Aside from Global Brief magazine, international conferences, and our various public interventions in media and fora in different countries, much of 21CQ’s work, quite appropriately, happens subterraneously, with little fanfare and considerable iteration. By this, I mean the continuous track 2 and track 1.5 work that 21CQ undertakes around the world – to help solve major problems, and to bridge differences – on the different Qs that interest us.
The Former Soviet Space and the Russia-West Conflict
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, no neutral, non-state group has been as active and influential in floating various ‘algorithms’ for exit from the Russia-West crisis, in Ukraine to begin with, but now more generally in several theatres, than 21CQ. I will write about our influential June 2016 international conference in Toronto on the Russia-West crisis, and also on the important second day on Canada-Russia relations in the Arctic (see our interest in the Arctic Question), in an upcoming blog.
Toward a Middle East Security Framework
In the Middle East, 21CQ has been at the forefront of international discussions about the creation of a regional security framework for the geographic theatre that has seen the biggest disintegration of all theatres since the end of the Cold War. On this Question, starting with his classical Feature article in GB in 2012, no one has done more reflection and pushing than my formidable colleague and friend Sam Sasan Shoamanesh. Sam followed up his first GB volley with an important piece in 2014, further stressing the need to address the region’s perpetual security dilemma through a regional regime based on common security, and calling for a regional diplomatic security conference to advance the proposal, as well as an annual forum for high-level security dialogue within the region.
This work has been supplemented by tireless track 1.5 and track 2 work in over a dozen capitals in Western Asia in order to lay the intellectual and policy foundations for a regional security framework – in 21CQ’s assessment, the only long-term mechanism or vehicle for exiting the present strategic and political chaos of the region. Watch also for major expert panels and diplomatic conferences on this question in the near future.
International Criminal Justice
International criminal justice is a major Question of interest for 21CQ. If the creation of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) is a significant achievement for global order and justice, then the need for international and regional bodies, states, civil society, the legal profession, victims’ groups and stakeholders around the world to reaffirm their commitment to the ICC and to international criminal justice persists. 21CQ’s work to promote and strengthen greater accountability for atrocity crimes and the international rule of law continues. In addition to our publications and other activities in this area, 21CQ is proud to announce that, along with the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, a number of states and reputable organisations, we will be co-sponsoring the upcoming official launch of the ICC-Office of the Prosecutor’s Policy Paper on Children in The Hague on the evening of the opening of the 15th session of the Assembly of the States Parties to the ICC. This Policy Paper is an initiative of ICC Prosecutor Bensouda, aimed at giving clarity to the work of her Office and its strategic priorities. The document strengthens the ICC-Office of the Prosecutor’s ability to address atrocity crimes against and affecting children during war and conflict, while promoting a child-sensitive approach in all relevant aspects of the Office’s work. Equally importantly, the initiative highlights the severity of atrocity crimes affecting children and, in so doing, seeks to galvanize a global response to address this scourge. Additional information about this event will soon be available on the 21CQ website. Stay tuned.
100 Million Canadians by 2100
GB and, after that, 21CQ have been the driving forces over the last near decade in developing a national conversation (debate) about the thesis that Canada should have a population of 100 million people by century’s end. We have been joined in this regard by many excellent minds and some terrific institutions, the most impressive of which is the recently launched Century Initiative, which we are proud to call a partner and ally. One need only look at recent headlines in papers across Canada, as well as formal policy proposals across the ideological spectrum in federal politics, to see how much increased momentum there is behind the 100 million thesis. Watch this channel.
The Quebec Question
On the Quebec Question, 21CQ is working with wonderful groups like Idée fédérale in Montréal on joint initiatives and projects – for starters, to better stitch together relationships and networks, and to create better porousness, between young Canadians in English and French Canada, on the premise that the country works best when our imaginations are combined, and is otherwise tired (and indeed vulnerable) in the absence of one or both of these imaginations from the national discourse. Watch for important developments on this Question in 2017.
The Aboriginal Question
Not unrelatedly, on the Aboriginal Question, 21CQ has long been an advocate for the resuscitation of Aboriginal languages and culture (including through a national languages strategy in Canada) as a key vector for co-equality in governance and, to be sure, status and quality of life for indigenous Canadians. Slowly but surely, this line of argument in making its way into the Canadian policy and commentariat mainstream. We will continue to push and make the case through different fora. Watch this brief.
The Interstitial and the Other Questions
What is the most serious and complex line of critique of the 100 million Canadians thesis? Answer: the argument from Quebec (that is, the Quebec Question). I treated this line of critique in a previous blog post, and will address it in greater detail in an upcoming Feature article in GB. I offer this provocation only to show that 21CQ holds that all of the Questions in which we are interested are deeply interconnected, and that while we may, facially, tackle each Question in a discrete (and discreet) manner, we maintain a systemic and systematic appreciation of these linkages.
Finally, 21CQ is, of course, interested in several other Questions, including the conflict in the DRC, cybersecurity, science in policy (where we are having ongoing discussions with the Ontario Science Centre and other parties about collaboration), Asian security and complex international business transactions. Work is advancing on all these fronts, and we will report out in future blogs and other fora.