September 24, 2012 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and William Hague, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, met today in Ottawa to renew and refresh the Canada-U.K. Joint Declaration agreed to by Prime Ministers Stephen Harper and David Cameron in September 2011.
“Canada’s relationship with the U.K. is deeply rooted in our common history and shared values,” said Baird. “In the last year, our strategic partnership on a range of global issues has only gained strength.”
In advance of next week’s United Nations General Assembly, Baird and Hague discussed a number of pressing global issues, notably recent developments in Iran and Syria, as well as the Commonwealth reform agenda.
The two men also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Enhancing Mutual Support at Missions Abroad. The agreement will see Canada and the U.K. make the most of their respective diplomatic resources by exploring further co-location, and by collaborating on consular services.
“This is about increasing Canada’s diplomatic reach in a handful of areas where we don’t already have a presence,” said Minister Baird. “Canada will be sharing space, as we do with other trusted countries, to get maximum reach at minimal cost to taxpayers. We will do so while maintaining our principled, independent foreign policy.”
Minister Baird highlighted Canada’s commitment to concluding a free trade deal with the European Union to help create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
“The Canada-U.K. commercial relationship is highly valued and one that a Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement would only enhance,” said Minister Baird. “It would spur new growth, jobs and improved economic prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Foreign Secretary Hague emphasized the U.K.’s commitment to working with Canada on foreign policy priorities, especially the continuing crisis in Syria.
“We committed today to work even more closely together across the broad range of our bilateral relationship, and in particular on Syria, the most pressing international issue on our common agenda,” said Foreign Secretary Hague. “We agreed to collaborate to ensure safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors and to continue to encourage the UN Security Council to take firm action to support a political solution.”
The Minister and Secretary of State also discussed the situation of British pensioners in Canada, whose U.K. government pensions are not indexed to inflation.
The two men committed to staying in close contact on matters of mutual interest and concern.
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The text of the ministers’ joint declaration follows.
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Our meeting today comes one year after the Joint Declaration was endorsed by our prime ministers in Ottawa. It delivers on the commitment for ministers to meet each year to review and report on progress, and to renew objectives for deepening the relationship.
Our strategic partnership is stronger than ever. Over the past year, we have strengthened our cooperation on the wide range of issues within the joint declaration and worked together on new areas.
We continue to work together to safeguard our mutual prosperity in the face of prevailing global economic uncertainty. We continue to press for an ambitious conclusion to the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement negotiations to create new market access opportunities that will expand our already robust trade and investment ties. We are also working in the G-20 to promote stronger, more sustainable and balanced global growth. In Los Cabos, we also launched AgResults to finance private sector research and development on food security challenges. We will continue to work together in the G-8 during the U.K.’s presidency in 2013 on our shared priorities, including the G-8’s continuing accountability effort.
Our ministers signed a bilateral Joint Innovation Statement in May to stimulate partnerships in scientific research and innovation between our two countries. We have already initiated projects as a result, with a focus on the commercialization of our world-leading research in priority areas such as health, sustainability, renewable energy, clean technologies, advanced manufacturing and social innovation, to deliver economic benefits to both countries. We continue to work toward meeting the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), alongside efforts toward a new, ambitious approach to the post-MDGs framework.
We have strengthened our alliance on defence and international security. Both our countries committed at Chicago and Tokyo to funding a sustainable and secure future for Afghanistan. Our militaries continue to increase interoperability through joint exercises and exchanges of personnel and training opportunities, and we are actively exploring ways of deepening this cooperation. We have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Material Cooperation, allowing us to increase our collaboration on equipment and logistics. We are exchanging experienced consular crisis management officers, with a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) secondee currently at Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) and a DFAIT secondee projected to start at the FCO by the end of 2012.
We are working together on countering global terrorism, including playing leadership roles in the Global Counterterrorism Forum and collaborating on national listings of terrorist entities.
We continue to cooperate on emerging cyberspace issues to empower innovation and prosperity, combat cybercrime, and protect and promote the human rights and responsibilities of citizens around the world. We strongly support the process begun at the London Conference on Cyberspace to build consensus on the broad principles that will sustain and enhance the prosperity, security and openness of our networked world.
We have worked together to promote our shared values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law to build stable and inclusive societies around the world. We have worked jointly to modernize the Commonwealth through our efforts at the Heads of Government Meeting in Perth last October and on the Ministerial Task Force. We have achieved a mandate to strengthen the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group; secured adoption of most of the recommendations from the Eminent Persons Group report; and drafted a new Commonwealth Charter, which we trust will be adopted by the end of the year. We have increased the number of participants in our Youth Mobility Scheme to deepen interaction between our young people. And we have promoted maternal, newborn and child health through our joint work to deliver Canada’s G-8 Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, including through the U.K.-hosted London Summit on Family Planning in July.
We have also worked in the spirit of the declaration to expand and enhance our bilateral cooperation in areas not envisaged when the declaration was endorsed. We continue to work closely together to increase peaceful pressure to encourage Iran to address substantively international concerns about its nuclear program. We have promoted the human rights of women and girls, including at the G-8 Camp David Summit and the Chicago NATO Summit, as being crucial for all countries’ political stability, democratic governance and economic growth, and particularly for the prevention of sexual violence. As a reflection of the closeness of our relationship, the U.K. has offered Canada office space in the British embassy in Burma, and Canada has reciprocated by offering space in the Canadian embassy in Haiti.
In our meeting today, we have discussed new challenges and opportunities facing our two countries. In these renewed objectives, we commit ourselves to working together to address these challenges and seize such opportunities so that our partnership continues to deliver results for both countries.
We have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Enhancing Mutual Support at Missions Abroad, which sets out in more detail a range of issues on which we will seek to cooperate to increase operational efficiencies and maximize our reach and impact as two vibrant foreign ministries with common goals. These include the development of common services, further co-location and enhanced collaboration on consular services and assistance.
We will collaborate to encourage the UN Security Council to take firm action, including tough economic sanctions, to support a political solution in Syria. We will urge those countries in a position to influence Syria to press President Assad to end the violence and allow an inclusive, Syrian-led political transition to occur. We will also collaborate to ensure full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to address the urgent needs of those affected by the violence.
In recognition of the pivotal shift taking place in global relations and the emergence of new powers, we will enhance the dialogue between our two ministries on political, economic and strategic issues in the Asia-Pacific region, including through participation in November’s Canada-U.K. Colloquium in Vancouver on The Shifting Centre of Global Gravity: Britain, Canada and the North Pacific.
We will continue to work together with the international community to stabilize Somalia, in order to help the people of Somalia build a stable and prosperous country and help the new government take ownership of and deliver its priorities. This will include providing support to the development of institutions in Somalia, including possibly in the security and justice sectors. We will also work together to address the threat from piracy.
We will work together to promote and protect the right to freedom of religion or belief internationally, including by organizing a major conference with faith and civil society leaders in December 2012 at Canada House in London. This freedom is a universal human right and underpins many other rights. As such, it is a key priority for both our governments.
We will continue to press countries around the world to repeal regressive and punitive laws criminalizing homosexuality, which are incompatible with fundamental human rights.
We will strengthen international efforts and coordination, including at the UN and within the G-8, to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict, such as rape as a weapon of war, and to promote accountability, as well as to prosecute perpetrators, both nationally and internationally, and support states to build their capability to tackle such perpetrators.
We will work more closely together in Haiti—the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere—building on existing dialogue and cooperation, and with the aim of increasing political stability, good governance and the rule of law. The reopening of the British embassy, after a 50-year absence, will mark a new chapter in our joint efforts there.
We will work together to support the current process of political and democratic reform in Burma. We recognize the important steps taken so far to resolve many of the international community’s human rights concerns and pledge our continued support to Burma to resolve these issues. We will also encourage responsible investment and an ethical approach to business, particularly in the extractive industries.
We will continue to implement the Commonwealth modernization agenda, including follow-through on the Perth Summit’s Eminent Persons Group recommendations and the adoption of a more streamlined four-year strategic plan for the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses work on areas of comparative advantage and ensures value for money to donors. We will cooperate closely on shared objectives in the run-up to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in November 2013.
We will facilitate and promote collaboration and information-sharing within our civil nuclear power generation sectors. This could include the construction and operation of new reactors in both countries; the exploration of the potential for the safe and proper disposition of legacy fissile material through its use in alternative fuels; the optimization of the management and operation of national nuclear research laboratories; and the identification of best practises in safe, efficient and cost-effective decommissioning and waste management capabilities, among other mutually beneficial activities.
In light of the recent report, International Education: A Key Driver of Canada’s Future Prosperity, we note our common interest in the internationalization of higher education and will work together to encourage and strengthen links between our institutions for higher education, and to promote further and more detailed collaboration and dialogue on education policy research.
We will continue to review and report on progress on these objectives annually, so that the joint declaration remains a living document reflecting our evolving shared priorities.
Endorsed in Ottawa on 24 September, 2012
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
The Right Honourable William Hague, P.C. M.P.
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office