Defense Minister Harit S. Sajjan delivered a statement in Canada’s name yesterday during the Open Debate of the UN Security Council on the “Collective Action Plan to Improve UN Peacekeeping”, in New York. The said plan includes a commitment from Canada to send Aviation Task forces to Mali for a period of 12 months, including Chinook helicopters for transport and logistics as well as Griffon helicopters to provide armed escort and protection.
Moreover, Canada used its tribune to reinforce and restate previous commitment in advancing gender equality in its deployments. The Elsie Initiative, presented last November, aimed to rapidly increase the number of women deployed to UN peace operations. The country is also pursuing the objectives of the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping, presented at the same time, with regards to ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers around the world.
“Each of the initiatives I have mentioned reflects Canada’s understanding that we must do peacekeeping differently and that we must do it in a way that reflects the present day realities of conflict. For decades, peacekeeping has helped prevent violence, preserve peace, and provide protection to millions of vulnerable people affected by conflicts,” said Defense Minister Sajjan.
“As my Prime Minister has said, peacekeeping operations are important for us, not only because they allow us to assist millions of vulnerable people in conflict zones, but also because a peaceful world is a more secure world for Canada,” he added.
“What we’ve seen in the past 25 years, however, are mandates that are more complex, demanding more and more of both our personnel and systems of responding. Though the peacekeeping community has been adapting and incorporating lessons-learned, it is imperative that we continuously adapt, innovate, and respond to new challenges. We must identify the root causes of conflict and the grievances that fuel them. In short, we must do peacekeeping differently, better and together,” he concluded.
Minister Sajjan also used his platform to further condemn sexual harassment, exploitation, and abuse in peacekeeping missions and international assistance and insisted on the importance to “reconfigure our collective approach to make responses victim-centered.”
Canada’s engagement in peace operations is centred on four core elements: providing Canadian personnel and training for UN peacekeeping missions; strengthening Canadian support for conflict prevention, mediation, and peacebuilding efforts; advancing the role of women in the promotion of peace and security; and, supporting UN reform efforts to make peace operations more effective.