Members of the committee, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to address you today.
I will echo some of what my colleagues have said before.
Canada has had a long history of involvement in peacekeeping. Since 1948, the UN has established more than 60 peace missions on five continents. Canada has been part of most of them through the deployment of military and police personnel, as well as civilians.
The nature of conflicts has changed greatly since 1948. Peacekeeping was initially created to address conflicts between states after a ceasefire had been agreed upon. Although challenging, this work was fairly straightforward and could be carried out by military observers and other personnel in relative safety.
Conflicts today are mostly taking place within states and involve insurgent groups, armed factions, organized crime, and terrorists. New threats have emerged that were not present during the initial creation of peacekeeping. Those include terrorism, human trafficking on a large scale, and the use of the Internet to spread hatred and violence, amongst other things. Many times, peacekeepers from the UN and other multilateral forces are all that stand between civilians and violence, in contexts in which there is often no peace to keep.
The changing nature of conflicts has led to a crisis of peace operations, as challenges faced by the UN and the international community in general have increased. Having said that, peace operations are still the best and often the only instrument at our disposal to respond to conflict and human suffering. Therefore, as the international community, we must find ways to address these challenges and adapt peace operations to the new realities of today's world.
Canada has not been as active in the last decade and is only now trying to re-engage. In my view, it is crucial that this engagement is informed by the latest trends and developments in the UN system, to ensure that Canada's contribution achieves the highest impact possible.
The UN has commissioned a number of reviews of its peace operations system over the years, including the “Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations” or the Brahimi Report, in 2000, named after its chair, Lakhdar Brahimi, which my colleague mentioned, and more recently, the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, known by its acronym as the HIPPO report. The high-level panel was appointed by the then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2014 and conducted extensive consultations with UN member states and practitioners over a period of several months before publishing its final report on the June 1, 2015. The report is considered by the UN as the new road map for contemporary peace operations. As such, it should be integrated in Canada's planning and policies for peace operations.
I would like to turn now to the main points from the report that I think are especially relevant to Canada as it re-engages in peacekeeping and peace operations.
The report recommends four shifts in how peace operations are conducted.
The first one is that politics must drive the design and implementation of peace operations. Some of my colleagues have touched upon this topic. Lasting peace can only be achieved through political solutions, not through military means only. For that reason, the civilian aspect of peace operations is crucial and Canada should invest in supporting the numerous, highly qualified Canadian civilians working in the UN and other peace operations around the world. CANADEM, the organization I work for, was created by the Canadian government in 1996 to strengthen UN peace operations. It continues to act as Canada's civilian reserve by deploying and supporting Canadian experts in peace and humanitarian operations within the UN system all over the world, and with other multilateral organizations like the OSCE. We have 40 Canadians serving with the OSCE mission in Ukraine at the moment.
The second shift is that the full spectrum of UN peace operations must be used more flexibly to respond to changing needs on the ground. Peace operations include, but are not limited to, traditional peacekeeping. As such, Canada must invest in diplomacy, the creation of partnerships, and long-term inclusive development to prevent conflicts from reoccurring.
The third shift is that a stronger, more inclusive peace and security partnership is needed for the future. This means engaging with our partners in the international community and fostering a common understanding of democratic values, human rights, and the protection of civilians, especially women and children.
Lastly, the UN Secretariat must become more field-focused and UN peace operations must be more people-centred. Canada can play a role in UN reform.
The report then recommends new approaches to effect these shifts. Many of these approaches are directly in line with Canadian values, foreign policy interventions, and expertise.
I would like to highlight a few of these new approaches recommended by the report that, in my view, Canada should consider in priority.
The first and most important one, in my view, is that we should focus on prevention. This is the idea that it is much more efficient, in terms of resources and the avoidance of unnecessary destruction and human suffering, to prevent conflicts than to solve them after they have erupted. This may sound obvious, but the international community does not have a very good track record on conflict prevention. This has partly to do with funding arrangements that are only designed for ad hoc responses rather than acting before problems arise.
Second, we must invest appropriate resources in the protection of civilians. This has been a long-term Canadian field of engagement, and Canada has been at the forefront of international debates on this topic for decades, notably on the concept of the responsibility to protect, which Canada has sponsored. States have a legal and moral duty to protect their citizens, and when they fail to do so, the international community has a moral obligation to intervene.
We must also foster sustainable peace, which requires an involvement in the long term. Peace agreements and ceasefires will not effect sustainable peace on their own. For this, reforms, development, inclusive governance, and economic recovery are necessary. A special focus must be put on the security sector in countries after conflict. This includes creating state institutions like a justice system, the police, etc., that are transparent, inclusive, and representative of the population and that respect the rule of law and human rights.
In addition, the speed of deployment and capacity of uniformed personnel under the UN system must be improved. This can be achieved by selecting military and police officers who have specific skills relevant to each peace operation they are going to be deployed to and deploying them in a timely manner where they are needed. In terms of Canadian involvement, this may include, for example, deploying police officers with specific language skills—such as French in Mali and the rest of francophone Africa—community policing experience, expertise in combatting organized crime, and other things. Following on this recommendation, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has started requesting personnel with specific skill sets from member states. Canada should liaise with DPKO and attempt to fill the needs as they arise.
Finally, we must improve leadership in UN headquarters and in the field, including by having more women in decision-making positions. This includes civilian leadership that is experienced, competent, and diverse. We have a lot of Canadians who have those skills. The high-level panel recommends the appointment of more women to positions of leadership as well as at all levels of civilian and uniformed personnel deployments in line with UN Security Council resolution 1325. This is also a priority of the Government of Canada and should be addressed as a matter of priority in our deployments.
In conclusion, peace operations cannot be seen exclusively in terms of peacekeeping with military personnel, but have evolved to include a wide range of activities at the disposal of the international community. The high-level panel insists on the fact that political solutions are necessary to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts and foster sustainable peace beyond post-conflict transitions. Technical, bureaucratic, and military approaches often come at the expense of political efforts and in-depth analysis of each situation. Each peace operation and the range of tools it will use must be tailored to the specific context.
I thank you for your attention.