Mark Collins – UN Peace Support Operations: Canada’s Back! (into Africa and…)

Further to this post,

Yes, Canadian Forces into Africa: Where, When, How Many? Really Peacekeeping?

we now know numbers (including police) and money but not yet where or when. It is clear that Africa will be the focus of the new commitment(s), though perhaps some troops and police might go to Colombia where peace looks very much like breaking out (see also end of the second quote below). The government was very careful to describe the new effort as “peace operations” with real risks, not “traditional peacekeeping”. Good on them for that. On the other hand the official announcement has lots of touchy-feely, self-congratulatory, soft power wording:

Conflicts today are multifaceted, requiring political, security, development and humanitarian responses brought together under the broad umbrella of “peace operations”. The Government of Canada has already demonstrated its whole-of-government approach to the situation in Iraq and Syria. Today’s approach to peace operations is no different: they demand that we go beyond military roles and work closely with local authorities and a range of international and regional partners.

Canada is devoting an unprecedented $450 million to PSOPs. The new funding will help better protect civilians, including the most vulnerable groups, such as displaced persons, refugees, women and children.

Canada is uniquely placed to provide the very best expertise across the full spectrum of peace operations [emphasis added–why?]. Therefore, Canada’s PSOPs and future contributions will focus more on the areas of early warning, conflict prevention, dialogue, mediation and peacebuilding, and the empowerment of women in decision making for peace and security [BLAH, BLAH, BLAH]…

Canada is back, and that includes its peace missions. Canada is committed to increasing its support for UN peace operations and supporting its mediation efforts, preventing conflicts and engaging in post-conflict reconstruction. This commitment reflects Canada’s deep desire to be a determined peacebuilder and to make a genuine and useful contribution to building a more peaceful and prosperous world…

With a chicken in every pot and a good five-cent cigar. Now a news story:

Liberals commit $450M, up to 600 troops to UN peacekeeping missions
Location for deployments expected to be announced at peacekeeping conference next month

Canada is committing roughly half a billion dollars towards United Nations peace support operations over the next few years, a commitment that includes hundreds of troops and police officers.

The announcement was made by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale at a military air base in Bagotville, Que.

According to a release from Global Affairs Canada [see quote immediately above], the government will commit $450 million to peace operations [over three years] through that department and up to 600 military personnel.

In the last budget, the government also announced $47 million a year for the next three years to deploy up to 150 police officers for international police peacekeeping programs, which is the purview of the RCMP [Minister Goodale said these missions were around 30 percent RCMP personnel and 70 percent provincial/municipal], and a separate $17 million has been set aside for expert deployments at the UN and overseas.

There will also be air transport [might that include armed helicopters?], medical, engineering and training components to Canada’s plan [I believe Minister Sajjan also mentioned ground troops and HQ/command and control personnel (Congo? more here)]…

The government is not committing to specific missions today. That will likely come when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau goes to the UN General Assembly next month.

But sources say the leading candidates for Canadian troop deployments include Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic [emphasis added–the ministers stressed our bilingual advantage which would fit with these francophone, sort of, countries].

The Liberal government was required to make the specific commitment as prerequisite to get into the upcoming international UN peacekeeping conference in London, which will take place in two weeks [Sept. 7-8].

The initial list of countries prepared by conference organizers did not include Canada, said two UN sources with knowledge of the file. The officials could not speak publicly because of the diplomatic sensitivity…

Sajjan recently returned from a five-country scouting mission of possible locations in Africa [lots more here]…

…the UN has…been leaning on Canada to take up a prominent role in the upcoming ceasefire observer mission in Colombia [emphasis added] between the government and rebel forces.

Bibeau visited the South American country earlier this year, and the Trudeau government also committed funds towards de-mining.

At the Three Amigos Summit in Ottawa in June, there was discussion about how Canada and Mexico could work together on peacekeeping in Colombia.

Let’s hope our people can in fact do something useful and effective.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a  Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


5 thoughts on “Mark Collins – UN Peace Support Operations: Canada’s Back! (into Africa and…)”

  1. One hopes we do not end up with a hodge-podge of penny-packet missions, with none making a really major contribution but rather simply showing the UN flag for the sake of showing that flag.

    And one wishes our media took the government’s hint and stopped reflexively referring to “peacekeeping”:

    Meanwhile Prof. Steve Saideman makes a point about WoG:

    Plus Prof. Thomas Juneau gets to the heart of the matter:

    What is also disappointing is that the government did not clearly explain how all of this is in Canada’s interest. It seems to assume that “doing” UN peace operations is intrinsically good, which is at best simplistic. Peace operations are a means, not an end. Canada should definitely be more involved, but on a case-by-case basis and provided that individual commitments are in its interests. Friday’s announcement said little, in particular, on how the forthcoming decision regarding a mission in Africa will be made…”

    Mark Collins

  2. “Peacekeeping RIP, note this emphasis:

    ‘Canada’s mission in Africa will be focused on ‘peacemaking,’ UN ambassador says…

    Canada’s ambassador to the UN says there will be “no quick fix” in Africa — a sign that Canadian peacekeepers waiting for deployment there could be in for a long-term commitment to the region ravaged by civil war and terrorism.

    “There is no quick fix for anything in peace and security in some areas of the world and in the regions [Canada is considering for a mission],” Marc-André Blanchard said in an interview with CBC Radio’s The House. He said while the road ahead might be dangerous for Canadian troops, the country has an obligation to intervene to prevent the violence from reaching our shores…

    Blanchard, a top Liberal fundraiser and corporate lawyer tapped by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to bolster Canada’s role at the UN ahead of a bid for a Security Council seat in 2021, said that the new mission in Africa will be different than those of the past. A big shift will be a focus on “peacemaking” and the right of Canadian troops to protect civilians caught in the crosshairs of conflict…

    Mark Collins

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