The CAF and Capacity-Building under COVID-19 – Virtual Workshop Panel 5


This event is organized as part of the Capacity-Building in the Age of COVID-19 Virtual Workshop Series.

This fifth workshop will focus on the Canadian Armed Forces under COVID-19. International capacity-building activities became an increasingly large part of what the Canadian Armed Forces does in the world. They allow Canada to make a difference internationally and particularly to contribute to multilateral efforts, while recognizing the limits to Canada’s capacity to deploy large missions for long periods in violent contexts, as in Afghanistan. But the pandemic has posed considerable challenges to these missions. Some missions were suspended, others drawn down, and rotations disrupted, all while the CAF laboured to keep its members healthy and respond to increased demands at home. What has COVID-19 indicated about Canada’s defense and security priorities in capacity-building? What lessons can the CAF learn about overseas military operations under the risk of future pandemics? How have the disparate effects of the pandemic along gender and ethnic lines affected the CAF and its ability to conduct capacity-building activities abroad?

This event will be in French. Participants will be able to ask questions in English.



• Stéphanie Bélanger, Royal Military College Saint-Jean

• LCol Pierre Leroux, Canadian Armed Forces

• Theodore McLauchlin, University of Montreal

• Major Audrey Hudon, Canadian Armed Forces


Capacity Building in the Age of COVID-19: Virtual Workshop Series

In the past decade, in a world with many different security challenges, the disastrous failures of direct interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and straitened budgets after the financial crisis of 2008, capacity-building became an increasingly important tool in international security. As states, international organizations and NGOs sought to bolster their partners’ abilities to deal with security problems in many different domains, including defence, counterinsurgency/counter-terrorism, and peace-building, capacity building was not only regarded as more sustainable over the long term than international intervention, it was also deemed useful to achieve better burden sharing.

The COVID-19 pandemic puts the requirements for and the uses of capacity-building in question. Moving personnel around and working side-by-side with partners now poses new health risks; the economic calamity which has ensued from the pandemic raises searching questions over how states and organizations will change their policy tools. Have states reconsidered their engagement in what were often treated as low-priority missions? Will they, instead, turn all the more to capacity-building so that others can take on security burdens? How have capacity-building needs and mission operations changed with the new emphasis on health security? Are these reversible or likely permanent changes? Will the difficulties of international cooperation be felt in this domain? This series of virtual workshops will address these and related questions. We will explore the state of capacity-building before the pandemic; assess its impacts on capacity-building operations in defence, COIN/CT, and peacekeeping operations; and analyze the challenges posed for the Canadian Armed Forces. The panels will bring together academic experts and policy-making practitioners to learn from each other.


Theodore McLauchlin

Theodore McLauchlin

+1 (514) 343-6111, ext. 47668

Marie-Joëlle Zahar

+1 (514) 343-6111, ext. 20325


Tuesday, December 8, 2020


10:00 - 12:00

Location Online Attendance Mode

Free Registration

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces / Le Ministère de la Défense nationale et les Forces armées canadiennes