What Role Should Canada Play in the Horn of Africa?
The Horn of Africa, composed of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Djibouti, is a region of immense geostrategic importance facing enormous governance challenges. Somalia suffered for years without any form of central government. Djibouti is a one party dominant state. Eritrea’s authoritarian regime has been accused of massive human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, widespread physical and psychological torture, religious persecution, rape, and female genital mutilation. And, perhaps the shining beacon of hope in the region, Ethiopia, is a federal republic, in which a constitutional democracy is slowly growing but which still exhibits authoritarian tendencies.
Since 2010, DFATD has allocated $145 million to support humanitarian relief and development efforts in the Horn of Africa. At the same time, Canadian companies, such as Nevsun Resources, have made significant investments in the region, while also raising concerns about benefiting from questionable human rights practices. The Horn represents a significant economic opportunity for Canadian companies to earn profits and contribute to development; and, with the advent of Canada’s new foreign policy focus on economic diplomacy, such matters are arguably of increasing national importance.
These issues raise the question: what role should Canada play in the Horn of Africa? This will be an open forum where various perspectives are considered with the goal of promoting progressive policy for the region.
Mercedes Stephenson is Global News’ Ottawa Bureau Chief and the host of the network’s flagship national political affairs program The West Block. Leading Global News’ coverage from the nation’s capital, Stephenson interviews the biggest names in Canadian and international politics.
FEATURED INDUSTRY EXPERTS
Horn of Africa Project Director at the International Crisis Group
Cedric Barnes is an expert on the Horn of Africa. He joined the International Crisis Group in December 2012 as Horn of Africa Project Director and oversees research and advocacy activities in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan. He holds a Doctorate in African History from University of Cambridge, and a Masters’ degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where he also researched and taught for five years. From 2007 until 2012, Cedric was Principal Research Analyst for the Horn of Africa at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with short-term postings in Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Cedric is a Research Associate at SOAS, and Fellow of the Rift Valley Institute.
Hon. Irwin Cotler
former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Irwin Cotler is the Member of Parliament from Mount Royal and served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada from 2003 until 2006. He is a Professor of Law Emeritus at McGill University, and has been a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Yale Law School.
UN Standby Team of Mediation Expert and Professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at the University of Cape Town
Christina Murray is a professor of Constitutional and Human Rights Law at the University of Cape Town and is currently a member of the United Nations Mediation Standby Team. Her first experience in constitution-making was serving on a panel of experts advising the South African Constitutional Assembly in drafting South Africa's Constitution between 1994 and 1996.
Hon. Deepak Obhrai
Parliamentary Secretary to Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights
Hon. Deepak Obhrai, Member of the Queen’s Privy Council Member of Parliament for Calgary East and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for International Human Rights.
The Honourable Deepak Obhrai was born in Tanzania and attended school in three separate continents: in Tanzania, India and the United Kingdom. He immigrated to Canada with his family in 1977.
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