SMU hosts think tank for global security

In a time of rising global discord, disruption and disorder, imagine a world without international institutions such as the United Nations and NATO. That was the topic debated November 15 as Saint Mary’s University hosted delegates from the 10th Halifax International Security Forum (HISF).

The public panel discussion is a recent addition to the annual gathering of democratic leaders who are committed to global security, as part of the Forum’s community outreach in Nova Scotia. Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie University co-present the public panel and it took place this year in SMU’s McNally Theatre Auditorium after launching last year at Dalhousie.

“The goal of the Forum is to start conversations between decision makers and opinion leaders from around the world that help shape foreign policy,” said Peter Van Praagh, president of the independent organization, based in Washington, D.C.. “Our partnership with Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s ensures that tomorrow’s leaders have a voice in those discussions.”

Television journalist Mercedes Stephenson, host of The West Block program on Global News, moderated the discussion, with four panellists:   

·        Ayman Mhanna, Executive Director, Samir Kassir Foundation, SKeyes Center;

·        Kenan Rahmani, Advocacy Manager, The Syria Campaign;

·        Antonio Ramalho da Rocha, Professor of International Relations, University of Brasilia; and

·       Daouda Sembene, former Executive Director, International Monetary Fund.

A Q&A session and reception took place after the riveting debate, with excellent questions from the audience of about 125 students, faculty and members of the community.

“As a city with a truly global outlook, Halifax is a fitting site for this esteemed gathering of thinkers and problem solvers,” said Dr. Robert Summerby-Murray, President and Vice-Chancellor of Saint Mary’s. “We are extremely proud to host this year’s very timely public debate over the future of our global institutions.”

The Forum continued from November 16 to 19, with 300 participants representing more than 90 countries. Another highlight was the launch of its new John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service. Cindy McCain, wife of the late U.S. Senator, was in Halifax to present the first award to the people of Lesbos, Greece, for their compassionate support of refugees fleeing hardship in Syria and elsewhere. To see photos, videos and details, visit HSIF online via, on Twitter at @HFXforum, and on Facebook at @Halifaxtheforum.