Canada’s Secretary of State for External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson proposed that "the UN send an international force to the area, position itself between the warring parties and bring an end to the hostilities." The initiative was meant to be "a truly international peace and police force ... large enough to keep these borders at peace while a political settlement is being worked out." This was a response to the Suez Crisis. Britain and France aided Israel in taking control of the Suez canal after Egypt President Gamel Abdel Nasser nationalized it. Pearson’s actions resulted in the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF). He offered a Battalion of Canadian soldiers to help resolve the conflict and prevent further conflict between the allied Britain and France and the rest of the Western world.
Diefenbaker sent peacekeeping forces to Republic of Congo to aid in conflict
Canada contributes military observers to the first UN lead joint peacekeeping initiative in Kashmir and later, Palestine.
Canada took a leading role in the UN force which aimed to separate the Greeks and Turkish in Cyprus who disputed over control of the island. Canada sent a large number of troops overseas. Some Canadian peacekeeping troops remain, although many were withdrawn in 1993.
Canada has favoured NATO peacekeeping missions, however these missions are only to places of Western countries interest.
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Peacekeeping: A Canadian Tradition
Canada signed the United Nations Charter and was now an official member of the United Nations
June 26, 1945
Canada and UN send troops to South Korea as a “police action” to prevent North Korea from invading South Korea. While this was not peacekeeping, more enforcement, it demonstrates Canada’s dedication to international safety and security.
UN peacekeeping forces, including Canada, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their contributions since the end of WWII. Canada had contributed 80,000 troops, 10% of all peacekeeping forces since 1948.
UN peacekeeping forces, including many Canadians deployed into the Balkan region amid ethnic conflicts (result of lack of governance since Soviet withdrawal)
UN peacekeeping forces, including Canadians, deployed to Somalia, whose people were starving as a country and had little stability. The goal was to restore peace and distribute needed supplies. Peacekeepers were attacked by warlords. Two Canadian troops beat and killed a Somali teenager, and other troops saw, but never said anything. The greatly tarnished the identity of Canadian forces.
Canadian peacekeeping forces along with other UN nations were deployed in Rwanda to help stabilize country. In 1994 the Government in power killed over 800,000 people based on their ethnicity. Little could be done by peacekeepers because of their limited powers and the extent of the chaos in the small country. 10 Belgian peacekeepers were captured and killed in Rwanda. The small peacekeeping force was lead by Canadian General Roméo Dallaire. This teams was responsible for saving over 20,000 lives.
Canadian citizens became frustrated that “peacekeeping” forces were deployed into places where there was no peace to be kept (past three instances). This meant that peacekeeping efforts were on the decline. The UN started to shift its way of thinking and upgraded their equipment, to be able to handle more violent situations.
Most of Canada’s military effort was diverted from peacekeeping to the war in Afghanistan.
Peacekeeping and Peacemaking
Canadian peacekeeping forces deployed to Egypt and Syria, after the Yom Kippur War. Canadian Prime Ministers were reluctant to deploy more peacekeeping troops on new missions.
Of Canadians Believe that we share the values of human rights and respect for the law in 2015
“Canadians have embraced the idea that their armed forces exist to keep the peace rather than to wage war. Canadian soldiers wearing UN blue berets have become as central to the national self-Image as hockey and maple syrup.”
Canada’s great military contributions and key role in defeating the Germany and the Axis made Canada a more prominent power in the world. With growing credibility and contributions to the world, Canada became more independent after WWII, which was another step towards total independence from Britain for Canada. As well, Canadian economy flourished and immigration was at an all time high after WWII. Because this was a large step for Canada in differentiating and separating itself from Britain, Canada now had something to call “Canadian” and not just British. This turning point was characterized by military efforts and later peacekeeping efforts around the world. Throughout WWII, Canadian soldiers exemplified Canadian identity by demonstrating courage, determination, and strength. The Canadian Armed forces were regarded highly, and were given the utmost respect around the world. Most importantly, they were recognized as their own country rather than just following Britain. Post WWII, the military efforts that defined Canada shifted to peacekeeping. With the development of the United Nations, many nations began to work together to prevent conflict as well as contain and control it before it can escalate..
Along with many other countries, Canada’s dedication to UN peacekeeping has dwindled over the past 20 years, mostly because of the insignificance and lack of robust tactics and equipment. Recently though, the UN has developed its peacekeeping program immensely to be a more powerful and potent force that has the ability to make a significant difference. And as more conflicts arise, now the the UN peacekeeping force has evolved, there is no doubt that Canada will become a more significant contributor to peacekeeping in the near future. With multilateralism being such an important part in Canada’s foreign policy, Canada’s peacekeeping efforts and likely going to increase, possibly to what they once were.
While none of these events by themselves directly affect Canadian identity, the events as a whole represent something bigger. Of course, every peacekeeping mission changes the view of those that were helped by Canada. Peacekeepers represent Canada and are our face to many different parts of the world. Peacekeeping is a reflection of the core values of Canadians. Peacekeeping is voluntary, countries are not obligated to do so. But it says something about the character of those that do. Peacekeeping is helping, cooperating, being kind, and resolving conflict. It is not an accident that these values are also the definition of peacekeeping, as well as common values we as Canadians share. Our contributions to peacekeeping have given Canadians a respected reputation around the world.