Peacekeeping plan missing from sweeping foreign policy speech and defence review announcement
by Fergus Watt
Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland delivered a speech in the House of Commons on June 6th articulating Canada’s foreign policy priorities. The speech was followed by an announcement on June 7th by Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjin releasing Canada’s Defence Policy Review.
Dr. Walter Dorn, National President of the World Federalist MovementCanada*, had the following commentary on the speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Defence Policy Review announcement by the Minister of National Defence:
“The foreign policy speech and defence review announcement were clear opportunities for the Liberals to concretely deliver on their promise to increase support to UN peacekeeping. But we still have no specifics on the peacekeeping commitments.
“Minister Freeland’s speech set out an ambitious vision for Canadian foreign policy at a time of deep uncertainty with the rules-based global order. Peacekeeping is an important cornerstone of this order. The Minister did not once reference the government’s peacekeeping plan or how it intends to deliver on pledges made for UN peace operations.
“There are plenty of references to UN peacekeeping in Canada’s new defence policy, which is welcome. But there isn’t much more detail than what was proposed in the Defence Minister’s 2015 mandate letter. The details of our peacekeeping plan the who, when, where and how are still missing in action.
“The government rightly praises our past deployments in Suez, the Congo, Cyrpus and the Balkans and the nation’s rich peacekeeping history. But there is still no idea of where Canada will contribute future forces, even amid pledges by the government that Canada will ‘re-engage’ in peacekeeping.
“In fact, Canada is now at an all-time low in military contributions to the UN peacekeeping. The Canadian military provides only 23 military personnel. That’s less than half of the average that the Conservative government contributed over its ten year term. This needs to change if Canada is truly committed to becoming the prolific peacekeepers once again. And to gain a seat on the UN Security Council, Canada needs to show that it is pulling its weight in support of multilateralism and global peace.”
The World Federalist Movement Canada is a longstanding peace organization that advocates for more effective and accountable global governance. WFM-C publishes an annual fact sheet on Canada and UN Peacekeeping.
The Government of Canada announced in August 2016 that it would provide up to 600 military personnel and 150 police to UN peacekeeping, as well as the establishment of the a new Peace and Stabilization Operations Program and $450 million in funding over three years. The November 2015 mandate letter from Prime Minister Trudeau to Defence Minister Sajjan called on the Minister “to help the United Nations respond more quickly to emerging and escalating conflicts.”
Despite the pledge to increase support to UN peacekeeping, Canada presently ranks 67th among contributors with a total of 105 personnel deployed in the field. (UN figures as of 30 April 2017.) The current figures are an all-time low in terms of Canada’s historical contributions to UN peacekeeping. Canada nevertheless remains a top-10 financial contributor to UN peacekeeping based on the scale of apportionment for all 193 Member States, providing approximately 2.8% of the budget for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.
Canada will host the 2017 Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference in Vancouver in November. Defence Minister Sajjan was in New York on May 24th and to prepare for the Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial, delivering an address at the International Peace Institute that articulated on the government’s vision for the conference.
The Department of National Defence anticipates over 500 delegates from 80 countries will attend the conference in November, which will focus on improving four “Ps” of peacekeeping planning, pledges, performance and partnerships. The Ministerial conferences, which have been held annually since 2014, typically require countries to make specific pledges in support of UN peacekeeping in order to secure participation.
The Prime Minister also announced in March 2016 that Canada will seek a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2021-2022 term. Additional delays on Canada’s UN peacekeeping contribution could have a negative impact on Canada’s current bid for a non-permanent seat, particularly in the eyes of close allies and peacekeeping partners. Canada last sought a seat on the Council in 2010, but lost its bid to Portugal.
Foreign Minister Freeland set out the broad contours of Canada's foreign policy priorities in advance of the release of the Defence Policy Review by the Defence Minister and a forthcoming announcement by Minister for International Cooperation on Canada’s international assistance policy. The Defence Policy, entitled Strong. Secure. Engaged. Canada’s Defence Policy, presents the approach and vision for defence by the Government of Canada. The 113-page policy includes over thirty references to peace operations and UN peacekeeping, including a section outlining how Canada can “Lead and/or contribute to international peace operations and stabilization missions with the United Nations, NATO and other multilateral partners.” The subjects in this section are similar to those outlined the Defence Minister’s 2015 mandate letter and in the announcement of the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program.
Minister Freeland’s speech highlighted that Canada’s foreign policy is underpinned by values that include values include feminism, and the promotion of the rights of women and girls. The government has also committed, through its Peace and Stabilization Operations program, that it intends to champion the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, as well as to support the empowerment of women in decision-making for peace and security. The Defence Policy also includes a section on Women, Peace and Security, as well as a commitment to “further increasing the representation of women in the military by 1percent annually towards a goal of 25 percent in 10 years.” Of the 105 uniformed personnel Canada has in peacekeeping (82 police and 23 military) only 14 are women, according to UN numbers.
As a member of the Women, Peace and Security Network Canada, WFMC assisted in convening a joint government-civil society consultation on Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security in April 2017. The joint consultation led to the publication of a report on the opportunities for an ambitious new National Action Plan for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
Dr. Walter Dorn, National President, World Federalist Movement-Canada, (929 376-7313) Walter.Dorn@rmc.ca
Fergus Watt, Executive Director, World Federalist Movement-Canada, (613 232-0647) email@example.com
Monique Cuillerier, Communications officer, Women, Peace and Security Network Canada (613 627-6468) firstname.lastname@example.org
* Dr. Walter Dorn is a faculty member at Canada’s Royal Military College. He is currently on sabbatical, working in New York to implement recommendations from the UN Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in Peacekeeping, on which he served.