Five-Country Ministerial

Public Safety Canada plays an important role in developing and strengthening relationships for the Government of Canada. Keeping Canadians safe and secure requires collaboration with a wide range of partners, including intelligence agencies, other domestic stakeholders, and international allies. Public Safety Canada is involved with key multilateral bodies including, but not limited to:

Public Safety Canada engages with members of each of these bodies to advance Canada’s security priorities. This is also done through multilateral fora including United Nations bodies, and the annual Five-Country Ministerial.

The Five Eyes

The Five Eyes is an intelligence alliance composed of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These partner countries share a broad range of intelligence with one another in one of the world's most unified multilateral arrangements.

The Five Eyes agreement stands out from other arrangements because the parties are diverse societies, governed by rule of law and robust human rights and are bonded by a common language. These characteristics aid the partners in sharing information with one another to protect their shared national interests.

International forum

The Five-Country Ministerial is a forum for the Five Eyes security ministers to meet and discuss opportunities for collaboration. Topics cover the full range of public safety and national security issues facing each of the Five Eyes partners. Canada is represented at this forum by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The Five-Country Ministerial also includes an annual joint meeting between the Five Eyes security ministers and the Quintet of the Attorneys General (also called “the Quintet”) in order to bridge discussions between these two groups. The Quintet is a group composed of the Attorneys General of the Five Eyes partners, who work to advance legal matters of shared importance. The Minister of Justice represents Canada during the Quintet meetings.

The Five-Country Ministerial began in 2013 and has been hosted by the following countries:

2021

New Zealand (Virtual)

2020

New Zealand & United Kingdom (Virtual)

2019

United Kingdom (London)

2018

Australia (Gold Coast)

2017

Canada (Ottawa)

2016

United States (Washington, DC)

2014/2015

United Kingdom (London)

2013

United States (Monterey, Ca)

Impact of the Five-Country Ministerial

International cooperation:

The Five-Country Ministerial presents an opportunity for Canada’s security and immigration ministers to advance their mandated priorities. Based on the discussions at the Ministerial, several new initiatives and commitments are proposed on an annual basis. Public Safety Canada works closely with its allies to implement these recommendations, and to advance Canada’s national security priorities in line with our Five Eyes partners.

For example, on March 5, 2020, Canada welcomed the release of the Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Voluntary Principles. These principles aim to provide a framework to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse, and are intended to drive proactive efforts and collective action across the Five Eyes partners. The Voluntary Principles was a key proposal that came out of the Five-Country Ministerial in 2019.

Additionally, on October 11, 2020, Canada along with Five Eyes partners plus Japan and India released a joint statement on the challenges posed to public safety by user-controlled end-to-end encryption.

More recently, Canada, along with its Five Eyes partners, released a joint statement regarding the threat of ransomware in which the Five Eyes recognize the danger posed by this malicious cyber activity to their respective citizens, organizations, and critical infrastructure. We have pledged to work collaboratively, and unify our efforts to prevent, discourage and counter this growing threat.  

Federal coordination:

The Five-Country Ministerial is an example of how the Five Eyes alliance helps to not only strengthen Canada’s international cooperation efforts, but our domestic efforts as well. This includes Public Safety’s leadership role in the Five-Country Ministerial, which requires significant coordination across the federal government. Outcomes from the forum implicate many federal departments and agencies across the public service. As a result, Public Safety has worked with the Canadian National Security community – including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Department of National Defence (DND) – to streamline and strengthen Canada’s response to a number of national security issues.

The recent addition of the immigration ministers to the Five-Country Ministerial has also improved Public Safety’s collaborative efforts with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This departmental collaboration has improved Canada’s response to combatting trans-border issues including child sexual exploitation and abuse, human trafficking, organized crime, and border security.

Outcomes and achievements:

At the end of each Five-Country Ministerial, ministers negotiate and agree to a number of outcomes and actions, which are summarized in official communiqués and special statements. Topics range from cyber and online threats, borders, counter-terrorism, and encryption.

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