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Minister of Foreign Affairs - Briefing book


Table of Contents

Global Trends

COVID-19 Overview



Early national and international responses to the COVID-19 pandemic had the effect of accelerating several significant and pre‑existing geostrategic trends, including in relation to great power rivalries, proxy warfare and spheres of influence; a resurgence of nationalism, authoritarianism and protectionism; technological de-coupling alongside more digitized economies; growing inequality and social exclusion; strains on the rules-based international system and commitments to multilateralism; and the increasing influence of sub-national and non-state actors.

The rapid onset of the pandemic showed a lack of preparedness globally and at the national level in most countries. For the first few months, there was some confusion around roles and responsibilities in the absence of clear institutional frameworks and procedures to respond to the pandemic and its multifaceted ramifications.

As it continues to evolve, the pandemic is having profound social and economic effects. It has exacerbated existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, and risks reversing decades of progress toward development gains, in particular for women, children and marginalized groups. The early international response to these issues suffered from a lack of joined up action. However, as 2020 progressed, urgent humanitarian and developmental needs have led to increased investments in specific new multilateral efforts and more concrete support for international initiatives targeting global health and economic recovery, such as the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, and its vaccine pillar, the COVAX Facility.

The pandemic did not slow the historic shift of geopolitical and economic power from the Atlantic to the Pacific that is underway, and where new and established powers, as well as non-state actors continue to seek to recast the international system to their benefit. In this context, some states – [REDACTED] – have sought to seize upon the crisis to project power and curry influence in an increasingly multi-nodal international order, with varying success. Others have used the disruption as a means to exert domestic control and suppress dissent, or continue their proxy wars with regional rivals [REDACTED]. In some places where trust between citizens and government was already weak, perceived government inadequacy in managing the pandemic has led to a resurgence of social unrest and demands for good governance, justice, and greater social inclusion that began in the summer and fall of 2019.

These and other developments will impose a new set of strategic choices on Canada’s foreign policy. Yet amid these challenges are opportunities to shape the evolving international system, embrace new markets and non-traditional partners, regroup with like-minded countries and leverage Canada’s deep expertise and people‑to‑people ties around the world.

Rules-Based International Order and Multilateralism

Prior to COVID-19, shifting geopolitical realities were already straining the existing system of international laws, norms, alliances and institutions often referred to as the rules-based international order (RBIO). The crisis has prompted a range of unilateral, protectionist, and nationalist policy responses and emergency measures consistent with earlier global trends, only at a much faster pace.

[REDACTED] Canada – to take on different leadership roles in different domains through the creation of flexible and ad hoc coalitions to address pressing issues including the movement of stranded travellers, supply chains, and support to the humanitarian and health programming of international institutions and NGOs. [REDACTED]

As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, there has been evident tension between largely national, domestically focused responses to the crisis – including at the sub-national and municipal levels where premiers, governors and mayors have played an instrumental role – and the need for robust multilateral cooperation to contain and defeat the virus. For many advanced economies, the approach to vaccine procurement and distribution will be a litmus test for how governments balance national interests and international cooperation in the new context. This pressure to meet domestic responsibilities before international commitments, and lingering doubts about the preparedness and performance of some specialized international bodies, notably the WHO, will likely continue to hamper international cooperation over the medium term.

Compared to past global crises, a number of key international actors and institutions have performed effectively thus far, such as the International Financial Institutions, while others are underperforming, either because they have not yet adapted to alternative platforms to overcome physical distancing and provide spaces for the pursuit of shared solutions, or are prevented from doing so by the pursuit of narrow national self-interest by some states. Encouragingly, greater familiarity with virtual engagement – in some cases pioneered by the smaller ad-hoc groups—is helping to overcome operational barriers that stymied international cooperation early in the crisis.

Meanwhile, international development dynamics that had emerged as domains for geopolitical influence and competition before the crisis continue to accelerate. New patterns of lending, donorship and emergency relief in response to the pandemic have underscored the changing international assistance landscape. Levels of indebtedness and gaps in health care infrastructure among recipient states, while indicators of need, are also important sources of political leverage for major powers stepping in with support.

Peace and Security

A number of global and regional challenges exist, and risk being exacerbated by the pandemic. Traditional international security concerns received less public attention early in the pandemic, but [REDACTED], while most advanced democracies remain focussed on pandemic management, including global economic recovery.

Economic dimensions of the crisis are also feeding insecurity and instability in fragile and conflict‑affected states. Resource shortages and pronounced gaps in public services are fueling volatile security situations in several countries and regions where Canada has a standing interest in outcomes. These include [REDACTED] is a particular concern following the recent coup.

The crisis has given new primacy to non‑traditional and “invisible” security threats. Governments can be expected to focus on strengthening their health security capacities – to prevent, prepare for, and detect all manner of infectious diseases – with renewed concern over the potential weaponization of biological agents. Destabilizing trends are also apparent in cyberspace, which had become an increasingly active domain for geopolitical rivalry prior to the pandemic. In the context of COVID-19, there has been a rise in malicious state-sponsored cyber activities, including misinformation and disinformation campaigns, and efforts to forcibly acquire the results of vaccine research. International targets (including governments, firms and individuals) are also at heightened risk of nefarious activities by non-state actors such as criminals and hackers, best exemplified by the major cyberattack, widely suspected to be [REDACTED] perpetrated, that penetrated multiple parts of the U.S. federal government and other organizations around the world over several months in 2020.

The potential for the pandemic and related economic crisis to have negative effects in fragile and conflict-affected states remains high, as dynamics continue to change as a result of new social, economic and political tensions, delayed peace processes, or external actors recalibrating their priorities and support for local proxies. Violent extremists, including malevolent non-state actors such as international and “home-grown” terrorist groups, could also seek to take advantage of the unstable global environment, heightened social tensions and unrest, and the diversion of police and security forces toward containment measures to plan and execute attacks.

Democracy, Human Rights and Gender Equality

There are many examples of democratic countries effectively managing the COVID‑19 pandemic. At their best, they showcased the importance of trusted, inclusive and accountable institutions, transparency by governments in policy design and action, functional checks and balances on power, the promotion of social inclusion and citizen engagement, electoral and institutional innovations, and support to vulnerable populations against human rights abuses. Nevertheless, the crisis revealed pre‑existing weaknesses, such as the ability

to support elderly, homeless or displaced persons, and gaps in the collection of gender and race-disaggregated data in social policy areas such as health, education and justice, which will warrant new approaches.

The pandemic has accelerated the use of new technologies, often for good, but with there is a need for vigilance, as the introduction of some new technologies such as those deployed to support contact-tracing have the potential to be co-opted in ways that may infringe on privacy and individual rights long after the current crisis has passed.

Indeed, some authoritarian leaders are using the pandemic as an opportunity to entrench and expand systems of technological surveillance, refine state‑sponsored propaganda and disinformation, and supress internal dissent, with severe consequences for human rights defenders, journalists and media workers. They are also taking measures to increase executive power and restrict human rights and freedoms in the name of fighting the virus. The possibility of elections being delayed or cancelled, with resulting social unrest, cannot be dismissed.

With a few notable exceptions, such as in the U.S., turnout has been lower in countries that have proceeded with elections amidst the pandemic, suggesting voter confidence issues (health or otherwise), and challenges ahead for electoral democracy. In some liberal democracies, political polarization has increased the visibility of narratives questioning the integrity and effectiveness of democratic institutions and systems. In [REDACTED] Globally, spikes in xenophobic incidents and overt discrimination have also been observed, often targeting ethnic or religious minorities, immigrants and other vulnerable or marginalized groups. [REDACTED]

International migration patterns, both regular and irregular, have experienced a significant shock from COVID-19. Previous forecasts for increased migration over the medium to long-term now appear deeply uncertain. Many countries have closed their borders or imposed significant restrictions on international and even domestic travel. Tens of millions of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers have been stranded, while others are returning home to uncertain prospects and potential stigma due to their earlier place of refuge or conditions in migrant camps. Meanwhile, more restrictive frameworks in destination countries, well beyond the introduction of a vaccine, could serve to diminish human capital in states where immigration has long been relied upon for demographic sustainability and economic competitiveness.

Along with these challenges come significant economic implications for many developing economies. According to the World Bank, in 2020, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries are expected to drop by around 20 percent to $445 billion, from $554 billion in 2019. This is cutting off a crucial source of direct cash support to households in developing countries most dependent on remittances as a percentage of GDP, including the Caribbean, Central America and Small Island States (e.g. Haiti (37.1 percent of GDP), Nepal (27.3 percent of GDP), the West Bank and Gaza (16.3 percent of GDP), El Salvador (21 percent of GDP) and Honduras (22 percent of GDP)). The longer the current disruption endures, the harder it will be to return to prior norms of international mobility. This reality, alongside economic conditions and debt distress in developing countries, may contribute to a surge in irregular migration.

There are important gendered dimensions to the pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 is deepening pre-existing inequalities, slowing if not reversing progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, exposing vulnerabilities in health, socioeconomic and political systems, and negatively affecting human rights. Women and girls, in all their diversity, face particular health and socioeconomic threats from the pandemic, which are exacerbated by multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence. These threats include, but are not limited to: heightened possibilities of exposure to the virus given their over-representation in healthcare professions; increased sexual and gender-based violence in the context of lockdowns and social isolation; compromised access to sexual, reproductive and maternal health resources; disproportionate economic vulnerabilities and burdens, especially in developing, fragile and conflict-affected states where food insecurity and levels of participation in unpaid or informal work are high; and the narrowing space for women’s rights and human rights organizations to operate and undertake urgent advocacy in support of vulnerable or marginalized groups.

Despite women comprising more than 75 percent of the health care workforce in many countries, their front-line interaction with communities and their participation in much of the care work, they are systematically underrepresented in national decision-making processes, which increases the risk of their specific needs and interests being overlooked in COVID-19 policies, plans and budgets.

Development, Economics and Trade

The future progression of the pandemic and its effects on societies and economies remains uncertain. Although vaccinations have begun in multiple countries, significant production and distribution challenges remain for achieving sufficient worldwide vaccination. Therefore, there remains a possibility that this pandemic could drag on for an extensive period along with continued containment measures. As a consequence, aspects of our economies and our ability to get back to our day to day lives could be affected over the long run.

The effects of the pandemic on global poverty and efforts to achieve the SDGs are expected to be long lasting. The World Bank estimated in late 2020 that COVID-19 could push 88 to 115 million people into extreme poverty by the end of the year, rising to as many as 150 million in 2021, representing the first increase in the global extreme poverty rate since 1998.

Effects of the pandemic will vary greatly depending on the structure and vulnerabilities of particular low-income economies, with those heavily dependent on tourism already experiencing significant strains. International tourist arrivals dropped massively in 2020, resulting in millions of lost jobs and a decline of hundreds of billions of dollars in tourism spending.

Debt financing has become an acute issue in the context of the pandemic. Many developing countries had high debt loads before the current crisis, often priced in U.S. dollars, which now limit their ability to respond to COVID-19 as the value of their currencies decline and the cost of national health services, social safety-nets and the relative burden of debt obligations increase – all exacerbated by a sudden collapse of economic activity. Within the last decade, the composition of public debt in low income developing countries shifted from traditional sources (largely the Paris Club, including Canada) toward non-traditional bilateral lenders, particularly China.

International Financial Institutions are using all instruments at their disposal to help countries in need, while the G20 has committed to temporarily suspend debt payments on the part of the poorest countries and the UN Conference on Trade and Development has called for $1 trillion of debt owed by developing countries to be cancelled. However, the bilateral debt holdings and levels of relief provided by individual lenders will be important to watch.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a more negative impact on global economic activity in 2020 than first anticipated. Global foreign direct investment collapsed, with a projected decline of between 30-40 percent in 2020-2021. Given its vulnerability, the economic fallout of COVID‑19 is likely to be most devastating in Africa, where 16 Sub-Saharan countries are classified as being in or at high risk of debt distress.  In this context, and in vulnerable economies like small island developing states, pre-existing concerns about international development and economics emerging as domains for geo-political influence and competition will only come into sharper relief. 

A cautious recovery is underway, although given the impact of repeated pandemic waves it is expected to be gradual, uneven, and incomplete, with growth at the end of 2021 failing to match 2019 levels. Much of the world is relying on temporary measures to keep the economy afloat, with the expectation that some degree of structural change lies ahead, potentially re-shaping certain sectors, firms, and jobs. The early recovery phase, particularly considering some of the weaknesses and inequalities that the pandemic has highlighted, has inspired reflection on economic priority setting and how to ‘build back better.’

The COVID-19 pandemic has put in starker relief some of the vulnerabilities that come with high levels of interconnectivity and economic globalization and has emphasized the need to urgently strengthen health systems and reinforce prevention, emergency planning and preparedness worldwide. Supply chains relying on just-in-time arrangements have experienced disruptions, and concerns about shortages or the security of essential goods like pharmaceutical and medical equipment, as well as food, technology and natural resources, have motivated some countries to introduce trade-restrictive measures. In some countries, including democracies in Europe and Asia, these initial measures may serve as the foundation of a more sustained shift toward industrial policies, relative economic self-sufficiency, and thus greater autonomy (costs notwithstanding) in the post-COVID international system.

It is possible that increased regionalization, re-shoring or in some cases nationalization of supply chains will result, even if this entails new vulnerabilities and higher costs. Prior to the pandemic, the rules-based trading system was already stressed by rising protectionism and failures in the functioning of international institutions such as the WTO to contain and resolve disagreements. If the economic fallout from the pandemic is protracted, anti-globalization and protectionist sentiments could be exacerbated – with negative implications for countries that rely on relatively free, rules‑based trade. [REDACTED]

Canada’s Foreign Policy Toolkit

In the context of international volatility exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic ramifications, close collaboration between Global Affairs Canada and other departments and agencies must continue, allowing for a whole-of-government approach. Ongoing cooperation with a broad range of international and non-state partners will also be required, including the private sector, which has played an instrumental role in the response to the pandemic through the production of essential medical and protective equipment and in facilitating the return of stranded Canadians.

In addition to the opportunities for strengthening bilateral relations with key partners that are struggling with the crisis, there are openings in the short term for Canada to leverage its strengths to position itself as a leader in shaping the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including in promoting a global economic recovery. To date, pragmatic initiatives consistent with Canadian interests and values have included: delivering on global health needs with a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable; multilateral coordination on global supply chains, rules-based trade and the movement of people; enabling financial liquidity through debt service and development finance measures, while supporting local economic recovery; meeting the unique demands of COVID-19 responses in fragile and conflict-affected states through humanitarian assistance and the Women, Peace and Security model; and addressing food security concerns and education through “back to school better” initiatives in developing countries.

At the same time, Canada can continue to develop its leadership capacity on a number of medium‑term global challenges that require a collective and coordinated response. These include but are not limited to: [REDACTED]

Canada is equipped with an international policy toolkit to meet many of these challenges, which offer important leadership opportunities – both to address the crisis and position Canada for the future:

In this new and uncertain era of international relations, Canada needs all the tools at its disposal to navigate difficult strategic terrain ahead. At the same time, [REDACTED].

The Department at a Glance


Global Affairs Canada is responsible for shaping and advancing Canada’s integrated foreign policy, international trade and international assistance objectives, and supporting Canadian consular and business interests. We are a networked department with 12,375 employees working in Canada and 110 countries (at 178 missions), with a total budget of $7.5 billion.


As Minister of Foreign Affairs, you are responsible for defining, advancing and representing Canada’s interests and values abroad. You do so by directing a department of Global Affairs that brings together foreign policy, trade, and international assistance capabilities in an integrated way to Canada’s advantage. As the country’s chief diplomat, you manage international negotiations on a host of subjects, advance international law, respond to complex international crises, and play a role in expanding economic opportunities for Canadians.

The Minister is responsible for consular relations, including helping Canadians in distress. S/He also plays a key role in the allocation of Canada’s international assistance budget and directly oversees peace and security related programming.

Who We Are

Canada’s first foreign ministry was established in June 1909. Since then, the department has progressively transformed itself to reflect the changing international environment. The most significant transformations include its amalgamation with the Department of Trade and Commerce in 1982 and with the Canadian International Development Agency in 2013.

While the legal name of the department (pursuant to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act of June 26, 2013) remains the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, its public designation under the Federal Identity Program is Global Affairs Canada.

What We Do

The department manages Canada’s diplomatic and consular relations with foreign governments and international organizations, engaging and influencing international players to advance Canada’s security and prosperity in a dynamic global context.  It advances a coherent approach to Canada’s political, trade and international assistance goals based on astute analysis, consultation and engagement with other government departments, Canadians and international stakeholders. The department is constantly monitoring global developments and assessing the potential implications on your ability to deliver your mandate, ensuring you are supported by evidence-based policy advice at all times.

The department’s work is focused on five core responsibilities:

  1. International Advocacy and Diplomacy: promote Canada’s interests and values through policy development, diplomacy, advocacy, and engagement with diverse stakeholders. This includes building and maintaining constructive relationships to Canada’s advantage, primarily through our network of missions; taking diplomatic leadership on select global issues; and supporting efforts to build strong international institutions and respect for international law, including through the judicious use of sanctions.
  2. Trade and Investment: support increased trade and investment to raise the standard of living for all Canadians. This includes building and safeguarding an open and inclusive rules-based global trading system; support for Canadian exporters and innovators in their international business development efforts; negotiation of bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral trade agreements; administration of export and import controls; management of international trade disputes; facilitation and expansion of foreign direct investment; and support to international innovation, science and technology.
  3. Development, Humanitarian Assistance, Peace and Security Programming: contribute to reducing poverty and increasing opportunity for people around the world. This includes alleviating suffering in humanitarian crises; reinforcing opportunities for inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth; promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment; improving health and education outcomes; and bolstering peace and security through programs that counter violent extremism and terrorism, support anti-crime capacity building, peace operations and conflict management.
  4. Help for Canadians Abroad: provide timely and appropriate travel information and consular services for Canadians abroad, contributing to their safety and security. This includes visits to places of detention; deployment of staff to evacuate Canadians in crisis situations; and provision of emergency documentation.
  5. Support for Canada’s Presence Abroad: deliver resources, infrastructure and services to enable a whole-of-government and whole-of-Canada presence abroad. This includes the management of our missions abroad and the implementation of a major Duty of Care initiative to ensure the protection of Government of Canada personnel, overseas infrastructure and information.

Through these 5 pillars of responsibility, Global Affairs provides an integrated and agile platform from which to deploy and leverage a broader strong and diverse toolkit in support of the economic prosperity, health and security of all Canadians. In an ever more complex global landscape, this includes Canada’s memberships in multilateral institutions such as the UN, G7, G20, NATO, NORAD, the OECD, the OAS, APEC, Arctic Council, the Commonwealth and the Francophonie, which enables it to engage multiple and diverse stakeholders, offers opportunities to influence the views of international partners, and to take joint action to address difficult problems, from cyber security to climate change, and from missile defence to economic stability. It also includes important natural resources, defence and security assets, and human capacities not least those located at the federal level related to science and technology, governance and effective public sector management, as well as those skills and assets that come from Canada’s Parliament, other orders of government, the judiciary, Canadian civil society, research institutions and the private sector.

Legal Responsibilities

The Department is the principal source of advice on public international law for the Government of Canada, including international trade and investment law. Global Affairs Canada lawyers develop and manage policy and advice on international legal issues, provide for the interpretation and analysis of international agreements, and advocate on behalf of Canada in international negotiations and litigation. There are also a number of Department of Justice lawyers at the Department, who provide legal services under domestic law, including on litigation and regulations such as sanctions implementation.

Our Workforce

To deliver on its mandate, the Department relies on a workforce that is flexible, competent, diverse and mobile. The Department counts 12,375 active employees (including CBS and LES active employees). 6,913 of them are Canada-Based Staff (CBS), serving either in Canada or at our missions abroad. The remaining 5,462 employees are Locally Engaged Staff (LES), usually foreign citizens hired in their own countries to provide support services at our missions. Currently, 57% percent of Canada-based staff are women (compared to 59% percent of LES) and 59% percent of the CBS population has English as their first official language (41% French).

A distinctive human resources system allows the Department to meet its complex operational needs in a timely manner. Our staff work in some of the most difficult places on earth, including in active conflict zones. Among the various occupational groups and assignment types, a cadre of rotational employees supports delivery of the Department’s unique mandate through assignments typically ranging between two to four-year periods, alternating between missions abroad and headquarters. They are foreign service officers (in trade, political, economic, international assistance, and management and consular officer streams), administrative assistants, computer systems specialists and executives, including our Heads of Mission.

Heads of Mission serve the Minister further to a cabinet appointment. They develop deep expert knowledge of their countries of accreditation, establish wide networks, and provide advice and guidance on pressing matters of bilateral and international concern. The Head of Mission is responsible for Canada’s “whole of government” engagement in their countries of accreditation and for the supervision of all federal programs present in their mission.

Global Affairs Canada personnel work in Canada and abroad to advance Canadian interests through creative diplomacy ranging from formal negotiations and network building to stakeholder engagement and capacity building. Canadian officials take part in thousands of international meetings every year on a multitude of topics, advancing Canadian interests through formal and informal interactions with representatives from virtually every country on earth. These efforts are aligned carefully with the priorities of the department and are amplified through targeted public diplomacy, including on social media.

The department is also supported by a 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa which is always on guard to assist Canadians in need of consular assistance abroad or to respond in real time to natural disasters and complex emergencies around the globe.

Our finances The Department’s total funding in the 2020-21 Main Estimates was $7.5 billion. This amount is broken down as follows:

The budget distribution by core responsibility of the Department in the 2020-21 Main Estimates was reported as follows:

2020-2021 Main estimates by Core Responsibility (in millions)
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2020-2021 Main estimates by Core Responsibility (in millions)

International Advocacy and Diplomacy896
Trade and Investment382
Development, Peace and Security Programming4799
Help for Canadians Abroad52
Support for Canada's Presence Abroad1093
Internal Services262

Chart summarizing 2020-2021 planned spending by core responsibility:

International Advocacy and Diplomacy: $896 million Trade and Investment: $382 million Development, Peace and Security Programming: $4799 million Help for Canadians abroad: $52 million. Support for Canada’s presence abroad: $1093 million  Internal services: $262 million

Our network

The department’s extensive network abroad counts 178 missions in 110 countries (see attached placemat for an overview of the network). They range in type and status from large embassies, to small representative offices and consulates.

The department’s network of missions abroad also supports the international work  of 37 Canadian partner departments, agencies and co-locators (such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; National Defence; Canada Border Services Agency; Public Safety; Royal Canadian Mounted Police; Export Development Canada; several provinces), and provinces and territories.

The department’s headquarters offices are located in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Most staff are located in the first three buildings:

The department also has six Canadian regional offices to engage directly with Canadians, notably Canadian businesses:

Senior leadership and corporate governance

In support of Ministers, the department’s most senior officials are the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (USS); the Deputy Minister of International Trade (DMT); the Deputy Minister of International Development (DME); and the Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (DMA).

Sixteen Branches, headed by Assistant Deputy Ministers, report to the Deputy Ministers and are responsible for providing integrated advice across various portfolios, ranging from geographic regions to corporate and thematic issues. (See separate bios)

Canada’s Heads of mission abroad are responsible for the management and direction of mission activities, and the supervision of the official activities of the various departments and agencies of the Government of Canada in the country or at the international organization to which they are appointed.

The department has a robust corporate governance framework with specific committees for audit, evaluation, resource and corporate management, policy and programs.

Senior managers from headquarters and the mission network manage and integrate the department’s policies and resources in this context to maximize our assets, and ensure accountability for the delivery of departmental programs and results. The amalgamated approach in the Department results in more coherent and cohesive international engagement, supported by an integrated organizational structure.

2019-2020 Corporate Governance Committee Structure
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Chart summarizing 2019-2020 Corporate governance structure:

External Committee:  Departmental Audit Committee DM-chaired committees: Executive Committee and Performance Measurement and Evaluations Committee ADM-chaired Committees: Security Committee; Financial Operations and Management Committee; Corporate Management Committee; and Policy and Programs Committee. All four ADM-chaired committees report to the Executive Committee.

Planning and reporting

The department’s annual planning and reporting process is structured around its Departmental Results Framework.

A Departmental Plan establishes the Government’s foreign affairs, international trade and development agenda for the coming year. It provides a strategic overview of the policy priorities, planned results and associated resource requirements for the coming fiscal year. The document is approved by the Ministers and tabled in Parliament (usually in March-April). The Plan also presents the performance targets against which the department will report its final results at the end of the fiscal year through a Departmental Results Report, typically tabled in Parliament in late fall.

A Corporate Plan acts as a companion piece, and is the Department's operational plan, aligning the work of branches and missions with the strategic plans and priorities established by the Departmental Plan and financial and human resources. The Corporate Plan ensures the integration of key enabling functions, such as human resources, IM/IT, communications, business continuity and risk management, into one operational planning process. The Corporate Plan is finalized in time for the start of each fiscal year in April.

Deputy ministers biographies

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Marta Morgan

Marta Morgan

On April 18, 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Marta Morgan to the position of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, effective May 6, 2019.

Prior to joining Global Affairs Canada, since June 2016, Ms. Morgan was deputy minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. In that previous role, she led the development of immigration policies and programs to support Canada’s economic growth, developed strategies to manage the significant growth in asylum claims and improved client service.

Before that, Ms. Morgan acquired extensive leadership experience in a range of economic policy roles both at Industry Canada and the Department of Finance Canada. In those departments, as assistant deputy minister and associate deputy minister, she provided leadership in telecommunications policy, spectrum policy, aerospace and automobile sectoral policy, and in the development of two federal budgets.

Prior to her time at Industry Canada, Ms. Morgan held positions at the Forest Products Association of Canada, the Privy Council Office, and Human Resources Development Canada.

She has also been a member of the board of the Public Policy Forum since 2014.

Ms. Morgan has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in economics from McGill University and a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Christopher MacLennan

Christopher Maclennan

On February 7, 2020, the Prime Minister appointed Christopher MacLennan as the Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Prior to this, Mr. MacLennan was the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) for Global Issues and Development at Global Affairs Canada.  In that role, he led on Canada’s development assistance efforts through multilateral and global partners, humanitarian assistance and priority foreign policy relationships with the United Nations, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie.  In addition to this, Mr. MacLennan served concurrently as Canada’s G7 foreign affairs sous-sherpa.

Previously, Mr. MacLennan was acting Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Priorities and Planning and ADM of Policy Innovation at the Privy Council Office. Prior to that, Mr. MacLennan was Director General for Health and Nutrition at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada.  Mr. MacLennan led the team that organized the Prime Minister’s Saving Every Woman, Every Child Summit on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) in 2014.  This work followed his previous role on the G8 Muskoka Initiative on MNCH in 2010.  Prior to this, Mr. MacLennan worked in various capacities at the Canadian International Development Agency, Environment Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Mr. MacLennan holds a Ph.D. from Western University specializing in constitutional development and international human rights and has written numerous publications including Toward the Charter: Canadians and the Demand for a National Bill of Rights, 1929-1960.

Deputy Minister of International Trade

John F.G. Hannaford

John Hannaford

On December 7, 2018, the Prime Minister appointed John F.G. Hannaford as Deputy Minister of International Trade at Global Affairs Canada, effective January 7, 2019.

From January 2015 to January 2019, Mr. Hannaford was the foreign and defence policy adviser to the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister in the Privy Council Office of the Government of Canada.

Until December 2014, Mr. Hannaford was the assistant secretary to the Cabinet for foreign and defence policy in the Privy Council Office. Prior to December 2011, Mr. Hannaford was Canada’s ambassador to Norway. Before that, for two years, Mr. Hannaford was director general of the Legal Bureau of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. As a member of Canada’s foreign service, he had numerous assignments in Ottawa and at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C., during the early years of his career.

Mr. Hannaford graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, with a Bachelor of Arts (First Class) in history. After earning a Master of Science in international relations at the London School of Economics, he completed a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Toronto and was called to the bar in Ontario in 1995.

In addition to his work as a public servant, Mr. Hannaford has been an adjunct professor in both the Faculty of Law and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. 

Deputy Minister of International Development

Leslie MacLean

Leslie Maclean

On Friday, December 6, 2019, the Prime Minister appointed Leslie MacLean as Deputy Minister of International Development, effective Monday, December 9.

Prior to this appointment, Ms. MacLean was chief operating officer for Service Canada from July 2016 until December 2019.

From 1995 to 2016, she served Canadians in a range of other leadership roles in the public service, including associate deputy minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada from 2014 to 2016 and assistant secretary, Social and Cultural Sector, with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) from 2011 to 2014.

Before assuming her responsibilities with TBS, Ms. MacLean served as the assistant commissioner of Health Services for Correctional Service Canada from 2007 to 2011 and the director general of Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch between 2003 and 2007. She also held senior leadership roles with Communications Canada from 2000 to 2003 and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board of Veterans Affair Canada from 1995 to 1998.

In addition to her experience with Canada’s public service, Ms. MacLean was the executive exchange officer with the Government of Australia’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs from 1998 until 2000.

Ms. MacLean holds an MA in English Literature from the University of Toronto and a BA in English Literature from the University of Prince Edward Island.

Global Affairs Canada Executive (EX) Organizational Structure

Global Affairs Canada Executive (EX) Organizational Structure
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Level 1 – Deputy Ministers and Coordinator

Deputy Minister of International Development – Leslie MacLean (DME)

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs – Marta Morgan (USS)

Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs – Christopher MacLennan (DMA)

Deputy Minister of International Trade – John Hannaford (DMT)

Level 2 – Assistant Deputy Ministers and Directors General

Reports to the Deputy Minister of International Development:

International Assistance Operations – D. Wega (DPD)

Reports to all Deputy Ministers:

Assistant Deputy Minister Human Resources – Francis Trudel (HCM)

Assistant Deputy Minister International Platform – Dan Danagher (ACM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Corporate Planning, Finance and IT (Chief Financial Officer) – Anick Ouellette (SCM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Public Affairs – Stéphane Levesque (LCM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Strategic Policy – Elissa Golberg (PFM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Global Issues and Development – Peter MacDougall (MFM)

Assistant Deputy Minister International Security and Political Affairs (Political Director) – Dan Costello (IFM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Partnership for Development Innovation – Caroline Leclerc (KFM)

Assistant Deputy Minister International Business Development and Chief Trade Commissioner – Sara Wilshaw (BFM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Trade Policy and Negotiations and Chief Trade Negotiator NAFTA – Steve Verheul (A) (TFM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Consular, Security and Emergency Management (Chief Security Officer) – Cindy Termorshuizen (CFM)

Legal Advisor – Alan Kessel (JFM) – Special Deployment Position

Assistant Deputy Minister Sub-Saharan Africa – Mala Khanna (WGM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Europe, Arctic, Middle East and Maghreb – Sandra McCardell (EGM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Americas – Michael Grant (A) (NGM)

Assistant Deputy Minister Asia Pacific – Paul Thoppil (OGM)

Executive Director and General Counsel – P. Hill (JUS)

Chief Audit Executive – R. Kunze (VBD)

Director General, Inspection, Integrity and Values and Ethics – R. Dubé (ZID)

Corporate Secretary and Director General – J. MacIntyre (DCD)

Chief of Protocol – S. Wheeler (XDD)

Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security – J. O’Neill (WPSA)

Planning International Summits and Major Events – Vacant (DSMO)

Level 3 – Directors General

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Human Resources

HR Corporate Strategies and Operational Services – M. P. Jackson (HSD)

Assignments and Executive Management – H. Kutz (HFD)

Workplace Relations and Corporate Healthcare – C. Houde (HWD)

Canadian Foreign Service Institute – L. Marcotte (CFSI)

Foreign Service Directives – M. Moreau (HED)

Locally Engaged Staff – M. Fletcher (HLD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister International Platform

Client Relations and Mission Operations – L. Almond (AFD)

Planning and Stewardship – D. Schwartz (ARD)

Platform Corporate Services – D. Bélanger (AAD)

Platform Planning, Engagement and Results – A. Stirling (ABD)

Project Delivery, Professional and Technical Services – E. Chown (AWD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Corporate Planning, Finance and IT (Chief Financial Officer)

Financial Planning and Management – S. Carruthers (SWD)

Financial Operations – S. Bainbridge (SMD)

Grants and Contributions Management – M. Collins (SGD)

Information Management and Technology (CIO) – K. Casey (SID)

Corporate Procurement, Asset Management and National Accommodation – B. Lawson (SPD)

Corporate Planning, Performance and Risk Management – L. Smallwood (A) (SRD)

Senior IM/IT Project Executive – R. Dussault (SED)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Public Affairs

Development Communications – L. Belmahdi (LCA)

Public Affairs – Charles Mojsej (LCD)

Corporate and E Communications – C. Brisebois (LDD)

Trade Communications – V. Sharma (LCC)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Strategic Policy

Evaluation and Results – T. Denham (A) PRD)

Foreign Policy – A. Lévêque (POD)

International Assistance Policy – A. Smith (A) (PVD)

International Economic Policy – M.J. Langlois (Int) (PED)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Global Issues and Development

International Humanitarian Assistance – S. Salewicz (MHD)

Economic Development – C. Urban (MED)

Food Security and Environment – C. Campbell (MSD)

Health and Nutrition – J. Tabah (MND)

Social Development – L. Holts (A) (MGD)

International Organizations – A. Lalani (MID)

Innovative and Climate Finance Bureau – S. Szabo (MLD)

International Summits Programs – A. Frenette (DWD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister International Security and Political Affairs (Political Director)

International Security Policy – K. Hamilton (A) (IGD)

Peace and Stabilization Operations Program – G. Kutz (IRD)

Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Intelligence – M. Benjamin (IDD)

Human Rights, Freedom and Inclusion – C. Godin (A) (IOD)

International Crime and Counter-Terrorism – J. Loten (ICD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Partnership for Development Innovation

Engaging Canadians – M. Tremblay (KED)

Inclusive Growth, Governance and Innovation Partnerships – C. Hogan Rufelds (KGD)

Canadian Partnership for Health and Social Development – J.B. Parenteau (A) (KSD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister International Business Development and Chief Trade Commissioner

Trade Portfolio Strategy and Coordination – C. Moran (BPD)

Trade Commissioner Service - Operations – D. McMullen (BTD)

Trade Sectors – R. Kwan (BBD)

Investment and Innovation – E. Kamarianakis (BID)

Regional Trade Operations and Intergovernmental Relations – C. Thomley (BSD)

Chief Economist – M.F. Paquet (BED)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Trade Policy and Negotiations and Chief Trade Negotiator NAFTA

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Trade Policy and Negotiations – B. Christie (TFMA)

Trade Negotiations – K. Hembroff (TCD)

North America, Trade Policy and Negotiations – A. Alexander (TND)

Market Access – D. Forsyth (A) (TPD)

Chief Air Negotiator and Director General for Services, Intellectual Property and Investment – M. Shendra (A) (TMD)

Trade and Exports Control – K. Funtek (A) (TID)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Consular, Security and Emergency Management

Consular Policy – A-K. Asselin (CPD)

Consular Operations – B. Szwarc (A) CND)

Security and Emergency Management (Departmental Security Officer) – D. Metcalfe (CSD)

Reports to the Legal Adviser

Trade Law – S. Spelliscy (JLT)

Legal Affairs – M. Husain (JLD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Sub-Saharan Africa

West and Central Africa – T. Khan (A) (WWD)

Southern and Eastern Africa – I. Myles (A) (WED)

Pan-Africa – A. Chevrier (WFD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Europe, Arctic, Middle East and Maghreb

European Affairs – R. Fry (EUD)

Middle East – J. Dutton (ESD)

Maghreb, Egypt, Israel and West Bank and Gaza – T. Lulashnyk (ELD)

Senior Arctic Official and Director General, Polar, Eurasia and European Affairs - D. Sproule (A) (ECD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Americas

North America Strategy – E. Walsh (NGD)

North America Advocacy and Commercial Programs – Vacant (NND)

South America and Inter-American Affairs – S. Cohen (A) (NLD)

Central America and Caribbean – S. Cesaratto (A) (NDD)

Geographic Coordination and Mission Support – N. Ahmad (NMD)

Reports to the Assistant Deputy Minister Asia Pacific

Southeast Asia – P. Lundy (OSD)

North Asia and Oceania – W. Epp (OPD)

South Asia – D. Hartman (OAD)

Level 4 – Outside of Main Organizational Structure

Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise – Sheri Meyerhoffer (CORE)

Source of information: Human resources Management System (HRMS)

In some cases, adjustments have been made by HFR to reflect the most current employee or positional information

Link to Global Affairs Canada Corporate Governance Structure


Mission Network

Mission Network
Text version

Summary of Missions / Points of Service

DesignationCategory 1Category 2Category 3Category 4Category 5Total by Category
High Commissions21226022
Embassy/High Commission of Canada (Program) Offices00110011
Offices of the Embassy / High Commission00111113
Representative Offices010102
Multilaterals or Permanent5420011
Consulates General11563025
Consular Agencies000606
Regional Offices000000
DesignationEurope & Middle EastAsia PacificAfricaAmericasCanadaTotal
High Commissions1984022
Embassy/High Commission of Canada (Program) Offices3233011
Offices of the Embassy / High Commission2614013
Representative Offices110002
Multilaterals or Permanent8102011
Consulates General29015026
Consular Agencies000606
Australian, CCC & Other Offices02600026
Regional Offices in Canada000066
Honorary Consulates371517320101
Total by Geographic Portfolio988238876311

Points of Service excluding Australian, CCC & Other Offices, Regional Offices and Honorary Consulates: 178

Europe & Middle East

Embassies (E)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
Abu DhabiUnited Arab EmiratesThe Embassy of Canada to the United Arab Emirates2
AlgiersAlgeriaThe Embassy of Canada to Algeria2
AmmanJordanThe Embassy of Canada to Jordan2
AnkaraTurkeyThe Embassy of Canada to Turkey2
AstanaKazakhstanThe Embassy of Canada to Kazakhstan3
AthensGreeceThe Embassy of Canada to Greece2
BaghdadIraqThe Embassy of Canada to Iraq3
BeirutLebanonThe Embassy of Canada to Lebanon2
BelgradeRepublic of SerbiaThe Embassy of Canada to the Republic of Serbia2
BerlinGermanyThe Embassy of Canada to Germany1
BerneSwitzerlandThe Embassy of Canada to Switzerland2
BrusselsBelgiumThe Embassy of Canada to Belgium2
BucharestRomaniaThe Embassy of Canada to Romania2
BudapestHungaryThe Embassy of Canada to Hungary2
CairoEgyptThe Embassy of Canada to Egypt2
CopenhagenDenmarkThe Embassy of Canada, Copenhagen, Denmark2
DamascusSyriaThe Embassy of Canada to Syria2
DohaQatarThe Embassy of Canada to Qatar3
DublinIrelandThe Embassy of Canada, Dublin, Ireland2
Hague, TheNetherlandsThe Embassy of Canada to the Netherlands2
HelsinkiFinlandThe Embassy of Canada to Finland2
Kuwait CityKuwaitThe Embassy of Canada to Kuwait2
KyivUkraineThe Embassy of Canada to Ukraine2
LisbonPortugalThe Embassy of Canada to Portugal2
MadridSpainThe Embassy of Canada to Spain2
MoscowRussian FederationThe Embassy of Canada to Russia1
OsloNorwayThe Embassy of Canada to Norway2
ParisFranceThe Embassy of Canada to France1
PragueCzech RepublicThe Embassy of Canada to the Czech Republic2
RabatMoroccoThe Embassy of Canada to Morocco2
ReykjavikIcelandThe Embassy of Canada to Iceland3
RigaLatviaThe Embassy of Canada to Latvia3
RiyadhSaudi ArabiaThe Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia2
RomeItalyThe Embassy of Canada to Italy1
StockholmSwedenThe Embassy of Canada to Sweden2
Tel AvivIsraelThe Embassy of Canada to Israel2
TripoliLibyaThe Embassy of Canada to Libya3
TunisTunisiaThe Embassy of Canada to Tunisia2
Vatican CityHoly SeeThe Embassy of Canada to the Holy See2
ViennaAustriaThe Embassy of Canada to Austria1
WarsawPolandThe Embassy of Canada to Poland2
ZagrebCroatiaThe Embassy of Canada to Croatia3

Total: 42

High Commissions (HC)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory Common (property)
LondonUnited KingdomThe High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom1

Total: 1

Embassy / High Commission of Canada (Program) (PO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory Common (property)
BratislavaSlovakiaThe Office of the Embassy of Canada, Bratislava4
TallinnEstoniaThe Office of the Embassy of Canada, Tallinn4
VilniusLithuaniaThe Office of the Embassy of Canada, Vilnius4

Total: 3

Offices of the Embassy / High Commission (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
BarcelonaSpainThe Consulate and Trade Office of Canada, Barcelona4
ErbilIraqi KurdistanThe Office of the Canadian Embassy, Erbil3

Total: 2

Representative Offices (RO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
RamallahWest Bank & GazaRepresentative Office of Canada, Ramallah4

Total: 1

Australian (A), Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) & Other Offices (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Multilaterals (M)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
Brussels EUBelgiumThe Mission of Canada to the European Union1
Brussels NATOBelgiumCanadian Joint Delegation to the North Atlantic Council1
Geneva PERMSwitzerlandThe Permanent Mission of Canada to the Office of the United Nations and to the Conference on Disarmament1
Geneva WTOSwitzerlandThe Permanent Mission of Canada to the World Trade Organization1
Paris OECDFranceThe Permanent Delegation of Canada to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development2
Paris UNESCOFranceThe Permanent Delegation of Canada to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization2
Vienna OSCEAustriaCanadian delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe3
Vienna PERMAustriaThe Permanent Mission of Canada to the International Organizations (IAEA, CBTBO, UNODC/UNOV)3

Total: 8

Consulates General (CG)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
IstanbulTurkeyThe Consulate General of Canada, Istanbul4
DubaiUnited Arab EmiratesThe Consulate General of Canada, United Arab Emirates3

Total: 2

Consulates (C)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
DüsseldorfGermanyThe Consulate of Canada, Düsseldorf4
MunichGermanyThe Consulate of Canada, Munich4

Total: 2

Consular Agencies (CA)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Consulates headed by an Honorary Consul

Point of ServiceCountryStatus
BelfastUnited KingdomActive
BishkekKyrgyz RepublicActive
CardiffUnited KingdomActive
EdinburghUnited KingdomActive
JeddahSaudi ArabiaActive
Ponta DelgadaPortugalActive
St. Pierre and MiquelonFranceActive
VladivostokRussia FederationActive

Total: 37

Total Europe & Middle East: 98

Asia Pacific

Embassies (E)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
BangkokThailandThe Embassy of Canada to Thailand2
BeijingChinaThe Embassy of Canada to China1
HanoiVietnamThe Embassy of Canada to Vietnam2
JakartaIndonesiaThe Embassy of Canada to Indonesia2
KabulAfghanistanThe Embassy of Canada to Afghanistan3
ManilaPhilippinesThe Embassy of Canada to the Philippines2
SeoulKorea, SouthThe Embassy of Canada to the Republic of Korea2
TokyoJapanThe Embassy of Canada to Japan1
UlaanbaatarMongoliaThe Embassy of Canada to Mongolia3
YangonBurmaThe Embassy of Canada to Burma4

Total: 10

High Commissions (HC)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
Bandar Seri BegawanBruneiThe High Commission of Canada to Brunei Darussalam4
CanberraAustraliaThe High Commission of Canada to Australia2
ColomboSri LankaThe High Commission of Canada to Sri Lanka3
DhakaBangladeshThe High Commission of Canada to Bangladesh2
IslamabadPakistanThe High Commission of Canada to Pakistan2
Kuala LumpurMalaysiaThe High Commission of Canada to Malaysia2
New DelhiIndiaThe High Commission of Canada to India1
SingaporeSingaporeThe High Commission of Canada to Singapore2
WellingtonNew ZealandThe High Commission of Canada to New Zealand2

Total: 9

Embassy / High Commission of Canada (Program) (PO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
Phnom Penh (1 Sept 2015)CambodiaThe Office of the Embassy of Canada, Thailand4
Vientiane (1 Sept 2015)LaosThe Office of the Embassy of Canada, Thailand4

Total: 2

Offices of the Embassy / High Commission (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
AhmedabadIndiaThe Canadian Trade Office, Ahmedabad4
HyderabadIndiaThe Canadian Trade Office, Hyderabad4
KarachiPakistanThe Canadian Trade Office, Karachi4
FukuokaJapanThe Canadian Trade Office, Fukuoka5
KolkataIndiaThe Canadian Trade Office, Kolkata4
SapporoJapanThe Canadian Trade Office, Sapporo4

Total: 6

Representative Offices (RO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
TaipeiTaiwanThe Canadian Trade Office, Taipei2

Total: 1

Australian (A), Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) & Other Offices (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
ApiaSamoaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
ChengduChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
DenpasarIndonesiaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
DiliTimor-LesteAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
HangzhouChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
HoniaraSolomon IslandsAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
HonoluluHawaiiAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
NanjingChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
NouméaNew CaledoniaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
Nuku'alofaTongaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
Phnom PenhCambodiaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
PohnpeiMicronesiaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
Port MoresbyPapua New GuineaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
Port VilaVanuatuAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
PyongyangKorea, NorthSwedish EmbassyN/A
QingdaoChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
ShenyangChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
ShenzhenChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
SuvaFijiAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
TarawaKiribatiAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
Tianjin (January 2015)ChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
VientianeLaosAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A
WuhanChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
Xi'anChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
XiamenChinaCanadian Commercial Corporation Representative OfficeN/A
YangonBurmaAustralian High Commissions and ConsulatesN/A

Total: 26

Multilaterals (M)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
ASEAN (1 August 2015)IndonisiaAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations2

Total: 1

Consulates General (CG)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
BangaloreIndiaThe Consulate General of Canada, Bangalore4
ChandigarhIndiaThe Consulate General of Canada, Chandigarh3
ChongqingChinaThe Consulate General of Canada, Chongqing3
GuangzhouChinaThe Consulate General of Canada, Guangzhou3
Ho Chi Minh CityVietnamThe Consulate General of Canada, Ho Chi Minh City4
Hong KongChinaThe Consulate General of Canada, Hong Kong2
MumbaiIndiaThe Consulate General of Canada, Mumbai3
ShanghaiChinaThe Consulate General of Canada, Shanghai2
SydneyAustraliaThe Consulate General of Canada, Sydney2

Total: 9

Consulates (C)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
AucklandNew ZealandThe Consulate and Trade Office of Canada, Auckland4
ChennaiIndiaThe Consulate of Canada, Chennai4
NagoyaJapanThe Consulate of Canada, Nagoya4

Total: 3

Consular Agencies (CA)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Consulates headed by an Honorary Consul

Point of ServiceCountryStatus
BusanKorea, SouthActive
Chiang MaiThailandActive

Total: 15

Total Asia Pacific: 82


Embassies (E)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
AbidjanCôte d'IvoireThe Embassy of Canada to Côte d'Ivoire2
Addis AbabaEthiopiaThe Embassy of Canada to Ethiopia2
BamakoMaliThe Embassy of Canada to Mali3
DakarSenegalThe Embassy of Canada to Senegal2
HarareZimbabweThe Embassy of Canada to Zimbabwe2
JubaSouth SudanThe Embassy of Canada to South Sudan3
KhartoumSudanThe Embassy of Canada to Khartoum4
KinshasaDemocratic Republic of CongoThe Embassy of Canada to the Democratic Republic of Congo3
OuagadougouBurkina FasoThe Embassy of Canada to Burkina Faso3

Total: 9

High Commissions (HC)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
AbujaNigeriaThe High Commission of Canada to Nigeria2
AccraGhanaThe High Commission of Canada to Ghana2
Dar es SalaamTanzaniaThe High Commission of Canada to Tanzania2
LagosNigeriaThe Deputy High Commission of Canada to Nigeria4
MaputoMozambiqueThe High Commission of Canada to Mozambique3
NairobiKenyaThe High Commission of Canada to Kenya2
PretoriaSouth AfricaThe High Commission of Canada to South Africa2
YaoundéCameroonThe High Commission of Canada to Cameroon2

Total: 8

Embassy / High Commission of Canada (Program) (PO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
CotonouBeninOffice of the Embassy of Canada to Benin4
KigaliRepublic of RwandaOffice of the High Commission of Canada to the Republic of Rwanda4
LusakaZambiaOffice of the High Commission of Canada to Zambia4

Total: 3

Offices of the Embassy / High Commissions (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
JohannesburgSouth AfricaThe High Commission of Canada Trade Office, Johannesburg4

Total: 1

Representative Offices (RO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Australian (A), Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) & Other Offices (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Multilaterals (M)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Consulates General (CG)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Consulates (C)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Consular Agencies (CA)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Consulates headed by an Honorary Consul

Point of ServiceCountryStatus
BanguiCentral African RepublicActive
Cape TownSouth AfricaActive
FreetownSierra LeoneActive
Port HarcourtNigeriaActive
Port LouisMauritiusActive

Total: 17

Total Africa: 38


Embassies (E)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
BogotaColombiaThe Embassy of Canada to Colombia2
BrasiliaBrazilThe Embassy of Canada to Brazil2
Buenos AiresArgentinaThe Embassy of Canada to Argentina2
CaracasVenezuelaThe Embassy of Canada to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela2
Guatemala CityGuatemalaThe Embassy of Canada to Guatemala2
HavanaCubaThe Embassy of Canada to Cuba2
LimaPeruThe Embassy of Canada to Peru2
Mexico CityMexicoThe Embassy of Canada to Mexico, Mexico City1
MontevideoUruguayThe Embassy of Canada to Uruguay3
Panama CityPanamaThe Embassy of Canada to Panama3
Port-au-PrinceHaitiThe Embassy of Canada to Haiti2
QuitoEcuadorThe Embassy of Canada to Ecuador3
San JoséCosta RicaThe Embassy of Canada to Costa Rica2
San SalvadorEl SalvadorThe Embassy of Canada to El Salvador3
SantiagoChileThe Embassy of Canada to Chile2
Santo DomingoDominican RepublicThe Embassy of Canada to the Dominican Republic3
Washington, DCUnited StatesThe Embassy of Canada to the United States of America, Washington1

Total: 17

High Commissions (HC)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
BridgetownBarbadosThe High Commission of Canada to Barbados2
GeorgetownGuyanaThe High Commission of Canada to Guyana2
KingstonJamaicaThe High Commission of Canada to Jamaica2
Port of SpainTrinidad & TobagoThe High Commission of Canada to Trinidad and Tobago2

Total: 4

Embassy / High Commission of Canada (Program) (PO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
La PazBoliviaOffice of the Canadian Embassy, La Paz3
ManaguaNicaraguaOffice of the Canadian Embassy, Managua4
TegucigalpaHondurasOffice of the Embassy of Canada, Tegucigalpa4

Total: 3

Offices of the Embassy / High Commission (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
Belo HorizonteBrazilThe Canadian Trade Office, Belo Horizonte4
Palo Alto (California)United StatesThe Canadian Trade Office, Palo Alto4
Porto AlegreBrazilThe Canadian Trade Office, Porto Alegre4
RecifeBrazilThe Canadian Trade Office, Recife4

Total: 4

Representative Offices (RO)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Australian (A), Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) & Other Offices (O)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory

Total: 0

Multilaterals (M)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
New York PERMUnited StatesThe Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations1
Washington OASUnited StatesThe Permanent Mission of Canada to the Organization of American States2

Total: 2

Consulates General (CG)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
Atlanta (Georgia)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Atlanta2
Boston (Massachusetts)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Boston2
Chicago (Illanois)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Chicago2
Dallas (Texas)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Dallas2
Denver (Colorado)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Denver2
Detroit (Michigan)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Detroit2
Los Angeles (California)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Los Angeles2
Miami (Florida)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Miami2
Minneapolis (Minnesota)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Minneapolis2
MonterreyMexicoThe Consulate General of Canada, Monterrey3
New York (New York)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, New York1
Rio de JaneiroBrazilThe Consulate General of Canada, Rio de Janeiro3
San Francisco (California)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, San Francisco2
Sao PauloBrazilThe Consulate General of Canada, Sao Paulo2
Seattle (Washington)United StatesThe Consulate General of Canada, Seattle2

Total: 15

Consulates (C)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
GuadalaharaMexicoThe Consulate of Canada, Guadalajara3
Houston(Texas)United StatesThe Consulate of Canada, Houston3
Punta CanaDominican RepublicThe Consulate of Canada, Punta Cana4
San Diego (California)United StatesThe Consulate of Canada, San Diego4

Total: 15

Consular Agencies (CA)

MissionCountryDesignation / TitleCategory
AcapulcoMexicoThe Consular Agency of Canada, Acapulco4
CancunMexicoThe Consular Agency of Canada, Cancun4
MazatlanMexicoThe Consular Agency of Canada, Mazatlan4
Playa del CarmenMexicoThe Consular Agency of Canada, Playa del Carmen4
Puerto VallartaMexicoThe Consular Agency of Canada, Puerto Vallarta4
San José del CaboMexicoThe Consular Agency of Canada, San José del Cabo4

Total: 6

Consulates headed by an Honorary Consul

Point of ServiceCountryStatus
Anchorage (Alaska)United StatesActive
Austin (Texas)United StatesActive
Belize CityBelizeActive
Belo HorizonteBrazilActive
Bismarck (North Dakota)United States (No consular services)Active
Columbus (Ohio)United StatesActive
Des Moines (Iowa)United States (No consular services)Active
George TownCayman IslandsActive
Memphis (Tennessee)United States (No consular services)Active
Montego BayJamaicaActive
New Orleans (Louisiana)United States (No consular services)Active
Phoenix (Arizona)United States (No consular services)Active
Portland (Maine)United States (No consular services)Active
Portland (Oregon)United States (No consular services)Active
Puerto PlataDominican RepublicActive
Raleigh-Durham (N.Carolina)United States (No consular services)Active
Richmond (Virginia)United States (No consular services)Active
Saint MaartenNetherlands AntillesActive
Salt Lake City (Utah)United States (No consular services)Active
San Juan (Puerto Rico)United StatesActive
St. Louis (Missouri)United States (No consular services)Active

Total: 32

Total Americas: 87


Regional OfficesProvinceDesignation / Title
CalgaryAlbertaCanadian Trade Commissioner Service
HalifaxNova ScotiaCanadian Trade Commissioner Service
MontrealQuebecCanadian Trade Commissioner Service
TorontoOntarioCanadian Trade Commissioner Service
VancouverBritish Columbia and YukonCanadian Trade Commissioner Service
WinnipegManitobaCanadian Trade Commissioner Service

Total Regional Offices: 6

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Key Portfolio Responsibilities



Pursuant to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act (DFATD Act) of June 26, 2013, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the management and direction of the department in Canada and abroad, assisted by the Minister of International Trade and the Minister for International Development. The department counts 12,375 active employees, Canada-Based Staff and Locally Engaged Staff in 178 missions, who work hard, in some of the most difficult places in the world, to advance the department’s mandate.

Key Responsibilities of the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

The DFATD Act does not confer powers or authorities to the Minister. The main source of your authority is the Royal (or Crown) rerogative, the powers and privileges accorded by the common law to the Crown and nowadays resting with the Canadian executive branch. Additional important statutes conferring you authority on specific issues include: the Foreign Missions and International Organizations Act (FMIOA), implementing in Canadian law the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations and on Consular Relations; the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Act, giving you authority to request that CSIS collect, within Canada, information or intelligence relating to foreign capabilities, intentions or activities; and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) Act, giving you the authority to approve active cyber operations and to be consulted for defensive cyber operations. Though you are the Minister responsible for the whole Department, in practice, management of files related to Canada’s international trade interests and development assistance is customarily executed by the Minister of International Trade and the Minister of International Assistance respectively.

You are responsible for expanding Canada’s global leadership and influence and advancing Canadian interests and values, by engaging constructively with other countries, regional partners, and by building and maintaining relationships with international organizations such as the United Nations, NATO, the G7 and the G20, La Francophonie, and the Commonwealth. Through advocacy and diplomacy, you will drive positive action on global issues.

In seeking to restore international peace and security, combat corruption and promote respect for norms and values, including human rights, an important tool at your disposal is the application of autonomous sanctions, specifically through the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Policy Officials Act (JVCFOA) and the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA). Canada currently imposes sanctions under SEMA on 11 countries, and 70 individuals have been designated under the JVCFOA since 2017.

Canada also imposes export and import controls on a range of goods and technologies, by way of Control Lists under the Export and Import Permits Act. The Act delegates to you, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, wide discretionary powers to control the flow of goods listed on the Control Lists, with the objective of: ensuring that exports are consistent with Canada’s foreign and defence policies and do not cause harm to Canada and its allies; do not undermine national or international security; do not contribute to national or regional conflicts or instability; do not contribute to the development of weapons of mass destruction, or of their delivery systems; are not used to commit human rights violations, and are consistent with existing economic sanctions’ provisions.

The conduct of consular diplomacy is a cornerstone of Canada’s foreign policy and a key responsibility for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Department is focused on serving Canadians through a modernized Canadian consular program, including a refreshed consular strategy, new digital tools and the implementation of new service standards. The department collaborates with partners, bilaterally and multilaterally, on issues such as the treatment of dual nationals, emergency management, complex family cases, treatment of prisoners and cooperation and sharing of resources. The department also maintains a network of Honorary Consuls abroad who provide representation and services in locations without a Canadian diplomatic or consular mission.

The provision of travel advice to Canadians is an important pillar of consular services. The website is the second most visited Government of Canada website. Passport and citizenship services abroad, on behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), represent approximately 90 percent of consular interactions with Canadians abroad and the department collaborates closely with IRCC on their Passport Modernization Abroad (PMAP) project.

In delivering your statutory duties, under the DFATD Act, to develop, foster and apply public international law for Canada, you can count on the support of the Legal Branch of the Department, the principal source of advice on public international law for the Government of anada.

The Department’s lawyers will assist you in your efforts to advocate on behalf of Canada in international negotiations and litigation, and to support the rule of law at the international level and maintain a strong and coherent set of international rules and institutions.

The administration of Canada’s foreign service and extensive network of missions abroad (178 missions in 110 countries) is also one of your key responsibilities. This platform supports the international work of the Department and 37 partner departments, agencies and co-locators abroad. The safety and security of Canadian and locally engaged staff is a top priority in the context of a complex, dynamic and often dangerous international environment. Security environments can change suddenly and significantly as a result of natural disasters, political instability, armed conflict, terrorism/extremism, criminality or health crises.

In response to increasing security threats, you are responsible for the implementation, as a high priority, of a major Duty of Care (DoC) initiative ($1.8 billion funding over 10 years, approved in October 2017) to ensure the protection of Government of Canada personnel, overseas infrastructure and information.

You are also responsible for the co-management of the International Assistance Envelope (IAE), the Government of Canada’s dedicated pool of resources and main budget planning tool to support international assistance objectives. In this context, you provide direct oversight for the peace and security pool, within which four complementary Peace and Security Programs (over $300 million per year) fund activities to address international peace and security challenges; promote human rights, freedoms, inclusion and democracy; and strengthen Canada’s leadership in the international security arena:

  1. The Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs) delivers conflict prevention, stabilization and peacebuilding programming, serves as the Department’s centre of excellence on effective engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states and acts as the lead implementer of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The program also deploys police and civilian experts in institutions around the world where a niche for Canadian capacity is requested.
  2. The Weapons Threat Reduction Program (WTRP) is Canada’s primary mechanism for the delivery of concrete weapons threat reduction projects.
  3. The Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP) seeks to prevent and respond to threats posed by transnational criminal activity, with a focus on Canada and the Americas. It has six thematic priorities: security system reform; illicit drugs; corruption; human trafficking and migrant smuggling; money laundering and proceeds of crime, and crime prevention (including cybercrime).
  4. The Counter Terrorism Capacity Building Program (CTCBP) was created to combat significant ongoing threats from international terrorist networks and supports a wide range of programming interventions, including countering violent extremism; effective border management; addressing foreign terrorist fighters; aviation security, and addressing prison radicalization.

In addition to these programs, you are responsible for the Office of Human Rights, Freedoms, and Inclusion, which covers two thematic funding envelopes: the Promoting and Protecting Democracy Fund and the Inclusion, Diversity and Human Rights Envelope.

  1. The Promoting and Protecting Democracy Fund focuses on supporting electoral processes and reinforcing democratic practices such as combatting disinformation, strengthening civic engagement, building societal resilience, and creating inclusive and gender-sensitive public institutions.
  2. The Inclusion, Diversity and Human Rights Envelope serves to promote inclusion, diversity and human rights by providing rapid and targeted support, including projects that address the erosion of civil society space, threats to human rights defenders, he exclusion of vulnerable and marginalized minorities and digital risks to human rights.

Ministerial Commitment Progress Dashboard

Ministerial Commitment Progress Dashboard
Text version
Minister of Foreign Affairs Commitments (21)
2OngoingImplement the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework and support for Canada’s role in the Arctic Council. Min. Northern Affairs
153Timelines / Scope Under ReviewSupport Canada's educational and cultural interaction with the world. Min. Heritage
339Progress Towards CompletionWork on Canada-U.S. Relations. Min. Trade (Min. Finance TBD)
410OngoingExpand Canadian diplomacy on global issues and in international institutions.
411OngoingStrengthen key bilateral and regional relationships, and engage new partners to address emerging challenges.
412OngoingContinue role in multilateral organizations, including our substantive engagement with the NATO and the UN. Min. Defence
413Progress Towards CompletionEnsure engagement in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and in the Commonwealth.
414OngoingExpand support for UN peace operations (new investments in WPS agenda, conflict prevention and peacebuilding). Min. Defence
415CompletedLead United Nations Security Council campaign.
416OngoingContinue Canadian leadership on international efforts to combat climate change. Min. Environment
417OngoingIncrease Canadian support abroad for democracy, human rights, international law and freedom of the press.
418OngoingChampion the values of inclusive and accountable governance, including by promoting human rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality, and respect for diversity and inclusion. Min. WAGE
419Timelines / Scope Under ReviewEstablish the Canadian Centre for Peace, Order and Good Government. Min. Development
420Timelines / Scope Under ReviewDevelop a framework to transfer seized assets from those who commit grave human rights abuses to their victims.
421Progress Towards CompletionReinforce international institutions (ICC, WTO, etc) by providing additional resources to promote and uphold international law.
422OngoingAdvance international efforts to ban the development and use of fully autonomous weapons systems.
423OngoingLead on the coordinated implementation of Canada’s WPS agenda.
424OngoingEnsure a close link between foreign, defence, development and trade policy. Min. Defence
425Timelines / Scope Under ReviewIntroduce a new Cultural Diplomacy strategy with at least one international mission each year. Min. Development & Min. Heritage
426OngoingContinue to lead and enhance consular support for Canadians requiring assistance abroad.
N/AOngoingAccelerate and build on the progress we have made with the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.All GAC Ministers
Minister of International Development Commitments (10)
82Progress Towards CompletionDeliver international assistance, increasing every year toward 2030, reflecting Canada’s commitment to SDGs.
83Progress Towards CompletionContinue the implementation of the Feminist International Assistance Policy.
84Progress Towards CompletionInvest at least 10 percent of Canada's bilateral envelope on education.
85Progress Towards CompletionLead campaign to ensure all refugees and displaced children get access to education.
86Progress Towards CompletionIncrease innovative financing with new and existing partners in civil society and the private sector; continue to implement IAIP, FinDev etc.
87Progress Towards CompletionImprove management and delivery of international assistance to ensure effectiveness, transparency and accountability.
88Progress Towards CompletionMaintain the gender equality focus of all of Canada's international assistance investments.
89Progress Towards CompletionDevelop additional programming on the intersection between women’s rights and climate adaptation.
90Progress Towards CompletionDevelop programming that addresses the unequal distribution of paid and unpaid care work.
419Timelines / Scope Under ReviewEstablish the Canadian Centre for Peace, Order and Good Government. Min. Foreign Affairs
Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Commitments (12)
112Progress Towards CompletionIdentify additional tools to help Canada’s agricultural industries get their products into global markets. Min. Agriculture
338CompletedConclude the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement legislative process.Min. Foreign Affairs & (Min. Finance TBD)
432Progress Towards CompletionLead the implementation and maximization of the CETA and the CPTPP.
433Progress Towards CompletionIncrease support provided to Canadian businesses to take advantage of trade agreements, especially in G7 context.
437Progress Towards CompletionLead the export mobilization of Canada's small- and medium-sized enterprises.Min. EcD & Official Lang.
438Timelines / Scope Under ReviewCreate a new Canada Commercial Consular Service to support SMEs in commercial or trade disputes.
440CompletedImplement the Export Diversification Strategy (implement transparent performance measures to increase and diversify trade).
441Timelines / Scope Under ReviewImplement the Export Diversification Strategy (increase trade with key global markets i.e. the Asia-Pacific region).
442CompletedImplement the Export Diversification Strategy (analyze how trade resources are applied against economic opportunities).
443Progress Towards CompletionImplement the Export Diversification Strategy (Ensure the TCS, EDC, BDC, IC, and the CCC resources are maximizing our trade promotion capabilities).
444OngoingAdvance Canada’s trade agenda, pursuing new agreements and opportunities.
445OngoingAdvance the work of the Ottawa Group on World Trade Organization (WTO) Reform

Initial Plan for Calls with Key International Partners

Calls are listed alphabetically

(*should be considered as part of a second round of calls)

G7 and Five-Eyes
G20 Partners


International organizations




Political context: Despite (failed) legal challenges of election results in several states and planned protests on inauguration day, Joe Biden will be inaugurated U.S. President on January 20, 2021. He has nominated all 15 Cabinet members and their Senate confirmation processes are proceeding. Biden’s cabinet is the most diverse in U.S. history with an equal number of women and men and a majority of “non-white” nominees.

Democratic victories in the House of Representatives and Senate will hand Democrats unified control of the federal executive and legislative branches at least until mid-term elections in 2022, if the current seat balance in the Senate is maintained.

Democratic control of Congress will facilitate approval of President Biden’s Cabinet picks and judicial nominations but the narrowness of both majorities will make it difficult to implement an ambitious progressive agenda.

As President Trump’s term enters its final days, Secretary of State Pompeo has undertaken a flurry of activity, including on China (e.g., calling for COVID transparency and relaxing long-standing restrictions on U.S. Government interaction with Taiwan), the Middle East (designating the Houthis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and brokering diplomatic recognition for Israel), Cuba (designating it as a State Sponsor of Terrorism), as well as Iran (claiming it provides safe harbour for Al-Qaeda).

The new Administration will inherit significant challenges both domestically and internationally, including tense partisan and racial relations, as well as a growing COVID-19 caseload and a fragile economy. Particularly following the events of January 6 at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., we expect the new Biden administration to be largely focused on domestic issues during the first few months in office. Early engagement with key officials of the new administration will be a priority for Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau and President Biden are expected to meet in spring 2021 to set a bilateral policy agenda for the coming years.

International security and foreign policy: There is an increased need to adapt continental defence to be able to meet emerging and diverse threats, including those associated with an increasingly accessible and active Arctic region. Our mutual objectives of continental defence and of global peace and security have led to close cooperation and integration of defence and national security agencies. In [REDACTED]

The Biden administration is expected to support a rules-based international system and multilateral co-operation in pursuit of its policy objectives in the G7, G20 and APEC. Biden has committed to rejoin the Paris Agreement to combat climate change, and the World Health Organization.

Biden is concerned with human rights issues; he has committed to address systemic racism and abolish the U.S. federal death penalty. The Summit for Democracy proposed in Biden’s platform [REDACTED].

Trade: Canada and the U.S. enjoy the largest trading relationship in the world. In 2019, Canada exported $473 billion in goods and services and imported $515 billion in goods and services from the United States. Canada is the largest market for U.S. exports.

Canada’s efforts are focused on ensuring the effective implementation of the CUSMA and defending Canadian trade interests in the U.S. The Biden administration is expected to bring increased stability and predictability to the commercial relationship. However, U.S. trade policy will continue to be closely linked to domestic priorities and a tendency towards protectionism will remain (e.g. domestic-content requirements in federal procurement and aggressive trade remedy measures).

Climate and energy: Canada is the most important source of imported energy for the U.S., supplying 56% of its crude oil imports, 98% of natural gas imports, 88% of electricity imports, and 24% of uranium imports in 2019.

The Biden administration is strongly committed to addressing climate change. Anticipated U.S. policies on climate change and environmental protection are aligned with Canada’s views although we expect to seek to balance these with the economic benefits, for both countries, of cross-border energy projects. [REDACTED].

In January 2020, Canada and the U.S. agreed on a Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration to advance work to secure supply chains for critical minerals in key manufacturing sectors. It is expected the Biden administration will continue to prioritize the development of secure critical mineral supply chains given Biden’s commitment to clean energy, and that Canada will remain a key bilateral partner.

Renegotiations of the 1964 Columbia River Treaty, a bilateral flood control and hydropower agreement, are currently underway.

Border Management: The Canada-U.S. temporary border arrangement has been extended until February 21, 2021. The Biden administration is expected to continue mutually-agreed temporary border measures to control the pandemic. [REDACTED], and the maintenance of cross-border supply chains in general, with a particular focus on medical supplies, are Canadian objectives.

COVID-19: As of January 13, there have been more than 23 million cases and over 380,000 deaths in the United States. This represents a quarter of all cases reported worldwide, and 19% of all deaths.




China’s response to the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, including the arbitrary detentions of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on December 10, 2018, abitrary death sentence of Robert Schellenberg, and suspension of canola seed imports from two companies, has thrown into sharp relief the long-term, strategic challenge facing Canada: that China seeks to use its growing military, political and economic heft to re-shape the international environment to be more conducive to the Chinese Communist Party and its authoritarian model. As part of its efforts, China is willing and able to punish countries with whom it disagrees – Canada being one among many. It also seeks to re-write, undermine or flout international rules and norms that are crucial to Canada’s ongoing security and prosperity. 

Canada’s relationship with China must also be seen within the broader context of China-U.S. geo-strategic rivalry. While the incoming Administration will likely adopt some different tactics to manage bilateral relations, U.S. concerns about China are shared across the political spectrum and the relationship is unlikely to substantially improve. China, in turn, sees the U.S. as trying to “contain” China, and Canada as a willing partner in these efforts.

At the same time, it remains in Canada’s interest to work with China on global issues such as climate change, trade, and global public health. China is also an important market for Canadian commodity and agri-food exports, and its growing consumer market offers further opportunities for Canadian businesses.

Canada’s China Policy

In recognition of the need to update Canada’s approach to the current reality, Global Affairs Canada led an inter-departmental review of Canada’s China policy over the past year.  The review has been comprehensive, reflecting the need to take a whole-of-government approach, and used the Deputy Ministers’ Committee on China (DMCC) to do so. It has examined the challenges China poses domestically (e.g. foreign interference activities), bilaterally, regionally and globally.  [REDACTED].

While the policy review is ongoing, GAC continues to move forward where possible by evolving our approach to China as pressures – eg. Hong Kong, Xinjiang – have required. [REDACTED].

Meanwhile, GAC is focussed on the following priority issues, in addition to the arbitrary detention cases (see separate note), including:

Human Rights

The human rights situation in China continues to deteriorate, impacting journalists, academics, lawyers and human rights defenders and religious and ethnic minorities. Civil society members active in advocating for democracy and human rights in China have raised concerns over harassment and intimidation in Canada. Parliamentary attention to human rights issues remains high.

Canada raises human rights with China at every opportunity, most recently in a meeting between Canadian and Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministers in August 2020. Canada co-signed several joint statements condemning rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, most recently at the UN General Assembly on October 6, 2020 with 38 other countries.

Hong Kong

Canada has worked with international partners to support the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents and raise the costs for the dismantling of Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy under the Basic Law and the “One Country, Two Systems” framework.

In advance of the imposition of the law, Canada, Australia and the UK issued a joint statement on May 22. Another statement was issued with Australia, the UK and the U.S. on May 28. On June 17, Canada joined its G7 partners to release a joint statement urging the Government of China to reconsider its decision.

In response to imposition and implementation of sweeping National Security Legislation in Hong Kong on June 30th, Canada announced a series of measures on July 3, including export control measures, the suspension of the extradition treaty with Hong Kong and an update on the travel advice for the SAR. On November 12, Minister Mendicino announced new immigration measures aimed at attracting youth from Hong Kong to Canada by offering a new open work permit and broadening their pathways to permanent residency.

Minister Champagne released a statement via the Globe and Mail on January 8 condemning the recent mass arrests of 53 lawmakers, district councillors and activists in Hong Kong under the National Security Law. The following day, Canada joined Australia, the UK and the U.S. reiterated their serious concern over this latest development. Canadian civil society organizations and parliamentarians continue to press for further action.


Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang face human rights abuses including mass arbitrary detention, forced labour, forced sterilization, torture and other mistreatment. Canada and other countries have repeatedly called for unfettered access to Xinjiang for international independent observers, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mounting evidence has raised international calls, including by the Sub-Committee on International Human Rights for decisive action. Minister Champagne and Minister Ng approved a comprehensive approach to address the situation in Xinjiang with [REDACTED]. As part of this approach, on January 12, 2021, in coordination with the UK, Canada announced measures to address the risk of forced labour from entering Canadian and global supply chains and to protect Canadian businesses from becoming unknowingly complicit.


Canada remains concerned about the human rights of Tibetans, including restrictions on cultural and religious freedom. Ambassador Barton participated in a Chinese government-hosted visit to Lhasa, Tibet in late October 2020, the first by a Canadian official since 2015. He testified about this visit before the Canada-China Parliamentary Committee on December 8, 2020.

Security Issues

After finishing their report on Hong Kong (expected soon), the Canada-China Parliamentary Committee is expected to turn to national security issues, including foreign interference activities by agents of the Chinese government in Canada.  GAC is engaged in the ongoing Public Safety-led inter-departmental effort to address hostile activities by state actors, such as China.  On March 12, 2020, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) released its 2019 annual report that identified China as a key perpetrator of state-sponsored foreign interference in Canada. [REDACTED].


For the period from January to November 2020, China was Canada’s second largest trading partner with 9.5% of Canada's total merchandise trade, well behind the U.S. (61.0%) but ahead of the EU-27 (8.2%). However, certain trade frictions persist and Canada’s Jan-Nov 2020 exports to China of $22.5 billion, while up 7.5% from Jan-Nov 2019, were still 8.4% below Jan-Nov 2018 levels of $24.6 billion.

Since March 2019, China has suspended canola seed shipments from two major Canadian exporters, increased inspections, issued more Notices of Non-Compliance, and allowed a 2.5% dockage allowance to expire thereby requiring Canadian canola seed exports to meet a 1.0% dockage standard. Bilateral discussions have failed to reinstate market access. [REDACTED].

Since mid-June 2020, China has imposed a series of COVID-19 related import measures on food products (mainly meat, fish and seafood) from trading partners, alleging that food or food packaging may be a source or route of transmission of the virus, a position not supported by current scientific evidence. Currently, China has suspended access for nine Canadian meat establishments (7 pork and 2 beef).



On May 18, 2020, Canada co-sponsored a World Health Assembly resolution to conduct an impartial and independent investigation into the zoonotic origins of COVID-19. A WHO-led team of experts travelled to China on January 14, 2021 to begin this work. Canada has supported the WHO in seeking unfettered access for the investigation, and officials at Global Affairs have encouraged China to be open and transparent as part of this process.


An examination of emerging 5G technology and the associated security and economic considerations is underway. This review includes the careful consideration of our allies’ advice. A number of government departments and agencies are involved, including Public Safety Canada, the Communications Security Establishment, the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, GAC, and ISED. A decision has not yet been taken.

[REDACTED]. It is about securing Canada’s telecommunication system and ensuring Canadian’s have access to safe and reliable telecommunications technology. Regardless of any future decision, it is clear that the Chinese government will follow this issue closely. The Chinese government regularly comments on other countries’ decisions or actions related to 5G rollout and implications for Chinese enterprises. Canada can expect the Chinese government to make some form of statement should any 5G announcements be made. [REDACTED].


China’s interest in CPTPP accession: On November 20, 2020, Chinese President Xi indicated China will give “positive consideration” to joining the CPTPP. With the signature of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), China’s interest in CPTPP accession could signal next steps to furthering its trade engagement in the region. It is uncertain whether China is willing or able to meet the CPTPP’s ambitious and high-standard commitments. China has yet to submit a formal application to accede to the CPTPP. Taiwan has also expressed interest in joining CPTPP, but has yet to submit a formal application to accede. [REDACTED].

China Consular Cases



The Greater China region experiences a large volume of consular cases and has been a challenging environment for consular operations. Since December 2018, there has been a new level of complexity and sensitivity in the management of consular cases in China.

The third largest volume of complex consular cases involving Canadians is in Greater China. This translates to about 400 active cases per year. The consular network includes five offices in mainland China, as well as the Consulate General in Hong Kong and the Trade Office in Taiwan.

In addition to the framework provided by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and with the intent of further facilitating consular services to Canadians in China, in 1997, China and Canada signed a bilateral agreement on consular services. This agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of consular officers, when exercising their functions, including agreements on consular access.

Arbitrary Detention and Sentencing

Following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were detained on December 10, 2018. They were formally indicted in June 2020 for allegations of spying on state secrets and intelligence for overseas forces. [REDACTED]. Consular access, which had been denied since mid-January 2020, was restored virtually in October and has occurred monthly since then. A recent resurgence in Covid-19 in China continues to impact consular visits and needs to be monitored closely.

Robert Schellenberg was detained in 2014 on drug trafficking charges. He was sentenced to 15-years imprisonment in 2018; however, this sentence was overturned in December 2018 and a death sentence was arbitrarily imposed on January 14, 2019.

The resolution of these cases remains a top priority and various avenues are being pursued towards this objective.


Death Penalty Cases

A small number of Canadians have received the death penalty in China. Charges which can lead to the death penalty include drug offenses, [REDACTED]; serious national security charges; intentional homicide, amongst others. Consular officials monitor all cases involving allegations of crimes for which the death penalty could be levied.


Canada opposed the death penalty in all cases and everywhere. Canada has raised its opposition to the death penalty with China and continues high-level advocacy for clemency in these cases.


Dual Citizenship

China does not recognize dual citizenship. Consular access is not granted to individuals who enter China on non-Canadian documents, or to those that China has deemed ineligible for a second citizenship (eg. members of the Communist Party of China, state functionaries and military personnel).

Consular Access during COVID-19

Consular access to Canadian citizens was interrupted in January 2020, and in certain cases, did not resume until October 2020. [REDACTED].

Canada and the Indo-Pacific



In February 2018, Prime Ministers Modi and Trudeau jointly reaffirmed the importance of lawful commerce and freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the Indo-Pacific, and confirmed their support for bolstering regional connectivity through the transparent development of infrastructure. In April 2019, Prime Ministers Trudeau and Abe discussed their shared vision for maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region, a message reconfirmed by the Prime Minister during his congratulatory call to Japan’s new Prime Minister SUGA Yoshihide last September.

The “Indo-Pacific” refers to the vast land and maritime area situated between Northeast Asia and the Indian sub-continent. It is home to 60% of the global population and to many of the most dynamic economies in the world. However, the region is also a fulcrum of global geopolitical competition and an arena of confrontation with some of the world’s most volatile flashpoints: North Korea, South China Sea, and India-China border. It is a region uniquely subject to the dire consequences of global climate change: extreme weather, changing monsoons, rising and warming Pacific / Indian oceans.


[REDACTED] -- to ensure that Canada can benefit from and contribute to continued regional peace and prosperity.




Views of U.S. and like-minded

[REDACTED] a growing number of partners with shared interests in sustaining regional order and adjusting to new geostrategic realities.

Australia (2013), Indonesia (2013) and, most particularly, Japan (2016) were early proponents of Indo-Pacific cooperation. Other governments have followed suit since and identified their own area of interest (see map): US (2017), India (2018), France (2018), Germany (2020), and Netherlands (2020). The UK and the EU are also expected to identify specific guidelines and initiatives soon. ASEAN issued its own Outlook on the Indo-Pacific in 2019. All are interested in working with Canada on these issues.

With the adoption of the US “Free and Open Indo-Pacific framework in 2017, the concept took on a decidedly more confrontational turn with China. The US also sought greater strategic alignment with Australia, Japan and India, notably through the “Quad” forum.

The incoming Biden administration is expected to tone down the anti-China rhetoric and re-emphasize multilateralism but will likely maintain key elements of the FOIP framework, albeit under the new moniker of a ‘Stable and Prosperous Indo-Pacific’. Biden has appointed a new White House “Indo-Pacific Coordinator” Kurt Campbell, an experienced senior diplomat and author of Obama`s “pivot” to Asia, who is expected to engage with U.S. partners shortly after inauguration.

COVID 19 - International Efforts and Canadian Leadership



Canada has deployed a strategic response to address the implications of COVID-19 internationally, focused on three strategic pillars for action where Canada can make an immediate direct impact: 1) fighting the pandemic, 2) managing financial stresses and stabilizing economies, and 3) supporting the most vulnerable and reinforcing recovery.

To fight the pandemic, Canada is strengthening capacities at home and abroad through reinforcing the delivery of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals. This involves strengthening health systems and key institutions, and providing equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, notably through initiatives such as the Gavi COVAX and Access to COVID Tools (ACT) Accelerator. It also involves reinforcing the delivery of humanitarian aid, with a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

To manage financial stresses and stabilize economies, Canada has worked to enable financial liquidity and stability through the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, an effort to provide debt relief to the poorest countries. Canada also provided an additional $1 billion to the International Monetary Fund’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust from $2 billion (to $3 billion) to help meet unprecedented demand from low-income countries for financial support to address crisis needs. Finally, Canada has worked to foster sustainable supply chains by advocating for unrestricted export of critical health products and services, including personal protective equipment and essential workers.

To support the most vulnerable and reinforce recovery, Canada has focused its efforts on a humanitarian response and addressing longer-term socio-economic impacts of the pandemic in developing countries. To date, Global Affairs has deployed some $1.6 billion in response to the pandemic in new resources and repurposed a further $350 million from existing programs. The primary targets for these funds have been agriculture, food security, and nutrition; access to education; combating gender-based violence and enabling access to sexual and reproductive health care services; promoting economic recovery and growth; and peacebuilding (through the Women, Peace and Security programming), and humanitarian action in fragile states.  

Supporting Canadians Abroad

Global Affairs Canada facilitated the safe return of over 62,000 Canadians, aboard nearly 700 flights from 109 countries, and handled more than 350,000 calls and emails. This unprecedented consular response to the COVID-19 pandemic represented the largest and most complex peacetime repatriation of stranded Canadians in history, drawing on staff from across its entire network at headquarters and missions abroad. The department demonstrated ingenuity in creating new tools, such as the COVID-19 Emergency Loan program, to ensure the needs of Canadians could be met. More than 5,000 loans totalling $18 million were disbursed. Looking forward, the department will continue to modernize the delivery of consular services, lead consular diplomacy efforts by raising consular cases with international counterparts, and strengthen advocacy efforts on issues affecting Canadians abroad, such as coercive arbitrary detention.

Diplomatic Response to COVID-19

Canada demonstrated important thought leadership in carving out spaces for dialogue and enabling international cooperation and action. Global Affairs Canada engaged constructively to leverage and enable the effective functioning of all multilateral institutions to which we are members, including through the G7, the G20, the UN, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie and the Alliance for Multilateralism.

Canada also led in the formation of multiple ad hoc plurilateral groupings to respond to the pandemic. Canada co-hosted a pledging conference on vaccines and therapeutics, alongside the EU and Japan, which raised US$8 billion to better test, treat, and protect people, and prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries. Prime Minister Trudeau is leading an initiative on Financing for Development in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond with the prime minister of Jamaica and the UN Secretary General to foster global engagement and develop solutions to address the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

Early in the crisis, former Minister Champagne established a Ministerial Coordination Group on COVID-19 with several counterparts, which met virtually 12 times between March and December 2020. This forum became a key channel for exchange on multilateral responses to trade and emergency measures; maintaining air, land and marine transportation links and supply chains; and coordinating support for international institutions, especially the UN and World Health Organization.

Minister Gould and her UK counterpart established a Development Ministers’ Contact Group on COVID-19. This group provides likeminded development donors with a forum to identify solutions to the development implications of the pandemic and to enable greater coherence and strategic impact in the international assistance response to COVID-19.

On international trade, Canada has worked closely with likeminded countries at the WTO, G20 and APEC to urge countries to keep global supply chains open and to report their trade measures immediately in compliance with WTO obligations so that countries can base policy decisions on current and reliable data. Canada also led discussions among the Ottawa Group on WTO reform partners on COVID matters, and specifically identified actions to mitigate unintended negative consequences for international trade of measures put in place in response to the pandemic, not least to enable the continued flow of essential goods and services.

With the advent of vaccines, global efforts will need to remain two-pronged during 2021: concerted action to limit the spread of the pandemic as new, more virulent strains emerge, while also focusing on addressing the long-term impacts as the pandemic threatens to reverse decades of progress on poverty reduction, healthcare, education and economic development globally. Canada will continue to seek strategic opportunities to demonstrate leadership in areas where it can have the most direct impact in terms of fighting the pandemic, and enabling a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery that benefits Canadians and supports the Sustainable Development Goals.




On January 8, 2020 Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 en route from Tehran to Kyiv was shot down by two Iranian surface-to-air missiles. 176 passengers and crew died in the PS752 downing, including 55 Canadian citizens, 30 permanent residents, and 53 others with links to Canada. Citizens of Iran, Afghanistan, Sweden, Ukraine, and the U.K. were also on the flight. Iran eventually admitted that the IRGC’s missiles were the cause of the downing on January 10, stating that it was human error.

Under Canada’s leadership, countries (other than Iran) who lost citizens have formed the International Coordination and Response Group (CG) to ensure our collective and bilateral efforts on this file are coordinated and coherent, and that our different strengths are leveraged. Since the tragedy, Canada and the CG, have committed to ensuring full accountability, transparency, justice, compensation, and a full, independent and transparent investigation, to help families seek closure.

Global Affairs Canada leads on several principal lines of effort: engagement with families, reparation negotiations with Iran (as part of the CG), diplomatic engagement, [REDACTED], secretariat for the CG, and the implementation of special measures in memoriam of the victims, including scholarships and a physical tribute. GAC maintains a visibility across the whole-of-government’s efforts for strategic alignment of efforts and the impact on families and future reparation negotiations.

Response to Iran’s Final Technical Safety Investigation Report (Whole of Government Role)

Annex 13 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) gives the state of occurrence, Iran, primary responsibility to investigate the incident.


Canada’s Assessment


Recourse Options

GAC will lead on the analysis and presentation of the recourse options, both bilateral and multilateral, that flow from the assertions and gaps in Iran’s final report.


Family Engagement (GAC Lead)

The PS752 Task Force leads on engagement with the families and loved ones of PS752 victims. Some families have grouped themselves into the Association of Victims’ Families of Flight PS752, [REDACTED].

Engagement with the broad group of families has been regular, continuous and forward-leaning, including family calls at the political level, officials’ briefings, weekly emails from the Task Force, a monthly newsletter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and a virtual event to commemorate the first anniversary of the tragedy. Special Advisor Goodale’s mandate is coming to a close, and GAC will need to transition for longterm support to families.

International Engagement (GAC Lead)

The CG provides a forum to coordinate a common strategy on Iran, including public statements and common approaches to key issues. GAC also engages with the Netherlands and Australia, who have suffered similar tragedies, and with other countries that have an interest in PS752, such as the US and France. ICAO is a focus of effort by both GAC and Transport Canada.

Reparations Negotiations (GAC Lead)

CG Ministers have agreed that the best method to pursue accountability and justice for the victims of PS752 is to ensure that Iran make full reparations in accordance with international law. Reparations include compensation but may also include an apology, acknowledgement of wrongdoing, restitution, an accounting of what happened and guarantees of non-repetition. [REDACTED].

The CG signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in July 2020 and its Legal Sub-Committee, chaired by Canada, is now in discussions to come to an understanding on the common negotiating position (CNP). This work is in progress, but has experienced some delay due to COVID-19.


On 30 July 2020, the Coordination Group held its first round of negotiations with Iran to discuss modalities for the subsequent rounds. No substantive matters were discussed. [REDACTED].  


Coercive Arbitrary Detention



Canada’s Initiative Against Coercive Arbitrary Detention: The arbitrary arrest and detention of foreign nationals to compel action or to exercise leverage over a foreign government is contrary to international law, undermines international relations and has a negative impact on all foreign nationals travelling, working and living abroad. This Canada-led initiative demonstrates a commitment to human rights, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) and the rules-based international order.

As a first step, Canada is focused on advancing global support for a Declaration Against the Use of Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations. The Declaration serves as a united call on governments to: i) refrain from coercive arbitrary detention; ii) immediately release foreign nationals that are arbitrarily detained by States seeking to exercise leverage over another State, and; iii) facilitate consular access to foreign nationals detained, in accordance with international law. The text is based on existing international norms promoting human rights, consular rights, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and friendly relations between States.

Declaration Launch Event: Plans are in place for a Declaration launch event in mid-February 2021, which will include a high-level panel of speakers and statements by many of the Ministers representing the 51 countries (and the European Union) that have endorsed the Declaration. The initiative has the firm backing of Canada’s Five Eye partners and all G7 countries, and support from all regions of the world. A multi-faceted communications campaign for the launch event will raise global awareness of coercive arbitrary detention and this initiative to stop the practice of arresting or detaining citizens for the purposes of exercising leverage over another government.

Once the Declaration has been launched, Canada plans to focus on ways to sustain momentum on this initiative. [REDACTED].


[REDACTED]. The backing of 51 countries (and growing) for the Declaration demonstrates widespread commitment to human rights, the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) and the rules-based international order. [REDACTED].


Coercive Arbitrary Detentions: Despite global recognition as an international human rights violation, arbitrary detentions are carried out at various levels and degrees in many countries. This practice is unequivocally condemned by the United Nations and the human rights community. Canada’s initiative addresses a subset of arbitrary detention, specifically, arbitrary detention of foreign nationals to exercise leverage over another State. This practice is limited internationally and observed in a handful of countries in which governments refer to their domestic laws and the principle of non-interference in their legal systems to justify the legality of their actions.

The VCCR gives states the right to access, communicate with, and assist nationals who have been detained abroad. However, states’ compliance with VCCR obligations in the context of arbitrary detention is far from assured. Furthermore, a number of countries do not recognize dual citizenship, and do not allow consular access on that basis. [REDACTED]. The absence of consular access can render detainees vulnerable to harsh conditions in detention, denial of access to counsel, and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Feminist Foreign Policy



Recent global trends point to an ongoing anti-human rights backlash targeting women’s rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ2 rights. These efforts, which also reflect a more fractious and polarized geo-political environment, see deliberate and in many instances coordinated action by some state and non-state actors to roll back, for instance, progress on a range of women’s sexual and reproductive rights and initiatives to combat gender-based violence. This is manifesting itself in all regions and is also evident across some international bodies, [REDACTED].

Not only are the limited gender equality gains made in recent decades at risk of being rolled back, but 2020 has also further exposed the consequences of systemic racism and discrimination faced by Black, racialized communities and Indigenous peoples – both in Canada and abroad. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic crisis has compounded matters.

Reinvigorated leadership and coherent international action are needed to combat and reverse these dynamics. From a foreign policy perspective, constructive cross-regional alliances are forming to address some specific aspects of these dynamics. In this context, and building on Sweden’s pioneering efforts, some countries have publicly adopted “feminist foreign policies” including France, Mexico, Spain, Luxembourg. [REDACTED].

Canada’s feminist approach

Canada’s feminist foreign policy is the international expression of ongoing, coordinated, and whole-of-government efforts to advance human rights, including diversity and inclusion and gender equality domestically. In doing so, it reinforces Canada’s overarching objectives of strengthening a rules-based international system, supporting lasting peace and security, fostering prosperity, and implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Canada currently applies a feminist approach across all of its international policies and programming, including diplomacy, trade, security, development, and consular services. This builds on a series of sectoral feminist policies and initiatives developed in recent years, notably, namely its:

These policies place a focus on dismantling persistent systemic barriers, discriminatory norms, and inequalities between women, men, girls, boys, and gender diverse people, taking into account compounding and intersecting forms of discrimination and how these may overlap.

Diplomatically, Canada is working closely with partners from various regions to stem if not reverse the worrying efforts to undermine human rights and gender equality. This includes an ambitious initiative to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing +25) – the UN resolution setting out a roadmap for gender equality worldwide. The Generation Equality Forum, led by UN Women, France and Mexico, in partnership with civil society, seeks to generate renewed action on gender equality and counter the ongoing anti-rights backlash. Canada has joined the Forum’s Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee and is a co-leader of the “Feminist Movements and Leadership” Action Coalition. It has also joined the Women, Peace and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact.

Feminist Foreign Policy Dialogue and Paper

In February 2020, former Minister Champagne publicly announced his intention to strengthen the foundations of Canada’s Feminist Foreign Policy by working with civil society towards the development of a policy paper. The objective of the paper is to build on previous achievements and provide an overarching statement outlining our approach to promoting human rights, advancing gender equality, empowering women and girls, fostering diversity and inclusion, and upholding human dignity around the world.

In fall 2020, Global Affairs Canada undertook dialogues with domestic and international partners and invited more than 400 domestic civil society, academics, and Indigenous partners to provide their views on Canada’s feminist foreign policy. A series of virtual roundtables and public webinars were organized by civil society partners and by the department, both in Canada and through our embassies abroad. Global Affairs employees were also invited to participate and provide input, including through the department’s Diversity and Inclusion Council and employment equity networks. In total, more than 150 written submissions were received, including 48 reports from Canada’s missions abroad, which will inform the policy paper.

A ministerial roundtable with civil society representatives is planned for early 2021. [REDACTED].

Rules-Based International System



The current rules-based international system (RBIS) is composed of institutions such as the UN and WTO; alliances such as NATO; and norms grounded in international law such as the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict. This system has established parameters for inter-state behaviour that have largely been collectively shaped and where mutual accountability was expected, albeit with some exceptionalism notably by strong geopolitical and economic powers. While by no means consistent, the system has nevertheless contributed to the relative peace and gradually expanding prosperity of the last 75 years. It has facilitated vast trade growth (from 12% of global GDP in 1960 to over 30% today) and has provided an expanding framework to manage issues such as fishing rights, air transport, extradition, postal services, telecom regulations, peacekeeping and human rights standards.

Current challenges

The system has proven resilient in the face of inter-state tensions (e.g. Cold War) and contestation over its individual elements. However, even as many of its components continue to function well, the current system and the principles that underpin it are under increasing stress. While we may still not fully understand the effects the pandemic is having, the crisis has accelerated some of the previously observed trends that are affecting it:

Revitalizing the system

In the short-term, actions need to be taken by the vast majority of countries to enable the continued effective and accountable functioning of key institutions, including the UN, its technical agencies, and international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF. In the medium-term, lessons from the crisis will need to be drawn out with a view to refurbishing the current system to better serve the interests of all states and their citizens, though there will be significant disagreement over the nature and extent of the changes required.

Among Canada’s closest partners, notably in the G7, discussions of the current rules-based system have become more complex as divergences have emerged over issues such as protectionism and international law. The new US administration is expected to take a significantly different approach [REDACTED]. It is likely to exhibit increased openness to international cooperation, reduced antagonism toward multilateral institutions and alliances, and closer alignment with Canada on a range of multilateral policy positions, from climate change to arms control to support for democracy, though differences regarding trade, some UN bodies and multilateral security cooperation would continue. Nonetheless, in the context of a deepening geopolitical and economic competition of ideas, there is potentially a strategic opportunity over the next three years to build a critical mass of support to revitalize the RBIS and determine the parameters for future orientation.

Canada’s role

For Canada, and for many other states, there is an urgent need to protect the current rule-based international system, and to reform and revitalize it to reflect 21st century dynamics, and serve our citizens’ interests for the foreseeable future.

It is of particular interest for Canada that the international system of the future be not merely ‘cooperative’, or ‘multilateral’ but ‘rules-based’. The extent to which this will involve the creation of new rules, norms or institutions, or the reform of older ones, depends on multilateral cooperation efforts involving a wide range of state and non-state stakeholders.

Bilateral relations, including listening to and working with a diverse range of states about how the system can advance their interests, is an important element of any strategy. In this regard, Canada has provided valued leadership in recent years in establishing ad hoc arrangements with traditional and new partners, such as the Ottawa Group on WTO Reform, the Ministerial Coordination Group on COVID-19, and was an early proponer of the Alliance for Multilateralism.

Canada is well-positioned to exercise thought leadership on a range of institutional, thematic, technical, and issue-based initiatives that address an increasingly challenged rules-based system, [REDACTED].

International Trade during COVID-19



The global economy experienced one of the worst downturns since the Great Depression, surpassing lows experienced during the Global Financial Crisis. International trade, after initially contracting sharply has seen an equally rapid rebound, although the impacts on specific countries and sectors varies greatly.

COVID-19’s impact cut across multiple facets of international trade, including manufacturing, import/export, logistics, compliance, and supply chain management. Services such as travel and tourism were particularly hard hit by restrictions on movement while supply and demand dynamics across major trading blocs and value chains experienced turbulence as a number of choke points disrupted the production and shipment of goods. The crisis also led to an increase in protectionist measures, as many countries have introduced trade restrictions and export bans, notably on medical products.

Following three consecutive months of declines, world merchandise trade volumes started to trend upward in June 2020. The upward trend continued into the third quarter, leading to quarterly growth of 12.5%. The rate of improvement, however, slowed as the third quarter progressed.

As the new year commences with a resurgence of the virus, new variants, and renewed lockdown measures on the heels of vaccine rollouts, assessments about the trade outlook for 2021 are challenging.


Impact on Key Trading Partners

Beyond the global figures, important regional differences must be considered, as distinct patterns are being observed in certain regions, coinciding with the timing of COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.


After being the first country significantly affected, China’s merchandise trade rapidly recovered. Data from November shows a mounting trade surplus, partly on the strength of record shipments of medical supplies and high demand for electronics. This is a noteworthy outcome, reflecting strong exports and relatively stable, albeit declining, imports. In fact, Chinese exports (in value terms) in November were 13.9% higher than last November, and on a year-to-date (YTD) basis, China’s exports have increased 2.6%. These trends are creating potential conditions for China to achieve its third largest trade surplus ever. China’s early and robust recovery somewhat distorts global data, as most other countries are experiencing more pronounced shortfalls; the global trends would not look quite as positive without China’s significant contributions to the total.

United States

In the U.S., merchandise exports are down 13.9% YTD to November. Merchandise imports are also down, but only 7.6% YTD to November. The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services increased to $68.1 billion in November, the largest it has been in 14 years.

European Union

Exports and imports are down 12.8% and 12.4%, respectively, as of Q3 YTD. The EU persistently runs trade surpluses—in Q3 their trade surplus was $101 billion, down roughly $10 billion compared to 2019 Q3.

Emerging markets and developing economies are facing a perfect storm in the wake of COVID-19. Weakened exports, declining commodity prices, unprecedented capital outflows from foreign investors, and depreciation of local currencies are among the many trade-related challenges emerging market economies are grappling with. A country’s financial position at the onset of the crisis as well as the type and destination of its exports will be determining factors in their recovery.

Impact on Goods Trade

In the third quarter of 2020, the volume of global merchandise trade rose 12.5% compared to the previous quarter. As of October 2020, merchandise trade volume was down only 1.1% compared to the same month in the previous year – though these global figures are buoyed by China’s performance.

Trade-related uncertainty remains high and reservations remain around whether growth can be sustained going forward. According to the WTO’s latest Goods Trade Barometer released in November, a sharp rise in the barometer index was driven by a surge in export orders, however the resurgence of COVID-19 could weigh on trade in the coming months. With a second wave of COVID-19 infection underway in Europe and North America accompanied by renewed lockdowns, this could bring about further business closures and financial distress. High levels of uncertainty will also discourage business investment, affecting longer-term growth potential.

Impact on Services Trade

Given that many services are delivered by “modes” that require physical proximity between buyers and sellers, services trade has been particularly vulnerable to negative impacts resulting from pandemic-related measures. While the extent and severity of the impacts varies by sector and mode of supply, according to the WTO, services sectors have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, tourism, travel and transportation services have experienced significant declines as a result of closed borders and travel advisories.

The crisis has triggered an important shift towards online services, as sectors such as retail, health, education, telecommunications and audiovisual services are observing an increase in online demand and commensurate supply. The expansion of online operations by service suppliers and adoption of new habits by consumers is likely indicative of a more permanent shift towards online services. In light of these trends, the WTO has signalled that services sectors, and the creation of conditions conducive to trade in services, will be key to the recovery from the economic slowdown.

Canada’s Trade Performance

As of November, Canada’s overall merchandise exports were approaching pre-pandemic levels, but the pace of growth has been levelling off. Agriculture and food exports are now above pre-pandemic levels, but other goods have lagged due to diminished demand for commodities, especially oil, for which prices remain well-below pre-pandemic levels.

Service exports are also a mixed story. On the whole they remain well below pre-pandemic levels. While commercial service exports were only modestly impacted by the pandemic, travel, tourism and transportation services remain severely depressed.

The Canadian trade deficit shrank by $488 million in November, to $3.3 billion. Despite the positive growth in total exports, 7 out of 11 product sections posted declines, and the gap also narrowed due to lower domestic demand, led by lower imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts.

As the impacts of COVID-19 on Canada’s international trade continue to evolve  , Canadian businesses may continue to experience greater unpredictability and unforeseen disruptions in international markets in the near term. While Canada’s trading partners grapple with their own COVID-19 responses, many Canadian exporters (MSMEs in particular) are seeking additional supports to remain viable, ranging from additional financial support from CanExport programming to enhanced intelligence on market opportunities in existing or prospective export destinations.

In terms of Canada-U.S. trade, which remains our most important trading relationship, continued access to the United States has been key to stabilization in the wake of the pandemic. CUSMA entered into force on July 1, 2020, reinforcing the strong economic ties between the three parties and enhancing North American competitiveness. The effective implementation of the CUSMA is crucial to the success of the North American partnership and post-pandemic economic recovery. The automotive parts sector for instance, which was hard hit by pandemic closures, is poised to benefit from the agreement. [REDACTED].


Global Value Chains: Risks and Reconfigurations

The early months of the COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns about international supply chains. Despite these initial fears, international supply chains by-and-large held up rather well during the crisis. Very few incidents of critical supply chain disruptions have been documented. Similarly, initial reports of firms considering drastic changes to their supply chains as a result of the pandemic are being downgraded as time passes. The broad consensus is that supply chains have proven to be much more robust than had been anticipated. The potential time and cost involved in re-orienting supply chains has also been found to be more significant than many had anticipated.

Existing trends do not infer that supply chains will not adjust in the future. While the pandemic represents an exceptional shock that is unlikely to generate significant shifts, enduring and more easily quantifiable forces may yet incentivize a re-orientation of international supply chains. U.S.-China trade tensions, and the resulting impact on tariffs and limitations on trade in technology is more likely to have an influence on the configuration of international supply chains going forward.

Competition and Investment

Economic disruptions have created uncertainty for firms and investors, creating an increasingly unstable environment for decision-making, such as for large transactions. According to the World Investment Report 2020 published by UNCTAD in October, global foreign direct investment (FDI) was 49% lower in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019 due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. The biggest drops occurred in developed countries, cutting across all major forms of foreign direct investment.

As for competition, concerns arose with respect to the potential for otherwise healthy companies weakened by the crisis through sudden changes in valuation or disrupted operations. These companies could, in some cases, become vulnerable to opportunistic buyers or takeovers, or default to creditors and may ultimately end up foreign owned. In response, some governments have introduced more restrictive foreign investment screening, especially in sectors deemed strategic.


The economic impact of the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), owing in part to their overrepresentation in sectors affected by distancing measures, but also because of more limited financial resources and borrowing capacity.

Canada typically defines micro enterprises as those with 1-4 employees; small enterprises as having 4-99 employees (up to 49 in services); and medium enterprises as 100-499. Small businesses employed about 70% of private sector workers in 2012, and about 90% of exporting companies have fewer than 100 employees, producing ¼ of the total value of Canadian exports.

Challenges brought about by the pandemic have compounded the existing trade obstacles faced by MSMEs. For instance, MSMEs that are highly reliant or integrated into global value chains are most likely to experience supply shocks and irregularities in demand, and least equipped to weather them. Globally, the most affected sectors have been accommodation and food, non-food manufacturing, and retail and wholesale—which are also sectors with high numbers of MSMEs, as well as the greatest proportion of women-led firms.

Issues faced by MSMEs during the recovery will be magnified in developing countries. MSMEs are the engines of growth and the primary employers, including of women, in many developing countries. MSMEs are also critical actors in important sectors like agriculture and agri-food, renewable energy, services, healthcare and infrastructure. It will be essential to ensure that adequate support is available to developing countries for global recovery. Better access to regulatory and market information, affordable trade finance, and streamlined customs procedures and requirements are crucial to helping MSMEs navigate through recovery. Increased use of digital tools and ecommerce would also benefit MSMEs.

At the same time, the pandemic’s effect on the regionalization of supply chains and the demand for new products create new markets for developing countries’ MSMEs. For instance, with respect to personal protective equipment, the International Trade Centre highlights the high potential of MSMEs to leapfrog from the provision of unfinished inputs to that of final products in Asia (masks), the Pacific (disinfectants), Africa (masks, gloves and disinfectants), and the Americas (masks and gloves).

Digital Economy

One of the major outcomes of the pandemic has been the rapid shift towards digital transformation. The enforcement of various pandemic-related measures has led consumers worldwide to ramp up online shopping, social media use, internet teleconferencing, and streaming of videos and films. The competitive landscape across all market sectors is rapidly evolving, and businesses are looking to technology to increase their agility in the face of disruption and create new digitally enabled business models for the post-COVID “new normal.”

A notable trend under this broader shift is the boost for e-commerce trade. In October, StatsCan reported that the retail sector rebounded quickly from storefront closures as companies developed or enhanced their on-line platforms. By June, the volume of retail activity had surpassed pre-COVID levels, while payroll employment in retail industries remained 15% below February levels.

Retail e-commerce sales soar to an all-time high
Text versionDescription - Retail e-commerce sales soar to an all-time high

Retail e-commerce sales soar to an all-time high


Source: Statistics Canada, Census of Population of 2016.

Beyond e-commerce, digitization among firms will increasingly no longer be simply a recipe for higher performance, but fundamental for keeping operations running. A report published by the Information Communication Technology Council (ICTC) found that the Canadian digital economy has proven to be incredibly resilient to the crisis and sectors with a strong digital base have shown to be more insulated from shocks associated with lockdowns and travel restrictions.

The pandemic has also exposed important challenges. In Canada, as in many countries, important digital divides exist where many populations are not in a position to equally benefit from an increasingly digital economy, particularly due to the lack of high speed broadband in regions across the country.

International and Multilateral Cooperation

Stresses to the multilateral rules-based trading system that emerged before the pandemic were magnified at the height of the crisis. Important gaps in the rules, failings in the functioning of the WTO, and polarized positions amongst the membership contributed to uncertainty and unstable dynamics. The pandemic caught countries off-guard - as the crisis unfolded, scarcity of critical supplies such as medicines, personal protective equipment and medical equipment became an urgency, prompting unilateral responses.

Canada worked closely with likeminded countries at the WTO, G20, APEC and other multilateral fora to urge countries to keep global supply chains open and to notify their trade measures immediately in compliance with WTO obligations so that countries can base policy decisions on current and reliable data. As the negative impacts of the pandemic were better understood, many measures have been slowly removed.

Canada continues to play an important role in this phase of the pandemic and economic recovery, including through its leadership of the Ottawa Group on WTO reform. In June 2020, Ottawa Group Ministers agreed on a Statement entitled Focusing Action on COVID-19, which outlines a number of concrete actions in support of adherence to current trade rules while also seeking new or amended rules that will support multilateral approaches to emerging issues – for instance preparing for future pandemics and helping lay the groundwork for an inclusive global economic recovery. Enhancing greater certainty and predictability in digital trade through the establishment of international rules on e-commerce is another priority area where Canada can play a meaningful role.

Trends to Watch

Trade Tensions and a Multilateral System Under Stress

A culmination of challenges exists for the WTO, as it faces arguably the biggest crisis in its 25-year history while simultaneously grappling with a selection process for a new leader, growing tensions within its membership and ensuring its continued relevance at a critical juncture.

Trade Subsidies

To offset the negative consequences brought about by the pandemic, a number of governments implemented trade subsidies. Financial grants were the most frequently used, while state loans and tax relief schemes have been introduced in many countries to support target groups such as SMEs or firms in a particular region. While such measures can be viewed as important in the near term to support troubled firms on an emergency basis, if maintained over time they can distort prices, production and trade signals, which could ultimately work against a global recovery supported by increasing trade.

Digital Economy and Industry 4.0

As digital transformations accelerate, challenges in this sphere are proliferating at an even higher pace. Expanding the use of e-commerce and new digital tools, some of which have been rolled out on an emergency basis, adds urgency to addressing issues related to international data collection and use. Ongoing international negotiations on issues related to digitally-enabled commerce holds the potential to establish enhanced global trade rules that support growth in international trade and investment. Canadian priorities in this regard include the WTO negotiations on e-commerce and our potential accession to the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) with New Zealand, Chile and Singapore.

The Global Economy affected by COVID-19



Latest official data from the end of the third quarter of 2020 shows that, after suffering a historic decline in the second quarter (‑25.0% annualized), the global economy rebounded with historic growth (+32.6%).

Despite the historic increases in the third quarter, GDP for all advanced economies, and most emerging markets, with the particular exception of China, remained below its level in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Monthly data – e.g. indicators on employment, industrial production, and key surveys – indicate that the recovery in advanced economies entered a slower phase in the later part of Q3, and further deceleration in Q4 (Figure 1). Rising COVID-19 cases throughout the United States, Canada, and the Eurozone, and the re-imposition of regional restrictions have slowed the momentum of their recoveries and weighed on global prospects, even as vaccine rollouts have begun. For example, in Canada, seasonally-adjusted hours worked levelled off in December, and jobs for all but the top quartile of workers have stagnated or declined, reversing months of positive trends.


Similar stories are currently playing out in other advanced economies, and most emerging markets. It is a constantly shifting picture, though, and as always, latest developments are not yet fully reflected in most economic projections.

Global Growth

As of early January, the World Bank projects that the global economy will expand 4.0% in 2021, after a ‑4.3% contraction in 2020 – which if realized would amount to a strong but still incomplete recovery. This assumes the COVID-19 vaccine rollout becomes widespread throughout the year.

Different growth outcomes are still possible: The Bank also outlines a downside scenario where rising infections and a delayed vaccine rollout could limit the global expansion to 1.6% in 2021, while under an upside scenario with successful pandemic control and a faster vaccination process, global growth could accelerate to nearly 5.0%. The roller coaster of business and consumer confidence will substantially affect the trajectory of the recovery and needs to be monitored closely.


The World Bank also reports that debt accumulation could also hold back growth over the long term without concerted reform efforts. It warns that the pandemic is expected to have lasting adverse effects on global activity, and is likely to worsen the slowdown in global growth projected over the next decade due to underinvestment, underemployment, and labor force declines in many advanced economies. For example, even under its baseline projection, the World Bank assesses global growth to be moderate in 2022 (from 4.0% to 3.8%), weighed down by the pandemic’s lasting effects. The global economy could be headed for a decade of disappointing growth “unless policy makers put in place comprehensive reforms to improve the fundamental drivers of equitable and sustainable economic growth.”

The World Bank’s latest projections provide an incremental update but largely echo the findings of similar recent reports by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others. That is, the world will likely make only limited progress toward catching up to the path of economic activity for 2020–25 as projected before the pandemic. Advanced economies, emerging markets, and developing economies all face the prospect of an “L-shape recovery” (Figure 2)

At a global level, the economic impact of the pandemic continues to be transmitted through:


Canada’s Performance

The Canadian economy has followed the same pattern as other advanced economies, with an incomplete and uneven recovery through latest data. The OECD has estimated Canada’s contraction in 2020 to have been ‑5.4%, with projected growth of +3.5% in 2021.

As elsewhere, the economic recovery has been uneven across sectors, with those that require social interactions still struggling compared to others. Q3 data showed that the uneven recovery also extended to Canadian exports, with travel services and air transportation services exports still struggling due to border closures. On the other hand, energy exports had partially recovered and motor vehicles and parts exports had almost fully recovered.

Until December, employment numbers across Canada had been steadily rebounding from a record unemployment rate of 13.7% in April. While aggregate employment fell only ‑0.3% in December, decreases in hours worked, self-employed workers, the labour participation rate, and most pronouncedly in youth employment bear watching. Throughout the pandemic, gender gaps in labour force participation have persisted, reflecting that women continue to engage in non-employment-related activities, including caring for children and family members, at a higher rate than prior to COVID-19. RBC Economics has warned that the pandemic has pushed women’s participation in the labour force down to its lowest level in three decades.

Due to increased government borrowing and contracting GDP, the general government net debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to rise from 25.9% in 2019 to 46.4% in 2020. Canada is expected to still have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7.

-data from Statistics Canada and IMF Fiscal Monitor

Country Outlooks

The overall picture is that when numbers are known all regions are projected to have experienced negative growth in 2020, but there are substantial differences across individual economies, largely depending upon their respective mix of economic activities, their exposure to shocks affecting significant sectors, and their ability to have contained health and economic fallout.

As the pandemic has progressed, it has become apparent some countries have been more successful in managing the crisis than others, accounting for some of the more significant outliers and adjustments to early projections. For example, McKinsey & Company concluded that “countries that took measures aimed at near-zero coronavirus-infection rates did a much better job at increasing ‘discretionary mobility’ (getting people back out shopping, commuting, and working) than did those that balanced higher infection rates with fewer restrictions on economic activity.”

Grouped by economy types, advanced economies, including Canada, generally saw deep hits to economic activity in the first half of the year, felt the steepest annual contractions in 2020 (averaging ‑5.4%) and face the softest recoveries (+3.3% in 2021; all forecasts from the World Bank). GDP in the medium term is expected, on average, to remain significantly below what had been projected before the pandemic.

Emerging market and developing economies (excluding China) have also mostly all faced contractions in 2020, averaging ‑5.0%, though with large variability within the grouping. This group is projected to partially rebound with average growth of +3.4% in 2021. It is difficult to overstate the extent to which China represents an outlier experiencing growth in the current climate (an estimated +2.0% in 2020 and projected 7.9% in 2021). Its inclusion has distortionary effects when examining global, regional, and other data; for example, its inclusion in the emerging markets and developing countries grouping is sufficient to suggest the group as a whole would have fully recouped pre-pandemic losses by the end of 2021.

With most emerging market and developing economies projected to incur a greater medium-term loss of output as compared to advanced economies, the IMF has warned that these uneven recoveries “significantly worsen the prospects for global convergence in income levels,” and there are widespread fears for a lost decade for development gains.

Much of the developing world depends upon commodity exports, or in some cases tourism, remittances, or borrowing, all of which have been greatly affected at a time when fiscal capacity to support citizens and economies are most needed. Developing economies, as a whole, do not have as much capacity for resilience in the face of economic shocks, and here the human costs of the economic crisis are likely to be especially severe.

The World Bank’s latest outlook on world poverty, issued in early January, now projects that the COVID-19-induced new poor in 2020 to have risen to between 119 and 124 million people – a number that has steadily risen over the course of the crisis, rather than abated, as warnings for advanced economies have done.

In sum, the IMF has called the crisis “a severe setback to the projected improvement in average living standards across all country groups. The pandemic will reverse the progress made since the 1990s in reducing global poverty and will increase inequality.”

Recovery: Outlook and Issues

As the pandemic outlook has evolved, so too have the expectations for the recovery, initially from a “V-shape” to a “U-shape” to an “L-shape.” In Canada as elsewhere, the notion that the world is experiencing a “K-shape” or two-speed recovery, in which some countries, sectors, and workers stand to gain while others fall behind, has gained traction. While some struggles may be temporary, in other cases this reflects vulnerability to structural changes hastened by the pandemic – particularly where demand for new skillsets and business models has been accelerated by digital transformation. The changing fortunes of winners and losers in this period will pressure policymakers to react and compensate.

One non-traditional aspect of this recession is that it has been a “she-cession.” Previous recessions have as a rule affected men more than women in the workforce. In this downturn, the majority of job losses have taken place in female-dominated industries, and women in general, particularly those with younger children, have also borne most family and childcare responsibilities. Even once the pandemic subsides there are concerns that women may be more likely to “fall out” of the labour force, reversing progress made and what has been an important economic contribution built up in recent decades. Certain short- and longer-term measures might therefore be required to prevent a widening gap between men and women – as well as between workers who have been better able to avoid layoffs and maintain hours worked by going digital and those that have not.

COVID-19 has made the world more digital, prompting millions to work remotely, buy groceries online and stay in touch via video. Some of these changes could be permanent – with long-term implications for societies, economies and governments worldwide. Digital consumption was already rising before the crisis, driven by gradual shifts in consumer tastes, demographic change and new technologies. The pandemic has accelerated that trend. However, the pandemic has also intensified digital divides, particularly among small retailers and regions with lower levels of connectivity and digital infrastructure.

Despite early optimism that pandemic measures will limit and stem carbon emission, climate models have revised upwards the expected rise of global temperature by 2050. The highest-ever record for the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is the main measure for rise of temperature, was broken in May in the midst of the pandemic, in spite of the dramatic drop in CO2 emissions prompted by the lockdown measures. There is also a growing awareness of how climate change may increase the risk of other pandemics, posing numerous risks for the global economy (i.e. green swan risks).

The high indebtedness of many households, firms, and nations has been a structural issue for the global economy for some time. Corporate debt has been building for a decade, and many firms have moved to borrow more to shore up against the pandemic. Devoting (reduced) earnings toward interest and paying down debt works against new hiring and investment, slowing the recovery.

As countries have had to deploy massive fiscal measures to contain the economic fallout from the pandemic, global debt is rapidly increasing to what has the potential to be a crisis point.

Advanced economies, like Canada, able to afford relatively generous COVID-19 support measures, currently pay historically low debt-servicing costs and should in principle be able to count on economic growth to lower their gross debt-to-GDP ratio over time to ensure that the debt load is sustainable.

Meanwhile, the negative impact of this crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable countries will be multiplied for those already in debt distress, leaving little or no space for appropriate health and economic responses. Low-Income Developing Countries’ gross debt is projected to rise on average to 48.8% of their GDP, which has raised sustainability concerns in many countries.

Many emerging markets and developing countries are in an especially difficult position with already high levels of indebtedness, reduced revenues on almost all fronts, and pressure to borrow anew to meet elevated needs for supporting their populations. Without new solutions to solving debt issues in particular, there risks being greater divides between advanced economies and well-positioned larger emerging market economies on the one side, and developing countries and debt distressed countries on the other – a widening K-shape between countries, with potentially serious consequences particularly where vulnerable countries may be pushed into debt distress or crisis.

International Assistance



While the last three decades have seen unprecedented global development progress, not everyone has benefitted equally. Some 736 million people still live on less than $1.90/day, and 71 million people have been forcibly displaced due to conflict, violence and human rights violations. Women and girls are more severely impacted by poverty due to gender inequalities. Poverty is increasingly concentrated in fragile states and in low-income countries – those places least able to provide necessary supports without international help. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges. One stark example of this, is the World Bank estimate that 88 to 115 million people are expected to be pushed back into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.

Canada has been an active donor since the 1950s, with international assistance contributing to advancing Canada’s broader foreign policy interests and international trade objectives. Poverty, inequality, violence and fragility matter for both global and Canadian stability and prosperity. Developing countries are important economic partners and sources of global growth: as economies stabilize and grow, Canada has opportunities to develop mutually beneficial trade relationships.

Canada has committed to implementing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda which includes 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals (to be pursued in all countries), reflecting a global consensus to leave no one behind in the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Canada’s International Assistance Envelope (IAE) totalled $5.47 billion in 2019-2020.Footnote 1Global Affairs Canada delivers the majority of these investments (87 percent). Canada’s Official Development Assistance to Gross National Income (ODA/GNI) ratio is currently 0.27 percent. (The globally accepted target is 0.7 percent.)

What We Do

Canada takes an integrated approach to addressing poverty, humanitarian crises, and peace and security through its international assistance. Canada targets its international assistance to where it can make a significant difference in the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, including those living in fragile contexts. The thematic focus of Canada’s international assistance has evolved over the years in response to changing needs, opportunities, and Canadian priorities.

In June 2017, Canada launched its Feminist International Assistance Policy, which outlines the “what, how, and where” of Canada’s international assistance. The policy seeks to eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, inclusive, and prosperous world. It emphasizes that promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls is the most effective approach to achieve this goal. The Policy has proved to be highly relevant in guiding Canada’s international assistance response to the pandemic. This is particularly true when considering the exceptional impact the crisis has had on women and girls as frontline workers and caregivers.

Building on Canada’s strong leadership on gender equality since the 1980s, the Policy lays out ambitious targets. For example, by 2021-22, at least 95% of Canada’s bilateral development assistance will either target or integrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Canada has met this 95% target since fiscal year 2018-2019 and is on track for the target year of 2021-22.

Some 60% of Canada’s international assistance investments are in global health, humanitarian assistance, and environment and climate action. Our remaining funding addresses other critical areas such as equitable economic growth, education, governance, and peace and security.

Some key Canadian results in 2018-2019 include:

Where We Work

Canada disbursed international assistance in 154 countries in 2019-2020 through diverse channels and partners. Programs are tailored to respond to specific needs and opportunities in each country. Canada has committed to directing 50 percent of its bilateral international development assistance to sub-Saharan Africa by 2021-2022. [Canada’s top ten bilateral recipients are shown in the graph on page 3.]

In recognition that developing countries have different needs depending on where they are in their development journey, Canada aims to tailor its country partnerships:

Partnerships for sustainable development:

More effective engagement with fragile states and countries in crisis:

Partnerships for transition:

Selective engagement:

Top ten recipients of Canada’s international assistance from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, figures in millions of dollars.
Text version

Top ten recipients of Canada’s international assistance from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, figures in millions of dollars.

RankCountryBilateral AidMultilateral Aid
4Congo, Dem Rep.95.2452.27

Note: Figures are preliminary and may change following further quality assurance.

Bilateral international assistance is the disbursement of funds where the donor earmarks or controls the funds by specifying the recipient and/or other aspects of the initiative. It includes international humanitarian assistance, which is designed to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain and protect human dignity during emergencies and in their aftermath.

Multilateral international assistance refers to contributions disbursed via multilateral development institutions, such as United Nations programmes and funds, regional development banks, global funds or the World Bank Group.

How We Work

Canada is committed to internationally agreed development effectiveness principles, based on decades of experience, including the importance of countries leading their own development, focusing on results, working in inclusive partnerships, and transparency and accountability.

Canada’s international assistance is delivered through diverse partners including partner governments, multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, and private sector entities. Canada is increasingly working in multistakeholder partnerships, because effective development cooperation requires harnessing all potential knowledge and resources to achieve results. Partner organizations are selected based on their capacity to deliver impact in country, and an analysis of past performance.

Canada organizes its international assistance into three broad categories, which are complementary to other trade and diplomatic assets:

Long-term Development Assistance: seeks to help partner countries reduce poverty and implement sustainable long-term solutions to development issues and move forward towards self-reliance and inclusive sustainable development.

Humanitarian Assistance: primarily delivered by providing financial support to experienced humanitarian partners to help save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain dignity in conflict situations and natural disasters.

Peace and Security Assistance: provides dedicated programming in conflict prevention and stabilization, security capacity building, anti-crime and trafficking, and weapons threat reduction.

Canada also promotes innovative approaches to delivering international assistance, given the international consensus that new approaches are critical to ignite changes needed to achieve sustainable development. Canada encourages experimentation and scaling-up of sustainable solutions, for example using new technologies for health services.

Canada has positioned itself as a leader in helping to unlock additional sources of development finance for the Sustainable Development Goals. Canada is developing new partnerships and expanding its development financing toolkit to support more effective private sector engagement and mobilize additional resources for sustainable development. To this end, Canada established in 2018 a development finance institution, FinDev Canada, to support private-sector investment in developing countries.

Canada uses a range of mechanisms in the delivery of its international assistance, including core support to multilateral organizations; grants and contributions; and repayable contributions to better enable Canada to mobilize private capital for sustainable development. Two new programs announced in Budget 2018 – the International Assistance Innovation Program and the Sovereign Loans Program – provide greater flexibility for financing arrangements and partnerships so that Canada remains at the leading edge of development financing. In addition, Canada committed $300 million to help establish the Equality Fund – an unprecedented collaboration that brings together the philanthropic community, the investing community, the private sector and civil society into a single platform to leverage more than $1 billion to advance gender equality in developing countries.

COVID-19 Response

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada is focusing its global leadership efforts, including its international assistance contributions, on three strategic objectives:

  1. Fighting the Pandemic by strengthening capacities at home and abroad through reinforcing the delivery of the health-related SDGs;
  2. Managing Financial Stresses and Stabilizing Economies through restored global supply chains; and
  3. Supporting the Most Vulnerable and Reinforcing Recovery both through our humanitarian response as well as addressing longer term socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.

Since February 2020, the Government of Canada has announced that it will commit nearly $1.6 billion in international assistance to the global response to COVID-19. This includes more than $865 million in funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator to support equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

A significant portion of Canada’s COVID-19 response to date has involved pivoting planned and operational programming, where possible, to support the pandemic response. As a stop gap measure, as of December 2020, Global Affairs Canada has been able to direct nearly $350 million in existing resources for COVID-19 initiatives. However, this will not be sustainable in the longer term.

Humanitarian Assistance



Humanitarian needs have continued to rise over the last decade, but have grown exponentially in 2020 due to the additional impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. The 2021 Global Humanitarian Appeal requested USD $35.1 billion to target 159.9 million people in need. In contrast, five years ago the UN was seeking $16.4 billion to support 57 million people.

The international system is struggling to keep up, and there are persistent and growing funding gaps, and unmet needs. Moreover, notably in conflict contexts, humanitarian actors increasingly find themselves under attack, and international humanitarian law flouted.

Current humanitarian hotspots with some of the largest responses include Syria, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Venezuela, and the Sahel.

International Humanitarian System

Humanitarian assistance is guided by four core principles.

Humanity: Human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found.

Neutrality: Humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in activities of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.

Impartiality: Humanitarian assistance must be delivered solely on the basis of need, making no distinctions on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class or political opinions.

Independence: Humanitarian assistance must be distinct from the political, economic, military or other objectives.

Canada provides humanitarian assistance within a well-established global system via experienced UN, NGO, and Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement partners. Support through this system avoids duplication of efforts; allows for a proportional, timely, coordinated and needs-based response based around consolidated and prioritized appeals; and channels funding to experienced humanitarian partners, not to national governments.

In recent years, the emergence of new actors and innovative ways of working (e.g. cash assistance) have increased the complexity of the humanitarian system.

Humanitarian Assistance by the Government of Canada

Humanitarian assistance is a visible and tangible expression of Canadian values, and contributing to global stability is in our national interest. Our contributions to humanitarian action are often complemented by other Canadian investments, including peace, stabilization and long-term development efforts.

Canada has a robust toolkit with which to respond to humanitarian crises. Canada’s needs-based response engages multiple actors within Global Affairs and across the Government of Canada.

Responses consist primarily of financial contributions to experienced partners to support their programming interventions. In response to rapid-onset emergencies, it can also include in-kind support such as sending relief supplies from Canada’s stockpile, and the deployment of civilian experts. Following large-scale natural disasters, it can also include as a last resort the use of Canadian Armed Forces’ unique capabilities such as the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).

Canada is currently the 9th largest humanitarian donor. In 2019-2020, Canada provided over $873 million in humanitarian assistance support, which helped improve the lives of over 97.1 million people. Further, in response to COVID-19, Canada allocated over $154 million to date.

Canada is currently responding to humanitarian crises in 60 countries, the majority of which are in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. As well, with recent annual disbursements averaging over $800 million/year, humanitarian assistance represents a significant proportion of Canada’s official development assistance.

In addition to Canada’s contributions as a top humanitarian donor, Canada is actively engaged at the global level to enhance the international humanitarian system. This includes Canada’s active engagement in the Grand Bargain, a multi-stakeholder agreement between 63 donors and humanitarian organizations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian action, and the implementation of the Global Compact for Refugees, which aims to respond more effectively to refugee situations, improve the lives of refugees, and better support host communities.

Gender-Responsive Humanitarian Action

In line with the objectives of the Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada supports gender-responsive humanitarian action. This includes integrating gender considerations across all of our policy and programming efforts. Canada also supports targeted programing that directly addresses program gaps such as sexual reproductive health and rights and is a strong global advocate, as demonstrated though our leadership of the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies from 2019 to 2020.

Consular Affairs



Canada’s consular services are delivered through GAC’s international network, and must evolve continually in light of current and emerging trends. In recent years, more Canadians than ever are travelling and living abroad, which means they are also experience new and sometimes challenging situations.

The provision of consular services is a continuum, starting with travel advice to Canadians. The Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories are a trusted source of information on 230 destinations for millions of Canadians. Information and updates are shared 24/7 through the department’s Travel Advice and Advisories portal ( and Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as through the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) system.

Canadians requiring consular assistance abroad can access 260 points of service in 150 countries. The majority of consular services are provided by trained consular officers working at Canada’s network of mission abroad. In locations where Canada does not have a mission, services can be offered through our network of honorary consuls or by like-minded missions (ex. Australia).

When diplomatic missions are closed, telephone enquiries from Canadians seeking assistance are automatically routed to the Emergency Watch and Response Centre (EWRC) in Ottawa, where consular officials respond to enquiries from Canadians 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The EWRC serves as an initial point of contact for many Canadians abroad, and is able to re-direct or escalate issues to the appropriate official for required action and response.

The majority of consular services are routine. These are primarily passport and citizenship services, which GAC delivers on behalf of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Typically, 3 percent of overall cases (about 6,500) are more complex in nature, involving Canadians in distress abroad (e.g. in need of medical assistance, seeking support on family or child-related situations, have been arrested or detained abroad).

2020 was an exceptionally challenging year for the consular and emergency management team. The downing of Flight PS752, COVID-19 response efforts, and ongoing high-profile consular cases created significant pressures on GAC. Nevertheless, the department has assisted a record number of Canadians abroad in the last 12 months.

Even with reduced international travel as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, the overall demand for consular assistance decreased by only 15% in 2020 (5,679 cases) compared to 2019 (6,692 cases). The consular network opened new cases for Canadians detained abroad (1,017), in need of medical assistance (1,278), seeking support on child and family related situations (674), or who were victims of assault (168). The U.S., Mexico and China had the highest volume of complex consular cases. These can be challenging and take years to resolve. Some become very complex cases and may require engagement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and, exceptionally, by the Prime Minister.

In addition to ongoing consular services, from March to December 2020, GAC also extended exceptional assistance to tens of thousands of Canadians: issuing over 5,100 loans under the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program (ELP) for Canadians Abroad, and repatriating over 62,000 Canadians and permanent residents, the largest civilian repatriation effort in our history. The network continues to adapt its operations in the context of the pandemic.

The EWRC coordinates complex emergency events, such as the PS752 response and the COVID-19 Repatriation Operation. The EWRC has the capability to rapidly stand-up various emergency response mechanisms, such as the Emergency Contact Centre, the Emergency Response Team, the Departmental Coordination Call, the Interdepartmental Task Force, and the Standing Rapid Deployment Team.

For the past year, Canada has also been leading an initiative to raise awareness and stop the practice of coercive arbitrary detention wherever cases arise and has obtained [REDACTED] on a Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State relations. A government priority, it was highlighted in the September 2020 Speech from the Throne, which noted that, “it is unacceptable that any citizen be arbitrarily detained. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor must be brought home”.

In recent years, Canada’s consular program has undergone extensive review both internally and externally. An internal evaluation was conducted in 2017, followed by an audit from the Office of the Auditor General and a report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in 2018. The consular program used these findings and recommendations to modernize its consular services, and launched a new Consular Strategy in 2019 to support consular diplomacy in action.

Role of the Minister

The mandate letter for the Minister of Foreign Affairs asks that he enhance consular support of Canadians abroad, as well as engage new partners to address emerging challenges. The minister plays this role by:

Export Controls



Policy Framework

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is legally responsible for the administration of the Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA), and retains legislative and regulatory responsibility under the Act. Traditionally, however, responsibilities under the EIPA have been shared between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade by way of an exchange of letters, with the Minister of International Trade assuming responsibility for non-strategic goods and the Minister of Foreign Affairs retaining responsibility for controlled military-strategic goods.

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT): Amendments to the EIPA facilitated Canada’s accession to the ATT on September 17, 2019. As a result, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is now legally obligated to assess and determine whether, after considering all mitigating measures, there is a substantial risk that an export would result in one of the negative consequences listed in the ATT, including serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. The department implemented an enhanced risk assessment framework to assist with this case-by-case assessment. The Minister also considers broader foreign policy, defense and national security interests before rendering a decision on a permit.

Economic Implications

In 2019, exports of controlled military goods and technology to destinations (other than the United States) were valued at roughly $3.757 billion.

In 2020, Global Affairs issued 4,025 export permits for military, dual-use and strategic goods. (GAC typically issues between 6,000-7000 export permit applications a year.)

In 2019, Saudi Arabia was the largest (non‑U.S.) destination for exports of military items (due almost entirely to light armoured vehicles (LAVs)). Belgium (LAV supply chain), Turkey (imaging equipment), the United Kingdom and Australia round out the top five. Six of the top twelve destinations for military items were NATO countries.

Key Issues

Evolving global situation

Strategic export permit applications are assessed in the context of evolving international developments.

Canada currently has policies of presumptive denial in place for exports of military items to Turkey, Pakistan and Guinea and for exports of a wide range of items to Iran. There is a temporary suspension of the issuance of permits for all controlled items to Belarus.

For military items to Turkey, the department will consider if there are exceptional circumstances at play (for example, a NATO co-operation project), which warrant the issuance of a permit on an exceptional basis.

Increased Scrutiny & Judicial Reviews

There is intense public scrutiny on exports of strategic goods and technology – particularly from the media as well as CSOs. Media reports alleging the presence of Canadian military items in conflict zones have resulted in government-wide reviews and parliamentary scrutiny. Project Ploughshares recently released a report critical of the government’s export control policy to Turkey.

Country policy changes and decisions on specific export permit applications have received considerable attention from Parliamentarians. On October 28, 2020 the Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) commenced a study on arms exports to Turkey requiring the production of related documents and the testimony of departmental officials.

Public scrutiny has been heightened by judicial reviews launched by Professor Daniel Turp, which question the government’s exports controls policy to Saudi Arabia.

In tandem with the release of the findings of the review of arms exports to Saudi Arabia in 2020, your predecessor announced the creation of an arms length expert panel to benchmark Canada’s export controls against those of other ATT States Parties. [REDACTED].

Industry Concerns

Exporters are concerned about the unpredictability created by changing export controls policies related to a number of countries and about lengthened timelines to receive export permit decisions. In recent years, the department has seen a year-on-year 10% decrease in the number of applications processed within the published service standard (94.49% in 2017, 82% in 2018 to 72% in 2019).


The department is [REDACTED]

pursuing other internal strategies to address industry concerns.

The electronic permit system, which handles the processing of over $9B in trade controls permits annually, is currently undergoing a technology modernization and will include efficiency and client experience improvements.

Key Early Decision Points

Canada’s Sanctions Regime



Canadian sanctions aim to bring about a change in policy or behavior by the target states, individuals, or entities. Sanctions place restrictions on the activities permissible between Canadians and foreign states, individuals, and/or entities. They can encompass a wide variety of measures. The imposition of sanctions is intended to send a clear signal that a particular policy or behavior will not be tolerated by the Government of Canada.

Canada has three separate pieces of legislation authorizing the imposition of sanctions:

Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (JVCFOA) (Sergei Magnitsky Law)

The JVCFOA came into force in October 2017, and allows Canada to directly impose measures on foreign nationals responsible for or complicit in gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights or acts of significant corruption in foreign states.

Canadians are prohibited from dealing with listed individuals, effectively freezing their Canadian assets. Listed individuals are also inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Since 2017, Canada has designated 70 individuals from Myanmar, Venezuela, South Sudan, Russia (in relation to the case of Sergei Magnitsky) and Saudi Arabia (in relation to the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi) under the JVCFOA.

The December 2019 Mandate Letter for the Minister of Foreign Affairs included a commitment to build on the JVCFOA for increased support to victims of human rights violations by developing a framework to transfer seized assets from human rights abusers to their victims. The Department is engaging key internal and external stakeholders to move forward on recommendations related to this commitment.

Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA)

The SEMA came into force in 1992, and allows Canada to impose sanctions against a foreign state, as well as individuals and entities related to that foreign state.

SEMA can be used in four types of situations: (1) grave breach of international peace and security resulting in a serious international crisis; (2) when an international organization to which Canada belongs calls on its members to take economic measures against a foreign state; (3) gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed by the state; and, (4) acts of significant corruption.

SEMA measures could include: a dealings ban; restrictions or prohibitions on trade; restrictions or prohibitions on financial transactions or other economic activity between Canada and the target state; and/or restrictions on activities such as the docking of ships or landing of aircraft from the foreign state in Canada.

Canada currently imposes sanctions under SEMA on twelve countries – Belarus, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, South Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

United Nations Act (UNA)

The UN Security Council may decide what measures member states shall take to restore or maintain international peace and security. Such a decision imposes a legal obligation on UN member states to introduce the measures into domestic law.

In Canada, it is done through regulations under the United Nations Act.

Twelve countries are currently subject to UN sanctions: Central African Republic, Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen.

Canada also imposes UN sanctions against individuals and entities associated with terrorist activities, including Da’esh, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban.

Sanctions implementation

Global Affairs Canada is the focal point for coordinating the Government of Canada overall approach to sanctions imposition and management. A dedicated unit was established in 2018 towards this end.


On September 29, October 15, and November 6, 2020, Canada imposed sanctions against Government of Belarus officials under SEMA to address human rights-related violations linked to the 2020 presidential elections. These actions were taken in line with like-minded partners.



Canada continues to enhance collaboration with likeminded countries (in particular the U.S., EU, and U.K.), [REDACTED]. Canada coordinates announcements of new measures, when possible.

The Department manages annual funding ($100K) to support projects and programming that enhances the effectiveness, and assists in better understanding the impact, of sanctions in order to contribute to international peace and security.

Sanctions operations

The Department will submit, for your decision, recommendations pertaining to applications for a permit or certificate to authorize activities or transactions that are otherwise prohibited, to mitigate against the unintended consequences of sanctions.

The Department will also periodically submit, for your decision, recommendations pertaining to applications to delist individuals and entities listed under the SEMA or the JVCFOA.





Canada has traditionally regarded the Asia-Pacific region from a China-centric perspective; however, important changes in economic and power relations are forcing both Asian and Western countries to redefine the region. More common today is an acceptance of the term, “Indo-Pacific,” which, while still being defined, includes countries from the eastern Indian to the Pacific Oceans connected by Southeast Asia and including North Asia.

The “Indo-Pacific”: A region of change and tension

The Indo-Pacific is increasingly economically integrated, but faces a complex web of interrelated security challenges. It is home to 60% of the world’s population and represents one-third of global output. It includes three of the world’s six largest national economies (China, Japan, and India), and the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian NationsFootnote 2 (ASEAN).


The Indo-Pacific region is the fastest growing economic region in the world, standing to deliver nearly two-thirds of global growth by 2030. Over the past twenty years, the region has seen persistent and robust growth, driven in particular by strong economic performance in emerging markets (China, ASEAN, and India), a growing middle class, and deepening linkages with global value chains.

These successes, however, mask the hard reality that the region includes 2 of the 10 countries with the most extreme poor in the world (India and Bangladesh) and remains home to 1.2 billion poor, including 400 million people currently living in extreme poverty.

These unprecedented regional changes in economic and power relations are creating inevitable strains and tensions among countries that already have complex, and often fraught historical relations. A return of “great power politics” in the region is prevalent, alongside a fluctuating global commitment to a rules-based order, wherein states are acting in their perceived national interest unconstrained by multilateral norms and institutions—with concomitant risks of destabilization and conflict. The United States’ strategic primacy in East Asia and the Western Pacific continues to be challenged by China’s rise and increasingly assertive strategic posture, with U.S.-China tensions playing out against a backdrop of competing strategic visions for the region.

Asia is also greatly impacted by climate change, as the most disaster-prone region in the world, and also contributes significantly to climate change, accounting for 53% of global CO2 emissions in 2017. The climate crisis has had dire consequences on the region already, including on people’s access to livelihoods and resources; water and food safety and security; conflicts and insecurity; migration, displacement, and relocation; health and mortality; and people trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. Climate change especially impacts the poor and marginalized in the region, with women and children particularly vulnerable to its negative consequences.

Impact of COVID-19: The pandemic has caused severe economic disruption in the region. Prolonged national lockdowns, disrupted supply chains, and weak consumer and investor demand led to a 0.4% economic contraction in 2020 in developing Asia – the first recession in the region in nearly 6 decades. Nonetheless, GDP is expected to grow by 6.8% in 2021 (Asian Development Bank, 2020).

Tourism, which collapsed by 90-100% across most of the countries’ economies in the first quarter of 2020, continues to be subdued due to travel restrictions and precautionary behaviour, presenting recovery challenges for Asia’s tourism-dependent economies.

The pandemic poses a significant threat to the region’s recent progress in reducing extreme poverty, and South Asia and the Pacific – the regions with the smallest gains – are the most at risk of a reversal in extreme poverty reduction.

Key Players

China has experienced astonishing economic growth, becoming the world’s second largest economy and achieving a dramatic reduction in poverty paralleled by a dramatic increase in income disparity. It is pouring resources into its military, giving it growing influence and the ability to challenge traditional power relations in the region.

An authoritarian one-party state, the Communist Party of China’s legitimacy depends on ensuring high levels of economic growth, and increasingly, national prestige. Tolerance of political dissent and freedom of expression has noticeably diminished since Xi Jinping became president in 2013, and a crackdown on human rights continues.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is the centrepiece of China’s strategic repositioning, which prescribes massive infrastructure investments that respond to genuine needs in many instances, but that could, over the medium term, serve to advance Chinese economic and military influence across the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which was signed in November 2020, is an additional vehicle for Chinese influence in the regime. The region’s biggest free trade agreement to date, RCEP unifies the pre-existing bilateral agreements between the 10 ASEAN member states and five of its major trading partners.Footnote 3 RCEP is the first such treaty that China has joined, creating a new and more integrated regional dynamic with China as its cornerstone. Neither RCEP membership nor a pre-existing free trade or investment agreements have prevented China from attempting to use arbitrary trade measures to coercively advance its narrow political interests, with states like Australia, among others.

Japan and South Korea have both been dependent on the U.S. for their security, but have now also become highly dependent on their economic relationships with China. Both are acutely aware of their vulnerability to volatility with respect to the relationship between the world’s two greatest powers (and with North Korea), [REDACTED].

[REDACTED], Japan has championed a vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) (extending to the east coast of Africa and west coast of the Americas), founded on the rule of law, freedom of navigation, economic prosperity and peace and stability as an international public good. Japan’s FOIP strategy is complemented by similar approaches adopted by Australia, the U.S. and India (referred to as the “Quad”) as well as South Korea and ASEAN. Canada has agreed to work bilaterally with Japan consistent with shared objectives in the Indo-Pacific.

India has also demonstrated significant economic growth and advances against poverty, though in a less dramatic fashion than China.

As a growing power, India too is seeking its place on the global stage. Regionally, India competes with China. While historical tensions exist between the two countries, bilateral relations have deteriorated following the deadly border clashes in June 2020. India is also navigating historical animosities with Pakistan and challenges stemming from the protracted conflict in Afghanistan. India maintains strong relations with Russia (which has ceded much influence in the region).

In the context of these dislocations, uncertainty, and rising tensions, all the major powers are [REDACTED] cooperation with the smaller ASEAN countries, which must thus struggle to navigate between the competing interests of the regional heavyweights.

Increasing protectionism and decoupling of the Chinese and American economies has prompted a renewed push for intra-ASEAN, regional and trans-regional economic integration. Similarly, ASEAN members are at the centre of the region’s preeminent political and security dialogues in the East Asia Summit and Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, which includes major regional powers like China, the U.S., Japan, and Australia.

Australia and New Zealand continue to play important leadership roles in the promotion of good governance, human rights, and women. Both countries also wield significant footprint in the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia due to long-standing development engagement. Geo-politically, both have been an important anchor for the assertion of a rules-based international order in the region, often in concert with key Pacific partners.

All this takes place in a region with a complex history and “long memories.” Territorial disputes and various other historical grievances are rife: to name but two, the two Koreas remain technically at war, and China vehemently asserts its claim over Taiwan.

With respect to the U.S., much remains to be seen as to how the new administration will approach the region, although key individuals behind former President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” strategy will return to the White House under President-elect Biden.

Canada in the Indo-Pacific


Current Engagement and Challenges: [REDACTED]. The U.S., Japan, EU, Australia, China, India, and Russia have been [REDACTED], increasing their engagement and their influence in the region’s corridors of power. By contrast, Canada’s approach to the region has been inconsistent, with significant ebbs and flows, and has yet to fully leverage our significant people-to-people ties, commercial linkages, and positive global reputation.

Political/Security: Canada has been active in advancing priority interests and universal values in the region. [REDACTED], Canada has sought to engage regional mechanisms and fora, such as APEC, ASEAN, and the East Asia Summit, demonstrating staying power on issues that will guide both regional and Canadian interests including on climate change, cyber security, global health, the Arctic and global governance. Positive historical perceptions of Canada throughout much of the region, combined with not being a former colonial power, particularly set against U.S.-China tensions, may create additional space for enhanced Canadian diplomatic engagement.

The region faces many challenges that could lead to conflict, or otherwise threaten Canada’s interests. These include several longstanding territorial disputes (e.g. Korean Peninsula, Taiwan Strait, India/Pakistan, Japan/China) and a number of emerging security threats (e.g. South China Sea and terrorism threats throughout the region).

Canada’s people-to-people ties in the Indo-Pacific are wide and deep, including the tens of thousands of Canadians that live, work, and travel to Asia every year and, reciprocally, the Asian diaspora who now live, study, or work in Canada. Nearly half of Canada’s foreign-born population are from the regionFootnote 4, with this proportion expected to increase steadily over the next decade. Almost 18% of the overall Canadian population identify their ethnicity as being from the region.Footnote 5

By the same token, the perceived strength and influence of Asian diaspora communities in Canada may lead to charges of bias, which can debilitate bilateral relations and cooperation.

As with every Western country, it is a challenge for Canada to advance its interest of supporting universal values (democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights) while also protecting undeniable economic interests in China and other countries that do not share or adhere to these values.

Trade: Despite COVID-19 related disruptions, many economies in the region are exhibiting strong growth, with projections estimating an increase of around 5% per year on average. Of note, China’s economy is expected to grow by 7% in 2021. By 2050, it is projected that the region will hold 65% of the global middle class and account for over 50% of global GDP.

Canada’s strengths in industries like minerals, energy, financial services, infrastructure, environmental technologies and services, and agri-food are closely aligned with the needs of the region, offering important avenues for export diversification. In recent decades, many Indo-Pacific countries have capitalized on globalization and regional integration to accelerate economic development, attract foreign investment, and create the world’s largest middle class. The region’s demand for energy resources will continue to grow and significantly outweigh regional supply.

While Canadian trade and investment with the region is expanding, there remains significant unrealized potential for Canada to capitalize on the region’s strong growth, which will be crucial to Canada’s economic prosperity in the years to come.

For example, the region accounted for 14% of Canada’s overall export growth during the past decade, but Canada’s share of the region’s trade remained flat at 2.5%. FDI from the region accounted for 10.3% of Canada’s total inward FDI in 2019,

while total CDIA for the region accounted for only 7,7% of total CDIA.

These opportunities notwithstanding, governance issues and, increasingly, the use of arbitrary trade measures, will continue to constrain commercial engagement prospects. Canada’s economic interests are at risk due to rising economic nationalism and increased scepticism about the value of open, market-based trade relationships, and the rules-based international order that enables and sustains such exchanges. Despite rising trade flows between Canada and China, China’s willingness to link political and economic issues continues to add uncertainty to the trade relationship and increases the costs and uncertainty of doing business.

To date, Canada has two FTAs in force with Indo-Pacific partners – the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA, 2015) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP, 2018). Compared with the RCEP, the CPTPP is more ambitious and has set a high bar for the future of global trade, with provisions for labour and environment.

Canada has also recently concluded FTA exploratory discussions with ASEAN, conducted exploratory discussions with China (now suspended), and have ongoing (but stalled) FTA negotiations with India.

Development: Canada’s development assistance in the region remains an important component of our engagement with Indo-Pacific countries, which is home to 37% of the world’s extreme poor. In 2018/19, Canada’s total international assistance to the region totalled $1.4 billion (22% of the total we spend globally). Of this amount, $990 million (73%) was disbursed by Global Affairs Canada and $397 million (25%) by Finance Canada.

Asia is home to two of Canada’s largest bilateral international assistance programs, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. A large share of our assistance in the Indo-Pacific is administered via multilateral channels such as the Asian Development Bank (where Canada is one of the largest donors), the World Bank and UN agencies, either as core funding or as earmarked contributions to multilateral initiatives.

Despite impressive growth in many countries of Asia and the Pacific, women continue to struggle to participate equally in the benefits of development. Canada has made support to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in Asia and the Pacific a fundamental aspect of its programming, with almost 30% of bilateral program assistance now specifically targeting gender equality outcomes. Among other examples, Canada supports girls’ education in Afghanistan, sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh, women’s economic empowerment in Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mongolia, Myanmar, and the Pacific islands, and women’s political rights in the countries of ASEAN.

Canada also helps to increase understanding of the benefits of, and support for, the rules-based international order through our efforts to improve governance at the national and sub-national level and foster appreciation for the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human rights. Through our Strategy to Respond to the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar and Bangladesh ($300 million, 2018-2021) Canada has taken a leadership role in responding to the crisis. [REDACTED]. Lastly, recognizing that the Indo-Pacific region is a key driver of climate change – representing 50% of global CO2 emissions, Canada is assessing options to scale-up support for climate and biodiversity in region.

Regional Drivers to Monitor

In the face of increasing Chinese influence and the recent waning of U.S. leadership, Asian countries are jockeying to at least maintain – if not improve – their own economic and political standing within the region. This is leading to rising tensions within and between countries, as illustrated by ongoing events in Hong Kong.

For the moment, the longer-term impacts of COVID remain to be seen. Although estimates have been made, recovery policies and the consequences of the pandemic will remain a determining factor in the evolution of regional dynamics. The region is also highly susceptible to extreme weather events and impacts of climate change.  The most polluted cities and waterways in the world are found in Asia.  Environmental crises will put enormous pressures of food supplies, health systems, and the long-term viability of human settlements in vulnerable areas.

Evolving socio-economic demographics will also be a regional driver to monitor. For example, China, with its aging demographic and strengthened economy, is increasingly outsourcing manufacturing jobs to lower wage countries in the region. Further tensions may develop as regional neighbours compete to attract Chinese investment, [REDACTED].

From the perspective of Canada as a Pacific country, we cannot expect to be isolated from the effects of these changes. With the region soon to house two thirds of the middle class, we can expect their cultural, societal and financial influence to be felt globally.

To ensure Canadian values are effectively promoted and defended, Canada will require unambiguous and coherent messaging delivered as a whole-of-government platform. Fora such as APEC, the ASEAN Regional Summit, and the G-7G-20 are important vectors in this regard, as are free trade agreements, such as the CPTPP. Finally, to help Canada’s messages better resonate across the region, partnerships with like-minded countries in the region, such as Australia and New Zealand, plus the FVEY network, will continue to be important.

Europe and Eurasia



Europe is a diverse region, encompassing both Canada’s closest friends and some of the most vexing challengers to the international order. Our relationships across this territory require ongoing attention and investment.

Traditional Partners: The familiar and historically like-minded parts of Europe include the largely overlapping group of European Union (EU) Member States and Allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Our traditional European partners remain important to us for their generally close alignment on global issues. The United Kingdom, France and Germany merit particular mention as influential individual players and partners in key organizations (NATO, G7, G20, Commonwealth and Francophonie, amongst others). Mid-sized European states, including Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the Nordic countries, frequently partner with Canada on [REDACTED] diplomatic initiatives. Rich networks of individuals, businesses and organizations also link us with these societies.

Beyond the individual country relationships, Canada has a uniquely well-structured relationship with the EU. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been provisionally applied in most elements since September 2017.  Twelve more Member States must ratify to complete the process. Alongside CETA, the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) helps guide Canada-EU cooperation on issues such as effective multilateralism, rule of law, human rights, a well-functioning international economy, global security, climate and the Arctic. As the EU continues to assert itself as a geopolitical player, this cooperation gains in value.

The traditional partners have faced complex challenges in recent years - uneven economic performance, irregular migration from Africa and the Middle East, increased [REDACTED] populist movements, renewed far-right extremism, and malign influence from external actors. Brexit has added a further layer to transatlantic relations, with a corresponding shift in the dynamics of Canada’s bilateral and regional relations. COVID-19 initially opened strains linked to the recovery of public health, secure supply chains and sustainable national economies.

Without downplaying these challenges, Canada has some important ground to engage on to share respective domestic best practices and to cooperate on a broader scale.

[REDACTED] especially the larger ones. They do appreciate our shared values, and they recognize the practical importance of Canada's global engagement as well as our particular security engagement in Latvia, Romania, and Ukraine. [REDACTED]. Regular and intensive interactions between Canadian ministers and senior officials and European counterparts can reinforce the benefits of our ties.

Wider Europe: Looking beyond familiar partners, a wider Europe stretches east and south to include Russia, the Western Balkans, Turkey, Central Asia and the Caucasus. This region is home to some of the more significant challenges to democracy, in spaces such as Belarus and Russia, and peace and security, such as in Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russia continues to take aggressive, and often disruptive, actions to assert its geopolitical status and protect its national interests, particularly in the former Soviet space, but also further afield (Syria, Libya). Russia is also interested in regional stability, on its terms, and recently brokered an end to the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia has targeted NATO, the United States and others with disinformation and cyber campaigns, including interference in electoral processes. Canada’s relations with Russia remain difficult, and sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine are in place. However, bilateral engagement is pursued on issues of common interest, most particularly the Arctic.

Meanwhile, post-Soviet states in the Caucasus and Central Asia are struggling to de-link from Russia’s sphere of influence - either to choose a Euro-Atlantic orientation, or to establish a balance between Russia and the West (or, in some cases, with China). Despite the fact that stability in this region implicates global and Canadian security, political and economic objectives, Canada’s diplomatic presence is relatively weak.

Ukraine is an exception. Since Russia illegally annexed Crimea and started backing militants in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Canada has provided over $800M in multifaceted assistance to Ukraine. Canada’s OP Unifier military deployment, efforts to modernize the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA), and tangible support to Ukraine’s reform process are examples of ongoing investments in Ukraine’s future, [REDACTED].

A different test comes from Turkey – a NATO Ally, G20 partner, and EU aspirant (on ice) that has been pursuing a more aggressive foreign policy in order to defend its interests. [REDACTED], purchase of the Russian weapons and regional interventions. Bilateral relations are impacted by our suspension of export permits to Turkey due to its role in Nagorno-Karabakh. At the same time, Turkey often acts as a geostrategic bulwark against Russia; it is a growing market; and it hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, an important stabilizing factor for the EU.

Overlapping Europe and Eurasia is the Arctic, where six of the eight Arctic states are in this region. Canada engages both bilaterally and in the Arctic Council on top issues, including the promotion of a rules-based system and the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

Outlook: A well-managed relationship with Europe can be a significant source of prosperity and stability for Canada, as well as contributing to the promotion of shared values and interests in other regions of the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean



Strong economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in the early 2000s contributed to reductions in poverty and inequality. However, beginning in fall 2019, Latin America saw widespread civil unrest. Common drivers of this unrest included citizen dissatisfaction due to insufficient progress in improving social conditions, and growing concern with governance issues. Political dynamics in many countries remain volatile and elections results are indicative of increased polarization. The Caribbean is relatively stable, with sporadic irregularities in electoral processes. Social media plays an important role in mobilizing and fueling unrest and polarization across the region.

Protests largely came to a halt in March 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. The issues that fuelled protests prior to the pandemic remain unresolved and a second wave of unrest is emerging in the region, as dissatisfied citizens continue to take to the streets despite the health crisis.

Countries in LAC remain among the hardest hit by COVID-19, accounting for 26% of COVID-related deaths worldwide despite representing less than 10% of the global population. Impacts risk setting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals back a generation. The region will face its worst recession in 120 years, with GDP likely to decline by over 9%. The resulting rise in debt levels will likely have long-term impacts on growth.

The pandemic further exposed long-standing weaknesses in governance, economic growth, and inequality. It also exacerbated the protracted crises in Venezuela, Haiti, and Nicaragua.

Polarization exists both between countries and within them, and is a growing concern. In Peru, tensions between the executive and congress in late 2020 resulted in dramatic leadership changes and social unrest. Elections in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Mexico demonstrated sharp swings left or rightward. [REDACTED].

Climate change remains a threat to growth and stability, as seen in widespread forest fires in Latin America and a particularly active hurricane season. This puts pressure on governments already grappling with the health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic. These are exacerbated in the Caribbean by an economic reliance on tourism and remittances, which have slowed dramatically in recent months. Countries are also experiencing difficulties accessing financing due to their middle-income status.

There has been some progress on human rights. However, weak judicial systems make it difficult to protect rights consistently. Some governments have used the pandemic as cover to impose measures that unreasonably curtail civil rights. There is shrinking space for the voices of civil society and independent media.

Gender inequality is very high. Black and Indigenous women, female politicians, journalists, human rights activists, and LGBTQ2 persons are most at risk. Rates of sexual and gender-based violence, among the highest in the world, increased in 2020 significantly due to lockdown measures.

Corruption, violence, and insecurity impede democratic and economic progress, mostly in Latin America. In 2019, 25% of people stated they were offered bribes in exchange for votes in the past five years. While only representing 10% of the global population, LAC accounts for nearly 40% of homicides worldwide. Illicit flows of arms, drugs, and people that had slowed at the start of the pandemic have since increased and remain a concern, particularly in Central America.

Insecurity and violence in Mexico and Central America are fueling a surge of irregular migration north. Over 5.4 million Venezuelans have fled, creating the world’s second largest displacement crisis after Syria. Refugees and migrants are stretching already-strained public services in host countries, and are at risk being excluded from pandemic response measures.

The Venezuela crisis is having destabilizing impacts on the region. The illegitimate Maduro regime maintains control over and undermines all governance institutions through repression and coercion. The economy is in free fall due to corruption and mismanagement, resulting in widespread poverty and a humanitarian crisis. Canada is seen as a convener by allies and the opposition to work towards a solution.

COVID-19 presents both a challenge and an opportunity: governments can rebuild citizen trust through an effective pandemic response, but only if long-standing issues such as corruption, impunity, economic inequality, and exclusion of marginalized communities and Indigenous peoples are addressed. The capacity to re-open economies and to equitably provide a vaccine and essential services to citizens will be critical in addressing recent unrest.

Despite challenges, there is opportunity and appetite for continued Canadian leadership as a key partner in the hemisphere. Increased engagement [REDACTED] and our response to the pandemic, particularly in the Caribbean, served to strengthen our relationships. The region will also be of interest to the incoming Biden Administration, which will likely seek to work with Canada to advance shared interests in LAC. It is in our collective interest to collaborate on effective, green, and equitable pandemic recovery.

Two-way trade totalled $69.4 billion in 2019, mostly with Mexico and Brazil. Canadian companies are involved in the extractives sector, including mining, oil, and gas, financial services, and infrastructure. Canada is engaged in discussions on free trade agreements with the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur. Strengthening our commercial relationship will play a key role in our respective pandemic recoveries.

The total value of Canadian international assistance in LAC was over $888 million in 2018-19. Initiatives have evolved to reflect changing needs in LAC, including support for the response to COVID-19 and leveraging innovative finance mechanisms.

To ensure shared prosperity and security, Canada works to mitigate challenges facing LAC. Focus is on leveraging expertise in niche areas for Canada, including women’s empowerment and rights, while supporting areas of mutual interest where we can add value. We have a unique reputation and strong track record in supporting democracy and human rights, Indigenous issues, trade and investment, peace and security, economic and climate resilience, and reducing poverty and inequality.

Middle East and North Africa



Ten years after the Arab Spring and [REDACTED], the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has seen increased geopolitical competition, changing relationships and the emergence of complex new conflicts. Geographically, MENA (generally the region from Morocco to Iran) is at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, situated at the origin of modern civilization. The region’s long history and diverse people place it on cultural and religious fault lines.

The region plays a pivotal role in the global economy. Five of the ten largest oil producers are in MENA, with the Gulf States home to one-third of global oil and gas reserves. Three of the world’s most vulnerable points for maritime transportation are located in the region, namely the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al Mandeb and the Suez Canal. The region also offers commercial opportunities and sources of capital investment, in particular Israel and the Gulf. The regional GDP is US $3.6 trillion (approximately four percent of the world’s GDP). Reflective of its role as a guarantor of affordable oil for the global economy, Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20.

Income inequality, and deep grievances about governance and human rights, have resulted in social and political unrest, [REDACTED].

Within the region, Saudi Arabia and Iran continue to compete for dominance through proxy groups, which exploit historic rivalries between Sunni and Shia respectively.

Both countries have provided support to competing factions in Yemen (where Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have supported the Yemeni government against Houthi rebel forces backed by Iran), and retain ties to groups in Lebanon and Iraq.

Israel’s enforcement of its redlines in Syria and confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon are also designed to combat Iranian expansion and intentions; Israel continues to view Iran as its primary threat. More recently, under President Erdogan and in the face of Syria’s civil war, Turkey has sought to reassert its influence in the MENA region, including in [REDACTED].

Because of the geostrategic importance and natural resource wealth of the region, global powers have in turn aligned themselves with regional players. The United States has strong commercial ties with Israel and Saudi Arabia as well as security cooperation to limit Iranian influence. It will also be critical to understand exactly how the incoming Biden administration will change US foreign policy and calibrate its approach to the region in both the near and longer term. For its part, Russia works closely with Iran, notably in Syria, motivated less by commercial factors (although they do exist) and more by strategic ones: the basing of Russian military (including naval) forces in western Syria, and undermining the US.

The humanitarian and security situation in the West Bank and Gaza is volatile and the risk of escalation remains omnipresent. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists as a source of contention throughout the region, [REDACTED]. However, the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco may offer new prospects for negotiations, [REDACTED].

In response to profound inequality in their societies and resentment of Western colonial and post-colonial powers, an extremist and virulently anti-Western interpretation of Islam has developed, represented initially by Al Qaeda and later overtaken by Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State in the Levant). The US-led Global Coalition against Daesh, of which Canada is a member, has been critical to the territorial defeat of this terrorist group. The long-term stabilization of Iraq requires the development of government institutions capable of rebuilding, providing services, and reducing sectarian tensions.

[REDACTED], security threats, young and growing populations, high unemployment, and social unrest. This has led to waves of irregular migration toward Europe. More recently these conditions have provoked mass popular protest demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq. [REDACTED]. Tunisia, a developing democracy, continues to face challenges related to government stability and socioeconomic conditions.

Canadian Engagement

Working in collaboration with broader international efforts, Canada has continued to assert a leadership position where there are opportunities to do so, for example in promoting human rights, gender equality and universal freedoms; contributing to economic development; advancing stabilization and humanitarian efforts; supporting democracy; and working to counter terrorism and violent extremism. Canada has led on the annual Iran resolution at the UN General Assembly since 2003, and has been outspoken about arbitrary detentions in Saudi Arabia and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Canada has, however, been criticized [REDACTED] for singling out the human rights records of specific countries and for its voting record at the UN on Israeli-Palestinian issues.

Canadian Armed Forces personnel are deployed in seven operations throughout MENA and were an active part of the alliance that defeated Daesh in Iraq. Canada’s military engagement under Operation Impact has been extended until March 2021. It consists of up to 850 Canadian Armed Forces deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Lebanon to assist with training and advising Iraqi security forces and providing equipment, personnel and intelligence capabilities to the Global Coalition against Daesh. In addition, Canadian officers contribute to

the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) on Israel’s borders/separation lines with Lebanon/Syria and Egypt respectively. They also support capacity building with the Palestinian Authority.

The presence of Canadian dual citizens, members of diaspora communities and large numbers of Canadian expatriates in the region contribute to the rich people-to-people ties between Canada and the MENA, but can represent an important consular obligation.

In 2019, Canada’s bilateral merchandise trade with the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) was $15.2 billion. Bilateral trade in services with MENA in 2019 was valued at $5.1 billion. Known foreign direct investment stock from MENA in Canada was in excess of $6.8 billion in 2019.

Of that amount, $6.1 billion was with Saudi Arabia, our 17th largest bilateral merchandise trading partner (not investment). The region is regarded as an important potential source of foreign investment, especially given the size of the sovereign wealth funds held by the Gulf States (an estimated $2.5 trillion) as well as thousands of students. Free trade agreements exist both with Israel and Jordan.

In FY2019-20, total Canadian international assistance to the [MENA] region amounted to $702 million, or 11 percent of our global total. Programs focused on humanitarian relief, inclusive governance and economic growth, and women’s empowerment. Major MENA recipients in recent years include Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the Palestinians, including Canada’s ongoing support to Palestinian refugees via UNRWA. Canada is one of the top donors in providing humanitarian relief to the Yemeni and Syrian people.

Canada is investing up to $3.5 billion over five years (2016-21) to respond to the crises in Syria and Iraq, and their impact on Jordan, Lebanon and the region.

This support helps set the conditions for security and stability; alleviate human suffering; enable civilian-led stabilization programs; and support governance and longer-term resilience.

Sub-Saharan Africa



Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 1 billion people, half of whom will be under 25 by 2050 ; it is a diverse continent offering vast human and natural resources. Over the past 20 years, GDP more than doubled in 28 of the region’s 44 countries, partly aided by fewer conflicts and greater political stability, and resulting in notable development gains; rates of extreme poverty declined from over 60 percent in the late 1990s to 40 percent in 2015. Life expectancy increased by 10 years since 2000. Africa entered 2020 with very optimistic economic prospects, boasting 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world.

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Sub-Saharan Africa is now expected to enter its first economic recession in 25 years. Declining economic growth could push up to 40 million people into extreme poverty. Disruptions to regular food imports, combined with the effects of climate change, have increased high levels of acute food insecurity with some 73 million people now facing serious food shortages. Rapidly rising domestic debt levels are of increasing concern in countries across the continent. The IMF forecasts a slow recovery with a growth forecast at 3.1 percent for 2021. A return to previous improving trendlines will take some time and attention from the international community. There remains cause for optimism, including the strengthening of Africa’s continental governance, particularly through the African Union (AU), the leading multilateral forum and principal interlocutor for Africa. Guided by its Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, the AU has established itself as a key conduit for engagement among African leaders on issues including peace and security, socio-economic development, governance, climate change, and continental integration.

Significantly bolstering the positive trade and investment prospects for the continent is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which came into effect January 1 2021. The AfCFTA will build the world’s largest free trade area and create a 1.2 billion-person market accounting for some $2.5- $3.5 trillion in total economic output. By helping to reduce production costs associated with tariffs, non-tariff barriers and trade facilitation problems, the agreement has the potential to foste a shift from exporting raw materials to greater value addition and intra-Africa value chains. AU analysis suggests that the agreement could boost intra-African trade by over 50 percent in the first years of implementation. It is also considered by many African leaders to be the key mechanism to foster an economic growth and jobs recovery to bounce back from the effects of COVID-19 and to create an entirely new development path, harnessing the potential of its resources and people. Canada has been a leading partner in support of the establishment of the AfCFTA and the importance of stronger partnership on this has been raised in various high-level engagement with continental leaders.

Prime Minister Trudeau has made deepening and expanding Canada’s relationship with Africa a key foreign policy priority, with the objective of a diversified partnership of equals. In 2019 and 2020, high-level delegations visited 11 countries on the continent, culminating in a visit by the Prime Minister (along with a Ministerial and business delegation) to Ethiopia and Senegal in parallel with the African Union Leaders Summit in February 2020. The Prime Minister made significant commitments to African leaders during the visit and cemented a number of strong, personal relationships with key leaders on the continent, including Presidents Ramaphosa (South Africa) and Macky Sall (Senegal) and Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed (Ethiopia.) [REDACTED].

Africa’s strategic importance

Through the AU, African countries are increasingly coordinated on global issues and exercising their influence within international institutions, including the UN (54 Member States), La Francophonie (26), the WTO (39) and the Commonwealth (19). They have also assumed a greater role in addressing regional security challenges, including through significant contributions of personnel to UN and AU-led peacekeeping and conflict prevention and mediation efforts.

Other actors have recognized Africa’s potential and have been intensifying their engagement on the continent. The United States is expected to have an increased focus on Africa under the incoming administration. The EU continues to be the continent’s largest trading partner and is expected to launch a new joint engagement strategy with Africa in 2021.

China has significantly increased its engagement, with a focus on increasing its private equity investment in Africa, increasing its access to the continent’s natural resources, expanding markets for Chinese goods, [REDACTED]. India, Russia, Turkey and major Gulf States are also shifting resources and attention to the continent.

Canada and others are concerned that trade and investment business models promoted by some of these actors undermine efforts to promote the region’s long-term development, economic and human rights goals. In addition, large scale lending, in particular by China, is contributing to rising levels of debt distress. As such, Canada has strongly supported the international community to encourage debt transparency efforts in working with the IMF and World Bank and by implementing the G20 Operational Guidelines for Sustainable Financing.

Some key hotspots

Africa continues to be the continent with the highest number of fragile and conflict-affected states. Violent conflicts and extreme poverty create reduced incentives to invest and reduced capacity for economic growth. The African Union has developed a continental plan aimed at ending major conflict entitled “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development.” This plan underscores the nexus between good governance, peace, stability and development. It also calls attention to the vital links between sustainable and inclusive economic growth, job creation, conflict prevention, and peace and security. Below are some examples of ongoing situations that we are tracking more particularly.

Ethiopia/Horn of Africa: The outbreak of a conflict between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the ruling party of the Tigray region of Ethiopia (Tigray People’s Liberation Front -TPLF) on November 3, 2020, following a TPLF attack on a federal military post, has led to a rapidly deteriorating situation affecting both Ethiopia and neighbouring countries. The conflict has transitioned towards a low-level insurgency, and there is concern that tensions could spill over to other regions in Ethiopia and in the wider Horn of Africa. Prime Minister Abiy has taken a firm stance on foreign intervention into what he describes as a domestic law enforcement operation. The conflict threatens the positive trajectory of the federal government’s democratic reform agenda. Ongoing challenges to humanitarian access and emerging allegations of human rights violations are of deep concern. Ethiopia is the “too big to fail” country in the Horn of Africa and further instability will have increasingly regional and continental consequences. This adds to already complicated situations in the Horn, in particular in Somalia.

Sahel Region: The Sahel (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) continues to be among the poorest regions in the world, with very high levels of gender inequality. The security, development and humanitarian challenges the region is facing are closely tied to poor governance, and exacerbated by the increasingly entrenched presence of armed groups, terrorists and criminal organizations. Concerns are that insecurity and violent extremist organizations spread to West African Coastal countries, such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin. During the past five years, Canadian companies have been attacked by armed groups, and several citizens kidnapped or killed by such groups.

Canada has been a long time contributor to development in the Sahel. Our support to G5 Sahel countries also include security assistance via MINUSMA (financial contributions, police and military deployment), police deployment to the European Union Capacity Building Mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali) and counter-terrorism training for Niger’s special forces (Operation NABERIUS). Canada provides aerial logistical support to Operation Barkhane. Large-scale private Canadian mining investments generate employment and significant revenues in the Sahel, especially in Burkina Faso and Mali. In 2019, the Canadian mining assets surpassed $14.6B in the Sahel region (more specifically gold mines in Mali, Burkina Faso and Mauritania) compared to nearly $8.2B in 2018, following acquisitions.

Canada is working with like-minded and Sahel countries. Canada has had observer status in the Sahel Alliance since June 2019 and is an active member of the International Coalition for the Sahel since its first meeting in June 2020, to which Minister Champagne participated. [REDACTED]. Canada has agreed to contribute in personnel to the Coalition in Brussels [REDACTED]. In October 2020, Minister Gould announced plans to establish bilateral development assistance programs with Chad and Niger, which was well received by international partners.

2021: An important inflection point for Africa

Given the economic effects that COVID-19 has had on the economies of Africa, the continent’s post-pandemic recovery will dominate near-term engagement with African leaders and will likely feature prominently in G7, G20 other international forums in 2021. To date, Canada has announced $1.6B in support for developing countries to respond to the pandemic, much of which will benefit the continent. Key issues will remain central to Africa’s engagement with Canada and other international actors including the following:

Vaccine roll-out and support to the Continent: Canada has committed $865M to support the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator to support access to tests, treatments and vaccines for developing countries. This includes significant support to the COVAX Facility. However, there are concerns on the continent that the COVAX Facility will provide sufficient vaccine supply and in a timely manner. AU Special Envoys have been advocating for access to surplus vaccines from developed countries pre-purchased vaccine portfolios including Canada.

Debt Relief: The pandemic has exacerbated many countries’ debt situations. Canada has supported measures to provide system-wide relief to the poorest and most vulnerable countries, including by providing a $1B loan to the IMF to provide immediate debt service relief to 25 of the most vulnerable countries (20 of which are in SSA) and supporting the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which offers temporary suspension of debt payments to low income countries.

Green Growth, Green Recovery: Sub-Saharan Africa has contributed the least to global warming but, without urgent action at-scale action, climate change will threaten economic growth. Canada’s initial $2.65 billion commitment of support for international efforts on Climate Change will end this year; [REDACTED].

Deepened Canadian footprint and people-to-people ties

In support of the governmental priority placed on the continent, Canada has a diplomatic presence in 19 Sub-Saharan countries, through 17 missions and four offices in the region. In 2021, Canada is adding two new bilateral development programs (in Niger and Chad) in addition to the 16 country development cooperation programs and the Pan-African & Regional Program operating in SSA. Since 2007-08, Canada has contributed over $23B in bilateral and multilateral international assistance to Africa, including $2.5BM in 2018-19. It remains the largest regional recipient of Canada’s Official Development Assistance.

In 2019, Canada had $5.8 billion in two-way trade with SSA, and has eight Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPAs) in force with Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Tanzania, Mali, and Senegal. In 2019, Canadian mining companies possessed over $38 billion in assets in SSA.

Canadians are currently deployed to the United Nations peacekeeping operations in DRC (MONUSCO), Mali (MINUSMA) and South Sudan (UNMISS), and we are operating tactical airlift deployments out of the UN Regional Service Center Entebbe, in Uganda. Canada is also supporting local and international partners to implement peacebuilding, mediation, and stabilization programming in a variety of African contexts, including South Sudan, Mali, Cameroon, and Burkina Faso. Still, Canada is routinely approached to increase our personnel deployment in support of Africa’s ongoing peacekeeping missions.

Finally, Canada has vibrant and growing diaspora communities from all corners of the African continent, helping to cement strong people-to-people ties and a key asset to grow our economic ties. In 2018 Canadian universities hosted over 30,000 students from Sub-Saharan Africa/nearly 45,000 from the continent as a whole.

The United Nations



Maintaining international peace and security is the UN’s core mission. The UN Security Council (UNSC) has the power to declare threats to international peace and security, authorize the use of force, impose sanctions and mandate UN peacekeeping missions (currently 12). Peace operations address situations in fragile and conflict-affected states, with mandates encompassing a wide variety of activities, including protecting civilians, monitoring human rights, facilitating humanitarian access, supporting elections, and leading security sector reform efforts. The broader peacebuilding agenda is aimed at assisting countries emerging from conflict. Disarmament and countering terrorism are also facets of the UN’s peace and security work.

The UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council enable dialogue between member states and major UN Summits and high-level meetings bring together world leaders to adopt normative frameworks, such as the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. The UN development system provides critical support to countries around the world to assist the poorest and most vulnerable and implement the 2030 Agenda. UN entities such as the World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are front-line responders to humanitarian crises. The UN-brokered Paris Agreement guides global efforts to combat climate change. The UN advances human rights norms and contributes to the primacy of the rule of law by codifying and developing international law on a wide-variety of subjects. UN specialized agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) are sources of technical knowledge and develop international standards in their respective areas of expertise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the central role the UN system plays in shaping and implementing collective responses to complex global challenges. Given this role, it is important that the UN functions efficiently and effectively. However, the UN currently faces a number of pressing challenges, including the resurgence of great power dynamics, a difficult financial situation and organizational challenges.

China has taken an increasingly assertive posture in the UN, arguing that its economic and political heft should accord it greater influence. It is increasingly active in intergovernmental negotiations and is systematically seeking elected positions on UN intergovernmental and technical bodies, as well as positions within the UN bureaucracy which has raised concerns about an intent to shift the normative discourse away from internationally-agreed norms in the area of human rights and international development cooperation, and to influence economic and technical regulations.

The new US administration’s approach to UN engagement is expected to shift from the Trump administration’s hard stance on a number of issues at the UN (including its decisions to withdraw from the WHO and, in 2018, from UNESCO; to remove itself from the Human Rights Council; to unilaterally limit its assessed contribution for peacekeeping; and to reject the Paris Agreement). However, antagonism toward the UN and multilateralism will likely continue in the US and the changed landscape that has resulted from the absence of US multilateral leadership in recent years will affect US re-engagement efforts.

The UN faces a protracted financial crisis. Paying a share of the UN’s costs is a core obligation of membership. Assessed contributions cover the UN regular budget (US$3.2 billion), the peacekeeping budget (US$6.5 billion) and the International Criminal Tribunals (US$97.5 million). (These figures are for 2021). The ten countries with the highest level of assessed share of the UN regular budget are the US (1st), China (2nd), other G7 countries, including Canada (9th), and Brazil and Russia. As of January 13, Member States owed approximately US$6.9 billion in unpaid assessed contributions. The US continues to be the largest debtor, with arrears of approximately US$3.147 billion. Canada always pays its assessed contributions to the UN system in full and on time.

UN Secretary-General (UNSG) António Guterres has advanced an ambitious reform agenda in order to break down silos and strengthen efficiency, transparency and accountability. Now largely in the implementation stage, reforms have challenged decades-old structures in the UN’s peace and security architecture; delivery of in-country programming; and internal management. Achieving gender parity in senior management and combatting sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment are also part of the reform agenda.

As a top contributor of funding, UN reform and redesign will continue to be a priority. Canada’s assessed contribution to the UN regular budget is US$79 million for 2021. Canada also pays assessed contributions to many of the key UN specialized agencies and UN environment bodies, provides an annual host-country grant to the Montreal-based Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), and uses a range of voluntary funding modalities to partner with entities of the UN development system. Canada’s UN engagement provides a means of working with partners to advance international priorities and strengthen the institutions, treaties, arrangements and norms that are central to a rules-based international system. The Department intends to conduct an operational audit of Canada’s engagement in the UN system to assess how best to pursue our objectives.

Supporting pandemic recovery efforts (including equitable access to vaccines) will continue to be a priority for Canada. Other key areas of focus include financing for development, climate change, peacebuilding, and humanitarian action. Advancing gender equality and protecting and promoting human rights will continue to be cross-cutting priorities. Your engagement at the UN will include participation in the high-level week of the UN General Assembly’s 76th session in September 2021, which typically also involves the participation of the Prime Minister and Minister of International Development, as well as other Ministers for specific thematic meetings and events.

UNSG Guterres has declared his candidacy for a second five-year term. While other contenders may step forward, Guterres’ first term is widely viewed as successful. He will speak to his priorities going forward at the end of January.




NATO serves as the primary forum for transatlantic consultation and cooperation on major national and regional security challenges. A pillar of the rules-based international order, NATO is central to Euro-Atlantic security, and essential to international stability. The principle of collective defence among NATO Allies, enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, ensures that Canadian sovereignty and security will be defended by Allies should Canada face a military threat. In turn, Canada is committed to the defence of NATO Allies. The Alliance is a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy. As Allied decision making is by consensus, NATO membership gives Canada a voice and a veto on issues related to Euro-Atlantic security.

The Alliance currently has three main tasks: (1) collective defence among the 30 Allies; (2) crisis management within and beyond NATO’s borders (e.g. Afghanistan and Libya missions); and, (3) cooperative security through partnerships (e.g. capacity building in Iraq, Jordan and Georgia).

Incoming Biden Administration

The incoming Biden Administration has expressed a commitment to internationalism, America’s alliance relationships, and NATO specifically. This stands in contrast to President Trump, whose rhetoric regarding America’s alliance relationships tracked closely with his ‘America First’ approach – though in fact U.S. participation in NATO remained steady and U.S. military commitment to Europe actually increased during his presidency. The Biden Administration has made it clear that it views NATO as an essential institution for American security and transatlantic stability.

Key challenges facing the Alliance include

Russian acts of aggression: The NATO-Russia relationship, already strained by the 2008 hostilities in Georgia, has been severely affected following Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea in 2014, ongoing interference in eastern Ukraine, and aggressive actions in the Kerch Strait in 2018. In response to Russia’s provocative and destabilizing behaviour, NATO takes a dual-track approach of deterrence and pursuit of high-level political dialogue. Notably, NATO has established an enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), on its eastern flank through which four multinational rotational battle groups are deployed, one each in Estonia, Latvia (led by Canada), Lithuania and Poland.

Burden sharing: Ensuring that all Allies contribute equitably to maintaining NATO security is a concern as old as the Alliance itself. Fair NATO burden sharing, and the progress of each Ally in reaching the guideline of spending two percent of GDP on defence, continues to be an issue of the highest importance for the U.S. With the Alliance’s largest economy and largest military, the U.S. is the greatest contributor to NATO operations. Canada will continue to see calls for more equitable NATO burden sharing under the Biden Administration. Canada has no plan to meet the 2 percent guideline by 2024, but is fulfilling its NATO burden sharing commitments by significantly increasing spending by 70 percent from 2016-17 levels by 2026-27 under the defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged. Canada’s defence spending – reported as 1.31 percent of GDP in 2019-2020 - will reach an expected 1.57 percent of GDP in 2024-2025, approximately $31 billion. Canada engages in advocacy to ensure that our significant operational contributions to the Alliance and defence spending increases are recognized.

Rise in great power competition: The rise in great power competition will at once [REDACTED]

[REDACTED]. Allies like Canada must work to ensure that no sub-groups or blocs form within NATO – fracturing Alliance unity.

[REDACTED] Turkey is an important member of the Alliance, and possesses NATO’s second-largest army.

Afghanistan: NATO remains engaged in Afghanistan chiefly through its Resolute Support Mission and the financial sustainment of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces. Canada has not contributed military personnel to NATO’s current training mission in Afghanistan (France is the only other Ally with no troop contribution), but provided $195 million towards Afghan security sector support from 2018 to 2020, and $270 million in development assistance from 2017 to 2020. [REDACTED]. U.S. and Afghan peace negotiations with the Taliban will continue to impact NATO operations going forward.

Nuclear and arms control issues: NATO continues to adapt its nuclear policy to evolving nuclear security challenges. Canada supports NATO’s ongoing efforts in this area, and continues to promote Allies’ commitment to disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation measures.

Canada and NATO

Canada was one of 12 founding members of NATO in 1949. Canada has a strong voice within NATO, and with a history of spearheading successful multilateral security initiatives, Canada is also well-positioned to promote innovative thinking and cooperation, including, for example, in the area of feminist foreign policy. Canada’s Joint Delegation to NATO is staffed by Global Affairs Canada and National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces. Canada’s financial contributions to NATO common budgets totaled CAD$165 million for 2018-19.

Canada continues to make significant operational contributions to NATO:

Canada is a leader on the issue of women, peace and security (WPS) at NATO, and is the leading financial contributor to the NATO WPS Office headed by a Canadian, Clare Hutchinson.

Emerging Issues

Evolving security environment: NATO is currently working to address new and evolving challenges, including cyber and hybrid threats, emerging and disruptive technologies and the growing role of space in Euro-Atlantic security and NATO operations.

NATO 2030: NATO is currently undergoing a forward-looking reflection process to strengthen its political dimension, including relevant instruments needed to address current and future threats and challenges. The Secretary General will provide his recommendations – consulted with NATO Foreign Ministers - to Allied leaders at their meeting in 2021. [REDACTED].

Canada and the G7



History and Key Issues

The Group of Seven (G7) was established in 1975 to increase international cooperation on pressing global economic and financial matters. The scope of the agenda has grown and members now address a range of matters, including security, development, environment, health, and gender equality, among other issues.

The G7 is comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since 1977, the EU has also been invited to attend G7 meetings. In 1997 Russia joined, making the configuration a G8 until Russia’s expulsion in 2014, following its illegal annexation of Crimea.

G7 and the International Context

G7 members have historically been bound together by respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, and by a shared commitment to a rules-based international system. The G7 has bolstered international economic unity and proposed coordinated approaches to address pressing global peace, security and economic crises.

The real value of the G7 lies not just in the members’ ability to reach consensus on issues, but to have open and frank discussions on common challenges and points of division, in order to influence global decision-making.

G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meetings

Participation in the G7 Foreign Ministers’ process (FMM) provides Canada with a unique vehicle to align positions with a small group of our closest partners on pressing international political and security challenges.

The G7 FMM is usually held prior to the Leaders’ Summit. G7 Foreign Ministers last met (virtually) in March 2020. The next planned FMM is in April (exact date TBC.) A portion of this meeting will be held jointly with G7 Development Ministers. [REDACTED].

G7 Foreign Ministers also frequently cooperate throughout the year on issues of shared interest or concern. For example, in 2020, G7 Foreign Ministers issued two issue-specific statements: on June 17, expressing concern about democracy and human rights in Hong Kong, and on September 8, condemning the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. [REDACTED].

Canada and the G7

Canada has hosted six G7 summits, most recently in 2018 in Charlevoix, Québec. Canada is next due to host the G7 in 2025.

A seat at the table offers Canada an opportunity to leverage the significant political and economic influence of the group to address global issues of priority concern to Canada. For example, the G7 has been instrumental in orienting and stabilizing global financial markets, bringing much needed financing in support of global initiatives, and harnessing broader partnerships with non-G7 countries. The G7 also offers Canada a privileged opportunity to engage and cooperate when confronting common geopolitical challenges with a relatively likeminded group of countries.

In terms of current Canadian G7 priorities, the G7 offers a forum for Canada to effectively advance our vision for the response and recovery to COVID-19, and addressing the disproportionate impact on women and marginalized groups, including Indigenous peoples. This builds on Canada’s 2018 G7 Charlevoix priority of “economic opportunity for all”. In addition, the UK’s leadership of both COP26 and the G7 in 2021 represents a significant opportunity for progress on climate change and environment issues, in line with Canadian positions. Finally, the G7 is an especially constructive forum for gathering international support on issues related to human rights and democracy. [REDACTED]

The 2021 UK G7 Presidency

The UK assumed the G7 presidency from the United States on January 1, 2021. The United States’ 2020 presidency was unique due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Although a Summit did not occur in 2020, Leaders convened for two virtual calls. The UK has indicated clearly that they plan an activist G7 year across a full range of economic, development, and political issues as a means of demonstrating G7 relevance.

The overarching priority for the UK G7 presidency is “Building Back Better”. This includes working cooperatively to strengthen health care systems and pandemic preparedness; tackle climate change and protect biodiversity; create jobs and strengthen the global trading system; and promote democratic values and human rights.

[REDACTED] In this respect, the UK is also planning to invite South Korea, Australia, and India – as leading global democracies – as guests to the Leaders Summit. It is not yet clear whether these same countries will be invited to the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

The UK plans on holding seven G7 ministerial meetings throughout 2021, namely: Foreign and Development; Digital and Technology; Finance; Trade; Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministers; Health; and Interior. In addition, the UK will convene a new G7 Panel on Economic Resilience, which will offer independent advice to G7 Leaders.

Building on Canada’s 2018 model, the UK will also convene a Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) to mainstream gender across all work streams. Given Canada’s efforts in launching a feminist international assistance policy and its work towards a feminist foreign policy, the UK continues to look to Canada for support and guidance in the launch of this advisory council.

World Trade Organization (WTO)



The WTO is at the core of the rules-based multilateral trading system. It provides its 164 Members with a forum for administering the global system of trade rules; negotiating new or updated rules; settling trade disputes between Members; and reviewing Members’ trade polices. Amidst growing global trade protectionism and the erosion of respect for multilateral cooperation, the WTO remains the main international institution to uphold the rules-based multilateral trading system. Its 60+ agreements—which are binding on all 164 WTO Members—constitute the largest set of global trade agreements and provide a baseline for other international trade rules including bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs).

The WTO is of strategic importance to Canadian trade objectives and has been a critical forum for Canada to secure market access for Canadian goods and services, and advance other trade interests on the broadest possible basis. The WTO has also been a vehicle for Canada to build alliances, influence multilateral trade rules and secure concessions or results on issues where we would otherwise have little individual leverage as a medium-sized economy.

WTO Negotiations

The most recent comprehensive round of WTO negotiations (Doha Development Agenda, or “DDA”) was launched in 2001, covering the areas of agriculture, market access for non-agricultural goods and services, trade facilitation, development, intellectual property, trade remedies and subsidy disciplines, trade and environment, and dispute settlement. [REDACTED]

Active multilateral negotiations involving all Members on core issues (e.g. agriculture domestic support and disciplining subsidies in fisheries) continue, albeit without much progress. Notably, Members failed to meet a December 2020 deadline to conclude fisheries subsidies negotiations. Given challenges in concluding negotiations on a multilateral basis, plurilateral negotiations – which involve subsets of WTO Members rather than the entire WTO membership – are increasingly seen as a more effective vehicle for the WTO. Plurilateral negotiations are ongoing in the areas of e-commerce, services domestic regulation, investment facilitation and MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises).

The Ottawa Group on WTO Reform

The multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges that point to an urgent need for WTO reform, in order to strengthen and modernize the organisation. A a result of the United States blocking appointments to the Appellate Body, the WTO’s dispute settlement system is unable to hear appeals, rendering panel decisions unenforceable. The stalemate in multilateral negotiations has resulted in WTO rules not keeping pace with the 21st century global economy. Global trade protectionism, the erosion of respect for international trade rules, and countries taking unilateral trade actions are recent trends that have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Against this backdrop, and given the importance that Canada places on the multilateral trading system, Canada has taken a leadership role in WTO reform on the global stage. This includes leadership of the Ottawa Group (established in October 2018), as a forum for 13 WTO MembersFootnote 6 to discuss and develop ideas and proposals to reform the WTO. Trade Ministers and Vice Ministers of the Ottawa Group are regularly engaged, having met 6 and 5 times to date respectively since the Group’s creation.

In June 2020, Ottawa Group Ministers endorsed the Joint Statement, Focusing Action on COVID-19, which outlines a six-point action in the areas of (1) WTO transparency; (2) agriculture trade; (3) e-commerce; (4) trade facilitation; (5) trade in health; and (6) deepening stakeholder engagement. Good progress has been made on implementation of these action items. This includes ongoing work on a WTO Ministerial Declaration to facilitate trade in essential medical goods and enhance the capacity of the trading system to deal with public health emergencies.

The WTO Appellate Body Impasse

Over the past several U.S. administrations, the United States has expressed concerns on the operation of the dispute settlement system. Since 2016, the United States has blocked attempts to fill Appellate Body vacancies. As a result, in December 2019, the Appellate Body lost quorum to hear new appeals which makes the enforceability of WTO rules problematic by effectively allowing a Member to “appeal into the void” and prevent a panel decision from becoming adopted. This situation is detrimental to the interests of many WTO Members, including Canada. In particular, binding WTO dispute settlement has facilitated the resolution of many key Canadian trade disputes (i.e. country of origin labelling for beef and pork, and softwood lumber) with global partners, especially vis-à-vis the United States.

[REDACTED] Canada and 23 other like-minded WTO Members have established the Multi-Party Interim Appeal-Arbitration Arrangement which operates within the framework of existing WTO rules and provides the option of resorting to binding arbitration as an alternative means to dispute settlement as long as the Appellate Body is unable to hear new appeals.

WTO Director General Selection Process

Former WTO Director General (DG) Roberto Azevêdo stepped down on September 1, 2020. In October 2020, the WTO General Council announced that Nigeria’s candidate (Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala) received the most support from WTO Members to be appointed DG. [REDACTED]

12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12)

The Ministerial Conference, which normally meets every two years, is the highest WTO decision-making body—followed by the General Council, which meets several times a year. Canada is represented by the Minister of International Trade at WTO Ministerial Conferences. MC12 was originally scheduled to take place in June 2020 but was postponedFootnote 7 due to COVID-19.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation



Established in 1989, APEC is Asia’s preeminent forum on matters of trade and the economy and it operates as a nonbinding, consensus driven, multilateral institution with a focus on promoting sustainable growth and prosperity among its 21 member economies.Footnote 8 APEC seeks to enhance regional integration by removing barriers to trade and investment “at the border,” enhancing supply chain connectivity "across the border," and improving the regulatory environment "behind the border." Its work is advanced through a variety of forums, working groups and initiatives aimed at expanding free and open trade and investment, and cultivating favourable business environments in the APEC region.

APEC initiatives and priorities often complement the work of multilateral forums such as the G7, G20, OECD, ASEAN and at the WTO.

Hosting APEC is a significant commitment and the responsibility is rotated amongst members each year, but not in any prescribed order. In addition to the Annual Economic Leaders’ Meeting (or “Summit”), host countries organize meetings of APEC ministers responsible for foreign affairs, trade and finance, as well as “sectoral ministerials” in areas such as transportation, tourism, health, and SMEs. Malaysia hosted APEC in 2020 despite pandemic related disruptions and New Zealand is hosting APEC virtually in 2021 with Thailand due to host in 2022. [REDACTED]. By 2023, 14 of 19 APEC economies that are able to host (Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei are excluded) will have hosted APEC twice; some having hosted three times. Only Canada, Brunei, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Russia have only hosted once.

APEC in the Global Economy
Text version

APEC in the Global Economy

ValueProportion of World
Population2.9 billion38%
TradeUSD 22 trillion47%
GDPUSD 48 trillion60%

Private sector engagement, a key APEC pillar, is advanced through the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), which represents the interests of the APEC business community. The annual APEC CEO Summit and regular APEC industry dialogues provide opportunities for business leaders to interact with APEC leaders. Each APEC Leader can appoint up to three ABAC members and Canada currently has only one member, Janet De Silva (CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade). Canada is in the process of filling its two ABAC vacancies.

Canada in APEC: APEC provides Canada with the opportunity to further strengthen trade and economic ties with Asia-Pacific’s most dynamic economies. Four of Canada’s top five trading partners are APEC members: the United States, China, Mexico and Japan. In 2017, APEC accounted for more than 84 percent of Canada's total merchandise trade, alongside FDI in Canada valued at over $480 billion.

APEC is also the only trans-Pacific regional organization—of which Canada is a member—that hosts an annual leaders-level summit. It therefore serves as a critical platform to pursue our regional objectives, including trade liberalization and market reforms, as well as broader foreign policy goals, including membership bids for regional forums such as the leader-level East Asia Summit and ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting – Plus (ADMM+).

Global Affairs Canada coordinates the activities of over a dozen partner departments involved in APEC’s broad agenda, ranging from customs procedures and regulatory reform, to women’s economic empowerment, mental health, and the digital economy.

In recent years, Canada has played an instrumental role in pressing for governance reforms, with a particular focus on streamlining APEC’s complex and expansive organizational structure which now includes over 30 working groups. [REDACTED]

Outlook: APEC has faced headwinds in its 32-year history, but none as significant as those it confronted in 2020 which included an unprecedented global pandemic, [REDACTED]. Despite these challenges, Malaysia’s APEC host year will be considered one of the most successful in recent memory given the consensus of APEC members on three key deliverables: a joint statement by APEC Trade and Foreign Ministers; a declaration by APEC Leaders – the first to be issued since Viet Nam’s 2017 host year; and support for the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 – a twenty-year vision document that outlines APEC’s core, long-term goals.

New Zealand, 2021 APEC host, established its priorities for the year which include a strong emphasis on inclusive, digitally enabled and sustainable post pandemic recovery. Given our close, likeminded relationship with New Zealand, 2021 presents Canada with an opportunity to advance issues within APEC that are of particular importance to Canada such as women’s economic empowerment, trade related intiatives targeting indigenous communities, climate change issues, and support for the multilateral trading system. The next series of Senior Officials meetings will take place from February 18 to March 2 and APEC Leaders week is tentatively scheduled to take place during the week of November 8, 2021.

Canada-ASEAN Relations



ASEAN comprises ten member states: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN’s mission is to advance economic growth, community building, and security cooperation. It operates by consensus, with the chair taking a leadership role in setting priorities and hosting major meetings. ASEAN’s fundamental principles known as ‘the ASEAN Way’ emphasize national sovereignty and the commitment to non-intervention into the affairs of member countries. 

Canada is one of ten Dialogue Partners – countries that enjoy a special relationship with ASEAN. Other Dialogue Partners include Australia, China, the European Union (EU), India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States (US).  Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs’ participates in the annual Post-Ministerial Conference and the ASEAN Regional Forum while the Minister of International Trade participates in the annual ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM).  Prime Minister Trudeau was invited, as Guest of the ASEAN Chair, to three consecutive ASEAN Leaders’ Summits but in 2020, plans were disrupted by COVID.

As the centre of political and economic gravity shifts to Asia, building Canada’s influence and engagement in the region, both politically and economically, are critical to our long-term interests.  Southeast Asia represents the third largest population in the world after China and India.  Several ASEAN member states are also of strategic interest to Canada, however, the ASEAN region continues to face development challenges, ongoing human rights and rules-based governance concerns, and growing inequality in certain countries. As a group, ASEAN is ranked as Canada’s sixth largest merchandise trading partner in 2019. Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and ASEAN reached $27.2 billion in 2019. Services trade totalled $6.6 billion in 2019. The stock of known Canadian direct investment in ASEAN countries reached over $17.5 billion at the end of 2019 and foreign investment from ASEAN into Canada reached $526.

Brunei Darussalam is the Chair of ASEAN for 2021 with the theme “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper”. Brunei has committed to accelerating efforts to recover from the pandemic and realise ASEAN ambitions of an inclusive ASEAN Community.  In addition, the Chair will seek to open new markets and partnerships for ASEAN, specifying their intent to launch negotiations for a possible ASEAN-Canada Free Trade Agreement. 

Canada-ASEAN Relations are on the upswing. There have been several major policy milestones: the completion of a Joint Feasibility Study for an ASEAN-Canada FTA in 2018 and the conclusion of exploratory discussions on a possible Canada-ASEAN FTA in 2019; the signing of the CPTPP, whose members include four ASEAN member states (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam); and, the announcement of an expanded Canadian scholarship program for ASEAN.

Since 2000, Canada has provided almost $3.7 billion in development assistance to ASEAN and its member states to help reduce poverty. Canada’ s modest Regional Development Program ($4M/year) with ASEAN focuses on disaster risk mitigation and management; inclusive growth (e.g. reforms to enabling environments to support to small-medium enterprise development); human rights (e.g. migrant workers’ rights); and gender equality. Canada also operates four bilateral international development programs in Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam. In 2017, Canada announced the $10 million Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development project.  Since 2013, GAC’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program (WTRP) has been collaborating with ASEAN to mitigate biological threats, an initiative ($25 million committed to date) that aims to strengthen “health-security” in the region. To further enhance ASEAN capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the WTRP has contributed a total of 690,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) to six ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat (valued at $4.5 million) and provided COVID-19 diagnostic kits and related training to three ASEAN countries (through a $5 million contribution to the International Atomic Energy Agency) to prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19. 

Canada and ASEAN member states launched exploratory discussions for a possible Canada-ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA) in 2017. In September 2019, at the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)-Canada Consultations, Ministers welcomed the conclusion of exploratory discussions and tasked officials to present recommendations to Ministers on next steps. At the next AEM in August 2020, despite growing support, Canada and ASEAN deferred the decision to launch negotiations towards a Canada-ASEAN FTA until 2021 due to a lack of consensus among ASEAN member states. Instead, Ministers agreed to a timeline which includes the development of a reference paper in early 2021 to outline the scope of a possible agreement. In parallel, Canada is also exploring options to advance its trade policy interests with individual ASEAN member states.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) has evolved into the primary Foreign Ministry-led security and defence forum in Asia-Pacific. Canada was one of the ARF’s founding members, and uses the ARF to advocate for its regional security interests.

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is the region’s premier leader-level comprehensive dialogue. All ASEAN dialogue partners, except for Canada and the EU, are also members of the EAS. The 18 EAS members collectively represent over 50 percent of the world’s population, and account for approximately 50 percent of the global economy. Canada has been seeking membership since 2012.  In 2011, the EAS imposed an informal moratorium on new members after the United States and Russia joined. Several EAS members feel that the organization needs time to strengthen internally before adding new members. Similarly, Canada is seeking to join the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM+) - a forum focusing on operational defence issues with a membership matching that of the EAS.

ASEAN, in recent years, has established strategic partnerships with major international powers, including the United States, China, EU, Russia, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Canada is the only ASEAN Dialogue Partner without Strategic Partner status since the EU’s status was elevated in 2020. In 2019, Canada made a formal request to ASEAN to elevate the relationship to a strategic partnership, as a way to widen potential cooperation. ASEAN has welcomed Canada’s request and discussions are continuing at the ASEAN Senior Officials’ level.

Multilateralism in the Americas



Canada is a respected and influential multilateral player in the Americas, and uses its engagement in the region’s multilateral bodies to advance democracy, security and human rights (including gender equality and indigenous and minority rights), increase responsible trade and investment, and combat key transnational challenges such as COVID-19 and climate change.

The Americas has been prolific in generating multilateral organizations, often with overlapping goals, functions and activities. A recent survey carried out through the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) identified nearly 180 multilateral groupings in the Americas. Canada seeks to strategically engage those institutions that best permit us to advance our core values and interests.

The Summit of the Americas and Organization of American States: Organizations centered around the Summit of the Americas process and the Organization of American States (OAS) make up what is known as the Inter-American system. The Summit of the Americas process brings the highest level of political attention to hemispheric issues and is an opportunity for leaders to meet, generally every 3 years, and provide guidance to the Inter-American system on pressing challenges. The US is scheduled to host the next summit in 2021. The theme and timing will be confirmed by the new US administration in due course. It can be expected the Summit will serve as a point of convergence for addressing the region’s recovery from the multi-faceted impacts of COVID-19 and challenges to democratic governance. The Summit will provide an opportunity to mark the 20th anniversary of the Inter-American Democracy Charter (IADC), a largely Canada-driven initiative aimed at defending democracy when under threat which was launched at the 2001 Summit held in Quebec City. Canada has an opportunity to position itself as a partner of choice to the US as Summit host in 2021.

The OAS has 34 active member states and its mandate consists of four pillars aligned with Canada’s long standing interests in the region: democracy, human rights, development and security. The OAS is the primary forum for political engagement in the Americas. Many Latin American and Caribbean nations place a high degree of importance on this insitution. Its meetings and yearly General Assemblies offer opportunities to deepen bilateral relations with key partners in the region. OAS instruments such as the above-mentioned IADC are among the most forward-looking of their kind. OAS electoral observation missions are also considered a model globally.

However, the OAS faces the limits and challenges inherent to many multilateral organizations. It is weakened by ideological divisions and polarization in the region between left and right-leaning governments or populist [REDACTED]. Canada works to reinforce the OAS’ effectiveness through contributions to its sound management and financial sustainability and seeks in particular to advance democracy, human rights, diversity & inclusion and gender equality, through the organization.

Other Regional Organizations: Canada is also engaged with other regional organizations in the Americas, some of which have extra-regional ties, as well as sub-regional bodies, and informal groupings that complement formal efforts.

Smaller sub-regional groupings are of increasing importance to Canada’s engagement in the hemisphere. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is the oldest of these and has been particularly adept at leveraging its voting bloc in larger organizations like the OAS and the UN. Canada is also a regional observer to the Central American Integration System (SICA), which [REDACTED] is key to Central America’s economic development and integration.

Canada also continues to monitor other multilateral initiatives that foster political, economic or even ideological cooperation elsewhere in the region, including the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA) and the Forum for the Progress and Development of South America (PROSUR) promoted by Colombia and Chile in 2019 to replace the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). None of these initiatives has yet evolved to threaten the regional pre-eminence of the OAS.

Canada is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) and a free trade agreement to become an associated state of the Pacific Alliance (PA). MERCOSUR and the PA are major trade blocs that are key to Canadian strategic trade and investment interests in the region.

Among regional organizations with extra-regional ties, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have been key policy and programming partners to Canada in the hemisphere, including in relation to efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The emergence of informal groupings such as the Lima Group formed by some OAS Member States – including Canada – keen to address the democratic backsliding in Venezuela has also had some impact on multilateral dynamics in the Americas. Such groupings can prove useful to adopt temporary measures to complement the work of formal bodies when warranted.

Canada’s Regional Focus to Date: Canada has grown to be a respected and influential partner in the region, based on historic relations, mutual respect, its reputation of bringing a balanced voice to regional debates, and program investments.

The promotion and defence of democracy and human rights have been a hallmark of Canada’s multilateral involvement in the region. Beyond Canada’s key contributions leading to the adoption of the IADC in 2001, Canada’s recent leadership on Venezuela and Nicaragua has also strengthened our voice and credentials. Canada has been involved in multilateral initiatives and programs to fight corruption and advance hemispheric security, including through its Americas-focused Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program. Canada has also established good economic ties through trade agreements and development programming aimed at inclusive and clean growth.

Canadian Inter-American International Assistance focuses on governance, health, gender equality, inclusive growth and climate change, and strengthens the capacity of select regional institutions, such as PAHO, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Justice Centre of the Americas and ParlAmericas.

Canada and the African Union



The AU, led by its assembly composed of 55 African Heads of States and GovernmentFootnote 9, is a multilateral organization that promotes continental integration, security and sustainable development. It develops, negotiates and adopts common positions on key continental issues and priorities. The AU’s work is guided by Agenda 2063 − Africa’s blueprint for sustainable and inclusive development. Agenda 2063 sets out a vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa. The AU Heads of State and Government meet annually at the AU Summit, one of the most important political events on the continent. The Chair of the AU Assembly is South African President Ramaphosa until the February 6-7, 2021 Summit, at which point Democratic Republic of Congo President Tshisekedi will take over.

The AUC, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is the secretariat for the AU and is mandated to develop the policy frameworks, initiatives and instruments for the implementation of AU decisions. Canada provides international assistance support directly to the AUC to build their capacity to deliver on AU priorities. The Chairperson of the AUC is Moussa Faki Mahamat from Chad, an influential leader on the continent elected in 2017 for a four-year mandate. AUC elections should take place during the next Summit, and as it stands, Chairperson Faki is the only candidate to his succession.

Canada views the AU as a critical interlocutor to advance African peace and security, trade and development objectives, and more recently the fight against COVID-19. Canada supports the AU’s vision of finding African-led solutions to address developmental and political challenges and has been a lead partner in the negotiations and establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area. During his February 2020 visit to Addis Ababa coinciding with the African Union Summit, the Prime Minister signaled Canada’s intent to diversify and strengthen engagement in Africa, notably with the African Union. [REDACTED]

During his February 2020 bilateral meeting with Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Prime Minister announced that Canada would hold the first ever high-level consultations with the AUC in 2020. During the consultations (now tentatively planned for Spring 2021), Canada and the Commission will explore how to deepen ongoing work on common priorities and strengthen coordination between the Canada and the AUC. This would help guide the support provided by Canada to the strengthening of the capacity of the AUC in addition to more specific initiatives (see below for some details).

COVID-19: The AU has taken the lead in coordinating Africa's continental response, in partnership with their specialized health agency the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). AU COVID-19 Special Envoys were appointed to mobilize support for the continent. They notably have been advocating for priority access to surplus vaccines, including Canada’s supply. [REDACTED]

Canada provided more than $6 million to respond to calls for support to the Africa CDC’s response to COVID-19, including supplying N95 masks, equipment and strengthening capacities of local laboratories across the region to support the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT). Canada’s investments to address COVID-19 were also channeled to complementary initiatives. This includes an additional $5 million to an existing $20 million World Bank project (Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement), noting that the World Bank is also a strategic partner of Africa CDC and plays a key coordination role with African institutions.

Peace and Security and the AU/UN collaboration: The AU plays a growing role in peace and security on the continent through missions authorized or mandated by its Peace and Security Council, [REDACTED]. This includes maintaining peace operations in Somalia (AMISOM) and the hybrid UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Examples of the AU promoting conflict prevention and resolution include the recent mediation around the Grand Ethiopian renaissance Dam issue between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, [REDACTED]. A shared priority with Canada, the AU is also active in advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda,Footnote 10 and launched a series of activities aimed at establishing WPS networks and encouraging member states to adopt WPS National Action Plans.

Both the AU and the UN have made deepening their partnership a priority, signing a Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security in April 2017. While cooperation has progressed, the question of providing predictable and sustained financing for Security Council-sanctioned AU-led peacekeeping missions through UN assessed contributions remains unresolved. Canada’s approach focuses on encouraging efforts to find more predictable, flexible and sustainable financing mechanisms for African-led peace operations, while acknowledging that the UN is also facing a financial crisis. As Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) in 2020, Canada’s top priorities for its PBC presidency were economic security, conflict prevention, review of UN peacebuilding, and strengthening the role of the PBC in the UN.

African Continental Free Trade Area: One of the most prominent flagship projects of the AU is the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which entered into force on May 30, 2019 with the first trading under the Agreement officially taking place on January 1, 2021. The agreement had been signed by 54 of the 55 AU member states (Eritrea has not signed), and ratified by 34 AU Member States. Canada has been a lead partner of the AU on this, including via a $13.2M project to support the establishment as a founding donor to the African Trade Policy Center. The AfCFTA has the potential to drive growth and innovation in Africa, thus contributing to poverty reduction and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Economic integration in Africa will contribute to deepening Canada-Africa trade and commercial ties and provide potential new opportunities for Canadian companies. Once fully implemented, it will enhance regional economic integration and will be a key part of the continent’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. [REDACTED].

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development



Established in 1961, the OECD has 37 members representing approximately 62 percent of the world economy. Its mandate is to promote better policies for sustainable economic growth, employment, and a rising standard of living through open and stable markets and mutually supportive economic and social policies. Over 700 Canadian delegates from all levels of government and civil society participate in OECD committee work.

The OECD has over 250 committees, working groups and other bodies focusing on various OECD work areas (i.e. economics, trade, science, education). The OECD’s work is supported by a Secretariat comprising 3500 staff from member countries.

Four issues facing the world economy are particularly relevant in the context of the OECD: (1) the rising backlash against international trade and globalization; (2) the overall fragility of the world economy; (3) the interconnectedness of the global trading system; and (4) the digital transition. Since last March, this has been overlaid by organisation’s contribution to policy analysis and cooperation to address the impacts of the global pandemic and encourage an inclusive, broad and sustainable recovery.

The OECD’s comparative strengths are its comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach to data collection and comparative analysis, peer learning, evidence-based policy direction and guidelines, and policy coherence and impact measurement. In the context of the pandemic, OECD discussions and analysis on strengthening healthcare systems, securing businesses, maintaining jobs and education, and stabilizing financial markets and economies showcase its strong value proposition.

Angel Gurria, Secretary-General since 2006, will conclude his third term in 2021 and OECD members are in the process of selecting his successor. In addition to Canada’s candidate, Bill Morneau, nine other candidates were initially nominated, including six from EU member states (Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Sweden) and three from outside of the EU (Australia, Switzerland and the United States). The Polish and Czech candidates were ruled out of contention on January 13, following the elimination process.

The selection process should be completed by March 1, 2021 with the new Secretary-General taking up the post on June 1, 2021. The decision is made by consensus by all OECD members, and may take several rounds of internal discussions before a final candidate is chosen.

The OECD budget is EUR 386 million (2019). Canada is the seventh largest contributor, paying 3.5 percent of the core budget ($18 million annually in assessed contributions).

Colombia became the 37th member of the OECD in April 2020 and Costa Rica is expected to complete its domestic process to accede to the organisation in the coming months. [REDACTED].

Canada and the OECD

The OECD is an important multilateral platform for Canada, particularly in encouraging policies that promote inclusive societies, and fostering cooperation in global recovery policies. It offers a principled forum to share best practices, and gain insights from likeminded economies.

Canada’s current priorities for the OECD are 1) the digital economy; 2) climate change and natural resources management; 3) trade liberalization and inclusive growth; and, 4) sustainable development with a focus on development financing.

Canada is working with other member countries to strengthen OECD governance and efficiency, including so it demonstrates greater attentiveness to member-driven priorities and budget discipline.

International Financial Institutions



IFIs are components of the international financial architecture established after WWII. Their mandate has evolved from rebuilding post-war Europe to providing necessary financial resources for programs in poor and middle-income countries, including fragile states. IFIs include multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

MDBs aim to reduce poverty; advance sustainable economic and social development; and promote regional cooperation and integration. They typically provide non-concessional financial assistance to middle-income countries and some creditworthy low-income countries on market-based terms. They also provide concessional assistance, including grants and loans at below-market interest rates, to low-income countries.

The IMF conducts economic surveillance and provides policy advice, lending programs and technical assistance in the service of global financial security and stability, and global monetary cooperation.

Global powers including China, India, and Brazil are concerned with increasing their voice and voting power in these fora, along with developing countries. IFIs are making efforts to address concerns regarding the representativeness of their governance bodies, particularly reforming voting rights.

BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are also exploring alternative routes to play a larger role in global governance outside the traditional IFIs that Canada supports, including through the New Development Bank (established in 2016) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (established in 2016).

Canada and the IFIs: Canada is a significant shareholder in IFIs. IFIs are among Canada’s largest and most strategic partner institutions for supporting development interventions at scale given the size of their operations, track record, technical and financial expertise, convening role, and thought leadership. Given that the IFIs were established as non-political fora, it has been possible to make more progress on issues such as debt sustainability, including with China, than in other political fora such as the G20.

Canada’s relationship with all the IFIs is co-managed by Global Affairs Canada and the Department of Finance. The Minister of Finance is Canada’s Governor to the Board of Governors of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The Minister of International Development is Canada’s Governor to the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Current priority issues at IFIs

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

The IMF is playing a key role in the global economic response to the crisis by providing new financing or lines of credit to vulnerable countries, and providing economic policy advice to all countries. It will continue to play a major role through the global economic recovery, including with policy advice focused on fostering more resilience, inclusive, and green economies, and addressing global debt challenges.

World Bank Group: The World Bank Group has launched a US$160 billion dollar COVID-19 support package, which is expected to be fully deployed by June 2021. This includes a US$14 billion Fast Track Facility set up in March 2020 to rapidly assist countries in their effort to prevent, detect and respond to the impacts of COVID-19. It also includes up to US$12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries finance the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.

African Development Bank (AfDB)

In 2020, Canada subscribed to the Bank’s seventh General Capital Increase, which provides the AfDB with US$115 billion over ten years, maintaining Canada’s 3.9% vote share. Canada is also contributing CAD$355.2 million over three years to the African Development Fund, the concessional window of the Bank, which provided loans and grants to the poorest countries to improve their economic governance, build infrastructure and address sources of fragility and vulnerability. In May 2020, the AfDB established a US$10 billion COVID-19 response facility to address health and socio-economic effects of the pandemic.

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

Canada has a 4% vote share in the IDB. The Bank is currently responding rapidly to the COVID crisis. Following promises by the newly elected IDB Group President, Mauricio Claver-Carone, to identify new funding for the Bank in the context of COVID, a key priority in 2021 will be discussions regarding a General Capital Increase (GCI). Should a transition take place in Venezuela, the IDB would also be a key partner to re-engage and help rebuild that country.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Canada has a 4.47% vote share in the Bank.  The ADB provides important support for climate action in the region, whose large and fast growing countries will largely determine whether global climate action is successful. In December 2020, the ADB announced a US$9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility which will support members’ countries to access and distribute COVID19 vaccines safely and swiftly. The Asian Development Fund was recently replenished (September 2020), and Canada will be providing CAD$120.5 million over four years.

Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)

With 9.2% vote share, Canada is a large and influential member of the CDB. The Bank has been leading the COVID response in the region, and was the first regional development bank to extend debt service relief to its members following the onset of the COIVID-19 pandemic. Negotiations of the replenishment of its concessional window, the Special Development Fund, to which Canada is the largest contributor, will be completed in late January 2021.

The World Economic Forum



The World Economic Forum was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation that identifies global issues and seeks solutions through private-public collaboration. Headquatered in Geneva, Switzerland, the organization engages with political, business, academic and civil society leaders to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

While often perceived as elitist, the Forum has succeeded in becoming a pivotal venue for fostering public-private partnerships and for focusing the attention of private sector leaders on the long term and the implemention of solutions to global issues like sustainability, technological disruption, environmental and social issues and governance. In particular, the Forum has established itself at the cutting edge of global discussions on “Globalization 4.0,” also known as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR).

Forum Leadership

The Forum is chaired by its founder and executive chairman, Professor Klaus Schwab. The organization’s mission and values are guided by a Board of Trustees made up of leaders drawn from business, politics, academia and civil society. Canadians Mark Carney and Chrystia Freeland are currently members of the Board of Trustees in their personal capacities.

A Managing Board acts as the executive committee and ensures that activities fulfill the mission of the Forum. Børge Brende, former Norwegian Foreign Minister, is the President of the Managing Board and de facto number two in the organization.

Forum Meetings

The Forum’s flagship Annual Meeting at Davos normally takes place each year in January, but has been rescheduled to May 25-28 in Singapore this year due to the global pandemic. In the meantime, the WEF will be hosting the Davos Agenda on 25-29 January 2021, a virtual event which aims to mobilize global leaders to rebuild trust to shape the principles, policies and partnerships needed in 2021.

The annual meeting is attended by a Canadian ministerial delegation, sometimes led by the Prime Minister. Engagement at the annual meeting provides an opportunity to attract investment, advance specific priority Canadian themes and build networks, helping shape discussions across sectors on global issues as well as the forward agenda of the Forum.

The Forum also holds a series of annual or biannual regional meetings in China, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Latin America. These are incomparable venues for understanding regional priorities and pursuing economic and political relationships. While the Forum seeks ministerial level participation, the Department has expressed the value in including senior official level representation at these events.

Forum Working Structure

The Forum has established a range of “Platforms” to support global, regional and national initiatives that engage senior leaders from the public and private sectors, to set agendas in particular issue areas and mobilize leadership, expertise, and resources from business, government, civil society, and international organizations. Many Canadian Ministers have in the past participated in the WEF’S work and initiatives.

The Forum’s Global Future Councils (GFCs) are responsible for carrying out the agendas set by the Platforms through leveraging talent and expertise across public and private knowledge networks, and by promoting innovation and cooperation on global issues. Canada is well-represented on the Global Future Councils at the senior official level from across government and by Canadian civil society and private sector leaders.

Forum Centres

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) explores how science and technology policies can benefit society and how to counter the disruptive impacts of new technologies. The Centre for Cybersecurity, focuses on systemic cybersecurity challenges and improved digital trust.

Canadian Engagement

The Forum provides a multi-layered platform to advance Canadian priorities and shape the Forum’s agenda in a unique ecosystem that brings together players from political, business, academic and civil society.

Canada’s engagement in the Forum ecosystem ranges from funding specific initiatives, such as the Global Alliance for Trade Faciliation, to participation in several Forum-related bodies and collaboration on key reports and initiatives. Canada also attends the Forum’s Annual meeting and regional meetings.

The Forum’s annual meeting and regional meetings offer opportunities to promote domestic intitiatives to an international audience through the participation in public sessions, and to connect with a wide range of actors through bilateral and pull-aside meetings.

Global Affairs Canada’s recent involvement with the Forum has focused on initiatives related to trade and investment, development financing, food security, humanitarian assistance, resilience-building, and the Arctic.

Recent high level Canadian engagement includes the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ participation in a December 8th meeting of the WEF’s Global Action Group on the post-COVID-19 world and the Deputy Prime Minister’s participation in an “Action Platform” dialogue on Canadian priorities and experiences in tackling the pandemic last May. The Prime Minister provided a recorded keynote message to the Forum for a Virtual Oceans Dialogue last June, held in lieu of a cancelled United Nations Oceans Conference.

Canada and the G20



History and Key Issues: The Group of 20 (G20)Footnote 11 was established in 1999 in large part as a result of efforts by Canada in response to the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s. It met initially at the level of finance ministers and Central Bank Governors from advanced and emerging economies to discuss the stability of financial markets, and how to promote economic cooperation. Its diverse membership represents 85 percent of global GDP.

In response to the 2008 global financial crisis, the G20 was elevated to the level of leaders. At its core, G20 members are expected to promote economic stability and sustainable growth. Responsible and better coordinated monetary and fiscal policies are preconditions for such growth. The G20 continues to provide an important forum to discuss common approaches to global imbalances, capital market regulation, international trade and investment, and sustainable job creation in an increasingly digitalized world.

In recent years, the G20 has taken on an increasing number of subject areas, including health, environment/climate change, food security, gender and women’s entrepreneurship, education and training, migration/displacement, culture and tourism. Though cautious to ensure against mission creep, Canada has argued that such issues are appropriate for G20 consideration as there are significant economic implications associated with each of these issues if left unaddressed, and G20 action can offer an important demonstration effect.

In 2020, the G20 devoted considerable attention to the global pandemic, [REDACTED]. Key among them was the launch, in coordination with the Paris Club, of a Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) to help address financial vulnerabilities in developing countries and allow countries to devote resources to fight the pandemic. The initiative is scheduled to conclude on June 30, 2021, but a further extension could be necessary.

In addition to an annual Leaders’ Summit, most recently held virtually under the Saudi Presidency on November 21-22, 2020, the G20 traditionally hosts a range of annual ministerial meetings coinciding with the priorities of the presidency.

G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting: Italy will convene a G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) as well as a joint session with Development Ministers on June 28-29. While the G20 FMM was not always a regular fixture of the G20 year, it has been held more regularly in recent years, including under Japan’s 2019 Presidency and Saudi Arabia’s 2020 Presidency. In 2020, foreign ministers discussed how to best facilitate the movement of people and the repatriation of citizens in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, it is expected that Italy will use the FMM to focus, in part, on the evolving global food security crisis. Should an in-person meeting be possible, the event would offer an opportunity for key bilateral meetings.

Canada and the G20: For Canada, the G20 remains an important platform to influence global economic, financial, and trade policy issues notably given its make-up. The Group is most effective when focussed on matters affecting stability and growth, and international economic governance. In this respect, the real value of the G20 continues to be the opportunity to build consensus among the major countries represented to pursue strong fundamentals crucial for economic stability and growth. This includes pursuing a collective international approach in support of the international financial architecture and open, rules-based trade and investment as a means of enhancing prospects for sustainable growth. However, consensus can be difficult to achieve with many diverse interests and perspectives at the table.

Canada supported efforts in 2020 to better position the G20 to support global response efforts, including vaccine research and development, and equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. Canada equally supports Italy’s intention to focus on the pandemic response and longer term preparedness as a key element of its forward agenda. In this respect, Italy has announced a Global Health Summit, to be co-hosted with the EU, in May of 2021.  

Turning to the broader agenda, under a three-pronged framework of people; planet; and prosperity, Italy aim to continue to work to make meaningful progress on international climate action (including in their role as COP-26 co-host along with the United Kingdom); promote clean energy, strengthen the rules-based trade order; further backstop global financial systems and address the financial needs of developing countries, and promote gender equality and women’s economic empowerment – issues that align with Canada’s own foreign and domestic policy priorities.

Canada, through its own leadership efforts within the G20 and in other fora, can continue to bring a practical and results-focused voice to the table. In this respect, there will be important opportunities to use the G20 platform to promote support for developing countries, including through linkages with the Canada-led Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond Initiative at the United Nations. Canada will also continue to promote the importance of economic opportunity for all of our citizens, including women and youth, while encouraging G20 members to take stronger action in response to COVID-19 and in responding to future pandemics.

Indonesia will assume the G20 Presidency in 2022.




The modern Commonwealth is a values-based association which was founded in 1949. It has 54 member states, representing 2.4 billion people on five continents, most with historic links to the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth Secretariat’s 2020-21 budget is £40.2 million (approximately $70 million).

The Commonwealth includes three intergovernmental organizations:

[REDACTED] Canada has consistently called for reforms to ensure that the Commonwealth is “fit for the 21st century” and has advocated for greater focus on its areas of value added, including:

The Commonwealth has observed more than 160 elections in 40 countries since 1980.

Commonwealth Governance: Queen Elizabeth II is the overall Head of the Commonwealth. Heads of State confirmed in 2018 that Prince Charles would succeed her in due course in this role. Dual British‑Dominican national Baroness Patricia Scotland is SG. She is currently serving the final year of her first term, and is widely expected to seek a second, four-year term. [REDACTED]. No member state has yet put forward a challenger candidate.

The High-Level Group (HLG) on Commonwealth Governance was mandated by leaders at the 2015 CHOGM to provide independent recommendations on ways to improve Commonwealth governance. Recommendations, which include introducing regular performance reviews for SGs, were adopted by Commonwealth Foreign Ministers at their September 2019 meeting and will come into effect immediately after CHOGM 2021, subject to their endorsement by Heads.

Canada’s High Commissioner in London represents Canada at the Commonwealth Governing Board; and the DG for International Organisations (MID) is the Commonwealth Senior Official.

Canada’s Return on Investment: A founding member, Canada is among the top three contributors with the United Kingdom and Australia. In 2019-20, Canada provided $10.39 million in core funding, including $7.79 million in assessed contributions to the Secretariat and Foundation, and $2.6 million in long-term institutional support to the Commonwealth of Learning. The decision by the Government of Canada in 2014 to cut voluntary funding to the Secretariat is an irritant and seems counter-productive in the COVID context.

Canadian Arnold Smith served as the first Commonwealth SG (1965-75), and Canada has hosted CHOGM twice (1973 and 1987). Canada also played a leadership role within the Commonwealth to spearhead efforts to end apartheid in South Africa.

Given our financial and historic contribution, and the fact that so many Canadian citizens come from Commonwealth countries, it is in our interest to continue to press with the UK and others, for meaningful reforms, [REDACTED]

The 2021 CHOGM : The next CHOGM will take place June 26-27, 2021 and will be hosted by Rwanda either in Kigali, virtually, or through a hybrid format. It will be preceded by a Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting on June 25, which Canada’s Foreign Minister would attend, as well as parallel Business, Youth, People and Women fora).

Host Rwanda has identified “Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming” as its overall theme, as well as five key sub-themes for the CHOGM outcome document (Communiqué): Governance and the Rule of Law; Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Innovation; Youth; Environment; and Trade. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we expect some adjustments to the CHOGM agenda.

Other key issues to be discussed at CHOGM 2021 are: Selection of the Commonwealth SG; Endorsement by Leaders of the HLG recommendations; Media Freedom; and implementation of the London 2018 CHOGM commitments, including the Commonwealth Blue Charter (Canada/DFO is Champion on Ocean Observations).




The International Organization of La Francophonie (IOF), with its 88 member and observer states and governments (54 of which are full members) from all continents, is the multilateral organization that brings together the largest number of countries after the UN. With more than half of its voting members being African countries, the organization has a strong focus on Africa. With an annual budget of approximately $100 million, its programming is primarily oriented toward youth, a reflection of the fact that 60 percent of the total population of the Francophone space is under the age of 35.

Canada is the second largest donor to La Francophonie after France, with annual contributions of nearly $42 million, including nearly $25 million to the IOF. The remaining amount is divided among the various institutions of the Francophonie, including TV5MONDE, TV5 Québec-Canada, TV5 Numérique, the Association of Francophone Mayors, the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, Senghor University in Alexandria, and the two ministerial conferences (of ministers of education - CONFEMEN - and of ministers of youth and sports - CONFEJES)

Canada's Ambassador to France, Isabelle Hudon, is the Prime Minister's personal representative for La Francophonie (Sherpa).

Full members of the OIF (54)
Text version

Distribution of the 54 full members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) by geographical region.

Full description

Africa: 29
Americas: 6
Asia: 5
Europe: 13
Oceania: 1

Federal-provincial dimension

For Canada, La Francophonie has a central federal-provincial dimension as Quebec and New Brunswick sit on it along with Canada, while Ontario joined as an observer in 2016. It is the only international organization with such provincial participation.

Constructive working relationships between the different levels of Canadian governments have allowed Canada to maintain an enviable reputation within the Francophonie.

Canada has held several high-level Francophonie events on its territory, including three summits: in Quebec City in 1987 and 2008, and in Moncton in 1999.

Influence and leadership

Following the arrival of Louise Mushikiwabo as head of La Francophonie in January 2019, succeeding Michaëlle Jean, the secretary general selected Canadian Catherine Cano as IOF administrator, the second highest position in the organization. [REDACTED] led Catherine Cano to resign from her functions in October 2020. Canada wishes to continue in this position [REDACTED].

The four major axes of the Secretary General's roadmap (outreach of French in international organizations and in the digital sphere, youth, gender equality and political action) are part of the list of Canadian priorities within La Francophonie.

Transformation of the IOF

As soon as she took office, the Secretary General commissioned an organizational audit by a specialized firm. The recommendations resulting from this audit have enabled the IOF to put in place a global transformation plan, consisting of 18 projects spread over two years (2020-2022), which will enable the organization to strengthen its governance, improve its operations, increase its credibility and build a more ambitious and effective model of action in the service of Francophone populations. As part of this modernization process, Canada has provided financial support and expertise to the IOF in 2019 and 2020 to modernize its program monitoring and evaluation system to ensure that programs better meet the needs of target populations.

Expansion of the IOF

Over the past 20 years, encouraged by France, the OIF has seen its membership increase by more than 60 percent. While the geographic diversity of applications submitted in recent years demonstrates the appeal of the Francophonie, [REDACTED]. In May 2019, a think tank on the orientations and governance of La Francophonie was established by the secretary general to rule on certain issues related to the future of the organization, including its expansion. A pause on new memberships has been decreed so as not to interfere with this reflection.

Within this group, Canada has been advocating the importance of a rigorous accession process, in which the French language and values are central. The discussions, which will continue over the next few months until the Djerba Summit in November, [REDACTED]. The positions taken by France on the subject are mainly related to its objectives in the Francophonie, namely the advancement of its commercial, cultural and educational interests. Canada prioritizes the promotion of its values such as democracy, respect for human rights and gender equality.

Djerba Summit in 2021 and 50th anniversary of the IOF

The year 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the IOF, but the celebrations had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of this, the XVIII Francophonie Summit has been postponed to November 20-21, 2021, in Djerba, Tunisia. The first results of the transformation of the IOF and the recommendations of the various working groups and commissions should be presented to the Heads of State and Government for adoption and could redefine the organization

Five Eyes Intelligence Partnership



The post-World War II FVEY intelligence sharing partnership grew out of the vital wartime signals intelligence and cryptographic relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. In the post-war period, a number of bilateral and multilateral agreements between Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand solidified and expanded this partnership.

Today, the intelligence sharing relationship among the FVEY partners includes engagement between allied signals collection entities, militaries, security intelligence agencies, and foreign ministries.

The FVEY partnership provides senior decision-makers with intelligence products on thematic topics and geographic areas [REDACTED] Canada [REDACTED] a significant beneficiary of the FVEY relationship, which is a core component of our cooperation with allies to protect national security.

While Canada's contribution has increased in recent years, we continue to rely [REDACTED] on FVEY partners [REDACTED] Canadian contributions include [REDACTED]

Global Affairs Canada’s Involvement with the Five Eyes

Global Affairs Canada is fully integrated into the FVEY intelligence-sharing relationship as both a consumer of allied intelligence products and as a contributor.

The FVEY relationship also provides the structure for consultation on issues of common concern, as well as response mechanisms. FVEY coordination occurs on a myriad of critical files, [REDACTED].

FVEY foreign ministers are increasingly convening ad-hoc meetings to discuss priority issues. Most recently, your predecessor participated in a meeting with his counterparts in January 2021 and June 2020.

Alliances and Multilateral Security Arrangements



Alliances are vital to Canada’s national security interests, the advancement of our foreign and security policy and our ability to participate in shared efforts with likeminded countries who support international peace and security. Canada’s participation in multilateral security forums also enables us to expand our reach and influence to better advance Canadian foreign and security policy priorities.

The rules-based international system is under threat, with implications for a number of alliances of importance to Canada. Stresses within alliances have increased due to: differences between members on how to best address evolving security threats, the creation of new organizations, “coalitions of the willing” that challenge the relevance of existing institutions, and four years of apparent U.S. skepticism about the value of alliances. Canada cannot take for granted the unity and continued relevance of its alliances. Thoughtful engagement will be important in the coming years to ensure Canada’s continued relevance as a security player and as a unifying force within key security alliances as they take on emerging threats.

North America: North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)

NORAD is a bi-national Canada-U.S. military arrangement that defends North America by providing aerospace warning and control and maritime warning. NORAD is a key part of Canada’s multi-faceted defence and security relationship with the United States.

Canada’s partnership with the United States in NORAD is critical to our defence interests, providing us with greater security than could otherwise be achieved on our own. With threats to North America becoming more sophisticated and diverse, there is a need to adapt our continental defence to new realities.

Canada and the United States agree that NORAD will require modernization and significant new investment to remain effective in the face of new and emerging security threats. Increased defence spending on NORAD modernization would shore up U.S. support for NORAD and contribute to burden sharing in the NATO context.

Europe: North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) & Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

NATO is the foundation of Europe’s security architecture. It comprises 30 allies, and Canada was one of its 12 founding members. NATO membership provides Canada a seat at the table of the world’s premier political-military alliance and a veto on its decisions. 

Russian acts of aggression in Ukraine have led NATO to refocus its efforts on deterrence and defence, while also focusing on addressing emerging challenges, including those posed by China. [REDACTED]. During the Trump Administration, strains between the United States and Europe challenged Alliance unity.


The OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization, with 57 participating states. Created in 1975 for an East-West dialogue during the Cold War, it now works to ensure peace, democracy and stability in Europe and Eurasia.

Increased tensions with Russia, a member of the OSCE, make achieving consensus in the OSCE challenging. The conventional arms control framework housed within the OSCE is also under considerable strain. However, the OSCE remains a valuable forum for dialogue, and membership in the OSCE enables Canada to directly engage Russia on European defence and security issues. In addition, the OSCE provides a forum for Canada to promote its human rights, democracy and good governance priorities in the Euro-Atlantic region. Canada is making important contributions to an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, and has played a key role in OSCE Election Observation Missions to the country.

Middle East: Global Coalition against Daesh (Global Coalition)

The U.S.-led Global Coalition against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) has helped to take back all of the territory Daesh controlled in Iraq and Syria. Daesh has had to revert to insurgent-type tactics rather than its goal of a caliphate. [REDACTED].

In order to address the underlying conditions that allowed Daesh to flourish in the Middle East, the focus of the Coalition is shifting toward civilian-led lines of effort: stabilizing liberated areas, countering terrorist financing, impeding the flow of foreign fighters and countering Daesh messaging.

Canada supports all these efforts through its $3.5 million Middle East Strategy (2016-2021). The mandate of Canada’s military engagement in the Coalition (Operation Impact) extends to March 2021.

Asia Pacific: ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) & United Nations Command (UNC)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum (ARF) is the primary multilateral security forum in the Asia-Pacific region. The ARF’s 27 members include China and its neighbouring countries.

Canada was one of the ARF’s founding members. Canada uses the ARF to advocate for its regional security priorities related to non-proliferation, arms control, disarmament, counter-terrorism, transnational crime, cyber security and other key issues of concern such as ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the maritime domain.

The ARF is being challenged by the increasing importance of the East Asia Summit (EAS; which comprises ARF member states as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+; which comprises the same membership as the EAS). [REDACTED].

Nuclear Issues



International Security Environment Nuclear issues feature prominently in an increasingly tense international security context. Multilateral and bilateral mechanisms for addressing arms control and disarmament are strained, and specific countries present proliferation threats.

There is diminishing trust among Russia and the United States, the two nuclear powers with the largest arsenals. The sole remaining U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control agreement, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), will expire on February 5. If it is not extended, there would be no numerical constraints on the nuclear arsenals of any state for the first time since the Cold War. China has rejected joining arms control negotiations with other nuclear powers. All nuclear weapon states have nuclear weapon modernization programs and some of them are increasing their arsenals. As no nuclear weapon state will feel ready to abandon its nuclear capabilities unless all other nations do like-wise, nuclear arsenals will remain for a long time and require continued refurbishment.

North Korea continues to develop its weapons of mass destruction and missiles programs and has yet to take tangible steps towards its commitment to denuclearize. It is the only country to have conducted nuclear test explosions in this century, and has produced the fissile material necessary for as many as 65 nuclear weapons. It claims the ability to deliver a nuclear-armed ballistic missile to North America.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) entered into effect in 2015 with the aim of constraining Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. The United States withdrew from the deal in 2018 and Iran has reacted by violating its commitments under the agreement. U.S. President-elect Biden is interested in rejoining the JCPOA as a starting point for further negotiations with Iran, should Iran return to compliance.

Canada encourages dialogue between the United States and Russia on the extension of New START. Canada also supports a diplomatic solution in which North Korea completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantles its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. Canada would view a return of the United States to the JCPOA and the restoration of Iran’s compliance with the deal as a key diplomatic achievement of the non-proliferation architecture.

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

Having entered into force in 1970, the NPT is the cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and provides the legal framework for Canada’s nuclear policy. It is organized around three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It recognizes five nuclear weapon states: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. India, Pakistan and Israel are not parties to the NPT. North Korea had been a State Party to the NPT, but announced its withdrawal in 2003.


The quinquennial Review Conference (RevCon) of the NPT is scheduled to take place in August 2021 (postponed from April 2020 due to the pandemic). The 2015 RevCon ended without a final outcome after Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom broke consensus on the draft final document over proposed language relating to a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone. Owing to heightened global tensions, it will be difficult to achieve consensus at the upcoming RevCon. Canada will continue to position itself as a bridge-builder among states, aiming to find common ground at RevCon and to advance implementation of the NPT.

Nuclear Disarmament

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) calls for an immediate and total ban on nuclear weapons. The Treaty will enter into force on January 22, after having reached the required number of ratifications. Canada does not support the TPNW, a position that is shared by NATO Allies and nuclear umbrella states. While Canada acknowledges that the TPNW reflects the widespread frustration with the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, the Treaty is inconsistent with NATO obligations, does not contain credible monitoring and verification provisions, and risks further dividing the international community.

Canada and likeminded states, including NATO Allies, support a pragmatic step-by-step approach toward nuclear disarmament, i.e. incremental progress to disarmament through initiatives that unite nuclear weapon possessor states and non-nuclear weapon states. For example, Canada has been working for over 20 years to advance a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Canada is also a major advocate of the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. A strong supporter of nuclear disarmament verification (NDV), Canada provides financial support and technical expertise to the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) and will take part in the 2021-2022 UN Group of Governmental Experts on NDV.

Canada also champions and supports several actions in the UN Secretary General’s Agenda for Disarmament, including the promotion of the full and equal participation of women in all levels of disarmament decision-making. Canada’s work in the area of gender and disarmament includes active leadership in advocating for gender considerations in resolutions of the UN General Assembly’s Committee on Disarmament and International Security.

Canada actively participates in international diplomatic efforts to advance nuclear disarmament and the NPT, such as the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), and the Stockholm Initiative on Nuclear Disarmament. These coalitions are comprised of non-nuclear weapon states from almost every region of the world and represent the full spectrum of views on advancing nuclear disarmament. Canada is currently working within these coalitions to develop and advance concrete proposals on nuclear disarmament (in the case of the Stockholm Initiative) and across all three of the NPT’s pillars (in the case of NPDI) for consideration at the upcoming NPT RevCon.

Non-Proliferation and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Technology: As a state party to the NPT, Canada is bound by the principle that all NPT state parties have an inalienable right to access nuclear technology for peaceful uses in compliance with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Canada is a de facto permanent member of the IAEA’s decision-making body, the Board of Governors, which promotes nuclear safety and security in support of peaceful uses. As Chair of the Board until late September 2021, Canada will play a leading role on significant non-proliferation issues, including the IAEA’s nuclear investigation efforts in Iran, the DPRK, and Syria. Canada also actively supports nuclear cooperation through legally binding bilateral agreements with partner countries.

In addition to the IAEA’s role on safeguards and verification, Canada has supported the IAEA’s capacity-building role, notably through the Technical Cooperation Programme, and supports IAEA efforts to enhance the security of nuclear and radioactive materials world-wide to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Arctic and Antarctic




Climate change and improving technology is increasing access to the Arctic’s natural resources and waterways, and Arctic and non-Arctic states are expressing a variety of economic and military interests in the region. While Canada does not perceive immediate military threats in the Arctic, the region is emerging as an area of strategic international importance and competition.

Tensions are growing between the United States, Russia and China as each side is developing capabilities to better operate and project their presence. Following a period of post-Cold War neglect, Russia is re-investing in its military presence and capabilities in the Arctic. For its part, China has claimed it is a “near-Arctic” state, and has expanded its capabilities, interest and engagement in the Arctic in recent years.

Canada cooperates closely with American partners in NORAD, which operates the North Warning System - early-warning radars that provide Canada and the United States with a shared understanding of aerospace activity in the Arctic, though the system is outdated and needs upgrading. Canada’s Defence Policy has made several large investments in core capabilities vital to strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to detect, deter and defend against threats to Canada. Fully addressing NORAD modernization and continental defence will require new investment.

Canada, alongside likeminded Arctic allies, is committed to ensuring the Arctic remains a region of peace and stability that is grounded in internationally agreed rules and norms. This goal is advanced through the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework (ANPF), which was co-developed with territorial, provincial and Indigenous partners. The ANPF is supported by $700 million (over 10 years) announced in Budget 2019. Of this, $34 million (over 5 years) is for international chapter commitments.

The Arctic Council

The Arctic Council brings together eight Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States) and 6 international Indigenous peoples’ organizations to advance sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.

Iceland will hand over the Arctic Council Chairmanship to the Russian Federation in May 2021 at a meeting of foreign ministers.

We assess that the Russians will want to continue working closely with Arctic states to have a successful Chairmanship as the Arctic Council is one of the few places where they can meaningfully engage with western countries.

Canada will monitor Russia’s approach closely as they may want to use their Chairmanship as an opportunity to advance non-Arctic Council related interests including commercial linkages subject to sanctions or national security issues.

Arctic Agreements and Disputes

Recent years have seen the conclusion of several legally-binding agreements such as the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean and the International Code of Safety for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code). [REDACTED].

Canada continues to work toward resolving its three Arctic boundary disputes with the United States and Denmark. The disputed maritime boundary in Lincoln Sea and sovereignty over Hans Island are being dealt with under the Canada-Denmark Joint Task Force on Boundary Issues, established, in May. The Beaufort Sea dispute with the United States continues to be well managed and will be resolved in due course, in accordance with international law.

In May 2019, Canada filed its Arctic submission on the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles with the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The submission includes approximately 1.2 million square kilometres of seabed and subsoil and includes the North Pole. The submission overlaps with those of Russia and Denmark and is expected to overlap with the future U.S. submission. Overlaps are a normal part of the process to define the continental shelf, and Arctic Ocean coastal states have all committed to resolving these in an orderly and peaceful manner in accordance with international law. Recently, [REDACTED].

Canada and the United States hold different views regarding the status of the Northwest Passage (NWP) under international law. The United States views the Passage as a “strait used for international navigation” through which all foreign vessels have a right of unimpeded transit passage. The U.S. characterization of the NWP should be considered in the larger context of other sensitive maritime areas across the globe.

This long-standing difference in views is generally well managed, including through the 1988 Arctic Cooperation Agreement, whereby the United States seeks Canada’s consent for its icebreakers to navigate the waterways.


There is growing global interest in Antarctica, due to the region’s environmental, economic and strategic potential and importance.

As in the Arctic, emerging geopolitical pressures may make cooperation more challenging, with potential implications for Canadian prosperity and security. In this context, decision making through the Antarctic Treaty System – the multilateral forum for Antarctic region issues - is increasingly important and interconnected to other global interests.

Canada acceded to the Antarctic Treaty in 1998 as a non-Consultative Party. This entitles us to attend meetings, but not to vote in the decision-making to which Canada’s activities in the region are subject.


The Venezuela Crisis



Legitimate authorities

Venezuela’s slide into turmoil began with and has remained centred on an erosion of democracy. While freely elected President in 2013, Nicolas Maduro soon moved to eliminate opposition. In 2015, after opposition took control of the National Assembly, Maduro created a parallel legislature. In 2018, he advanced the presidential election which were not free nor fair.

Fraudulent National Assembly elections held in December 2020 saw the installation of Maduro’s cronies and a puppet opposition. Canada continues to recognise the National Assembly democratically elected in 2015 as the legitimate legislature, and its president, Juan Guaidó, as the interim President of Venezuela.

The regime controls the political narrative by silencing all opposition and the free press. It maintains command of the military by permitting it to engage in lucrative illicit economic activity in the form of gold production, narco-trafficking, and other criminal activities. Countries like Iran, Russia, China, Turkey and Cuba provide political and economic support to the regime. Maduro has support from around 15% of citizens, in part due to subsidized food programs and special treatment of certain groups.

In 2020, the UN Fact Finding Mission on Venezuela found that high-level state authorities were directly implicated in crimes against humanity, including the systematic use of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture (including sexual violence).

The Venezuelan opposition is not a monolith with some actors advocating for engagement with Maduro. The legitimate National Assembly is led by the 4 principal opposition parties in Venezuela (the G4) and remains Venezuela’s legitimate interlocutor for Canada and its like-minded partners. [REDACTED]

Free and fair, credible presidential elections are needed for a peaceful transition of power in Venezuela. This requires sustained pressure on the regime, unity among the opposition forces, and sustained support from Canada and the international community. The approach by the new U.S. administration will be a determining factor if the deadlock with the regime can be addressed.

Economic catastrophe

From 2013 to 2020, Venezuela’s GDP shrunk 70% and hyperinflation has rendered the domestic currency nearly worthless. One in 3 Venezuelans are food insecure. With over 5.4 million refugees and migrants, Venezuela is the world’s second-largest displacement crisis after Syria, and could be first by the end of 2021. It is also one of the most underfunded crises.

Under Maduro, the economy is in freefall, due to corruption and mismanagement, notably of the state-run oil sector which normally represents 90-95% of Venezuela’s exports. U.S. sectoral sanctions imposed in January 2019 and low oil prices have compounded the economic crisis.

Humanitarian catastrophe

Venezuelans lack access to basic commodities and services. Minimum wage in Venezuela currently sits around US$6 per month; the cost of living is at least ten times higher. The social services of neighbouring countries are severely strained by the mass migration of Venezuelans - another 2 million are projected to leave the country in 2021.

Since December 2020, the regime has increased its attacks on civil society and humanitarian organizations. It has jailed leaders of prominent organizations, raided offices, seized equipment, and prohibited some organizations from continuing to carry out their life-saving work.

What is Canada doing?


Humanitarian and development response

Complementing political and diplomatic activity, Canada has contributed over C$86 million since 2019 to support the response to the Venezuela crisis, including over $74 million in humanitarian and development assistance for the regional response to the migrant and refugee crisis. In 2020, Canada launched a new development program inside Venezuela, [REDACTED].

Canada plays a lead role supporting the Quito Process, a regional group of countries that host Venezuelan refugees and migrants. In June 2021, led by Minister Gould, Canada will host the third International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants.

Rohingya Crisis



Atrocities committed by Myanmar’s security forces in August 2017 against the largely Muslim Rohingya minority caused over 711 000 Rohingya to flee Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, now one of the world’s largest refugee settlements. Roughly 600 000 Rohingya remain in Myanmar and continue to face violence and persecution in the context of ongoing armed conflict.

Over 3 years later, this persistent, complex, multi-dimensional crisis spread over two countries has [REDACTED] as Myanmar has little domestic political incentive to address the crisis, and continues to view the Rohingya as illegal immigrants. Myanmar remains preoccupied with its broader democratic transition and efforts to advance a resolution to over six decades of civil war, and has yet to address root conflict drivers or ensure protections for the Rohingya.

Refugees remain 100% reliant on humanitarian assistance, and the scope of their needs exceeds available resources. Bangladesh has been increasingly concerned at the potential long-term residency of the Rohingya people, while at the same time is struggling to re-invigorate its economy, battered by COVID-19.

Canada’s (2018-2021) Response Strategy

Building on the recommendations of the Honourable Bob Rae, Canada’s former Special Envoy to Myanmar, Canada launched its Strategy to Respond to the Rohingya Crisis in 2018, committing $300 million over 3 years toward: alleviating the humanitarian crisis; encouraging positive political developments in Myanmar; ensuring accountability; and enhancing international cooperation.

Since 2018, Canada provided $124 million in humanitarian assistance to over 850 000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and over 500 000 individuals from crisis-affected populations in Myanmar. Additional development funding of $155 million mitigated some of the direct economic and environmental impacts of the crisis on host communities in Bangladesh, while bolstering support for inclusive governance, and increasing access to healthcare and livelihood opportunities in Myanmar. $21 million in peace and security programming built capacity of peacebuilding actors and supported justice and accountability processes. Finally, Canadian advocacy for accountability contributed to the establishment of an international investigative mechanism and bolstered support for proceedings before international courts, in addition to a coordinated use of sanctions tools among like-minded.

International Court of Justice (ICJ) case

In November 2019, The Gambia brought a case against Myanmar before the ICJ, alleging that Myanmar violated the Genocide Convention in the security operations against the Rohingya. As part of efforts to advance accountability, [REDACTED]


Concerns and opportunities looking ahead

The Government of Myanmar has failed to address the root causes of the crisis including unequal access to social services, education and livelihood opportunities, restrictions on freedom of movement, an inability to guarantee security, and ongoing denial of citizenship rights to the Rohingya, who are the largest stateless population in the world. [REDACTED].

On November 8, 2020, Myanmar took to the polls in only its second-ever democratic election to elect the incumbent Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy to its second term. Despite the disenfranchisement of some ethnic minorities, including the Rohingya, the elections were relatively peaceful, free, and fair. The last two months have also seen renewed efforts to address conflict and advance negotiations towards an inclusive peace. While conflict in Rakhine State between Myanmar’s armed forces and a primarily Buddhist ethnic Rakhine armed organization (Arakan Army) has raged since 2018 displacing over 200 000, over the last two months, the parties have arrived at a ceasefire, and commenced informal peace talks. Targeted Canadian programming and engagement to advance inclusive peace, expand support to Myanmar’s democratization, and promote respect for human rights will help advance a durable solution to conflict.


Middle East Strategy



The Middle East Strategy was launched in 2016 as a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to respond to crises in Iraq and Syria, and their impact on the region. The Government of Canada was intent that Canada continue to be a responsible member of the U.S.-led Global Coalition against Daesh (the Coalition) and a multilateral player in responding to the crisis, while safeguarding the security of Canada and Canadians.

The Strategy invests up to $3.5 billion over five years to help set the conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering, enable civilian-led stabilization programs, and support governance and longer-term efforts to build resilience. The four pillars include: up to $1.4 billion in humanitarian assistance, $470 million in development assistance, $269 million in security and stabilization programming, $91 million to support diplomatic engagement, $1.25 billion in military assistance and $57 million for intelligence support. The Strategy includes Global Affairs Canada, DND/CAF, CSIS, CSE, and RCMP.

This whole-of-government response targets areas where Canada’s involvement can make a positive difference, leverage Canadian expertise, and complement the efforts of other partners. Initiatives under the Strategy support transformative change to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls through the Feminist International Assistance Policy, Feminist Foreign Policy and the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.

Increased international assistance is being provided to countries in the region, particularly Lebanon and Jordan, to deal with massive refugee flows and state fragility, and to help lay the groundwork for stronger, more cohesive communities and governance structures. Canada is actively contributing to international efforts aimed at holding actors accountable for war crimes and violations of international law, finding political solutions to the crises, and support for the rules-based international order.

Today, Daesh has been defeated militarily and refugee flows have stabilised. Despite these successes, the region remains unstable with the potential to deteriorate dramatically and there are growing signs of renewed conflict. COVID-19 has exacerbated discontent with government, lack of services, accountability, transparency, corruption and high unemployment.

Lebanon and Iraq are in the throes of significant political and economic turmoil; Jordan is economically vulnerable. Daesh remains a potent terrorist threat and the factors that supported its rise still persist. Instability is furthered by the Government of Iraq’s limited control over powerful militias, which often have ties to Iran, and tensions between the United States and Iran remain high. There are shifting and potentially volatile geopolitical dynamics in the region, as well as a new U.S. administration. The presence of thousands of Daesh fighters and their families in northeastern Syria, is a real threat that could undermine local recovery efforts and the gains of the Coalition.

Humanitarian Assistance

Canada is a top humanitarian donor to international efforts that address the crises in Iraq and Syria, utilizing a flexible/multi-year funding approach that allows partners to plan and respond to the evolving needs.

Assistance is essential to address life-saving needs as well as the immediate impacts of the recent port explosions in Lebanon and the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada’s assistance prioritizes vulnerable and marginalized people, particularly women and girls.

Canada’s contributions have helped the World Food Programme provide 10 million beneficiaries with food and cash assistance and the International Committee of the Red Cross improve food access for 1.5 million people in 2019. Contributions also helped the UN Population Fund reach 2 million people with sexual and reproductive health services.

Building Resilience

Canada has been amongst the top six donors in the region over the past years. Development assistance is crucial to helping address the long-term drivers of instability, and the strain on communities coping with the burden of hosting refugees (specifically in Jordan and Lebanon). This includes helping build local capacity to provide basic social services, maintain and rehabilitate public infrastructure, advance inclusive and accountable governance, and support women’s role in decision-making processes and the economy.

Security and Stabilization

Canada is an active and committed member of the Coalition with the objective to dismantle and ultimately defeat Daesh, counter violent extremism, restore stability, and promote regional security.

Under Operation IMPACT, up to 850 Canadian Armed Forces personnel are deployed to conduct air and cyber operations. They provide training and assistance to Iraqi security forces and capacity building to the Jordanian and Lebanese Armed Forces, and support the Coalition with highly-skilled personnel.

Canada is also a leading contributor to the NATO Mission Iraq, which Canada commanded until November 2020, and continues to contribute up to 250 CAF personnel. COVID-19 led to an operational pause for both the Coalition and NATO Mission Iraq.

The Strategy brings together a number of GAC programs, the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program aims to enhance stability, address drivers of conflict, and promote accountability for international crimes. This includes supporting the Coalition’s efforts in Iraq and Syria, and preventing any spillover into Lebanon and Jordan.

The Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program supports training, equipment and infrastructure for security forces in Lebanon and Jordan to help safeguard national borders against terrorist threats, training to address extremist content online, as well as technical assistance to help combat terrorist financing. This also includes supporting the integration of women in law enforcement, military and intelligence.

The Weapons Threat Reduction Program supports international efforts to reduce threats posed by weapons and materials of mass destruction. This includes the provision of training, equipment and legislative assistance. The program also supports the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in its efforts to investigate the illicit use of chemical weapons globally, including in Syria.

Diplomatic Engagement

Canada actively promotes and advocates for its values and interests, including human rights, diversity, gender equality and accountability. Through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, Canada aims to defend the rules-based international order, advocate for economic, social and political reforms, and support peaceful political solutions to conflicts in the region – which must include women as part of the processes.




Canada has had a difficult relationship with the post-Shah Iran, further strained since 2012, when Canada designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (JVTA), closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa.

Canada maintains a Controlled Engagement Policy (CEP) with Iran. The policy limits bilateral engagement to discussions related to consular issues, human rights in Iran, Iran’s role in the region, and Iran's nuclear program and its non-proliferation obligations.

Iran and the Region

Iran’s top leadership has long held the view that the United States, backed in the region by Sunni Arab states and Israel, seek to overthrow the regime.

To avoid a war on its territory, Iran has pursued an agenda of creating a separate regional security architecture that it can influence and control.

The overall objective of this strategy has been to undermine regional rivals through proxies and obtain leverage in the region to retaliate against the United States and its partners, and to create buffers of resistance around Iran. This is reflected in its careful cultivation of Shia extremist groups such as Hezbollah and some Iraqi militias, as well as its varying levels of support for non-Shia extremist groups.

Iran is also supporting the Houthis in the Yemeni civil war, against the Saudi-led coalition supporting the Government of Yemen.

Religious ideology is a key motivating aspect of Iran’s security doctrine, as the regime strives for self-preservation and continuation of its Islamic revolution.

One of Iran’s objectives is to position itself as the leader and guardian of all Shias, especially those in the region. Expanding Iranian influence in the Gulf, viewed by Saudi Arabia and its allies as their most important threat, has had a profound effect on regional dynamics, including leading, in part, to normalization agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.


The downing of PS752 by Iran has further complicated our bilateral relationship.

Canada continues to demand that Iran conduct a full, transparent, and independent flight safety investigation in accordance with international standards. Canada also continues to call on Iran to provide a full account of its actions, and we continue to work with the other affected states to ensure that Iran makes full reparations. 

Canada and Iran have held several discussions, including meetings between both Ministers of Foreign Affairs, on the incident. Iran attempted to use preliminary discussions to further the bilateral relationship; however, Canada is solely focused on PS752. [REDACTED].


Human Rights

The human rights situation in Iran remains dire. In response, Canada has led the annual U.N resolution on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly since 2003. It voices support for the people of Iran in their struggle to enjoy the rights and freedoms to which they are entitled. The U.N. General Assembly Plenary adopted the latest resolution in December 2020.

Canada speaks out on specific human rights cases regularly, in particular in defence of the Bahà’ìs, a persecuted religious minority in Iran.


Canada maintains robust sanctions and tight controls on exports of proliferation-sensitive goods to Iran.

In accordance with UNSCR 2231, Canada imposes travel restrictions against persons listed by the U.N. Security Council.

Canada also maintain autonomous sanctions on Iran under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA), related to Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In 2012 under Canada’s Criminal Code Canada listed the IRGC – Quds Force, involved in Iran’s external operations, as a terrorist entity.

Nuclear Issues

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) effectiveness was challenged by the U.S. withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and Iran’s reaction by violating its commitments. U.S. President-elect Biden has indicated interest in rejoining the agreement as a starting point for further negotiations with Iran, should Iran return to compliance under the JCPOA.

On January 4, Iran announced it would commence enriching uranium up to 20%, a clear violation of the JCPOA. Iran’s intent is to increase pressure on the United States and the E3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) in order to remove sanctions.

In response to Iran’s actions, Canada called on Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program without delay, fully restore all its commitments under the JCPOA, and refrain from any actions which would further reduce the space for effective diplomacy. Canada would welcome a U.S. return to the agreement. When fully implemented the JCPOA is the best way to restrict Iran’s ability to attain a nuclear weapon, and thereby essential for regional and global security.

Iran’s missile program, its network of militias and terrorist groups as well as its regional policies pose significant concerns to Canada and our partners. Iran has made it clear that it is not willing to negotiate on any of those issues.

Iranian Domestic Politics and Upcoming Presidential Elections

Iran will hold Presidential elections on June 18, 2021. The incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, who will have completed two four-year terms, is not eligible to run for office in the upcoming elections.

Iran’s Guardian Council (all 12 members of whom are directly or indirectly appointed by Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei) is responsible for vetting candidates for elected office. The candidates are generally deemed to be loyal to the Iranian system.

While there will be some policy differences amongst the candidates, there is little room for deviation on major policy files of interest to Canada and our partners. It is important to note that the President does not have sway on major security and defence policy issues, which are managed by the Supreme National Security Council and others actors in the security and intelligences apparatus.




India is a global economic force, with an economy projected to become the world’s third largest by 2030. The country’s political clout at the international level is rising commensurately. India serves on the UNSC through 2022, will chair the G20 in 2023, and is increasing trade, development, and political cooperation with Asian, Middle Eastern and African partner.

India [REDACTED] promoting a “free, open and inclusive” Indo-Pacific strategy. Since deadly border clashes with China in June 2020, [REDACTED].

More broadly, as the world’s largest democracy [REDACTED] to promote a rules-based system in the region; to deepen trade [REDACTED] and to strengthen the regional security architecture. [REDACTED].

In 2010, India moved from being a major aid recipient to an international donor, providing billions of dollars in assistance primarily to neighbouring South Asian partners. [REDACTED].

Domestic and Regional Dynamics

Domestically, India has seen major political shifts of late. After years of rule by the centrist Congress Party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his conservative, Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were elected for a first term in 2014. Modi’s BJP-led government was re-elected in May 2019 with a historic majority mandate and now controls both Houses of Parliament. Despite the COVID pandemic and an economic contraction of around 10% in 2020. [REDACTED].

Since re-election, the Modi government has [REDACTED].

The pandemic has further held back India’s progress across a number of development indicators. Despite its rapid economic growth and pursuit of development innovations, India continues to grapple with significant poverty, infrastructure gaps, high youth unemployment, weak social services, gender inequality [REDACTED].

Bilateral Relations

India is one of Canada’s fastest growing commercial relationships, now approaching $100 billion in total estimated value. Prior to the pandemic, the Canada-lndia commercial relationship delivered double-digit growth in bilateral trade over the past five years, fueled primarily by exponential increases in bilateral investment flows and trade in services. More than 1000 Canadian companies do business in India. While there is enormous opportunity to expand Canadian exports and investment in India. [REDACTED].

Cooperation in areas beyond commerce including security, defense and global issues, remains modest. Ministerial Dialogues on foreign policy, trade and investment, finance, and energy [REDACTED].

Strong people-to-people connections continue to shape relations in fundamental ways. Canada’s large Indian diaspora of over 1.4 million anchors growth in trade, tourism, education and cultural ties. At the outset of the pandemic, Canada repatriated over 27,000 Canadians and permanent residents from India, representing 48% of Canada’s total flight repatriations.

Key Considerations

[REDACTED]. The United States, Japan, France, EU, Germany, Netherlands and Australia have all developed complementary Indo-Pacific strategies.

While India represents a market of significant opportunity for Canada, [REDACTED]. As a result, Canadian pulse exports to India have decreased from $930 million in 2017 to $422 million in 2019.

Negotiations towards a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) started in 2004 and 2010 respectively. [REDACTED].


India is expected to continue its gradual ascent as an economic power and regional leader, and [REDACTED].

Still, there remain clear opportunities in 2021 to deepen the relationship across trade and investment, security, energy, and the environment. [REDACTED].

Saudi Arabia



Saudi Arabia is a leader in the Arab world, dominant in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and a leading force in the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Saudi Arabia retains global importance as the religious home of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, including 1 million Canadians who have a vested interest in the safety and security of the two holiest sites in Islam and the ability to perform the Haj in safety. In recognition of its pivotal role in the global economy, Saudi Arabia was invited to join the G20 (which it chaired in 2020) and is the forum’s only member of the Arab world. Saudi Arabia remains a valued regional security partner for the West and key bulwark against Iran’s destabilization efforts and the threat these pose to regional partners, including Israel. Saudi Arabia is also a member of the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy and its founding ideology is based on an austere interpretation of Islam characterised by the principle of “obedience to the ruler.” As such, the government rejects outside criticism on human rights issues by dismissing it as unacceptable interference in domestic affairs, justifying its actions and policies as keeping with Saudi Arabia’s interpretation of Islam and Shari’a law.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has been the King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques since January 23, 2015. King Salman appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) Crown Prince on June 21, 2017, replacing Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. Since becoming Crown Prince, MbS has continued to consolidate power, and is considered by many to be the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and is the presumptive heir to the Saudi throne.

At the core of Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is a range of objectives: respect for human rights; international and regional security; and trade diversification and investment. It is clear that Saudi Arabia’s poor record on human rights domestically and abroad, and the humanitarian impact of its actions in Yemen have been, and continue to be, deeply problematic. However, it also remains an integral and valued security partner, both for Canada and key allies.

Shifting regional dynamics will be an important factor moving forward for Saudi Arabia, including the Gulf region preoccupation with the Iranian threat, the Abraham Accords and normalization agreements with Israel, as well as approaches related to the new U.S. Administration.

Bilateral Dispute

Bilateral relations remain fractured since the downgrading of relations by Saudi Arabia on August 5, 2018, in reaction to a series of tweets by then-Foreign Minister Freeland and Global Affairs calling for the immediate release of detained human rights activists. Canada’s sustained public engagement on human rights issues is more than just an irritant from a Saudi perspective but an unacceptable interference in domestic affairs.

Ministerial-level discussions throughout 2018 and 2019 were not able to resolve the dispute.

Human Rights

The human rights situation in Saudi Arabia continues to be a focus for Canada. Some dismantling of the guardianship system, including lifting the ban on women driving and removing a range of restrictions related to women obtaining passports, has improved the daily life of women in Saudi Arabia and allowed some of them to participate more actively in society. However, despite some social reforms, Saudi society remains highly conservative and the government continues to perpetuate very serious human rights violations.

Raif Badawi - The case of Raif Badawi, a 36-year-old Saudi blogger and activist, has a particular Canadian nexus given that his wife, Ensaf Haidar, and three children are Canadian citizens. Mr. Badawi is currently serving a ten-year sentence in Saudi Arabia and former Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler is acting as Mr. Badawi's international legal counsel. Ms. Haidar, an activist in her own right, has been very successful in raising the profile of Mr. Badawi’s case both domestically and internationally. On March 16, then-Foreign Minister Champagne spoke to the Saudi Foreign Minister and raised Mr. Badawi’s situation, noting it was a priority for Canada.

Loujain al-Hathloul – Ms. Al-Hathloul is one of the most prominent and outspoken women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. Ms. Al-Hathloul is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident; however, she did attend The University of British Columbia as a student. Much of her activism has been conducted via commentary on social media. She is well known for her campaigning against the driving ban, including posting videos of herself driving as part of a 2013 campaign, and the campaign to end the male guardianship system.

Saudi officials detained Ms. al-Hathloul on May 15, 2018, along with 11 other women’s rights activists. She was convicted on December 28, 2020, and sentenced to 5 years and 8 months in prison, with a “suspension of 2 years and 10 months of [her] punishment” due to considerations relating to her health.

Economic and Commercial

Historically Canada and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed strong bilateral commercial relations. However, as part of the downgrading of bilateral relations on August 5, 2018, Saudi Arabia announced it was suspending new trade and investment ties with Canada. Canadian businesses have suffered the consequences of this action, with multiple examples of companies being excluded from potential contracts and bidding processes they were able to access prior to the downgrading of relations.

Despite ongoing bilateral challenges that have impeded commercial relations, Saudi Arabia is Canada’s 14th largest export market in the world, and the largest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Saudi Arabia also remains Canada’s most important two-way trading partner in the MENA region, and there are an estimated 60 Canadian companies with a long-term presence in Saudi Arabia.




Turkey’s increasingly assertive foreign policy is demonstrated by its military incursions into Syria, Libya, Iraq; its assertion of interests in the Eastern Mediterranean and support of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh; and the acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. Turkey views the world as undergoing a shift to a new multipolar global architecture and sees itself shaping that new order, where its views are taken into account. Turkey’s growing influence from the Caucasus to the Middle East, all the way to the Horn of Africa, is driven by an enduring desire to position itself as an influential and independent regional and global actor. It also stems from a perception that the West does not recognise the extent of the burdens and security threats Turkey faces, forcing Ankara to act unilaterally to defend its interests, even if this heightens tensions.

President Erdoğan’s [REDACTED] rhetoric and readiness to use hard power [REDACTED] is also a reflection of domestic concerns, including the existential threat of Kurdish separatism, particularly the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). [REDACTED].

The 2016 attempted coup against Erdoğan was a dramatic turning point in Turkey’s political dynamics and relations with the West. While there is continued democratic resilience at the grassroots and private sector level, Turkey faces increasing [REDACTED] including the detention of numerous human rights defenders and journalists on terrorism related charges linked to the so-called Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) or the PKK. Canada only recognizes the PKK as a terrorist organization. Five Canadian-Turkish dual citizens were convicted of being members of a terrorist organization following the attempted coup and [REDACTED] remain incarcerated in Turkey. Most recently, senior Canadian officials have raised concerns with Turkish officials regarding the detention of [REDACTED] a Turkish citizen and permanent resident of Canada.

Strategically Important NATO Ally

Despite being a challenging actor, Turkey has the second-largest military in NATO and occupies a location of enormous geostrategic importance. Turkey is also an important partner in the fight against terrorism and participates in the Global Coalition against Daesh, as well as the NATO Mission Iraq (NMI).

While Turkey and Russia pragmatically cooperate on a number of fronts, Turkey’s actions in Libya, and northwestern Syria have, for the time being, served to stall Russian expansionism and provide a counterweight to Russia’s resurgent influence in the region. However, increased tensions within NATO and Turkey’s frustrations with what it perceives to be a lack of support from its Allies, may lead Turkey to continue seeking diversification of its relations, which will only serve the Russian objective of driving a wedge between Turkey and NATO allies.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, Canada has focused on encouraging restraint, de-escalation of tensions and dialogue towards a durable solution, echoing messaging by NATO’s Secretary General on the importance of NATO unity and solidarity on intra-Alliance disputes involving Turkey.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, where Canadian interests were directly impacted, in October 2020 Canada suspended export permits over allegations that Turkey transferred UAVs with Canadian technology to Azerbaijan. Turkey criticized the decision and accused Canada of applying a “double standard” approach in suspending export permits to Turkey, while continuing to export arms to countries like Saudi Arabia. A review of export permits has been finalized and submitted for Ministerial decision on a proposed way to move forward.

Bilateral & Multilateral Engagement

In addition to its continued importance as a NATO Ally, and its role in containing Russian regional expansion, Turkey hosts over 4 million refugees, 3.6 million of which are Syrian. Canada’s resettlement program is the largest in the world, and cooperation with Turkey on refugee protection is essential and demonstrates international burden and responsibility sharing. As a member of the G20, the UN and the OECD, Turkey is an important multilateral partner and has traditionally been at the forefront of humanitarian and refugee issues as the host of the world’s largest refugee population.

While the issue of export permits has become a significant bilateral irritant, Turkey is an increasingly attractive export market for Canadian products. Bilateral trade is growing at a steady pace, particularly in the defence sector, where products largely fall under Category 2 export controls for which permits to Turkey have been suspended. Canada will host the next Ministerial-level Joint Economic Trade Committee (JETCO) in 2021, focused on innovation.

Turkey is a helpful partner for Canada on a number of priorities, including its engagement on consular issues, assistance with the January 2020 flight PS752 disaster response, the April 2020 Canadian military helicopter crash, humanitarian issues, as well as defence relations. Turkey has also been a partner in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and post-pandemic economic cooperation. There is scope for broader engagement on issues related to agriculture, education, research and development and climate protection.

Turkey also represents an important voice in the Sunni Muslim world, and is increasingly fostering stronger ties with countries across the Middle East and North Africa, Africa and Southeast Asia, including Qatar, Pakistan and Malaysia. This presents opportunities for Canada to engage Turkey on continued advocacy against the persecution of Muslim communities globally.

Canada’s ability to engage Turkey on key foreign policy and strategic priorities relies on a robust and sustained Government of Canada effort. This includes significant political-level and leader interactions, alongside other tools [REDACTED].




The regime, with support from Russia and Iran, controls over 80% of Syria’s territory, with only Turkish, American, and Kurdish-controlled areas across the north and east outside of the regime’s control.

Idlib province (northwestern Syria) is one of the last major areas outside regime control, alongside northeastern Syria which is governed by Syrian Kurds. Idlib remains the site of continued conflict between the regime, Russia, the extremist group Hayat Tahrir al Sham, Turkey, and other opposition forces. Following the 2020 regime offensive on Idlib (which included an airstrike on Turkish forces), Turkey launched a retaliatory operation. The hostilities ceased with a Russia-Turkey agreement in March 2020. Despite regular but minor breaches, the ceasefire has been sustained due mainly to Turkish and Russian will. The regime is expected to resume its offensive in the short- to medium-term.

Political Negotiations

There are two current tracks for talks on the Syrian conflict. The UN-led Geneva process, aiming at a negotiated political settlement based on key UNSC resolutions of 2013 and 2015, is supported by the wider international community (including Canada). The fifth round of the Geneva-based Constitutional Committee talks is expected in early 2021, with little to no progress expected, due to the regime’s unwillingness to participate meaningfully. The Astana process, led by Russia, Iran and Turkey, is intended to negotiate military aspects of the conflict. Given the critical roles of the three countries on the ground, Astana is considered to be the platform for many key decisions, including the constitutional process, rather than Geneva. Astana lacks the ability to produce an inclusive political settlement as it deals primarily with the regime, and much less so with opposition forces.

Humanitarian Situation

There are more than 6 million internally displaced persons inside Syria. Since 2011, over 5.6 million people have fled the country, seeking refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and beyond. Over 11 million people inside Syria are in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance. In July 2020, the UNSC approved a 12-month extension of the UN cross-border mechanism, which is critical for the humanitarian response in Syria. However, Russian pressure, which significantly reduced the scope of the mechanism, limiting the ability of cross-border aid to reach over one million Syrians in critical need, is expected to try to sunset the mechanism entirely in July 2021. While the officially reported number of COVID-19 cases remains relatively low, widespread community transmission is assessed to be very likely. The regime lacks both the will and capacity to handle the pandemic, suffering from inadequate medical facilities and personnel, lack of critical supplies, and poor governance structures.

Regional and Foreign Positions

U.S. military presence in eastern Syria is intended to combat Daesh and to contain Iran’s influence in Syria, and is unlikely to be fully withdrawn. While the incoming U.S. Administration has not laid out an explicit political strategy, the United States is expected to sustain its engagement in Syria, with a focus on supporting a political solution to the conflict and on enforcing/expanding its sanctions regime vis-à-vis Syria.

Turkey has become a critical actor in the Syrian dynamic, its primary motives being to address national security concerns and to preserve stability along its border by preventing further influx of refugees.  Since 2016, Turkey has launched 4 military operations against Daesh, the regime, and Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

As the regime continues to reassert control within Syria, it is also seeking to normalize relations with regional states. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have reopened their embassies, and Oman has reinstated its ambassador. Certain regional states are calling for Syria’s re-admittance into the Arab League, while select European states are progressing toward normalization with the regime. In May 2020, Cyprus reopened its embassy in Damascus and Greece appointed a special envoy to Syria.

Accountability for Syrian War Crimes

The regime stands accused of more than 100 chemical weapons attacks over the course of the war, resulting in the death of hundreds of civilians. It is estimated that over one hundred thousand civilians have been arbitrarily detained throughout the conflict, and there are credible reports of summary executions and torture of civilians by regime officials. Canada supports efforts to investigate the use of chemical weapons and to pursue accountability for war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law via relevant mechanisms at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the UN and other investigative bodies.

Canada enacted economic sanctions related to Syria under the Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) in 2011. The Syria Regulations impose sanctions against members of the Syrian regime and prohibit a variety of actions.

Canadian Engagement in Syria

Having closed the Embassy in Damascus and expelling Syrian diplomats from Canada in 2012, Canada employs a strategy of “controlled engagement” in Syria, focusing primarily on humanitarian, development and stabilization support while avoiding unnecessary diplomatic engagement with regime officials. Canada has welcomed over 70,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015.Through the Middle East Strategy, Canada has committed almost $44 million in security and stabilization assistance, over $497 million in humanitarian assistance, and over $22 million for development assistance for Syria between 2016-2021. Canada has been a member of the Global Coalition Against Daesh since 2014. As a staunch supporter of the White Helmets (Syrian Civil Defense/WH), first responders operating in opposition-held areas, Canada led an international effort in July 2018, to help evacuate particularly vulnerable White Helmet members from southern Syria. Work is ongoing to resettle the 422 White Helmets and their families to Canada and other partner countries.


There is mounting pressure from Syrian-Kurdish officials, the United States and the public to repatriate foreign individuals, suspected of Daesh-affiliation, and their family members who are being detained in northeast Syria. Human rights groups, families and media are focusing on the children who make up more than half of Canadian detainees. In October 2020, Global Affairs Canada led a mission to repatriate a Canadian orphan from al Hol camp on an exceptional humanitarian basis.

North Korea



Canada-North Korea Bilateral Relations

Canada established bilateral diplomatic relations with North Korea in 2001, however, North Korea’s aggressive actions in 2010 led Canada to impose tight restrictions on the relationship, including a Controlled Engagement Policy. Official bilateral discussions are limited to topics concerning: (1) regional security concerns; (2) the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea; (3) inter-Korean relations; and (4) consular issues.

Ambassadors between the two countries are not accredited. Relations are maintained through our Embassy in Seoul (cross-accredited) and North Korea’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York.

WMD Proliferation

Despite extensive international efforts, North Korea has improved its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities in recent years and is continuing to do so. North Korea is believed to possess up to 65 nuclear weapons, with a variety of delivery systems. It is likely capable of adding several weapons per year to its arsenal.

In recent years, North Korea has also demonstrated that it is continuing to expand the diversity and overall capabilities of its ballistic missile program. Since May 2019, North Korea has conducted test-launches of short-range ballistic missiles on more than a dozen occasions and at least one test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

North Korea also possesses chemical weapons and a biological weapons capability, although it has never declared possession or development of either. In 2017, suspected North Korean agents used the chemical weapon VX to assassinate the half-brother of Kim Jong Un in Malaysia.

North Korea has a history of testing new U.S. administrations; provocations following the inauguration of President Biden cannot be discounted.


North Korea remains subject to strict UN Security Council sanctions, but has developed a sophisticated sanctions evasion system. Since 2011, Canada has also imposed robust autonomous sanctions on North Korea under the Special Economic Measures Act.

The impact of sanctions depends largely on the extent of China’s implementation, as it accounts for approximately 95% of North Korea’s foreign trade. North Korea is also increasingly adept at using cyberspace to gain sensitive information, evade sanctions and raise revenue for the regime.

Canadian Engagement

Canada supports the United States and South Korea in their efforts to strengthen diplomatic engagement with North Korea in order to pursue denuclearization and reduce the risk of conflict.

[REDACTED] Canada is participating in a multinational initiative aimed at countering North Korea’s maritime sanctions evasion by detecting and deterring illegal ship-to-ship transfers, and gathering intelligence on the vessels and entities involved. In support of this effort, Canada periodically deploys ships, aircraft and personnel under Operation NEON, which is ongoing until spring 2021 [REDACTED].

Since 2017, Global Affairs Canada has committed $16 million to investigate North Korea’s sanctions evasion efforts and to build sanctions implementation capacity in key regions.

Canada also has currently 8 Canadian Armed Forces personnel in the United Nations Command, which supervises the armistice between the two Koreas.

In 2018, Canada and the United States co‑hosted the Vancouver Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula, which brought together 20 countries to discuss means to support a peaceful solution. Canada also hosted a series of working-level meetings on North Korean sanctions in 2019.

In 2011, UBC established an innovative and highly valued program with North Korea, which facilitates academic exchanges and aims to increase North Korean exposure to Canada and the West.


North Korea officially claims to be COVID-free but experts remain skeptical. It implemented drastic COVID prevention measures early on in the outbreak, including closing its borders to all goods and travel, and requiring foreigners to be quarantined.

Almost all foreign staff of embassies and international organizations have now left the country, including Sweden’s, Canada’s Protecting Power. A few countries maintain a skeletal presence. It is unclear when they will be able to return.

Human Rights

Canada works with allies and partners in multilateral organizations to address human rights violations in North Korea. Canada regularly calls on North Korea to address issues of human rights, urging it to abide by international human rights standards.

Humanitarian Situation

North Korea continues to be in a state of protracted humanitarian need and humanitarian activities have been critically underfunded. This situation has likely worsened with a series of typhoons and flooding in 2020 affecting food production. COVID-19 and the continued closure of its borders has blocked most humanitarian assistance, access and monitoring since early 2020. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 40% of the North Korean population is food insecure. The U.S. Department of Agriculture assessed this figure to be 60%.

Since 2005, Canada has provided over $38.9 million in humanitarian assistance, through experienced multilateral partners, to address urgent needs in North Korea. A small number of privately-funded Canadian NGOs provide humanitarian assistance (food, equipment, medical supplies) within the framework of international and Canadian sanctions. Canada’s last monitoring visit of humanitarian assistance in North Korea was in 2019.




Since 2001, the Government of Canada has played an active role in Afghanistan, providing $3.6 billion in international assistance and contributing a total of 40,000 soldiers to the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which concluded its combat mission in 2014.

[REDACTED]. Global Affairs Canada this year will launch the design and planning of an improved and more efficient embassy complex in Kabul, to ensure the safety, security and well-being embassy personnel.

Tangible, albeit uneven, progress has been achieved in Afghanistan since 2001. Education enrolment rates for girls are at an all-time high; there is increased life expectancy; an open media and burgeoning civil society have developed; and a functioning government exists with some democratic features. Conditions are qualitatively better than 20 years ago. However, despite gains, as would be expected in such a fragile context, challenges persist. Social issues such as pervasive violence and discrimination against women and minorities are compounded by weak governance, illicit opium production, robust insurgency and competing foreign interests.

U.S.-Taliban Agreement

After over 18 years of conflict, on February 29, 2020, the United States signed an agreement with the Taliban that aims to lay the ground for peace in Afghanistan, and the withdrawal of U.S. forces. The agreement committed the Taliban to (1) ensure that Afghanistan would not become a safe haven to terrorists who pose a threat to the United States or allies; (2) begin peace negotiations with the Government of Afghanistan, and (3) include a permanent ceasefire on the agenda of those talks. In return, the United States committed to (1) withdraw all international forces by May 1, 2021, and (2) review international sanctions against the Taliban, on the condition that the above terms were met.

Since March, 2020, the United States has reduced its troop presence in Afghanistan from 12,000 to approximately 2,500 by January 15, 2021. NATO has reduced its troops in a commensurate fashion.

A Surge in Violence

The security situation in Afghanistan has shifted since the signing of the U.S.-Taliban agreement. The Taliban has largely refrained from targeting international forces, and has instead increased its attacks against the Afghan security forces, who experienced their deadliest month in 20 years of war in June, 2020. The Taliban has also undertaken an unprecedented campaign of targeted killings against government officials, journalists and human rights activists. Terrorist groups such as ISIS continue to launch large-scale attacks against civilians and security personnel. Overall, Afghanistan remains one of the deadliest conflicts for civilians; the United Nations documented 6,000 civilians killed or wounded in the first 9 months of 2020.

Peace Negotiations

Direct negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban began in Doha, Qatar, on September, 12, 2020. Progress, to date, has been slow, as both parties wait for clarity on President-elect Biden’s Afghanistan policy, in particular as to whether or not the United States will continue the full withdrawal of U.S. troops by May 1, 2021.

[REDACTED]. The second round of peace talks began in Doha on January 6. A ceasefire and the structure of the future government remain priorities for the government and the Taliban, respectively. The possibility of an interim government that includes the Taliban is being discussed more openly, [REDACTED] to be established immediately after a 3-month ceasefire or as part of a political settlement.

The Taliban negotiators have revealed few details about their vision of an ‘end state’, beyond an Islamic Emirate. They must contend with differences of opinion and more extreme ideology, including from within their own fighting forces, as well as from outside supporters. It is likely that a government in which power is shared with the Taliban will see the erosion of some of the progress made in the past 20 years, notably on women and girls rights.

For a power-sharing arrangement to work, the government of the day will need the ongoing support of the international community. If civil war can be avoided, there will still be very serious challenges to address, including the reintegration of Taliban ex fighters, organized crime, economic recovery and development, unemployment and poverty.

Uncertainty around New U.S. Policy

The new U.S. Administration’s policy on Afghanistan will be the main driver of the international presence in Afghanistan in 2021 and beyond. [REDACTED] and consultative approach is expected from the new Administration with regards to further troop reductions. [REDACTED]. A full international military withdrawal in the near term could jeopardize the long-term stability and security of the country, and erode the development gains made over the past 20 years.

Contingency planning around troop withdrawal is currently underway among members of the international community. [REDACTED].


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the challenges that Afghanistan already faced. Gains over the past 20 years in maternal, child and newborn health, routine immunization, polio eradication and girls’ education are at risk. The economic impacts of the pandemic are expected to be felt for the coming years.




Under President Putin, in power for more than two decades, Russia has sought to exert its influence in opposition to the West, drawing on its nearly one million-member army, vast nuclear arsenal and world-class diplomatic service. As a permanent member of the UNSC and a member of the G20, East Asia Summit, and Arctic Council, Russia is a player on most international security issues, from Iran, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan, to North Korea and Venezuela. Its influence is also increasingly visible in Africa. Russia is also interested in regional stability, on its terms, which expands its influence, and recently brokered an end to the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Ukraine figures prominently in Russia’s regional power projection, serving as its cautionary tale against the instability of “colour revolutions” and reinforcing the Kremlin narrative of Western/NATO encroachment on Russia’s borders.

Domestically, Russia [REDACTED] the country faces a stagnating economy, decreasing standards of living, demographic decline, growing popular dissatisfaction and increasing prospects of protests, further exacerbated by the pandemic. President Putin’s regime is not immune to these pressures, particularly given its prioritization of domestic survival and enrichment. The above factors all point to a continued trajectory to repress all forms of dissent that threaten the regime’s legitimacy, authority and power. While President Putin may have benefited from the “Crimea is ours” sentiment that created a rally-around the leader effect in 2014, today, Russia’s aggressive and costly policies in eastern Ukraine are a weak lever to politically mobilize the Russian population. Russians appear to be more preoccupied with the socio-economic conditions of the country, manifested in local issues, from environmental degradation to the rising pension age. Despite palpable discontent among Russians, particularly a younger generation seeking to build an alternative future, [REDACTED].

Internationally, Russia seeks to maintain its perceived role as a great power whose influence cannot be ignored by the West. Russia’s foreign policy seeks strategic leverage to counter U.S./Western interests, as well as to maintain control in its sphere of influence. Seven years after its illegal annexation of Crimea, Russia continues to consolidate its control over the Ukrainian territory. In the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, Russia operates through proxies, from private military companies to well-financed, trained and armed militants. Following more than 13,000 deaths and a de-facto secession of the non-government controlled areas from Kyiv, Russia continues to insist that it is not a party to the conflict. In contrast to Crimea, where Russia has made significant investments in infrastructure and tourism, it is neither investing in eastern Donbas nor integrating it into its territory. Rather, Russia is pressuring Ukraine to grant the Donbas “special status” in order to undermine its national unity and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.

Negotiations for resolving the conflict in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) and Normandy diplomatic formats are stuck and now limited to a COVID-induced videoconference format. Russia and representatives of the so-called “DNR” and “LNR” have demonstrated the greatest intransigence. The illegitimate authorities demand direct dialogue with Ukraine, which does not recognize them as legitimate interlocutors, while Russia is increasingly disengaged.

Political Shifts in Ukraine

In April 2019, President Zelenskyy won by a landslide on a reformist platform and commitment to end the war. Since then, his [REDACTED] in increasing prosperity, reducing anti-corruption, and in achieving peace in Donbas. After appointing a young, reform-oriented Cabinet in September 2019, President Zelenskyy replaced it six months later [REDACTED].

In December 2019, President Zelenskyy met with President Putin during the Normandy Four (N4) summit in Paris. Since then, the main [REDACTED] achievements have been a large prisoner exchange in late December 2019 and a July 2020 ceasefire agreement that significantly reduced ceasefire violations and casualties in Donbas. However, President Zelenskyy’s subsequent attempts to secure a follow-up N4 summit have failed, as Russia demands ever-greater political concessions. Although Zelenskyy has emphasized his dissatisfaction with the Minsk Agreements [REDACTED] Ukraine is also launching a Crimea Platform to galvanize international engagement to Russia’s ongoing occupation of the peninsula.

Canada’s Current Engagement

Despite limited renewed diplomatic engagement with Russia since 2016,

Canada-Russia bilateral relations remain difficult and economic sanctions are in place. Canada views many Russian actions as part of a pattern of unacceptable behaviour, including the March 2018 nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom, support of the Assad regime in Syria, support for civil strife in neighbouring countries, election interference, disinformation campaigns, and most recently, the poisoning of Russian opposition figure, Alexei Navalny.

Canada does engage with Russia on issues of common interest, such as the Arctic. (Russia is preparing to assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council later this year). However, [REDACTED]. All other G7 countries maintain limited engagements with Russia at the leader and ministerial level in pursuit of national interests.

Canada has been a leading provider of humanitarian, development and military assistance to Ukraine. Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, Canada has provided over $800 million in multifaceted assistance, imposed sanctions against more than 430 Russian and Ukrainian entities and individuals, and launched Operation UNIFIER (the Canadian Armed Forces military training mission to Ukraine), which was renewed to 2022. Canada is also supporting Ukraine’s prosperity via the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) and development programming that focuses on economic growth. Canada hosted the Ukraine Reform Conference in 2019 and provided crucial support allowing Ukraine to become a NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner, increasing its inter-operability with the Alliance.

Canada supports ongoing diplomatic efforts, including the ‘Normandy Four’ and TCG formats, to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Without a role in these formats however, Canada is limited to raising our positions in multilateral forums of which Russia is a member (i.e. OSCE) or where it is discussed (i.e. G7, NATO). Canada is also an active participant in the G7 Ambassadors group in Kyiv.

Canada and United Nations Peace Operations



UN peace operations are being deployed in increasingly complex operating environments, with ever decreasing financial, human and military resources, due in particular to the UN’s longstanding budgetary difficulties. These difficulties have been compounded by the COVID pandemic, which affects all 12 current UN peacekeeping missions, and limits the ability of many states to contribute resources to peacekeeping.

In this context, Canada’s strong support for UN peace operations is more important than ever. Canada made a number of commitments to UN peace operations at the 2016, 2017 and 2019 UN Peacekeeping Ministerials, including:

The next Peacekeeping Ministerial is scheduled to take place in December 2021 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. Canada hosted a virtual preparatory meeting for this ministerial in November 2020. [REDACTED]


Canada is currently the ninth largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping assessed budget, having contributed over US$172 million for the current peacekeeping fiscal year (July 2020-June 2021). Canada is also one of the largest donors of voluntary funding to UN peace operations, with over $70 million in funding provided since 2016 to improve the effectiveness of peace operations through enhanced training, strategic planning, and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda. Canada is also one of the largest donors to the UN Peacebuilding Fund, supporting critical transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding.

The Elsie Initiative

The Elsie Initiative’s mandate is to develop innovative approaches to identify and address barriers to the meaningful participation of women in UN peace operations, specifically in uniformed police and military roles. Since the Initiative’s launch, Canada has established bilateral partnerships with the Ghana Armed Forces, the Zambia Police Service and the Forces armées sénégalaises; worked with the UN to design and launch the Elsie Initiative Fund administered by UN Women; commissioned the development of a comprehensive methodology for identifying barriers in military and police institutions; and supported the UN to create more receptive environments for women. Canada is now recognized internationally as a leader in this field. COVID-19 has slowed implementation of some of the Initiative’s key activities, [REDACTED].

Military capabilities

[REDACTED]. An Air Task Force (ATF) was deployed to the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) from August 2018 to August 2019. The ATF was composed of two Chinook heavy lift helicopters, four Griffon armed escort helicopters and two rotations of 250 military personnel each. The ATF provided 24/7 medical evacuation capability, as well as logistics and transport support to MINUSMA, flying more than 165 missions over the course of its deployment.

Canada has provided episodic Tactical Airlift support (TAL) from the UN Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE) in Uganda since August 2019. The TAL consists of a CC130-Hercules transport aircraft and approximately 27 crew and support personnel travelling to the RSCE on an episodic basis. [REDACTED]. As of mid-January 2021, the TAL will have been deployed on nine occasions, moving close to 700,000 pounds of cargo and over 700 passengers. The TAL is currently authorized to deploy until July 31, 2021.

A determination has yet to be made on opportunities for Canada to deploy a Quick Reaction Force.

Innovative Training

Canada is recognized as a leader in terms of high-quality training for personnel participating in UN peace operations. Since 2017, Canada has provided funding and expertise to meet critical training gaps in the areas of medical capabilities, counter-IEDs, child protection, leadership, conflict-related sexual violence, and gender. Canada has piloted e-learning initiatives, provided equipment to run exercises, and helped develop new curricula to respond to the specific challenges for today’s peace operations.

The Vancouver Principles

The Vancouver Principles (VPs) are a set of non-binding political commitments intended to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers in contexts where UN peacekeeping missions operate. As of January 2021, 99 UN Member States have endorsed the Principles, including ten of the UN’s top 20 troop and police contributors. Canadian support for VP implementation is ongoing, including the publication of Implementation Guidance to assist endorsing States in incorporating the VPs into their national doctrine and practice. In 2019, the Department of National Defence established the Dallaire Centre of Excellence for Peace and Security, to ensure that the VPs are integrated into CAF doctrine and practice.

Military and Police Deployments

Canada currently ranks 76th out of 120 UN troop and police contributors, with approximately 40 Canadian military and police personnel deployed to five UN peacekeeping missions (MINUSMA, MONUSCO, UNMISS, UNTSO and UNFICYP). Canadian civilian police are also deployed to one UN Special Political Mission (BINUH) and provide expertise to the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). Canadian military and police personnel are also deployed to a number of non-UN peace operations, with bilateral and multilateral partners. Please see Annex A.


Protecting Democracy



The world has experienced 15 years of democratic backsliding. Some elected governments have weakened their countries’ democratic institutions. In many countries, popular support for democracy is in decline. Foreign interference campaigns have been compounded by the rise of populist, extremist, and authoritarian narratives. This has contributed to the erosion of citizen confidence in democracy, the exacerbation of social and political divisions and polarization, growing distrust of governments, and the discrediting of democratic institutions and the media.

Illiberal regimes have become more activist globally, increasingly contesting the international rules based system. [REDACTED] have been at the forefront of this effort to re-shape prevailing norms, such as rule of law, transparency, media freedom, democracy and human rights. These and other hostile state actors aggressively conduct foreign interference efforts in large part to erode the primacy of democratic values and promote their own. These efforts include interfering in electoral processes, employing disinformation to manipulate public discourse, and threatening individuals. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these trends.

U.S. Summit for Democracy

During the U.S. election campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to host a global “Summit for Democracy” during his first year in office. He proposed to focus on fighting corruption, defending against authoritarianism including protecting elections, and strengthening respect for human rights at home and abroad. The summit would seek to have leaders make commitments to concrete action and engage with civil society organizations and private sector companies. The Biden Administration is not expected to release further details until after the Inauguration.

Early engagement with the United States provides the opportunity to offer support with tangible proposals and present potential avenues to counter current perceptions about the democratic model of governance. We will encourage coherence with other major multilateral events in 2021, including the U.K.-hosted G7 Summit and the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas.

While the Summit initiative presents opportunities to advance established priorities, including the promotion of inclusive democracy and human rights as part of a feminist foreign policy it also offers an occasion to formulate a positive and updated narrative on democracy The Department is developing options for engagement on digital inclusion in addition to areas that remain core to the protection of democracy and where we have played a leading role, such as defending media freedom, protecting democracy from foreign interference, advancing the exercise of human rights, and promoting a meaningful role for civil society.

The proposed Summit appears to be an integral part of the incoming administration’s expected [REDACTED] It may serve to [REDACTED] that the United States is willing to resume a leadership role on democracy and human rights. A strengthened narrative on the benefits of democracy will help to counter autocratic narratives and to frame economic and diplomatic cooperation [REDACTED] and to support a renewed [REDACTED].

There has been much speculation that this Summit could be used to establish a broader [REDACTED] including shaping the norms that govern [REDACTED] and to create a space for [REDACTED] that is [REDACTED] influence. Canada’s advocacy for digital inclusion, which seeks to promote a digital environment supported by broad civic participation, increased levels of social trust and the promotion and protection of human rights, could provide a useful contribution to this discussion and to shared efforts to counter rising digital authoritarianism.”

[REDACTED] democracy and human rights will be even more closely connected with [REDACTED] bringing to the fore issues such as anti-black racism, right to peaceful protest, transparency of election processes, disinformation, and media freedom.

Canada’s record on strengthening and protecting democracy

As G7 President in 2018, Canada championed the establishment of the G7 Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), in order to better identity and respond to foreign threats to our democracies. Canada leads the RRM on an ongoing basis and the United States has played an extremely active role, along with the EU and United Kingdom. The mechanism has proven an invaluable network for information exchange and could be leveraged to coordinate collective responses.

Since 2019, Canada has led international efforts to address media freedom by organizing the first two iterations of the Global Conference for Media Freedom, co-hosting with the United Kingdom in 2019, and with Botswana in 2020. Canada is also co-Chair of the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC) consisting of 43 countries; and was instrumental in the creation of the Global Media Defence Fund housed at UNESCO, which received $2 million from Canada for its first two years.

In 2019, Canada established the new Promoting and Protecting Democracy Fund (Pro-Dem) as a dedicated funding mechanism ($10 million per year) to supplement departmental efforts in the prevention of emerging crises affecting democracies, including by strengthening electoral processes, defending media freedom, and combatting new and emerging threats to democracies.

Canada continues to champion the role of civil society organizations in open societies through active engagement in ad hoc international coalitions such as the Community of Democracies.

Human Rights



Canadian interests and identity

Global respect for human rights reinforces stability and resilience, which in turn supports international trade, security and sustainable development. Human rights are a core part of Canada’s identity and Canadians expect their government to defend human rights internationally. Canada’s acknowledgement of its shortcomings – notably, its record on relations with Indigenous peoples – and openness to scrutiny – reinforces its global credibility and influence.

Multilateral Human Rights System

A well-functioning multilateral system underpins international human rights. Canada is an active participant across several multilateral bodies, including the United Nations (UN), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Within the UN, the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly’s Third Committee are the principal bodies advancing human rights. Despite criticism regarding egregious violations by some members, the UN Human Rights Council has created important mechanisms to investigate critical situations (e.g. Syria, Myanmar, DPRK), and provided capacity building to governments to make progress on advancing rights. Canada is a strong voice on human rights at the UN and takes a leadership role on many key resolutions, including Iran, child, early and forced marriage, and the elimination of violence against women. Canada also works in parallel to the UN through the G7, global coalitions and bilateral diplomacy.


Canadian human rights efforts have recently focused on advancing the rights of women and children, LGBTQ2I persons, Indigenous peoples, and human rights defenders; promoting freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief; the abolition of the death penalty; as well as country-specific issues where human rights violations are particularly egregious such as China, Iran, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, and Yemen. Canada has forcefully advanced the principle that human rights must also be promoted and protected online.


Canada’s efforts have yielded a number of concrete outcomes. Canada has leveraged its multicultural and multi-faith experience to promote freedom of religion or belief and establish the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2015. Canada is a leader in protecting the rights of LGBTQ2I individuals, hosting a Global Conference in 2018. Canada has established the Media Freedom Coalition, a group of 40+ governments committed to working together to advocate for media freedom and the protection of journalists. In November 2020, Canada co-hosted with Botswana the second Global Conference for Media Freedom and the first Ministerial meeting of the Media Freedom Coalition. Canada recently released an updated version of Voices at Risk: Canada’s Guidelines on Supporting Human Rights Defenders to strengthen Canadian support for human rights defenders around the world. Finally, Global Affairs Canada continued cooperation with IRCC on their mandate commitment to provide safe haven for human rights advocates, journalists and humanitarian workers at risk will see, as many as 250 people granted political asylum in Canada each year.

Human Rights and Global Challenges

Despite recent progress in making the international human rights system more effective, it is being challenged by a number of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, rising ethno-nationalism and disruption by increasingly assertive authoritarian governments seeking to undermine universal human rights norms and their own commitment to them.

The effects of COVID-19 and measures taken by governments to combat the pandemic have disproportionately affected already-marginalized groups, such as women, LGBTQ2I persons, the elderly, children, and Indigenous and racialized communities. Some governments have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to justify enacting legislation that limits human rights and fundamental freedoms including crackdowns on civil society, media, and protestors, while using unlawful, excessive or arbitrary surveillance.

Emerging technologies (e.g artificial intelligence) can lead to violations of rights (e.g. freedom of expression), and anti-democratic regimes are exploiting these new tools for repression and surveillance. Given Canada’s world-class technical expertise in AI, we have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in advancing an international governance approach to AI that supports both economic growth and human rights to strengthen the rules-based international order and protect Canadian interests.

Upcoming priorities/decision points

Opportunities to advance Canadian interests and leadership

Cyber Security and Cyber Threats



The recent SolarWinds compromise of U.S. government and private sector networks underscores the enormous risks we face from hostile cyber actors.

While the compromise is assessed to be an espionage operation, rather than a disruptive one, this case highlights that our critical infrastructure, companies and citizens are equally vulnerable.

Canada is committed to working with the United States and other international partners to address these risks to our national security, economies and democracies.


Cyber security is one of the major economic and national security challenges that Canada faces. The fast-evolving cyber threat environment includes new risks and challenges from both state and non-state actors, including hostile governments and their proxies.

Certain states actively pursue their interests in cyberspace through espionage as well as the theft of intellectual property and sensitive information. Malicious and sometimes disruptive state-sponsored activities affecting national security interests are increasing, although none, to date, have met the threshold of the “use of force” under international law.

Canada and its allies have prioritized efforts to promote stability in cyberspace and impose costs on those who engage in malicious cyber activity. The incoming Biden Administration has promised a robust response to the Solar Winds incident. It will expect its allies to support these efforts by strengthening their own cyber security resilience and continuing to uphold stability in cyberspace.

Domestic efforts

In June 2018, Canada, led by Public Safety, released Canada’s National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS) to strengthen partnerships to secure vital cyber systems, protect Canadians, as well as enhance the detection of, and response to, cyber threats.

In addition to building national resilience to security threats, Canada has also enhanced its ability to defend itself in cyberspace through defensive and active cyber operations. The Canadian Armed Forces and the Communication Security Establishment are responsible for developing and deploying cyber operations capabilities to defend Canada and its interests. Under the CSE Act, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) are involved in the process for assessing and authorizing foreign cyber operations to ensure their coherence with foreign policy objectives.

International efforts

The NSCC tasked GAC with working with partners and allies to shape the international cyber security environment in Canada’s favour. GAC has adopted a three-pronged approach aimed at promoting stability in cyberspace and respond to cyber security threats. It is composed of the following mutually reinforcing elements: (1) promoting an international framework of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace; (2) Adhering to this framework; and (3) raising the level of cyber resilience of others through capacity building.

To communicate this approach, GAC is developing an International Cyber Strategy.

The Framework for Responsible State Behaviour in Cyberspace

To counter cyber threats and uphold the rules-based international system, Canada has supported the development of a framework of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. It includes the recognition that international law applies in cyberspace, the adoption of 11 universally agreed voluntary norms for responsible state behaviour and the development of confidence-building measures to reduce the risk of misunderstanding, escalation and conflict in cyberspace.

Canada is participating actively in international negotiations at the UN on ICTs and International Security. Our main objective is to ensure that there is no backsliding on the previously agreed framework for responsible state behaviour, while aiming for modest advances in certain areas, such as improving implementation of the agreed norms of behaviour and addressing the gender aspects of cyber security.

In addition to our work on cyber security at the UN, Canada works on cyber issues with international partners and allies at NATO, as well as in regional organisations such as the OSCE, ARF and OAS.

Likeminded Deterrence and Response Efforts

Canada and its international partners have prioritized collective efforts to uphold the framework for responsible state behaviour in cyberspace. Canada and like-minded partners are establishing joint attribution, deterrence and response strategies to address cyber threats and impose costs on hostile states and their proxies. These include coordinating responses to significant malicious cyber incidents, including through information sharing, developing national capabilities to respond, public statements of support for responsive actions taken, as well as joint imposition of consequences against malicious actors.

Most recently, in July, Canada, the United States and United Kingdom called out Russia for targeting COVID-19 related research and vaccine development. In February 2020, Canada joined over 20 of its allies in identifying and exposing malicious cyber-activities by Russia targeting Georgian parliamentary elections.

Capacity-Building Efforts

Internationally, Canada is also supporting capacity-building efforts to increase the resilience of States to malicious cyber activity. Since 2015, Canada has contributed over $13 million to cyber capacity building projects around the world. Among other outcomes, these projects have helped a number of countries in the Americas develop their National Cyber Strategies. Thanks to Canada’s support, 17 new Computer Security Incident Response Teams have been established throughout the Americas.

Global Governance of Digital Technologies



Canadian approach to digital governance: It is becoming increasingly clear that the current models for the global governance of digital technologies fail to protect fundamental Canadian values and interests such as democracy, human rights and inclusion. Digital Inclusion is the Department’s uniquely democratic and human rights-based vision for an increasingly digitized world, where there is full and meaningful access to and use of digital technology and the Internet for all. Digital inclusion is rooted in the ten principles of Canada’s Digital Charter. It encompasses 4 pillars: availability, access, civic participation, and trust. [REDACTED].

Major Issues in Digital Governance

  1. Data Governance: The rapid innovation and evolution in data is having a transformative impact on domestic and international policy. Simply put, business models are moving faster than the rules around them. Data has moved beyond a commercial or regulatory issue to one that touches all aspects of international politics with key issues such as national security, human rights, access to services, intellectual property rights and privacy. While the new global landscape of data governance is still being mapped out, we are seeing different approaches across the EU, China and the United States starting to solidify. Fragmented systems of data protection rules create burdens for businesses, lead to uncertainty among consumers as to how their data is being protected, and create challenges for the economy writ large. From a Canadian perspective, we are assessing the global landscape while updating our domestic data protection framework to adapt to a digital age with the Digital Charter Implementation Act (Bill C-11). 
  2. Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology: Artificial intelligence (AI), as a major emerging technology, has profound potential to improve the quality of our lives, but also to erode human rights, democracy and the rule of law. AI enables foreign interference in democratic processes, facilitates mass surveillance, and amplifies gender and racial bias in economic opportunities and judicial systems. While authoritarian governments are expressly leveraging rights-infringing AI technologies, democracies are not immune from these negative impacts. Canada advocates a human rights-based approach to the design, development, deployment, and use of AI.
  3. Platform Governance: Platform governance comprises a range of measures from traditional hard legislation to soft law, the policies of platforms themselves, informal codes of conduct and various forms of transnational governance at national, regional and international levels. It encompasses, inter alia, issues such as data governance, content moderation, taxation, competition, and impacts such as mental health. While platform governance requires a national approach – various Ministers are mandated to address aspects of this challenge – international cooperation is essential, given the inherently transnational nature of online spaces. [REDACTED]. Digital inclusion is a critical starting point for platform governance, as is the need for greater collaboration among like-minded countries to elaborate shared norms in defence of human rights and democracy

Global Engagement

Given their wide-reaching impact, global governance of digital technologies currently occurs within a complex web of multilateral institutions. Canada is a founding member of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), a multilateral forum of 32 member countries that is committed to protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms online worldwide. In 2020, Canada launched a multistakeholder Taskforce on AI and Human Rights at the FOC (T-FAIR), leading to the development of a Joint Statement calling on states to uphold their human rights obligations and refrain from using AI technologies towards repressive and authoritarian purposes.

As an Observer state to the Council of Europe, Canada also engages in its Ad hoc Committee on Artificial Intelligence (CAHAI) which is conducting a feasibility study for the potential development of a legally-binding instrument to regulate AI. Canada is working with its likeminded partners to advocate for the continued relevance of existing international frameworks, including human rights.

Canada engages at the United Nations High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, convened by the UN Secretary-General to provide recommendations on how the international community can work together to optimise the use of digital technologies and mitigate the risks. [REDACTED] participates in roundtables on AI and digital human rights.

Other examples of international coordination on digital governance include the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), a multi-stakeholder organization launched by Canada and France in 2020 focusing on applied AI research. It consists of two Centres of Expertise—one in Montreal and the other in Paris—that oversee its working groups. Canada also engages with digital industry through the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) to address issues related to violent extremism and terrorist use of the internet, and is a signatory to the Christchurch Call to Action, an initiative to prevent social media and other online platforms from being used as a tool to promote terrorism, violence, and hatred.

Opportunities to advance Canadian interests and leadership:

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