National Defence vs. Foreign Affairs: Culture Clash in Canada's International Security Policy?

By Dewitt, David B.; Plante, Jeffrey P. | International Journal, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview
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National Defence vs. Foreign Affairs: Culture Clash in Canada's International Security Policy?

Dewitt, David B., Plante, Jeffrey P., International Journal

David Dewitt is professor of political science and director of York's Centre for International and Security Studies. Jeff Plante is an advanced doctoral student in the Graduate Program in History, York University, and a research assistant for this project. We are pleased to acknowledge the financial support of the SSHRC and the indirect support of YCISS and the Security and Defence Forum, Department of National Defence. The Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University, provided additional support to Jeff Plante. Our thanks to colleagues from the academic and policy communities who offered insightful comments on a preliminary draft of this article.


The purpose of this article is to explore whether and, if so, in what ways the introduction and evolution of the concept of human security in the articulation and operations of security policy within Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade(1) affected policy and operations within Canada's Department of National Defence.

The research is predicated on a number of analytic and conceptual distinctions.(2) The concept of strategic culture as employed in this project is constructed from two factors, the concept of security and operational principles. Together these serve, along with the socio-historic environment, as intervening variables, which mediate between the independent variable of relative power and the dependent variable of grand strategy. The key question which informs this paper is whether the evolution, presentation, and interpretation of human security within the relevant departments of the government of Canada (most notably DFAIT) then carried over to inform and affect the definition of mandate and of threat as well as the policies, procedures, planning, deployment, and operating principles and practices of DND and the Canadian forces? In particular we are interested in whether and, if so, in what ways the discourse on security and the operational principles informing the deployment and application of military force (and other forms of coercive means such as police or special forces) incorporated or were affected by the emergence of the ideas of human security and their incorporation into the international security discourse of DFAIT, the department which leads on Canada's role in international affairs. Further, we have explored the extent to which the internationalization of the human security discourse and policy objectives, as they were adopted and enunciated by a variety of countries, including those who are members of the Human Security Network, contributed to the saliency of human security thinking within both policy and operational branches of the Canadian government. Did this have any impact on security or strategic culture within DND?

Human security, like so many labels, has a range of meanings both contested and agreed upon. There is general acknowledgment that our understanding of human security is at least partially derivative of its lineage from the United Nation's human development report of 1994. Agenda for Peace, which recognized that the end of the Cold War brought with it a much more complex security agenda for the United Nations system and its member states, is also viewed as a primary precursor document, articulating the need to more adequately differentiate various types of insecurities and conflicts which, in turn, require different forms of response.(3)


The end of the Cold War provoked a common concern among scholars and practitioners in many countries--how to define one's security interests in this new world, a world where the security architecture of the previous half century no longer applied. Canada was no different, and one can readily identify a range of scholarship and policy reviews which had this concern as at least one of its motivating factors. The much vaunted "peace dividend" failed to materialize and was replaced by a remarkably active series of military interventions--some labelled as humanitarian interventions in which human security was voiced as a guiding or at least contributing factor--to counter both interstate and intrastate hostilities.

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National Defence vs. Foreign Affairs: Culture Clash in Canada's International Security Policy?


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