Canada’s Human Security Foreign Policy
: Illuminating the Role of Ideas in Soft Power

  • Carla-Robertson Barqueiro

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study entitled, Canada’s Human Security Foreign Policy: Illuminating the Role of Ideas in Soft Power, investigates the role of ideational factors in explaining foreign policy outcomes. Specifically, it examines the context of Canada’s human security foreign policy development from 1996-2001 under former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy. Viewing human security as an idea or political leitmotif allows a more profound understanding of policy, its connection to soft power strategies, and the successful adoption of international human security treaties. To date, most research on human security has asserted the wide depth and scope of its conceptual boundaries make it problematic as a policy tool. Opposing claims have been forwarded as to Canada’s success in human security policy creation and implementation. The study seeks to interrogate these opposing claims in order to push the debates that exist in the literature forward. It is argued that Canada’s human security foreign policy serves to throw into question claims concerning the ineffectiveness of human security as a policy tool, whereby Canada’s use of soft power strategy in pursuit of specific human security issues has allowed it to gain greater power in international affairs. Moreover, a focus on ideational factors that allow for power enhancement to occur serve to push Joseph S. Nye’s initial conceptualization of soft power forward within a wider taxonomy of power dynamics. Illustrated through efforts in developing and implementing its human security foreign policy, the explicit connection between ideas and soft power becomes paramount to understanding the Canadian case. Albeit an idea that informs policy in bounded issue-based contexts, human security and its connection to soft power informs both policy research and academic literature.
The student has requested that this electronic version of the thesis does not include the main body of the work - i.e. the chapters and conclusion. The other sections of the thesis are available as a research resource
Date of Award29 Sept 2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorWilliam Ward Bain (Supervisor) & Michael Charles Williams (Supervisor)

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