Address by Minister Cannon to University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs

No. 2010/43 - Toronto, Ontario - June 18, 2010

Check Against Delivery

Governing Global Security: The Role of Summit Diplomacy

I have been asked to speak about “Governing Global Security: The Role of Summit Diplomacy,” a timely topic, in this, Canada’s international year.

I have to say it is very refreshing to be able to speak to a serious and knowledgeable audience about the substance of summit meetings.

The scope and magnitude of hosting two major summits of global leaders is unprecedented. Delegations representing 80 percent of the world’s population and 90 percent of its economic output, as well as the most influential international organizations, will be present in Canada simultaneously for the first time in history.

In addition to the visiting leaders, some 8,000 delegates and 3,500 journalists are coming to Canada from every corner of the planet for these meetings.

Canada will meet its obligation to ensure that everyone—international leaders, delegates, media and the public—remains safe during these two vital summits.

Within the new constellation of post-war international security forums, the G-8—when it comes to results—has been a shining star, in good part due to Canadian leadership.

The G-8 today

The G-8’s past success and enduring value lies in its unique role as a forum for leading and like-minded countries to engage in frank, focused discussion on some of the most difficult global challenges.

The eight countries together also contribute a significant portion of the diplomatic and financial resources that uphold international peace and security, accounting for 70 percent of the United Nations’ budget, 79 percent of the UN’s peacekeeping budget and 82 percent of official development assistance.

The G-8 member countries also work together effectively and with common purpose because they share not only interests, but also values.

When I met with G-8 foreign ministers in Gatineau in March, we affirmed a guiding principle of the G-8’s approach: that security and prosperity are best sustained by democratic states that respect human rights and the rule of law.

This like-minded character, combined with the limited size of the G-8, allows for candid and focused discussion on sensitive issues, which is not often possible in other settings.

It is due to these three factors—a shared burden, like-minded outlook and focused forum—that the G-8 has developed a proven record on peace and security.

In their discussions in Muskoka, leaders will build on the G-8’s record and advance the results of the G-8 foreign ministers’ meeting, which concentrated on three themes: nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the security vulnerabilities many countries are facing.


This agenda reflects the reality that the global threat posed by the potential use of nuclear weapons by state and non-state actors remains very real.

In Gatineau, G-8 foreign ministers discussed Iran, North Korea, the Non-Proliferation Treaty [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] (NPT) and nuclear security. I anticipate G-8 leaders will do the same at the upcoming summit.

The Government of Iran continues to disregard its obligations under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and UN Security Council resolutions.

G-8 countries agree that Iran must address the serious lack of confidence that members of the international community have in Iran’s nuclear program and the program’s potential military links.

Allowing Iran to continue to defy its obligations undermines the global non-proliferation regime, as well as security in the Middle East.

Canada has been working with international partners to secure a fourth round of robust UN sanctions against Iran.

We welcomed and strongly support UN Security Council resolution 1929, which will target Iran’s nuclear program and enablers like the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Canada will fully implement its obligations under this resolution, and we stand ready to implement additional sanctions in response to Iran’s belligerent behaviour.

Last week was the one-year anniversary of the flawed elections in Iran that led to appalling repression by that country’s government.

The ongoing use of violence and intimidation and the arrest of opposition members and supporters are intolerable.

Canada will continue to use its G-8 presidency to focus international attention and action on Iran.

Iran’s defiance of the international community is unfortunately matched by that of North Korea, which already possesses nuclear weapons, and which demonstrated its complete disregard for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament measures by withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.

North Korea’s recent actions are alarming and run contrary to its statements on engaging constructively with the community of nations. As you know, on March 26, North Korea attacked the South Korean naval frigate Cheonan, resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors.

Canada condemns this violent act of aggression by North Korea, which poses a major threat to peace and security.

We are closely consulting with South Korea and our allies and will continue to support South Korea.

We are committed to a coordinated international response, including through the UN Security Council.

Speaking at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference [2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] recently in New York, I called on North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks, to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and to accept comprehensive international safeguards for its nuclear programs.

North Korea may be working to export its nuclear technology to another country with a deplorable human rights record, Burma, a country against which we have implemented very stringent sanctions.

In spite of the challenges posed by the activities of Iran and North Korea, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is being strengthened.

We welcome the progress made at the Review Conference in terms of reaffirming our commitment to implement the Treaty and establishing follow-on actions in its three pillars of disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy

I am particularly pleased that, through Canada’s 2010 G-8 presidency, we have been able to rally broad support to strengthen this vital treaty and bring us closer to our common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Canada also welcomes the agreement on the implementation of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, but regrets the way Israel was singled out in the final document.

This is not conducive to fostering the cooperation that would be needed for the proposed conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.

We must also deal with the reality that the danger of nuclear proliferation extends beyond states.

Terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, for example, with no compunction about causing mass destruction, are seeking to obtain nuclear weapons and materials.

The Nuclear Security Summit, hosted by President Barack Obama in April, was a landmark event where 47 participating countries recognized nuclear terrorism as one of the most significant security threats and committed to securing all nuclear materials in four years.

The G-8-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, a 10-year program worth US$20 billion, was launched at the G-8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta.

The Global Partnership was established to prevent terrorists, and those who harbour them, from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons.

Canada is contributing up to $1 billion over 10 years to the Global Partnership, and has provided more than $640 million to date.

The Global Partnership has achieved significant results, such as contributing to the dismantling and defueling of 184 decommissioned Russian nuclear-powered submarines and the destruction of 18,000 tonnes of Russian chemical weapons.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

The G-8 also continues its high engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Following the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, it was a G-8 working group on security in Afghanistan that coordinated major contributions to the initial military mission.

Canada, along with its international allies, is engaged in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people rebuild their country and to prevent Afghanistan from ever again becoming a haven for terrorists.

The next 12 months will be a critical period, during which the Government of Afghanistan must demonstrate its ability to provide improved governance and security for its people.

In that regard, Canada views the Kabul Conference, which I will attend in July, as a key opportunity for President Hamid Karzai and his government to demonstrate readiness to deliver on the commitments they made at the London Conference on Afghanistan in January.

The international community supports the ongoing efforts to establish an Afghan-led national reconciliation and reintegration process.

The recent National Consultative Peace Jirga in Kabul marked an important step in the efforts toward conflict resolution in Afghanistan. All Afghans who are dedicated to building a peaceful, stable and prosperous future deserve our support.

Canada is also continuing to support the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to address the important economic and security challenges it currently faces.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan border region remains the primary return address of international terrorism—and a direct threat to the security of all countries, including Canada.

We should not forget that the “Toronto 18” terror plot and the 2006 conspiracy targeting flights from the United Kingdom bound for Canada and the United States, for example, have direct links to this border region.

In recent years, Canada has taken a leadership role to facilitate dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan through the Dubai Process, an initiative that has brought together officials from both countries to agree on and implement practical steps to improve cooperation on border management.

Building on Canada’s experience in facilitating this process, G-8 foreign ministers launched the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Region Prosperity Initiative in March. This initiative aims to foster positive economic conditions in the region as well as regional cooperation and dialogue, which are essential to addressing factors of instability.

Under this initiative, the G-8 is already facilitating two joint projects identified by the foreign ministers of Pakistan [Shah Mehmood Qureshi] and Afghanistan [Zalmai Rassoul]: an expressway and a railway between Peshawar and Jalalabad.

Security vulnerabilities

Internal conflict, disasters, transnational organized crime, trafficking in drugs and persons, and the proliferation of weapons also affect many states, with direct implications for global and Canadian security.

I am particularly concerned about the extreme vulnerability of certain countries that lack effective and accountable institutions to address these security issues.

In response, G-8 members are investing in such countries to enhance the capacity of their security institutions—that is, the army, police, coast guard, judicial sector, border and customs agencies, and correctional service—and to help them strengthen their civilian and parliamentary oversight mechanisms.

Nevertheless, cross-border and maritime security threats from terrorists, pirates, bandits and traffickers of drugs, weapons and illegal migrants are growing.

These unscrupulous actors sometimes cooperate, forming partnerships of convenience.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, West Africa and in parts of Asia, we have seen terrorists, other criminals and insurgents working together for mutual profit and to the detriment of the safety and security of the people in the regions in which they operate.

An area of specific concern is the Sahel region in Africa, a vast, landlocked desert territory with porous borders, where the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb seeks to take advantage of the security vulnerabilities posed by illicit trafficking.

Canada is actively engaging with G-8 partners to adapt our responses to these evolving threats.

Situating the G-8 on global security

These three issues—non-proliferation, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and security vulnerabilities—and related security issues are dealt with by a multiplicity of actors.

Importantly, therefore, the G-8 has succeeded in playing a catalytic and complementary role to other international organizations, as well as to regional organizations and ad hoc groups.

Unified G-8 messages can help advance action at the UN Security Council.

G-8 collaboration can also help shape the agenda of key UN organizations, such as in the case of counterterrorism.

The G-8 complements NATO by allowing for focused discussion in a smaller forum that also includes key non-NATO partners.

The G-8 also works with a number of regional security organizations, such as the African Union.

Finally, the G-8 bolsters the work of key ad hoc groups, such as the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, the Middle East Quartet, and the P5+1 [the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany] group on Iran. Where opportunities merit, the G-8 Summit offers high-level direction and support to these groups.


Since many of you were here for the keynote address on Wednesday night by my colleague Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, and for yesterday’s conference on “Governing Global Health,” I do not need to detail how Canada is putting mothers and children first through our G-8 initiative on maternal, newborn and child health.

I want, however, to underline Canada’s leadership on accountability.

For Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper and this government, accountability is a high priority. And we have taken this on within the G-8.

Canada, under its G-8 presidency, has led the charge for regular, clear and transparent reporting by the G-8 on its progress in implementing commitments.

On Sunday, Canada will release the Muskoka Accountability Report, which will provide an in-depth, multi-year assessment of how the G-8 has delivered on its promises related to development. In future years, this initiative will be carried forward by subsequent G-8 presidencies, improved upon and refined.

Leadership starts with following through on promises.

Within the G-8, Canada is a leader, and we are delivering on our commitments. Canada is on track to deliver on its commitment, made at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit, to double total annual development assistance to $5 billion by 2010.

In particular, Canada has fulfilled its commitment to double aid to Africa.

We will fully untie all of our aid by 2012-2013—having untied our food aid in 2008.

The Accountability Report will note that the G-8 has played a leading role in improving the capacity of developing countries to prevent and resolve conflict. This is particularly true in Africa, where the G-8 has done a great deal to strengthen the African Union’s peacekeeping capabilities.


I believe all Canadians can be proud of our standing and our achievements on the world stage.

And my hope is that the Muskoka 2010 G-8 Summit will be a new source of pride for us and will foster a new resolve to work toward world peace and security.

Thank you.