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In Depth

On the Verge: What the world can expect in 2015

Only one week into 2015, and January has proven to be anything but a sleepy, slow month — one often hushed by the deep cold in some parts of the world and hot summer days elsewhere.

The end of 2014 came with all kinds of predictions, hopes and warnings for 2015, some of which are suddenly closer than ever: there are now indications that U.S. President Barack Obama will veto Keystone Pipeline legislation; the family of Canadian journalist Mohamed Fahmy, who has been imprisoned in Egypt for more than a year, is now saying his release or deportation may be imminent; and the World Health Organization is reporting the spread of Ebola could be slowing.

The New Year is without a doubt upon us.

Shots in Paris reverberated around the world this week, providing a sobering reminder that dialogue that dominated headlines and policy circles last year will certainly continue — especially with regards to terrorism, racial and religious tensions, and freedom of the press.

Wednesday’s attack that killed 12 people, including some of France’s best known political cartoonists from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, prompted immediate outrage, sadness and acts of solidarity.

And, with that, suddenly more questions for 2015: will such attacks strengthen our devotion to free speech but meanwhile further flame anti-Islamic sentiments? Why do some attacks lead headlines, inspire hashtags and prompt massive, global rallies, while others less so, such as the unfathomable killing of 132 young students less than a month ago in Pakistan?

Clearly, some events and ensuing debates are harder to see coming. While others require that we plan, prepare and rally our troops (military and otherwise) in advance.

For those crucial trends and turn of events, we asked several leading thinkers to provide their insights into what Canada, and the world, can expect in 2015 in six critical areas: violence, finance, tech, development, climate change, and global order.

The number of questions guiding our coverage this year is far larger than we were able to explore in the features below. For instance, will Canada live up to its recent promise to help resettle 10,000 new Syrian refugees? What will result from Palestine’s membership into the International Criminal Court? And, perhaps most importantly, how will foreign policy factor in this year’s federal election?

We look forward to finding out. In the meantime, let these expert commentaries be your guide to 2015.

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The state of global drug reform is reaching a tipping point. Nowhere is debate, and change, happening as fast as in the Americas, where the past few years alone have seen a drastic shift in marijuana’s legal status in the United States, Uruguay and likely many more regions to come over the next few years. Debate is taking place at a very local level, from Mexico City to Jamaica, and also at the regional and international level, even this month.

Earlier this month, Sept. 3 and 4, Costa Rica hosted the fifth Latin American Conference on Drug Policy; on Tuesday, Sept. 9, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released its new report, Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work, in New York City, with the help of former presidents of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, among others. Then, the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold a special assembly on drugs in Guatemala City, on Sept. 19.

Change in drug policy throughout the Americas could have enormous impact; in inspiring reform worldwide, but also in its effect on communities that have been hit hard by decades of prohibitive laws, which have in many regions turned into militarized efforts to curb the production and transit of drugs. Thousands have been killed, disappeared and displaced as a result of drug-related violence and insecurity. More …



On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the continuing debate surrounding the future of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) norm – used to abrogate sovereignty norms in cases of human rights abuses – has once again reared its head. This series, developed in partnership with the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, explores whether R2P remains an organizing principle of international affairs or if it might irrevocably slide toward irrelevance in the coming years.

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Meet the 2014 #cdnfp Twitterati. This is our latest installment of journalists and writers; politicians and public servants; thinkers and doers and organizations who have a Canadian connection and are actively and consistently engaging on Twitter regarding Canadian foreign policy (#cdnfp) and international affairs. Being on Twitter is one thing – actively engaging the twitterverse in quality dialogue on Canadian foreign policy is another. These picks are our recommended go-to accounts for #cdnfp. Aside from these accounts, we’ve also put together a category on those individuals we would like to see tweeting and lending their voice to the much-needed conversation on Canadian issues. We hope you get acquainted, and join the conversation!

Spread the word! #CICtweet

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The scramble for the Arctic is on. As Canada prepares to take up the chairmanship of the Arctic Council this year, new state and non-state actors are staking their claims to the region, as melting ice creates new risks and opportunities for development. Will these competing claims result in conflict? This In Depth considers the different agendas of the various stakeholders and asks whether clashing interests in the region are inevitable or whether cooler heads will prevail under Canada’s watch. More …

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