Adam Day and Richard Gowan provided public testimony to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence on 4 October 2018 concerning Canada’s re-engagement in UN peacekeeping. This report provides an adapted summary of that evidence.
In a period when there is very little consensus within the Security Council, peace operations are a rare source of international unity, with the vast majority of UN members continuing to support Blue Helmet operations. However, peace operations today are under a high degree of pressure with three-quarters of UN peacekeepers are deployed in five big missions in Africa.
Peacekeeping operations have proven to be resilient and continue to prove their strategic worth in some settings. Even if they cannot deliver easy stability, peacekeeping operations can limit and contain violence in fragile states, help ensure that non-state groups do not overthrow governments and create regional instability. They protect and facilitate vital humanitarian aid, saving many lives. Most importantly, they provide frameworks for long-term political peacemaking processes.
Canada is extremely well placed to provide high-impact contributions to UN peacekeeping. Some framing questions may help Canada determine how and where it wishes to re-engage. It may also want to consider pushing the Security Council for a mandating process that is driven from the ground and not driven from New York.