This Monday, I joined Senator Daniel Lang and Jean-Guy Dagenais in depositing a report by the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
Our Committee’s report, UN Deployment: Prioritizing commitments at home and abroad, identifies several possible areas for Canada to play a significant role in UN peace support operations, including non-military contributions that can strengthen governance, rule of law and assist in conflict prevention abroad.
In the study leading up to this report, our committee learned that we need to take a whole-of-government approach. General Jonathan Vance told us about how our military is ready to take on UN peace missions. However, he told us that soldiers alone cannot solve conflict.
While 20% of conflict can be dealt with by the military, the other 80% involves dealing with the causes of conflict and the challenges host countries face. Recognizing this reality, our committee has made 8 recommendations:
Our first recommendation states that our government should obtain the consent of parliament before deployment.
Our second recommendation suggests that our government should set out the rules of engagement for our personnel before deploying on any missions.
Our third recommendation states that Canada expedites the implementation of Resolution 1325; that it encourages the inclusion of more women in all aspects of peace support operations; and that it ensures that Canadian and United Nations personnel deployed receive extensive training related to the women, peace, and security agenda.
United Nations Resolution 1325 and other sister resolutions recognize the unique contribution women can make to the peace process. As of now, only four per cent of uniformed personnel taking part in peace operations are women.
However, in Canada, women make up about 15 per cent of our regular force. Several witnesses told our committee that Canada can offer skilled female military personnel for both UN headquarters and field operations.
This will help to change the culture of the UN and to spur progress on the implementation of this very important resolution.
Our fourth recommendation states that Canada should develop a strategy to support francophone personnel and their families in recognition of the extra burden that deployment to francophone nations will have on them.
Our fifth recommendation states that our government should allocate resources to assist returning personnel, especially those with PTSD.
Our sixth recommendation suggests that Canada develop its partnerships with regional organizations like the African Union to promote conflict prevention and capacity building.
Our seventh recommendation states that Canada should establish a Peace Support Operations Training Centre to assist in training military, police and civilians inside and outside Canada.
Our eighth and final recommendation urges Canada to work with the UN secretary general to define and implement a framework to prosecute sexual exploitation and assault, human trafficking, abuse of minors and prostitution which have occurred during UN peace support missions.
Canadians rightfully take pride in their long history of peacekeeping. Canadians wearing the UN’s blue helmets are still remembered around the world as a symbol of global peace.
I am pleased that Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Sajjan intend to play a greater role in resuming this proud tradition, and hope that they will consider our eight recommendations as they re-engage with UN Peace Support Operations.