Defence ministers’ meet on UN ‘peace operations’: Canada takes marching orders

160907-8englandlondonunpeacekeepingOn September 7-8 a United Nations Peacekeeping meeting, attended by Ministers of Defence from 64 UN member states, was held in London, England. The event was hosted by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence. The conference was a follow-up to the 2015 “Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping” organized by United States President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the margins of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York. [1]

At that time UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. President Barack Obama joined 50 heads of state and government representatives to announce stepped-up troop and equipment commitments to UN “peace operations.” They pledged more than 40,000 troops and police, as well as what are called “critical enablers,” including more than 40 helicopters, 22 engineering companies, 11 naval and riverine units, and 13 field hospitals. However, despite the troop commitments there was no unanimity on how to reform peacekeeping, especially with respect to the demands of the U.S. imperialists to have peacekeeping become a means to carry out regime change and wars of aggression under a UN flag. This conflict remains at the heart of ongoing attempts at peacekeeping reform.

The Communique issued after the London Ministerial addressed the issues discussed and pledges made and said, in part, under the heading ‘Planning’: “We call upon the Secretary-General to ensure that mission planning and assessment fully integrates the military, police and civilian parts of the mission, and takes into account other partners including the host government and regional actors, to accomplish the mandated tasks, and that mission planning and assessment considers from the outset how missions will complement the work of existing UN staff in-country.”

The notion that host governments of peacekeeping operations are “partners,” is not the same as the main parties to a conflict having to consent to a peacekeeping mission, one of the stated principles of UN peacekeeping. It reveals attempts to sidestep the fundamental issue of the right of nations to self-determination and the UN Charter’s opposition to interference in the internal affairs of member states.

Speaking at the London Ministerial, UN Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare stated: “International and regional peacekeeping operations that are UN-led or supported must be able to act rapidly, effectively, efficiently and responsibly.” He said the UN needs better intelligence capacity to protect civilians and its own personnel, adding that the first-ever policy on intelligence in UN peacekeeping will be presented to all Member States later this year. He also underlined the importance of “partnerships” and “collective responsibility,” referring to new and innovative “partnerships.” He cited the rotation system for C-130 transport aircraft used to transport troops and military equipment into Mali established by a group of five European countries: Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Norway. “The rotation system will deliver a predictable supply of this asset for years to come,” he added, while also noting that the possibility of creating the same type of shared arrangement for helicopters was to be discussed on the sidelines of the gathering in London.

The attempts through such Ministerials and Summits organized outside of the UN and with various coalitions represents an ongoing effort by various big powers to reform the UN in a manner that undermines the UN Charter and its founding principles. The U.S. imperialists headed by War President Barack Obama have taken the lead to try and make reform serve their aims. Obama in particular is seeking to pass the torch of UN peacekeeping reform towards what they call “peace operations” to the Trudeau government to try and gain legitimacy for the imperialists’ pro-war reforms. The Harper government sent a very low-level delegation to the 2015 UN General Assembly and did not participate in Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping; however under the Trudeau government Canada is positioning itself to take a leadership role in this reform.

Canada implementing imperialist marching orders

Canada’s Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan participated in the London Ministerial at which he re-announced Canada’s intention to establish a standing force of at least 600 troops plus 150 police officers to be deployed for future UN peace operations and upped the ante adding Canada’s intention to host a United Nations conference on peacekeeping in 2017. It is reported that Canada’s announcement of the troops and police it was prepared to commit was specifically made in order to gain a seat at the Ministerial, since it had not been invited to attend prior to the announcement.

“Canada is committed to leading international efforts in peace support operations. That’s why we’re here today, pledging our support and reaffirming our commitment to the United Nations. We want to ensure the dialogue continues next year, so we have committed to host the next UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in 2017,” Sajjan said.

Setting the tone for Canada’s aims, Sajjan reiterated the Liberals’ talking points about conflicts being more complex so as to try and fool the gullible into accepting military intervention, counterinsurgency and regime change as an “innovative response” to “a new reality internationally.”

“Conflicts today are more complex than ever before and we’re serious about being part of the solution – that’s the reason we’re bringing our resources and skills to the table. I’m confident that our unique whole-of-government approach will make tangible contributions to peace support operations around the world,” he said.

“Canada remains committed to building a more peaceful and prosperous world. Its increased support to UN peace operations is centred on a whole-of-government approach, combining diplomacy, deployment, training, and capacity-building – and includes conflict prevention, mediation, peace operations, and peacebuilding efforts,” he added.

Note

1.See “Revamping Peacekeeping to Meet War Aims: U.S. Calls Summit to Discuss UN Peacekeeping ,”TML Weekly, November 21, 2015 – No. 36.

Source: TML Weekly, September 17, 2016 – No. 36

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