HALIFAX, NS — Halifax International Security Forum (HFX) concluded its proceedings today but the conversations started at HFX2020 – on topics like China, American engagement and the future of the international order – will continue for months to come.
“The global pandemic forced most of our discussions online this year, but HFX showed once again why it is the premier gathering of security and defense experts in the world. We welcomed 300 participants from over 80 democratic countries with thousands more joining in through social media,” said HFX President Peter Van Praagh. “While our conversations may have been virtual, the results were concrete and they established a solid blueprint for countries to follow in 2021.”
Among the many highlights of HFX2020:
- Release of the HFX China Handbook – Modern-day China has emerged as the most powerful authoritarian state in the history of the world. The HFX Handbook for Democracies contributes to building a common understanding of the serious challenge that China poses. The handbook features the HFX China Principles that defend the values that underpin democratic societies. Over the course of HFX2020, the handbook (available in English, French and Chinese) was downloaded over 2,000 times.
- Optimism Around United States Re-Engagement in Foreign Affairs – Senior U.S. politicians and military leaders sounded an optimistic note that the new Biden Administration would make foreign affairs a priority. Participants referred to recent announcements that the United States would rejoin the World Health Organization and sign back on to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. They were also encouraged by the larger role that middle powers like Canada, Australia and Latvia can play in international affairs.
- Reforming International Institutions to Address New Challenges – In the face of growing threats from China and Russia, as well as challenges that are no longer just military in nature, HFX2020 participants acknowledged that the current world order needs to adapt. International institutions and security organizations must take a more holistic approach that includes health, infrastructure, trade, technology, and culture.
HFX2020 participants also heard from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey; Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid; U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo; Canada’s Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan; Secretary of the U.S. Navy Kenneth Braithwaite; Hulusi Akar, Minister of Defense, Turkey; Peter Hultqvist, Minister of Defence, Sweden; Luxembourg’s Defense Minister Juri Luik; and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Halifax International Security Forum awarded its prestigious Builder Award to Gen. Jonathan Vance, Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff and introduced delegates to the military officers who are part of HFX’s marquee Peace With Women Fellowship.
“I am particularly proud of the work that HFX has done on our China Handbook. We have launched a campaign that will mobilize political and financial support for the principles in the document, so I am confident that the work will continue,” concluded Van Praagh. “Delegates will see the results of this international effort in 2021 when we gather together, in-person, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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