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A Network of Canadians Working in International Organizations

Prof. Patrick Glenn and Sandra Sahyouni, Associate Legal Officer
Visiting Scholar at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Prof. Patrick Glenn of McGill University’s Law Faculty, and Sandra Sahyouni, Associate Legal Officer with the Special International Tribunal for Lebanon.

On March 31, over a hundred Canadians working in The Hague’s multilateral and international organisations participated in a networking event hosted at the Official Residence by Ambassador James Lambert and his wife, Alexandra Echeverria-Lambert.

The Hague is synonymous with international legal institutions. In 1899 a meeting in the city led to the creation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. That court has been joined by the International Court of Justice, the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the international tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court, and most recently the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Less well known is the other international face of The Hague. The city has hosted the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) since 1997, and is home to NATO’s Consultation Command and Control Agency (NC3A), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration, the UNESCO Institute for Water Education and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. Large EU establishments are also based in the Hague: Europol, Eurojust, the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA/ESTEC) as well as the European Patent Office.

Many of these organizations are places of work for Canadian experts, sometimes under a second nationality. By the Embassy’s count, there are in fact more than 200 such Canadians.

The depth of this talent and experience was very evident at the Embassy-hosted event. The Chief Prosecutor of the STL, Canadian jurist Daniel Bellemare, mingled with recently arrived legal interns at the ICC and OPCW. The Deputy Registrar for the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, Kenneth Roberts, met with chemical weapons inspectors and NATO communications systems engineers. All present – including Dutch officials and Dutch Canadianists — came away impressed by the contributions of these Canadians to the cause of international co-existence. More than global citizens of Canada creating bilateral ties with the Netherlands, these multilateral Canadians are building Marshall McLuhan’s global village as one that cares and finds ways to avoid and mitigate its internal conflicts.

As well, the presence of many senior Dutch Government representatives at the event showed The Netherlands’ appreciation, as host country, for Canada’s financial, human and intellectual leadership in building international stability, peaceful cooperation and rules-based arbitration and decision-making in international disputes. They help make a reality of the motto of The Hague: International City of Peace and Justice.

The Embassy team hosting the event received many enthusiastic responses. All present, and even some who could not be present, warmly welcomed the reminder that they belong to a community and a country which cares deeply about their work.


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