Question 1: How should Canada support United Nations peacekeeping?

Return to main 2019 federal election page.

Federal party responses below.

The United Nations currently has about 100,000 military, police, and civilian personnel serving in 14 peacekeeping missions. That’s more troops in UN field operations than any actor in the world, including the U.S. Department of Defense and more than the UK, France, China, and Russia put together. 

During the UN’s first five decades Canada was a leading contributor to peace operations, but Canada now ranks 58th in the world. Canadian contributions of personnel have declined under successive governments and now stand at (as of May 2019) 165 military personnel and 25 police.

Public support for Canadian participation in UN peacekeeping missions has remained strong over the years and contributions from countries like Canada with advanced military and logistics capabilities are needed to increase operational effectiveness. However, in recent years Canada has maintained a small and diminishing presence in a handful of UN peace operations.

As a middle power with no significant external threat to its borders, a nation dependent on international trade and therefore with an interest in a stable international order, Canada should be primarily interested in a strengthened multilateral system. Until 1995, Canada had participated in every UN peacekeeping mission. Despite the current Liberal government’s stated goal of re-engaging in UN peacekeeping (including a 2016 public commitment to deploy 600 military and 150 police personnel), Canada’s contribution to UN peace operations remains low and future commitments remain uncertain.

Of Canada’s current complement of 190 United Nations peacekeepers, 147 of them are part of the Mali deployment, according to UN statistics. When Canada’s role in Mali comes to an end, there will be only 43 Canadian peacekeepers deployed overseas. Prior to the mission in Mali, the number of Canadian peacekeepers had dwindled to the lowest level (40) since Canada proposed the first peacekeeping force in 1956.

Participation in UN peacekeeping is about more than just numbers, though. There is also a need for equipment and training. As part of the current federal government’s commitments to peacekeeping, they have launched the Elsie Initiative, a multilateral pilot project to develop approaches aimed at overcoming barriers to increasing women’s meaningful participation in peace operations.

Currently, Canada has 190 uniformed peacekeepers (combined military and police) which places it 58th among contributing countries.. The largest contributor (Ethiopia) provides about 7500 peacekeepers. What size range does your party suggest for Canada’s commitment of peacekeeping personnel?

  • 0-50
  • 51-250
  • 251-500 (Green Party)
  • 501-1000
  • more than 1000

Note: NDP did not respond to this question.

Of the following, which commitments to United Nations Peacekeeping would your party support?

  • Increased personnel (military and police) (Green Party, NDP)
  • Increased support for training, including the Elsie Initiative (Green Party, NDP)
  • Increased equipment (Green Party, NDP)
  • Other (explain)

Further detail from the NDP:

New Democrats will make it a priority to advance UN peacekeeping initiatives around the world. We think it is unfortunate that the Liberal government took years before they announced Canada’s contributions to the Mali mission. To make matters worse, the number of troops and police who were deployed is much lower than what the government promised in 2016. It should also be noted that many countries deploy many more peacekeepers on UN missions, including Ireland who will be competing with Canada for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. 

Canada should therefore lead again on peacekeeping, committing to more UN peacekeeping missions and fully implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda in all aspects of our peacekeeping work. We should also send more equipment and training support. The world’s most vulnerable civilians depend on our ability to step up to the challenge and uphold peace and security. 

Response from the Liberal Party:

One central challenge for peacekeeping in the 21st century is the absence of women, whether as police officers, soldiers or leaders. Involving women increases local populations’ confidence in peace operations and creates important role models. Crucially, it also reduces the likelihood of sexual abuse and exploitation.

That is why our Liberal government launched the Elsie Initiative, which will increase the number of women in peacekeeping, and have committed $21 million toward this initiative. Involving women in peace operations and in all aspects of conflict prevention and resolution is a real solution to hard security issues. The Liberal Party believes that women’s participation in UN peace operations is vital to achieving sustainable peace.

As a government we have also made a contribution of $45.37 million in new support for UN peace operations will help assure the meaningful participation of uniformed women in peace operations; enhance the capacity of the UN to take gender into account in the design and conduct of peace operations; and support the implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) agenda, including through new training strategies. 

Canada also made new investments to UN conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding efforts in countries working to set conditions for durable and inclusive peace, including Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Mali, South Sudan, Yemen and many others. These new investments build on the more than $100 million Canada has provided to support UN peace operations and peacebuilding efforts since 2016, and reinforce the commitments Canada made at the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference in Vancouver in 2017.

Return to main 2019 federal election page.

Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Instagram