Unsettled Balance: Ethics, Security and Canada’s International Relations

Book Cover 2015

Book from UBC Press

Since 9/11, the wars on terror, economic crises, climate change, and humanitarian emergencies have led decision makers to institute new measures to maintain security. Foreign policy analysts tend to view these decisions as being divorced from ethics, but Unsettled Balance shows that arguments about rights, obligations, norms, and values have played a profound role in Canadian foreign policy and international relations.

Examining a wide range of events in Canada and abroad, the contributors to this volume collectively explore three key questions. What is the meaning of ethics and security, and how are they linked? To what extent have considerations of ethics and security changed in the twenty-first century? And what are the implications of a shifting historical context for Canada’s international relations?

Whether probing how Canada handles the tension between ethics and security when hosting large-scale international events, engaging in humanitarian aid initiatives, or entering into military operations, each chapter provides insight into key decisions in recent Canadian history. In a time of rapid change, this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how Canada responds to the challenges of an increasingly volatile world and why it responds the way it does.

“Overall, Warner’s review raises stimulating and often confrontational ethical discussions in the vein of Coker and Ignatieff: on the ethics of Canada’s internal and external security and the tradeoff between security and freedom; on whose ethics is privileged and enforced; on whether militarized efforts can achieve humanitarian ends; and whether Canada’s hard-power reflects her citizens’ preference for ‘‘neutral’’ peacekeeping over the ‘‘reality’’ of combat (122). Throughout Warner’s collection one senses that Warner and her contributors, like constructivists Finnemore and Wendt, want to see Canada revisit the global engagement of the Axworthy era, of Canada as a norm entrepreneur developing the world’s human security paradigm (274–277). Whether this happens is, as the title suggests, ‘‘in the balance.’’ This valuable collection nonetheless helps us examine in more detail the intersection of Canada’s contemporary security, ethics, and international relations.

— K. Kirkland, International Journal Book Review 71(3), 498–512. http://doi.org/10.1177/0020702016663172

“In recent years, the intersection of ethics and security has been a source of great debate among academics and practitioners worldwide. Unsettled Balance scrutinizes this intersection in the theory and practice of Canadian foreign policy to understand how Canada is responding to new challenges at home and abroad. This is a very valuable book.”
— Duane Bratt, author of Canada, the Provinces, and the Global Nuclear Revival

“This volume offers a wide-ranging and informed discussion of the role of ethics in foreign policy decision making in Canada. It is a much-needed update on an important topic and will be a significant resource for the study and discussion of contemporary international affairs.”
— Lana Wylie, author of Perceptions of Cuba: Canadian and American Policies in Comparative Perspective

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