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CIC NCB Ottawa: More Border Walls in a Borderless World

October 26, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm EDT

The Canadian International Council – National Capital (Ottawa) Branch presents:


A Keynote Address and Armchair Conversation with Professor Élisabeth Vallet

TIME CHANGE: NOW 26 October 2023, 5:30 pm EST (In-Person)



The post-Cold War evolution towards a global village was an illusion that lasted only a decade. At the turn of the 21st century, the euphoria worn out and the world found itself facing endless wars, asymmetrical threats, regional conflicts, advances in communication technologies/AI, pandemics, and climate change. Without the ability to develop multilateral solutions in a dysfunctional international system, States have turned to small-scale, local, ad hoc solutions. While the idea of erecting barriers between countries is centuries old, the phenomenon has taken on a scale unprecedented in history.

There were fewer than five border walls in the world at the end of the Second World War, and less than a dozen at the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, which seemed to mark the victory of democracy and herald the obsolescence of borders in favour of an era of expanding capitalism and liberalism. Sometimes perceived as mere lines between two sovereign states, sometimes not even clearly demarcated, borders used to be somewhat (but not always) more flexible and permeable than they are today. This was particularly true in the aftermath of the Cold War.

Today, there are indeed many border fences erected in Europe and elsewhere. Both the US-Mexico border wall and the Israeli border fence have become emblematic for many reasons, but there are more than 75 other border walls erected around the world. And the fences erected since 2015 in Europe do signal a significant shift in border studies. One can consider that all border fortifications are independent from one another since they are unilaterally erected by a sovereign state on its own territory.

Another way to see it though, would be to address the issue as a global trend that is spreading out following political webs and fears, without always addressing the issues they are designed to address. In the face of emerging transboundary issues, many see a solution in value-based multilateralism for peace and prosperity. Within this context, the question remains, does Canada and other like-minded democratic countries have a role to play within the current and anticipated strategic environment that is dominated by disinformation and alternative facts that are designed to compromise democratic values and international institutions.

It is no secret that during the office of M. Chrétien, Canada was a major proponent of multilateralism. During that period, Canada became internationally known for the advancement of the human security concept, in particular, the Ottawa Treaty – a landmark global treaty banning anti-personnel landmines, as well as for establishing the International Criminal Court and the Protocol on child soldiers, etc.



Élisabeth Vallet is an Associate Professor at RMCC-Saint Jean. She is also Director of the Center for Geopolitical Studies of the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies, and an Affiliate Professor at the Department of Geography at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM).

She has been the Quebec lead for the Borders in Globalization program and is currently a co-researcher for the Borders in the 21st Century Program (University of Victoria). She is the recipient of the 2017 Richard Morrill Outreach Award from the AAG’s Political Geography Specialty Group. She is a regular columnist for the Canadian National Network (Radio-Canada) and for the newspaper Le Devoir. Her current research focuses on borders and globalization, border walls and governance. She is regularly invited to speak abroad (in 2023: University of Turin, European University Viadrina, ACSUS etc.) and to broadcast her work in renowned media (CNN, The Washington Post, the Economist, Asahi Shimbun for example).



This event will be in-person.

Click here to register for the event; after registering you will receive a confirmation email.

This event is free for CIC members; others must register as guests ($25/person).

The event will be held at the Telfer School of Management’s Centre for Executive Leadership, Room 215, Suite 200, 99 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 6B9.


October 26, 2023
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm EDT
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Telfer School of Management
99 Bank Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6B9 Canada
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Canadian International Council – National Capital (Ottawa) Branch
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