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

Tags: Canada, Canada and peacekeeping, Canadian Forces, Canadian foreign policy, Canadian military spending, Peacekeeping, UN peacekeeping, United Nations, Walter Dorn, World Federalist Movement-Canada