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Seminar – Canadian Military's Views and Approaches to Protection of Civilians: Need for a Protection-of-Civilians Policy for Canada?

15 June 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

While Canada led the development of protection of civilians more than 20 years ago at the United Nations—emerging at that time as a thought leader on this issue—it may have ceded this role through ad hoc engagement and lack of strategic clarity. Dahdaleh global health graduate scholar Sarah Khan will present the final findings of her LLM independent study, which seeks to critically examine the evolution of the concept of the protection of civilians as a foreign and security policy consideration for Canada. Sarah asks whether the Canadian government should develop a policy for the protection of civilians, given its reinvigorated commitments to United Nations and NATO partnership under the new Defense Policy 2017. Arguably, this approach would allow Canada to reclaim its traditional leadership role related to the protection of civilians.

Sarah's year-long research focuses on two inter-related pieces: (i) the 2016 NATO Policy for the Protection of Civilians and harm of violence-related displacement in contemporary conflicts and complex emergencies and (ii) the Canadian Armed Forces and a Protection of Civilians policy. These research employed desk reviews and collected empirical data via semi-structured one-on-one interviews with individuals in government, civil society, and academia.

Sarah Khan is an inaugural recipient of the Dahdaleh Global Health Graduate Scholarship. She has worked for more than 12 years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the international protection of human rights and on refugee and international humanitarian law in displacement contexts of conflict/post-conflict and natural disasters. She has lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, covering various displacement situations, including in Afghanistan, Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria. She has also worked at UNHCR Headquarters in the Global Protection Cluster covering various internal displacement situations, such as those in the Central African Republic, Colombia, Iraq, and the Philippines. Sarah is a lawyer by training, with a BA LLB Hons. degree from the National Law School at India University and a master of arts in law and diplomacy (MALD) from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.