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WFMC TakeAction for June 2023: United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS)

Together We Can Help Make War Obsolete

Humanity’s future looks pretty bleak:

There are millions of refugees of armed conflict, not to mention those killed and the physical and ecological destruction of numerous wars;

As long as nuclear weapons exist, they have the potential to eliminate life on earth, by accident or by the actions of a crazy person;

The UN, our one universal institution charged with “maintaining international peace and security” is clearly not yet up to the challenge and needs to be better prepared; and,

The world wastes about US$2 Trillion annually preparing for war, before accounting for lives lost, property and biosphere restoration, and lost productivity of war. Such money could help reduce the impact of climate change and meet numerous other human needs.

Hope for the future fades as nations revert to militarism and an arms race.

However, we take hope in the fact that people have eliminated previously unassailable norms, such as duelling and slavery - they are no longer socially acceptable. Even capital punishment and tobacco smoking are fading away. So war itself could become obsolete as well.

The UN was not given adequate capacity to prevent armed conflict. However, Canada played an early leading role, introducing UN peacekeeping in 1956. Unfortunately, UN peace operations are now only deployed once the violence and fighting stops. The UN needs to be able to help before conflicts escalate and spread into worse violence.


A Game-Changing Solution

In 1995 Canada raised the idea of a UN Standing Emergency Group in a report to the UN General Assembly. Since then, a campaign for what is now called a UN Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS) has been gaining global recognition through the research and advocacy of a Canadian, Peter Langille. A UNEPS itself would not end war, but it would be a major step in that direction, providing the UN with a credible ‘first-responder 911’ service to prevent armed conflict, protect vulnerable civilians, provide prompt care and help, and encourage wider disarmament. Its also a key step toward ‘saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ and to an overdue global peace system. The UNEPS would consist of directly-recruited individuals, carefully screened, selected and hired by the UN, with extensive training and preparation for assigned tasks. It would be located at a designated UN base, under an operational headquarters and two mobile mission headquarters. Individuals and teams would be specifically trained in the skills required in diverse crises, including negotiation, humanitarian assistance, protection, health and environmental emergencies. Its multidimensional composition of civilian, police and military elements will require an estimated 13,000 personnel. A UNEPS is also to be a gender-equitable service, helping to raise standards system-wide. As a standing UN formation, it would be ready, rapid and reliable for immediate deployment.

The mere existence of a UNEPS would be a deterrent to crimes and violence. It would also counter the ‘culture of impunity.’ And, with a credible “emergency security provider” to counter fears of aggression and build trust, countries would have an incentive for military builddown, making wider disarmament possible. The resulting savings would provide the resources urgently required to address our climate emergency and sustainable development goals.

This idea is widely recognized as a viable policy option. Two former U.S. House of Representatives’ resolutions acknowledged that a UNEPS, “could save millions of lives, billions of dollars, and is in the interests of the United States.”

With its own dedicated, standing service to “maintain the peace” the UN would be the ‘first responder’ to crises – similar to the kitchen fire extinguisher that helps prevent the whole house from burning down. Clearly, a more effective UN with a UNEPS is crucial to stem the rush to further confrontation and the ever-higher costs and risks of another Cold War arms-race.
You will be helping the UN to live up to the challenge of maintaining peace and security and to save succeeding generations. The resultant ‘peace dividend’ would enable the world to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals, including addressing climate change. Sign our House of Commons petition for Canada to take a lead on pressing the UN to actually form a UN Emergency Peace Service.

Toronto Region Branch of the World Federalist Movement – Canada
May 26, 2023

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