Canadian Institute of International Affairs

Launched in 1928 by prominent Canadians Sir Robert Borden, Sir Arthur Currie, John W. Dafoe and Sir Joseph Flavelle, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA) is a national, non-partisan, non-governmental organization dedicated to the discussion and analysis of international affairs.

Canadian Institute of International Affairs

Launched in 1928 by prominent Canadians Sir Robert Borden, Sir Arthur Currie, John W. Dafoe and Sir Joseph Flavelle, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA) is a national, non-partisan, non-governmental organization dedicated to the discussion and analysis of international affairs. Following the end of World War I, political apathy and ignorance of international affairs motivated the founding of forums in Britain and the United States to debate current affairs and global issues. Inspired by these precedents, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs sought to prepare Canadians for participation at international conferences such as the Institute of Pacific Relations and, more broadly, to engage effectively in the international sphere. The early organization was characterized by a large degree of autonomy in the various branches across the country. Business people dominated the Winnipeg branch, academics coalesced in Toronto and Vancouver, and in Ottawa government bureaucrats were the majority.

When a grant from the Massey Foundation in 1932 made it possible to appoint Escott Reid as the Canadian Institute of International Affairs' first full-time national secretary, better co-ordination among the branches, ambitious programming and increasing membership and public participation contributed to a more effective central organization and research capacity. Personal contacts precipitated a close relationship between the CIIA and the Department of External Affairs (DEA). Many of the institute's national secretaries, such as Reid, would pursue careers in the public service. Throughout the CIIA's history, its members have investigated the salient issues of the day and have sought to present a diversity of opinions on subjects ranging from Canada's participation in conflict and role in a postwar world to relations with the United States and responsible citizenship in a global community.

Today there are 13 CIIA branches across the country that together organize more than 70 events each year, providing forums for the study and discussion of Canada's position and policies in the world. The national office organizes an annual foreign policy conference, lecture series and policy development workshops. It continues to maintain close co-operation with the DEA (now the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, DFAIT) and other government departments. Linkages with private and voluntary sectors, universities and the media are also regular features of CIIA activities. In June 2006, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs partnered with the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in the new Canadian International Council (CIC), a single umbrella organization to promote public engagement with Canadian foreign policy and international relations. With a $1-million donation from Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research In Motion (RIM), in September 2007, the relationship was deepened to form a new partnership. The CIC pools the capacities and expertise of the CIIA, CIGI and the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, to create a public policy think-tank on Canada's foreign relations. A national fellowship program to support candidates from academia, public service and the business community will be headquartered at the Munk Centre. As part of the arrangement, CIIA operations would be incorporated into the CIC.

The council produces Behind the Headlines, formerly published by the CIIA, and is digitizing materials from the John Holmes Library, a collection of Canadian and international relations resources that will be available online through the IGLOO Network portal and housed at CIGI in Waterloo, Canada. The CIIA publishes International Journal (the first issue appeared in 1946), a noted peer-reviewed scholarly publication on international relations, and online commentary articles in International Insights and International Security Series. Prior to the establishment of the CIC in summer 2007, there were 1385 members of the CIIA, including Canada's leading experts on international affairs in academic, business and government circles.