Keynote address.

JurisdictionUnited States
AuthorMcCarney, Rosemary A.
Date22 March 2016

TABLE OF CONTENTS I. Introduction II. Borders Thick and Thin A. The Bilateral-Multilateral Relationship III. The Bilateral Relationship by the Numbers IV. Translating the Bilateral Relationship Multilaterally A. Human Rights B. Human Displacement C. How will we recover when the best among us behave no differently than the worse among us? V. Advancing Our Common, Multilateral Objectives Together A. On Defense and Disarmament B. United Nations Peacekeeping Operations C. Development VI. 40 Years Later, What is Our Shared Multilateral Agenda? A. Cyber B. The Arctic C. Space D. Weapons and Technology I. INTRODUCTION

In the 40 years since the Institute was birthed--the vision of a small handful of people led by Sidney Picker, Professor of International Law at Case Western Reserve University, the Institute has mirrored and captured the dynamics of the world's most profound bilateral relationship. The Institute was birthed BEFORE the first Free Trade Agreement and when acid rain, softwood lumber and Canada's Foreign Investment Review Act ("FIRA") were the defining trans-border issues of the time. (1) Gerald Ford was in the White House and Pierre Elliot Trudeau was the Canadian Prime Minister.

Excellencies, Deans, Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a pleasure to be here and to see old classmates, professors, law firm colleagues, Members of the Advisory Board and friends--and--to remember and celebrate icons in the history of the Institute no longer with us, like Henry T. King. Many of you were here at the beginning and 40 years later remain committed to the vision of the Institute.

That vision is as important today, if not more so, well, certainly more so, than it was 40 years ago. To understand the workings of our respective nearest neighbor, to reduce or eliminate the inevitable friction from sharing a continent and the world's longest border, to enhance and leverage areas of common interest and to do so through student and faculty changes, comparative scholarly research and annual gatherings like this week--to look back on this one of a kind bilateral relationship and learn--and to look forward and do better.

Much has changed and much remains the same, we took care of things like the FIRA acid rainfall has been reduced, but of course, softwood lumber remains with us--although with perhaps renewed energy to resolve that long lived trade dispute in our life times. (2) The border hasn't shrunk in length but it has gone through cycles of thickening and thinning from a trade flow perspective, from a security perspective, from an environmental perspective--although the 40 year trend line would certainly suggest a strong propensity to thinning while respecting our two great and different systems of government and our robust democratic traditions.


    The border is a defining part of our respective identities--most of the intellectual investment of our time has been to reflect on this border--how to protect it for some purposes, how to eliminate it for other purposes, or at least to make it firm but more efficient. I have always found political, geographic, and physical borders fascinating. Since I left the Institute as a young law student, I have worked in over 100 countries, so I have crossed a lot of borders! Some thick with child soldiers, militias, and bureaucracies, some thin and unguarded, some friendly, and others not so. I have crossed them in any number of strange vehicles including canoes. I have waded across a few carrying my pack on my head and sometimes a few children in my arms and have crossed in my share of animal pulled carts. The thing about borders is they are seldom visible or troublesome until there is a problem.

    In contemplating the opportunity to speak to you, all students and experts on this rather magical border that divides the continent into Canada and the United States, I was forced to reflect on what could possibly be new to say. What has not been said about the Canada-United States border and the relationship that grows out of it, after all?!

    1. The Bilateral-Multilateral Relationship

    There are two things that I thought I might be able to contribute from my current vantage point. Because, as Sidney Picker said in his kind introduction, that while I have moved from a bilateral lens to a multilateral lens in my career as I moved beyond the Canada-United States border, what has become clear to me as I worked around the world is that most things multilateral begin from a healthy bilateral or plurilateral foundation, in any event.

    Because the Canada-United States Law Institute has rightfully had a strong focus on the bilateral aspects of Canada and the United States, I thought it might be interesting to first size up that bilateral relationship as it looks today and secondly, reflect on how that very mature, yet constantly changing bilateral relationship interacts with the world. Because, while I may have started as a student of bilateralism here at the Institute, over the years I became a decidedly strong advocate of plurilateralism and multilateralism. Some of it may have been birthed in the clear limitations of being the smaller partner in a two state marriage with the United States characterized by a former Canadian Prime Minister as "being in bed with an elephant." But I think more of it came from an increasing acceptance that the major challenges facing both countries today are global, interconnected, and...

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