Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, members, for inviting us. It's both a pleasure and a privilege for us to speak to you.
I represent Mines Action Canada, a coalition of 40 Canadian NGOs that work on victim-activated weapons. Probably the best known of those would be land mines. We worked very much with parliamentarians and our government on the Ottawa treaty, implementing that treaty, but we also work on other weapons that cause problems to civilian populations. Munitions cluster bombs are one of those.
This week across Canada it's the eighth annual Canadian Landmine Awareness Week. Events commemorate the success and acknowledge the success of the Ottawa treaty, but also recommit Canadians to finishing the job we have begun on land mines.
Today, March 1, as part of that week, is a day of action on cluster bombs--cluster munitions--both here in Ottawa and in other cities across the country. I and my colleagues, Simon Conway and Steve Goose, have just returned from Oslo, where 46 countries, including our own, signed on to a declaration agreeing to come up with a new treaty within two years to prohibit cluster bombs that cause unacceptable harm to civilian populations.
We're happy to report back to you on that and answer any questions you may have, in particular because you passed a very important motion here, and we greatly appreciate that. It was very helpful to our efforts, and I think it's very helpful for Canada. I note that Canada has basically already committed to two of the five things in that motion.
We are, of course, here to see if we can push that forward and get all five of those things implemented, but we will be very happy to answer any questions after our introductory remarks, either to provide you with facts that you may need or to provide our perspective on the road forward and what's needed in terms of the treaty development and in terms of Canada's activities.
You've already introduced our colleagues. I'll introduce each of them in a little more detail as we start and then let them speak for a few minutes to you.
First is Simon Conway. He's from Landmine Action, a British organization that does mine clearance research and advocacy. It's probably the pre-eminent organization in the country. Simon himself is an ex-British soldier and a former de-miner, so he brings quite a broad perspective to this issue. He has been to most of the countries affected by clusters, most recently Lebanon, and his organization last week released a very important study on Kosovo.
I'm going to turn it over to Simon to give you a few words.
I thought I would start with a quote from January of this year, from Afghanistan. A NATO spokesman, a British military officer, Brigadier Richard Nugee, said, “The single thing that we have done wrong and we are striving extremely hard to improve on [in 2007] is killing innocent civilians.”
It seems to me that highlights one of the pitfalls of modern warfare and also the point that modern warfare has changed. This is where the responsibility to protect civilians clashes up against a requirement to achieve a military objective and where we need to consider whether our weapons systems are appropriate for our objective.
I'll just very briefly describe what a cluster munition is. A cluster munition has two parts. You have the container and then the submunitions inside it--very much like peas in a pod. The container might be an air-drop bomb, it might be a rocket, or it might be an artillery shell. You may have scores, sometimes hundreds, of individual explosive submunitions inside each container.
The submunitions themselves usually have a small amount of explosives. Most submunitions are about the size of a fist or a D-cell battery. They contain explosives. Usually there's a fragmentation sheath around them that will turn into shrapnel. Invariably there's a copper cone that inverts on detonation and creates a molten slug of metal that is supposed to pierce armour. So the idea is that it will pierce through a tank and then rattle around inside.
Often, also particularly with the air-drop ones, you have an incendiary in them, usually zirconium. That will turn into fire. So the effects, usually, of a submunition exploding are blast, fragmentation, shrapnel, molten metal, and fire. As I said, you may have scores, hundreds, of these inside an individual rocket.
Let me give you an example. The multiple-launch rocket system is a track platform that fires rockets. It can fire 12 rockets and each rocket will have inside it 644 little submunitions. That means that at a press of a button, a multiple-launch rocket system will deliver 7,728 of these individual submunitions over an area the size of a square kilometre.
When I was in the military, when I was training just before the Gulf War, we used to call these grid-square removal machines. That filled me with a certain euphoria as a training soldier. I consider now, in the battles that we fight, whether it is really appropriate to use a weapons system that will carpet bomb or certainly saturate an area the size of a square kilometre.
In most of these weapons systems, when the individual containers break open and disperse, the peas from the pod will spread over an area of two to four soccer pitches. That may be okay in an open scenario, but in an urban area or in a populated area, that will spread unexploded submunitions over a wide area.
That's what they are.
What were they designed for? In essence, cluster munitions were designed for use against large, armoured infantry formations, predominantly the Warsaw Pact coming across the central European plain. We were fighting a last-ditch defence of democracy. That's what I dug in on the German plains for. We were, if I may put it crudely, going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at them in an effort to delay the progress of our enemy.
In those circumstances, I suppose you could say we didn't have the luxury to consider whether these weapons were particularly accurate or whether they worked as intended. That war, what is called industrial war--and I would refer to General Rupert Smith's book The Utility of Force, which was recently published--didn't happen and we don't fight those kinds of wars now. The wars we fight now are what General Rupert Smith calls wars amongst the people. We are fighting in populated areas, in urban areas. We are not fighting a defensive war against massive armoured columns coming at us. We are intervening in other countries. We are intervening on humanitarian grounds. We are intervening to prevent imminent threat to us. We are fighting for the will of the people in those circumstances. We are trying to win hearts and minds.
Now, if by our choice of weapons systems we kill large numbers of civilians, and as a result we antagonize the local population and we create a strong national and international public reaction.... The classic example of this is Lebanon recently. What possible purpose was served by massive bombardment, something like 4 million submunitions dropped on a heavily populated area of southern Lebanon, with a consequent huge public and international reaction?
I wouldn't single out Lebanon, though, as being exclusive. If you look back, there was the use of cluster munitions in Iraq in 2003, the attack on al-Hilla, which was documented by Human Rights Watch, where hundreds of civilians were injured when cluster munitions were used by U.S. forces in a populated area. In March 2003, the U.K. dropped 98,000 individual submunitions in and around Basra, killing people in their homes, killing children in their homes. Now, what possible military objective is achieved by doing that?
Because if you do this, if you create large numbers of civilian casualties, if you create this public reaction, you are unlikely to achieve your political goals.
Finally, on a point about the military utility of these weapons--and our report on Kosovo has just come out--these weapons really have never actually worked as intended. We dropped about 235,000 submunitions--this is the U.S., the U.K., and the Netherlands--on Kosovo in May and June of 1999. According to the NATO strike data that we've been analyzing, of strikes on mobile targets--this is mass groups of tanks--out of 269 individual strikes in which multiple canisters, the tens of thousands of submunitions, were used, less than 75 of those strikes, less than 30%, actually achieved any damage on the targets.
I was in Kosovo in June 1999, and we just didn't see any tanks. Now, they had a couple of days to move stuff out, but they really didn't have enough time to move out huge columns of damaged vehicles. There really wasn't the scale of damage. I've heard General Sir Hugh Beech of the Institute of Strategic Studies, another British military officer, say that we may have destroyed as few as 30 items of military equipment with the 78,000 that were dropped by the U.K. Out of that 234,000, about 78,000 of them were dropped by the U.K., and we may have destroyed as few as 30 items of military equipment.
It is very unclear to me where these weapons have really been a force decider, where they have...and this is something to push ministries of defence on, to justify themselves.
Then, finally, the other issue is simply that they're unreliable; they fail in huge numbers. I first saw this in Kosovo in June 1999, where we saw large numbers of unexploded cluster bombs. I've seen it in Southeast Asia. I've seen it in places like Eritrea--
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'll speak in French, with your permission.
Obviously, like my colleagues here present, the Red Cross as a whole is very much concerned by the legal problems and the humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions. Today I would like to send a message to parliamentarians and the government. It is the message of the Red Cross, which last year issued a call to all governments concerning the following three points.
The first point is to put an end to the use of cluster munitions, which are inaccurate and unreliable. The second point is to prohibit the use of those munitions against military objectives, if those military objectives are located in inhabited areas. The third point of the Red Cross's call is to eliminate stocks of these munitions, which are inaccurate and unreliable and, pending the destruction of those stocks, to prohibit their transfer.
Mr. Chair, I would like to explain to you how we have come to these conclusions. First, we relied on legal bases and, second, on the humanitarian consequences that we have observed in the field.
Our analysis is based on international humanitarian law. When I say international humanitarian law, I refer mainly to the four Geneva Conventions and to the two additional protocols, which contain all the rules applicable in armed conflicts and which specifically contain rules related to the conduct of hostilities. Consequently, we're talking about weapons that are already governed by law, by specific and general rules. I'd like to cite a few of those rules to you.
The first is the rule of distinction, which requires that combatants in the field draw a distinction between civilians and military personnel. The second is the rule of prohibition against indiscriminate attacks. The third rule is the rule of proportionality, that is to say that attacks that can be expected to cause loss of human lives among the civilian population must not be excessive relative to the actual military advantage that is sought to be achieved. Another important rule is the rule of precautions that combatants must take before launching attacks. There is also a rule concerning protection of the environment, that is to say that it is prohibited to use weapons that might cause serious, lasting, extensive damage to the environment, and which are designed for that purpose. Lastly, there is a rule concerning superfluous injury, that is to say that it is prohibited to use weapons that are likely to cause superfluous injury among civilians or combatants.
I want to clarify one point. When international humanitarian law was negotiated, following the Second World War, all military imperatives were clearly taken into consideration at the same time as humanitarian requirements. This is a law that therefore seeks to establish a balance between these two tensions. Each of the rules that were developed is designed to strike a balance between military imperatives and humanitarian requirements.
Our concerns are that these weapons do not meet the rules that I have just cited, either in their use or in the specific characteristics thereof.
My second point obviously concerns humanitarian consequences. The Red Cross is present in various conflicts in more than 80 countries around the world. Since the late 1990s, our delegates in the field have obviously been able to document the very serious humanitarian impact of these weapons in situations such as those in Laos, Afghanistan, Iraq, Southern Lebanon, Kosovo, and I could name many more.
What is shocking for us is that civilians are already suffering enough in these conflicts. With this kind of weapon, we're still seeing human losses, injuries, deaths, particularly among children, 10, 20 or 30 years after the conflict. So we have legal concerns about compliance with the law, but especially about humanitarian concerns associated with the consequences of the use of these weapons.
I believe I'll stop there, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much.
I tend to speak extemporaneously, but it was my understanding that for translation purposes you like to have written statements. So I prepared one, and I will read just part of it, if we're concerned about time.
We do very much appreciate this committee's recognition of the importance of this cluster munition issue. Indeed, we're at a special moment in time when governments and civil society are once again coming together, in response to a humanitarian imperative, to create a treaty that will save countless lives in the future.
This happened successfully with the anti-personnel land mine crisis 10 years ago. It can happen again now with respect to deadly cluster munitions, if the political will is there, if governments can again show courage and compassion, and if dubious military interests are not allowed to take precedence over well-documented humanitarian concerns.
Perhaps Canada above all other nations should be at the forefront of this endeavour to eradicate inaccurate and unreliable cluster munitions. It was Canada's vision, commitment, and caring that largely brought about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. It has largely been Canada's ongoing dedication and hard work for the past decade that made this treaty such a success.
Canada's leadership is needed again, but thus far Canada has been slow to respond, indeed reluctant to respond to that call. We were pleased that Canada attended the just concluded Oslo conference on cluster munitions and that it joined 45 other nations in supporting a declaration committing to the conclusion of a new treaty in 2008—a very rapid deadline—that prohibits cluster munitions, which cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
Canada was absent from a similar, although weaker, declaration last November in the Convention on Conventional Weapons, the CCW. Given Canada's absence from that declaration, this was a significant development in Oslo.
We were also pleased with the announcement that Canada will destroy the remainder of its existing stockpile of cluster munitions, its 155mm artillery projectiles with submunitions.
But there's much more that Canada can do. The best place to start, as this committee has already demonstrated, would be to announce, effective immediately, a moratorium on use, production, import, or export of cluster munitions until a new treaty is concluded.
Austria made such an announcement in Oslo last week. Apparently the Canadian Forces have never used cluster munitions, but it's worth noting that one Canadian company, Bristol Aerospace Limited, lists among its products an unguided, air-to-surface rocket cluster munition, the CRV7, which is a 70mm rocket that contains M73 submunitions.
Internationally it's important that Canada not just join the new process launched in Oslo, as a somewhat reluctant latecomer; Canada should play a leading role, in part because it's the right thing to do at the national level, and because it's consistent with Canada's strong position on humanitarian affairs and its pioneering efforts to emphasize human security. It's also because of the effect that Canada's leadership will have internationally. Because of the Ottawa process on landmines and Canada's sustained leadership there, the country has developed great expertise and experience relevant to promoting this cluster munition initiative outside of the CCW.
Canada has the reputation and the respect that can bring many other countries into a new process. We have much concern that if Canada does not fully embrace this effort to combat dangerous cluster munitions, many other countries will stay away, concluding that if it is not important for Canada, the guardian of the land mine treaty, it cannot be important for them either.
We've been concerned with some comments, which the government has made, that seem to indicate they still want to take a go-slow approach and put some emphasis on the CCW as the most viable forum for addressing cluster munitions, in part because some of the major users and stockpilers of the weapon, such as the U.S., Russia, and China, are part of the CCW but not yet part of this outside process.
This is, at the least, an ironic approach in that the Ottawa process on mines arose from the failure of the CCW to deal adequately with anti-personnel mines, just as this new process on clusters comes on the heels of CCW failure to deal with the issue.
There should be no pretense that the CCW can deal urgently or effectively with cluster munitions.
In questions, I'd be happy to elaborate many reasons why the CCW will not produce on this issue and an outside process can.
Canada has also given indications that it is putting some faith into a technical fix for the cluster munition problem, with talk of future acquisition of cluster munitions with low failure rates. This will not work. Simon has pointed out already the degree to which those who claim failure rates don't meet those rates. Lebanon very clearly demonstrated that submunitions with low failure rates in pristine testing conditions don't come close to meeting those specifications when used in combat conditions. This failure rate approach also doesn't deal with the other half of the problem with cluster munitions, which is their indiscriminate wide area effect. Failure rates won't help that.
When cluster munitions are used, they're used irresponsibly, whether it's in Lebanon in 2006, Iraq in 2003, Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, Kosovo in 1999, or going all the way back to Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s. They're used irresponsibly even by some of the nations that profess to scrupulously adhere to international humanitarian law. They are used in huge numbers. They are used in populated areas. Old, outdated models are used even when new models are available. Despite any good intentions, in actual combat, cluster munitions--these weapons with such inherently dangerous characteristics--are used irresponsibly.
I've heard that there is special concern here about the impact a prohibition on cluster munitions may have on Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan. We were talking about this last night. It's hard for us to envision what the military requirement for cluster munitions would be in Afghanistan at this moment. But more to the point, we know what happened when the U.S. used clusters there in 2001 and 2002. Human Rights Watch went in and did an investigative mission for just over a week, and we identified more than 100 civilians who had been killed by cluster munitions. Many more, undoubtedly, were injured, and there were undoubtedly many more whom we weren't able to locate.
Cluster munitions caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and in Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapons system. The unacceptable risks to civilians are clear.
Simon talked about the degree to which the military utility of clusters has been overstated. There's also an issue related to the military dangers of cluster munitions. Cluster munitions undeniably hinder the mobility of your own armed forces and endanger your own troops. We have an action report from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division following its fighting in Iraq in 2003, which called cluster munitions “losers”-- their word, not mine--and said that they were a relic of the Cold War. More than 80 U.S. soldiers were killed by U.S. submunition duds in the 1991 Gulf War. That's U.S. submunitions killing U.S. soldiers.
In the two dozen or so countries where cluster munitions have been used, they've been used with horrific effect. But in truth, this is a humanitarian disaster still waiting to happen. We count about 75 countries that stockpile the weapon and 34 that produce. There are millions and millions of cluster munitions already in stock that contain billions of submunitions. If these billions of submunitions get transferred, shipped around to new countries, including possibly to non-state actors--we recently documented the use of cluster munitions by Hezbollah--and if they get used, or even if a small portion gets used, this would make the landmine prices pale in comparison.
But if we act urgently, we can avert this new crisis. A treaty that prohibits cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm would be one of the most significant steps that governments could take to protect civilians from the effects of armed conflict and the aftermath of armed conflict. Public outrage at cluster munitions is already strong and is growing every day. It's time for Canada to move to the forefront of those nations committed to ending the suffering caused by cluster munitions.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you all for being here today, and thank you for the very major role that I know each of your organizations played in making Canada and Canadians proud 10 years ago with the land mines treaty. And even though there are a lot of people out there wondering what happened to Canada's independent foreign policy, thank you for demonstrating that we can indeed work across party lines, as we've done at this committee, and with NGOs, in a solid partnership, to move forward on such a monumental challenge as that of banning cluster munitions in today's world.
I can't help but think that it may have been about a year ago today that we had an all-party breakfast on Parliament Hill with this issue before us, and pretty significantly, the Afghanistan ambassador appeared to speak in support of the campaign you were launching for the banning of cluster munitions at that time. So there has been some progress.
I want to ask a couple of questions that you may or may not know the answers to in detail or have time to elaborate on, but perhaps you could agree to share the information with the committee.
The first is in the context of Afghanistan today. I know that your research showed, 2001 to 2002, that there were 100 civilian deaths directly attributable and identifiable as a result of cluster munitions. But is it your understanding that cluster munitions are still being used in Afghanistan? If so, by which countries and in which parts of Afghanistan?
Secondly, there has been some concern expressed by some members of Parliament, although I'm happy to say nobody around this table at the moment, that we really need to hear from those who would advocate within Canada the continued use of cluster bombs. I'm wondering if you can help identify who such people might be, because I think probably we should know who they are and we should hear from them to know what is being said.
Thirdly, you spoke about the fact that the majority of European countries, I think, were among the signators, the 46 signators, in Oslo last week. Can you identify which countries who are NATO members were not among the signators?
Finally, my question is on the next step that you are advocating, which seems very reasonable--we should put our money where our mouth is; we should demonstrate that our words are followed by actions. Can you suggest what the cost to Canada is to take that next step of declaring a moratorium? Is there any downside that one can imagine, or is that the next logical step that you hope we can provide leadership for, helping to make happen by working together?
Thank you for affording me the opportunity to discuss this important issue, which is that of democratic governance and the role that we can play to help the government in this regard.
I would also like to start off by thanking the members for taking the time as a group to come to the meeting held by the Democracy Council. I think it was an excellent day, and by your presence you underlined the importance this committee is collectively playing in this important issue. It was recognized and appreciated by the people present.
As CIDA's minister, the Honourable Josée Verner, expressed to you when she testified to your committee back in October, democratic development is a core area of focus for our agency. And for us, democratic development means democratic governance. It means freedom and democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and accountable public institutions.
By freedom and democracy, we mean democracy based upon strong electoral, legislative, and party institutions rooted in a supportive democratic culture, including an active civil society and a vibrant free media. By rule of law, we mean fair and effective laws, accessible and timely legal institutions, and an impartial judiciary. Human rights for all can be achieved through strong human rights institutions and mechanisms that support civil society to fulfill its role in human rights education and accountability. Accountable public institutions are critical to manage the economy and public funds and to deliver key social services, such as health and education, effectively and without corruption.
Our commitment to supporting democratic governance has grown since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today, CIDA makes the largest investment of any Canadian organization in democratic governance in developing countries, working closely with many other Canadian organizations and government ministries, because we recognize that open, democratic, and accountable systems of governance that promote human rights and the rule of law are essential to achieving long-term economic and social development and poverty reduction.
When Canada's new government came into power a year ago, democratic government was accentuated as an integral aspect of our work at CIDA. Now there is an increasing focus on promoting freedom and democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and accountable institutions in all of our country programming. In fact, for our major country programs, it is the only compulsory sector of focus. Different country programs can focus on other issues, whether they be health or education or private sector development, etc., but every one of our major country programs must have the element of democratic governance as a compulsory sector of intervention.
The handout you have in front of you illustrates a list of projects that CIDA has undertaken in the field in cooperation with other Canadian and international partners.
CIDA's decision to establish the Office for Democratic Governance last year represents a critical component of our determination to enhance CIDA and the Government of Canada's efforts to promote democratic governance around the world.
I've been asked to speak a little bit today on the origin and nature and role of the Office for Democratic Governance.
The office is designed to build on CIDA's capacity for effective practice of democratic governance and to serve as a focal point through which the agency can actively engage the community of Canadian and international experts, institutions, and other government departments whose work focuses on democratic governance. It's important to note that our role is to facilitate, coordinate, and accelerate, but certainly not to monopolize, Canada's democratic governance assistance. Many other government departments are very involved; many other key Canadian institutions, including NGO institutions, are actively involved, in collaboration with local partners in the developing countries.
Why was this office created? For many years, many Canadians have been active in this area of work and have made historic contributions, for example, Canada's role in ending apartheid and building democratic governance in South Africa. Yet until recently, there was no home to coordinate and synthesize Canada's role in advancing democratic governance. There was a lack of a strong and consolidated knowledge base, so although there was an impressive list of projects, it wasn't clear there was an impressive institutional understanding and comprehension coming out of all of these different projects. And there was no central organization charged with building and supporting Canadian capacity inside and outside government and no way to access the best expertise quickly.
Canada Corps, launched in 2004, represented an initial attempt to fill this vacuum, but as structured, the organization was saddled with a multiple mandate that went beyond good governance to include youth mobilization as well as public engagement. Canada Corps had some success in mobilizing Canadian volunteers and youth, yet it became clear over time that in order to maximize Canada's value-added, a more concentrated effort to promote democratic governance was needed.
With the mobilization of youth and volunteers already well-established in the Canadian partnership branch, which sends literally thousands of Canadians abroad through volunteer programs already every year, and public engagement deemed best placed within the communications function of the agency, it was evident that the real need was for an enhanced and comprehensive focus on democratic governance.
That is why on October 30, 2006, created the Office for Democratic Governance. This new organization's goal is to promote state-of-the-art thinking on democratic governance, to actively engage in the sharing of best practices and lessons learned across Canada and internationally, and to conduct innovative programming that complements existing work done by other branches within CIDA and other organizations within and outside of the government. Our goal is that this office will ultimately enhance the capacity of CIDA and the Government of Canada to deliver effective, timely, and equitable democratic governance programming in a way that promotes greater coherence and coordination among Canadian actors.
In terms of what's happened over the less than one year that it's been in place, the office has actively promoted freedom and democracy by providing critical support to electoral processes in many challenging venues. In the last 12 months, the office has deployed 290 Canadian election observers to observe 10 elections around the world, including those in Haiti, the West Bank and Gaza, and, most recently, the Democratic Republic of Congo. To accomplish this, the office has worked closely with other CIDA programming branches, as well as with other government departments, including Elections Canada, DFAIT, and DND.
The office has established a new practice of convening election task forces to respond in a coordinated manner to requests for election observation support, and it delivers new security training to election observers. The office has also fostered enhanced relationships with regional organizations such as the Organization of American States and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. In so doing, we've actually taken an issue of electoral engagement and not only increased the quantity of Canada's engagement significantly over the last year, in cooperation with Elections Canada and other institutions, but considerably enhanced the quality of our engagement.
We're also working in cooperation with other Canadian and international organizations, through the Office for Democratic Governance, to contribute to developing political systems that are more open, transparent, and accountable. As you saw through the Democracy Council, which the Office of Democratic Governance co-chairs, we've collaborated closely with DFAIT, with IDRC, and with other arm's-length Canadian organizations to create fora to engage the community of practice in democracy promotion.
Another element in which the Office of Democratic Governance, together with the rest of CIDA, is involved is in the explicit creation of a space and a role for southern civil society in development and democratic discourse in the south. One of the points made recently is our intention to work with other international partners to explicitly recognize the role of civil society and southern civil society in donor harmonization, to ensure that as we become more coordinated, working with other donors and with the governments of developing countries, we explicitly recognize and support the role of a civil society, and particularly southern civil society, in these debates.
The promotion of the rule of law in developing countries is also one of the areas where Canada can provide decisive assistance. Canada can be proud of its civil and common law experts. To optimize Canada's contribution, the Office for Democratic Governance recently completed a study that provides a picture of the Canadian institutions working in the area of the rule of law. That study, which was conducted in close cooperation with CIDA's geographic branches and with the institutions of the Canadian justice sector, will serve as a basis for an inclusive approach to rule of law programming. This approach will make it possible to advance Canada's foreign policy objectives, improve harmonization with other donors and meet the needs of the partner countries.
For example, the Office for Democratic Governance is making it possible to advance matters in Ghana, where we are working in close cooperation with local stakeholders to improve the skills and knowledge of legal services personnel. Again in Ghana, the offices are working with more than 200 journalists, editors and other representatives of the media world to develop their skills in talking about specific human rights issues.
We are also working specifically on the issue of human rights, and particularly on the way to measure human rights progress and impact. With the assistance provided by the Office for Democratic Governance in Metagora, an OECD pilot project designed to create a system that will be used to measure the state of democracy, human rights and governance, the Office is also helping to establish specific, relevant and effective indicators for developing programming based on evidence in the human rights sector.
We are working in close cooperation with Equitas and the universities of Montreal and McGill. The Office is also working to increase the ability of Indonesia's Department of Justice and Human Rights to protect human rights in the regions affected by the tsunami.
As regards the responsibility of public institutions, the Office has previously cooperated in improving the coherence and coordination of those institutions. It has established framework agreements with two globally renowned Canadian entities that are experts in governance, that is to say Statistics Canada and the Office of the Auditor General of Canada. Those framework agreements are assisting in bringing Canadian expertise in statistics management and audit to bear, which promotes a comprehensive approach and a more ambitious vision of Canada's contribution in favour of accountability in developing countries.
One of the Office's roles is to work with CIDA's program branches to promote democratic governance in a coherent manner. The Office has contributed to the development of programming frameworks for countries such as Tanzania, Honduras, Bolivia and the Ukraine. It has also cooperated with the geographic branches of Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras and Pakistan in testing a governance indicator project. These indicators provide specific and appropriate data on which we can rely to develop effective programming.
In a collaborative learning perspective, the Office has combined its strengths with those of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, or CIGI, in Waterloo, to create a knowledge exchange gateway for all stakeholders involved in democratic governance. This virtual governance village will attract the international community's attention to Canada's pool of knowledge, expertise and leadership in the field of democratic governance promotion. It will improve the ability of decision-makers and practitioners to create policies and programs in developing countries based on evidence, and will facilitate the integration of that knowledge and innovative and effective practices.
Going forward in the future, over the next year the office will work hard to enhance the capacity of CIDA and partner institutions through innovative funding and capacity development initiatives. One example of this is the deployments for democratic development mechanism, a multi-million-dollar initiative that will help CIDA recruit and deploy the best and brightest Canadian expertise in democratic governance and respond quickly to needs on the ground.
Right now, what happens is if within CIDA or another government department we identify a need from a country on a certain expertise...if a country comes to us and says they'd really like help in reforming their office of the auditor general, or they'd really like to establish an improvement in this or that area, actually calling upon and deploying that Canadian expertise can be cumbersome and lengthy. By having a democratic deployment mechanism, we'll be working with a Canadian partner--and this has actually gone out now through a request for proposal and through a competitive bid--to be able to quickly draw upon and provide the best thinking and the best Canadian expertise in these different areas of democratic governance.
In promotion of freedom and democracy, the office will proactively support governments committed to democracy beyond the election event by shifting electoral assistance from a focus on the election as a one-day event to a more comprehensive and longer-term electoral cycle, including aspects such as transition of power and transparent media and reinforcing electoral commissions.
One of the office's key initiatives will be to coordinate the implementation of an enhanced anti-corruption strategy for the agency. Supporting accountability, transparency, and fairness is a core principle of Canada's new government and is critical to CIDA's aid effectiveness. As part of this implementation strategy, the Office for Democratic Governance will provide broad-based approaches to anti-corruption programming.
To be clear, we've had for years a very strong and effective focus on dealing with corruption within specific projects or programs that CIDA is involved in. What we want to do is go beyond that to actually help governments engage in broader, government-wide approaches to dealing with corruption, accountability, and transparency in a much more systematic way.
Finally, in the rule of law, the office will build upon the recommendations coming out of the study I just mentioned to help develop a strategic framework for rule of law programming, working with key Canadian institutions in this field. We also intend to develop a framework arrangement with the Department of Justice and facilitate the establishment of a rule of law community of practice with enhanced coordination and collaboration among the actors.
In conclusion, we expect and hope the Office for Democratic Governance will play a leading role in facilitating successful, innovative, coherent, and results-oriented democratic governance programming for CIDA, the Government of Canada, and the greater Canadian community of practice.
The Office of Democratic Governance will be at the forefront of our efforts to fight corruption. It will develop mechanisms that will allow the Government of Canada to access and deploy the best Canadian expertise quickly and effectively, and it will serve as a hub through which we support the community of Canadian and international experts.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to highlight the contributions of CIDA through the Office of Democratic Governance to this global challenge of democratic development. I'm personally very encouraged and thankful that you've undertaken this study, and I welcome the careful consideration and fresh perspective that your study will bring to the work we do in this area.
I wish you the best in this area, and I look forward to answering your questions now and to reading your recommendations in the near future.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for your questions. There are quite a few; I'll try to answer them all.
We ensure aid effectiveness at two or three levels. First, the team provides close follow-up to each of our projects. Second, in the context of the program, we conduct evaluations, often country-wide, and they are public. Third, the agency has criteria. For example, there's the percentage of aid granted and the percentage of our projects that have succeeded. That gives us an aid effectiveness measure in the context of these specific projects.
If we consider the effectiveness of aid for democratic development, we can also see very specific things in the field. For example, actions have succeeded very well in Haiti. For the first time in 200 years, Haitians have had municipal, legislative and presidential elections that have succeeded. We've also given three million Haitians identification cards providing them with some access to services for the first time in their lives.
In Afghanistan, where Canada spent $30 million to support the 2005 elections, we've seen that those elections in fact were held. If my memory serves me, 63 % of the population voted, including a number of women never previously equalled in an election in Afghanistan.
Future evaluations of specific projects are the responsibility of the departments that do them. Furthermore, we have a department responsible for evaluation and audit. After putting a new emphasis on accounting, we'll also have a chief audit executive, who will conduct audits for me on specific programs in order to ensure that the money is being well spent and producing results. As I said, we can directly see results, especially in the case of elections.
As regards the processes, they vary. Sometimes we work with multilateral organizations such as the organization of American states, the OAS, on some projects. On others, we call for competitive bids, for example for the Democratic Development Deployment Mechanism. This results in competitive bids from a number of persons who have expressed interest.
On the question of the role of the Office for Democratic Governance versus reshuffling, the intent of the office is explicitly to provide additional funds to the already large amounts of money we're investing in CIDA and across the government for democratic governance.
More than just the additional funds, the intent is to improve the quality of what we're doing in two ways. One is by supporting innovative programming such as some of the elections programming being done and this democratic deployment mechanism. The second way we can add value is by being the place to bring this all together. Far too often in the past our projects have been across different geographies and departments without being brought together. This is to provide a home for thinking, reflection, and coordination.
So in addition to the specific dollar amount, the quality and coordination of our engagement in democratic governance will go up significantly.