Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before you on this important topic. I would like to begin with a few comments based on my work on behalf of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, hereafter PPC. I look forward to our subsequent dialogue.
The PPC is a non-governmental organization founded 15 years ago by the Canadian government. Our focus is on researching, educating, training, and building capacity on complex peace operations. Since its inception, the PPC has trained civilians, military, and police personnel from Canada and 150 other countries as they prepared for deployment to peace operations.
We continue to write and provide evidence-based analysis on complex peace operations, and we are currently engaged in capacity-building projects in Latin America and over 30 countries in Africa. We also offer training to international military personnel through the military training cooperation program, with which you are familiar.
My comments and responses today are based on how the PPC thinks and works on this complex subject. I have also read the evidence from your previous sessions with interest.
I have four principal foci for today's commentary: one, what is peacekeeping in the 21st century; two, what is the nature of conflict and its environment; three, what is a whole-of-government response; and four, what might the possible role of the Canadian Forces be post-Afghanistan.
First, when the PPC thinks of peacekeeping, we do not envision traditional peacekeeping à la Suez. We focus rather on a continuum that begins with conflict prevention and extends through multiple phases and steps to peace-building and sustainability. It is not a linear process. Actually it's rather chaotic, and it demands critical analysis from a systems perspective.
As previous speakers have noted, it is no longer our fathers' world. The international community is dealing in an environment where intrastate conflict is more the norm than the exception. The response to this sort of conflict environment is as complex as the nature of intrastate conflict itself.
The response involves a multiplicity of actors from whole of government. It has to factor the power of non-state actors that are well equipped in both arms and technology. It has to include local civil society and the whole range of NGOs, both domestic and international. It cannot ignore international financial organizations, such as the World Bank. It must deal with the UN family. And it is increasingly alert to the expectations of regional organizations, such as the African Union, the European Union, and NATO. This has resulted in our use of the words “complex peace operations”, which more accurately describe the response rather than peacekeeping.
Second is the nature of conflict. The first question you provided to me asks about the nature of the environment in which Canadian Forces can expect to operate. We propose that what we currently see is likely to be the framework in which countries, including Canada, will deploy personnel. I would commend to you Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, as he defines this space very clearly.
We have four cross-cutting variables that we pay a great deal of attention to when we are looking at conflict and conflict environment and response. One is socio-economic realities. Two is youth bulge. Sixty per cent of the world's population are between the ages of 14 and 25. That's a terrifying thought when you think of education, housing, clothing, jobs, etc. Three is information technology and social networking, which changes the nature of information. And four is environmental changes. These affect the development of asymmetric conflict. Furthermore, the increase in visibility and authority of regional alliances and organizations and their standby architecture will impact on how and who responds to complex peace operations.
The retreat by developed countries from UN blue helmets complex peace operations as troop- and police-contributing countries is matched by the increased demand from the global south. They contribute boots to the ground and expect to be more systematically consulted by the Security Council and the Secretariat on the mandating and resourcing of peace operations, despite their often substantive lack of trained and well-equipped personnel for deployment to these operations.
It does not go unnoticed that the developed countries are engaging in non-blue helmet missions in coalitions of the willing, and developing countries are relied on for their contributions to blue helmet missions. This does result in a two-tiered system of responses, and it is resulting in significant debates on command and control structures, training and equipment needs, political will and resourcing, and mandates in their identified tasks, such as protection of civilians and robust peacekeeping, however broadly defined.
It's a complicated picture for your consideration.
Turning to the third focus, since 1956 Canada has been engaged in a variety of complex peace operations, and the lessons learned are many, but I would suggest the following are seminal: the need for a credible and legitimate partner; asymmetric conflict does not lend itself to shooting one's way to peace; the non-state actor is a credible force ignored at our peril; the continuum of prevention and peace-building and sustainability is a long-term, expensive proposition, which generally fails as our attention span shortens over time. Finally, I think all of us have learned that planning the exit is as critical as planning the entry. The analysis for both must be based on an accurate and comprehensive understanding of history, geography, people groups, religion, economics of the specific conflict.
One of the more interesting responses to this reality has been labelled a three-D or whole-of-government, or joined-up, or multi-dimensional approach. It is framed by the need to have all of the players and actors at the table, including the local actor who will bear the responsibility for sustainable peace, if it's at all possible. The idea of specific or exclusive tasks operating in linear sequence is not useful in this particular conflict environment. At the PPC, we prefer the whole-of-government language, which defines a total government effort in which staff, resources, and materiel are coordinated towards achieving the defined objective. Co-location and sharing of information among a broad spectrum of governmental stakeholders, including the local partners, means that civil and military coordination or cooperation becomes the critical aspect in “whole of government”. Fundamentally, the whole of government succeeds when there is shared power and political will; this is difficult to achieve at the best of times.
One need, for the whole of government to work, is more robust, joint, scenario-based training activities in which personnel can practise decision-making at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels before going to the field. Our experience over 15 years tells us that it is cost-effective to train in the safety of a classroom, as the mistakes do not cost blood and treasure.
The need for a civilian rapid response force has been recognized in the U.S. and other countries, and there is a concerted effort at building the “blue briefcases” who are instrumental in development, rule of law, security, and capacity-building for institutions in civil society. We are all a very long way from having this managed well.
The fourth focus is on the role of the CF.
Canadian Forces are a tremendous group of professionals who have acquitted themselves brilliantly across the years. Their accolades cannot be based solely on the Afghanistan experience. Coming from a country with no colonial past, which manages its multicultural diversity without blood in the streets, and whose historical diplomatic ability, lawyer skills, and development focus make Canada and its forces extraordinarily attractive in the current environment, the Canadian Forces in a post-Afghanistan environment could play a role of significance to complex peace operations, particularly in the following: providing mentoring and support to regional organizations such as the AU in building a strategic, operational, and tactical expertise; using the lessons learned in fighting a counter-insurgency in complex peace operations that will, by necessity, be robust; using the experience gained in the PRTs as a model for civil-military relationships, based on clear understandings of roles, responsibilities, and authorities; re-engaging with the UN and UN-mandated missions to provide needed technical expertise as well as high-tech equipment, which would provide needed support to current troop-contributing and police-contributing countries. Generally, this is capacity-building, and the CF are well suited to the task.
The Canadian Forces will be impacted by how intrastate conflict is conducted, how multilateralism evolves in an age of economic tensions, and how complex peace operations, regardless of nomenclature, are conducted. Complex peace operations in the 21st century require the use of a well-trained military force, married with diplomacy, development, economics, rule of law, good governance, human rights, and a host of alliances and partners that can build an environment in which the cost of war is more than the price of peace.
Thank you. I look forward to our conversation.