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Media Release: Canada’s support for UN peace operations: Unmet promises, delayed commitments

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Canada

Canadian officials are once again hinting at renewed Government of Canada support for UN peace operations, without delivering firm commitments of personnel.

WireService.ca Media Release (05/29/2017) Ottawa and New York - Defence Minister Sajjan was in New York last week to consult with governments, UN officials, and other stakeholders about a ministerial level conference on UN peace operations that Canada is hosting November 14-15 in Vancouver.

And Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland is expected to include discussion of Canada's support for peace operations next week in a major speech to Parliament on Canada's approach to international relations. Media reports suggest those remarks will describe a framework for Canadian engagement with UN operations, but not the specifics of a Canadian deployment.

According to Prof. Walter Dorn, National President of the World Federalist Movement - Canada, "Unfortunately, the dithering and delay by Canada is harming our reputation at the UN." Dorn, a faculty member at Canada's Royal Military College, is on leave to work in New York. He is helping the United Nations implement the recommendations from the UN Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in Peace Operations, on which he served.

Canada's failure to deliver on announced commitments also drew critical but diplomat comments this past March from Hervé Ladsous, outgoing head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). Canada's renewed support for the UN, including peacekeeping, was "very exciting," according to Ladsous. But, "So far, it hasn't materialized."

A September 2015 peacekeeping summit chaired at the UN by US President Barak Obama rallied governments to increase troop commitments at a time when many UN operations were understaffed. This led to a new DPKO system for tracking troop and equipment pledges made by member states. Although Canada announced last August that it would contribute up to 600 military personnel, 150 police and $450 million to UN peace operations, the CBC recently reported that the UN has not been officially notified of those pledges.

At the 2016 Defence Ministerial Meeting on Peace Operations in London, Canada was selected to host the 2017 meeting on the strength of its pledge to increase its personnel contributions. Canada's Department of National Defence anticipates over 500 delegates from 80 countries at the November ministerial meeting in Vancouver.

In the Prime Minister's mandate letter to Defence Minister Sajjan, the minister was "to help the United Nations respond quickly to emerging and escalating conflicts." The United Nations needs to respond in a matter of days or weeks to such conflicts. But in the 18 months since the election, Canada has yet to provide more than 40 military personnel for UN peace operations at any given time. As of 30 April 2017, Canada provides only 23 military personnel to UN peace operations. "The current number is an all-time low for Canada." says Dorn, who keeps continuous track of the numbers. "There is no reason why that contribution could not be doubled or tripled, even as the decision on where to send the promised 600 has yet to be made."

Meanwhile, Canada presently ranks 67th among contributors to United Nations Peace Operations. In addition to 23 military personnel, Canada provides 82 police to UN peacekeeping operations. (UN figures as of 30 April 2017.)

The World Federalist Movement - Canada is a longstanding peace organization advocating more effective and accountable global governance. WFMC publishes an annual fact sheet on Canada and UN Peacekeeping.

According to Dorn, "There is a desperate need to counter selfish forms of nationalism and to support the United Nations. Canada has another historic opportunity to lead in peacekeeping, but at present, the world is left to just watch and wait, hoping that Canada's actions live up to its rhetoric."

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Prof. Walter Dorn, President, World Federalist Movement - Canada
Email: Walter.Dorn@rmc.ca
Mobile: +1 929-376-7313

 


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