Madam Speaker, I thank the House for its tolerance with removing the date from the motion.
From Kosovo, to Cambodia, to Central Africa and to many other parts of the world, we see over 40 conflicts that are taking place as we speak. Kosovo, the one which has dominated the House for so long, is just the latest in a series of conflicts that have torn across the world for many years resulting in the death and dismemberment of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, and the removal from their homes.
Over 90% of those involved in conflicts, individuals who have been killed or maimed, are people who do not have arms, are non-combatants and innocent victims who only want to live in peace.
Before 1945, we had World War II. Between 1945 to the late 1980s, we have had a cold war with two superpowers glaring at each other, armed to the hilt with very powerful nuclear weapons. Since the late 1980s, with the breakdown of the cold war and the post-cold war era, we have seen a proliferation of conflicts. In fact, over 40 conflicts have and are still taking place today throughout the world.
After the post-cold war era there was a belief that we would have a peace dividend, that the world would now be a safer place to live. The fact is the world is a much more dangerous place. We do not have the tools to deal with this fluctuating situation, a situation that is imperilling more and more innocent people, costing billions of dollars and wreaking havoc over nation states, many of which are imploding as we speak.
Although Kosovo has drawn most of our attention, it is by no means the largest, bloodiest or most destructive conflict existing today. The largest land mass battle ever to exist in the world is taking place right now on the continent of Africa. From Sierra Leone and Liberia to the west, to Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, right through the Central African Republic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and down into Angola, a bloody war is taking place causing the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people every single week. Many people are maimed, many are raped, children are left to starve and entire countries are laid to waste.
As a nation and as an international community we have been completely and utterly unable to deal with this situation in any pre-emptive fashion.
In 1957 Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel prize for peacekeeping, an innovative measure to save people's lives. Many interesting initiatives have taken place since then, such as rapid humanitarian relief and the introduction of peacekeeping and peacemaking forces around the world.
However, we confuse peacemaking with conflict prevention. It is not conflict prevention because the moment we need to make peace, blood has already been shed, people have been killed and the seeds of ethnic discontent and future conflict are there for generations to come. We need look no further than to what is taking place now within the former Yugoslavia.
Slobodan Milosevic came to power and fomented violence against people. He initially stirred it up with the Croats by using propaganda and is now stirring it up with the people of Kosovo. The international community's response has appropriately been to engage in diplomacy.
When we were faced with the situation of the Jewish people and many others being slaughtered during World War II, what did we do? Nothing. If history has taught us anything it is that we have learned nothing. We continually sit on our hands and do nothing while people are slaughtered and killed.
The purpose of Motion No. 338 is to do something. It will change the international organizations that we are part of to become tools of conflict prevention. When despots are engage in actions that result in the deaths of thousands of people we will not stand by and watch. We will act with other like-minded nations.
The cost of this has been enormous. From 1945 to 1989 the UN has spent 23% of its budget on peacekeeping. From 1990 to 1995 it has increased that amount to 77%. Peacekeeping is bankrupting the United Nations.
I will articulate solutions to this problem through the revamping of the international organization. These conflicts did not appear overnight. Bosnia has been around for a long time. Kosovo has been around for 10 years. Many situations have been brewing for a long time. When General Roméo Dallaire spoke eloquently and forcefully before the slaughters in Rwanda and Burundi saying they would spiral out of control and result in the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people, we did nothing.
There are things we can do. We need to look at the precursors to conflict. We can see a polarization taking place before anything else happens. One group of leaders will start to remove the human rights of others. It will start abusing and ostracizing groups. It will polarize groups and try to get its own people onside.
As Michael Ignatieff, the famous author, said, they manage to polarize groups by focusing on the narcissism of the differences. Two people can be very similar but their small differences can be expanded out of proportion. This enables the despot to cause his people to start killing one another. We can see that happening. It is very obvious.
We can use the international financial institutions, the United Nations and NGOs who are on the ground to report back to the UN crisis centre. The UN crisis centre, headed by Stan Carlson, a Canadian, can be the centre through which information is channelled. The information can then go to the UN security council or farmed out to other organizations as part of the intelligence needed to determine ground activity earlier.
The security council needs to be reformed. Now that we are on the security council for the next year and a half there is much we can do. The security council is obsolete but maybe there is a way to change it. We could expand the security council by getting more countries involved, particularly those from Africa, South America and other developing countries. We would then have a more comprehensive and representative security council.
Vetoes should be removed from the five security council members. Granted, this would be extraordinarily difficult. Maybe the way around it is to ensure that the veto power can be only used for chapter VII actions under the UN security council. Or we could require two vetoes to block a motion or an action by the security council. Or we could require that all actions by the security council be passed by a two-thirds majority.
The UN needs to be overhauled in terms of its diplomatic initiatives. It needs to focus on what it needs to do. It cannot do everything and be everything to all people. Right now dozens of organizations are doing the same thing. Why not focus and streamline it so that one organization is tasked to do these things rather than many?
The actions which the UN can take are many. First, as I mentioned, propaganda is one of the most powerful tools that groups use to polarize individuals. For example, Slobodan Milosevic used anti-Croat sentiment to format anti-Croat actions by his own people. In Rwanda the Hutus disseminated propaganda against the Tutsis through short-wave radio.
The UN has the capability to engage in positive propaganda to bring together like-minded moderates from both sides. We need to do this. It is essential to do this if we are to dispel the negative propaganda that despots use to polarize groups.
We need to use diplomacy to bring groups together. When that fails sanctions can be utilized as well as military actions.
Soft power is good, but soft power needs teeth. We can only back up soft power if we have strong, sharp teeth. Strong military action is sometimes required if we are to prevent the deaths of thousands of people. I would submit that is what we are engaging in today in Kosovo.
All the diplomacy in the world is not going to convince individuals like Slobodan Milosevic to come to the peace table, with an olive branch, wanting peace. These people do not engage in the same moral frame of reference that we do. It is different. Individuals like Hitler, Milosevic, Sese Seko Mobuto and Daniel Arap Moi do not engage in the same moral framework; they engage in behaviour that is reprehensible to us.
The UN also needs to look at revamping its arms registry, making it obligatory for countries to sign on to the registry so that we know where inappropriate militarization is taking place. If the Jane's fighting ships can engage in intelligence gathering to put together comprehensive military expenditures, then certainly the United Nations could do that.
I would like to consider international financial institutions. The World Bank and the IMF are two parts of a triumvirate. They were brought together at Bretton Woods after 1945 to engage in peacebuilding, the reconstruction of societies, improving the markets of societies and also to engage in exchange rate stability around the world. I would argue that they have a much more powerful, potent and important force in the world for peace.
The first thing we need to do is to have them communicate and co-ordinate their actions. Much to my shock, I learned when I was in Washington and New York last year that it has only been since the end of last year that the UN, the IMF and the World Bank started to talk to each other. They have existed and operated in isolation. As a result, sometimes their actions have resulted in matters being worse from an international security perspective. They need to co-ordinate their actions.
Canada, being on the security council and having connections with most of these organizations, could act as a catalyst to work with like-minded nations to pull these countries together. Canada could act as a force to bring other countries together to work to reform these groups.
Wars need money. Every time we look at the television and we see developing nations, we see a 13 or 14 year old kid walking around with an AK47, the cost of which exceeds what that person would make in a year. Where does the money come from? Sometimes the money comes from us, through the IMF, the World Bank and other organizations. Sometimes these developing countries engage in destabilizing activities which result in the deaths of innocent people. We cannot tolerate that. We should have the power to prevent those moneys from getting into the hands of world leaders who would abuse their power at the expense of their people and at the expense of regional security.
The IMF, the World Bank and other regional development banks need to pay close attention to where those moneys are being spent and make the giving of those moneys conditional upon countries engaging in good governance, peacebuilding and investing in basic human needs such as education and health care. That builds peace. Investing in AK47s and small arms does not and we should not be a party to that.
We could invest in activities through international financial institutions, which is what the Grameen Bank has done for a long time. Micro credit loaning to average citizens helps them to become self-sustaining and self-sufficient, and it also builds peace.
While the actions of the IFIs can be used as a carrot, they can and must at times be used as a stick. When leaders of these countries engage in bloody actions against others, such as we have seen with Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or with Emperor Bokassa in the Central African Republic, or what we see today with Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya engaging in bloody action with the Maasi and the Kalenjin people against the Kikuyus, why do we support that?
These people cannot be allowed to do that. We need to hold their feet to the fire. There are things we could do. We could call up loans and we could prevent those loans from being renegotiated. We could suspend borrowing privileges.
I remember being in Kenya in the late 1980s when Daniel Arap Moi, one of the richest men in the world, was begging the world for handouts. He is a multibillionaire. That should never be allowed to happen.
There are other tools we can use, such as withholding money and imposing economic sanctions. However, money needs to go to the people, as we do not want them to suffer. Money can be channelled through non-governmental organizations. Good NGOs, working effectively to provide basic services, could be used as a conduit to ensure that there is economic stability and that money is provided to the people so they can provide for themselves in the future.
Historically the biggest stumbling block to early intervention has been the concept of state sovereignty. Many people around the world have said that state sovereignty is sacrosanct. Many people feel that what goes on within a country's borders is that country's problem. However, if we look closely at what the concept means in terms of international law we can see that does not hold water where leaders are engaging in behaviour that is destructive to their people.
State sovereignty comes from the belief that sovereignty is a manifestation of the will of the people. The UN convention on human rights protects and upholds the will of the people and is the basis of government. Therefore, international law protects the sovereignty of a people and the will of the people, not the sovereignty of the nation state.
Therefore, under international law it is acceptable for us to engage in actions against state leadership when that leadership is engaging in brutal behaviour that contravenes the will of the state and also destabilizes the region.
There is also a very pragmatic and selfish reason for us to get involved. When wars blow out of control, when countries implode and descend into hell, who picks up the pieces? These countries are developing nations, generally speaking. After the conflict they are more of a wasteland than they have ever been. The cost to pick up the pieces rests on the shoulders of the developed world, countries such as Canada. We provide aid and we provide defence. At times our people lose their lives in peacekeeping operations, such as those we have seen in the former Yugoslavia.
We have a right to intervene, and to intervene early, because we pick up the pieces after the war has taken place.
In the first 40 years of the history of the United Nations there were 13 peacekeeping missions. In the last 10 years there have been more than 25. Rather than the situation getting better, it is getting worse. What I am proposing through Motion No. 338 is that we pull together like-minded nations, such as we did on the land mines issue. I firmly believe we can do this. We need to bring together like-minded nations such as Norway, Iceland, South Africa, Australia and Central American nations; countries that are interested in pursuing peace. We need to give them a plan of action. We need to convene a meeting, maybe in Ottawa, to agree on a common plan of action, not a commitment for more study. We can take this common plan of action to these international organizations. If we all have the same plan of action, if we are all working toward the same goal, other countries will come on side.
The ultimate outcome will be the revamping and rejuvenating of international organizations. They will be a tool for conflict prevention so that the conflicts of yesterday will not happen tomorrow, and innocent civilian lives that have been laid to waste in imploding countries will not continue.
We cannot prevent all conflicts of the world, but we can prevent some. That is what Motion No. 338 is about and I hope members from all parties will support it. It is something upon which we can work together, it is congruent with our history as a nation, and it will save many lives and billions of dollars.