On Monday, March 19th, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced a second “smart pledge” on peacekeeping: “a commitment to deploy an Aviation Task Force to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for a period of 12 months.”
The World Federalist Movement – Canada welcomes this belated decision from the government of Canada which comes over a year and a half after the initial deployment pledge.
In August 2016, Canada pledged up to 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel for possible deployment to UN peace operations. In November 2017, at the UN Peacekeeping Ministerial Meeting in Vancouver, further details were provided, including a quick reaction force of about 200 personnel and an Aviation Task Force. These forces would be part of the original 600 personnel commitment.
Details remain few at this time, but the Aviation Task Force to be deployed in Mali will include Chinook and Griffon helicopters and an as yet unknown number of personnel. The government statement also says that “Canada remains committed to advancing gender equality in its deployment.”
Dr. Walter Dorn, President of the World Federalist Movement – Canada stated: “This is a small but important step towards Canada’s re-engagement in peacekeeping. The government has brought Canada to its current all-time low in number of military deployed. Now it needs to get on with new deployments. After two and a half years we finally determined one of the places where Canada can make a contribution. The UN’s Mali mission needs support. The Chinook and Griffon helicopters will make an important contribution once they finally arrive. The UN Mission is essential to prevent the spread of terrorism, support a fragile peace process, and protect vulnerable civilians in a conflict-afflicted part of the world.”
Monique Cuillerier, WFMC’s Communications Director and the organization’s representative with the Women, Peace and Security Network – Canada also noted, “It is encouraging to see the foundational work that the government is engaging in with regards to the Elsie Initiative, which aims to remove barriers to women’s participation in peace operations, as well at their re-stated commitment to gender equality. It remains to be seen how these will manifest in the long term and what ‘gender equality’ will mean in reference to this particular deployment of Canadian personnel.” .
WFMC has long advocated for a much larger role for Canada in United Nations peace operations. In November, WFMC published the latest book in its UN & Canada Project, The United Nations and Canada: What Canada Has Done and Should Be Doing for UN Peace Operations, a volume of 10 op-ed length essays by leading Canadian experts on the UN and peace operations.
To mark National Peacekeepers’ Day (August 9), WFMC releases an annual fact sheet, Canada and UN Peacekeeping. Monthly tracking of Canada’s commitments to UN Peacekeeping, including the current statistics on Canadian involvement, is available at peacekeepingcanada.com.