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  • November 21st, 2017

15 months on, Canada still has not pledged actual troops for an actual UN peace operation

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Our previous blog post featured a new publication from ten experts discussing What Canada Has Done And Should Be Doing For UN Peace Operations (WFM-Canada, John Trent, editor, November 2017).

This week we focus on the results of the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial hosted by Canada in Vancouver on 14-15 November.

Sadly Canada failed to deliver on its long overdue commitment to provide up to 600 military and 150 police personnel for UN peace operations, a pledge it made in August of 2016.

“Canada has missed an historic opportunity to make a real difference. UN peacekeeping, which puts political reconciliation and good governance at the heart of the effort, is the best hope for countries seeking to emerge from violent conflict into sustainable peace.” – Peggy Mason, Rideau Institute

At the Vancouver Ministerial Meeting on Peace Operations, Prime Minister Trudeau, accompanied by Defence Minister Sajjan, Foreign Minister Freeland, and International Cooperation Minister Bibeau, did offer some new pledges of support.  These include:

  • making specialized equipment and personnel available on a case-by-case basis, including up to 200 troops and accompanying equipment, an aviation task force of armed helicopters, and tactical airlift;
  • joining the “Elsie Initiative” to increase the proportion of women deployed in UN peace operations; and
  • support for a set of non-binding principles on reducing recruitment and use of child soldiers.

Walter Dorn, President, World Federalist Movement – Canada, and Professor of Defence Studies, Royal Military College assessed this radically reduced contribution in the following terms:

“The smaller contributions that Canada has offered may be useful to the UN but they are not at the scale or importance of what was promised. In addition, it will be a challenge for Canada to provide international leadership on peacekeeping training given the low levels of experience and knowledge among Canadian Armed Forces regarding UN peace operations.”

To be clear, over one year after the original commitment was made, Canada still has not identified a UN mission to which it will contribute or a timeframe for doing so, despite the urgent need for professional soldiers in many current UN peacekeeping missions.

One area that has garnered a lot of attention has been the commitment to increasing the number of women peacekeepers:

“The stated support for the Women, Peace and Security agenda is encouraging. But it’s hard to see how Canada can actually fulfill many of their recently-announced Women, Peace and Security priorities if Canadian peacekeepers are sitting on the sidelines.” – Monique Cuillerier, WFM – Canada representative to the NGO Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada

For a further critique of the government’s Vancouver pledges on UN peacekeeping, click here for the CBC radio interview  with RI President Peggy Mason.

Photo credit: Government of Canada

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