Where have all our peacekeepers gone?

Peacekeeper MonumentA new report on Canada’s involvement in UN peacekeeping says Canada should do more to support the missions.

“A Canadian return to United Nations peacekeeping could have a real impact on peace and security in many of the world’s most dangerous regions, not least the Central African Republic (CAR),” former UN Peacebuilding Support Officer Carolyn McAskie said in a media statement.

The report comes as Canadians get set to celebrate National Peacekeepers Day on August 9th and express their respect and admiration for the men and women in the armed forces, police forces of all levels, and diplomatic and other civilian agencies working in international peace and security operations.

Unfortunately, Canada’s personnel commitments to peacekeeping have been minimal in recent years, even as UN operations mature and the need for contributions increases.

The Canada and UN Peacekeeping fact sheet, published annually by the World Federalist Movement – Canada, records the evaporation of Canadian involvement over the past two decades, as well as the growth in deployed UN personnel.

Presently, Canada ranks 62nd in the world in contribution of uniformed personnel to UN peace operations, the report says. Shockingly, the Canadian Forces provide just 34 personnel, while Canada’s police forces supply 84 members, out of a total UN force of 120,000 civilian and uniformed peacekeepers.

According to Walter Dorn, a peacekeeping expert at the Canadian Forces College, “Canada has great capacity for peacekeeping but, unfortunately, it is doing so little, particularly for the most recently created peace operations in Mali and CAR. Some of these are states where Canada’s commitment of development assistance has been significant over the years. But when our partners needed peacekeeping assistance, Canada declined. It is surprising that the United Nations still keeps asking after so many refusals.”

Responding to those who question whether peacekeeping works, Steven Pinker of Harvard University, says,

The answer from the statistical studies is: absolutely, they work massively. A country is much less likely to fall back in civil war if they’ve got armed peacekeepers. And the better financed and armed the peacekeeping force, the more effective they are… The United Nations does a number of things badly, but it does a number of things well, and one of them is peacekeeping – on average, not 100 percent of the time. The headlines would never tell you that. Only a statistical study would. (Roland Paris, “Peacekeeping works better than you may think,” Centre for International Policy Study, 2 August 2014).

Photo credit: Jamie In Bytown

Peacekeeping Works Better Than You May Think

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4 Responses to “Where have all our peacekeepers gone?”

  1. August UmmenhoferAugust 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    Supporting the production of armaments has traditionally been more profitable than the production of plow-shears, because we “humans” value life and sex more than a full stomach, justice, or anything else- and when threatened pay any prise were told to pay in order to defend them. But our free enterprising Establishment (worldly as well as spiritually, figured that out already thousands of years ago and got used to give us a song and a dance instead the real thing-Peace- Tranquillity and if possibly Happiness- what we need in order to make it into the next century.

  2. Grace IsaakAugust 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    Peacekeeping is not profitable for the military/industrial complex. Canadian politicians understand that very well.
    Canadians who remember when we were proud to be a peacekeeping nation must, in some way, let Ottawa know we want to be that nation again. Our armed forces must be encouraged to comprehend that peacekeeping and humanitarian aide are the epitome of military courage and that Canada is very good at these activities.

    We could be helping the children of Gaza, the children of Syria, the children in Ukraine and the children of Iraq if we had the right leaders making the right decisions.

    My emphasis is on the children because we must start with them–save them and nurture them and give them opportunities to taste the kind of philosophy that peaceful living can generate

  3. markottawaAugust 13, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    But do reflect:

    ‘What Kind of “Peacekeeping” Do Lots of Canadians Like Anyway?’

    Mark Collins

  4. BARBARA TARBETAugust 9, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    When I was younger and able to travel, I was so proud at the reaction of folks who had come in contact with our armed forces or Peace Keepers. They were VERY HAPPY to have Canadian forces on their soil! Canada was known around the world as a PEACEFUL NATION! Why have our Peace Keepers been disband or no longer sent to troubled spots?? BJT