York hosts workshop on peace, security in Canadian Arctic and China Sea region

Peggy Mason
Peggy Mason

As the race for underwater resource extraction clashes with regional and international security, militarization and boundary claims, a workshop at York University will debate the issues and develop a framework for future negotiations.

The day-long “Geotechnical Politics of Ocean Frontiers: The Canadian North & the Indo-Pacific” interdisciplinary workshop on peace and security will take place Friday, April 28. It will open with a keynote address by Peggy Mason, president of the Rideau Institute and former Canadian ambassador for disarmament to the United Nations, at 9:30am.

Peggy Mason

Mason will discuss the necessity of peaceful cooperation and the importance of arms control even while there are pervasive situations and regional problems challenging national and international security.

Investigating frontiers, particularly probing ocean frontier politics, is part of a larger inquiry into the earthly politics of using science, technology, and international law to construct maritime boundaries and new frontiers of resource ownership.

Such politics also involves marine and maritime infrastructural development, and is furthermore interrelated systematically to the science and technology of how space above and below the waterways are constructed, i.e. how national airspace is understood, bordered and governed above maritime boundaries; how national land areas below the water are understood; and how the seabed resources below waterways are envisioned and exploited as national economic resources.

Ocean frontier politics are matters of regional risks and international security, due to an escalating arms race between maritime nations, triggered by unsettled territorial claims and ensuing power struggle in maritime expansion and resource extraction.

The emphasis on two regions, the Canadian Arctic and the China Sea, commemorates the historical quest for a route from the Canadian North to the East in Canadian history. These regions are also suggested to be the most problematic parts of our global ocean realms in terms of multilateral resource conflicts, competitive territorial claims and interstate boundary delineation issues.

The workshop explores the politics of constructing peace and attaining security through the interdisciplinary analytical framework of frontier studies. Workshop participants are from academic, government, non-government, corporate and media sectors.

Some of the participants include:

10am: Allison Stewart, deputy director of oceans law and policy at Global Affairs, will talk about “Arctic Governance: Myths and Reality,” followed by Adele Buckley of the Canadian Pugwash Group, who will talk about the importance of “Sustaining Peace in the Arctic.”

11:10am: David Harries, associate executive director of Foresight Canada, will present “Whither Arctic peace and security: A role for Strategic Foresight?” followed by Venilla Rajaguru of York U talking about “Asserting Peace in the South China Sea.”

2pm: Professor Ted McDorman, an expert in international law and ocean law of the University of Victoria, who formerly worked on Arctic-related matters at the Department of Foreign Affairs & International Trade, will look at “What epistemic, legal and political frameworks are effective/ineffective in construction ‘Peace’? Why?”

The event takes place from 9am to 6pm in Room 524, Kaneff Tower, Keele campus, and is organized by the Ocean Frontiers Working Group under Science for Peace, Canada in collaboration with Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies and the York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR).

For more information, visit ycar.apps01.yorku.ca/event/geotechnical-politics-ocean-frontiers-canadian-north-indo-pacific.