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From our editors

With tension and intrigue between leaders of the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and countless other countries playing out on the international stage, 2018 was another year of fast-paced headlines and unpredictability.

From a Canadian foreign policy perspective, much of 2018 was devoted to the renegotiation of NAFTA, now called CUSMA. Nevertheless, our editorial team made an effort to make sure important global issues didn’t fall completely off the radar. 

We took our readers to Mongolia and put a spotlight on the North Korean labourers that are forced to send revenue back home to the Kim regime. We explored at length what a feminist foreign policy looks like, and the Canadian government’s efforts to increase gender equality within its own ranks and abroad. We took a deep dive into the challenges facing a global leader we hear less of — UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. With violence at home, most notably a van attack in Toronto in April, we looked at the changing definitions of terrorism and extremism. And with continued interest in the Canadian approach to multiculturalism and immigration, we looked at both the good and the still-in-need-of-improvement sides to policy. 

With a federal election scheduled for next October, 2019 will be an important year to continue to shine a light on the angles and stories that further our understanding of foreign policy and its impact. As always, many thanks to our wonderful contributors and our many readers in Canada and around the world for your continued support in these efforts. 

Happy holidays,

Eva Salinas, Managing Editor
Catherine Tsalikis, Senior Editor

For this year's edition of OpenCanada's annual Twitterati list, we celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples to policy in Canada and on the international stage. From front-line advocates fighting for the environment, justice or Indigenous rights, to lawyers and policy makers with a seat at the United Nations, to the organizations holding it all together and the media outlets helping to make sense of it all, here are more than 100 social media influencers in the global Indigenous ...
 
It was 1992. Every day, from his home in Oakland, California, Eric Hughes waded through a stream of emails from “The List,” an electronic mailing list he had helped set up to bring together a small group of fellow travellers. Hughes was a mathematician, and on The List were academics, computer scientists, technologists and hackers. Sometimes gossip landed in his inbox, and political schemes, or fantasies and code. He and the others were gripped by a question they thought the greatest of ...
 
As the dark and frigid November air envelops Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital, a handful of North Koreans are still at work on a construction site. They can be seen shovelling, welding and plastering — at this late hour, their Mongolian colleagues have left, while they will stay overnight. They live on site, a Mongolian man familiar with the project tells me, where they are closely monitored and kept away from the population.In Mongolia, about 1,000 North Koreans work in construction site...
 
What does feminist leadership look like? If feminist foreign policy is here to stay,  how should it be defined and what does and should it look like in practice? Ten women — from New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern to Nigerian human rights activist Osai Ojigho to co-chair of Argentina’s W20 Andrea Grobocopatel — reflect on the idea of a feminist foreign policy, why it matters and where this concept needs to go next. There is no room for complacency.I count myself lucky to live in a c...
 
Forty years ago, life as a diplomat in Canada’s foreign ministry headquarters in Ottawa looked very different than it does today. Foreign service officers who joined the department as recently as the late 1970s and early 1980s remember it as an old boys’ club — the men arrived at work every day in suits and ties and answered their phones by giving their surnames, and the duties of most women in the department were secretarial.It wasn’t unusual to come in late and browse The Globe and Mai...
 
One of the most vexing moral challenges for journalists who cover war is how to find meaning amid the trauma. Bearing witness to the suffering of others is daunting enough. But how we convey that suffering through the filter of our own privilege and bias can be even more problematic. Two decades ago, when I was a young journalist, I went to Congo to cover an unimaginable humanitarian crisis. Rwanda’s army, backed by military allies from Uganda, had invaded the country and attacked UN re...
 
April marks 16 exhausting months since António Guterres became United Nations Secretary-General. During this time, he has been dealing with gruesome conflicts, geopolitical rifts and humanitarian crises, as he contends with a dismissive US administration. All the while, the former Portuguese prime minister has been trying to persuade both the organization’s member states and its deeply entrenched bureaucracy to adopt the broad changes needed to reform the clumsy processes and inward mi...
 
In their seminal 1988 book Political Terrorism, Alex Schmid and Albert Jongman spend over 100 pages discussing the different definitions of terrorism debated in the study of the phenomenon.Don’t worry, that’s not what we are going to be doing here.But, it might be worthwhile to revisit some of these debates, especially since the attacks we are experiencing in Canada — such as the van rampage in Toronto on April 23, the Quebec City mosque shooting on January 29, 2017, and the stabbing and...
 
Though Canada has accepted some 50,000 Syrian refugees since late 2015, many have had pending cases for just as long. Over the past year, journalist Gareth Chantler interviewed several Syrians stuck in limbo in Turkey. The voices of these refugees are seldom heard, and their experiences expose a deeply problematic intake process within the Canadian refugee system.This piece was awarded best investigative article or series, news media category, at the 2018 Canadian Online Publishing Award...
 
Curious to know what kind of work goes into the planning and execution of Canada’s international relations? For the third year in a row, we’re featuring some of the most engaged and passionate young people involved in Canadian foreign policy. They represent a variety of departments and agencies — Global Affairs Canada, the Department of National Defence, the Department of Canadian Heritage, the Department of Justice, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and the Canadia...
 
Multiculturalism has reached its moment of peril. Multiculturalism, as public policy, as a way of life, could disappear altogether, relegated to a figment of history, a relic.The counter-reaction to global trade, to globalization generally, has been a deep retreat behind borders. The recent election in Hungary, in which Viktor Orban ran and won on a loathing for immigrants and “foreign meddling,” is only the latest example of a militant and triumphant xenophobia seen everywhere. The cons...
 
By the time she was appointed Canada’s foreign minister in 1991, Barbara McDougall had spent most of her professional life — which included positions as minister of state for finance, privatization, and employment and immigration, among others — being the only woman in the room. The years she spent as Canada’s top diplomat — and as the second woman ever to hold the role — were no exception. Now, at 80, she finds most of her recollections about her time at External Affairs, as the depart...
 
“A wild elephant killed him,” an aid worker explained. Having survived the scourge of the notorious Tatmadaw, the Myanmar military that slaughtered his people and drove them into exile, the 12-year-old boy — Shamsu Uddin — was trampled to death by the enormous beast as he slept. Just two years ago, in 2016, Kutupalong was a wildlife refuge where endangered animals roamed freely in pristine forests. Now, it is the largest refugee camp in the world, an ocean of misery comprising some 700...
 
“Canada is back!” So said Justin Trudeau after his 2015 election. Implicit in that declaration was that Liberal foreign policy would transform Canada’s standing on the world stage. Yet three years on there is little evidence perceptions have changed, at least in global rankings that track country brands. Under both Conservative and Liberal governments, Canada has maintained a good but not great reputation in the nation brands index put out by Anholt-GfK. Global polling by IPSOS over th...
 
Almost eight years after it began, with 14-year-old Naief Abazid spray-painting a message on his school wall in Daraa, southern Syria, that called for the fall of dictator Bashar al-Assad, the civil war in Syria is all but over.United States President Donald Trump’s announcement this week that he will bring home the 2,000 US troops now in Syria removes the only force that might conceivably have stood in the way of Assad reasserting control over the country. But no one has won the war — n...
 

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