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Canada: Morality and Justice in the 21st Century

April 30, 2008

From left: Shirley Henderson, LinhPhung Huynh, Erina Aoyama, and Fiona Gillan.
Professor Andy Knight (front row), Political Science, University of Alberta, provides Canada’s perspective on humanitarian law in Professor Rick Lorenz (back row) course, SISME 420 International Humanitarian Law. Rick and Andy are joined by the members of the “Canada Team.” From left: Shirley Henderson, LinhPhung Huynh, Erina Aoyama, and Fiona Gillan.

by Shirley Henderson and LinhPhung Huynh

LinhPhung Huynh is a Sophomore majoring in International Studies and Political Science. Shirley Henderson is a Senior, also majoring in International Studies. Both are students of the SISME 420 International Humanitarian Law course taught by Frederick Lorenz, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.
Morality and justice are frequently discussed norms in SISME 420, a UW course about International Humanitarian Law. Not coincidentally, Canada’s role in promoting humanitarian values has been part of this discussion. Canada is a world leader in promoting and establishing institutions that foster international humanitarian norms, including the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Ottawa Convention to ban landmines.

Erina Aoyama, Fiona Gillan, Shirley Henderson, and LinhPhung Huynh did extensive research on Canada’s leadership in the aforementioned international institutions for their SISME 420 class presentations. As part of their research, the students met with Professor Andrew Knight of the University of Alberta. Professor Knight stressed Canada’s strength as a “norm entrepreneur.” He stated that Canada is heavily involved in many organizations, treaties, and conventions that promote human security as a norm. This is especially important as human security becomes increasingly threatened by the changing face of conflict in the 21stcentury, leaving women, children, and the unarmed vulnerable.

Canada and other medium-sized states are rallying the world around these moral standards. In contrast to the United States’ use of hard power, Canada believes in the effectiveness of soft power, motivating others through ideas, values, and persuasion. This is an important lesson for the future of US foreign policy as soft power is proving itself increasingly effective, showcased in the achievements of the ICC and the Ottawa Convention.

Professor Andy Knight’s visit was made possible by funding from the University of Alberta and the Center’s US Department of Education, Title VI grant.

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