UN still waiting to see 'concrete result' of Canada's peacekeeping promise

The outgoing head of United Nations peacekeeping operations says he's still waiting ''to see the concrete result'' of Canada's announced troop contribution to global peacekeeping missions as the Trudeau government prepares to announce an international peacekeeping summit in Vancouver this fall.

Canada set to host international peacekeeping summit in November in Vancouver

Canada's promise of 600 Armed Forces personnel and 150 police officers to UN peacekeeping missions 'hasn't materialized,' said Hervé Ladsous, the outgoing head of United Nations peacekeeping operations, seen earlier this week announcing the deployment of a regional protection force in Juba, South Sudan. (Bullen Chol/Associated Press)

The outgoing United Nations under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations says he's still waiting ''to see the  concrete result'' of Canada's announced contribution to global peacekeeping.

Hervé Ladsous said he was ''very eager'' when more than a year ago Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada was restoring its "voice and leadership role at the UN," including in the area of peacekeeping, after an era of disengagement under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper. 

''That was very exciting,'' said Ladsous during his last press conference at the United Nations after a six-year term. ''Well, so far, it hasn't materialized.'' 

Canada has 121 police, military experts and troops currently deployed in UN peacekeeping operations.

But seven months ago, Ottawa announced a new pledge of up to 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel and 150 police officers — without specifying where they would be deployed.

The UN has yet to receive formal confirmation of that contribution.

Following a peacekeeping summit hosted by the United States on the margins of the UN General Assembly in 2015, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) established a new system of tracking troop and equipment pledges made by member states as well as their readiness to deploy. 

United Nations peacekeepers from Rwanda wait to escort members of the UN Security Council at the airport in Juba, South Sudan. Canada has not said where it will deploy the additional troops and officers it has committed. (Justin Lynch/Associated Press)

''In order to enter this system, a member state has to send a formal notification to the United Nations outlining the  contributions it wishes to make,'' said a UN official who spoke to CBC on condition of anonymity. 

"The Canadian pledges are not yet included in this system given that Canada has not sent an official notification to the United Nations.''

Ladous said he still has faith that Canada will deliver on its promise.

''What I wanted to see and what I still hope to see is the concrete result,'' he said.

Improving planning and performance

His remarks come as Canada is set to announce it's hosting an international summit on peacekeeping in Vancouver in November. A follow-up to the September 2016 UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in London, which was attended by defence ministers from about 80 countries, including Canada's Harjit S. Sajjan.

At that meeting, Sajjan reaffirmed Canada's commitment to playing a leadership role in peace support operations.

"Conflicts today are more complex than ever before, and we're serious about being part of the solution," he said. "That's the reason we're bringing our resources and skills to the table."

Matthew Rycroft, Britain's ambassador the UN, said that conference ended with a communiqué centred on improving peacekeeping through the so-called three P's: better planning, better quality pledges and better performance. 

Rycroft said he wants to push that agenda forward at the upcoming conference in Vancouver.

''A lot of countries have made pledges which haven't yet been realized,'' he said. "We are working very closely with …[the DPKO] to make sure that those pledges do get turned into reality.

"I know the quality of the Canadian peacekeepers, so we are looking forward to seeing them deployed.''