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Canada & Saudi Arabia: Legal Frameworks and Policy Options

Call for Papers [POSTPONED]

The Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor in Canada is hosting an interdisciplinary workshop in Windsor, Canada on Thursday, May 30, 2019, to identify the legal regimes and policy options available to Canada and Canadians as we seek to navigate an increasingly complicated relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal death and Canada’s decision to provide Saudi Arabia with military vehicles has focused media attention on the Canadian-Saudi relationship.  But, scholarship about the Gulf kingdom remains sparse even though the Canadian-Saudi relationship raises vexing questions about Canada’s ethical and legal obligations, human rights record, role and influence on the world stage, trade policies, and economic priorities. 

According to some reports, Saudi students at Canadian post-secondary institutions generate over $1 billion a year for the Canadian economy.  Indeed, our health care system has come to rely on human resources from approximately 1,000 Saudi medical residents and trainees who are paid by their government to work in Canada. More broadly, Saudi Arabia is Canada’s biggest trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa.

However, Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is abysmal. Its involvement in Yemen has received sharp international criticism. At home, Saudi Arabia is accused of a range of wrongs, from suppressing women’s rights to abusing migrant workers, and torturing human rights activists. Against this context, some have questioned the wisdom and morality of Canada’s economic, social, political and diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia.  Others, however, have urged continued engagement as a means of encouraging Saudi reforms.

This workshop aims to: lay the foundations for more research and policy debates about Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia; create an academic and policy network to explore the parameters and significance of Canada’s multi-faceted relationship with Saudi Arabia; and, produce an edited collection of high-quality scholarly papers to help inform public and private action.

While the conference conveners welcome all proposals related to the general theme of Canada’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, the main topics that we anticipate exploring are:

  • Canada’s response to Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and torture
  • military ties to Saudi Arabia
  • economic relationship with Saudi Arabia
  • human rights and international humanitarian law
  • Saudi Arabia and Canadian-American relations
  • Canadian-Saudi diplomacy
  • Saudi connections to Canadian institutions, including the private sector and educational institutions

For more information, please see the related background paper and select bibliography prepared by Windsor Law students.

Workshop proposals of approximately 250 words should be submitted online through Windsor Law's webform by Friday, March 1, 2019.  In your proposal, please identify the issue(s) that will be explored, the anticipated research methodology, and the expected contribution to academic literature or policy debates. Please also include a brief biography of the author(s).  Workshop participants will be expected to contribute to a peer-reviewed collection for publication.  Papers for publication are due no later than Monday, October 28, 2019.

If you have any questions, please contact Professor Reem Bahdi

Submit a proposal to the workshop.