Towards Peace and Security through Canadian International Assistance. 2016 Canadian Public Consultation

Posted: July 31, 2016 in Canadian Defence, Liberals, Peace Building
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“I am who you are. When you suffer, I suffer.

We are one people on one planet.”

As both a 33 year military veteran and subsequently, since 2001, working in International Development and First Nations in the area of governance, ethics, and peace services, I certainly appreciate the challenges faced in the achievement of mandate of GAC. I appreciate the opportunity to be heard. I would like to offer brief comment on this consultation in the area or peace and security and governance.

I would like to make the point that traditional practices to international assistance must change. The four structural needs of security, economic, governance and social (health, education, housing, etc) are so interconnected and interrelated that expensive short term, narrow and project oriented applications, have limited or only temporary benefit. Transactional solutions of knowledge, material and funding transfers can only be accomplished in parallel with longer term Relational solutions that involve readiness and willingness and “whole of country” or “whole of community” approaches.

I believe we must change our assistance world view from donor-recipient, north-south, in which others bring suffering and we bring superior technology and money, to one of accompaniment. If we are “one family on this planet“ then perhaps the relationship should be one of equality and accompaniment rather than of power and teacher in a superior sense. This means less of very expensive consultant studies, and more sharing, engagement, education, tools and training at the lowest levels.

This may imply changing assistance from being results-based with goals and hard expectations based, to relational, peace oriented, direction-based that builds cultures that responds and works at the structural needs each day and makes progress as it can. Perhaps it is direction and effort each day that better defines success and sufficiency, as opposed to despair with goals that are largely unreachable and often result in failure. One cannot eradicate crime, but can work at it each day with hope.

My most recent work ending Dec 2015 involved a multimillion dollar CIDA project to build an Ethics and anti corruption secretariat in the office of the President in Tanzania. It was very apparent that dealing with elected government and public officials in isolation would not achieve the desired results without involving the meta-environment around these officials. This meant pilot projects with the corporate sector around corrupt practices and social responsibility, projects with civil society around voting for honest people as contributing to honest government, projects teaching ethics and resiliency at lower, middle and higher education; project with ethics and police and military forces; projects in government relating to wrongdoing disclosure and reprisal prevention, and projects with elected and government officials regarding ethics and conflict of interest. The idea that controlling wrongdoing must go hand in hand with building integrity; applies to peace building in that “security and justice’ must go hand in hand with “building peace and reconciliation` and development work.

Currently, we are also involved in “whole of community” peace and reconciliation initiatives with First Nations and the Sri Lankan diaspora in Canada. Our Sri Lankan approach is centered around relational solutions beginning with connecting elders, and creating a group of youth peace practitioners through training and skill development. First nations work involves building trauma resiliency practices in children and youth.

Peace and Security

If we accept a holistic working model of peace that comprises human security, economic livelihood, social needs and good governance, the foundation begins with security. Not much is possible in climates of conflict, hate, fear, war, or oppression.

First, I believe Canada needs to be more sensitive to security needs as essential to assistance. This may mean taking a larger view of 3D (diplomacy, defence, development) so that diplomacy or military activities do not work at cross purposes to development assistance.

The lack of peace has many sources, from poverty, economic depression, to youth lack of jobs and hopelessness, crime, corruption, to lack of resources when others have much, to religious or racial differences, to outright conflict or war.   Traditional constructs of violent conflict involve three phases; pre-conflict, during conflict and post conflict activities. These phases usually define certain military activities such as deployment, hostilities, and reconstruction. What is needed is a peace and development overlay to these phases of conflict, an overlay of peace building, peacemaking and peace keeping. This may involve such as: peace building (governance strengthening, ethics, anti corruption, economic development, policing, diplomacy), peacemaking (mediation, ceasefire negation, refugee assistance, safe havens, humanitarian aid, police training) and peace keeping (reconciliation, justice, development, reconstruction, monitoring). What is also needed is a development approach that first fosters relational solutions, and whole of community approaches, that connects and engages elders, women, youth, men and children in the development of such peace practitioner skills, trauma resiliency, non violent communications skills, dialogue, reconciliation and conflict resolution. This can serve to better enable the clinical trauma responses, and judicial responses regarding crimes, victims and offenders.

Transactional solutions, the military and enforced political solutions where hatred and animosities remain, are usually insufficient and temporary, without good relational solutions. This implies that training military forces and taking sides, and facilitating hostilities, may not be all that helpful to providing peace and assistance to all parties in the longer term. Real security may be better served with constabulary training at village or country levels. Serve and protect is better than search and destroy.

Therefore, essential throughout all 3D activities is attention to peace building and possibly reconciliation needs. This means that all of 3D must have a coherent approach. Peace building in a larger sense, may mean that all 3D actors have a commitment to be present in the country or crisis, to be impartial and not take sides (working with all parties), to be a strong advocate for human rights, to respect and non violence, and to have a capacity for communication and conflict resolution and mediation down to the village level. This may require the development of specialized capacities in 3D departments, or a separate federal department of institution of peace in Canada.


I would like to offer the following main recommendations:

  • That assistance be oriented to a “whole of wellbeing“ approach that includes a holistic attention to human security, economic livelihood, social needs and good governance.
  • That assistance projects be longer term and be oriented towards accompaniment relationships, which remain during implementation phases.
  • That 3D assistance activity be fully oriented towards peace. Defence security activity may be better oriented towards constabulary training and assistance, or refugee camp protection, rather than offensive military force operations.
  • That priority be given to local “whole of community” approaches that connects and engages elders, women, youth, men and children in community development and the development of peace practitioner, reconciliation and trauma resiliency skills.
  • That the Canadian government create a ministry or institution of peace to augment all 3D peace requirements for peace building, peacemaking and peace keeping including mediation and reconciliation. This may include creating a civilian peace service to field such a capacity as part of development assistance projects.

All we need is to live our cherished values, a little courage and the political will.  Good luck to us all.   

In the cause of peace;

Paul Maillet

Colonel retired

Former DND Director of Defence Ethics

Accredited Peace Professional, Civilian Peace Services Canada (CPSC)


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