I call this meeting to order. This is the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, meeting number 10.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), this afternoon we are pleased to have a delegation from the Middle Powers Initiative. On behalf of my colleagues, I'd like to welcome all of you and thank you for being here.
This committee first met with a delegation from the Middle Powers Initiative in 1999, soon after it had completed a major report on Canada's policies on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Notwithstanding some differences of opinion, the goal of reducing the threat of nuclear weapons is one shared by all members. Major challenges remain in that regard. There has been progress in reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world; however, the number of countries that have these weapons has increased. Moreover, the system designed to prevent more countries from obtaining them needs to be strengthened.
I know you have all testified before this committee before, and you bring a wide range of relevant experience, including senior political leadership, parliamentary experience, arms control diplomacy, and NGO engagement. We look forward to hearing a summary of your remarks and afterwards using the question time.
Among our guests today, we welcome back the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada; the Honourable Doug Roche, chairman; Thomas Graham, ambassador and chairman, Bipartisan Security Group; and Jonathan Granoff, president, Global Security Institute. I want to welcome you. The time is yours. It's very good to have you folks with us today.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and honourable members of the standing committee. It is a pleasure to be here again, addressing you on behalf of the Middle Powers Initiative.
I'll be very brief. We had an opportunity to speak to some of you last evening, but I also want to turn the microphone over to my colleagues, who represent great technical expertise in this area.
Very briefly, I think the important thing for us to understand is that for many of us, nuclear weapons are not a fact of the Cold War, something we thought was dealt with when the Berlin Wall came down. We now see that in the context of 21st century security issues, particularly the issues of international terrorism threats that come from non-state actors, nuclear weapons are, unfortunately, still at the centre of that particular security agenda. They're at the centre of that agenda because of the slow progress in dealing with the nuclear arsenals of the major nuclear powers, particularly the United States and the former Soviet Union, Russia, which of course became the inheritor of the nuclear arsenals of countries like Ukraine, which gave them up. We also see there is a challenge to the non-proliferation agenda, the non-proliferation architecture in the world. A lot of this comes from the failure of many people to understand the importance of dealing with nuclear weapons and the threat they still pose to us.
On the one hand one can argue that the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was a great success, because had it not been entered into, had it not been negotiated, we would probably have a world now with anywhere between 40 and 50 states having nuclear weapons. If you can imagine that situation in the context of today's world with failing states, non-state actors interested in getting hold of these weapons, and the kind of threat that would pose today, I think we can see that however difficult today's situation is, it would be a lot worse if we did not have this treaty.
The Middle Powers Initiative is here for two purposes. One is to make the point that this is still an issue that requires the attention of all legislators interested in security issues, and also to remind this committee--not that it needs to be reminded--in the most friendly and supportive way of the very important role Canada has played since the beginning of the non-proliferation regime in being a great supporter of it, of being an architect of it. Canada was probably the first country that voluntarily agreed to be a non-nuclear power when we were very capable of being a nuclear power, having been partners in the Manhattan Project after World War II. Canada has a very strong moral authority to advocate for this issue and we have done so very effectively over the years. The message we have is twofold: one, that it's still a very important issue, and second, that we help the Government of Canada and the legislators here who are the very important link to the public. We'll continue to advocate Canada's strong role in trying to make this regime effective in the coming years.
I'd now like to turn the floor over to my colleague, Thomas Graham. You have the bios. We're going to very brief and not repeat those.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I will also be brief so there will be ample time for questions and dialogue. Following on the former prime minister's statement, I just want to expand on what she said somewhat.
William Perry, former defense secretary of the United States, said recently that in his judgment there is a greater than 50% chance of a nuclear detonation on U.S. soil in the next ten years. That could just as easily be Canadian soil, because terrorists strike wherever they see opportunities. Senator Sam Nunn, former chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, wrote in 2004 that because long-range strategic nuclear missiles continue to be kept on hair-trigger alert 15 years after the end of the Cold War, in which they served absolutely no useful purpose except to threaten our continued joint existence, they are leading us into a situation where some day there could be—and these are his words—“an Armageddon of our own making”.
Ambassador Paul Nitze, the architect of the U.S. nuclear weapons policy over many decades, wrote an article in 1999, towards the end of his life, in The New York Times in which he made it clear that the time had come when nuclear weapons were now a greater threat to us than anyone else, and that it was time for their complete elimination worldwide.
The centrepiece of world security in today's world, as Prime Minister Campbell has indicated, is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It prevented a situation where there could be as many as 40 nuclear-weapon states in the world today, meaning that every conflict would run the risk of going nuclear, and that it would be impossible to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, given that the weapons would be so widespread. The principal reason that didn't happen was the negotiation of this treaty and its entry into force in 1970, and its indefinite extension in 1995.
However, this treaty is based on a central bargain; we didn't get it for free. The central bargain is that the nuclear-weapons states—the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China—pledged to pursue disarmament measures aimed at the ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons. And it was made very clear in the negotiating record what those principal measures were deemed to be: a comprehensive test ban prohibiting all nuclear tests worldwide; drastic reductions in nuclear arsenals; a treaty prohibiting the further production of nuclear bomb material; and legal safeguards in which the nuclear-weapons states pledged they would never use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapons states parties to the NPT. That's the least that could be expected of treaty partners, one would think.
Thirty-six years later, none of those measures have been delivered. This part of the basic bargain remains unfulfilled. The other part on the nuclear-weapons-states' side was the sharing of peaceful nuclear technology. In exchange for that, the rest of the world—some 180-plus countries—pledged never to acquire nuclear weapons. But it was a bargain, and the nuclear-weapons states have not delivered on that bargain, and that delivery still remains uncertain, which is what our MPI brief is all about.
Now the other side of the bargain is beginning to fall apart, in part given the long neglect on one side. North Korea has withdrawn from the treaty and built, it is estimated, up to nine or ten nuclear weapons. And all of you know about the Iranian crisis, where Iran is believed to be pursuing nuclear weapons. These are not the only situations; there are also India, Pakistan, Brazil, Ukraine, and other countries that could be problems.
Further, we have a situation where the demands for power worldwide are growing exponentially, and this will require nuclear power to be used worldwide. But it can't be used at all effectively in the absence of a strong Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime providing the necessary safeguards.
Further, we now live in a world completely different from anything we've known in hundreds of years. For the first time since the Middle Ages almost, no major state threatens another major state; rather, the threat is deterioration in world order, with 50 to 70 failed or failing states and the rise of international terrorism. In this extremely dangerous situation in which we find ourselves, it is of the greatest importance that this treaty, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, be revived and strengthened and that the central bargain of the treaty be fully implemented.
Canada has long shown leadership on this subject and has made very important contributions in the past. I very much hope they will continue.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. It's an honour to address you.
I want to just walk through the practical, threat-reducing, security-enhancing proposals that are contained in our brief. Each of them should be evaluated on their own merits. In other words, if they're not threat-reducing, if they're not security-enhancing, and they don't promote strengthening the treaty regime, they should fail. If on the other hand they do meet those criteria, I think they should be supported. Let's go through each one of them based on those criteria.
The first one is a fissile materials cut-off treaty. A fissile materials cut-off treaty was proposed by the United States at the conference on disarmament in May of this year. If we go to the history of the treaty, you'll note this was something that was called for at the very inception of the entire process, at the extension conference in 1995 , and then again reaffirmed at the 2000 review. All we're saying is that we need to cut off the production of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium and plutonium and have a strengthened verification regime to make sure that it's done, to have it inventoried, and make sure that these materials do not get into the hands of sub-state actors and terrorists.
Can it be done? Well, the weapons of mass destruction commission headed by Hans Blix has concluded it can. The fissile material experts panel, headed by Frank von Hippel, who was the science adviser under the National Security Council of the United States, concludes that it can be done. Almost all of the experts conclude that it can be done.
Can it be 100% effective? We can never know, but certainly it's better to have some verification regime than none. We found that the inspection regime was effective in Iraq. It helped disarm Saddam Hussein, and it helps reinforce the norm that this material is unacceptable.
The second proposal goes right to the heart of the first: verification, strengthening the controls. There's a treaty between the United States and Russia called the Moscow Treaty, which calls for the reduction of nuclear weapons to around 2,200 in the year 2012. The inspection regime under the START treaty, which my colleague Ambassador Graham helped negotiate under George Bush Sr., ends in 2009. After that, there will be no verification of the cuts contemplated under the Moscow Treaty, also known as the SORT Treaty.
In my opinion, having a legal instrument that's simply based on goodwill is not sufficient to give the international community the kind of security it deserves. I believe that every person on the planet has a right to know that these cuts are being made and that the superpowers are moving towards a safer world.
Where are we right now in the standoff between Russia and the United States? We still have over 3,000 weapons each, on hair-trigger, launch-on-warning, high-alert status, leaving an individual decision-maker with only a few minutes' critical time to decide the fate of all humanity for all time. I don't believe any human being should have to have that on their shoulders. In fact, in January of 1995 a weather satellite off the coast of Norway appeared to be a Trident launch and Boris Yeltsin had but a few minutes to decide whether to use those nuclear weapons that he had.
We're suggesting that the delivery vehicles and the weapons be decoupled, de-alerted: lower the status of these weapons. There's really no good reason for us to be living with this sword over our heads. Over 96% of the weapons are in the possession of these two countries.
Remember, most of these weapons have triggering devices the size of what was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Their destructive capacity simply boggles the human imagination. Any use of these would tear at the fabric of civilization in psychological and physical ways that are unpredictable.
On the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, 176 countries, including Canada, have ratified that. One hundred and seventy-six countries is a serious weight of public opinion. The United States has signed it, but not ratified it, and neither have several other countries. We would urge that Canada, which has already made a strong commitment for this, push for full ratification of the treaty.
Why is this a security-enhancing measure? Because countries can't test, they can't miniaturize, they can't put their weapons on intercontinental ballistic missiles. Also, it sends a message that the political currency of these devices is diminished, and that's as important as anything.
The last proposal, but not the least, is negative security assurances. The equities of this are very obvious. In order to gain the indefinite extension of the treaty in 1995, countries without nuclear weapons were promised that if they would accede to the indefinite extension of the treaty, they would not be threatened with nuclear weapons. The other side of that is to say to somebody, you must agree never to have nuclear weapons, but you will still remain under the threat of nuclear weapons. The inequities of that are obvious.
The consequence of these kinds of blatant inequities is instability, and if there's anything that we need as we walk down the nuclear ladder, it's stability. The call for the elimination of nuclear weapons is a legal duty. It is a legal duty under the treaty, but it's going to be difficult to get there. I see it as a compass point. The compass point is where the compass needs to go, and the elements involved in that are lowering the political currency of the weapons. What we put forward is a map that helps us get there, and each step on this map helps strengthen the security of the world. Moreover, these are all positions that have been taken and supported by the Canadian government and by most governments in the world. They are very moderate, they are doable, and they are practical.
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'll be very brief, because I know we want to go to questions.
Mr. Chairman, when you opened the meeting you drew attention to the report that this committee did in 1999, and I'm so pleased to see your two able research staff still with you. That report, Mr. Chairman and members, was a landmark in the examination of the nuclear weapons policies. It had the effect of having Canada go into NATO and secure a review of NATO's nuclear weapons policies. So we consider your work very important.
We have been here now five times. This is the fifth visit since 1999. We pay our compliments to the Government of Canada because of the leadership this government has shown in the international community in working on the nuclear weapons file.
Mr. Chairman, we have to get right down to it. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, said only a few days ago that the world is sleepwalking--and that's his word, “sleepwalking”--toward a possible nuclear catastrophe because of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the continued existence of nuclear weapons by those who have them. Thus, the Middle Powers Initiative makes an appeal once more to the Parliament of Canada, to this committee, to the Government of Canada, to speak out in the international community for a vigorous multilateral approach to resolving the nuclear weapons dilemma.
We're not suggesting that any one country could do all this alone. This is a very big and complex file. My colleague just referred to Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector in Iraq, who later headed an international commission on weapons of mass destruction, whose report was published last week. He said, in responding to a television interview when they asked him which of his 60 recommendations was his most important, that the most important of all is to get a comprehensive test ban treaty to shut off the nuclear arms race development. Thus, that is one of our principal recommendations.
You will find in the brief we have prepared for you recommendations that are in harmony with Blix's. Ours is what you might call a stripped-down version, and we're applying it particularly to the Government of Canada to instruct your diplomats to work in a vigorous manner with like-minded states. There are about 25 states that the Middle Powers Initiative is working with that all want the same thing. They want the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. They want a fissile material cut-off treaty. They want de-alerting of nuclear weapons. They want verification. So this is a matter of states working together to advance an international agenda.
I do not subscribe to the theory or the statement that's sometimes made that nothing's happening in this field or it's all too difficult. Not at all. We are in an historical momentum toward closing the net on nuclear weapons starting with the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, the International Court of Justice saying in 1996 that all states had an obligation to conclude negotiations toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, and all states of the NPT in 2000 making an unequivocal undertaking on 13 practical steps.
So the chart has been laid. We're not wandering at midnight without a compass. We know exactly what needs to be done. What we need is the political will of states that will work together to ensure that the essential points that are made in this brief are carried out. That's the work of the Middle Powers Initiative.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for receiving us. We thank you again for the work that Canada has done, and we're ready to respond to your questions.
Thank you very much, and I thank our witnesses for coming today.
Sometimes I wonder whether we've come very far from the vision that Senator Hubert Humphrey, one of the architects of the non-proliferation treaty, had in 1963 when he presented the treaty before the Senate. It was signed in 1963.
You mentioned a number of areas. The first thing I would certainly agree with is the issue of having the government commit itself to the multilateral diplomacy approach. That is extremely important. It's something we have been known for and we certainly need to continue.
There are a couple of areas I'd like to go through briefly.
First, on the fissile material cut-off treaty, there is a stalemate, as you know, that has existed for a decade. The question is, how do we break that stalemate? We obviously have certain expertise that we can bring to the table, but the United States, among others, certainly has been unwilling, or has refused, I guess, the whole issue of linkage with every issue, whether it's nuclear disarmament or weaponization of space, for example. Are there some creative approaches we can take with like-minded states to try to break that logjam?
The issue of non-state actors is obviously very important in this international climate in terms of the selling of technology and components for nuclear weapons. I read your brief, but I don't know that you necessarily addressed in any detail, but maybe you could for the committee, how we might approach that issue of the role of non-state actors in the international community.
On the whole comprehensive treaty issue with North Korea and Iran, we know, as was mentioned, North Korea has probably up to nine weapons, and yet the six-power talks are going nowhere there. The North Koreans are clearly a bully on the block who no one wants to take on directly, and there doesn't seem to be much encouragement for the North Koreans or the Iranians, given the activities of those who already have weapons. If they're not prepared to follow certain rules, obviously their view is, “Why should we?” Could you address that?
In the international community, we often talk about countries signing onto the non-proliferation treaty for the purpose of getting nuclear expertise. They can withdraw from that at any time and then revert to nuclear weaponry. We have certainly seen that in the past. Could you address that a little more?
And finally, as parliamentarians, we always want to talk about empowerment of parliamentarians--and I congratulate the government on the fact that they're going to help organize the MPI article Vl forum here in September. You may want to indicate to the committee how we, as parliamentarians or the committee, might play a role, because I strongly believe, regardless of party, that we should in fact be playing a role as parliamentarians in that regard.
Sorry, Mr. Chairman, but I had to get them out.
I will answer in a minute and ten seconds.
First, with respect to fissile material cut-off, the United States has never really been on board with that in recent years. It's been called for over the past 36 years, explicitly for the last ten. I think the best course of action in the immediate future is to work with other like-minded states and to also talk with the Americans. They've tabled a treaty that has no verification provisions in it. We need to try to encourage them that this is in fact a verifiable exercise and they should reconsider their position.
Second, with respect to non-state actors, it's a very serious threat. That's what struggling against nuclear terrorism and WMD terrorism is all about. There is a major worldwide effort going on, involving many countries. Canada is involved, and we're doing the best we can. But in today's world of failed and failing states, and so forth, it's a very difficult task.
I believe there is a solution in North Korea. Even though the talks have gone nowhere, the principal problem is that they've dragged on so long. Now that the DPRK has these ten weapons, the question is on whether they're ever going to be willing to give them up. It remains to be seen.
I think there have been favourable developments in Iran. The United States has agreed to join the negotiations. We have all of the P-5 in the negotiations, plus Germany. I think they're going in the right direction. Iran has indicated at least some interest. I think the situation looks more positive than it has in recent months.
Countries joining the treaty and gaining expertise in withdrawing has really only happened once, with North Korea. North Korea is a strange country; even Billy Graham says that. I don't think I would universalize that particular issue.
On the article VI forum, I'll turn it over to Ambassador Roche.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Canada has obviously depended strongly on the international architecture of nuclear arms control to protect and safeguard our own security; I think everybody takes that as a given. In case there's any doubt, the four priorities you laid out to us in your report are consistent with this government's practice and policies.
I will say this: I'm concerned with suggestions that proliferation is in some way justified by the fact that the nuclear powers have not yet fully disarmed. To fuel that kind of discussion is almost to give an excuse and justification for proliferation activities. I think one has to be very careful about encouraging that, suggesting that, and justifying that, because it really plays into the hands of proliferation.
If that were the case, the reality we have seen is that the most troubling proliferation activities actually happened as we've had the greatest amount of disarmament happen among the permanent nuclear powers. That aside, we also see that the worst proliferation problems have happened outside of the non-proliferation treaty countries--those who have withdrawn, with the possible exception, of course, of Iran, which is in there but is being defiant.
In terms of those countries that are outside and in which we've seen proliferation occur, in your report I'm not sure I see the answer for those biggest troubles. Even if we proceeded on all the paths you lay out there, I'm not sure we're going to address the concerns about that kind of proliferation in those countries. I'm wondering if anybody has something to offer on that front.
Thank you. Thank you for noticing.
Of course, we had dinner yesterday and we discussed the situation in the Soviet Union. But I think the main point here is that the Middle Power Initiative is a good initiative. Everything is right. One would be foolish to say one wouldn't support the elimination of nuclear weapons, specifically when we discuss the matter you've just discussed, about terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons, or failed states getting nuclear weapons.
However, events are going in a different direction, specifically with the five permanent members who under the NPT have obligations that you have just mentioned, which they have failed to fulfill. This gives an impression to the other countries, as recently as France's saying it would have no hesitation in using nuclear weapons, in reference to terrorist attacks.
China just said that in light of the nuclear agreement and cooperation between the U.S. and India, China would start cooperating with Pakistan to do the same, so suddenly you have this other side of the executive committee nucleus coming out.
This agreement between India and the U.S. is quite interesting, really, if you go down into it deeper. I understand your saying the Americans want the Indians to come into the other agreements, such as the non-proliferation treaty. Nonetheless, it is a challenge out there that the direction.... I honestly believe the direction the U.S.A. has taken in reference to India was that of its own self-interest and had nothing to do with elimination. It was all self-interest, and now you are saying these things are happening.
Taking all these new developments that are taking place, which are totally going in a different direction from what we are discussing here today, what do you think? Do we really need to focus on this, or do we really need to take them into account and ask how can we make the world safer, taking these new developments into account?
Thank you, Mr. Patry. I'll try to answer the elements of your questions briefly.
First of all, you mentioned 2010, the next review conference of the NPT. The Middle Powers Initiative takes the view that the NPT cannot withstand two failed conferences in a row. It failed in 2005. What are we doing about it? What are the creative initiatives, as you have mentioned?
For our part, we have started an article VI forum of 25 states that are like-minded; they're non-nuclear and like-minded. They want to move ahead on the agenda that we have been describing here. We are providing a forum for them. We met at the United Nations last October, then we went to The Hague in the Netherlands in March, for two days. Now, with the support of the Government of Canada, we are coming here at the end of September.
I want to state parenthetically to Mr. Wilfert--I owe you the answer about the parliamentarians--that every member of this committee will receive an invitation to attend the article VI forum on September 28 and 29. It will be opened the evening before by Hans Blix, the author of this outstanding report.
Finally, on the breakout from the treaty, we want to ensure that the loophole in the NPT is closed. That loophole is that states can, through the NPT, use their access to nuclear technology and then can use it to make a bomb. We want that stopped. The only way to get cooperation of states who have an inalienable right to access nuclear energy and the only way to close the loophole is to have the major powers show that they are also living up to their commitments. The only way the NPT can survive is if there's a balanced implementation of the responsibilities for disarmament as well as non-proliferation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We are pleased to have this opportunity to testify before the Committee. For me, it is a special pleasure because for the better part of ten years I served as an advisor to the Committee, in the days when it was known as the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence.
Our presentation today will consist of two parts. I will begin by presenting some of the lessons learned by the international community in conducting what the committee has called complex interventions, and principles for strengthening Parliament, specifically our mandate or mission, in so-called failed and fragile states. My colleague, Joseph Kira, will then describe our experience to date in laying the groundwork for a parliamentary strengthening program in Haiti. I'll then briefly conclude by stressing the importance of Canadian parliamentary engagement in complex interventions, specifically in Haiti.
Let me begin by saying that the centre welcomes the study being undertaken by the committee, with particular reference to Haiti. Situations like Haiti are especially complex in three distinct ways that are important for policy-makers.
First of all, they demand a wide range of interventions, including security, development, and diplomacy. We're all familiar with that. Secondly, they are highly unpredictable situations because of multiple forms of insecurity and political instability. They're unpredictable especially for the people of the country, but for those who work in the country as well, it introduces a note of risk and insecurity to what in other circumstances are normal operations. Finally, they entail unusually high risks for the intervening countries, Canada included.
The Parliamentary Centre, just to situate our presentation, was established in 1968 to assist the Parliament of Canada in fields of policy related to international relations. As I mentioned, for almost a decade I served as an adviser to this committee.
In the early 1990s we began to undertake parliamentary strengthening programs internationally. Today we are carrying out such programs in Asia, Africa, eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas. In the course of doing this work, we found ourselves in numerous countries that have experienced internal conflict and suffered prolonged political instability. Examples include Cambodia, Ethiopia, Lebanon, and Serbia. Recently our work, much of which has been supported by the Canadian International Development Agency, has taken us to Sudan, and now to Haiti.
Before we turn specifically to the Haiti case, let me say something about the broader international context in which this work takes place. The members of this committee are all too familiar with the failures of international engagement in failed and fragile states. What is less well known is that out of that immensely painful experience have come some lessons learned about how to conduct such interventions. The challenge remains to apply those lessons more effectively and consistently.
For the next few minutes I'd like to draw your attention to two documents that we have submitted to the committee. The first is an OECD document summarizing principles for good international engagement in fragile states, known as the “Learning and Advisory Process on Difficult Partnerships”. I cite this because Canada has been an active and even leading participant in developing these proposals, and has prepared a detailed case study on Haiti.
I want to briefly comment on a few points in that document. The first of these is the emphasis on context.
One of the lessons learned from a generation of work in these situations is that attempting to apply the same rules and experience to all situations is self-destructive. It's particularly important in the area in which we work to recognize different constraints of capacity and political will. Much of the attention of the international community is paid to building capacity, but too little attention is paid to strengthening political will. Obviously, a project that focuses on Parliament will be preoccupied with that.
The second point I want to emphasize is the centrality of state-building as an objective in these interventions. To paraphrase from the document, state-building rests on three pillars: the capacity of state structures to perform core functions, basic functions of providing infrastructure, education, and health care services to their citizens; the legitimacy and the accountability of those state structures; and the ability to provide an enabling environment for strong economic performance. Of these pillars of state reconstruction, the requirement for legitimacy and accountability demands more attention than it commonly receives.
The third point that I would emphasize from these principles is the importance of coherence between donor government agencies--that is to say, taking Canada as an example, between the various parts of the Canadian government. Close links on the ground between the political security, economic, and social spheres require policy coherence within the administration of each international actor. Our comment here is that this principle must be extended to both governmental and non-governmental actors, such as the Parliamentary Centre, because many of the programs of reconstruction and engagement in these states are actually delivered not by the government, but by non-governmental actors.
The fourth broad principle of intervention in these states that I will emphasize is to act fast but stay engaged long enough to give success a chance. Assistance to fragile states needs to be capable of flexibility at short notice. Capacity development in core institutions will normally require an engagement of at least ten years. Our comment is that donor decision-making processes are often still too slow to meet the needs of complex interventions, and project timeframes are still too short.
With those broad principles in mind, let me just briefly say something about guidelines as they apply to working with parliaments in crisis prevention and recovery situations. There are three points that I would highlight.
First of all, following conflict, elections should never be viewed as an exit strategy for external actors. Elections are part of a process for furthering democratic governance and may be rendered meaningless if support for democratic institutions such as parliaments is inadequate or ill-conceived. Our comment here is that although the situation has improved somewhat, the international community still focuses disproportionate amounts of attention and resources on elections, compared with building the capacity of other democratic institutions such as parliaments.
Secondly, after conflict, parliamentary institutions often remain weak in relationship to the executive, armed groups, and other non-state actors. Building effective democratic governance requires correcting this imbalance. External actors have a role to play assisting in the timely strengthening of parliaments.
I would mention that when the international community created its framework agreement for Haiti, initially no attention at all was put on the reconstruction of the parliament or the critical role of parliament in achieving some of the broad objectives of the strategy. It was Canada that came forward and said this is something that's being neglected and something that we ourselves as a country will support.
Third and lastly, legitimately elected parliaments provide a forum for the concerns of diverse actors, as people around this table know, including women and minority groups, forums where those groups can air and incorporate their concerns in processes of dialogue, reconstruction, and conflict resolution.
As a comment, special attention should be paid in parliamentary strengthening programs to broadening and deepening the participation of the poor and the marginalized. Obviously that's especially critical in a country like Haiti, where the poor represent the majority, but it cannot be taken for granted that representative institutions will necessarily be especially attentive to these groups.
With that broad introduction, what I'd like to do now is turn the presentation over to my colleague, who will say something specifically about Haiti.
I would also like to take a moment to thank the Committee for inviting us to appear before you.
A key aspect of our work in Haiti is to dwell on the lessons we have learned from some 100 projects in dozens of countries. One of those lessons is that our cooperation and our expertise must be offered with respect to the history, culture and politics of the country in which we are working. And if there is a country where this is key, it is Haiti.
As noted recently by the new Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti, the country has been in an endless period of transition for 20 years. We sincerely hope that the coalition government that has been called to lead Haiti--composed of ministers from half a dozen political parties--will be able to get Haiti out of this cycle. The job will not be easy. As noted by economist Jeffrey Sachs in a recent report, the new Haitian government and legislature have inherited such serious economic and social problems that this could quickly undermine the government's authority and compromise its ability to govern.
The new government is currently in a honeymoon period. How long this will last? No one can say. However, one fact remains: the Haitian people have elected a minority parliament, with everything that that involves, such as political uncertainty and unpredictability.
While waiting a second round of voting for 13 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and three in the Senate, there are currently 18 political parties represented in the Chamber of Deputies and eight in the Senate. The Espwa party, with the greatest number of elected members in each of the two Houses, elected 19 deputies and 11 senators, but these figures could change slightly following the second round of voting for the remaining seats. The numbers speak for themselves: balancing the expectations and agendas of so many political parties in a single legislature will not be an easy task, both for parliamentary leadership and the Executive, particularly in a political and cultural environment traditionally seen as volatile and contentious.
During the Duvalier dictatorship, the Haitian Parliament had the reputation of a rubber-stamping legislature. Then, the resulting successive political crises and social and political instability that the crises generated directly involved Haitian parliamentarians and thus, did not allow the parliamentary institutions to evolve and assume their normal constitutional roles. What the Haitian population saw was a depressing spectacle in which the parliamentary actors and institutions were either the victims of or were themselves caught up in the endless political wranglings that have usually ended with the dissolution of the legislature.
The parliamentary institutions need stability, time and space, meaning no coup d'État, nor insurrection or serious crisis with the Executive, so to allow them to grow and demonstrate to Haitians that they can assume their constitutional roles in terms of representativeness, oversight and legislation. However, Haitians must not only understand those roles, but must also be able to better discern how the work done by parliamentarians affects their daily lives, starting with the ratification of the choice of a prime minister, support for his government and the budgetary process.
I would like to mention some elements and priorities of the Parliamentary Centre's project in Haiti. There are many needs and challenges at the institutional level. First, there is the infrastructure: the buildings housing the Parliament of the Republic of Haiti are in poor condition and so cramped that not all parliamentarians can have their own offices. Then there is the alarming need for equipments and technical expertise, in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It is clear, as part of the first stage of assistance to the Parliament, that emphasis will be put on immediate, urgent needs, as identified with our Haitian partner.
Whether it be employees assigned to transcribe and write the debates of commissions and plenary sessions of the two Houses or those assigned to archive services, the drafting of bills or security, the competence of the staff should be subject to a special assessment and an intensive training program to strengthen the professionalism of all services in both Chambers of Parliament.
The other challenge that has traditionally faced international cooperation in Haiti is the will of key players, whether in Parliament, the Executive or the political parties, to work together to make the necessary changes to the way Parliament functions and is managed.
For instance, we know that human resource recruitment and management of the parliamentary staff is traditionally based on politics. We were told that there is no merit-based parliamentary public service staffing system as we know it in Canada. Promoting practices that are not based on merit obviously has an effect on the quality of professionals and senior officers recruited by the secretariats of Parliament.
Even if the current parliamentary leadership wanted to do so, it must be admitted that these practices, well established in the political and administrative ways of public institutions, will not be easy to change, particularly in the context of a minority Parliament.
The Parliamentary Centre's approach consists of working collaboratively and in partnership withe the Haitian partner, who, according to all indications, plans to assume ownership and leadership of efforts to develop and strengthen their parliamentary and legislative capacities. The Parliamentary Centre's project must, as I indicated earlier in my presentation, quickly demonstrate its ability, insofar as possible, to meet the immediate, urgent needs of its Haitian partner. I say insofar as possible because, as the executing agency, there are certain limitations that must be respected, and we must give account to the Canadian International Development Agency.
In keeping with what we heard and learned during the three missions that we conducted in Haiti, a key element of our intervention will be the training of administrative staff at the Parliament and the parliamentarians themselves, emphasizing the work to be carried out by parliamentary commissions.
Also, given the traditionally difficult relationship between the Executive and Parliament, we feel we can offer a contribution in this area: for example, with the work by parliamentary commissions or the tabling of reports by the Executive in Parliament.
Another element of our intervention consists of offering our cooperation to Haitian parliamentary leaders in their efforts to ensure that parliamentary institutions are open to the public, in order to give Parliament the credibility and recognition that it so needs.
Finally, it must be noted that, despite a lack of means and its difficulties, Haiti remains a very proud nation, particularly of its military history. The current circumstances should not make us forget the Haitian political leaders' deep attachment to their national sovereignty and the institutions that embody their sovereignty, such as Parliament. The Parliamentary Centre is fully aware of this fact and will ensure that its efforts to accompany and support the Haitian Parliament is in step with the priorities identified in cooperation with the Haitian parliamentary authorities.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to ask a question very quickly to give my colleague the chance to ask one himself.
Thank you very much.
I wish to congratulate the members of the Parliamentary Centre for their work. I think that they are showing a lot of professionalism. I am the Chair of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie. This organization is holding orientation seminars for parliamentarians of other countries not in conflict, but recovering from conflict.
Mr. Miller, you talked about UNDP a little bit in your report. And you say, “After conflict, parliamentary institutions often remain weak in relation to the executive”.
Mr. Kira said that: “Given the traditionally difficult relationship between the Executive and Parliament [...]” We all know that there are 18 political parties in the Haitian Parliament at the present time. In spite of that, the two Houses have accepted the appointment of the Prime Minister Jacques Édouard Alexis and after that the two chairs of the two Houses were elected rather rapidly, which had not occurred since a very long time.
Parliamentarians can help each other and this Committee could do its share. However, in Haiti, the members of the Executive are appointed by the Prime Minister and must report to Parliament. The Executive and Parliament two really distinct entities.
How will you ensure that the Executive will really do its work and help parliamentarians to do theirs? Even if we are helping the Haitian Parliament, if the Executive, that is to say Cabinet ministers do not do their work, there won't be any improvement.
Brent, do you want to ask a question?
Let me very quickly comment on Mr. Patry's comment and question.
Executive parliamentary relations can fail in two opposite and equal ways, either by the parliament becoming utterly subservient to the executive, which we see in some countries, or the opposite: it simply becomes warfare between the parliament and the executive, which has been the pattern at times in Haiti, followed by a shutdown of parliament, and so on.
Essentially, what is available to us in doing the kind of work we do--and we have found this quite effective in a number of countries--is to work with parliamentary committees like this one, and in everything the committee does, use the opportunity to start building lines of communication and relationships between parliament and the officials in the government. Whether and to what extent we can serve to promote dialogue at the highest levels between the government and parliament is uncertain. We've had that opportunity in one or two cases, but until we're on the ground, have established a relationship, and have begun to build trust, it's very difficult to do. But we build that as an element into our programs.
To your question on our previous experience and its relevance to Haiti, quite honestly, there is nothing comparable to the situation in which we find ourselves in Haiti. I would say, probably, that the closest comparison is to when we began working with the parliament of Cambodia in the early 1990s. They shared the same problem of human-resource devastation, in a sense, that Joseph and our colleagues found in the parliament when they went to Haiti. Many Cambodians had been killed or had left the country and were slowly coming back. Even there, there was more of a physical infrastructure and so on in place by the time we began working.
I would say that we're involved here in a unique, new experience for the Parliamentary Centre, and we're approaching it with real humility and caution, because we recognize that fact.
As to your second question, all indications so far are that the Haitians welcome Canadian assistance and appreciate particularly that Canada has chosen the parliament, among other institutions, to concentrate support on. We're expecting a similar welcome from the presidents of the chamber of deputies and the senate next week when we visit the country.
I'm very glad you asked that question, because it allows me to finish my presentation.
As we say, we benefit. The Parliamentary Centre is a small institution whose capacity depends in large measure on our relationship with the Parliament of Canada and the provincial legislatures. Over the years we've worked closely with the National Assembly of Quebec, with the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and with three or four of the other provincial legislatures.
What we are working on developing, in the Haiti project and more generally, is a deepening and broadening of that collaboration. A former clerk of the House of Commons, Bob Marleau, has become chairman of our board. He has proposed the development of a relationship—what he's calling an agency of choice relationship—between the Parliament of Canada and our work internationally that would provide concrete, practical assistance from this institution to priority parliaments around the world.
Let me just give one small example, which I close my paper with.
We have been told, in our missions, that one of the challenges the new government of Haiti confronts is the signing of a number of international agreements, including trade agreements. One of their priorities is to try to build closer relations with their neighbours in the Caribbean, but generally their international relationships have suffered greatly over the last 20 years.
We're suggesting it might be possible for this committee to develop a twinning relationship of sorts with the counterpart committee in the Chamber of Deputies of Haiti. I recognize your responsibility is to do your work, your business, but consistent with that, something of this sort, that provides some mentoring and conceivably provides some technical assistance from time to time, when that's possible, would be very useful. This committee has a lot of experience in the trade area, among others, and the indications are this will be one of the important committees in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of Haiti.
That's just one small but important example of ways in which I think this successful, powerful parliamentary institution can be helpful to an institution that is at the opposite end of the parliamentary spectrum.
Thank you for appearing here today, gentlemen.
In reviewing your report and listening to your talk on it, I was reminded of my last visit to Haiti. There were several things that popped up in my attention, which would certainly lead us to believe that there are more difficulties than just those that appeared on the surface, in trying to bring about democracy through the recent elections.
I think the elections themselves indicated one situation, evident in the fact that the presidential election had such a high level of support for it, and the follow-up parliamentary election had a relatively low level at 30%. It was still a success compared to past elections. A 30% level, rather, indicated--in support of President Préval's comments in our private meeting with him--that there was a general understanding or misunderstanding of the roles of parliamentarians as to what they could actually do in contributing to the governing of Haiti. In the past they had been argumentative rather than being supportive of good works and actions.
I think this supports what had been discussed before about working on the democracy programs in Ukraine and Russia and many other countries. These countries have a a very strong literacy rate, whereas Haiti has an extremely low literacy rate. It would seem to substantiate the feeling that perhaps this direction of governance should go much further than just being at the parliamentary level. It should extend directly into the communities and into the schools themselves so that the children and eventually a generation down the road will have an understanding of the role their parliament can perform.
Also we had a discussion, Joseph, on whether the members of parliament themselves, as part of their training program, would be introduced into the community through town hall meetings or whatever to try to gain experience from our parliamentarians on how the community can interact with them. This is so the community can buy into the meaningful purpose of a parliament and so that members of parliament can take that information to the central government and hopefully make gains. But I'm not seeing that direction in there.
So my question would probably be more about what your budgetary allocations are and whether it would be your intention to do something like that if you had a more substantial budget. Do you have the resources that are necessary to be able to comprehensively take a really worthwhile approach straight from the grassroots level to the parliament, and what would that budgetary expectation be per year for the next year, two years, or four years?
I believe that your question is in the same vein as that of Mr. Van Loan. It is really an issue of political will.
Mr. Miller suggested that this Committee be twinned with the Haitian Parliamentary Committee on International Affairs. These people will need help about all kinds of international conventions, protocols and treaties. They don't really know how to go about it.
With your experience you could show them that in a committee comprised of several political parties, it is still possible to work constructively together without always having the knives drawn.
Mr. Van Loan, I have one quick point about political will.
Political will is also about whether the political leadership is interested, for instance, in reforming the way it recruits its staff. If the staff is not serving them well, which is what we've been hearing, then perhaps it has to do with the way they're recruited. The way they're recruited is politically based; therefore, maybe they have to change that. That's a challenge, because it's not part of the administrative practices of the country at this point; it's a challenge, but it's also part of the political will.
The bells are ringing, but I have a question. Part of your presentation fascinates me, and I'm going to read up a little more on it.
It's the area where you talk about the three pillars of state-building. You say the focus on state-building is the central objective: “State-building rests on three pillars: the capacity of state structures to perform core functions....” That's the first pillar of state-building; you talk about infrastructure, about health care, perhaps about judiciary, security, all those things. When you look at Haiti, they're failing in all those areas.
The second pillar is their “legitimacy and accountability”. Today we've learned that the deputies, or the members, really don't have a full comprehension of what their responsibilities could be, and perhaps this is why we can twin; perhaps this is why we can become involved. It sounds as if the second pillar is very wobbly. If there's any accountability or any legitimacy it's highly in question.
The third one is the ability to provide “an enabling environment for strong economic performance”. Well, really I don't see any pillars standing in Haiti. Where would the majority of your resources go, if you were going to build or were working on one of those pillars first? To which one pillar would the resources of CIDA or of the parliamentary group you are part of go? Also, you say here that the “Parliamentary Centre's project must, as I indicated earlier in my presentation, quickly demonstrate its ability, insofar as possible....” Well, we have really no pillars standing. You say it has to quickly demonstrate this “to meet the immediate, urgent needs of its Haitian partner. I say insofar as possible because, as the executing agency, there are certain limitations that must be respected, and we must give account to the Canadian International Development Agency.”
What are those certain limitations that must be respected if you're going to be accountable to CIDA?