TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /CNW/ - The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan remains a topic of intense interest to public and press alike, and will be at the heart of a two-day conference at the University of Toronto April 10th and 11th, "Afghanistan: The Australian and Canadian Experience Compared."
The event brings together military personnel, former or current policymakers and diplomats, and scholars from the two countries, to discuss and debate their respective experiences in the conflict.
Scheduled participants include: former Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan Chris Alexander; former Afghan Ambassador to Canada Omar Samad; Major-General Jonathan Vance, former Commander of Task Force Kandahar; Australian Major-General Michael Smith; and the Hon. Bill Graham, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Defence. Commentators and session chairs include Michael Ignatieff, Brian Stewart, Margaret MacMillan, and John English. In presentations and panel discussions, scholars and participants will explore the military, diplomatic, political, economic and other dimensions of the Afghan conflict since 2002.
The conference is sponsored by the newly created Centre for Contemporary International History, at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Trinity College in the University of Toronto, along with the Canadian Forces College and Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy.
"Afghanistan is still in the headlines and it's the subject of passionate debate," said the Centre's Program Coordinator, Dr. Jack Cunningham. "But in Canada we haven't looked much at the experiences of others in the same war, to see what there is in our own experience that's unique, and what's similar to other countries."
Australia and Canada are both "middle powers" and share important cultural influences, but each has a history that's unique. "Our Director, John English, and I think this makes for some interesting comparisons, and we are delighted to team up with our Australian colleagues to make this conference happen," says Cunningham.
This is the Centre's inaugural conference, and Cunningham sees it as a first big step in fulfilling its mandate to promote study and discussion of recent international events among the foreign policy community and the wider public.
"One of our strengths will be bringing together scholars and students with participants in the international events we study, and this time we have high-ranking military officers, former ambassadors and a former foreign minister, along with some of our most distinguished historians and political analysts, and we also have a number of soldiers from the Forces College," he said. "The discussions will be interesting in their own right and we think they'll contribute to a wider debate.
"That's why we'll make as many of the presentations as we can available online, and we're planning a volume of conference papers. We have a topic and a program that will interest a broad audience."
For further information:
Contact: Jack Cunningham, 416-420-0985 or [email protected]