Paul Heinbecker

With a distinguished career in Canadian diplomacy — including posts as ambassador to Germany, permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) and adviser to various prime ministers, Paul Heinbecker is one of Canada’s most experienced commentators on foreign policy and international governance. Paul is also the director of the Centre for Global Relations at Wilfrid Laurier University.



Formerly a CIGI distinguished fellow, Paul Heinbecker's early diplomatic career included postings to Ankara, Stockholm and Paris (at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). After returning to Canada in 1979, Paul served as director of the US division in the External Affairs Department, and head of policy planning, where he wrote foreign policy speeches for Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Secretaries of State Mark MacGuigan and Joe Clark. Paul was subsequently appointed to the Canadian embassy in Washington where he led work on cross-border issues, notably acid rain, and on international affairs, including NATO, arms control and disarmament.

In 1989, Paul returned to Ottawa to be Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's chief foreign policy adviser and speechwriter, and assistant secretary to cabinet for foreign and defence policy. In 1992, he was named ambassador to Germany, where he focused on NATO’s response to the Bosnian war and promoted Canada’s position on European Union overfishing. In 1996, he returned to Canada as assistant deputy minister for global and security policy, advising Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy on Canada’s human security agenda. He also led the Canadian delegation to the Kyoto climate change negotiations and headed the interdepartmental task force on Kosovo. In the summer of 2000, he was appointed permanent representative of Canada to the UN where, among other things, he advocated on behalf of the International Criminal Court, promoted the Responsibility to Protect doctrine and counselled the Canadian Government to stay out of the Iraq war.

Paul has authored, edited and contributed to a number of books and articles on international relations, especially on the UN, the G20 and other dimensions of global governance and foreign policy. He has also written op-eds for Canadian and foreign periodicals, made presentations to Canadian parliamentary committees, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Canadian Forces Staff College, and numerous universities and institutions across Canada, Europe, Asia and Latin America. He has appeared frequently on Canadian television and radio.

Paul has honorary doctorates from Wilfrid Laurier and St. Thomas universities. He is married to Ayse Köymen; they have two daughters, Yasemin and Céline. He speaks English, French, German and Turkish.

In the News

Select Publications

Heinbecker, Paul. 2010. "Getting Back in the Game: A Foreign Policy Playbook for Canada". Toronto: Key Porter Books.
Heinbecker, Paul and Gordon Smith. 2010. "The G20 and Climate Change: The Quintessential Global Governance Issue". Waterloo: CIGI.
Heinbecker, Paul and Bessma Momani. 2007. "Canada and the Middle East: In Theory and Practice". (eds) Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
Heinbecker, Paul. 2006. "Behind the Headlines". Our Nuclear Future: Hanging Together or Hanging Separately,. in 63 No 4 The Canadian Institute of International Affairs and CIGI.
Heinbecker, Paul and Patricia Goff. 2005. "Irrelevant or Indispensable? The United Nations in the Twenty-First Century". (eds) Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

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