Cleveringa Dallaire Critical Conversations #2 - 2021-09-29
1:06AM Sep 30, 2021
When Canadian Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire commanded United Nations forces during the Rwandan genocide, few beyond the military were aware of the severe psychological damage that witnessing such moral atrocities can cause. Dallaire's revelation that he suffered from PTSD and moral injury in the Rwandan conflict helped de-stigmatize these potentially devastating mental conditions among military veterans. It also helped us understand how all of us can experience moral injury in our daily lives. As we live through the aftershocks of a global pandemic, racial injustice, and the rise of extremist violence around the world, there's no better time to have a conversation about trauma, recovery, and moral courage. How do we build resilience? Collective hope. How can we embrace humanity and human connection? Join the conversation as we work together to build upon General Dallaire's call for transformative change, and an engaged approach to leadership in the face of moral dilemmas.
Hello, and welcome, or welcome back. My name is Dr. Eric Vermetten. I'm a psychiatrist and professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and a military officer in the Dutch armed forces. I'm joined by my co-host, Dr. Suzette Bremault-Phillips, an occupational therapist and an associate professor at the University of Alberta. How are you, Suzette?
I'm doing well. Thank you, Eric.
It's my great pleasure to welcome you to the second of the Cleveringa Dallaire Critical Conversations sessions. We were pleased with the overwhelmingly positive reviews of the first session. We are, again, excited that people have joined us from all over the world, and all walks of life. In this second session, we have representatives from 28 different countries. We look forward to engaging with you all, and all your international partners. For those who are new, we're so glad you are with us for today's webinar, The Cost of Leadership and Moral Courage. This webinar is one of eight in a series, honoring the Cleveringa chair that was awarded by Leiden University to General Romeo Dallaire in November 2020. Born in the Netherlands, General Dallaire is a celebrated Canadian, who has exemplified moral courage, the key focus of the Cleveringa professorship.
During this series, General Dallaire, and esteemed colleagues from around the world, will reflect with us on issues related to complex ambiguous moral and ethical dilemmas. These times, overshadowed by issues associated with a global pandemic climate change, racialization, threats of terror, and a call for reconciliation, highlight the need for engaged leaders who can inspire and actualize transformative culture change. This series aims to provide a context for such a conversation.
Before we start, some things to note, General Dallaire's experience is the thread that weaves the sessions together. The conversation will often come back to the themes of his experience. We're delighted that General Dallaire is, again, part of the panel. As you may be aware, these sessions will continue through the last session on November 10th, in honor of Remembrance Day. Each session is a maximum of 90 minutes long. You registered and received the livestream link for this specific session. If you wish to follow all of the conversations, you need to register for each separate event. And please, share this event with colleagues, with friends. And you can post it on social media if you like.
We're also aware that some of the content that will be discussed today and in the future may be difficult for some to hear, or trigger past experiences and memories. We encourage you to honor you, and your experience, and seek local supports and services if needed. We would also love to hear your questions and comments. Please let us know what you think. You can share your thoughts by using the Question or Remarks box on the Leiden events page. We'll do our best to address questions that are posted. Finally, the sessions will be recorded, and made available immediately following the event on the Leiden University events page. Now as we start the conversation, we'd like to first begin with a land acknowledgement from from Dr. Tammy Hopper.
Hello, I am Tammy Hopper, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, home to HiMARC, at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. When we acknowledge territory, such as we do at the beginning of a meeting like this one, it is a small but important act of reconciliation, and thus on this day, I would like to acknowledge that the University of Alberta is located on the traditional territory of Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, and Ojibway / Saulteaux / Anishinaabe nations; lands that are now known as part of Treaties 6, 7, and 8 and homeland of the Métis. The University of Alberta respects the sovereignty, lands, histories, languages, knowledge systems, and cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit nations. Thank you for listening, and joining me in this moment of reflection.
So, we would now like to introduce General Romeo Dallaire, who will offer to us some opening remarks. Dear General, dear Romeo, may I give you the floor?
And that's always dangerous when you give it to a retired General, and also retired senator, because brevity is not our strength. I will discipline myself, however, as I see Bert [Koender] there, who is also a parliamentarian, and has demonstrated enormous strength in our work on our International Commission on the Principles of Peace. I'm glad he is joining us today.
We stumbled into a new era—they call it the Postmodern era, the Beyond Westphalian era—of conflict. And the nature of the conflicts, the ambiguities of the mandates, the complexities of the scenarios in which we have fallen into, were not prepared, were not planned, were not anticipated. As we, certainly security forces, we're still very much locked into a Eurocentric, classic use of force. And on the contrary, this era is an era where in fact in use of force is, sort of your last resort, in extremis. Just look at responsibility to protect. But in that complex and ambiguous mandate arena, we in the field find ourselves caught up with ethical and moral and legal dilemmas that defy any of the experiences that we could have imagined, from the places from which we come from.
The ability of humanity to be inhuman to each other knows no bounds. And because of that, it sins profoundly against some of our references, of what we are, who we are, what's what's our soul, our being. And these extraordinary, challenging scenarios, simply eat away at your ability to handle the moral dilemmas, the ethical dilemmas, and ultimately do create an injury of the mind. Because you've lost your ability to objectively look at the references of your past. And so. the question is, how do you lead in such a scenario? And how do you handle the depth of the moral injury subsequently? Well, the first thing is, you lead by the just and responsible capabilities that you have, and for those who serve with you and those who are trying to achieve the mission that you've been given. And that in itself is an extraordinary impetus to continue to ride the adrenaline of the mission. However, there is also a limit to that. There is a breaking point. There is a point where that simply won't sustain you anymore. And it happened to me when the war ended, and I saw the sort of attempts at normalcy that were coming back in. The forgetting of what we had lived and seen, smelled, touched. That absence on the part of the people coming in. It just was too much to be able to handle, and I, ultimately, was not able to continue to command. And I took that decision to be relieved because I had lost my sense of humor, I'd lost my sense of perspective, and I believed I was becoming a risk to the mission.
And so, as much as you can handle, there is a point where being able to realize that you have people with you, who assist you in realizing, that maybe that point has been reached. And so, I would argue, that you can lead in these absolutely immoral scenarios. But you are suffering a very subtle and vicious injury of the mind, that is affecting you right down to the depths of your soul. And that, at one point, that injury is of enormous impact and lasting. And so, as my Institute is working with veterans on how to do this research of attenuating, that impact, of helping them prepare before, how we handle it in the field to sustain the leadership and troops, and ultimately, how do we pick up the pieces afterwards and bring normalcy. I am overjoyed at the Canadian government, finally looking at moral injury as a deeper and more profound injury than, yeah, PTSD, Although both, in the end, and I will end with this terrible statement, is that both are injuries that can be terminal. And the prevention of suicide is one of the gravest and most complex responsibilities of leadership in our era. So I wish you well in this debate, and thank you for joining us. Thank you, Eric.
Thank you, General for these provocative and insightful preliminary remarks, setting the stage for today's conversation. We now look forward to engaging Suzette with the moderator and the speakers about the ideas that you just laid out as a template for the conversation. The moderator for the session that we have today is Professor Dr. Alice Aiken. Professor Aiken is the Vice President of Research and Innovation at Dalhousie University. She served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 14 years. She's a co-founder and former scientific director of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran's Health research. We're very glad to have you with us as a moderator today. Alice. Please, may we give you the word to start the session?
Thank you, Eric, and Suzette, and General Dallaire. I'm truly honored to be here today to speak with this esteemed panel on the topic of moral injury. When we were starting CIMVHR, the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research, it was really to coordinate strong research activities around military and veteran health. And there were a few concepts that we didn't speak about at that time. Well, one is not a concept. One is families. We didn't speak about families. People didn't research families. The General is nodding his head. But families, you know, it was "dependents, furniture, and effects", right? You know, families... that changed over time, but families were not spoken about at the time. And that research has come leaps and bounds. And you know, we're thrilled and proud of that.
The other concept that hadn't come up was that of moral injury. And I really credit the General and others who brought that concept forward. And I am so thrilled to host this panel with three incredible people who have outstanding perspectives on this. And I'm going to ask them to introduce that—I'll tell you their names and what they do—but I'm going to ask them to introduce themselves, because no one can give you a better idea of what they've done than they can. So, I will say who they are, and then I will turn to each of them individually to introduce themselves. The format we're going to use for this panel is, we will do it as a question and answer, and we'll go around each of our panelists with, we've got some questions that we have thought of that will bring this topic to light, and then we will open it to the audience to turn to your questions.
So, our three panelists are professor Dr. Bert Koenders, who works in the Faculty of Law at the University of Leiden, and his focus is on peace, justice and liberty. Captain Navy retired Ken Hoffer for who was in the Royal Canadian Navy. He's a veteran, and does some work with the Dallaire Institute, which is located here at Dalhousie University. And Deirdre Carbery, who's also a veteran, and a gender advisor, and served with UN and NATO forces. So I'm going to turn the microphone first to Dr. Koenders, to introduce himself.
Thank you very much. And thank you very much for the short introduction. My name is Bert Koenders. For me, it's an enormous honor to be on this panel with General Dallaire. To be very short about my own past, I'm actually from the world of peacekeeping and the world of politics. So a little bit like General Dallaire. He was just introducing himself as a senator, but of course, he is much more than I, a military man, A General. And I've been head of two peacekeeping missions as a civilian. Special Representative of the Secretary General, as they call this. One in Ivory Coast in West Africa, and the other one in Mali. All between 2011 and 2014. And I have been very much inspired by the work of General Dallaire, not only because he was talking about moral injury this morning—for you this morning for us this this afternoon—but also because I think it's absolutely key to see how he as a, I would say, principled pragmatist is now working in a larger Commission, of which I'm also a member, and he was mentioning. To look how we could rebuild peace building in a time of enormous moral injury, with no respect for international humanitarian law, with proxy wars, with a complete lack of any limits to warmaking in internal conflict.
My second part, and we'll come back to that in the discussion, so I won't mention it right now. Mostly, my life has been in politics. I've been the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and also the Minister for International Cooperation. I have been a member of parliament for nine years. And in depth, responsibility, I've mostly worked with the responsibility for taking part in the decision-making around peace and war and international development. And I think when we talk about moral leadership and politics, that's a topic in itself, as you know. The whole issue of leadership in politics is a very controversial one right now. And I think it's important to be part of that discussion, as well, as many of the soldiers and civilians sent out in very, very risky missions—responsibilities that are taken, often, by politics. And the question is, do they do this right, or wrong? Or do they take very mistaken decisions? Last, I work in the University of Leiden. We have ----- Global Governance Institute, and I'm very happy that Professor Dallaire is a visiting professor there, so this makes the circle round.
Thank you Dr. Koenders. Captain Hoffer.
Well, good afternoon from Halifax, as well. And this is such a privilege, Alice and the General. Eric and Suzette, thank you very much for the invite to participate. My career actually started out when I was a young child. I'm a son of an Air Force pilot, and so I had exposure to the military and all of the traditions that go with it firsthand. I decided I would join the Navy right after college, trying to find my way in, you know, in terms of a career path. And when I look in my—I'm sitting in my den here—and I have a certificate on my bulkhead, as we say in the Navy, which really is my commissioning scroll. And, you know, in joining the Navy, or in joining any military force, there is a saying on that commissioning scroll. It says "We reposing special trust in your loyalty, confidence and integrity." And then it goes on to say, well, "We ------ to exercise and well-discipline your subordinates." And from the beginning of that point that I received that scroll, in my 35 years in the Royal Canadian Navy. You know, I wasn't a perfect leader at the beginning but you pick up experience on various operations, and I had the opportunity to deploy about midway through my career to East Timor during the crisis. And it was there that I realized that, you know, we really need to start looking not just in terms of, you know, peacekeeping operations in the military sense, but how do we prepare our people? How do we prepare our minds before we go into an area of conflict? And I can share a story a little later on, but it was quite an eye-opener for me. And throughout the rest of my career in the various command positions I had at sea and ashore, and in, ultimately, that led to the future operation and planning for OP APOLLO, which was our first rotation to Afghanistan. All these lessons, and all of this experience, I feel helped to make me a better leader in terms of understanding what it was to connect with my people or with my subordinates, with my superiors, and understand the importance of preparing an individual to meet not just the threat in terms of operations and tactics. But to meet in terms of the level of emotion in understanding the context. Unfortunately, we're not there yet.
When I retired from the Canadian Forces, or Canadian Navy, in 2012, I got involved with veterans issues. And, you know, in talking with veterans—and the General knows this, I'm sure, Bert knows this as well—that there's some underlying issues that they still face. And it's not just the PTSD. We're very quick to put that label on it. But this under... festering wound, as I put it, continues to eat away at their moral fabric. And we haven't solved this problem, or how to address it properly, I think. It was shortly after I started working with veterans that I came across General Dallaire's program. A program called Veterans Trained to Eradicate Child Soldiers that I got involved with. And after doing the preliminary course, I was privileged to go off and facilitate training of foreign troops, peacekeeping troops, in Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Sierra Leone, etc. And you see the same issues coming forward. People not understanding the mandate or, you know, suffering through previous engagements or encounters with scenes and sights and activities or actions that they took that they're not terribly proud of. So, this is quite an honor, again to wrap it up, quite an honor to sit in and discuss these issues in greater detail. Thank you.
Thank you, and Deirdre Carbery
Thank you, Alice. And again, to echo what Ken has said, a complete honor to join you in this discussion. And General Dallaire, you were very much one of the reasons, after stealing, 'Shake Hands with the Devil' out of my dad's bookcase, when I was about 12 years of age. And that's really what—everything that was contained in that book was really what inspired me to look outside myself and to see how I could, I guess, serve my country and try and serve, what many would consider in the military, a 'higher cause'. My name is Deirdre Carbery. And as Alice mentioned, I am a veteran of the Irish Defence Forces. I was an infantry officer. I served for 15 years. But in addition to that, during my time in the military, and now outside, I'm also a gender and human security adviser. And what that means, essentially, is that it's my job to know people, to understand social dynamics, assess how power is distributed, I challenge bias and assumptions, analyze communities, and look at the different security threats affecting women, men, girls and boys. And while the subject matter has been difficult, while it's been very uncomfortable at times, it's also given me what I feel is maybe a unique perspective, and certainly I hope to be able to contribute to today's discussion. I have delivered training and education to the Canadian Armed Forces. ----- peace support training school, I continue to deliver training and education to both the Irish Defence Forces and in the UK defence Academy on gender and human security. And I guess my training, my experience, my education, and my overseas deployments to Lebanon and to the Democratic Republic of Congo, has kind of evolved my thinking, and I've learned a huge amount about myself, but also about our own militaries and how societies are organized.
And I guess through my overseas deployments, I certainly feel I witnessed some of the very best, but also some of the very worst aspects of humanity. In countries ravaged by war, ravaged by conflict, and where, you know, sexual violence, poverty, are issues. And I think there's, so many commonalities with what we're facing around the world, when we look at our troop-contributing countries, when we look at our Peace Operations. And when we look at barriers to effective Peace Operations, that we certainly might be able to identify some actions we can take as individual citizens, but also some collective actions we can take as groups, as organizations, and as societies as well. To overcome these barriers, and really look at how we define success in the context of Peace Operations. And essentially, how can we do better? And that's really what I'm focused on at the moment. It's how we operationalize a lot of our policies, and a lot of the training and the amazing training and education that we deliver in our training institutions, but very often we don't see this manifest itself in a positive way on the ground. And I guess to echo, as well, some of what Ken has said, since leaving the military as well, I now work as a gender and diversity and inclusion advisor within our own veterans organization.
And here in Ireland, the organization of national ex-service personnel, and like that, seeing how trauma is manifesting itself in very different ways. How women and men and individuals have had very different experiences of their service, and how that is affecting them, now in their civilian life. And I guess it's about providing equity of opportunity for those individuals to overcome that, but also to reach their own individual potential. And that involves not having a one-size-fits-all approach. And in addition to that, I work as the chair of the gender equality and women's empowerment panel for the World Health Innovation Summit. And we're responsible for progressing the UN sustainable development goals around health, and again, looking at overcoming barriers to equitable access to health care. And a lot of our work is centered on conflict-related sexual gender-based violence, and intimate partner violence, as well, and how this tears away at the very social fabric of our communities and our society. So, I'm delighted to join your discussions today and am looking forward to hearing the experiences of the other panelists. Thank you.
Thank you, Deirdre. So I want to dive right in, and start with a question. And I'll come to each of you in turn. But how do you understand moral leadership? What do you understand it to be? And what does leadership look like during moral dilemmas? So Bert, I'll turn to you first.
Thank you very much for that incredibly difficult question. Let's be open about it. Because moral leadership is not only difficult to define, it is even much more difficult to do. Let me just give you a few things that might help that discussion. In my view, it's not a list, where you take on what is morally good or morally bad. It has a lot to do with, you know, your own positioning in a position of leadership, and the realization that you can constantly fail—and I did fail a lot in these peacekeeping operations. We had, in Mali, the highest casualty rate of UN blue helmets, and it's still the case.
So how do you create moral leadership in a situation of limited means, enormous complexity? Let me mention a few things. One is not a 'lessons learned', but never underestimate evil. I think it's very important to say that. We are sometimes thinking, even if we see a lot of evil, that things are not part of the often wishful thinking you see in our operations. Secondly, put yourself always first in the eyes of those who don't have power, because they need you. Not the people who you normally think of in your own community or in your own group or even in your own leadership group. There are people who need your decisions. So you have to assume... I think in French there is a great word for that, 'assumez la responsabilité', the buck stops with you. That's not the same as arrogance. That's not the same as knowing everything. That's not the same as not consulting. But it's realizing that, in the end, the buck stops with you, and that you must be willing—and I think that's one of the most difficult things, and I was definitely not always able to do that, at all—is to not only let yourself be informed well, be not a know-it-all, inspire your people, but also be engaged in opposing them all, when it's necessary. And pay the price for that. Not because you want to rebel, because you're a rebel, that doesn't make any sense. A compromise might actually make a very good outcome in a moral dilemma. It's not always either-or. In many cases it is, but not always. And I would say, dare to oppose the community you're part of, in the face of evil, and in the face of mistakes that could be made. And that is sometimes extremely difficult, because you pay possibly a high price. You might be wrong, to begin with. And secondly, you might be lynched, so to speak, in the public arena of social media. I'm talking about also a little bit, not only in mission, but in my own political positions that I've had. You are part of a 24-hour news cycle. You are part of a community. You want to engage, and you have to engage, you're not a loner, but you have to contradict when necessary.
Another point I think is important about this 'assumez la responsabilité' is, you know, you have to be very clear that for those people, you're talking about the powerless, you have to use your power to avoid evil. And that means that sometimes, and... I was always very inspired by Hannah Arendt, who wrote obviously, about fascism, and the whole time of that period. I think it comes to leadership. And that's difficult, you have to be not only listening to your instincts, and your consciousness, and your moral compass, but you have to talk to yourself. You have to stand back a little bit when there is evil. And when there is a very difficult choice to be made, because we're talking about this ultimate decision, isn't it? Of course, there are all kinds of regular decisions in leadership and governance and so on. But when it really comes there, you have to realize that you have to talk to yourself. And Hannah Arendt, said also talk to yourselves. It's the life we live, and the standing back, and talk to yourself. Is this the right decision? And even if it's to be quick, you have to stand back, and I have not always done that. It's an enormously difficult thing. Then you have to be able to stand in front of the curve. You know, mostly decisions are logical after the fact, but not necessarily before the fact, so I think that's also a certain amount of, and that's not seeming to be you know, it's not an awful thing, but you have to be willing to be lonely in this decision, if necessary.
And the last thing because, look, I'm not an expert on psychology and psychiatry and trauma. You are. But it's... you know, don't fear in the end doubt, but fear procrastination. I have, and it's not easy to take decisions. I like to have all the arguments for and against endlessly and be informed well, and I think that's necessary. There are lots of people who just take decisions out of instinct. But don't fear the doubt that you have. At some point, you have to take a decision. And the fear for procrastination is... procrastination is actually, in many times, worse.
For my last point. A moral compass or moral leadership—and these are high words, because we're only humble human beings, and we make mistakes all the time—could never, in my view, should never be based on ideology or identity, but always on values and understanding. It's easier said than done. But I think that's also a matter of moral compass, in moments of very existential decisions. And last point, sometimes the choice is between two bads. I mean bad in terms of B-A-D, not bed as in B-E-D. It's really, and especially in peacekeeping missions, and General Dallaire and the other colleagues who have worked in peacekeeping know, that this is much more in our missions, in situations, there is no war nor peace, there are asymmetric threats, it's extremely complex what to do and what not to do. You often don't have the support that you need, but you still have to decide. And sometimes it's a choice between two bad ones, and that should be realized.
So these are a few things that I would say, and form them together in a word that has been very well explained by the famous sociologist Max Weber. In the last century, you have in German the 'verantwortungsethik' and the 'gesinnungsethik'. And that basically means you have the ethics of good intentions, and you always have to have good intentions, hopefully. But much more important is the ethics of the consequences. It's much easier to say "I'm good, I have these great ideas based on my identity or ideology, or religion, and I have my moral compass." But I think always the big issue around moral leadership, and where you often fail, but try to be, is think through in sort of the battle through all these institutions we're in, be it in politics or in the military or at universities. They're never ideal circumstances. But you have to say, "What does my decision do, in terms of the consequences?" That's the best ethical compass you can have. And that is not easy, because there is always doubt about the future.
Thank you very much. Ken, we'll turn to you. How do you understand moral leadership? And what does leadership look like during moral dilemmas?
Yeah, thanks. And I won't... Bert stole all my good information, so... no, quite frankly, I can add quite a bit to it. One of the hardest things that a leader, a moral leader, has to do is navigate through these various spheres of challenges. You know, whether it's your personal moral code, or you're dealing with the moral traditions, or the traditions and ethics of a particular institution, it's extremely—and then, what, how you're dealing with the issues that are in theater of operation, whether it be peacekeeping or combat. It's a constant battle in your mind, to maneuver through all of these, all these dynamic changes that are going on, and try to maintain, as Bert mentioned, maintain your moral compass. Having, in my experience, it had a lot to do with communication and teamwork, in terms of developing the team. And so that you need to develop, as a moral leader, you need to develop a level of communication that clearly articulates to your subordinates that you've got their backs, you understand that they've got some concerns, whether it's family concerns, or operational concerns, and your going to try to mitigate as many of those stressors as you can, in terms of trying to help them out. So it's an important aspect in terms of building that team, building a coherent team, that's able to go into a theater of operation well-prepared, well-trained.
And as I mentioned earlier, in my opening remarks, making sure that they're not just physically well-trained, but they're mentally well-trained. They're strengthened, they've got their—I always use an analogy that, you know, if I put a uniform on, it doesn't remove my humanity. It's not an invisible shield, and if I put my Kevlar on, my armor, my body armor, that doesn't make me impervious to wounds, as General Dallaire was mentioning, impervious to moral injury. I've always tried to inculcate that into my subordinates and into my team, before we go into a deployed operation. And unfortunately, as an ethical leader, or as a moral leader. That's not always possible. A lot of Canadian—and I, I know that there are other militaries and other organizations that are out there that are being thrown in to the lions, without a clear mandate, or without clear direction, or without a level of response, a level of support in the background. That helps us to not only cope, operationally, with equipment and maintain a certain high degree of readiness, but they're going in there virtually blind, morally blind, if you will, in terms of trying to do their job. And as I mentioned at the beginning, it becomes difficult not just for the leader, but it becomes difficult for every individual on that team to navigate their own personal moral codes and navigate around the various ethical issues that surround the institution and the traditions of the institution, if they don't have direction, proper direction. And so it becomes difficult then in the moral dilemma aspect, it becomes difficult to adhere to standards. It becomes difficult to respect a degree of professionalism that's required of every soldier, every sailor, every aeronaut—we use 'aeronaut' now—in their operation.
And so, to me, it's critical that a moral leader, as Bert was saying, he accepts that responsibility and is willing to put his neck out on the line, his or her neck on the line, to look after their people and to make sure that they're well-prepared before going into the field. So that you're able to address the context of the operation that you're in. And without that, you know, you're doomed to failure. You know, not only as a unit, you will fail, whether it be a ship or a battalion, etc. But the nation is doomed to fail, you know, is going to have to wear it. Because that shoulder flash that you have on your shoulder—the Canadian flag, or Rwandan flag, or a US flag, or any nation at all—if you can't cope with the issues and respond accordingly in the field, there could be some negative consequences. And I think, you know, the recent issues going on in Afghanistan is a classic example that we haven't learned yet. It's a dilemma.
Yeah, yes. Dierdre, we'll turn to you, and how do you understand moral leadership? And what does leadership look like during moral dilemmas?
I think a lot of great points have been covered. But for me, it really is all about the values piece, and being able to look at myself in the mirror. And previously, I would have instructed in our United Nations training school, and a lot of our training centered on child soldiers, protection of civilians, conflict-related sexual gender-based violence, and I had a commanding officer, David Foley at the time. And every day, no matter how hard it was, or how stressed we were in relation to resources, he would always say to me, "Deirdre, it's not about us, it's about the affected population, it's about the women and men and children that we are mandated to protect. So whatever we can do here to prepare our troops, and you know, we have to do the best with what we have." And I think that that values piece, and values-based leadership and living those values, not just preaching those values but providing value for others, to the most vulnerable, and I guess some greater meaning and motivation for people to live by. That's what it is for me. And when things are challenging or I feel like giving up or taking an easier path, I guess I tend to tell myself, or at least remind myself, of that fact. It's not about me. And I think you know, when I look at moral leadership, it's about doing the right thing, even when, obviously, people aren't looking, but also when the culture doesn't support us. And we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders. Leadership is a massive, massive responsibility. And I think moral leadership is really challenging. But leadership, and I mean, real leadership not just a command position or a senior signing title, but at any level of any organization, it shouldn't be easy. And we should be constantly challenged, as leaders, and proactively seek opinions that differ from our own, or experiences that differ from, you know, what we've had in the past.
We should always challenge our biases and practice, proactively practice that self-reflection piece. And ask ourselves at regular intervals, "Am I practicing what I'm preaching?" And I think effective moral leadership really involves being accountable to ourselves, but also holding others accountable for, maybe, inaction. And I think that that's quite difficult and uncomfortable, at times, as well. But what does it look like during moral dilemmas? It looks like, oftentimes, going against the grain. And I use the terms 'challenging', 'difficult' and 'conflicting', because that's how I felt when I've been put in those situations. Where I know what the right thing is. But when I look back at my younger self, maybe I didn't have the confidence and certainly in a military command structure it is difficult to be that person in the room that puts puts your hand up or, you know, pops your head above the group and questions what's been said, or questions a particular plan. Because I think there's huge pressure on us all to conform. So I think it's like doing the right thing, as I said, when the culture doesn't maybe support it. And I think inevitably things will go wrong, or things won't go to plan. But it's how we deal with it, is really how we should be judged. And I think this isn't something that just happens. Moral leadership needs to be nurtured. And it needs to be encouraged. And when we make mistakes, that needs to be accepted as well, and there has to be learnings from that. And we need to see our leaders model this behavior. And we need to grow the seeds of moral leadership in children and in our younger leaders, as well, and in our future generations. But I really think this isn't an easy task. And particularly in this modern world we live in, where being selfless has been replaced by the Selfie, we have a serious uphill task.
Thank you Deirdre. I'm going to ask General Dallaire if he would mind commenting on what he's heard.
You're very kind. I pretentiously put my hand up. I wish to bring up an example, that I hope is helpful, to excellent arguments that are both wonderful, and Ken, from your experience and Deirdre, the same thing, from your experience. On the 11th of January 1994, I produced the fax that I sent to New York, essentially saying that we had information that there would be a genocide. And I wanted to, I was going to, take action against the extremists to ultimately disarm them and prevent their ability to conduct it. And I got the fastest fax back from the UN, ever, that essentially said, "No, this is not in your Chapter Six mandate of using force." And so, those troops [that] were lent to you by countries under Chapter Six, cannot be used. And you must not, in fact, implement that operation, which was an offensive operation. Now, the moral of the question that I come to is, is that I could have stood up there, on a Jeep—maybe à la Hollywood, I suppose—and turn to my troops and say, "They don't understand. They don't want to give any authority. I know this is going to be used against us. And so I'm out of here. I'm resigning on principle." And the question is, is that a moral decision? And in my estimation, if the troops are still loyal to you, you by resigning are essentially abandoning your troops in the face of the enemy. And in so doing, are undermining their confidence and, ultimately, their ability to conduct the mission. I'm not saying I was the best commander, but I was the one on the ground. They believed in me, and I had the responsibility to not just accept the decision, but to fight it. Fight it to my last breath. Which, ultimately I did for two months, but then the genocide started. You cannot abandon your troops. You fight and fight and fight that authority to get what you fundamentally believe is correct in the decision, in the field. No matter what the consequences of that, ultimately, will cause to you. You, ultimately, become irrelevant in that decision. It's the ability to sustain the effort to get the right decision, for the moment, and for your troops. Thank you very much. You're very kind.
That's a fantastic example. And, you know, the ultimate goal of a leader is to take care of those they are leading, right. And that can sometimes put you in very difficult situations. And you know, I'm interested to hear from our speakers. If you have examples, such as the General, but also what happens when your morals differ from the location you're in, or, you know, where you are in the moment. If your morals are different from the morals of where you are. So, Ken, we'll start with you. You're on mute.
Yep, I got it. Thank you. So a great example of that, and thanks for that segue, I go back to East Timor. And the mission was not really clearly articulated well within our operational orders. It was supposed to be humanitarian, but it was also, because of the crisis, to support the defense forces. But we were there over a period of seven months and it happened to go over the period of Christmas, 1999. And, you know, Canadians being, you know, want to do well. It's a humanitarian operation. Christian society, we really want to help the children who had nothing, and we wanted to help the adults, for example, rebuild the schools, get the village market up and running, provide electricity, water, etc. When it came close to Christmas, we actually wanted to do the Santa Claus typical North American Santa Claus with presents. And we went to the compound and we asked the village elder, we'd like to do this, you know, have kids come up, sit on Santa Claus. All good for the photography, pictures for people back home, showing all the good work we were doing. And as I was standing there, and Santa Claus was getting set up—one of our crew members—a New Zealand chaplain came up and whispered in my ear. And he said, "Ken, don't do this. Don't do this, because it's just going to cause an issue." And I said, "All kids love Santa Claus." And so there was a cultural, a Canadian culture, that was being imprinted on this society that was very, very simple and uncommercialized. And, well, you know, when I sat there, I said, do I do this? Do we continue on for the morale of my troops, for my sailors who want to do this, because they're going to miss their families? Or do I listen to the New Zealand chaplain, and—New Zealand military chaplain—and take his advice? I chose to ignore his advice, because I wanted to make sure the welfare of my own people were taken care of by their morale. Well, we almost caused a riot. And children were stumbling over each other, and they were grabbing at gifts that we were giving out, and food items, etc. And I had to put a complete stop to it. And so right there, I had a conflict of, you know, conflict of interest. And I felt, from a leadership point of view, I imposed my values on a culture that I didn't understand. Because we weren't properly trained, and properly educated in what type of culture that was. The sad impact of that was my sailors were demoralized. They lost trust in me at that particular point, that, you know, they couldn't go follow through with that particular activity. And as a result, they felt completely demoralized, and they were missing their home, and missing the opportunity to, you know, work with children that were there. So I used that for later on in my career, to go back and fall back on that. In terms of, you need to understand the culture, you need to understand the people that you're going in to work with. You need to understand the host nation, you need to appreciate their values, and you need to educate the sailors or the soldiers—and I mentioned aeronauts—you need to educate them on what those values are before you go in, so that there's not a conflict of cultures. And there's no loss of that moral, you know, the moral agency that you're trying to maintain. And it was a good lesson learned. It was actually a very good lesson learned.
Thank you for that example. Ken. It is. And I wonder what—partially a question from the audience as well—whose responsibility is it to educate the people going into those situations? You know, would you have seen that as the Canadian Navy's responsibility? Or would that have been the United Nations? Or how to... what do you think?
I think, now I can't speak for -----, in terms of where we're at now in the Canadian armed forces, I've been out of it for 10 years now. But at the particular time, I mean, we were supposed to have a strategic assessment team go into an area and identify what the issues are. What the security issues are, what the demands are. And I really think at the particular time that this particular event occurred, we failed as a nation, we failed, you know, whether at that time it was ----- we, you know, from a strategic level of planning, failed to understand what the cultural issues were. We were responding to a request from the UN, to mobilize within 10 days to get on our way to go. And as an XO—as that executive officer, second in command of the ship at the time—struggling to find... I took it on, my responsibility, to try and garner as much information as I could about this little island somewhere north of Darwin, Australia that, frankly, most of us on the ships company had no clue where this island was until, you know, we started actually going through all of the machinations of forming our department heads and getting around and sitting around and trying to figure out what we should be doing before we got there, how we could prepare. But the training, the cultural training, didn't exist. And, yes, we have the Peace Support Training Center in Kingston. But no time, absolutely zero time, in terms of the time that you're told that you're going to sail within 10 days. Because there's a lot of other operational requirements to prepare in order to get on, you know, get the crew up to what we call a DAG Level Green, in terms of all the training before they go.
So, the issue is that we need to start training here at an earlier stage in people's careers. We need to train in the military colleges. We need to train and recruit schools. And start, you know, well in advance when a, you know, a battalion is coming up for rotation to go to... well, back in the day, Afghanistan or future, Mali is a good example. We need to make sure that they have a cultural piece that fits in with that pre-deployment training package. And, in fact, sometimes that doesn't even work because the government, or a government, will choose not to acknowledge information as in the case of Mali, the Dallaire Institute argued that, through their country analysis, identified that children—child soldiers—were going to be present in the country, yet the military intelligence network failed to recognize that, in their documentation, or in their assessment. So right away, we've already defeated an opportunity for those people that we're deploying to understand that particular dynamic, or those particular spheres that they need to address and navigate around when they got into theater. So it's important that we look at the entire planning process. Adopt lessons learned, adopt, you know, a cultural input, start doing realistic training, a lot of scenario-type development that goes on with that, in order to adequately prepare our troops.
Thank you. I'll turn to Dierdre. Dierdre, do you have an example?
Yeah, I mean, the one that comes to mind, probably, prior to deploying to the Democratic Republic of Congo, so this was fairly recently, 2019. As we know, the DRC, there's a host of human security issues affecting the population and hampering peace and stability efforts there. We had, you know, obviously, gender equality, there was an Ebola outbreak at the time, human rights abuses, ethnic violence, sexual violence against women, men, boys, and girls, and child soldiers. And I guess, my motivation for deploying to the DRC was because it had this really strong, robust mandate, centered on protection of civilians, and I wanted to see this operationalized. And I wanted to be part of an operation where, you know, gender protection of civilians, children, wasn't, you know, seen as this add-on but was very much central to the military mission. And I guess, for me, I immediately, when I arrived to the force headquarters, and my appointment was in the force headquarters, it became evident that there wasn't the understanding there on these issues, and troop-contributing countries and individual staff officers were very much reversing to a traditional way of looking at the battlefield. And that it was as a battlefield, not a complex operational environment, where there are so many gray areas, and where those gray areas can only come into the light if we have that awareness, first of all, of the issues that we're going to face. So the realities on the ground. Of the social dynamics, the distribution of power, the distribution of labor, of gender roles, of how society is organized, and that we could only—you know, maybe naively I thought in my mind—build our operations around that reality. And again, not not just looking at friendly forces, enemy forces, and you know, the area of operations is devoid of any of those complexities we know we'd face. So that was quite difficult for me to come to terms with, and particularly when I was part of the planning process for offensive operations that were missing these massive, massive pieces of the operational picture. And before, you know, even crossing the start line, these operations were destined to fail. And I guess my contribution was to try and facilitate that awareness, that understanding, to go out and to deliver training and education to troop-contributing countries. But again, where I was faced again with these constant dilemmas was that contingents were being deployed, senior staff officers were being deployed, into the mission, Hearing about gender for the first time hearing about conflict-related sexual violence for the first time, child soldiers. Never had they been exposed to training scenarios. And, as Ken said, you know, the importance of training, training, training, scenario-based training, from the very time they enter their militaries but they're exposed to these realities, but we build in these complexities from the very start otherwise, they're not socialized to our militaries.
And one particular engagement comes to mind where it really did, it challenged me personally. But it challenged me in respect to, you know, how I look at peace operations. One particular day, I escaped from the force headquarters and I went and deployed with a mixed-team, a mixed tactical team, to a women's refuge, a refuge for women that had had been victims and victimized by particular perpetrators. And the refuge was run by this formidable local Congolese woman. And was essentially just this wooden shack out in the middle of the countryside, no furniture, no electricity, no running water. But it was this beacon of hope for the women that sought refuge and sought medical support, very, very limited medical support, within it. And our team spent the morning just listening. We sat and we listened to the women describe their attacks, their rapes, and the crimes perpetrated against them. And in the afternoon, we brought doctors and psychologists, and they provided emergency medical treatment and psychological support. But each woman recounted her story of how she was attacked and raped, and these rapes, looking at the map, looking at where we were, they all happened within about two to five kilometer radius of a UN base. For one woman, the necessity to collect wood, firewood, in order for her to cook and sell, and to earn five cents that she needed, was weighted against what she knew was a very real risk of being brutally attacked and raped. And that was the decisions that these women faced every day. And this particular engagement, that opportunity to just sit down, face to face, and see the human face of fear, of suffering, of anger and betrayal. I became quite obsessed that day, because, as well as being confronted with the reality—I guess, for the previous 10 years, I've been involved in the prevention of response policies and strategies to sexual violence and conflict. I trained Irish and international peacekeepers on prevention, preemption and response to sexual violence. And here, were these women talking about these attacks, as if they were inevitable. They had no idea who the United Nations were, and they didn't see us, as in the UN, as having any impact on their lives, either positive or negative. They didn't... we just didn't factor in. And so I think, I think for me, going back to the headquarters after that day, and looking at just how the operational planning process looked at the specific security threats affecting women, men, girls and boys, looking at how we were actually implementing our mandate, looking at how we were measuring our effectiveness, I kind of came away from that as well and looked at maybe the UN were empowering countries to do jobs that they just weren't capable of doing. And, doing the only thing that I knew how to do, which was awareness-raising, putting the hand up during, you know, order sessions, and as a junior captain, you know, in a force headquarters, that was hard to do. Certainly my confidence grew as my time in the mission grew. But, you know, it wasn't an easy place to be in. And, you know, luckily, we were able, I was able, to kind of join alliances with similarly-minded people, and try and do what we could as a small cohort, to influence some of what we saw as needing to be addressed out in the mission area.
But that, for me, was the reality, I guess, of a mission. And particularly a UN mission, where there's a constant rotation of troops, even where we got this amazing engagement and traction with a particular troop-contributing country, and really what raised awareness and look at her look at kind of building up their capabilities in relation to engagement, and their understanding of conflict-related sexual violence, and what they could do as a force. We were starting back at zero again, six months later, or 12 months later, as soon as that unit rotated out. And so that's difficult. And that was something... I continue actually to find it hard to reconcile. But I guess it's also what's driving me to continue this work and to do better, and this belief ----- actually, collectively, we can do better. But we, again, and we, the collective we, as individual citizens, but also UN member states and the UN itself, we need to look at, you know, are we really doing the best we can do? Or are we just making do with those that are maybe just available to us? And now, I guess I now see the reality that the UN has to make do with, you know, the standard of maybe force that they are given, or that is made available to them. But naively, or maybe not, I think if we're not doing the right thing, then maybe we shouldn't be doing anything at all, because I think we can cause a lot more harm by just paying lip service to these really, really critical, important issues.
And Burt, what about from your perspective? From a diplomatic perspective, you know? Is the preparation sufficient? Can it always be? Is this part of what's leading towards moral injury?
Yes and no, is the most honest answer when I think about it. Yes, in all aspects, and the colleagues have mentioned that much better than I can do it. Our operation can do can be much better on all these scenarios, for protection of civilians, of women, of intelligence-sharing, on how you prioritize it in a mission, how you build scenarios, how you do it with the troop,contributing countries before they go into a mission, but also when they're after that, because they have to work with different nationalities. There has to be an enormous investment in military civilian relationships in different countries, a very complex... so my answer there will definitely be Yes. And there are many ideas around to do that. And we have to do it. There is a No side to it, as well, in the sense that training is a crucial element. But my worry—and you asked me as a diplomat. I don't think I've ever been a diplomat or maybe I did, I don't know. I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing. Diplomat is good in the sense that you try to seek convergence. But what just my colleague said, you know, from her experience in the DRC, I think we have to be a bit harsher to ourselves as UN, as international communities, as people who want to do the right thing. Because she was right. My history in the DRC is, in 2004, when we trained the military, in Congo, on sexual violence, these were the men that were trained. Because the men were actually the perpetrators, they were the ones who, you know, had to be spoken to. I remember sitting in the, in some of these old halls in the eastern part of Congo, and these were very open. The very awful conversations why also these men who had raped many women have actually done this, and why, but the advantage was that it was very open. So, there was also a training element to it. And the reasons why this happened were also clarified by social anthropological, marginalization, agenda relationship. Dr. [Denis] Mukwege, who is now the Nobel Prizewinner, after all, who did this magnificent job in Congo, of helping these women, giving them, again, self-confidence, and skills, and getting them back into society against all odds. How can it be that this is, you know, we're talking about 15, 18 years ago. And my sense is here that, except for the things we can improve, and that's what, you know, colleagues mentioned as protection of civilians as a key element for a peacekeeping operation, making sure that the blue helmets—General Dallaire, I think has said this several times in his book and in his statements—again, become a beacon of hope, rather than, "Oh, the blue helmets, well, you know, what they do. They sit there in their own, you know, their own places and they don't do much. They just protect themselves." I think we have to realize that by bureaucratizing missions in the United Nations—yes, there is a gender unit. Yes, there's a Child Protection Unit. Yes, there is a human rights unit. Yes, there are efforts to do military civilian relationship—but we have to really think through. You are in another country. Intervention in another country is extremely complex, and we have I think, made mistakes, either by thinking that we would be able to do things that we couldn't do even in our own countries, in terms of complexity, and in terms of doing this from the top down. And that, therefore the issue of inclusivity and how you reframe missions, and it will take a longer discussion than the one we have today. But that's why I'm so happy that I'm invited here with General Dallaire. In these principles for peace, we're actually looking at this. We built these missions on certain conceptions of how we could do better in countries. But in fact, when it comes to inclusivity, when it comes to mediations with the people with the guns, with the long-term aspects, we haven't incorporated. And my fear is, and my call would be therefore, that now, the experiences—the horrible experiences of Afghanistan—where we still have to get a lot of people out, but where actually we don't care very much for the people who stay. Because that's the reality I see today, in terms of the humanitarian consequences. And in Europe, to be very honest, and not talking now as a politician, the first reaction is "let's stop migration", rather than thinking about the fate of the people in Afghanistan themselves. But my call would be, let's not conclude from the failure in Afghanistan, that we can close the book, that we can sort of get back into sort of a retrenchment and isolationism, but we have to find an agenda which protects people in a way that fits this time and age. And I see a young generation that is doing that much more with their generation in the countries themselves, there, to look how we can work a bit more bottom up. I'm not saying top down is not necessary. Because that's, you know, we have to be realistic. But that new framing, of working for the protection of children, of women, and of inclusive peace agreements is not just you know, something that is up in the air, it's definitely not impossible. We have good examples. I mean, my first experience ever in peacekeeping operations, when the General was leading the forces in Rwanda, I was just a young kid working on a peacekeeping operation in Mozambique. And Mozambique is now very difficult. But it was a very successful operation, because we had realistic goals. We worked constantly from the set of terms of the realities, and the culture of the country itself. And frankly—and that's why I'm so glad that General Dallaire was saying that—when you have a deaf New York, and a dysfunctional Security Council, then sometimes yes. It's better not, of course, from the ethics of consequences to resign. But to stand for the people that you're working with.
Thank you, Bert. It is our time to open the questions to the audience. So, while you're thinking of any questions, you may want to ask... I'll ask General Dallaire if he has a comment that he'd like to add to what we've just been speaking about.
Today, the discussion is most worthy of the problem that we have, in as much as "How can you lead within a scenario where the moral dilemmas can be overwhelming?" and leading where you—and I'll use it in a pejorative sense—innocently stumbled into scenarios that create moral dilemmas that you find yourself, ultimately, really holding yourself accountable and guilty of having initiated, and particularly when the when the it results in terrible casualties or failure, so on. So, these situations, as much as you will try to predict them, we are still learning how to function in these complex and ambiguous scenarios. We are still ad-hoc-ing things we're still on-job training. We're still crisi managing, barely grasping lessons learned on "What is conflict resolution in an era where so many factors are playing out at the same time, so many disciplines, so many different agencies are on the ground at the same time?" And where an over-dependence on security forces and over-commitment to security forces can, at times, in fact, be detrimental to the success of the mission. And how do you stand there as a leader?
I'll end with this final comment. You know, an ethical and legal—let me put it this way—a legal decision can be immoral. In fact, a legal decision can be unethical. And so with risk aversion that exists so much today, imposed by bureaucracies that are risk-averse, imposing that on politicians who are self-interest dominated in many cases, however, also risk-adverse. In the field, how can you implement in a scenario like that? And so, when the Secretary General ordered me out of Rwanda, and pulled my troops completely out, the spontaneous answer was "No." Only after did I have time to assess why I said no, and repeated it. And it was no, because although it was a legal order, and turned me into a rogue commander, it was immoral, because we had over 32,000 people under our protection. And we had seen that one contingent pulled out without orders, and 4,000 were slaughtered within hours. And so, handle that debate. And be prepared for the consequences of it. And I think that what Bert said very, very, magnificently, in regards to the responsibility of decisions, and the ultimate holding of that responsibility. That's, sometimes, where the injury and your self-doubt and assessments start eating away at you, until it is a complex scenario. Thank you for that.
Thank you, sir. So, you know, in our last five minutes... you know, we have people here today who are our future leaders. What one piece of advice, and I will start with Deirdre and go around our table, what one piece of advice would you offer to those future leaders about moral leadership and moving forward?
I guess as a gender advisor, it would be remiss of me not to mention the gendered aspects of this as well. And just to emphasize how gender touches every aspect of our lives. And if you're listening to this, I guess, when we look at gender, it's our perceived value in a given context and it cross cuts, every facet of what we do, how we interact, the opportunities we are given, how we are treated, and the expectations placed on us both as women, actually, and men. We're all products of our communities and the societies we're born into, and we're shaped by it. So what I would ask anyone listening, our future leaders, our current leaders, people who don't even consider themselves as leaders and are just trying to do the right thing, is try and examine and confront your own maybe biases, and try and reflect a little bit on yourself. How you have been shaped. What has influenced you. And I think that, really, getting in touch a little bit more with with yourself can assist you, I think, with identifying, you know, who you are, what drives you, and ultimately then when it comes to those, those decisions, when it comes to looking at the affected population, when it comes to looking at protection of civilians issues, when it comes to looking at the complexities with operational environments, that might assist us a little bit with breaking down those barriers. Breaking down and confronting those biases and stereotypes, and looking at the reality, actually, of what we're facing. So, that's probably what I would encourage people to do, just a little bit of self-reflection and a little bit of a self-examination.
Thank you, Deirdre. And, Bert, what piece of advice would you offer for those coming after in your career trajectory, about moral leadership? What one piece of advice?
Well, I think the best advice was just given, you know. Listen, to listen to yourself also. But look, moral leadership, again, it's not a checklist. First of all, I think you have to be inspired by what you're doing. Don't give up. Don't think the world is too big. Don't think it's too far away. Don't think you can't change things. Don't think it's too complex. Yes, it is. But in the end, you know, morality you do in the reality of things. So, there is a certain, you know, get yourself into [being] a sort of a principled pragmatist. You know, have your ideals, and think through where your niche is to contribute. That can be in many different areas. But think through where you feel at home, where you're really committed to, and try to be honest about that it is a fight. It's great, and the adrenalin fits into the complexity of things, and trying to find a way of responsibility forward. Be able to deal with stress, and assume responsibility. But the most important is, whatever you think through, the ethics is something that comes very secondary these days. We're all, you know, clients and consumers, and 24-hour news cycles, and positioning. That's all fine; forget about all that. It's all gone. It's important for your day-to-day life, and your pleasures, and so on, so forth. But I go back to Hannah Arendt, and I just read about it. I never knew about this whole thing, how she was talking about your inner voice. Basically, you live and you talk about your life with yourself. And if you do that around the ideals that you want to work on, then I think you feel most at home in moments that it becomes very difficult. And that the choices are there to be made at that moment by you.
Thank you, Bert. And Ken, final word to you. What advice would you offer to those coming after you about moral leadership?
Well, this is going to sound kind of unusual, but one of the things I've picked up from some of my mentors. Read. Read voraciously. Start understanding. Try to appreciate what the human condition is. Read the classics. Read leadership. Study these individuals who have gone through the same process. Get a feeling for what their emotions are, what their compassion is, what their humanity is. By doing so, you're going to learn to communicate those same traits back to your subordinates or to your team. And then, also, try to examine both sides, you know. Whether it's, you know, you're confronting somebody about vaccines on the street. Try to understand. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand their position on it, rather than make conflict out of it. But understand the human condition.
Thank you very much. I feel like this panel could stay chatting all evening, and we would not run out of things to say, and be of great interest to our entire audience. Unfortunately, I have to turn the mic back over to—not unfortunately; Eric and Suzette are great—but unfortunately, our time has come to an end. And I do have to turn the microphone back to them. Please let me thank Professor Dr. Bert Koenders, Captain (Navy) Ken Hoffer, and Deirdre Carbery. For all of the work you do. For imparting your outstanding advice. And of course, 'mon Generale, la mot finale, pour vous.'
You're very kind, and 30 seconds, if I can. There is depth to moral references, your inner self, as Bert has expressed so clearly. And learning about it from others. There is an angle that is lost on us, often, in—I'm going to use the term—spirituality. Not religion, as such, but the spiritual depth. What is, essentially, the soul that's guiding you? And that inner self, as Bert said, to me, it's a spiritual backdrop that I fear, in our era, is disappearing as a reference point that could be enormously useful as a guide in helping us take moral decisions and being able to live with them with a minimum of pain and injury. Thank you
Thank you. Eric and Suzette. Eric, you're on mute.
Thank you. You go first, Suzette.
Sure. Thank you. Thank you to all the panelists. And General, thank you for your words of inspiration. For Alice, for guiding such a brilliant conversation. And each of the panelists, brilliant conversation. Lots of incredible ideas and visions that you share as panelists.
I heard many key-words, many ideas, summarized by all of you towards the end of the conversation. But lots around the choice of a leader, what it takes to serve a higher cause, assuming responsibility, knowing the mission, knowing the impact that that mission can have, being prepared for it, and training others to be prepared and to walk into the realities of what that situation might look like or what might call out of any one leader. And really doing that self-reflection. Taking that time to know oneself. To know when soul, know one's heart, know one's mind, and where the moral compass comes from, and how that can be pressed upon in times of a real calamity, or in those choices, as Dr. Koenders talked about, in terms of the choice between the bad and the bad.
So, how do we find ourselves in those spaces? And how to 'assumez la responsabilité' in those kinds of contexts? So, really, that poignant point about looking at those situations that are really difficult. The importance of taking time to prepare, to inspire, to be a model,to stand in front of the curve, to be willing to be lonely in those decisions. And that moral compass and leadership should never be based on identity or ideology, but on values and understanding. Hearing that resonate through all of you. The ethics of good intention, but more importantly, the ethics of consequence. And what that actually means. A focus on communication. We heard from Ken, and from the importance of teamwork. The importance of being a moral leader and accepting responsibility. Putting one's neck on the line and looking after one's people, and being prepared for the mission. Values-based leadership, we heard from Deirdre on the practice of self reflection. The modeling of moral leadership, the growing the seeds of moral leadership at an early stage, and how difficult that can be in our current times, especially in light of what the General just mentioned, around this depth of the spiritual domain that we may be needing to revisit.
Understanding the host countries, and where we head. The realities of being on the ground. The appropriate education of people, or starting training early, looking at these very complex situations in realistic real-world scenarios that really challenge people in advance, and help prepare them early on for doing that. The preparation can be much better. Training is crucial, a crucial element, as are open conversations.
The United Nations becoming a beacon of hope, again. And where those Blue Helmets lie. Looking at, thinking through, the reality of who those others are in the current context. The importance of the General's comment, a legal decision can be immoral and unethical. And how does that leave us? What challenges does that leave us to reflect on? The advice to upcoming leaders, taking that time to really self-reflect and self-examine, and use every tool to do that. Read, understand the human condition, understand what it means for people to actually make decisions for us to be formed in our moral decision-making. "Read voraciously." And appreciate the two sides of every story. Lots of things to consider, lots of things about understanding who the 'we' is, who the 'I' is, as a leader, who the 'we' are, collectively, what the 'we' is that's making these decisions and trying to do the right thing in very complex situations that are rife with moral dilemmas, and different kinds of conflicts. So, those are some of the keywords that I picked out of that conversation. I hope they resonate with many of you. And I'm sure that there are many others. And as you re-listen to this video in days ahead, or look at the transcript, hopefully you'll get even more richness out of it. Eric, I'm going to pass back to you, in terms of the things that struck you. What stood out?
Thank you. Thank you for summarizing this so eloquently, Suzette. Being a 'principled pragmatist', Bert, I think we all need to read Hannah Arendt, 1906 - 1975, a German [born] American, Jewish philosopher, looking at totalitarian political systems. A very good read for all of us, I think. This rich conversation contains elements that very well could serve for students in other courses. And it's beautiful that the General is ending on a note on Spirituality. And that is a guiding point for all of us.
Thank you, all attendees. We received many comments and many questions were asked, but we couldn't address all. Thank you for being with us. Please continue to share your reflections, and you may use the box on the Leiden University website for this after the session is over. So, briefly, in maybe one or two minutes, we have six more sessions planned. The next one is tomorrow on the 30th of September.
September 30 is the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. To honor this special date for Canada, we will begin tomorrow with an introduction and a blessing of the day by Elder Betty Letendre, a Cree/Métis woman. She provides leadership to the Council of Elders. She will be followed by a brief remark by Shannon Cornelsen, a member of the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, living in Edmonton, on the importance of reflecting on residential schools. Colleagues will then engage in a critical conversation on ethical decision-making and moral dilemmas with General Dallaire. Panelists will include Professor of International Law Niels Blokker, from Leiden University, who was involved in legal and political decisions of one of the wars in Iraq. Retired General and former Chief Commanding Officer of the Dutch Defence Force, Peter van Uhm. Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the Children in Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and Cree lawyer and writer Delia Opekokew. The session will be moderated by Dr. Greg Zubacz, Associate Provost and Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Fresno Pacific University. So, thank you all for being here with us, and thank you, panelists. Thank you, dear General. Thank you, Alice. And Suzette. This was, again, a wonderful session and I'm looking forward to the next ones. Thank you all for watching.
See you then.