In March 2008, the International Security Research and Outreach Program (ISROP) in conjunction with the Defence and Security Relations Division (IDR) of the International Security Bureau hosted two “Fast Talk” expert consultations at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT). This article highlights the major themes discussed.
In partnership with the Department of National Defence (DND), the CDMA Fast Talks provided an opportunity for informal dialogue between Canadian government officials and specialists working in academia and civil society in the lead-up to Canada’s hosting in September of the 2008 Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas (CDMA) in Banff, Canada.
The International Security Research and Outreach Program brought together specialists working in academia, civil society and policy communities in Canada, Latin America and the United States.
The Fast Talk featured speakers from the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University (NDU) in Washington, D.C., the Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) at Florida International University (FIU), the Latin American Defense and Security Network (RESDAL), the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL).
Presenters addressed the evolution of the hemispheric security and defence agenda in civil-military relations, interagency cooperation, military support to civilian authorities for natural disasters, the hosting of major national or regional events, and expeditionary and peace support operations.
Key topics discussed during the Fast Talk included:
Evolving security threats, emphasizing urban crime, narco-trafficking, transnational criminal networks, small arms proliferation, and incursions across borders.
Civil-military relations, focusing on the preservation of democracy, public debate and civil society engagement with defence and security issues, civilian control over militaries (including more effective Ministries of Defence and clear mandates for military involvement), military education and training, strengthened civilian and police capabilities, and accountability mechanisms.
Military support to civilian authorities, highlighting military assistance during major nationally or regionally hosted events, natural disasters, landmines clearance, DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration), as well as military involvement in civic and nation building tasks.
Expeditionary and peace support operations, including the promotion of democratic practices and the sharing of lessons learned,changing military cultures and expectations among national armed forces and troop contributing countries as a result of taking on humanitarian roles, and improvements to legitimacy and professionalization of militaries.
Defence and security in the Americas are characterized by a diversity of issues, approaches and concerns. There is growing awareness of the need to address threats to security that transcend borders and to identify areas for defence cooperation in response to complex security problems.
The Fast Talk on Issues, Themes and Best Practices provided an opportunity to explore opportunities through the CDMA to build a dialogue on defence and security issues in the hemisphere.
Recommendations from the Fast Talk emphasized the need to:
Highlight past successes including existing consultative processes and the publication of Defence White Papers (“Libros Blancos”).
Explore future areas of regional cooperation such as the sharing of best practices and lessons learned in coordinating civil-military responses to natural disasters and support for hosting of major national and regional events.
Looking ahead to CDMA 2008 and beyond, future areas for regional discussion and cooperation include:
Participation of women in peace keeping operations.
Inter-agency dialogue between Defence and Foreign Ministries.
Broad security sector reform, including police and judicial systems.
Improvements to public awareness and civilian expertise, among populations and in academia by promoting civic education on strategic and defence issues.
Professionalization and modernization of armed forces.
The Fast Talk format provided a unique opportunity for stakeholders in government, academia and civil society to come together to discuss these issues in support of the CDMA process. The International Security Research and Outreach Program at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) would like to extend special thanks to the Department of National Defence (DND) for their contributions to the Fast Talks on the Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas.
To learn more about Fast Talks and the International Security Research and Outreach Program (ISROP), visit the ISROP website.