August 9th was National Peacekeepers Day in Canada and WFMC marked the day with a press release and the update of our annual Canada and UN Peacekeeping Fact Sheet. The fact sheet illustrates what we already know — that Canada’s rank among contributors to UN peace operations remains low. The United Nations ranked Canada 67th with only 31 military personnel and 75 police officers (totaling 106 uniformed personnel) in the field, as of June 2016.
On August 26th, the government announced new support for peacekeeping, In their new release Canada to support peace operations, details are provided of $450 million in funding, 600 additional personnel, and the launch of Global Affairs Canada’s new Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs), which replaces the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START).
In response, WFMC President Walter Dorn said, “The Canadian Forces will need to dramatically increase the training for UN missions, to learn more about how the world organization operates and how to navigate its many limitations, including working with military units from the developing world. A lot will need to be (re)learned about the principles and practice of peacekeeping and how the UN currently operates, including the current command and control arrangements, procurement processes, and UN logistics. There is a lot of catching up to do.”
There has been much other discussion of the announcement in the media, including the following pieces:
- Retired Major-General Lewis Mackenzie and RMC professor Walter Dorn discuss Canada’s commitment of money and troops to UN peacekeeping missions (video), Power & Politics , August 26, 2016
- Canada finally dusts off its blue helmet: Editorial (Toronto Star). August 28,2016
- Five questions left unanswered following Canada’s peacekeeping commitment by Steve Saideman (Open Canada), August 30, 2016
- Dallaire: Canada’s renewed role in peacekeeping should focus on child soldiers (Ottawa Citizen), August 30, 2016
At the World Social Forum, WFMC hosted a workshop that discussed how UN peace operations can become more effective – and how Canada can contribute. The UN system too often fails, in preventing armed conflict and protecting civilians. The workshop also discussed the need for a standing UN capacity, like the proposed United Nations Emergency Peace Service (UNEPS). The presenters for the workshop were Walter Dorn, Professor of Defence Studies, Canadian Forces Staff College and newly elected President of WFMC, and Peter Langille, director of Global Common Security i3 and a member of the WFMC Advisory Board.