-strategic matters believes the Asian model exemplified by democracies such as India will ultimately prevail over the system represented by China. In an interview before the Halifax International Security Forum, formally hosted by Canada’s national defence minister, currently Indo-Canadian Harjit Sajjan, its president Peter Van Praagh said there were complaints in places such as India over the lack of “efficiency” when compared to what has been achieved by China.
Two outspoken U.S. senators — one Republican and one Democrat — took aim Friday at President Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric about rejecting globalism in favour of nationalism. Republican Sen. Roger Wicker and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen told delegates to the Halifax International Security Forum that the United States’ commitment to international co-operation should be judged by the country’s actions, not Trump’s words.
“The gloves are off, and the new Cold War is out in the open. Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping have each weaponized trade and technology in an effort to make their countries great again. What makes their conflict so dangerous is the enhanced and simultaneous competition over trade, technology, and the South China Sea. In a process of reciprocal escalation, both countries are now firing on all cylinders. In that kind of process, by-standers can get hurt, and badly.”
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Russia’s disruptive behaviour on the world stage is a key concern for Canada. Sajjan made the remark Friday at the opening of the Halifax International Security Forum, a three-day event that has attracted security experts and politicians from around the world.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, is one of many security and military leaders attending the Halifax International Security Forum, which kicked off today with discussions covering security challenges throughout the world and the role democracies can play to address them.