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The Institute for Peace & Diplomacy (IPD) is a Canadian non-profit and non-partisan foreign policy think tank dedicated to promoting sustainable peace through diplomacy, dialogue, and constructive engagement. 

Mission Statement

Since the end of the Cold War, North Atlantic foreign policy has experienced an intellectual fatigue and moral complacency that increasingly threatens its credibility and relevance in the post-COVID age—a world characterized by heightened international resistance to global hegemony coupled with new great powers competing for influence and recognition. 

In a time as dynamic and transformative as ours then, there is a critical need for provocative, unconventional, and independent voices in statecraft and foreign policy. IPD aims to address this deficit by cultivating a network of experts, scholars, and practitioners who are ready to provide fresh perspectives and constructive ideas to resolve global security challenges and manage the coming great power competition through peaceful means. In doing so, we believe it necessary to engage with questions of ‘power’ and the Atlantic bloc’s ‘role in the world’ in a more systematic, objective, and policy-sensitive manner—bridging the wide gap between theory and practice in North Atlantic foreign policy.

IPD regards ‘par in parem non habet imperium’ (Latin for “equals have no dominion over each other”), a maxim that affirms the sovereign status of independent states, to be the founding principle of international law. The international system is not a zero-sum winner-take-all prize to be won or a battlespace to be dominated. A healthy conception of national interest that recognizes the sovereignty and equality of all nations and cultures of the world is foundational to a new foreign policy premised on: 1) tolerance for cultural pluralism and different ways of life, 2) enthusiasm for diplomatic engagement and other non-coercive instruments of power, and 3) a commitment to military restraint.

Through its publications, conferences, policy briefings, and recommendations, IPD will encourage policymakers, and leaders in government, civil society, and business community to adopt a more restrained and open-minded approach in managing the strategic challenges and geopolitical risks of the 21st century.

Meet the Team

Bijan Ahmadi

Executive Director

Bio | Twitter

Younes Zangiabadi

Executive Vice President

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Arta Moeini

Research Director

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Alexandra Slobodov

Research Associate

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Zachary Paikin

Research Fellow

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Bailey Cordrey

Research and Communications Associate

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Pouyan Kimiayjan

Research Associate

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Christopher Mott

Research Fellow

Bio | LinkedIn

Advisory Board

Peggy Mason, Advisor | Canadian Foreign Policy, Nuclear Non-Proliferation

 

Peggy Mason’s career highlights diplomatic and specialist expertise in the field of international peace and security, with a particular emphasis on the United Nations, where she served as Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament from 1989 to 1995.

Since 1996 Ms. Mason has been involved in many aspects of UN peacekeeping training, including the development of ground breaking UN principles on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters, the reform of UN arms embargoes and the dramatic evolution of UN peacekeeping in the 21st century. Until 2014, she regularly brought the UN political/diplomatic perspective to a range of UN, NATO and EU training exercises to help prepare military commanders for complex multidisciplinary peace and crisis stabilization operations.

For 10 years Peggy Mason was a Senior Fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University, where she lectured, participated in training for Iraqi and Kuwaiti diplomats and chaired the Advisory Board of the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance (CCTC). She has long been active in a range of Canadian non-governmental organizations engaged in foreign policy, peacebuilding and global governance issues. A graduate and gold medallist of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law, Peggy Mason was inducted into its Honour Society in September 2003. Peggy Mason is currently the president of the Rideau Institute. In October of 2019 she was elected Vice-President of the prestigious Canadian Pugwash Group.

Prof. Wenran Jiang, Advisor | Asia Program, Canada-China Relations

 

Named by the Alberta Venture magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in Alberta for 2014, Dr. Wenran Jiang is the President of Canada-China Energy and Environment Forum. He organized 13 large-scale annual conferences between Canada and China on energy and environmental issues between 2004 and 2017.

He was a tenured professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Before he took early retirement, Dr. Jiang was also a Japan Foundation Fellow, a Resident Fellow and a Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars, Special Advisor to Alberta Department of Energy on Asian market diversification. He also served as Special Advisor on China to the US and Canada based Energy Council, a visiting professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia and a visiting professor at the School of Business, China University of Petroleum (Beijing). During his tenure as the Founding Director (2005-08) of the University’s China Institute, Dr. Jiang played a leading role in securing a donation of $37.2 million permanent endowment from the Alberta government.

In recent years, Dr. Jiang has advised government agencies, private companies in the energy, mining, forestry and agricultural sectors on Asian market access and how to engage China, with a particular focus on energy efficiency and environmentally friendly technologies. He is currently completing a book on why Canada needs to diversify its energy market to Asia.

Prof. David Dewitt | Middle East and Asia Pacific

 

David Dewitt is University Professor Emeritus, York University.  He served two terms as York’s Associate Vice-President Research and for 18 years was director of York University’s Centre for International & Security Studies (YCISS). From 2011 to 2015 Dewitt was on leave of absence to serve as Vice-President Research & Programs at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).  During his 2015-16 sabbatical year, he was Distinguished Visiting Professor, Canadian Forces College where he continues as Adjunct Professor. 

Dewitt has authored publications covering Canadian foreign, defence and security policy, international security politics with particular reference to the Asia Pacific and the Middle East regions, arms control and disarmament, proliferation, and human security.  With Paul Evans he directed Canada’s North Pacific Cooperative Security Dialogue (NPCSD), was co-founder of Canadian Consortium for Asia Pacific Security (CANCAPS) and of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP). 

He served as chair for PISA (Partnerships for International Strategies in Asia, Sigur Center, George Washington University).  He spent a sabbatical year as a visiting scholar, the Dayan Centre Center for Middle East & Africa Studies and the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (now the INSS) at Tel-Aviv University, has been an international research fellow at the Korean Institute for Defense Analysis (Seoul), as well as a visiting lecturer variously in Japan, South Korea, China, Australia, New Zealand, Syria, Switzerland, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

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Haig Sarafian | Middle East

 

Haig Sarafian is a retired Canadian career diplomat who had five overseas postings in the Arab world, Baghdad, Tunis, Damascus, Beirut and Tripoli/ Libya, the latter two as Ambassador. In the early 80s he was the Deputy Director of the Middle East division in Ottawa and also had other postings in Peru, Brazil and France. In Canada, Sarafian also served as the Director-General of the International Trade Center in Montreal, Executive Director of the Learning & Innovation Fund as well as Director of Protocol. Mr. Sarafian retired in 2010. Mr. Sarafian graduated from Université de Montreal.

Dr. Luciano Zaccara | Middle East, GCC

 

Dr. Luciano Zaccara is an Assistant Professor in Gulf Politics at the Qatar University, Gulf Studies Center. Also a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Georgetown University in Qatar, and Director of the Observatory on Politics and Elections in the Arab and Muslim World in Spain.

He obtained a BA in Political Science from the National University of Rosario, Argentina, and a PhD in Arab and Islamic Studies from Autonoma University of Madrid, Spain. He has been also a post-doctoral fellow at the Autonoma University of Barcelona; a Visiting Researcher at the University of Exeter, Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies; and a Visiting Researcher at Princeton University, Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies.

His research interests are Iranian Politics and Foreign Policy; Gulf Politics; International Relations in the Persian Gulf; and Electoral Systems in the MENA region.

His latest publication is “Foreign Policy of Iran under President Hassan Rouhani’s First Term (2013–2017)”, Zaccara, Luciano (Ed.), Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.

Prof. Alan Whiteside | Canada’s Role on the Global Stage Program, Health Diplomacy

 

Dr. Whiteside, OBE, was CIGI Chair in Global Health Policy from December 2012-December 2018. He is a Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of International Policy and Governance and at the BSIA.

Alan is an internationally recognized academic and AIDS researcher. He holds a B.A. in development studies and an M.A. in development economics, both from the University of East Anglia and a D.Econ. from the University of Natal (KwaZulu-Natal). He began his professional career as an Overseas Development Institute Fellow working as a planning officer (economist) in the Ministry of Finance and Development, Gaborone, Botswana from 1980 to 1983. In 1983 he was appointed as a Research Fellow in the Economic Research Unit of the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), and in 1998 he established the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division where he was the executive director. He is a Professor Emeritus at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

In 1990, Whiteside started the AIDS Analysis Africa newsletter and was the editor until 2002. He is the co-author of numerous articles and books. His most recent book is his second edition of HIV and AIDS: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press 2016).

Alan has carried out training around the world and has worked across Africa, Ukraine and parts of Asia. In 2003, he was appointed by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Commission for HIV/AIDS and Governance in Africa. Other academic appointments include: Visiting Professor, School of Medicine Liverpool University, Leverhulme Visiting Professor, University of Southampton and Visiting Fellow, University of East Anglia. He was an elected member of the governing council of the International AIDS Society from 2000 to 2012. He is a member of the Governing Council of Waterford Kamhlaba United World College in Swaziland. In 2015 he was invested as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Jocelyn Coulon | Canada’s Role on the Global Stage Program

 

Jocelyn Coulon, Research Fellow at the Montreal Centre for International Studies (CERIUM), is an analyst, author and researcher, specializing in peace operations and Canadian foreign policy. He was a foreign affairs advisor for Justin Trudeau in 2014-2015, and a senior policy advisor to foreign minister Stephane Dion in 2016-2017. He is the author of Canada is Not Back: How Justin Trudeau is in Over His Head on Foreign Policy, Lorimer, 2019.

In the past few years, he has published a number of books, including, in 1998, Soldiers of Diplomacy. The United Nations, Peacekeeping, and The New World Order, University of Toronto Press, and in 2020, À quoi sert le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies?, Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal. 

He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI).

Panel 4: Pathways to Manage Non-Proliferation in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:45 PM ET)

The Western powers have failed to effectively manage the increasing threat of proliferation in the Middle East. While the international community is concerned with Iran’s nuclear program, Saudi Arabia has moved forward with developing its own nuclear program, and independent studies show that Israel has longed possessed dozens of nuclear warheads. The former is a member of the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), while the latter has refused to sign the international agreement. 

On Middle East policy, the Biden campaign had staunchly criticized the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal and it has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier since assuming office in January 2021. However, serious obstacles remain for responsible actors in expanding non-proliferation efforts toward a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

This panel will discuss how Western powers and multilateral institutions, such as the IAEA, can play a more effective role in managing non-proliferation efforts in the Middle East.  

Panelists:

Peggy Mason: Canada’s former Ambassador to the UN for Disarmament

Mark Fitzpatrick: Associate Fellow & Former Executive Director, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)

Ali Vaez: Iran Project Director, International Crisis Group

Negar Mortazavi: Journalist and Political Analyst, Host of Iran Podcast

David Albright: Founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security

 

Closing (5:45 PM – 6:00 PM ET)

Panel 3: Trade and Business Diplomacy in the Middle East (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

What is the current economic landscape in the Middle East? While global foreign direct investment is expected to fall drastically in the post-COVID era, the World Bank reported a 5% contraction in the economic output of the Middle East and North African (MENA) countries in 2020 due to the pandemic. While oil prices are expected to rebound with normalization in demand, political instability, regional and geopolitical tensions, domestic corruption, and a volatile regulatory and legal environment all threaten economic recovery in the Middle East. What is the prospect for economic growth and development in the region post-pandemic, and how could MENA nations promote sustainable growth and regional trade moving forward?

At the same time, Middle Eastern diaspora communities have become financially successful and can help promote trade between North America and the region. In this respect, the diaspora can become vital intermediaries for advancing U.S. and Canada’s business interests abroad. Promoting business diplomacy can both benefit the MENA region and be an effective and positive way to advance engagement and achieve foreign policy goals of the North Atlantic.

This panel will investigate the trade and investment opportunities in the Middle East, discuss how facilitating economic engagement with the region can benefit Canadian and American national interests, and explore relevant policy prescriptions.

Panelists:

Hon. Sergio Marchi: Canada’s Former Minister of International Trade

Scott Jolliffe: Chairperson, Canada Arab Business Council

Esfandyar Batmanghelidj: Founder and Publisher of Bourse & Bazaar

Nizar Ghanem: Director of Research and Co-founder at Triangle

Nicki Siamaki: Researcher at Control Risks

Panel 2: Arms Race and Terrorism in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

The Middle East continues to grapple with violence and instability, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Fueled by government incompetence and foreign interventions, terrorist insurgencies have imposed severe humanitarian and economic costs on the region. Meanwhile, regional actors have engaged in an unprecedented pursuit of arms accumulation. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have imported billions of both Western and Russian-made weapons and funded militant groups across the region, intending to contain their regional adversaries, particularly Iran. Tehran has also provided sophisticated weaponry to various militia groups across the region to strengthen its geopolitical position against Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Israel. 

On the other hand, with international terrorist networks and intense regional rivalry in the Middle East, it is impractical to discuss peace and security without addressing terrorism and the arms race in the region. This panel will primarily discuss the implications of the ongoing arms race in the region and the role of Western powers and multilateral organizations in facilitating trust-building security arrangements among regional stakeholders to limit the proliferation of arms across the Middle East.

 

Panelists:

Luciano Zaccara: Assistant Professor, Qatar University

Dania Thafer: Executive Director, Gulf International Forum

Kayhan Barzegar: Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the Science and Research Branch of Azad University

Barbara Slavin: Director of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

Sanam Shantyaei: Senior Journalist at France24 & host of Middle East Matters

Panel 1: Future of Diplomacy and Engagement in the Middle East (10:30 AM-11:45 AM ET)

The emerging regional order in West Asia will have wide-ranging implications for global security. The Biden administration has begun re-engaging Iran on the nuclear dossier, an initiative staunchly opposed by Israel, while also taking a harder line on Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen. Meanwhile, key regional actors, including Qatar, Iraq, and Oman, have engaged in backchannel efforts to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the negotiating table. From a broader geopolitical perspective, with the need to secure its energy imports, China is also expected to increase its footprint in the region and influence the mentioned challenges. 

In this evolving landscape, Western powers will be compelled to redefine their strategic priorities and adjust their policies with the new realities in the region. In this panel, we will discuss how the West, including the United States and its allies, can utilize multilateral diplomacy with its adversaries to prevent military escalation in the region. Most importantly, the panel will discuss if a multilateral security dialogue in the Persian Gulf region, proposed by some regional actors, can help reduce tensions among regional foes and produce sustainable peace and development for the region. 

Panelists:

Abdullah Baabood: Academic Researcher and Former Director of the Centre for Gulf Studies, Qatar University

Trita Parsi: Executive Vice-President, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft

Ebtesam Al-Ketbi: President, Emirates Policy Centre​

Jon Allen: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Israel

Elizabeth Hagedorn: Washington correspondent for Al-Monitor

Panel 4: Humanitarian Diplomacy: An Underused Foreign Policy Tool in the Middle East (4:30 PM - 5:30 PM ET)

Military interventions, political and economic instabilities, and civil unrest in the Middle East have led to a global refugee crisis with an increasing wave of refugees and asylum seekers to Europe and Canada. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has, in myriad ways, exacerbated and contributed to the ongoing security threats and destabilization of the region.

While these challenges pose serious risks to Canadian security, Ottawa will also have the opportunity to limit such risks and prevent a spillover effect vis-à-vis effective humanitarian initiatives in the region. In this panel, we will primarily investigate Canada’s Middle East Strategy’s degree of success in providing humanitarian aid to the region. Secondly, the panel will discuss what programs and initiatives Canada can introduce to further build on the renewed strategy. and more specifically, how Canada can utilize its policy instruments to more effectively deal with the increasing influx of refugees from the Middle East. 

 

Panelists:

Erica Di Ruggiero: Director of Centre for Global Health, University of Toronto

Reyhana Patel: Head of Communications & Government Relations, Islamic Relief Canada

Amir Barmaki: Former Head of UN OCHA in Iran

Catherine Gribbin: Senior Legal Advisor for International and Humanitarian Law, Canadian Red Cross

Panel 3: A Review of Canada’s Middle East Engagement and Defense Strategy (3:00 PM - 4:15 PM ET)

In 2016, Canada launched an ambitious five-year “Middle East Engagement Strategy” (2016-2021), committing to investing CA$3.5 billion over five years to help establish the necessary conditions for security and stability, alleviate human suffering and enable stabilization programs in the region. In the latest development, during the meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau announced more than $43.6 million in Peace and Stabilization Operations Program funding for 11 projects in Syria and Iraq.

With Canada’s Middle East Engagement Strategy expiring this year, it is time to examine and evaluate this massive investment in the Middle East region in the past five years. More importantly, the panel will discuss a principled and strategic roadmap for the future of Canada’s short-term and long-term engagement in the Middle East.

Panelists:

Ferry de Kerckhove: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Egypt

Dennis Horak: Canada’s Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Chris Kilford: Former Canadian Defence Attaché in Turkey, member of the national board of the Canadian International Council (CIC)

David Dewitt: University Professor Emeritus, York University

Panel 2: The Great Power Competition in the Middle East (12:00 PM - 1:15 PM ET)

While the United States continues to pull back from certain regional conflicts, reflected by the Biden administration’s decision to halt American backing for Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen and the expected withdrawal from Afghanistan, US troops continue to be stationed across the region. Meanwhile, Russia and China have significantly maintained and even expanded their regional activities. On one hand, the Kremlin has maintained its military presence in Syria, and on the other hand, China has signed an unprecedented 25-year strategic agreement with Iran.

As the global power structure continues to shift, it is essential to analyze the future of the US regional presence under the Biden administration, explore the emerging global rivalry with Russia and China, and at last, investigate the implications of such competition for peace and security in the Middle East.

Panelists:

Dmitri Trenin: Director of Carnegie Moscow Center

Joost R. Hiltermann: Director of MENA Programme, International Crisis Group

Roxane Farmanfarmaian: Affiliated Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, University of Cambridge

Andrew A. Michta: Dean of the College of International and Security Studies at Marshall Center

Kelley Vlahos: Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute

Panel 1: A New Middle East Security Architecture in the Making (10:30 AM -11:45 AM ET)

The security architecture of the Middle East has undergone rapid transformations in an exceptionally short period. Notable developments include the United States gradual withdrawal from the region, rapprochement between Israel and some GCC states through the Abraham Accords and the rise of Chinese and Russian regional engagement.

With these new trends in the Middle East, it is timely to investigate the security implications of the Biden administration’s Middle East policy. In this respect, we will discuss the Biden team’s new approach vis-à-vis Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. The panel will also discuss the role of other major powers, including China and Russia in shaping this new security environment in the region, and how the Biden administration will respond to these powers’ increasing regional presence.

 

Panelists:

Sanam Vakil: Deputy Director of MENA Programme at Chatham House

Denise Natali: Acting Director, Institute for National Strategic Studies & Director of the Center for Strategic Research, National Defense University

Hassan Ahmadian: Professor of the Middle East and North Africa Studies, University of Tehran

Abdulaziz Sagar: Chairman, Gulf Research Center

Andrew Parasiliti: President, Al-Monitor