Research, Partnerships and Publications

ISROP's research requirements are updated annually to reflect themes and issues relevant to Canadian policy development on international security issues. They can be found under Research Competition below.

Past ISROP research publications are available, as follows.


ISROP posts current research priorities annually and researchers are invited to submit proposals which address research requirements identified by the International Security and Intelligence Bureau.

As well, activities such as a Fast Talk invite experts to quickly and efficiently explore a range of perspectives on specific research questions or sets of questions, using teleconferencing or videoconferencing.

Research Competition - Proposal Submissions

ISROP annually invites researchers and experts from Canada and abroad, to submit proposals to conduct contract research relevant to the Government's international security priorities and policies. The following questions and themes are intended to provide guidance towards submitting an application to the ISROP research competition in 2013-2014 (to March 2014), for research projects on international security issues. This is not an exhaustive list. The questions are not intended to represent Government of Canada priorities as a whole. Due to the competitive nature of the competition, ISROP will not be in a position to support every worthy application. On average, ISROP has commissioned 4 – 5 research projects per year.

It should be noted that, if a proposal is accepted, contractors will be paid for their services upon completion of their work in accordance with Treasury Board Guidelines. 

Thank you for your interest in the ISROP research competition. Should you have any questions, please contact ISROP at 613-996-0407. 

Application form and selection guidelines

Application form for ISROP research project funding 

In addition to addressing current research priorities, applications to the ISROP research competition are expected to demonstrate the potential to provide new ideas/perspectives on policy-relevant issues as well as clearly describe the project methodology that will be utilized to meet project objectives. In accordance with Government of Canada contracting rules and requirements, successful applications will demonstrate best value, including a fully-costed budget to account for all proposed project costs.    

The deadline for applications to the ISROP competition for 2013-2014 is 5:00 p.m. (EST), September 4th 2013. 

ISROP Research Priorities in 2013-2014 

I. Regional security issues and architecture

1. Africa:

  • African peace and security cooperation: How can peace and security cooperation in Africa, regional and sub-regional, be strengthened in order to prevent and address threats posed by illicit networks, terrorism and fragile states? What role can partners play in support of regional security frameworks and capacity building, to prevent the spillover of threats across borders?
  • Sahel: What is the current status and influence of terrorist groups in the Sahel region, and to what extent do these groups cooperate, coordinate, or are motivated by common interests? Are the steps being taken in Mali sufficient to prevent further outbreaks of violence, and to prevent it from becoming a ‘safe haven’ again? Are there other fragile states in the region which are vulnerable to becoming safe havens for terrorist groups, from which to plan and launch attacks, recruit, train and re-arm? How can the supply of external resources to terrorist groups be targeted and stemmed?

2. Americas:

North American security and defence cooperation:

  • What are the most critical security and defence issues facing Canada and the United States today (both traditional and emerging threats)? In five years? In ten years? To what extent will Canada and the United States be able to adequately address these evolving security threats through existing mechanisms and institutions? To what extent, and in what way, could these mechanisms and institutions evolve and/or adapt to better address these threats? Under what circumstances would new mechanisms be required, or useful, and why?
  • How will Mexico’s approach to security and defence issues under President Pena Nieto impact both the roles and missions of the Mexican Armed Forces and Navy? What are the implications for future bilateral and trilateral defence cooperation, among North American partners?

Cuba: How do civil-military relations shape Cuba’s defence and security policies, and regional engagements?

3. Asia:

  • China’s global personality: To what extent will China’s positions in multilateral forums, and on international peace and security issues, be shaped by its relations with other global and regional powers, including other BRICS countries and the US?  What will a “new kind of great-power relationship” between China and the United States look like? What are the implications of China’s positions on cyber issues? 
  • North Korea: In view of the serious threat posed by North Korea, including recent missile and nuclear tests and other provocations, what opportunities exist to advance towards durable peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Asia-Pacific, including with respect to international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament obligations? In the context of the current political dynamics, how can regional dialogue and cooperation be encouraged in support of these goals? How can regional and country engagement strategies be leveraged, in this regard?

4. Middle East and North Africa:

  • Libya: What are the remaining challenges for Libya’s domestic security, security sector reforms and long-term stabilization and reconstruction? What conditions would allow a national reconciliation process that would facilitate the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of the various militias and security stakeholders? What role(s) can regional organizations such as NATO, the African Union or the Arab League play in this regard, as well as to prevent a regional spillover scenario?
  •  Egypt: How will trends and developments in Egypt affect regional dynamics, including with respect to civil-military issues and ‘political Islam’? What issues and indicators will affect the international community’s future engagement with Cairo, in the context of a fluid regional security environment?
  • Syria: How can specific threats arising from the conflict in Syria be mitigated to prevent further destabilization in the region, as well as to limit broader threats to global peace and security? What is the most likely scenario to arise, in the next 6 months to a year? How is the continued decline of the economic situation in Syria affecting security and prospects for recovery – today; and over the next 2-3 years; - next 5-10 years? What steps can be taken, now, to mitigate any future negative security implications from Syria’s economic situation and to prevent further conflict and destabilization?
  • Iran a): How will the changing leadership in Tehran affect the ‘state of play’ over Iran nuclear program, and prospects for a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis? How will regional factors, including the crisis in Syria, play into strategic calculations in any future negotiations? 
  • Iran b): What role will Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) play in the economic, cultural and social structure in a post-Ahmadinejad Iran? What is the future of the IRGC as an institution in Iran's political landscape?

5. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO):

  • What do partners seek to gain from allied cooperation and NATO partnerships? How do partners perceive the evolution of the global security environment, and what role does NATO play in their strategic thinking and decision-making? What would be the implications of the Alliance’s decreased operational tempo and ongoing financial difficulties in Europe, in this regard? How will the participation and engagement of NATO partners, especially current operational and ‘non-regional’ partners, evolve in the next few years? What opportunities exist to develop new strategic partnerships, and what impact could such new partnerships have on Alliance cohesion and effectiveness in the future?
  • What will be the impact of NATO’s Smart Defence initiative? Towards which domains and technologies should this initiative be directed? 

6. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE):

  • Can the OSCE be a model for other regions, and regional frameworks for security dialogue and cooperation?
  • What are the prospects for resolving the impasse on conventional arms control in Europe? What should be the main priorities for modernizing conventional arms control in this regard?

II. Non-proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament (NACD) 

7.     Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture:

  • FMCT implementation: What kind of institutional arrangements and mechanisms are needed to support implementation and verification of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)? What are the advantages and disadvantages of an IAEA role in a future FMCT? What are the advantages and disadvantages of developing a subsidiary or dedicated body?
  • Regional/cross regional NACD approaches: How can regional/cross-regional cooperation be brought to bear to address key nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament priorities, including FMCT negotiations? What is the role of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) in this regard? What combination of incentives and disincentives exist in a decision to employ a regional/cross-regional approach to nuclear weapons control, and/or fuel cycle development?

8. Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (Non-Nuclear):

  • Chemical weapons control: In a “post-destruction era,” how can the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) continue to foster important cooperation among its 188 member states, as well as with partners, to achieve a world free from chemical weapons? What can the OPCW do to prevent the re-emergence of a chemical weapons threat, whether from States or non-State actors?
  • Compliance in the Biological Weapons Convention: Has the Compliance Assessment pilot project, initiated in 2011-2012, effectively demonstrated that participating countries fully implement the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)?  In the absence of a verification protocol in the BWC, to what extent could this mechanism be used to accurately determine States Parties’ compliance? What additional information/actions/tools and mechanisms may be necessary and useful to assess and support full compliance with the BWC?

III. Emerging and cross-cutting issues

9. Cyberspace trends:

  • With cyberspace increasingly seen as an operating environment, alongside air, land, sea and space, what are the key legal, ethical, and policy issues facing governments and militaries as this domain evolves? What are the practical and potential ramifications of these issues, both today and in the future? 
  • What confidence-building measures (bilateral, multilateral, and/or regional CBMs) can governments develop and implement, and in cooperation with partners, to reduce the risk that cyber activities could contribute to the escalation of state conflict? To what extent are traditional CBMs applicable or adaptable to the cyber environment? What could Canada's role be in the development of these measures, alongside international partners?

10. Terrorism trends:

  • How do crime and terrorism intersect in Northwest Africa?
  • To what extent is wildlife trafficking in Africa becoming a security issue, and are there connections to terrorist or other international criminal organizations in the region? What are the implications for Canadian security, foreign policy or development assistance objectives?
  • How can situational awareness be enhanced with respect to CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) threats and CBRN-related terrorism? What is the role of regional organizations, and regional security mechanisms, in this regard? 

11. Technology trends: 

  • Should the global community explore tools and mechanisms to guide and oversee the development and uses of lethal autonomous robotics (LARs), and what are the risks of not initiating dialogue, to address these emerging technologies? What potential benefit could accrue from a moratorium on the further development, transfer and use of LARs? What further steps could be taken to mitigate any risks to international security, associated with LARs?

Fast Talk Teams

These research activities engage small, nimble teams of three to five researchers/experts, and integrate writing and conference calls to speedily address specific issues or sets of issues. We ask each participant to produce a short discussion paper on policy question(s) that we distribute in advance of a conference call.

Fast Talk Team conference calls take place over two hours, during which team members and Foreign Affairs officials work together on the issues. Team members introduce their papers with short presentations, then hold a general debate, of which a rapporteur keeps an unattributed record. Discussion papers, participant lists, and debate records are distributed to relevant officials and researchers as ISROP research products.

ISROP forms Fast Talk Teams by invitation only. Participants will be compensated for their professional time during the call, and for related preparations. Please let us know by email if you wish to be considered for participation in one of our Fast Talk Teams.