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The Halifax International Security Forum (HISF) is an organization to strengthen strategic cooperation between the world’s democracies and to commit to global prosperity and security. It lasts three days in Halifax, Nova Scotia in November of each year. The HISF brings together 300 participants from 90 countries, including international government and military officials, academic experts, writers, and entrepreneurs. The HISF is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, DC. The HISF, which deals with the latest security issues such as terrorism, cyber-attacks, climate change and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, was established in 2009 as a program within the US German Marshall Fund of the US. In 2011, the HISF became an independent, non-profit organization and accepted Foreign Affairs as its official media partner (HISF, 2019). This year, 11th annual HISF took place on November 22-24, 2019 in Halifax, Nova Scotia with 300 participants from 80 countries. During the HISF 2019, the following issues were discussed in 8 plenary sessions : “Revolution of Our Time: Freedom Without Us”, “Values Trade: Our Way or the Huawei”, “The World’s Democracies: The Importance of Being Alliance”, “Institution Evolution: International Law and Global Order”, “2020’s Vision: Responsibility to Pro-tech”, “End of the Earth: The Arctic”, “Security Solutions,Women’s Contributions”, “Revolutions and Their Remains”. Authoritarianism, challenges of democracy, Arctic, China, Russia and regimes across the world were all significant subjects that were discussed at the HISF 2019. This article, it will be examined the highlights of intense discussions and information-sharing throughout the Halifax International Security Forum 2019.

2. Featured Explanations of Halifax International Security Forum 2019

In this part, we will review the prominent explanations on issues such as Russia’s and China's growing presence in the Arctic, protests in Hong Kong and other parts of the world and the responses given to them, Huawei, Ukraine, which were discussed during the Halifax International Security Forum 2019.

Canadian Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan stated that Canada is planning to increase its defense spending through 2026 because of concerns about the quickly changing of the global security environment. He also noted that Canada is investing in new defense programs to protect its homeland such as in Halifax a new fleet of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships. His country is pursuing innovative technology programs to fulfill its security and defense requirements. According to him, Canada is stronger when it acts together with its allies like the US which is Ottowa's closest friend. Canada is dedicated to multilateralism and international cooperation. Canadian Defence Minister said he doesn’t see China as an adversary and also it is time to work towards solutions including the arrest by the Chinese of two Canadians (New York Times, 2019).

HISF President Peter Van Praagh noted that China who no shares the same interest with Canada can be described in different ways from a competitor or strategic competitor to the adversary. Van Praagh argued that it is no more a mystery which Xi Jinping's China is working to make the world safe for authoritarianism and it is time for a comprehensive strategy for the US, Canada, and their allies. It was declared that Van Praagh and experts will work to create an anti-China strategy paper for HISF 2020 (New York Times, 2019).

Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, stated that nations in the Hong Kong desire free communities, freely elected officials, and the freedom to protect sovereignty, open reach to seas and airways, transparent deals among nations in the economic sense. The US has been developing a vision called the "free and open Indo-Pacific". In order to help advance that vision, Indo-Pacific Command's military field has a role. He emphasized that American values of freedom, democracy, and free commerce remain many competitive across the Indo-Pacific. He does not think it's a new Cold War between the U.S. and China as Kissinger says, 'Foothills of a Cold War'.

Regarding the Hong Kong protests, Emily Lau, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Democratic Party, Hong Kong, stated that they struggling with China for keeping promises of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the 1997 Basic Law which Hong Kong can continue to enjoy the capitalist system, rule of law and personal safety. The second annual John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service was awarded to the People of Hong Kong for their bravery in advocating democracy. Emily Lau and Figo Chan, who stand on the front lines in the freedom struggle of Hong Kong, accepted that Prize (HISF, 2019). They emphasized that their thankfulness for international society's assistance. Steve Tsang, Director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, expressed that international support is important for knowing what happened in Hong Kong, but it will not change Hong Kong’s future. The future of Hong Kong is in the hands of people who live in Hong Kong and also the Beijing government.

Regarding US policy on Venezuela and sanctions imposed by countries, Isadora Zubillaga, Deputy Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, National Assembly, Venezuela and Ambassador of Venezuela to France, noted that the sanctions of Canada, US, and European countries are the most significant instrument which we have today get the regime to negotiate a political solution in Venezuela. But the sanctions are not enough, individual sanctions are very important. According to her, Maduro is a dictator who has stolen the money of the Venezuelan people and prohibited the food and the medicine for damaging people. That’s why he should be responsible.

Regarding the developments in the Arctic, it was declared that the US is considering expanding its existence in the Arctic against growing rivalry from Russia and China. Secretary Richard V. Spencer also noted that although China is not an Arctic country, it considers itself to be a near-Arctic and is seeking a “Polar Silk Road" (National Defence Magazine, 2019). There were also calls for Canada to considerably enhance its military existence in the Arctic against growing Russian and Chinese existence there.

On Ukraine issue, there isn’t a suspicion of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that Crimea will shortly belong to Ukraine. He noticed a call for Ukraine to join NATO. National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien expressed that no other state is as generous as the US for the question of whether Ukraine has received sufficient assistance from the US.

Robert O'Brien criticized the world for being silent to Muslims in the re-education camps in China. He also stated that an initial trade deal with China is still probable by the end of the year but the US will not ignore the concerns arising China's actions such as what's happening in Hong Kong and the South China Sea (Reuters, 2019).

About Huawei, A few congressional leaders of the US, including Robert O’Brien, warned that Canada-US intelligence collaboration might be at risk if Canada does not success to exclude Huawei from its 5-G network.

"Security Solutions, Women's Contributions" plenary session was criticized for the presence of 4 male and 1 female speakers. Organizers hoped that this panel would address some of the obstacles and difficulties that impede women and all minority people have a seat at the table.

3. Highlights of Halifax Papers

3.1. Revolution of Our Time: Freedom Without Us, Nancy Lindborg

Nancy Lindborg, the president and CEO of the US Institute of Peace, expressed that a number of lately published reports present a harsh picture for the future of global democracy. NY Times stated that since 1994, 75 countries have turned to authoritarianism. While authoritarianism is on the rise, the number of people who are on the streets demanding greater freedom and transparency from their governments is also growing. Citizens, from Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Venezuela and Algeria to Poland and Sudan, have taken non-violent actions against corruption, strict laws and overthrowing autocrats. These actions will come from the people themselves, who have adopted the powerful ideas and values of democracy, not from partner nations, heads of state or US leadership. Some of these motions are composing transformational change. For instance, the People’s Peace Movement in Afghanistan desired a cease-fire and talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and it helped the recent peace talks. And in Algeria, tens of thousands of Algerians took to the streets and then the country’s longest-serving head of state resigned. After the popular movements, similar results occurred in Sudan and Armenia. However nonviolent resistance in Syria and in Yemen failed to lead a democracy. International commitment is important to provide the vehicles, training, and guiding essentials to assistance the discipline of nonviolence and establishes in greater systems of accountability. The values in the foundation of the US and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are now waking citizens to stand up to repressive regimes. The bravery and stability of nonviolent movements are filling the void of US global leadership.

3.2. Values Trade: Our Way or the Huawei, Steve Tsang

Professor Steve Tsang argued that any attempt to reverse or stop the globalization process will cause significant costs. Initiative at technologically separating China from the liberal system, like excluding Huawei from 5G contracts, would have a negative impact on liberal democracies, not only for China and Huawei. Communist Party will not permit of globalization to put the longevity of its administration at risk. It has tried to decrease its vulnerability to globalization. In late 2013, Western concepts like constitutionalism, universal values, civil society, neoliberalism, and free media were banned by Xi Ping by publishing Document 9. It was started by the “One Belt, One Road” policy. And then another flagship policy “Made in China 2025” was started by Xi Ping in order to make China a great innovative power and less dependent on Western technologies. The containment policy, which is the answer to liberal democracies against China’s these actions, cannot work. Trump's trade war pressure liberal democracies to confront the rising of China, but it is not the best method to agree with China. In consideration of complicated economic relations, a new Cold War is neither desirable nor realistic. So, a new Cold war should not be launched.

3.3. The World’s Democracies: The Importance of Being Alliance, Janice Stein

Janice Gross Stein, Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management and Founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, claimed that the US democratic friends are feeling alone. President Trump left the Kurds and gave President Erdogan of Turkey a green light to pass the border into Syria and hit former ally of the US. What is so worrying is the clearly transactional perspective of the leader of the democratic alliance. This President prefers autocrats who have far more political field than democrats and the rules less constrained them. Relationships that are built over time, and create trust, are far more important to allies than deals.  According to some allies, this presidency will pass and then everything will back to normal in a year or in five. The strategy is to disregard the devastating forces that are sabotaging the liberal international order that was particularly significant to the smaller democracies. Actually, Donald Trump is the result, not the reason for these forces. The golden age of the liberal international order ended. Russia, China, the strong regional leader in Brazil and Turkey and domestic political leaders in Europe and President Trump challenge the liberal order. Strategic partnerships of Canada will be far more issues-driven than in the past. Canada will always attach importance to what desires of the US and also look for another partner. Canada will not ignore China, which rapid growth will continue, and will focus on reconciliation with a suspicious eye. Canada will have much the same approach to Russia and many others.

3.4. Institution Evolution: International Law and Global Order, Romeo Dallaire& Shelly Whitman

Roméo Dallaire, Force Commander of the UNAMIR mission for Rwanda, and Dr. Shelly Whitman, the Executive Director of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, argued that international law is not yet strong sufficient to hold responsible all offenders.The lack of international institutions has emerged when the UNSC rejected to give authority in order to act to UNAMIR, the peacekeeping mission for Rwanda. The international community failed Rwanda in 1994, and since then in Bosnia, Sudan, Iraq, and so many others. The priority should be on replacementing attitudes to realize the global implications of inaction, indifference, and self-interest in order to succeed in international institutions like the UN. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) fails to prevent from using the child soldiers and also has no power over non-state actors, who have a big role in global instability. Every decision about peace and security must consider children's rights and prevent violence. Children will become the future leaders that determine our future.

3.5. 2020’s Vision: Responsibility to Pro-tech, Pauline Neville-Jones

Neville-Jones, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, and a former Minister of State for Security and Counter-Terrorism expressed that people desire the advantages of the digital world, but they live with increased risk. In the present century, states want to control and use data which are the greatest sources of prosperity and power creation. The more the state has control over data and the more it is the resource of innovation, the more powerful it becomes. In democracies, externally created threats cause economic damage, undermine political and social consensus, and help the shifting towards populism and political extremes. Innovation and competition create an inevitable risk that derives form the systemic fragility of the digital reform. In order to not exist breakdown on a massive scale, people must severely manage risks. In order to decrease the possibility and effect of cyber-attack: Producers should be responsible for the quality of program; users need to be better educated about using software and  managing risk; and also the public and private sector need to much more investment and to cooperate more closely with government in striking the balance between personal privacy and collective security.

3.6. End of the Earth: Arctic, Thomax Axworthy

Thomas Axworthy, Secretary-General of the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government stated that at the end of 2015, a new National Security Strategy purposed to raise the competitiveness and international prestige of the Russian Federation was confirmed by Vladimir Putin. The Arctic is at the center of Russia's worldview and has been a superpower since the czars days. After China published a white paper about Arctic policy in 2018, it was clear that a powerful new Arctic player and an important stakeholder had occurred. One of the most important economic and geopolitical developments is the expression that China would add the Polar states in its Belt and Road Initiative. Canada’s the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework contains neither a practice plan nor tangible policy options. Because of the seriousness of the climate threat such as melting ice and snow, the Chinese educed that science must be enlarged, technology improved, adaptation increased, and the increment in greenhouse gases decelerated. To overcome the climate change problem, international cooperation is needed, and the Arctic is a critical place to start.

3.7. Security Solutions, Women’s Contributions, Jody Thomas

Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister at Canada’s Department of National Defence, expressed that trying to empower women in all aspects of peace and security, Canada also started the second National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security that aimed to raise gender equality and the leadership role of women. If more women participate in peace and security efforts, the peace process is more likely to succeed. Women all over the world should be recognized as part of the process of promoting peace and security. And also, they must play an equal and significant role in global security. The number of women in senior roles in the Canadian Armed Forces is almost twice as high as four years ago. Canada is a global leader in gender equality and the world should take action for greater equality.

3.8. Revolutions and Their Remains, Nancy Okail

Nancy Okail, President of the Board of Advisors of The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, stated that contrary to war, revolutionary alterations do not characteristically have obvious beginning and endpoints. There are many distinct styles of disconnected transactional intervention instead of longtime defensive and development strategies in the Middle East and the Arab world. The stability of the region and also the US interests are damaged due to the US's last incoherent policies toward the region. For instance, permitting the Turkish invasion into Syria and unexpected withdrawal from Syria and Iran's nuclear agreement are can be listed among the US's inconsistent policies. Russia and China are expanding their presence in terms of military, developmental and trade ties, further securing undemocratic and oppressive administrations. In addition to the negativities in the region, some important developments occurred. Permission to join soccer games in Iran, having 8 women in Egypt’s cabinet, driving in Saudi Arabia and travel abroad from this country with no guardian allow are indicators of progress for women who live in the Middle East. In addition to what happened in the Middle East, protests in Hong Kong and the Czech Republic are significant indicators of desire greater accountability and justice. Although governments are building walls, citizens creating connections across the globe. It is very important to acknowledge that people reject the repressive status quo and struggle both locally and globally.

4. Conclusion

The Halifax International Security Forum 2019 was interpreted as a significant chance to benefit from diverse views for participants from over 80 countries including defense ministers, senior officials, academicians, defense and security experts. The HISF 2019's debates contained the emerging destructive technologies, the great power rivalries, and direct objections to the rules-based international order between many other topics that no single country can fight against and international cooperation are considered necessary. It was aimed that work together to encourage international peace and security. Most of the participants from different countries stated that they will return their countries with opinions they've listened throughout the Halifax International Security Forum 2019 and put them into practice in order to advance their security and defense objectives.




Axworthy, T. (2019). End of the Earth: The Arctic. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP-Axworthy.pdf

Dallaire, R. & Whitman, S. (2019). Institution Evolution: International Law and Global Order. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP DallaireWhitman.pdf

Halifax International Security Forum 2019. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/forum/2019-halifax-international-security-forum/

HISF. (2019). About Halifax International Security Forum. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/about/about-us/

Lindborg, N. (2019). Revolutions of Our Time: Freedom Without Us. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP-Lindborg.pdf

National Defence Magazine. (2019). U.S. Considering Expanding Arctic Presence as Tensions Rise. Retrieved from: https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2019/11/25/us-considering-expanding-arctic-presence-as-tensions-rise

Neville-Jones, P. (2019). 2020’s Vision: Responsibility to Protect. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP-NevilleJones.pdf

Okail, N. (2019). Revolutions and Their Remains. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP-Okail.pdf

Reuters, (2019). Still hope for U.S.-China deal this year: U.S. official. Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china/still-hope-for-u-s-china-deal-this-year-u-s-official-idUSKBN1XX0L8

Stein, J. (2019). The World’s Democracies: The Importance of Being Alliance. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP-Stein.pdf

The New York Times. (2019). Canada’s Defense Minister Says China Is Not an Adversary. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/11/22/world/asia/ap-cn-canada-china.html

Thomas, J. (2019). Security Solutions, Women Contributions. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP-Thomas.pdf

Tsang, S. (2019). Values Trade: Our Way or the Huawei. Retrieved from: https://halifaxtheforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/2019HP-Tsang.pdf



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