Home WORLD AMERICA Washington calls on Ottawa to keep promises of rapid force at UN

Washington calls on Ottawa to keep promises of rapid force at UN

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The United States is also calling on Canada to honor the promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the United Nations four years ago of a peacekeeping force of 200 military personnel.

The U.S. request is contained in a letter sent earlier this month to Global Affairs Canada by the U.S. Embassy, ​​a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

The letter precedes a high-level meeting on peacekeeping, which South Korea is hosting next week and during which countries are expected to make new commitments to the UN.

These countries include Canada, whose Liberal government has been criticized for failing to keep past promises.

The diplomatic note of November 8 begins by thanking Canada for its historic role in peacekeeping. The note highlights the recent deployment of soldiers to Mali.

The Americans also commend Canada for increasing the number of women deployed to UN missions. The memo makes it clear that Washington expects Canada to do more.

We ask that Canada commit to providing medical units and unmanned aerial systems to UN peacekeeping missions.

A quote from Extract from the letter

In addition, we know that Canada made a commitment to provide a rapid reaction force to UN peacekeeping at the ministerial conference in Vancouver. We urge Canada to keep this promise.

A promise made in 2017

Trudeau first pledged the 200-member rapid reaction force when hosting a high-profile Vancouver peacekeeping conference in November 2017, but the government has yet to register it to the UN.

The Prime Minister also made a commitment at the time to provide helicopter and military transport aircraft units, which has since been done.

These commitments followed two years of lofty promises by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals that Canada would return to peacekeeping in force, after years of declining participation under previous governments.

The helicopters were eventually deployed to Mali for a year, and the transport planes carry out occasional support missions from Uganda. But the rapid reaction force has yet to materialize.

Meanwhile, Canada’s total contribution to the UN has fallen to historically low levels.

Canada had 57 soldiers and police on a peacekeeping mission at the end of September, according to the UN. While that number was up from a low of 34 in August 2020, it represents less than half of the number of troops and police who were on duty when the Liberals took power in 2015.

The office of Defense Minister Anita Anand, who is expected to represent Canada at the Seoul summit, and that of Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly did not respond to requests from The Canadian Press for comment on the matter.

But the Liberal government had previously indicated that it had given itself until November 2022 – five years after the Vancouver summit – to keep the three promises: helicopters, transport planes and the rapid reaction force.

A contribution to be determined

Global Affairs Canada earlier this month recognized the importance of UN peacekeeping missions, but said in a statement: Since this commitment was made, global dynamics as well as the needs of the UN have continued to change and evolve..

We can also read in the press release that the possibilities of a Canadian contribution to a rapid reaction force have not yet been determined.

Observers have wondered why Canada is taking so long to create this force, or even register it in the United Nations database of peacekeeping commitments, which is normally the step that countries cross after making a commitment.

The UN has listed rapid reaction forces as one of the many needs reviews for peacekeeping missions around the world, and affirmed that they were necessary to protect civilians and facilitate the delivery of aid.

Such units have been deployed in recent years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, where they have clashed with various armed groups as the United Nations seeks security and stability.

In a regular report on peacekeeping, the United Nations said in September that although they need eight rapid reaction forces, only three have been pledged and recorded in its database.

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