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Canada’s support for UN peace operations: Still Missing in Action

Canada’s rank among contributors to UN peace operations remains low. As of June 30, 2016, Canada is 67th with only 31 military personnel and 75 police officers in the field. National Peacekeepers’ Day is a chance to take stock of Canada’s actions over the previous year and to consider how Canada can make a more solid national commitment to UN operations.

WFMC’s annual Canada and UN Peacekeeping Fact Sheet documents the growing international demand for peacekeepers. According to military expert and WFMC president Walter Dorn, “The government’s rhetoric is encouraging. But the Canadian figures show a level of contribution to peace operations that is virtually unchanged from previous years.”

The United Nations has determined the need for a more coherent, system-wide approach – combining diplomacy, conflict prevention, peace operations and post-conflict peacebuilding. “Sustainable Peace” is the overarching rubric for this more integrated framework for UN operations. According to peacekeeping analyst Peter Langille, “This makes a great deal of sense. The question remains, however, whether governments will invest in strengthening the UN’s capacity to deliver. We’ve been hearing for so long about the potential for renewed mediation capacities, conflict prevention, civilian protection, and other needed reforms. Canada could once again be a leader in this area.”

Read WFMC’s press release for National Peacekeepers’ Day.

Recent articles and other background materials

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on National Peacekeepers’ Day

Editorial: Peacekeeping is no picnic (Ottawa Citizen, August 5, 2016)

Nature of peacekeeping no longer fits demands of conflict zones: Sajjan (Globe and Mail, August 10, 2016)

Don’t use peacekeeping to win a UN Security Council seat by retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie) (Globe and Mail, August 10, 2016)

Don’t send Canadian troops to dysfunctional UN missions (Matt Gurney, National Post, August 16, 2016)

What you can do

As World Federalists we support greater contributions by Canada to UN peacekeeping. Many of these articles have been critical of Canada’s anticipated return to UN peacekeeping, or have missed key reasons why UN peacekeeping needs Canada’s support.

We need to join the debate, either through letters to editor, article contributions or simply by posting supportive comments through online networks and social media.

Key points to highlight include:

*Peacekeeping works. Not always, but often. The demand for peacekeepers has never been higher. The UN has deployed record number of peacekeepers for a reason. Peacekeeping is a key tool for the international community in conflict-to- peace transitions for many war-torn countries in the world.
*Peacekeeping is in Canada’s interest. With no immediate threat to its borders, and as an outward-oriented, trading nation, Canada has an interest in a stable international order. Peacekeeping makes sense for Canada.
*Peacekeeping is a good thing to do. Contributing to the peaceful resolution of conflict and the rebuilding of war-affected states is the UN’s “primary purpose.” It’s not easy, but it is an uplifting and constructive contribution to international order and stability. The Canadian Forces are well positioned to help, and should do so.

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