27 November 2017 – Canada

by Dr. Danielle Stodilka, Senior Fellow, Canadian International Council  & Dr. Walter Dorn, Professor, Royal Military College

The following study is adapted from a Brief provided by the authors to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence as part of testimony provided on 1 November 2017 (Transcript: EnFr)


In the twenty-first century, Canadian contributions to NATO have been primarily through military operations in Afghanistan. In addition, Canada has this year deployed troops to Latvia, as part of Operation Reassurance, and is currently conducting training (Op Unifier) in Ukraine, a key Partnership for Peace country, through a multinational support operation comprised of several NATO states. But NATO has important non-Article 5 activities worthy of major Canadian effort. This paper provides a preliminary stocktaking of Canada’s role in the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC); and NATO-accredited Centres of Excellence (COE). We suggest that Canada can do much more to help NATO’s continual development and transformation through these initiatives.

NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme

The SPS Programme, sometimes called “NATO’s Third Dimension” (after military and political)[1],was created in response to a report by Lester B. Pearson and two other foreign ministers (Gaetano Martino of Italy and Halvard Lange of Norway), collectively known as the “Three Wise Men.” In 1956, they called upon NATO to enhance non-military cooperation through politics, economics and science.The North Atlantic Council endorsed their report and created the NATO Science Programme that was launched in 1958. Next year will mark the sixtieth anniversary of what is now called the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme. Over the years, the SPS Programme has adapted to the changing security environment: Initially a programme directed at cooperation among scientists from NATO countries, following the end of the Cold War, it became a vehicle for practical cooperation with the new NATO partners that helps to build international expert and research networks. At the same time, the SPS Programme has developed a strong security outlook and today is addressing a number of emerging security challenges, such as cyber defence, counter terrorism, energy security, or CBRN defence.   The programme supports collaboration between NATO and partner countries through grant mechanisms including multi-year projects, advanced research workshops, training courses and advanced study institutes. Notably, about 18 individuals who worked with the NATO Science Programme later became Nobel Prize winners, including Paul C. Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield, who both received a NATO research grant for the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which later won them the 2003 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.[2]

Canada once had active participation in this programme. SPS grants between 1982 and 1998 show that more than 550 Canadians were Principal Investigators (PIs) in activities supported bythe SPS Programme, for an average of about 32 grants per year. (An important aside is that about one percent of these Canadian SPS PIs were women, some of whom left for the US or Europe.) In the 17 year period, more than 90 percent of awards were given to non-governmental PIs, most of whom where based in universities, illustrating the programme’s support for civilian scientists and implicit value of their academic freedom.

Canada has been involved in and contributed to several SPS flagship projects, notably the set-up of a crisis management centre in Mauritania. Canada has also been very supportive of advancing the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in the NATO context, and Canadian researchers are leading a SPS project to develop gender awareness applications for the NATO community.

Currently, there are about half a dozen Canadian scientists who are PIs in ongoing SPS programmes; however, the NATO SPS Programme 2016 Annual Report shows that no new SPS activities led by Canada where approved that year, while sixteen other NATO countries provided such leadership.[3] Thus, while there is considerable potential among the scientific community of Canada to become engaged in SPS cooperation, there also seems to be a lack of awareness about the opportunities the Programme offers.

Since the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2014, Ukraine became the main beneficiary of the SPS Programme as a NATO partner country. About 17 Ukrainian universities and 10 research institutions of the National Academy of Sciences are scrambling to re-locate to government-controlled territories of the country.[4] The major internal displacement of scientists and regrouping of institutions means there is a need to help find them employment or risk that their expertise may be used by other, possibly harmful, actors. In this regard, the SPS Programme provides opportunities for interested Canadian scientists to partner within the SPS framework.

Our recommendation is that, as a first step, Canada host a NATO Science for Peace and Security Information Day, led by a high level delegation from NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division, in the next year to explore possible partnerships with Ukraine and other NATO and partner countries.

Independent assessment of EADRCC Exercise “Ukraine-2015”.

NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre

The same year that NATO launched the Science Programme in 1958, the North Atlantic Council established procedures for coordination assistance in the event of natural or man-made disasters. The procedures for coordination where modified over several decades, yet remained in effect until after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when they were extended to partner countries, including former Soviet states. A new Euroatlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) endorsed a Russian proposal to establish a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Capability to support and complement the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Then the “Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee” called for the creation in 1998 of a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center (EADRCC) and a Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Unit (EADRU).[5] When a disaster strikes, a nation can request international assistance, and other nations can decide whether to provide assistance through the EADRU or bilaterally.

Since the earliest published situation report on exercises led by the EADRCC, “Trans-Carpathia 2000,” 18 multinational exercises have been conducted, the most recent being “Bosna i Hercegovina 2017”. Situation reports available from these exercises show no participation from Canada in any exercise.[6]

Well over 60 operations have been led by the EADRCC, with its first one responding to the large influx of refugees from Kosovo to Albania in 1998. In examining EADRCC situation reports for operations since 2002, Canada had directly contributed personnel and assets in 2 cases: 2005 “Support to the US in response to hurricane Katrina” (including 3 navy warships, Coast Guard ship, 2 helicopters, clearance divers and a Search and Rescue team)[7] and in 2006 “Earthquake to Pakistan” (including 2 helicopters and a disaster relief team).[8] In some cases Canada had provided donations directly to NGOs providing humanitarian assistance. Though most NATO operations in disaster response are conducted in Europe, there appear to be only a few out of more than 60 where Canada directly provided a contribution.

Demonstration of MnTS in EADRCC Exercise “Ukraine-2015”.

Several SPS projects have been demonstrated in past EADRCC exercises, notably a Multinational Telemedicine System (MnTS)[9] and a Next Generation Incident Command System (NICS) to improve situational awareness in emergency situations[10], one of which was assessed in Exercise “Ukraine 2015” by the co-author.[11]

Having low participation may prompt those concerned to ask why Canada has not done more to promote and make use of these programmes despite being an early contributor to NATO programs in non-military cooperation. (The same could be asked about Canadian peacekeeping in UN-led operations.) We call for increased support for these programmes.

NATO Accredited Centres of Excellence

Background: The COEs are international military organisations that conduct research, and train/educate leaders and specialists, military and civilian, from NATO member and partner countries.[12] Each COE participates in the development of doctrine, identifies lessons learned, improves interoperability and capabilities, and tests and validates concepts. As think tanks they offer recognised expertise and experience, and support the development and transformation of NATO. COEs cover a wide array of themes such as civil-military operations, cyber defence, military medicine, energy security, defence against terrorism, cold weather operations and counter-IEDs. The NATO SPS Programme is also drawing on the expertise of the COEs and amongst others, experts and instructors from the JCBRN, C-IED, DAT, and CMDR COE have participated in SPS-sponsored activities, notably Advanced Training Courses. NATO does not fund COEs directly, nor are COEs in the NATO Command Structure. There are three types of participants for COEs: Framework Nations, Sponsoring Nations and Contributing Nations. The Framework and Sponsoring Nations coordinate, draft and negotiate agreements with NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT). ACT periodically re-assesses COEs to assure that they continually meet NATO accreditation standards.

Currently there are 24 NATO-accredited COEs. None of them are located in Canada but Canada is in the category of a “sponsor” for three: the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea (CJOS) COE in Norfolk, USA; the Military Engineering (MILENG) COE in Ingolstadt, Germany; and the Joint Air Power Competence (JAPCC) COE in Kalkar, Germany.[13] It may be of future interest to conduct a study to take stock of Canada’s role and relevance in the NATO COEs throughout Europe.


There is a need to improve Canada’s involvement in NATO’s development and transformation in the non-operational sphere. Canada’s marginal involvement in three major NATO activities has been observed: no new SPS activities led by Canadian Principal Investigators in 2016; no direct participation in NATO-led operations in disaster response since 2006; and sponsorship of only 3 of 24 NATO-accredited COEs. These are clear indicators for Canada to invigorate its commitments and to engage in activities beyond the traditional (operational) ones. Active stocktaking and a policy gap analysis by relevant stakeholders are recommended. A modest first step is for Canada to host a NATO Science for Peace and Security Information Day in the second half of 2018.


The authors are grateful to Ms Randi Gebert, Officer, Science for Peace and Security Programme Emerging Security Challenges Division, for her contributions to this article.

Feature Photo:  SAR demonstration at EADRCC Exercise “Ukraine-2015”. –  NATO, 2017

Inset Photo: Independent assessment of EADRCC Exercise “Ukraine-2015”. – D. Stodilka, 2017

Inset Photo: Demonstration of MnTS in EADRCC Exercise “Ukraine-2015– NATO, 2017

DefenceReport’s Analysis is a multi-format blog that is based on opinions, insights and dedicated research from DefRep editorial staff and writers. The analysis expressed here are the author’s own and are separate from DefRep reports, which are based on independent and objective reporting.



[1] “Science & the Alliance: NATO’s Third Dimension,” www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2014_12/20150225_1412-Brochure_Science_1.pdf

[2] “The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2003”, https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2003.

[3] “NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme – Annual Report 2016,” www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_topics/20170704_SPS-Annual-Report-2016.pdf, p.41.

[4] “NATO boosts cooperation with Ukraine on scientific and security-related activities,” July 2017, www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_145789.htm.

[5] “EAPC Policy on Enhanced Practical Cooperation in the Field of International Assistance,” 1998 https://www.nato.int/eadrcc/sop/sop_eadrcc/eadrcc_sop_annex01.pdf.

[6] “Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC) – Exercises,” www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_117900.htm.

[7] “EADRCC Final Report (No. 15) Hurricane Katrina – USA,” 3 Oct 2005, www.nato.int/eadrcc/2005/katrina/051003a-15.pdf.

[8] “The EADRCC Final Situation Report No. 23 Earthquake Pakistan,” 15 Feb 2006, www.nato.int/eadrcc/2005/pakistan/060215-final.pdf

[9] “A Multinational Telemedicine System for Emergency Situations,” www.nato.int/nato_static_fl2014/assets/pdf/pdf_2016_11/20161107_161107-sps-telemedicine.pdf.

[10] “NATO/Next Generation Incident Command System Pilot Project,” DHS Science and Technology Directorate, www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/IAS_NATO-NICS-FactSheet-170501-508.pdf

[11] D.O. Stodilka, “International guidelines and minimum standards in disaster management for both government and NGO sectors,” CRHNet Annual Symposium 2016, Montreal, 23-25 November 2016.

[12] “2017 COE Catalogue – NATO Accredited Centres of Excellence”, Feb 2017, www.act.nato.int/images/stories/structure/coe_catalogue_2017.pdf.

[13] Ibid, p 34.