29 May 2012

May 29—International Day of UN Peacekeeping

At a time when our government seems to prefer militarism to peacekeeping, it is especially important to salute United Nations peacekeepers. Today, May 29th, is the day the UN has set aside for that purpose, to acknowledge the 120,000 “Blue Helmets” who currently serve the cause of peace in 17 missions around the world and to mourn those 3,000 who have sacrificed their lives in that service.

Canada, which once contributed nearly 3,300 peacekeeping soldiers, now supplies only 57 troops and military experts. Our police contribution, 180 men and women, now outnumbers our military contribution, even though Canadians at large remain strongly supportive of peacekeeping.

If we must have a military, considering that we have no substantial enemies in the world this would seem to be its best purpose. The demand certainly remains high. The number and size of UN missions has continued to grow and missions are now more multifaceted and complex. Some western countries, including France, Germany and Italy, have been re-engaging in UN peacekeeping, contributing advanced military capabilities in support of leading troop contributors such as India and Bangladesh. This is a role we could play well, and increasingly can afford as our Afghanistan commitment winds down.

Under the current government, the chances of it happening are not good. However, we can still join peaceniks around the world and celebrate those of our military and others who fight the good fight.

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