Later this month, on May 29, the international community will celebrate the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. Each year at this time the world recognizes the commitment of those current and former members of UN operations, as well as those who have died in the line of duty, helping the UN restore peace to formerly war-torn countries.
Following the 2015 election there were reasonable expectations that Canada would once again provide significant contributions to UN peace operations. The Liberals had campaigned on “restoring Canada’s place in the world.” And when Prime Minister Trudeau travelled to UN headquarters in New York and announced that “Canada is back,” support for UN peace operations was among the key elements of a hoped-for renewed commitment to the United Nations system.
Consequently, the Prime Minister’s “mandate letter” to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan included instructions to “work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to renew Canada’s commitment to United Nations peace operations.”
Specifically, Minister Sajjan was tasked to:
- Make Canada’s specialized capabilities – from mobile medical teams, to engineering support, to aircraft that can carry supplies and personnel – available on a case-by-case basis;
- Help the United Nations respond more quickly to emerging and escalating conflicts and providing well-trained personnel to international initiatives that can be quickly deployed …; and
- Leading an international effort to improve and expand the training of military and civilian personnel deployed on peace operations, while insisting that any peacekeepers involved in misconduct be held accountable by their own country and the United Nations.
And last August the Canadian government announced that it would commit up to 600 soldiers, 150 police officers and $450 million over three years to UN peace operations.
However, the announcement did not specify which missions these resources would be allocated toward, and, as the New York-based PassBlue reported, the government has not followed through on the targets, instead offering a range of excuses and explanations for the delay in deploying Canadian peacekeepers.
What gives? Is the government going to keep its word to Canadians, and others at the UN, or not?
What you can do
Write to Minister Sajjan.
A sample letter is provided here.