Peacekeeping games, anyone?

So many people play online as warfighters but, in stark contrast, no one plays as peacekeepers. The immediate explanation is simple: there are no such games. But that is a mystery to me. Peacekeeping is more intellectually and ethically challenging, more deeply meaningful, more emotionally rewarding (saving people), and still includes the challenges (and excitement) of combat. So I began to explore the possibilities of peacekeeping gaming which led to publishing of a detailed paper recently: “From Wargaming to Peacekeeping: Digital Simulations with Peacekeeper Roles Needed” (pdf) in the journal International Peacekeeping.

I first asked myself and my research assistants, avid gamers who became my co-authors: what existing games come close to peacekeeping? A search online for “peacekeeping” games yielded some ridiculous results at first. For instance, the game Peacekeeper – Trench Defense describes itself this way:

Fight epic battles, slay endless waves of enemy hordes, and restore the peace! You’re the Peacekeeper, one of the world’s toughest elite soldiers. A relentless onslaught of enemy troops is invading your land. It’s up to you to restore the peace, and what better way to do that than with your huge arsenal of guns?!

Not exactly what we had in mind.

I took heart from PAXsims, which has the best reviews and descriptions of games involving realistic peace processes. Furthermore, the journal-Simulation & Gaming had a whole issue on peacebuilding in 2013, guest edited by Rex Brynen. So I felt that at least I was not alone; others were thinking about similar possibilities.  Rex’s Brynania game, in his eponymous territory, considers peacekeeping as part of the toolbox for conflict resolution. And, his survey shows that his student gamers strongly supported UN-led peacekeeping and mediation over all the other peace process options. But there are no games online to actually practice UN peacekeeping.

I have yet to find a commercial game, on a gameboard or digitally, where UN-style peacekeeping is the focus. Some militaries have experimented with peacekeeping training by reskinning warfighting games, like Arma3 and its more expensive (professional) platform Virtual Battlespace (now at VBS4 from Bohemia Interactive). But with a license fee of thousands per computer per year, VBS4 is beyond the reach of most individuals and peacekeeping training institutions. Besides, a wargame modified into a peacekeeping game will look like just that, not a product built from the ground up to realistically simulate peace operations.

There are a few relevant and exciting games for counter-terrorism and stability operations. But these are mostly US-style operations – think Iraq and Afghanistan, which have hardly proven to be successful models for creating peace. These operations are quite different from UN peace operations, which are based on a trinity of principles that are not usually present in US/NATO stability operations: consent of the main parties to the conflict for the UN deployment; impartiality so that the mission is guided by international law and any peace agreements between the conflicting parties (i.e., the UN should not side with one party and treat the other as the enemy); and the defensive use of force, unlike the frequently offensive character of most stability operations. Still, peace operations can require the use of force if an armed group poses an imminent threat to UN personnel or local civilians. And some elements can definitely be transferred from counter-insurgency (COIN) games like Rebel Inc: Escalation, e.g., learning about power-brokers, civ-mil relations, working with humanitarian actors (while giving them “humanitarian space”), using media coverage as leverage, etc.

We can also learn from the table-top exercises (TTX) that militaries so often play. However, in Canada and its NATO allies, the simulations are centered on a NATO-like alliance. These forces do not have the composition, spirit or integrated nature of the United Nations, where troops from the developed and developing world work alongside police and civilians, all under civilian international control. More importantly, the goal is to win the peace not to win the war. There are a few exercises with strong peacekeeping components, like the Viking multinational exercises held annually by the Swedish armed forces and the Folke Bernadotte Academy. In its day, the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre (1994–2013) in Canada also developed multiple exercises involving UN-led multidisciplinary peacekeeping missions, mostly based in the land of Fontinalis.

Screenshot from the Peacekeeper Game Project.

After searching, researching and writing about the idea of digital peacekeeping games, I wanted to start practicing what I was preaching. But moving from the general idea to even a demonstration game (proof of concept) necessitated a skilled game developer, who was generously provided by M7 Database Services. One game concept is now being developed – see www.peacekeepersgame.com, with explanation and video playthrough. A preliminary demonstration game is also available (upon request to walter.dorn@rmc.ca). This design and development work showed me the great power of agile object-based game development using assets from the Unity store – for more, see the peacekeeping gaming paper (pdf), specifically the section on “New and Emerging Methods of Game Design and Development.”

Screenshot from the Peacekeeper Game Project.

With this and similar initiatives in progress, it seems that peacekeeping gaming might be moving from vision to reality. Hopefully, game design companies will explore the field and the options. And I also urge the United Nations to explore them, not only for the training but also public education. Digital simulations allow for the easy production of videos to illustrate peacekeeping principles and practices. From my UN experience, I learned why “disruptive technologies” are given that name. Many UN officials recognized the exciting potential for peacekeeping simulation but did not want to disrupt their current work plans, overloaded as they were. Still, there is hope for UN digital innovation, especially as the COVID-affected world seeks to do more online, including peacekeeping training, during and after the crisis.

Screenshot from the Peacekeeper Game Project.

I know the Canadian and international officers I teach at the Canadian Forces College, especially those in my peace operations class, are enthusiastic to engage in peacekeeping simulations. Now would be the time to develop the games or encourage others to develop them. There are options to foster a new gaming genre: work with the gaming industry or with emerging game designers at colleges and universities in their gaming and design programmes.

Peacekeeping games, anyone?

And if the options to develop new games are few, and the development work with the United Nations proves too slow, then there’s more time to do the next best thing: producing more academic papers!

Walter Dorn

From Wargaming to Peacegaming – Digital Simulations with Peacekeeper Roles Needed


From Wargaming to Peacegaming:
Digital Simulations with Peacekeeper Roles Needed

 
 A. Walter Dorn, Stewart Webb and Sylvain Pâquet 

 

 Originally published in International Peacekeeping, 27:2, 289-310 (2020). (pdf)

 

ABSTRACT

Militaries around the world have benefited from computerized games. Many recruits have been attracted to the military through military-style video games. After recruitment, games and simulations provide an important means of soldier training, including before actual deployments. However, electronic games are lacking for UN peace operations. The multidimensionality of peacekeeping has yet to be simulated in serious games to complement the many games that too often depict a binary battlefield of blue-team versus red-team (or, often in public games, good versus evil). Not only could soldiers benefit from nuanced and ambitious peace-related games, so too could civilian peacekeepers, and the public at large. Peacekeeping gaming should not be merely at the tactical level; the operational and strategic levels can be gamed as well. The decision-making in future peacekeeping simulations could help instruct conflict-resolution and critical thinking skills. The paper posits that such digital games could be an important tool for current and future peacekeepers, both military and civilian. Commercial games could also help educate the public on UN peacekeeping. The paper suggests that the United Nations partner with some member states and perhaps the video game industry to provide in-depth training simulations that mirror the challenges and complexities of modern peace operations.

KEYWORDS  Digital games; peace operations; simulation; training; United Nations

 

Introduction

War is exciting, peace is not; or so thinks the entertainment industry. Since their inception, video games have focused heavily on war, conflict and the defeat of simulated enemies. The satisfaction of the gamer seems to be in achieving victory over opposing ‘evil’ and often ugly forces by shooting or destroying others. This can immerse gamers in fanciful scenarios of fighting zombies, invading aliens or other exotic scenarios. Few games attempt to mimic the realities of modern conflict, in which battlefield victories rarely solve underlying human problems. Also, the parties in modern conflicts usually show many shades of grey. Furthermore, wars often end with peace agreements, power sharing, and assistance from peacekeepers. Organizations like the United Nations have supplied personnel to help create and maintain peace in over 70 conflict areas for over 70 years. So, it would be natural to offer an opportunity to professionals and the public to take on challenging and realistic gaming roles focused on peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

Being a peacekeeper can be as challenging as being a warfighter, at least intellectually if not on the ground. It is harder to convince conflicting parties to lay down their weapons than to simply take a side, shoot the enemy, and minimize the moral, legal and practical consequences. Peacekeepers in the real world have to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of tasks: providing security, overseeing ceasefires and peace agreements, fostering reconciliation, disarming combatants, clearing mines, enforcing sanctions, providing aid and, since the turn of the century, directly protecting civilians. Much can be done by civilian and uniformed peacekeepers to mediate between conflicting parties and foster peace processes, provide humanitarian assistance, and a myriad of other tasks. Peacekeeping may also necessitate that UN military forces, as a last resort, fire their weapons against wrong-doers as part of peace enforcement within a peace operation.

New peacekeeping games could include roles for warfighters and armed conflicting parties. The converse is also true: peacekeeping roles could be introduced into some already existing warfighting games. Players could choose the role of the peacekeeper and see if they can have an impact on the result, possibly a ceasefire and maybe a peace agreement – like in real life, perhaps after fatigue sets in among warfighters. Though some fightingplayers would not want the game to end early with peace, the results could illustrate the difficulties, methods and benefits of keeping the peace. Casualty counts should go down rather than up when peace prevails. This could offer a realistic take on the role of the peacekeeper, with the damaging consequences of warfighting also demonstrated, albeit only virtually.1 More importantly, gaming can be a vital adjunct to education and training on peacekeeping.2

Several audiences would benefit from the introduction of digital peacekeeping games:

(1) Current and future peacekeepers, including military and police personnel, and civilians in the field;

(2) Those involved (e.g. at UN headquarters and national capitals) in decisions on peacekeeping deployment and supporting them from outside the mission, including political actors;

(3) The general public, which needs to gain more awareness about the activities and challenges of peacekeepers on the ground.

New types of digital games could also assist academics, journalists and others to explore and analyze new approaches to conflict resolution.

To begin, it is necessary to review the diverse array of digital gaming types and methods suitable for peacekeeping gaming. This is followed by a search for any currently available digital games in the commercial or military sphere that feature peacekeeping. If none are found, what about games on UN conflict prevention, or the resolution of armed conflict more generally? Lessons can be identified from any such games and from strategy games more generally. Military exercises can also provide considerable insights and examples for future games on UN peace operations. Some potential scenarios for peacekeeping games are then explored, as are the UN responsibilities for innovative training. finally, the possibilities for advanced forms of game development and virtual reality are discussed.

 

Game Options: Conceptual Framework

A wide variety of digital gaming types could be applied to peacekeeping, including turn-based games (modelled after traditional games like chess), and real-time games (with a controllable avatar, as popularized in many modern video games). These can also range from the tactical to the operational to the strategic levels of decision-making. In real-time strategy games, multiple units can be selected to perform different tasks at the same time, or the player can simply control one character at a time. The situation on the ground can be provided through a sky view that looks down from above. Alternatively, first- or third-person perspectives can provide 3-D views directed by the player, as popularized by first-  or third-person shooter (FPS/TPS) games where the player ‘sees’ the video world through the eyes of the avatar (first person) or from near the avatar (third person).

Turn-based games are sometime more amenable to learning at the operational and strategic levels, where are FPS/TPS games are generally more useful at the tactical level. However, this is not a hard-and-fast rule and hybrid forms can also be developed. Some turned-based strategy games more easily allow for diplomatic measures to be taken, such as the Total War series where in one aspect players negotiate with other factions on truces, alliances and trade agreements. On the other hand, real-time games (i.e. FPS/TPS) allow for a player to be immersed in an ‘open world’ environment through an avatar to explore physical space and interact in a semi-realistic fashion with other characters, both playable and non-playable. Digital games allow for both single or multiplayer options, and can incorporate various levels of skill, strategy and chance. So, the range of potential game types is wide. And new design methods, explored later, have become available to create and develop cutting-edge games.

In serious games, player actions could be measured on how well the player has caused the conflict actors to ease tensions and how the player is able to provide protection to the civilian population. The goal is to establish a sustainable peace, built on a democratic foundation with measures for justice and development. So, for a new peacekeeping genre, there are many possible game types. But are any peacekeeping games already available?

 

Precedents on the Open Market

Since there are, at least, a few movies on peacekeeping3 – of course, far fewer than war films,4 there was some hope for the discovery of some video games on peacekeeping. But a search of publicly available video games found none that featured peacekeeping on the ground as the main focus or even as a background theme. Somewhat humorously, an online search yielded a few games with the name ‘peacekeepers’ in the title, but none entailed actual peacekeeping.

The game PeaceKeeper presents a science fiction scenario:

 Bring your spaceships home! But be careful, the peace in the galaxy is not stable! One ship on the wrong planet could start a war. You can call diplomats to reduce the tension in the galaxy or if you are stressed simply slow down the time.5 

 Similarly, Peacekeeper Trench Defence has a warfighting goal, despite its name:

fight epic battles, slay endless waves of enemy hordes, and restore the peace! You’re the Peacekeeper, one of the world’s toughest elite soldiers. A relentless onslaught of enemy troops is invading your land. It’s up to you to restore the peace, and what better way to do that than with your huge arsenal of guns?!6 

The lexicon of peacekeeping is used inappropriately in some games to make the players think that their characters (avatars(avatars) are just justified are justified in fighting in fighting the ‘good war.’ This is the case in the popular game Arma 3, where the avatar is nominally a NATO peacekeeper on a fictitious Mediterranean island, but the main action is armed combat, with no options for negotiation or actual peacekeeping.7 

We can conclude that peacekeeping in the real-world sense is currently absent from the video game industry.

 What about gaming roles for the United Nations, the largest deployer of peacekeepers? The United Nations has occasionally been mentioned or used for roles in some video games, but its representation is usually quite different from what it is in reality. Yet again, it is usually used to provide justification for the game’s fighting action and to persuade the player that their path is the right one.

The United Nations building and concept is featured in some games. In Maxis’ SimCity 3000,8 the UN building can be built as a landmark. The Civilization Committee in Grand Theft Auto IV9 is a parody of the United Nations and has a headquarters identical to the UN’s. Tom Clancy’s The Division,10 about the aftermath of a pandemic in New York City, features the UN Headquarters. And in Killer7,11 part of the story revolves around a terrorist group called the Heaven Smiles that tries to trigger a war between Japan and the United States, with the United Nations serving as a forum where their diplomats clash. But the game itself has nothing to do with diplomacy or peacekeeping. In science-fiction games, the United Nations figures even more prominently but they do not provide models for real-world UN peacekeepers.12 

While no commercial video game has been found to centre on peacekeeping or even the UN role in conflict prevention, there are a number of games that deal with peace and conflict resolution more generally. For example, This War of Mine13 is a rare example of a survival game, set in conditions very similar to the Siege of Sarajevo. It follows the trials and tribulations of a small group of unrelated civilians who try to survive the civil war. The player thus needs to guide each civilian towards resources and to help them manage these resources in order to survive together. The game offers non-violent gameplay and sheds light on the people that peacekeepers might save or aid (as was the case in reality in Sarajevo in 1993–95). In fact, the British charity ‘War Child’ partnered with the game developer in a fundraising campaign in 2015, which by 2018 had raised some half-million dollars.14 This game could point the way for future games focused on peacekeepers who help displaced people.

In Peacemaker,15 the player chooses to be either the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinian president. The objective is then to ‘resolve’ the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through political decisions and actions, such as speeches or the management of settlements. By design, the only way to win this game is to implement a two-state compromise. Though most gamers do not like to be forced into a specific direction, this is an example of how a game may improve a player’s diplomacy skills. A crucial study of this game demonstrated that third party players (American and Turkish) had their preconceived notions swayed during the course of the game.16 It could also be one model or inspiration for future games focusing on the negotiation and mediation aspects of peacekeeping. Many non-electronic simulations of peace negotiations have been developed, mostly for class-room settings.17

While there are no general peacekeeping electronic games commercially available, there have been a few initiatives in specialized areas. The Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative asked university students in 2016 to create a training tool for soldiers or peacekeepers in Somalia who might have to deal with child soldiers.18 The game features artwork done by local Somali artists. The idea was that players must diffuse the situation and not anger the child soldier who might otherwise resort to violence. The creators state that the game could be reworked for any conflict zone that involves child soldiers. This would mean at least altering the dialogue text and artwork to represent the conflict zone in question. Unfortunately, the video game was not publicized or made available, though a card game has been developed.

Another niche game deals directly with female peacekeepers. It is being developed by sociologists, psychologists and computer scientists at Trinity College Dublin and the Gaming for Peace (GAP) project.19 This 2-D game aims to improve the cooperation (soft) skills of peacekeepers, including communication, cultural sensitivity and gender awareness. The main character chooses various options in how to interact with colleagues and highlights the sensitivities that need to exist in any multinational and multi-gender deployments.

Another niche game that could serve as inspiration is called the Stabilization Operations in Highly Religious Societies.20 It has been used as a training tool, though not yet in electronic format. It mirrors the efforts of Western forces in Afghanistan. While forces in Afghanistan were on a counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism mission, the stabilization functions were similar to those in peace operations. The game sets out the civil–military interaction between the military and non-government humanitarian groups with the goal of providing adequate humanitarian assistance for the population. This is done by focusing on various sectors that need to be improved, from sewage facilities to police and governance to health and agriculture. It is essentially a game based on the experiences of Provincial Reconstruction Teams and involves three main actors: NATO, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the ‘World Church United,’ which is the game’s version of faith-based NGOs. This game is more useful for counter-insurgency operations and is not offered as an electronic training tool but it does provide some useful ideas for role-playing in a group simulation.

The United States Institute of Peace offers classroom simulation guides for teachers to help students understand situations that are current and relevant, including the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and Nepalese governance and corruption. It also has older simulations, most of which are now archived, that deal with the Paris Peace Talks in 1972–73, the Cambodian Peace settlement, and conflicts in Columbia, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Kashmir, Northern Ireland, and Sri Lanka. UN peacekeepers are not specifically played, though they may be part of the background in a few of these classroom simulations.21

To supplement these niche games, what is needed is wider or all-encompassing digital games, whether played on video consoles or computers, that aim to improve how peacekeepers react to the evolving challenges in the field. This would make an attractive opportunity for the United Nations to partner with the video game industry to create such a training resource, as well as a means to educate the broader public about peace operations.

 

Learning from Games on Strategy and Conflict Resolution

Despite the lack of current peacekeeping games, future ones could borrow useful styles from some sub-genres of existing wargames, especially those that steer away from arcade-type shooting games. Like any well-designed game, the player should be able to make choices and meet challenges, with success being rewarded. Peacekeeping gaming should involve developing a strategy to resolve conflicts, allocate resources, and coordinate team members, with nondeterministic outcomes.

The tactical sub-genre of the warfare genre does not exclude action and direct confrontation but the players may choose more stealthily or diplomatic strategies to avoid casualties. The focus is on the use of tactics, the coordination of forces, and teamwork in order to lead operations and fulfill objectives. Unlike typical war games like the Call of Duty22 and Medal of Honor23 series, where the player must charge head-on into the field and shoot all enemies with a variety of weapons, tactical games require more thinking skills and knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the team members and resources at the player’s disposal. The sub-genre spans across a variety of gameplay styles, namely: first-  or third-person tactical shooters, such as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon,24 where the player must coordinate team members and avoid casualties among their ranks; tactical turn-based games, like Advance Wars,25 in which players take turns to move avatars and/or pieces (e.g. equipment) to defeat enemy forces (chess, for example, is a classical tactical turn-based board game); and real-time strategy (RTS) games, like Age of Empires,26 where players manage resources and groups that evolve in real time, from a third-person perspective. Peacekeeping games may borrow ideas from these genres for both gameplay and storyline, including how to incorporate elements of suspense, progress and decision-making. They also model how wanton violence can reduce the chances of success.

Other game types have less to offer because of their themes but they are still worthy of a brief review. Stealth espionage games focus on strategy to avoid direct confrontation, and aim to resolve a conflict through the isolation and neutralization of a threat. This may require some level of violence – notably the assassination of key figures – but sometimes the player may reach the end of the game without killing anyone and still make their way from one objective to another. One example is Metal Gear Solid,27 where a veteran spy in a sci-fi dystopia must find ways to sabotage plans of conspiracy and destruction. Despite the strange scenario, the game could be considered as the first step toward a niche that focuses on non-violent conflict resolution, as it criticizes current trends in warfare and encourages the player to resolve a conflict with minimal casualties. However, following the critical acclaim and commercial success of this game series, the later entries in the series are more action and conflict-oriented. One step forward, one step back.

Another strategic war-game sub-genre focuses on the strategic placement of units onto a territory in order to outplay rivals. Notable examples include the board games Risk28 and Stratego.29 A few games focus on diplomacy compared to other sub-genres, in particular, virtual remakes of some tactical board games. The most deliberate example of this is the adequately named Diplomacy30 board game, which also became a videogame series,31 where trust and rational calculations play an important role, as in real politics. In the movement phase, each player moves land and/or sea units, and chooses a set of rules that determine whether they would make war or peace.32 Such a game is more akin to decision-making at the governmental and diplomatic levels, but the gameplay style may be used to design a game that would improve the diplomacy skills of UN peacekeeping mission leaders.

A potentially useful turn-based strategy genre is the Total War series, a series of computer games set from the times of the Roman Empire to Napoleon to the fantasy setting of the Warhammer universe. In these games, the objective is to conquer the known world. In doing so, the player has to create alliances, trade agreements and decide when to launch a war against another country and when to sue for peace through diplomacy.33 However, in the gameplay dynamics, suing for peace is still tantamount to bribery and the player cannot negotiate peace for anyone but themselves, including their allies. The diplomacy/warfighting dynamic could be developed to introduce peacekeeping and conflict resolution elements into the game, with players managing multiple relationships with different factions while benefiting from cooperative players. Even more valuable would be the introduction of specific peacekeeping roles into the game, allowing for new players, both civilian and military.

 

Learning from Military Exercises

Most military forces conduct exercises with their units before deploying them on peace operations. Several countries host permanent peacekeeping training centres that conduct exercises that include other nations as well. One of the most advanced multinational exercises in peace operations and crisis response is Exercise Viking, sponsored by the Swedish Armed Forces International Centre (SWEDINT) annually since 1999. It allows players in multiple countries to exercise on the same scenarios in the fictitious conflict-ridden country Bogaland. While not carried out as a first-person shooter or as video game, it is a computer-assisted exercise, with a common operational picture in graphic format, and a chat function. The control element in Sweden publishes a fictitious daily newspaper and coordinates responses among the international actors in real time. The actors, in multiple locations in the world, communicate via computer and make common plans to respond to the exercise injects.34 This exercise challenges participants with wide-ranging scenarios and also develops their communication skills, as they are coming from different countries and often speak different languages, as is the case in real peace operations.

Militaries have shown that digital games can complement the traditional exercises that militaries often conduct live (in person, and in situ). Conference (table-top or command post) exercises frequently use computer-assisted communications for injects and instruction-giving. Beyond that, e-games offer the military and the public new and more convenient ways to individually hone critical thinking skills and learn about various types of deployment on a personal level. Table-top games rarely offer the immediate rewards or consequences that e-games can provide. Digital games can also be run at the player’s own time and location without requiring travel to take part in distant exercises. Moreover, e-games can provide training for individuals that is unimpeded, or tainted, by a group activity, though it can also include that. Digital games can be run in a multiplayer fashion that could involve individuals sitting in different parts of the globe. This can bring more cohesion and familiarity between peacekeepers from different nations before deployment, even when soldiers are separated by a great distance. Then, when soldiers meet on deployment in a conflict zone, they are more familiar with each other due to their online training experience with the envisioned mission problems. finally, e-games can immerse the player in photorealistic environments, which is not possible in a board game or on the exercise table.

Advanced militaries make use of some very sophisticated and realistic digital training environments, like Virtual Battle Space (e.g. VBS4), designed for war-fighting.35 These could be modified for use as peacekeeping games. And many military command-post exercises could also be modified for peacekeeping.36 Though different from the platforms used in the civilian marketplace, military platforms could serve as inspiration for the development of an e-game involving civilian and police roles as well as military ones in peacekeeping.37 The well-developed military simulations could help future games be more be realistic, including in the conflict environments in which UN peace missions operate.

 

Scenarios

Currently, the United Nations does not provide e-games or computer-simulated environments for the training of its peacekeepers, though it does have table-top exercises using real-life scenarios taken from existing missions.38

The United Nations is actively developing realistic scenarios to help train its peacekeepers in one of the most challenging mandates for modern missions: the protection of civilians (POC). Some of the many scenarios and vignettes could eventually include: stopping an armed group that is moving along a road to attack and sack a nearby town (e.g. in retaliation for an attack that came the other way weeks earlier); stopping raids on cattle or other strategic resources in conflict zones; escorting women refugees on fire-wood duty from a refugee camp; halting the burning of a village; confronting a child soldier committing atrocities – an especially challenging dilemma for the use of force; protecting the UN’s aid convoy from being stopped and looted; dealing with road-block extortion by illegal armed groups or corrupt police; confronting an angry mob protesting in front of UN officers; tracking the movement of refugee columns; assisting displaced persons to move back to their homes, where they encounter new neighbours from a hostile tribe or ethnic group; preventing cross-border military or militia forays and use of proxy forces by neighbouring states; and disarming a community or rebel group as part of a peace agreement.39 There are dozens of scenarios that can be played out within this proposed training domain.

The training games mentioned above, such as the initiatives undertaken by Trinity College Dublin, are valuable and serve as pioneering work, but they do not offer general peacekeeping scenarios or ones focused on POC more generally. They are designed to improve training for specific challenges faced in some deployments. This is essential, but a more general training video game, that immerses the gamer in the mission with the many challenges, complexities and interactions, is still lacking. This could provide an educational experience to prepare a peacekeeper for the types of scenarios that might be faced in the mission and help build the skill sets needed to meet those challenges. The player will have had time to think about the scenarios and the possible options for action.

 

The Effects of a Peacekeeping Game

 The scenarios that should be played out in a peacekeeping game are much more complex than that typical FPS games. Typically, games require fighting to get from Point A to Point B and to complete the mission, or to hold out against waves of adversaries. Many games are linear in play with possibly only narrow variability when it comes to the conclusion of the game. The premise is that if you survive or defeat an enemy, you win; if you die or lose to an enemy, you lose the game. This may work for basic gaming and military training games where victory or survivability is the objective. However, for a peacekeeping game, or even for a game based on counter-insurgency operations, there are other potential endings: you survive, and yet you still lose, because, for example, the conflict has not ended; you die but the peace is won; or you live and peace is established. Obviously, the latter is the preferred outcome!

The most important feature is that the player learns about the various avenues to success in peace processes and peace operations. In order for video game to become an effective training tool, there needs to be a level of in-game adaptation that challenges the player with multiple avenues to success.40 In an education or training setting, debriefing at the end of the game or at the end of segments could be extremely instructive, allowing players to reflect on the actions of themselves and others.

The US Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) supports the development of more games with sophistical, real-life games with non-linear story lines. DARPA has already put out a Request for Information for ‘scalable, interactive gaming or wargaming approaches simultaneously spanning a large number of space and time scales with the goal of assessing a wide range of possible competitive outcomes and strategies using a range of human decision-making strategies.’41 Some games could incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) that is adaptive to provide an additional challenge.

Moreover, DARPA is looking into the development of real-time simulations, and tactical shooter games that would not only encompass tactical training but also include operational and strategic elements. This is part of an effort  to develop games to increasingly mimic the turbulent and complex reality that is modern war. The evolution of an adaptive AI and non-linear storyline can bolster player empathy for the video game’s environment and characters. For example, depicting a village’s daily struggles during a conflict within a video game may generate empathy in the gamers and cause them to change their belief that all villages are under insurgent control, or that the worst atrocities, e.g. genocide, are taking place. Emotional involvement is key for any simulation that involves teamwork or depicts social inequality.42

This empathy effect could have an effect on the player-soldier, possibly looking at the long-term effects of killing. Having scenario alternatives based on players’ decisions will help instruct the players on the possible consequence of their actions.43 

Players who want to use the game for instructional purposes will see the game through different eyes than those seeking to be entertained by any violence that may transpire in peacekeeping games. In addition, the players’ avatars would be rewarded for peace-promoting activities, while their character could be punished for serious misconduct. The wanton use of force could also result in an early end to the game, with the player’s character sent to a court martial. On the other end of the spectrum players would also have to bear the burden of their conscience in cases of under-use of force in the face of atrocities against civilians when the peacekeeping force had the means to intervene but failed to do so.

The complexity of peace operations requires a level of cultural understanding, communication and conflict resolution and not just the gun-blazing tactics of many FPS games. This is why the complex AI algorithms can be particularly useful in future e-games. Fortunately, these AI capabilities are increasingly being found in commercial gaming. New levels of gameplay are now possible that better mirror modern day conflict zones. The AI can also help show how conflict resolution is a necessary part of peacekeeping: both to achieve the mandate but also as an exit strategy for international forces (or game completion).

If players in the general public, especially game-playing youth, become more aware of the goals and activities of peacekeeping, they will be better able to serve in peacekeeping and, more broadly, be able to engage intellectually with such issues and support the goals relating to peacekeeping. The more knowledgeable both local populations and world populations become, the higher will be the levels of understanding and support.

For peace operations especially, a highly desirable characteristic is empathy for all concerned. As Farber and Schrier point out videos can serve as ‘empathy machines’ and foster a relationship between the gamer and all aspects of the video game, including the main character, non-playable characters (NPCs) and interactions with the environment.44 A heightened sense of empathy in the gamer creates a more immersive experience and amplifies the overall interaction, especially if the player were able to identify with the in-game persona.45

There are video game precedents to build upon for future peacekeeping games. If games like America’s Army: Proving Ground,46 billed as ‘the official game of the US army,’ can attempt to re-enact the heroic deeds of soldiers in modern combat missions, then a future official peacekeeping game could do the same. The gamer could interact with a realistic and evolving environment. Ultimately, for peacekeeping, it could improve how people around the world view peacekeeping and create more interest.

 

UN Responsibilities and Requirements

At the United Nations, the Integrated Training Service (ITS) of the Departments of Peace Operations (DPO) is the main body responsible for the conception, production and evaluation of training tools distributed to local (national) training facilities. But it has not yet developed digital games to support its training programme.

The ITS leaves most of the training of military forces to the troop-contributing nations, and it has asserted that its training should focus more on improving cultural awareness in order to improve the quality of the response of peacekeepers, on teamwork, and the transfer of knowledge among peers.47

While it has so far lacked the time and resources to create digital peacekeeping games, its current repertoire of materials and scenario-based exercises could be leveraged for developing such games. The call for innovation, as made in the UN Secretary-General’s Strategy on New Technologies, could certainly apply to enhanced peacekeeping training.48

The Office of Information and Communication Technology (OICT), within the UN Secretariat, provides assistance with technological innovation, including for peace operations. In late 2019, it began to explore the possibilities of peacekeeping games, including through its new Technology Innovation Lab (UNTIL) in finland. One possibility to explore is the inherent tension in the POC mandate, when the attackers of civilians are also participants in the peace process. This is an important but controversial aspect of modern peace operations, so it is all the more important that the UN explore the range of dilemmas and options for peacekeepers.

It is possible that ITS, OICT, and other parts of the UN system could liaise with the video game industry (or vice versa) or independent (‘indie’) developers in order to create video games that would enhance training for current and potential future peacekeepers and, in a releasable version, improve the peacekeeping brand around the world. Thus, such simulations could accomplish the two goals at once – peacekeeping training and public education. By releasing peacekeeping e-games, the developer would not have to charge large fees to institutions like the United Nations to recoup development expenses. All peacekeeping institutions could have access to the games and safeguard their use as a wide-reaching training tool in both the developing and developed world. The second goal would be that the e-games would provide an educational tool to the wider e-gaming audience, including one or more for use as a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG). The games could potentially serve not just as entertainment for younger people, but as a means to foster international humanitarianism and conflict resolution within a new generation of global citizens who are technologically savvy.

 

Peacekeeping in Virtual Reality?

Fortunately, with the advent of virtual reality (VR), realistic simulation is rapidly becoming cheaper and easier to develop. VR headsets and games are penetrating the mainstream videogames market, and some national forces are recruiting gamers and training them with warfare simulation games, including to develop skills to manipulate drones and long-range weapons. The US Army is already extensively using VR simulation for soldier training using the ‘Synthetic Training Environment’, with the help of Bohemia Interactive.49  VR e-gaming is relatively new but the technology is being quickly adopted by both commercial and military markets. There are also new opportunities for a change of culture and the production of strategy-focused peacekeeping electronic games. This might foster peacekeeping techniques as a more efficient response to various situations in conflict zones.

Thanks to the advent of portable VR technology, players may now use VR headsets to have a more realistic feeling of ‘being there’ in the virtual 3D environment, which can be modelled on actual locations, in combination with headphones and a microphone that allow them to communicate with each other and cooperate. These are no longer exclusive to expensive hardware-software packages used by the army, but are now part of the mainstream video games market.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has a VR Unit in Bangkok that is developing combat simulation/games that focus on the principles of International Humanitarian Law.50 Also in Bangkok, the United Nations has a VR unit that is looking at VR techniques for basic equipment training (e.g. use of fire extinguishers).

Because of recent developments in consumer technology, commercial video games can reach a level of immersion good enough to train troops, maybe not physically but strategically, operationally, and tactically. Electronic (VR) games can serve as realistic warfare simulators if the designers pay enough attention to detail and realism in the immersive environment.

There is much research in the academic world, however, that criticizes the relative detachment of the drone pilot from the physical target, questioning if the distance provided by the on-screen interface real does dehumanize the target and, consequently, the act of killing itself. There is evidence that the detachment is not complete, as it was discovered that many drone pilots end up with a post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their functions.51 Peacekeeping games can give a sense of real-world tensions and stresses with much less risk of trauma from the viewing of actual atrocities. The simulations can help prepare peacekeepers for what they may have to witness and to deal with in the field.

In any case, given the interest of both the military and gamers for video-game simulations of warfare, studies can be made to explore the specific features and scenarios that would be most valuable for real-world peacekeeping and which can be effectively represented in peacekeeping games for training, recruitment and even entertainment. The software tools are expanding rapidly to allow a wider range of scenarios and quests.

 

New and Emerging Methods of Game Design and Development

The technologies and tools for designing new games are getting easier and better, which is especially fortunate for independent (indie) game developers that do not have large studios to do extensive programming, coding, sound engineering and art development. For an open world (FPS/TPS) peacekeeper game, on flexible and newly emerging method to speed up game creation is ‘agile object-based game design,’ through purchase of malleable characters and game controllers (including all rights), e.g. through the Unity Asset Store. By buying components with complete code-level freedom and borrowing from existing games and developers, i.e. reskinning and partial modifying, with all necessary permissions and acknowledgements, reductive development can lower the development, trial, production, and other costs, as well as reduce the time needed for game development. The specially purposed characters can be unique, as can the storyline, using actual UN scenarios. As the game environment is being programmed, the storyboard, scenarios and dialogue trees can be developed in parallel. This option promises to be cost efficient and fault tolerant, given that most of the technical bugs have been worked out before collections of characters or structures are purchased. Thus, more attention could be placed on the content, rather than on display details. However, the game should be developed in such a way that future versions or episodes could be done in virtual or augmented reality (VR/AG). The possibility of adding some machine learning tools, such as for voice recognition and responsive code changes to game play, can also be explored.

Another possibility is to legally ‘mod’ a pre-existing game that has been opened for the wider video-game community to develop and introduce their own additions into the game. These could be as small as variations in characters, such as reskinning character outfits in a peacekeeping style, or as large as major changes in the missions. For peacekeeping, the goal is not to shoot but to prevent shooting, unless absolutely necessary. Modifications to the original game would be contingent on finding a design community that would be creative yet also able to mirror peacekeeping reality, which requires more familiarity with UN operations than possessed by most gamers or game developers. One downfall of ‘modding’ is that the game would not serve to be the exact training tool that is envisioned. However, it could serve as one branch of a new genre of peacekeeping games.

 

Conclusion: Future for Peacekeeping Simulations?

Many new and exciting possibilities for peacekeeping games exist. Developers could offer realistic decision trees with non-deterministic solutions so players have opportunities to experiment with a game that may be played differently at every try, with the ongoing challenge of finding the optimal solution, especially strategies for long-term conflict resolution. The opportunity to try various strategies would allow players to learn from past mistakes and successes and to adapt their decision-making style and skills in order to find the best response to various conflict scenarios. The players can find satisfaction in finding strategies leading to peace. In particular, they can explore the decision space of the conflicting parties and situations of the local populations to better their own peace strategy. Such mirroring can be very useful in training, especially to foster empathy.

Peacekeeping games could use different styles for different audiences than wargames, including some of the styles reviewed earlier. The designers should be able to reproduce at some level the emotions and stress that are involved in real life. To avoid players simply ‘gaming the game,’ the simulation should be as realistic as possible. If the challenge and the means offered are realistic, the games would attract the interest of a niche of players and educate peacekeepers on the best strategies to adopt in difficult situations. Lessons can be learned for real situations borrowed from the field and applied to the game environment. Given the changing circumstances in the field, peacekeeping games could be useful to train UN peacekeepers during deployment, as well as before.

With challenging games developed to test one’s skills at conflict resolution, the gaming culture may even find an element of pacification, or at least questioning violent solutions, which opens more potential for future exploration.

Peacekeeping gaming could be fun and exciting, as well as educational. It certainly offers more constructive and productive aspects than destructive ones for the entertainment industry. For actual peacekeepers, it could be a valuable means of training. So, innovation in peacekeeping gaming offers a potentially valuable training tool for the professional, a good awareness-raising tool for the general public and a new form of entertainment for ethically-minded game players.

  

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Drs. Danielle Stodilka, Charlotte Sennersten and Paul Darvasi, as well as Ryan Cross, Marcus MacDonald, and Hesameddin (Sam) Abbaspour Tazehkan for valuable feedback on drafts of this paper. Any errors or  flaws in the paper remain the responsibility of the authors.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

Funding

This work was supported by the Canadian Pugwash Group [grant number 2019-1].

Notes on Contributors

A. Walter Dorn is Professor of Defence Studies at Royal Military College, and the Canadian Forces College, Toronto. He teaches military officers from about 20 countries, including on peace and stability operations. He has served at the United Nations as an Innovation Technology Expert. His books include Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology & Innovation in UN Peace Operations (UN University Press, 2011) and Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace (Ashgate, 2014).

Stewart Webb is editor of Defence Report. He obtained his MScEcon in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and his BA from Acadia University. He has provided his analysis frequently within the Canadian media and has written many reports and has edited two books on terrorism and insurgency.

Sylvain Pâquet works as a data scientist at the Canada Border Services Agency. His research focusses on game theory and complexity theory for the study of politics.

 

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Endnotes [converted from footnotes]

1     Dorn and Webb, “Gaming  Peace: A Call for Peacekeeper Roles.”

2     Brynen, “Teaching about Peace Operations.” Brynen also maintains the website “PAXsims” devoted to “peace, conflict, humanitarian, and development simulations and serious games for education, training, and policy  analysis.” See: Brynen, “PAXsims.”

3     Films on peacekeeping are, unfortunately, quite rare and low profile, in stark contrast to the ubiquity and popularity of war movies. There are only a few movies that feature the actions of peacekeepers in the field: Shake Hands with the Devil (2007) about  the heroic efforts of Canadian General Roméo Dallaire’s in Rwanda (not to be confused with the documentary of the same name that covers General Dallaire’s actual return to Rwanda in 2004);  Peacekeepers (1997)  about  Canadian  peacekeepers  in Croatia;  The Siege of Jadotville (2016) about an Irish unit repelling an attack in the Congo in 1961. Other movies focus more on the failures and weaknesses of peacekeepers: Hotel Rwanda (2004) where  the UN is shown to be of little use in repelling attacks on the hotel and civilians in the country; No Man’s Land (2001) about Serb, Bosniak  and UN soldiers  of ill-will; Black Hawk  Down  (2001) about US forces, loosely connected  to the UN operation  in Somalia, in combat with a Somali warlord  (though,  in reality, saved at the end by UN peacekeepers);  The Whistleblower  (2010)  about  a US police  officer, working as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1999, who discovers a sex trafficking ring with NATO/UN officials turning  a blind eye.

4     Movies on war are much more plentiful on war-fighting  than peacekeeping. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) counted almost 200,000 titles focused on war out of almost 4 million titles (author search, May 2017). Digging  deeper, 13 of the IMDb’s top 100 movies are war movies (13%), 29 out of the top 250 (12%) and 81 out of the top 1,000 (8%). While 81 out of the 1,000 highest rated movies on IMDb focus on war, only two have UN peacekeeping  as a background  theme (#252. Hotel Rwanda and #431. No Man’s Land).

5     Bitflake Studios, PeaceKeeper.

6     Spil Games, Peacekeeper – Trench Defense. Also A10.com,  The Peacekeeper.

7     Bohemia Interactive, Arma 3.

8    Maxis, SimCity 3000.

9     Rockstar North, Grand Theft Auto IV.

10   Massive Entertainment, Tom Clancy’s The Division.

11   Grasshopper Manufacture  and Capcom Production Studio 4, Killer7.

 12   In the science-fiction inspired turn-based  strategy video game, Alpha Centauri, the Unity exploration mission was started by the “eUN,” and they are one of the factions that emerges shortly before Planetfall in the form of the “Peacekeepers.” In Overwatch, the “UN” forms the eponymous international  team of heroes to combat a robot uprising. The Global Defense Initiative in the Command & Conquer series is a branch of the United Nations. The Chimera, one of the three playable factions in the real-time strategy game Act of Aggression, is a covert multinational  task force formed by the “UN.” A large part of the Deus Ex series  revolves   around   the “United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition,” phonetically  pronounced UNATCO  for short.  In Surveillance  Kanshisha,  the “UN”  establishes a  counter-terrorist   unit called Shadow Sword in order to safeguard the Earth-Mars space travel route and the people using it from a mysterious terrorist group called Neo-Kleit.

13   11 bit studios, This War of Mine.

14   11 bit studios, What Would You Do with  500k Dollars?; GamingLyfe, “11 Bit Studios.”

15   Impact  Games, PeaceMaker.

16   Cuhadar and Kampf, “Learning about Conflict .”

17   See, for example: Public International Law & Policy Group, “Lawyering  Peace Lab.”

18   Jones, “Dalhousie-Designed  Video Game .”

19   Holohan, “Transformative Training in Soft Skills for Peacekeepers.”  See also: Edwards,  “‘Visual Novel’ Game to Be Used to Train International  Peacekeepers.” Gaming for Peace was awarded  a two million Euro grant from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program.  There are 14 additional partners in this project,  including  the finnish  and Polish  militaries  and the Irish video game company Haunted Planet.

20   Mason  and Patterson, “War Gaming Peace Operations.”

21   United  States Institute of Peace, “Simulations.”

22   Infinity Ward, Treyarch, and Sledgehammer Games, Call of Duty.

23   DreamWorks Interactive and Electronic Arts, Medal of Honor.

24  Red Storm Entertainment, Ubisoft Paris, and Ubisoft  Milan,  Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. The Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series is a shooter  game series that focuses on the completion  of tactical missions through teamwork. The player is in control of a number of troops simultaneously but directly controls the behaviour of only one avatar (person) at a time. The player may order other troops to specific locations and to take specific actions. The player must coordinate troops in order to effectively and efficiently complete a mission while minimizing casualties among their ranks. This gameplay concept would translate well into a peacekeeping  game, as peacekeeping  follows  the same principle  minus the violence involved in neutralizing an enemy.

25   Intelligent Systems, Advance Wars. This series is a tactical turn-based  game series where the player is in control of troops from a “god perspective,” a top-down perspective where you control the behavior of multiple  avatars or elements on a map. The player may or may not be represented by an avatar but always controls the movement of all avatars like pieces on a chess board. The player must therefore take into consideration the strengths  and weaknesses of the troops in order to optimize the chances of defeating  an enemy by placing resources in the most strategic manner. Such game is a closer simulation to the experience of a strategist that does not fight on the frontline, but rather gives orders from the safety of an office.

26   Ensemble Studios, Age of Empires. This series is a real-time  strategy  game series that  enables the player to manage resources in real-time, with a top-down  “god perspective.” In a similar fashion to tactical turn- based games, the player should find optimal strategies in order to minimize losses and maximize gains, and send troops when and where victory is more likely than defeat. The key difference here is that the player may feel a higher level of stress, as the action  is happening  in real time and they need to keep informed of all that is going on to make informed decisions.

27   Konami, Metal Gear. The main character  of most Metal Gear Solid games, Solid Snake, is a veteran  spy in a sci-fi dystopia who has been trying to stop a conspiracy for a decade, and is now riding with mercenaries to the frontline  of a battle. The story-driven  goal of this game series is to deal with an immediate threat before moving on to the next one. Avoiding direct confrontation is the preferred option since violence could mean the death of the player’s avatar. The play must gain an understanding  of the problem at- hand and sabotage any plans of conspiracy and destruction. One entry in the series, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots has Solid Snake working under the umbrella of the United Nations in a world where private military companies have become more powerful than national forces, and where machines are used to fight human rebels and mercenaries, and where technology  is used to enhance the capacities of soldiers beyond.

28   Hasbro  and Winning Moves Games, Risk.

29   Jumbo  Games, Stratego.

30   Calhamer et al., Diplomacy.

31   See: “Paradox Interactive.”

32   Calhamer et al., Diplomacy. was originally  a tactical turn-based negotiation  board game in which each player represents one of seven nations. For every turn, there are two phases: negotiation and movement. In the negotiation  phase, each player conveys information  to the others. Negotiations between two players may be private or public, and there is no obligation  to respect engagements, nor is there a mechanism to enforce them. In other words, this is a game where trust and rational calculations play an important  role, as in real politics. In the  movement  phase, each player moves units (troops or fleets), and chooses a set of rules that determine whether they would make peace or war.

33   Creative Assembly and Feral Interactive, Total War.

34   Försvarsmakten, “Welcome to Viking 18.” For a detailed  blog covering  this exercise see: Försvarsmakten, “Viking 18 Blog.”

35   Bohemia Interactive Simulations, VBS3 or VBS4. The popular (public) version is the Arma series.

36   The Canadian Forces command  and staff exercises sometimes include  a modification of the US Army’s Decisive Action Training Environment (DATE) and sometimes use the “Zoran Sea” theme that is common in NATO exercises. For the UK model/exercise,  see: Body and Marston, “The Peace Support  Operations Model: Origins, Development, Philosophy and Use.”

37   Military  platforms and software are usually not shared nor made available for public use, though  some aspects may be made available to the United Nations. Commercial platforms that have already been used to develop conflict-related  games and simulations include: “Fablusi” or “ICONS.” Furthermore, there are thousands of programs with features that can serve as inspiration. A number of game development  platforms  are available as well, such as: “Unity,”  “Unreal,” or “Crytek.”

38   United  Nations training  exercises are usually done within  a fictitious  country  called “Carana.” For POC, the exercise is scenario-based.  See for example,  United  Nations Peacekeeping  Resource Hub, “UN CPOC for Military Units.”

39   These scenarios are drawn from the “UN Tactical Level Protection of Civilians Training Modules,” which introduce  scenarios drawn from UN missions in Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Darfur and Côte d’Ivoire.  See, for example:  United  Nations  Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Integrated Training Service, “Tactical Level Mission-Specific Training Modules on Protection of Civilians.”

40   Monterrat,  Lavoué, and George, “Adaptation  of Gaming Features for Motivating Learners.”

41   Defense  Advanced Research Projects Agency, “Request for Information: Innovative Concepts for Multi- Resolution Interactive Wargames.”

42   Crookall, “Peace, Violence, and Simulation/Gaming.”

43   Darvasi, “Empathy, Perspective and Complicity,” 12.

44   Farber and Schrier, “The Limits and Strengths of Using Digital  Games as ‘Empathy Machines.’”

45   Farber and Schrier, 7–8.

46   United  States Army, “America’s Army”

47   United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Integrated  Training Service, “Training.”

48   United  Nations Secretary-General, “United  Nations Secretary-General’s Strategy on New Technologies.”

49   Robitzski, “The U.S. Army  Is Using Virtual  Reality Combat  to Train Soldiers.”

50   Information provided to one of the authors by Christian Rouffaer, Head of Virtual Reality Unit at the ICRC.

51   Chappelle et al., “An Analysis of Post-Traumatic  Stress Symptoms.”

 

 

 

 

Sajjan Statement to UNSC

Statement by the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence,

to the Security Council on collective action to improve UN peacekeeping operations

New York, March 28, 2018

Source: https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/un-onu/statements-declarations/2018-03-28-peacekeeping-maintien_paix.aspx?lang=eng

 

Statement by the Group of Friends of Women, Peace, and Security

I am pleased to speak on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, an informal network of 53 interested Member States chaired by Canada, representing all five regional groups of the United Nations. In the context of this Open Debate, the Group wishes to emphasize the importance of women’s participation and gender perspectives in UN peacekeeping.

As recognized by Resolution 2378, women play an indispensable role in peacekeeping and their participation and decision making at all levels is key to the operational effectiveness of missions.

Experience has shown that women bring valuable perspectives, increase situational awareness of missions by accessing a greater diversity of information about threats and conflict dynamics, and help built trust with local communities. This supports both the safety and security of peacekeepers as well as the operational effectiveness of missions.

We therefore support calls, including specific targets set out in Security Council resolution 2242, to increase the number of civil women and women in uniform in peacekeeping.  We must redouble efforts and engage in new and creative thinking to resolve persistent gaps and structural barriers to female participation and leadership.  We recognize the importance of political will, attitudinal change, and resources for increasing the meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping. We encourage DPKO and DFS to finalize work on a Gender Strategy for the headquarters and to ensure implementation of targets in field missions.

Beyond increasing the number of women deployed, greater efforts are required to mainstream gender considerations in peacekeeping. In this regard, peacekeeping operations need to be equipped with appropriate gender-responsive conflict analysis and expertise at all levels and all stages, including in the development of mandates. Leadership in peacekeeping operations must ensure that this expertise, including gender advisors and women protection advisors, are provided the access and resources needed to fulfill their critical tasks.

Lastly, we condemn in the strongest terms cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations and in international assistance.  Recent allegations across the UN have reinforced the need for a system-wide approach. We welcome the recent initiatives by the Secretary-General, including the appointment of a SEA Victims’ Rights Advocate and field-based Victims’ Rights Advocates as well as efforts to combat sexual harassment. Yet, still much more needs to be done to ensure accountability and fundamentally reconfigure our collective approach to make responses victim-centered. We encourage the Secretary-General to ensure that common standards are developed and implemented across all UN entities, and shared with implementing partners, to better prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. Both the UN and Member States must play their part.

Canada National Statement

Madam/Mister President,

Allow me to make a few additional remarks about women in peace and security, in a national capacity.

Canada views the participation of women in all aspects of peacekeeping as essential to mission success. Yet, despite this reality, the UN and its Member States have repeatedly failed to reach targets set for the deployment of women. The time for change is now and we must be bold.

Recently, Canada launched the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations. This is an innovative and multilateral pilot initiative to design, implement and evaluate a combination of measures to overcome barriers to women’s deployment to UN peace operations, and to support their effectiveness once on missions. Last month, Canada hosted representatives from Member states, the UN, civil society and academia for a design workshop for the Elsie Initiative. Canada has also formed a Contact Group to conduct advocacy in the UN system with regard to the representation of women in UN peace operations, and to help us to develop and implement this five-year pilot initiative.

Ladies and gentlemen, peacekeeping operations play a life-saving role in the protection of the most vulnerable, including of children. Canada believes there is much more we can do to enhance child protection. As many of you know, Canada developed the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers. Canada launched this initiative last November in partnership with retired General Romeo Dallaire. It seeks to identify early warning signs, take action to end recruitment, and promote the reporting of abuses and grave violations against children. Since their launch five months ago, the Vancouver Principles have already been endorsed by 62 Member States.  In the coming year, Canada will convene the endorsing States, the UN, and members of the child protection community to develop practical implementation guidance for these Principles.

Madam/Mister President,

Each of the initiatives I have mentioned reflects Canada’s understanding that we must do peacekeeping differently and that we must do it in a way that reflects the present day realities of conflict. For decades, peacekeeping has helped prevent violence, preserve peace, and provide protection to millions of vulnerable people affected by conflicts.

Moreover, as my Prime Minister has said, peacekeeping operations are important for us, not only because they allow us to assist millions of vulnerable people in conflict zones, but also because a peaceful world is a more secure world for Canada.

What we’ve seen in the past 25 years, however, are mandates that are more complex, demanding more and more of both our personnel and systems of responding. Though the peacekeeping community has been adapting and incorporating lessons-learned, it is imperative that we continuously adapt, innovate, and respond to new challenges. We must identify the root causes of conflict and the grievances that fuel them.

In short, we must do peacekeeping differently, better and together.

There is so much analysis and reporting, and so many initiatives underway that encourage us to look at peacekeeping more holistically. Canada commends the leadership of the Secretary-General and his reform efforts, across all pillars. They have recognized that sustaining peace remains at the heart of what we do.  We also welcome the important work the UN is undertaking on enhancing the safety and security of our peacekeepers. General Santos Cruz and his team have delivered frank assessments and honest advice.

The mantle now lies with us.

As Members of the United Nations, whether as host nations or as troop, police, financial or equipment contributors, we all have an essential role to play. This is why Canada is proud to Chair the Working Group of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, or C34. This year, the Committee completed one of its most compelling negotiations. In it, they tied in the voices of troop and police contributors, to some of the major efforts to improve the way we deliver peacekeeping. This is one example, of how ours can only be a shared success, achieved in partnership with the UN Secretariat and with each other.

This is also why, during the Vancouver Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference in November, Canada convened 80 Member States and five international organizations to do just that. In the lead up and during the conference, we examined how we could collectively ensure greater safety for at-risk populations. We explored early warning and rapid deployment, smart pledges, training and capacity-building. Forty-eight new peacekeeping pledges were made, significantly enhancing to the UN’s peacekeeping capabilities. Following the Vancouver Ministerial Conference, Canada remains steadfast in its continued commitment and engagement in UN peacekeeping.

To this end, Canada has begun deploying key enablers and military capabilities which leverage Canadian expertise. They are aimed at giving the UN the smart, flexible, tools it needs to enhance performance and operational effectiveness. Last November, we committed a C-130 Hercules aircraft to provide tactical airlift support for the UN’s Regional Support Centre in Entebbe. Preparations for deployment are currently underway. This contribution speaks to our support in helping to enable the UN’s rapid deployment capacities and effective delivery in the field.

Last week, Canada committed an Air Task Force to MINUSMA. This contribution will include Chinook helicopters to provide urgently needed transport and logistics capacity, as well as Griffon helicopters to provide armed escort and protection. We look forward to joining 57 MINUSMA partner countries in our collective efforts to bring sustainable peace and stability to Mali and the Sahel.

In conclusion Madam/Mister President, Canada is convinced that when properly mandated, resourced, and supported, peacekeeping remains one of the most flexible and effective tools available to the international community in responding to crises.  We welcome this open debate as an opportunity to further develop our collective thinking on how to respond to the key challenges in the years ahead. All of us share this responsibility. 

Thank you.

MFA Mandate Letter 2019

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mandate Letter (December 13, 2019)

 

Dear Mr. Champagne:

Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On Election Day, Canadians chose to continue moving forward. From coast to coast to coast, people chose to invest in their families and communities, create good middle class jobs and fight climate change while keeping our economy strong and growing. Canadians sent the message that they want us to work together to make progress on the issues that matter most, from making their lives more affordable and strengthening the healthcare system, to protecting the environment, keeping our communities safe and moving forward on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. People expect Parliamentarians to work together to deliver these results, and that’s exactly what this team will do.

It is more important than ever for Canadians to unite and build a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country. The Government of Canada is the central institution to promote that unity of purpose and, as a Minister in that Government, you have a personal duty and responsibility to fulfill that objective.

That starts with a commitment to govern in a positive, open and collaborative way. Our platform, Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class, is the starting point for our Government. I expect us to work with Parliament to deliver on our commitments. Other issues and ideas will arise or will come from Canadians, Parliament, stakeholders and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to the Government’s agenda when appropriate. Where legislation is required, you will need to work with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Cabinet Committee on Operations to prioritize within the minority Parliament.

We will continue to deliver real results and effective government to Canadians. This includes: tracking and publicly reporting on the progress of our commitments; assessing the effectiveness of our work; aligning our resources with priorities; and adapting to events as they unfold, in order to get the results Canadians rightly demand of us.

Many of our most important commitments require partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Even where disagreements may occur, we will remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government and it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is the Government-wide lead on all relations with the provinces and territories.

There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We made significant progress in our last mandate on supporting self-determination, improving service delivery and advancing reconciliation. I am directing every single Minister to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

I also expect us to continue to raise the bar on openness, effectiveness and transparency in government. This means a government that is open by default. It means better digital capacity and services for Canadians. It means a strong and resilient public service. It also means humility and continuing to acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect; they expect us to be diligent, honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.

As Minister, you are accountable for your style of leadership and your ability to work constructively in Parliament. I expect that you will collaborate closely with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. You will also meaningfully engage with the Government Caucus and Opposition Members of Parliament, the increasingly non-partisan Senate, and Parliamentary Committees.

It is also your responsibility to substantively engage with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. You must be proactive in ensuring that a broad array of voices provides you with advice, in both official languages, from every region of the country.

We are committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make.

Canada’s media and your engagement with them in a professional and timely manner are essential. The Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, ask necessary questions and contribute in an important way to the democratic process.

You will do your part to continue our Government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure that people of all gender identities, Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, persons with disabilities and minority groups are reflected in positions of leadership.

As Minister of Foreign Affairs, you will advance Canada’s national interests in a more unpredictable world and lead Canada’s contribution to address fundamental global challenges. This will require a principled approach that promotes Canada’s interests including democracy, human rights, international law and environmental protection. You will be responsible for expanding Canada’s support for the rules-based international order, including by both reinforcing our engagement within existing institutions and placing Canada at the forefront of global governance on emerging issues. You are also responsible for la Francophonie.

I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:

  • Expand Canadian diplomacy on global issues and in international institutions. We must maximize the Canadian advantage of being a member of the world’s most vital multilateral institutions, continuing to be a strong voice for the rules-based order. You will:
    • Strengthen key bilateral and regional relationships, and engage new partners to address emerging challenges;
    • Continue Canada’s strong role in multilateral organizations, including our substantive engagement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United Nations;
    • Ensure Canada’s strong and sustained engagement in the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and in the Commonwealth;
    • Work with the Minister of National Defence to expand Canada’s support for United Nations peace operations, including with respect to new investments in the women, peace and security agenda, conflict prevention and peacebuilding; and
    • Lead Canada’s United Nations Security Council campaign.
  • In collaboration with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change continue Canadian leadership on international efforts to combat climate change.
  • Increase Canadian support abroad for democracy, human rights, international law and freedom of the press. In this regard, you will:
    • Work with relevant Ministers to champion the values of inclusive and accountable governance, including by promoting human rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality, and respect for diversity and inclusion;
    • With the support of the Minister of International Development, establish the Canadian Centre for Peace, Order and Good Government to expand the availability of Canadian expertise and assistance to those seeking to build peace, advance justice, promote human rights and democracy, and deliver good governance;
    • Build on the Magnitsky sanctions regime to ensure increased support for victims of human rights violations by developing a framework to transfer seized assets from those who commit grave human rights abuses to their victims, with appropriate judicial oversight;
    • Reinforce international institutions like the International Criminal Court, the World Trade Organization and others, including by providing additional resources to promote and uphold international law;
    • Advance international efforts to ban the development and use of fully autonomous weapons systems; and
    • Lead on the coordinated implementation of Canada’s women, peace and security agenda, with support from Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security.
  • Work with the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Northern Affairs and with partners to defend Arctic sovereignty and implement the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework to create a future where Northern and Arctic people are thriving, strong and safe. This includes substantive support for Canada’s role in the Arctic Council.
  • Ensure a close link between foreign, defence, development and trade policy.
  • Work with the Minister of National Defence to ensure that any deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces aligns with Canada’s national interest, our multilateral commitments and the Government’s policy objectives, such as our existing commitments in the Middle East, Latvia and Ukraine.
  • Continue the revitalization of Canada’s public diplomacy, stakeholder engagement and cooperation with partners in Canada and abroad, including support for Canada’s educational and cultural interaction with the world, such as introducing a new Cultural Diplomacy strategy with at least one international mission each year to promote Canadian culture and creators around the world, with the support of the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
  • Continue to lead and enhance consular support for Canadians requiring assistance abroad.
  • Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs in work on Canada-U.S. Relations.

These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. As mentioned, you are encouraged to seek opportunities to work across Parliament in the fulfillment of these commitments and to identify additional priorities.

I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and their senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest. Your Deputy Minister will brief you on the many daily decisions necessary to ensure the achievement of your priorities, the effective running of the government and better services for Canadians. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions so that they are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our Government.

Our ability, as a government, to implement our priorities depends on consideration of the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under their direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.

We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.

As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it, including elements that have been added to strengthen it, and ensure that your staff does so as well. I expect that in staffing your offices you will hire people who reflect the diversity of Canada, and that you will uphold principles of gender equality, disability equality, pay equity and inclusion.

Give particular attention to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.

I will note that you are responsible for ensuring that your Minister’s Office meets the highest standards of professionalism and that it is a safe, respectful, rewarding and welcoming place for your staff to work.

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. It is incumbent on you to turn to me and the Deputy Prime Minister early and often to support you in your role as Minister.

Sincerely,

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada

*This Ministerial Mandate Letter was signed by the Prime Minister in the Minister’s first official language.

MND Mandate Letter 2019

Minister of National Defence Mandate Letter (December 13, 2019)

 

Dear Mr. Sajjan:

Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of National Defence.

On Election Day, Canadians chose to continue moving forward. From coast to coast to coast, people chose to invest in their families and communities, create good middle class jobs and fight climate change while keeping our economy strong and growing. Canadians sent the message that they want us to work together to make progress on the issues that matter most, from making their lives more affordable and strengthening the healthcare system, to protecting the environment, keeping our communities safe and moving forward on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. People expect Parliamentarians to work together to deliver these results, and that’s exactly what this team will do.

It is more important than ever for Canadians to unite and build a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country. The Government of Canada is the central institution to promote that unity of purpose and, as a Minister in that Government, you have a personal duty and responsibility to fulfill that objective.

That starts with a commitment to govern in a positive, open and collaborative way. Our platform, Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class, is the starting point for our Government. I expect us to work with Parliament to deliver on our commitments. Other issues and ideas will arise or will come from Canadians, Parliament, stakeholders and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to the Government’s agenda when appropriate. Where legislation is required, you will need to work with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Cabinet Committee on Operations to prioritize within the minority Parliament.

We will continue to deliver real results and effective government to Canadians. This includes: tracking and publicly reporting on the progress of our commitments; assessing the effectiveness of our work; aligning our resources with priorities; and adapting to events as they unfold, in order to get the results Canadians rightly demand of us.

Many of our most important commitments require partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Even where disagreements may occur, we will remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government and it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is the Government-wide lead on all relations with the provinces and territories.

There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We made significant progress in our last mandate on supporting self-determination, improving service delivery and advancing reconciliation. I am directing every single Minister to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

I also expect us to continue to raise the bar on openness, effectiveness and transparency in government. This means a government that is open by default. It means better digital capacity and services for Canadians. It means a strong and resilient public service. It also means humility and continuing to acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect; they expect us to be diligent, honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.

As Minister, you are accountable for your style of leadership and your ability to work constructively in Parliament. I expect that you will collaborate closely with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. You will also meaningfully engage with the Government Caucus and Opposition Members of Parliament, the increasingly non-partisan Senate, and Parliamentary Committees.

It is also your responsibility to substantively engage with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. You must be proactive in ensuring that a broad array of voices provides you with advice, in both official languages, from every region of the country.

We are committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make.

Canada’s media and your engagement with them in a professional and timely manner are essential. The Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, ask necessary questions and contribute in an important way to the democratic process.

You will do your part to continue our Government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure that people of all gender identities, Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, persons with disabilities and minority groups are reflected in positions of leadership.

As Minister of National Defence, you will continue to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces are an agile, multi-purpose and combat-ready military, operated by highly trained, well-equipped women and men, supported by their Government and by fellow Canadians. This responsibility is rooted in the continued implementation of Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy.

I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:

  • Ensure the Canadian Armed Forces have the capabilities and equipment required to uphold their responsibilities through continued implementation of Strong, Secure, Engaged, including new procurements and planned funding increases.
  • Reinforce Canada’s commitment to our bilateral and multilateral defence partnerships in order to defend Canadian sovereignty, protect North America and enhance international security:
    • Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to ensure that any deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces aligns with Canada’s national interest, our multilateral commitments and the Government’s policy objectives;
    • Continue Canada’s strong contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and work with the United States to ensure that the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) is modernized to meet existing and future challenges, as outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged;
    • Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to expand Canada’s support for United Nations peace operations, including with respect to new investments in the women, peace and security agenda, conflict prevention and peacebuilding;
    • Ensure the continued effectiveness of Canadian Armed Forces deployments, including Operation IMPACT in the Middle East, Operation NEON in the Asia-Pacific, NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia, the NATO Mission in Iraq and Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine; and
    • Expand Canadian defence cooperation and training assistance, in particular by drawing on the expertise of the Canadian Armed Forces to help other countries at greater risk of disasters due to climate change.
  • Work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to manage the competitive process to select a supplier and enter into a contract to construct Canada’s fighter aircraft fleet.
  • Work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement on the renewal of the Royal Canadian Navy Fleet, continuing the revitalization of the shipbuilding industry, creating middle class jobs and ensuring Canada’s Navy has the modern ships that it needs.
  • Support the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to bring forward analyses and options for the creation of Defence Procurement Canada, to ensure that Canada’s biggest and most complex National Defence and Canadian Coast Guard procurement projects are delivered on time and with greater transparency to Parliament. This priority is to be developed concurrently with ongoing procurement projects and existing timelines.
  • Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Northern Affairs and partners through the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework to develop better surveillance (including by renewing the North Warning System), defence and rapid-response capabilities in the North and in the maritime and air approaches to Canada, to strengthen continental defence, protect Canada’s rights and sovereignty and demonstrate international leadership with respect to the navigation of Arctic waters.
  • Continue to improve support for the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces and to ensure a workplace characterized by professionalism, inclusion and valuing diversity:
    • Work with senior leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces to establish and maintain a workplace free from harassment and discrimination;
    • Create a new $2,500 tax-free benefit every time a military family relocates, to help with retraining, recertification and other costs of finding new work; and
    • Achieve the goal of 25 per cent of Canadian Armed Forces members being women by 2026.
  • With the support of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, introduce a new framework governing how Canada gathers, manages and uses defence intelligence, as recommended by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
  • Work with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence to strengthen partnerships between the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada to overhaul service delivery and reduce complexity.

These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. As mentioned, you are encouraged to seek opportunities to work across Parliament in the fulfillment of these commitments and to identify additional priorities.

I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and their senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest. Your Deputy Minister will brief you on the many daily decisions necessary to ensure the achievement of your priorities, the effective running of the government and better services for Canadians. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions so that they are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our Government.

Our ability, as a government, to implement our priorities depends on consideration of the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under their direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.

We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.

As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it, including elements that have been added to strengthen it, and ensure that your staff does so as well. I expect that in staffing your offices you will hire people who reflect the diversity of Canada, and that you will uphold principles of gender equality, disability equality, pay equity and inclusion.

Give particular attention to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.

I will note that you are responsible for ensuring that your Minister’s Office meets the highest standards of professionalism and that it is a safe, respectful, rewarding and welcoming place for your staff to work.

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. It is incumbent on you to turn to me and the Deputy Prime Minister early and often to support you in your role as Minister.

Sincerely,

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada

Canadian Speeches on International Affairs and Peacekeeping

Canadian Speeches on International Affairs and Peacekeeping
(Selected Speeches & Excerpts)

 

Emphasis added, unless otherwise stated. Some abbreviations added in square brackets. 

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“Canada’s Role on the Global Stage” (CORIM, Montreal, 24 August 2019)

Source: https://www.liberal.ca/canadas-role-on-the-global-stage/

… So today, I want to offer a positive vision of Canada’s unique and multi-faceted role in an increasingly unpredictable era. …  Canadians directly benefit from global cooperation, multilateral institutions, and international relations governed by rules and principles. We’ve always understood that global issues affect Canadian interests, which is why having a voice in shaping the world is important. … It’s become easy to take the G7, the G20, the UN, NATO, the WTO, and other institutions for granted. But let’s not forget how revolutionary the idea of global cooperation was in the wake of two world wars. The vision was of a connected world forged on the basis of respect for international law and human rights. One in which might is constrained by common principles and standards. One where economic growth provides a better present for many, and a brighter future for all. Thankfully, this vision caught on.

… We understand that a more stable, peaceful, and prosperous world is only possible if we offer a brighter future for all, including the most vulnerable. That’s why we created a ground-breaking Feminist International Assistance Policy. Now, the majority of Canada’s aid dollars support the social, political, and economic empowerment of women. Because when women and girls succeed, economies grow and communities thrive.

Our Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, understands this better than most. We’ve made an historic investment in Canada’s hard power, increasing our defence budget by 70% so that our women and men in uniform have the equipment and training they need to operate at their very best. This includes capabilities to better defend Canada and contribute to continental security. Recognizing the impact of both a changing climate and growing maritime traffic in the Arctic, we’re renewing our Coast Guard fleet, building Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, and expanding satellite surveillance and remotely piloted systems. We’re also rebuilding and upgrading facilities, as well as better supplying the Canadian Rangers.

We understand that protecting Canada doesn’t stop at our border. We make the greatest contribution to global stability when we match what Canada does best to what the world needs most. Our approach has been to focus on working in partnership, putting our unique Canadian expertise and capabilities on offer to build sustainable peace wherever we’re engaged. And contrary to the Harper government’s indifference – and even hostility – toward multilateral cooperation, we’ve chosen to not only re-engage in important bodies like NATO and the UN, but also take on a leadership role in their efforts.

[battlegroup in Latvia, contributing to the defeat of Daesh, helping Iraq rebuild and find sustainable peace, Canada-Ukraine new free trade agreement, and Canadian election observers…]

When Ukraine reached out for help in 2015, asking Canada to help train their troops, we stepped up. And we just recently expanded and extended the mission until 2022, because Canada will always defend Ukraine’s sovereignty. Russia’s aggression and illegal annexation of Crimea is completely unacceptable, and we will oppose it at every turn.

At the UN, we’ve chosen to re-engage in deliberate ways that will strengthen its ability to promote peace and security in the years ahead.

Over the past year, Canadian peacekeepers have been supporting a UN mission in Mali. Thanks to Canada, our partners have been able to access remote and vulnerable areas of the region, with the goal of delivering long-term peace and prosperity.

And we’ve also led the charge on advancing the UN’s Women, Peace, and Security [WPS] agenda, and building support for the Vancouver Principles on child soldiers.

In the years ahead, Canada should place democracy, human rights, international law, and environmental protection at the very heart of foreign policy. We have long believed in these principles, but are now called upon to do more to defend them, both because it is right and because it is in our national interest.

A world with more authoritarian states, less respect for human rights, and weaker international rules is a world where Canada is worse off, has fewer friends, and faces greater threats.

Still, over this past four years, we’ve accomplished a lot in this uncertain world. But there’s more we need do to advance Canadian interests, and Canada’s place on the international stage.

Here’s some of what I’d like to see happen next.

We need find ways to make the full breadth of Canadian expertise available to countries seeking to democratize, advance justice, and build stronger, better, and more transparent governments.

We should stand side by side with those who put themselves at risk in the defence of democracy and pursuit of peace, and be prepared to offer refuge when they face persecution abroad.

… We need to invest in an economic future that benefits everyone, and focus on helping the middle class. We need to work to ensure that international relations and international trade is governed by predictable rules and principles. And we must never forget that peace and prosperity comes when governments listen to and serve their citizens.

 

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland

House of Commons, Ottawa, 6 June 2017
Source: https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/house/sitting-188/hansard

Mr. Speaker, here is a question. Is Canada an essential country at this time in the life of our planet? … International relationships that had seemed immutable for 70 years are being called into question. From Europe to Asia, to our own North American home, long-standing pacts that have formed the bedrock of our security and prosperity for generations are being tested. New shared human imperatives, the fight against climate change first among them, call for renewed, uncommon resolve.
Turning aside from our responsibilities is not an option. Instead, we must think carefully and deeply about what is happening and find a way forward. By definition, the path we choose must be one that serves the interests of all Canadians and upholds our broadly held national values. …

Since before the end of the Second World War, beginning with the international conference at Bretton Woods in 1944, Canada has been deeply engaged in, and greatly enjoyed the benefits of, a global order. These were principles and standards that were applied, perhaps not perfectly at all times by all states, but certainly by the vast majority of democratic states, most of the time.
The system had at its heart the core notions of territorial integrity, human rights, democracy, respect for the rule of law, and an aspiration to free and friendly trade. The common volition toward this order arose from a fervent determination not to repeat the mistakes of the immediate past. Humankind had learned through the direct experience of horror and hardship that the narrow pursuit of national self-interest, the law of the jungle, led to nothing but carnage and poverty.

Two global conflicts and the Great Depression, all in the span of less than half a century, taught our parents and grandparents that national borders must be inviolate; that international trading relationships created not only prosperity but also peace; and that a true world community, one based on shared aspirations and standards, was not only desirable but essential to our very survival.
That deep yearning toward lasting peace led to the creation of international institutions that endure to this day with the nations of western Europe, together with their transatlantic allies, the United States and Canada, at their foundation.

In each of these evolutions in how we humans organize ourselves, Canadians played pivotal roles. There was Bretton Woods itself, where the Canadian delegation was instrumental in drafting provisions of the fledgling International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A few years later, in 1947, a Canadian, Dana Wilgress, played a leading role at the meetings in Geneva that led to the development of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade [GATT], the precursor to the WTO.

It is a Canadian, John Humphrey, who is generally credited as the principal author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR], which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948. That was the first of what became a series of declarations to set international standards in this vital area.

Let us not neglect the great Canadian, perhaps best known for advancing the cause of humanitarian intervention, Lester B. Pearson. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his leadership during the Suez crisis in 1956, for the creation of modern peacekeeping.

These institutions may seem commonplace today. We may take them for granted. We should not. Seventy years ago, they were revolutionary, and they set the stage for the longest period of peace and prosperity in our history. It was the same appreciation of the common interests of the human family in caring for our common home that led us to the acid rain treaty of the Mulroney era. It was what led us to the Montreal protocol of 1987 to phase out CFCs and preserve the ozone layer. It is what led us, ultimately, to Paris with 194 signatories at our side. That is global co-operation.

It is important to note that when sacrifice was required to support and strengthen the global order, military power in defence of our principles and alliances, Canada was there. In Suez, in Korea, in the Congo, in Cypress, in the first Gulf War, in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, up to and including today in Iraq, among many other places, Canada has been there. As the Prime Minister has often said, that is what Canadians do. We step up.

Today, it is worth reminding ourselves why we step up, why we devote time and resources to foreign policy, defence, and development, and why we have sent Canadian soldiers, sailors, aviators, diplomats, aid workers, intelligence officers, doctors, nurses, medics, and engineers into situations of danger, disaster, and chaos overseas, even at times when Canadian territory was not directly at risk.

Why do we spend billions on defence, if we are not immediately threatened? For some countries, Israel and Latvia come to mind, the answer is self-evident. Countries that face a clear and immediate existential challenge know they need to spend on military and foreign policy, and they know why.

For a few lucky countries, like Canada and the United States, that feel protected by geography and good neighbours, the answer is less obvious. Indeed, we could easily imagine a Canadian few who say that we are safe on our continent and we have things to do at home, so let us turn inward, let us say, “Canada first”.
Here is why that would be wrong.

First, though no foreign adversary is poised to invade us, we do face clear challenges. Climate change is a shared menace, affecting every single person on this planet. Civil war, poverty, drought, and natural disasters anywhere in the world threaten us as well, not least because these catastrophes spawn globally destabilizing mass migrations.

The dictatorship in North Korea, crimes against humanity in Syria, the monstrous extremists of Daesh, and Russian military adventurism and expansionism also all pose clear strategic threats to the liberal democratic world, including Canada. Our ability to act against such threats alone is limited. It requires co-operation with like-minded countries.

On the military front, Canada’s geography has meant that we have always been able to count on American self-interest to provide a protective umbrella beneath which we have found indirect shelter. Some think, some even say, we should therefore free-ride on U.S. military power. Why invest billions to maintain a capable, professional, well-funded, and well-equipped Canadian military?

The answer is obvious.

To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state. Although we have an incredibly good relationship with our American friends and neighbours, such dependence would not be in Canada’s interest. That is why doing our fair share is clearly necessary. It is why our commitment to NORAD and our strategic relationship with the United States is so critical. It is by pulling our weight in this partnership, and in all our international partnerships, that we, in fact, have weight.

To put it plainly, Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes require the backing of hard power. Force is, of course, always a last resort, but the principled use of force, together with our allies and governed by international law, is part of our history, and it must be a part of our future. To have that capacity requires substantial investment, which this government is committed to making. The Minister of National Defence will elaborate fully on that tomorrow. I know he will make Canadians justly proud.

Whatever their politics, Canadians understand that as a middle power living next to the world’s only superpower, Canada has a huge interest in an international order based on rules, one in which might is not always right, one in which more powerful countries are constrained in their treatment of smaller ones by standards that are internationally respected, enforced, and upheld. The single most important pillar of this, which emerged following the carnage of the First and Second World Wars is the sanctity of borders, and that principle today is under siege. That is why the democratic world has united behind Ukraine.

The illegal seizure of Ukrainian territory by Russia is the first time since the end of the Second World War that a European power has annexed, by force, the territory of another European country. This is not something we can accept or ignore.

The atrocities of Daesh directly challenge both the sanctity of borders and the liberal international order itself. They create chaos, not only because of the carnage they perpetrate on their innocent victims but because of the humanitarian crises and migratory explosions that follow. This is why the world has united against this scourge. Violent extremism challenges our very way of life. We will always oppose it.
Another key benefit for Canada from an international system based on rules is, of course, free trade. In this sphere as well, beggar-thy-neighbour policies hit middle powers soonest and hardest. That is the implacable lesson of the 1930s and the Great Depression. Rising trade barriers hurt the people they are intended to help. They curb growth, stifle innovation, and kill employment. This is a lesson we should learn from history. We should not need to teach it to ourselves again through painful experience.

The international order an earlier generation built faces two big challenges, both unprecedented. The first is the rapid emergence of the global south and Asia, most prominently China, and the need to integrate these countries into the world’s economic and political system in a way that is additive, that preserves the best of the old order that preceded their rise, and that addresses the existential threat of climate change.

This is a problem that simply cannot be solved by nations working alone. We must work together.

I have focused these remarks on the development of the postwar international order, a process that was led primarily by the Atlantic powers of North America and western Europe, but we recognize that the global balance of power has changed greatly since then and will continue to evolve as more nations prosper.

The G20, in whose creation Canada was instrumental, was an early acknowledgement of this emerging reality. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia are ascendent, delivering ever-increasing living standards to fast-growing populations bursting with innovation, creativity, and enterprise.

… Peace and prosperity are every person’s birthright.

… It is clearly not our role to impose our values around the world. No one appointed us the world’s policemen. However, it is our role to stand firmly for these rights, both in Canada and abroad. It is our role to provide refuge to the persecuted and downtrodden to the extent we are able, as we are so proud to have done for more than 40,000 Syrian refugees.

It is our role to set a standard for how states should treat women, gays and lesbians, transgendered people, racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious minorities, and of course, indigenous people.

We can and must play an active role in the preservation and strengthening of the global order from which we have benefited so greatly. Doing so is in our interest, because our own open society is most secure in a world of open societies, and it is under threat in a world where open societies are under threat.

In short, Canadian liberalism is a precious idea. It would not survive long in a world dominated by the clash of great powers and their vassals struggling for supremacy, or at best, an uneasy détente. Canada can work for better. We must work for better.

… The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course. For Canada, that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the post-war multilateral order.

… To put this in sharper focus, those aims are as follows. 

First, we will robustly support the rules-based international order and all its institutions, and seek ways to strengthen and improve them. We will strongly support the multilateral forums where such discussions are held, including the G7, the G20, the OAS, APEC, the WTO, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Arctic Council, and of course NATO and the UN.

A cornerstone of our multilateral agenda is our steadfast commitment to the transatlantic alliance. Our bond is manifest in CETA, our historic trade agreement with the European Union, which we believe in and warmly support, and in our military deployment this summer to Latvia.

There can be no clearer sign that NATO and article 5 are at the heart of Canada’s national security policy.

We will strive for leadership in all these multilateral forums. We are honoured to be hosting the G7 next year, and we are energetically pursuing a two-year term on the UN Security Council. We seek this UN seat because we wish to be heard, and we are safer and more prosperous when more of the world shares Canadian values.

Those values include feminism and the promotion of the rights of women and girls. It is important, and historic, that we have a Prime Minister and a government who are proud to proclaim themselves feminists. Women’s rights are human rights. That includes sexual reproductive rights.

That includes the right to safe and accessible abortions.

These rights are at the core of our foreign policy. To that end, in the coming days, my colleague the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie will unveil Canada’s first feminist international assistance policy, which will target the rights of women and girls as well as gender equality.

We will put Canada at the forefront of this global effort. This is a matter of basic justice and also basic economics. We know that empowering women overseas and here at home makes families and countries more prosperous. Canada’s values are informed by our historical duality of French and English; by our co-operative brand of federalism; by our multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multilingual citizenry; and by our geography, since our country bridges the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic.

Our values are informed by the traditions and aspirations of the indigenous people in Canada, and our values include an unshakeable commitment to pluralism, human rights, and the rule of law.

Second, we will make the necessary investments in our military, not only redress years of neglect and underfunding but also to place the Canadian Armed Forces on a new footing with the equipment, training, resources, and consistent, predictable financing they need to do their difficult, dangerous, and important work. We owe this to our women and men in uniform. We will not let them down.
Canada’s broader interest in investing in a capable, professional, and robust military is very clear. If middle powers do not implicate themselves in the furtherance of peace and stability around the world, that will be left to the great powers to settle among themselves. This would not be in Canada’s interest.

[trade] …

As I said, we are proud of the role Canada has played in creating a rules-based international trading order. We believe in the WTO and will continue our work to make it stronger and more responsive to the needs of ordinary people in Canada and around the world. We believe in progressive trade that works for working people. That is why we are very proud that this month, Canada will ratify the last of the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization [ILO].

… That generation of Canadians, the greatest generation we call them with good reason, had survived the Great Depression. They were born in the aftermath of the First World War. They appreciated viscerally that a world without fixed borders or rules for the global economy was a world of strife and poverty. They sought to prevent that from ever happening again.

That is why they risked and gave their lives to fight in a European war. That is why, when they came home, they cheerfully contributed to the great project of rebuilding Europe and creating a postwar world order. That is why they counted themselves lucky to be able to do so.

They were our parents, our grandparents, and our great grandparents. The challenge we face today is significant, to be sure, but it pales next to the task they faced and met. Our job today is to preserve their achievement and to build on it, to use the multilateral structures they created as the foundation for global accords and institutions fit for the new realities of our century. They rose to their generation’s great challenge, so can we.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eliminating Hidden Killers: How Can Technology Help Humanitarian Demining?

Eliminating Hidden Killers:
How Can Technology Help Humanitarian Demining?

A. Walter Dorn

Originally published in Stability: International Journal of Security & Development, 8(1): 5, pp. 1–17. (html) (pdf)
DOI: https:/doi.org/10.5334/sta.743. For tables seepdf.

 

Despite twenty-first-century technological advances by Western militaries for demining and the removal of improvised explosive devices, humanitarian demining relies mostly on mid-twentieth-century technology. While international legal efforts to curb the global use of landmines have been quite successful, constraints on humanitarian demining technology mean that unfortunate and preventable deaths of both civilians and deminers continue to occur. Developing devices and technologies to help human deminers successfully and safely carry out their work is a major challenge. Each phase of the physical demining process (i.e., vegetation clearance, mine detection, and removal) can benefit from the development of demining technologies. However, even with the prospect of “smart” demining technology, the human aspect of supervision remains a crucial challenge. Although current research and development hold promise for the future of humanitarian demining, the barriers to progress in the field are more than technical. The prioritization of military operations, a lack of coordination between governments and humanitarian actors, a tendency towards secrecy, and an underlying lack of funding are just some of the roadblocks to eliminating the yearly death toll associated with humanitarian demining, in addition to other impacts on post-conflict societies. This paper calls for new ideas, renewed innovation, and new sources of governmental and non-governmental support for this often-neglected aspect of international security.

 

Introduction

Landmines remain deadly decades after wars end. They continue to impact some 60 countries around the world. Annual reporting shows the gravity of the problem: thousands are killed or injured each year, primarily civilians, of which nearly half are children (International Campaign to End Landmines – Cluster Munition Coalition 2018). The removal of this threat to life, limb and property falls to mostly humanitarian demining efforts. Some research and development (R&D) has been initiated since the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine ban (“Ottawa Treaty”) but most of these projects have been unworkable, underfunded, or underexploited. Technology adoption and innovation have not received sustained support. The humanitarian community relies primarily on mid-century, World War II-type technologies, i.e., primitive hand-held metal detectors and bayonet-style tools, to find and remove landmines when it should be possible for modern technologies, tools, and machines to do the work, or at least actively assist demining efforts. The humanitarian imperative calls for it.

Multi-faceted demining machines — remote controlled or semi-autonomous — should become available in the future to perform some human mine-clearing activities and improve upon them, making life safer for deminers, and speeding up the demining process. Eventually, these “robots” could do each of the three major stages of removing mines once the demining site has been located1: preparing the ground (e.g., vegetation clearing, obstruction removal); mine detection (along with other explosive hazard detection); and mine removal by excavation or destruction in place (e.g., burning, freezing, or exploding). Although the all-purpose, entirely autonomous robot may be decades in the future, primitive devices are already on the market, but they need considerably more development, testing, and cost-reduction before they can be widely used to carry out one or more of the three demining steps once a mine-infested area has been identified.

The initial technical survey to find the most likely locations of mine fields can be greatly aided by technology. Testing work using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has started to extend experimentation from basic survey work (e.g., as part of planning) to examining fields with advanced sensors before mine clearance begins (see Table 1). Work done by Norwegian People’s Aid, for example, conducted initial testing and validation flights (Lisica et al. 2019). Advanced image classification and recognition using machine learning/artificial intelligence has been used to identify areas with likely mines (e.g., Adlešič and Zobundžija 2019; Krtalić, Racetin and Gajski 2018). Once an area is identified for clearance, other technologies can then be used.

 

Table 1: UAV Applications for Technical Survey.

Technical Survey Role Description
Assist in planning of demining operations Selection of appropriate tool; selection of the best technical survey path; analysis of environmental conditions of terrain; identification of likely mine locations
Monitor demining operations, report on progress and completion Monitor mine action operation progress, estimate completion date, progress documentation
Map demolitions and identify patterns Completion documentation, identification of possible patterns for future survey work

Source: Based on senseFly (2016: 5).

Mini-flails are a promising new machine in demining and small “area preparation machines” are also arriving on the market.2 One remote-controlled vehicle, known as an area preparation tractor, is based on an Italian vineyard tractor, with added armour and blast-resistant wheels (Smith 2017b). It can clear vegetation far in front of manual deminers and is powerful enough to climb hills but small enough to manoeuvre between large trees, while continuously removing vegetation and small trees. The vehicle has the added advantage of knocking the fuses off fragmentation mines (or initiating them), thereby reducing the hazard for the clearance teams that follow. They are designed for humanitarian demining applications specifically, rather than military applications, i.e., they are not designed to withstand anti-tank mines (Smith 2017c).

Another useful tool is the excavator like the Arjun Demining System, that rakes through the soil to a depth of 20 cm using a back hoe. Most mines can be seen by the operator as they drop from the raised rake and are moved with the rake (GICHD 2012). Although it does not completely eliminate the threat of mines — deminers examine and hand rake the ground to search for additional mines — it is regarded as exceptionally cost-effective humanitarian demining equipment (Smith n.d.).
 

Mine Detection: Finding Hidden Killers

Once vegetation is cleared, deminers must painstakingly check every square centimetre of the ground to a minimum UN-mandated depth of at least 20 cm with almost complete certainty, sometimes specified as in excess of 99.5 percent (United Nations Mine Action Service [UNMAS] n.d.).

Basic metal detectors have, since World War II, been a standard tool for mine detection. They have induction coils at the end of hand-held rods, like the ones used by treasure hunters and beachcombers. One truly significant advance in recent decades was the addition of electronic filters to reduce the “ground noise” of these field-deployed devices. But even so, the problems with this technology are many: they can be set off by virtually any kind of magnetic metal, including from the numerous metal fragments or debris that litter former conflict zones; the metal detectors produce many false-positive signals (false alarms) and occasionally also produce dangerous false-negative signals (especially for deeply buried mines, where the metal remains undetected). They cannot reliably detect all mines, especially those with minimum metal, at all necessary depths.3 As a result, much more innovation is needed.

A major source of potential innovation is the recent progress in military demining and improvised explosive device (IED) detection. Over the past two decades, Western militaries have made considerable efforts to deal with the major challenges of IEDs, which were causing the deaths of so many soldiers. NATO nations prioritized three major pillars to their counter-IED work: “Defeat the Device,” “Attack the Networks,” and “Prepare the Force,” supported by a robust intelligence process (NATO 2011: fig. 1.3). This combined effort places the emphasis on major advances in technology, including miniaturization, reliability, geomatics (i.e., inbuilt GPS), ergonomics, and ground-compensating technology. These efforts have saved many soldiers’ lives.

Another significant development is ground penetrating radar (GPR). This detection technology is the nearest to standard deployment in humanitarian demining. In dual-sensor devices, after a metal-detector sends an alert (usually an audio squeal), the deminer can turn on GPR. The GPR-head sends electromagnetic (radio) waves into the ground and the reflected-wave intensity gives a sense of the size and rough shape of the detected object. Metal clutter can usually be disregarded. Resolution has historically been quite poor and GPR imagery and readouts required user interpretation, which carries its own risks.4

Recent technological developments have built on decades of experience to decrease by an order of magnitude the false alarm rate, giving rise to the hope that “hand-held detectors are moving to the point where they can discriminate what the detected object may be” (Peyton et al. 2019: 31). Further research has started to make feasible lower-cost, lightweight, multi-band radars used in conjunction with metal detectors to “see” small objects buried at close range (Šipoš, Malajner, and Gleich 2019). Issues remain around radar head and power requirements adding weight, cost, and technological complexity to the hand-held device. Nevertheless, they can prove cost-effective by reducing false alarms, increasing clearing speed, and reducing the clearance cost per square metre.

When deployed on vehicles, GPR systems can be more powerful and allow side-scanning as well as vertical scanning, thus increasing the resolution to a level that can reliably detect anti-tank mines or IEDs. Hopefully, vehicle-mounted anti-personnel mine detection systems for real-time 3D subsurface visualization will become user friendly and commercially available. That technology has probably already been developed for the US military, but such devices remain highly classified and restricted to the military domain.

Despite these challenges, some hand-held dual-sensor detectors are already on the market.5 They have been demonstrated in field tests and praised for their capabilities and increases in productivity by organizations such as The HALO Trust (Boshoff and Cresci 2015; The HALO Trust 2011), while other advances continue apace with related technology (Sato 2019). However, these advanced devices are expensive and are mostly purchased by military forces, which have different needs and priorities. Humanitarian deminers must do more than cross a minefield to reach a military objective; they have to dig up all the mines and explosive hazards in an area while posing little or no risk to themselves, as their objective is to completely clear the mined land.

Militaries have found that dual- and multi-sensor detectors have been very useful against the modern IEDs, given that the IEDs generally have small amounts of metal, which provide the first indications of a buried threat, before the GPR or other sensors are used to find the much larger buried plastic elements of the device.

As indicated in Table 2, humanitarian deminers need to ensure that the land can be declared “clear” (with virtually 100 percent certainty) for civilian use, including for intensive farming. Before returning the ground to locals, deminer chiefs often walk the ground themselves to show locals that the ground is safe.

Newer, more exotic detection technologies will likely be deployable one day, but these are not yet mature or cheap, nor simple enough for widespread use in humanitarian demining applications. Some technologies may never be practicable. The drawbacks of many R&D technologies include complexity and high cost for a market with a limited customer base. Furthermore, despite claims from researchers, some technologies have not yet proven their utility or practicality, for example, infra-red imaging, X-ray backscatter, acoustic/seismic reflection or vapour sensing. A larger set of detection methods is provided in Table 3 [see pdf]. For multi-sensor systems, the various outputs can be fused for automatic target recognition, using special signal-processing techniques, including fuzzy logic, neural networks, and 2D/3D texture analysis. The devices could eventually be miniaturised in a handheld device or a small vehicle. Some sophisticated sensors are already used in military vehicles. And commercial mining for precious minerals already employs an array of useful technologies that could be adapted, including handheld X-ray fluorescence devices.

Various innovative sensor technologies have been explored for humanitarian demining, including those that use animals as sensors. Attempts to use bees, although once ridiculed, have shown limited potential (Hadagali and Suan 2017; Simić et al. 2019). Rats as sensors, on the other hand, proved to be more hype (Fears 2017; Kalan 2014; Sullivan 2015) than practical (DeAngelo 2018; Fast et al. 2017; Smith9). By contrast, dogs have long been effectively used in demining but they are time-consuming to train, difficult to maintain, and quite expensive.9 While dogs can detect many explosives reliably, they have to operate in the working context, with training reinforced daily, especially to clearly indicate the threat; as a result, mine-sniffing dogs, although they may be friendly, are often neither cheap nor easy to work with. Experiments are under way to use free-running dogs equipped with GPS, cameras, and radio contact for technical surveys of large areas (Bold 2014: 12–14; Lisica and Muftić 2019).
 

Mine Removal: Extraction or Explosion?

While the military can tolerate the risk that not all mines are removed, humanitarian deminers work to a significantly higher standard. They seek to clear a field of all explosive hazards, including mines and any other ERW (Habib 2007: 152). When a metal object is detected, the standard procedure in humanitarian demining is to start digging some distance (e.g., 20 cm) from the mine at an angle of less than 30 degrees to the ground (ibid.: 167). Simple devices such as handheld garden shovels, rakes, and prodders are used. To overcome ground friction, both hands are frequently used to gently push and scrape, while being careful not to set off the mine on the approach. The loosened soil is scooped away, and prodding/scraping continues until the standard detection depth is reached. The deminer then starts to move the prodder slowly forward towards the location discovered by the mine detector and indicated by a marker (e.g., a bright “casino-chip” plastic marker). The mine is exposed using hand tools that “detect” the mine by feel at angles less than 30 degrees so as not to push on the mine’s top pressure plate. This is dangerous work that could eventually be done by machines.

The dangerous process of lifting a mine could also be done by autonomous or user-operated robots in the future (Hemapala 2017). Of course, lifting pressure-operated mines must be done with extreme care, especially if the mine includes an anti-lift device or is booby trapped, e.g., with a grenade underneath whose pin has been removed so it will detonate shortly after the mine is lifted. A hook is sometimes placed (gently) under the far side of the mine before it is “pulled” from a relatively safe distance using a hook-and-line system to trigger any booby trap. But this remains dangerous and risk-intensive work. Typically, when a mine has been safely lifted, it is then moved to a demolition pit, where demolition charges are used to detonate and destroy it.

Not Machines versus Humans, but Machines Serving Humans

To be sure, there are clear benefits of using human deminers. They have a learning and computing capacity combined with self-preservation instincts that far exceed the world’s best computerised robots at present. Deminers are mostly from the local population in a post-conflict environment; these non-combat jobs enable them to support themselves, their families, and their communities. They can bring in a real income (albeit often shamefully small) to help stimulate the local economy and so promote wider peace-building efforts. Humanitarian demining funding should include the local beneficiaries and help to empower them. Appropriate mine clearance machines, coupled with proper operator training, can do that by making the deminers’ jobs easier, safer, and faster — and help give them better control of their future.

It is equally important to avoid a highly expensive “military” approach that applies the most high-end and high-tech “solutions” but rather to organically develop tools that humanitarian deminers can work with. Andy Smith states from experience: “We should start from where the recipients are, then help them move towards where they want to be. That does involve using computers and sophisticated equipment — but step-by-step and respecting their priorities rather than just imposing ours.”10 This is echoed in the literature as well: “The ‘robotic solution’ becomes a[n] engineering job’ dependent on ‘imported devices where the know-how is not available. The increasing cost of the sophisticated devices incorporated in to the robotic devices making very high initial investment and low return on investments. […] Mainly robots work well for clean and reliable tasks” (Hemapala 2017: 3–4)

Small improvements to simple demining tools can be remarkably effective, such as long-handled ergonomic rakes, but these can be complemented with more advanced technologies and, in some areas, replaced by them (Furihata and Hirose 2005). It is not a case of human versus machine but one of machines increasing human efficiency and effectiveness, as well as safety and security. The traditional “mechanical assistance” in humanitarian demining should expand to include “technological assistance” as well. This would be an integrated solution, with all components (animals, insects, devices, and humans) working holistically.

Towards SmartDemining Machines

Eventually, smart technology should advance to the level where it could do much, although not all, of what a human deminer does. The devices would need to be human-controlled or supervised from a distance, with the machine doing the dangerous, labour-intensive work, and suffering the risk of explosions; the person removing and fixing damaged devices would be far out of the area of danger.

One system envisioned by the author would work on an overhanging boom or rail that extends along an area to be demined, e.g., a stretch alongside a road, and then systematically moving further into the field, row by row. The first device on the boom or rail would cut and remove all vegetation up to a certain height.

The second device (possibly a multi-sensor detector built into the first device) would pinpoint the mines or suspicious items in the ground, including by subterranean viewing from different angles on the boom. The precise areas would then be marked by spray-painting or by dropping (lightly) brightly coloured plastic chips. In addition, positions would be recorded by the computerized system using a differential-GPS or another accurate coordinate recorder. The third device on the boom or rail would be a sophisticated extractor, which would dig into the earth much as a human deminer would, employing highly tactile sensitivity. It would remove earth until the mine or metal object is exposed and then, after a human gives the go ahead, the machine would sound a warning to those around and slowly remove the mine or other explosive hazard. This type of envisioned system would mirror a suite of already-operational technologies and tools in use. If the machine encounters a sophisticated problem as it progresses, it should be able to signal a human to examine the problem, e.g., a deminer viewing the area by remote-controlled cameras on the device.

To verify that a thorough job has been done, the fourth device on the boom could do the quality assurance (QA). It could use sensors to detect if another mine had been buried beneath the first. The QA sensor could also scan the lane and conduct tests at selective points. It could apply pressure to the ground to test that no unexploded mines remain. Only then could a lane be declared successfully “cleared” before the demining machine is moved one lane forward. Of course, input from deminers at each stage of the R&D process should be sought.

 

Conclusions: The Need for Innovation

Given that the advanced systems and technologies described above may run into problems in some difficult field conditions, the preliminary or prototype devices could be used for the easier demining projects at first. The devices could cover soft homogenous ground containing few obstacles where detection and removal are easier. As the technology matures, future models could be deployed to areas containing more complex mixtures of landmines, shrapnel, anti-tank mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), abandoned explosive ordinance, and IEDs. They could be designed to withstand different climates, and work in difficult soil and terrain.

Given the range of possibilities, one might wonder what has inhibited technological progress so far. Factors include: prioritization of military missions (e.g., in Iraq/Afghanistan); military secrecy and information classification (of both R&D and deployed systems); lack of multi-year funding for humanitarian demining; the small niche market for humanitarian demining that produces little profit; the inability to move from R&D to practical commercial devices; a bureaucratic short-term approach to cost-efficiency; over-hyped proposals that did not live up to expectations; cynicism of innovation by those convinced their current practices are entirely sufficient; governmental/humanitarian actors not sharing information; and an inclination to avoid experimentation or being innovative.

Importantly, the robotics and artificial intelligence revolution is just beginning to be felt and understood in human society more generally. Many potential uses have recently become visible and commercially viable, from autonomous vacuum cleaners to advanced UAVs, but much more is still to come. Demining is an area where such products can be life-saving. Since 2005, the US military has developed and deployed very sophisticated technologies for IED detection and removal that have saved soldiers’ lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remote-control robots like the “TALON” series of unmanned ground systems have figured significantly in military operations (Wells and Deguire 2005) — and Hollywood depictions11 — with cutters and grabber assemblies to help deal with IEDs and UXO, as well as options for a range of other such tools, e.g., GPR (Chemring Group 2019b). Many of these technologies could be used or modified for humanitarian demining — some already are (Fardoulis et al. 2018), yet many technical details remain highly classified. However, there is bound to be some spillover as the companies producing the military hardware look for new markets.

There is additional reason to be hopeful: the emphasis on demining R&D is returning after the diversion away from humanitarian support after 9/11 and the Afghanistan-Iraq missions. In recent years, new initiatives and programmes have been launched. The UN Department of Peace Operations (which includes the UN Mines Action Service or UNMAS) has accepted the recommendations of the Panel of Experts on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping, which include new demining technologies, especially to enhance the mobility of peacekeepers (UN 2015). The European Union is supporting R&D programmes to examine wide-ranging technologies, including aerial drones for survey work, GIS, robots, multi-sensor detectors (including animals and biomimicry), vapour sensors, and small/miniaturized demining machines (European Union 2016). NATO’s Science for Peace and Security Programme is supporting activities in Partnership for Peace nations (NATO 2016). Japanese engineers have been pioneering “intelligent” robots for demining for some time (Habib 2008: 42–44).

UAV applications will continue to advance quickly in their sophistication and demining applications, moving from experimental trials to dedicated field tests (senseFly 2016: 5). One of the major academic journals focused on humanitarian demining dedicated an issue to the topic (Risser 2018). Various humanitarian demining groups have evaluated and tested UAV systems under operational conditions (Cruz et al. 2018; Gottwald, Docci, and Mayer, 2017; senseFly 2016; Wade 2016). Some have even developed applications using UAVs themselves for the extraction of mines (Mine Kafon 2019; UAV Systems 2016). As the development of experimental work continues, gradual recognition of UAV technology by the UN Mines Action Service as a viable tool has been seen as well (UNMAS, 2018: 30).

Other R&D possibilities that can be explored are fluorescent bacteria (Meurer et al. 2009) and novel animal-based detectors (e.g., involving a mongoose [Nanayakkara et al. 2008]). While many of today’s R&D projects are “blue sky” projects that may never reach the field during the funding cycle, some of them will reach maturity. This gives new hope that technology may yet come to the service of humanitarian demining. Long-term R&D investments can pay real dividends because the landmine and UXO problem remains so serious. Civilian technologies have produced some fruitful detection and foliage clearance devices. Smartphone and common GIS (like Google Earth) have helped in imaging, data analysis, visualization, and precise clearance marking for demining.

But the detection and extraction technologies are slower to come online, seemingly “stuck in the mud.” Devices mentioned earlier show promise but need encouragement and multi-year funding. Unfortunately, “[m]any promising technologies have not been exploited due to the lack of available funding. Although funds may exist, there is currently no formal mechanism to link donors to technology opportunities, and vice versa” (UNMAS 2013: sec. 9). To complete the laboratory-to-field R&D cycle, prototype field testing by established deminers is a much-needed validation step, but R&D risks, high and often multi-year financial commitments, and policy constraints pose significant hurdles (ibid. 9). Despite the best efforts of academic and non-governmental organizations, and biennial workshops organized by GICHD, there is still a need for an organization able to test devices independently and publish impartial results, as well as to set proven standards. The Landmine Monitor annual reports could consider developments in technology, something it has avoided doing for the last decade (from 2009 through 2018 it made no mention of technology related to demining operations). However, the Croatian Centre for Testing, Development and Training, at its annual International Symposium on Mine Action, does publish specific advances in demining technology R&D in its International Symposium on Mine Action Book of Papers (HCR-CTRO 2019). And while the Ottawa Treaty encourages states parties to share demining technology, especially through the UN,12 those efforts have petered out in recent years.13

Increasingly, advanced database technologies coupled with data collection tools, including sensors on devices — the “Internet of Things” revolution — will enhance the full spectrum of demining efforts, including integrating mapping, data collection, analysis, and modelling. Tools developed specifically for the mine action community have started to make an impact (Vikström and Kallin 2018), with the GICHD Information Management System for Mine Action being used in 47 countries (GICHD 2019). Finally, demining accident records need to be fed into a centralized, open database to derive lessons about safety, to improve industry technologies and practices, and enable detailed research and study.14

The need to clean up mines and other ERW will remain far into the foreseeable future, with new mines and IEDs still being planted. Even cleaning up the landmines currently in the ground would take many decades at the current pace, while accidental deaths would continue. R&D into new technologies and better equipment will require iterative development and refinement over the years. The connection from R&D to field application urgently needs to be strengthened. Mine action specialist Andy Smith sums it up: “We need young ideas, young idealism, young enthusiasm — and, of course, some old and hard money”.15

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks are due to the Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, who suggested and encouraged this inquiry. The paper benefitted greatly from communications with Andy Smith, a UK-based mine-action specialist with much practical experience in demining. Assistance and feedback on the paper is much appreciated from Dave McCracken (deminer based in Thailand), Ryan Cross (Vancouver-based researcher), Robin Collins (World Federalists Canada), Paul Hannon (Mines Action Canada), Danielle Stodilka (Toronto-based chartered chemist), Mikael Bold (GICHD), and other experts at UNMAS and GICHD. The statements, views, and any errors in the paper are solely the responsibility of the author. Funding from the Canadian Pugwash Group is much appreciated.

Competing Interests

The author has no competing interests to declare.

Author Information

Walter Dorn is professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) who is based at the Canadian Forces College (CFC). As an “operational professor” he participates in field missions and the work of international organizations, including as a member of the UN’s 2014 Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping. His two most recent books are Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace (Ashgate, 2014) and Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology, and Innovation in UN Peace Operations (UNU Press, 2011). Further biographical info and publications can be found on the website www.walterdorn.net.

 

Notes

1 Locating and deciding to begin demining activities includes socio-economic impact studies to determine areas that are presumed affected by mines and where demining would be most beneficial to the local population, gathering data and information to identify likely mine-fields, and reviewing accident reports, satellite photographs, etc. (The HALO Trust n.d.). This pre-demining activity, known as “non-technical survey,” has been greatly improved by technology, including satellite and airborne surveillance, modern geographical information systems (GIS) such as ArcGIS and services such as Google Earth, although gaps remain (Schmitz et al. 2018). It is then augmented by “technical survey,” which includes physically assessing for mines in a defined area. That is “a process using physical intervention that might include machines or breaching by manual deminers” (The HALO Trust n.d.).

2 Mini-flails reduce risks by setting off booby-traps, trip-wires, fused and even simple-pressure mines. Andy Smith (2015b) comments: “Before it was invented, the most common cause of deminer death was the bounding fragmentation mine. A mini-flail can break or initiate these before the deminers have to go near, removing undergrowth and so making the demining process both faster and safer.”

3 Andy Smith, Emails to the author, 20–24 May 2015.

4 Andy Smith, an expert mine action specialist, writes: “Variations in ground density give false signals when the ground has wet patches, rocks, tree roots or voids. The density change between ground and air makes it difficult for GPR to reliably detect small objects in that area. False alarms encourage the user to make spurious assessments; and accidents have occurred when military deminers have trodden on a mine that they had detected but had chosen to ignore because of the GPR” (2015b).

5 Examples of handheld dual-sensor detectors on the market include, e.g., “Groundshark” by Chemring (2019a); the “Minehound” series by Vallon (2019), HSTAMIDS from the US Army (US DoD 2019), and ALIS (Sato 2018).

6 The “maturity” column gives an indication of the time-span until the technology might be incorporated into practical application. [For Table 3, see see pdf]

7 These bulk explosive detectors use radioactive sources to bombard the ground with radiation. They require heavy shielding. There is also a risk of losing radioactive sources to terrorist groups in conflict zones who might seek to make a “dirty bomb.” [For Table 3, see see pdf]

8 Andy Smith, Emails to the author, 20–24 May 2015.

9 The first humanitarian dog programme started in 1989 in Afghanistan/Pakistan (under Op Salam) in conjunction with UN Development Programme and the UN Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) further pioneered the use of demining dogs in the mid-1990s. After a disappointing and costly programme in Angola, NPA established its Global Training Centre for Mine Detection Dogs in Bosnia in 2004 (NPA-GTC/MCC 2012). The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation found that “more than 25 organisations worldwide currently use mine detection animals [dogs]” (Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation 2009: 42).

10 Andy Smith, Emails to the author, 20–24 May 2015.

11 For instance, the 2008 movie The Hurt Locker depicts the remote-controlled tracked TALON USG for the investigation of IEDs.

12 The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction Anti-Personnel Mines Treaty (1997), in Article 6, on International Cooperation and Assistance, Paragraph 2: “Each State Party undertakes to facilitate and shall have the right to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, material and scientific and technological information concerning the implementation of this Convention. The States Parties shall not impose undue restrictions on the provision of mine clearance equipment and related technological information for humanitarian purposes.” Then in Paragraph 7(b): Each State Party shall provide “the financial, technological and human resources that are required for the implementation of the [mine clearance] program.” In Article 11, on Meetings of the States Parties, the signatories commit to “meet regularly in order to consider […] 1(d) The development of technologies to clear anti-personnel mines.”

13 While the International Test and Evaluation Program for Humanitarian Demining, with a secretariat in Brussels, is now closed, an important role continues to be played by the Swiss-based GICHD. Organisations like the Centre for Testing, Development and Training and the Croatian Mine Action Centre are a kind of “halfway house” to test and coordinate humanitarian demining efforts. The Demining Technologies Information Forum (DTIF), launched by Canada, the European Commission and the United States and joined later by UNMAS, GICHD, and a number of nations, once provided a “systematic, multi-disciplinary opportunity for the identification of demining technology gaps, for the synergistic exchange of ideas, for collaborative international programme co-ordination and planning and for the review of progress in the mine action technology area. […] Regrettably, the DTIF is no longer functioning” (UNMAS 2015). Fortunately, the NGO Find a Better Way continues to work with various UK universities to explore better landmine detection and removal methods (Find a Better Way 2019).

14 A database on deminer injuries is available, although reporting is voluntary and far from complete (Global CWD Repository 2019). Some have argued that the humanitarian demining community ought to recognize a duty of care for its deminers and provide detailed records of incidents globally (Smith 2017a), as others have done in specific former conflict zones (Debač 2016).

15 Andy Smith, Emails to the author, 20–24 May 2015.

 

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Submitted: 18 July 2019 Accepted: 12 August 2019 Published: 03 September 2019

Copyright: © 2019 The Author

Trudeau et les casques bleus

Trudeau et les casques bleus

Par Walter Dorn. L’article original (en anglais) est paru dans le Toronto Star

La traduction de Pierre Jasmin, approuvée par l’auteur, a été publié dans l’aut’journal, et
posté sur le site web (htmldes Artistes pour la paix

Walter Dorn, membre de l’exécutif de Pugwash Canada, est professeur d’études de la défense
au Collège militaire royal. Il produit un compte-rendu mensuel des contributions canadiennes à l’ONU sur peacekeepingcanada.com.

 

La semaine dernière, le déploiement pour une année par le Canada d’un avion de transport C-130 pour les opérations de paix des Nations Unies représentait un pas en avant. Toutefois, alors que le mandat Trudeau tire à sa fin, il est juste de récapituler ses promesses électorales précédentes de se réengager dans le maintien de la paix des Nations Unies.

À son entrée en fonction, le premier ministre Trudeau a donné d’importantes instructions à ses ministres de la Défense et des Affaires étrangères pour mettre à la disposition de l’ONU du personnel canadien et des capacités militaires spécialisées. Les ministres devaient également prendre le leadership d’une formation internationale au maintien de la paix et aider les Nations Unies à réagir plus rapidement aux conflits naissants.

Lors de la conférence ministérielle sur le maintien de la paix à Londres en 2016, le Canada s’est engagé à fournir jusqu’à 600 militaires et 150 policiers – un grand pas en avant par rapport au gouvernement précédent, mais guère plus de la moitié de ce que le Canada avait prévu pour les 40 années qui ont suivi la création de la première force de maintien de la paix en 1956. Néanmoins, la nouvelle contribution annoncée serait extrêmement précieuse pour une organisation mondiale qui lutte pour aider l’humanité.

Malheureusement, dans la pratique, le gouvernement Trudeau a atteint un niveau sans précédent en petit nombre de soldats et de policiers au service des Nations Unies. Seuls 56 militaires et policiers en uniforme étaient déployés en mai 2018, six mois après que Trudeau eut organisé une importante conférence ministérielle mondiale sur le maintien de la paix à Vancouver.

Le gouvernement n’a déployé qu’une seule unité militaire opérationnelle à court terme: une force extrêmement compétente au Mali.

Quand la mission au Mali viendra à terme à la fin du mois, le Canada fournira de nouveau moins de 30 militaires et moins de 30 policiers, bien loin des chiffres de 600 et 150! En fait, durant son mandat, le gouvernement Harper a déployé plus de personnel en uniforme (157 en moyenne par mois) que le gouvernement Trudeau (114).

En outre, le programme de formation de maintien de la paix promis n’a pas été lancé depuis quatre ans. Et la force de réaction rapide promise à la conférence ministérielle de Vancouver 2017 est loin d’être déployée rapidement. En fait, même sa destination n’est toujours pas connue.

Il est juste de demander à qui ou à quoi attribuer la responsabilité de cette promesse non tenue. Il est vrai que le ministère de la Défense nationale avait beaucoup de retard à se mettre au travail pour se réengager dans le maintien de la paix et apprendre le fonctionnement de l’ONU.

Le néophyte député et ministre, Harjit Sajjan, a adopté une approche prudente et tatillonne dans sa pente abrupte d’apprentissage des opérations de l’ONU. Le chef d’état-major de la défense, Jonathan Vance, croyait en l’importance du maintien de la paix de l’ONU, mais a abandonné l’attitude de bonne volonté pratique des chefs d’une époque antérieure.

L’armée canadienne avait fourni des soldats à toutes les missions de l’ONU jusqu’en 1995. Au cours de la décennie 1990, les Forces armées canadiennes ont fourni des généraux pour diriger sept missions de l’ONU, mais aucune depuis lors. L’OTAN est devenue priorité loin devant l’ONU, de nombreuses demandes de l’ONU ont été rejetées aux niveaux inférieurs du quartier général de la Défense nationale. Il est étonnant dans ces circonstances que l’ONU ait continué à demander. Le Canada n’a même pas placé un seul officier au siège de l’ONU.

Cependant, en décembre 2016, l’armée était prête à fournir un commandant de force à la mission des Nations Unies au Mali et celle-ci a ouvert le poste pendant deux mois dans l’attente de la décision finale. Mais le gouvernement n’a pas approuvé cette contribution lorsque Chrystia Freeland a succédé à Stéphane Dion au poste de ministre des Affaires étrangères, une fonction qui joue un rôle de premier plan au sein du Cabinet pour les questions de maintien de la paix.

Freeland a beaucoup parlé de la nécessité d’un ordre international fondé sur des règles, sans aider le moindrement au centre de cet ordre international, les Nations unies, ni à son entreprise phare de maintien de la paix en zones de conflit. Freeland a pris une initiative: promouvoir les femmes de différents pays en maintien de la paix, tout en n’y accordant que deux femmes militaires. Les chiffres, qui ont augmenté de manière impressionnante avec la mission au Mali, seront ramenés à moins d’une demi-douzaine dans une semaine.

Enfin, qu’en est-il du nouveau service de transport C-130 annoncé la semaine dernière ? Certes une innovation qui devrait aider l’ONU, mais ce n’est pas un grand engagement de détourner un seul avion des missions de l’OTAN en Irak pour seulement cinq jours de service mensuel aux Nations Unies.

Alors, qui a sapé la promesse de Trudeau en matière de maintien de la paix ? Eh bien, ce fut Trudeau lui-même. Il n’a pas réussi à faire adopter d’importantes propositions par son cabinet. Il n’a pas fait pression sur ses ministres sur la question (mais plutôt sur d’autres questions…). Résultat : la réputation du Canada en matière de maintien de la paix a souffert et le monde a compris que la réalité était bien en retard sur la rhétorique quant à l’appui du gouvernement Trudeau au maintien de la paix des Nations Unies.

   

 

What happened to Trudeau’s peacekeeping promise?

What happened to Trudeau’s peacekeeping promise?

By Walter Dorn

 

Originally published in The Toronto Star, 22 August 2019, p. A15. 

 

The agreement Canada signed with the United Nations last week to provide a C-130 transport aircraft for UN peace operations is a step forward. But as the Trudeau government nears the end of its term, it is fair to ask if it has kept its previous election promises to re-engage in UN peacekeeping.

Upon taking office, Prime Minister Trudeau gave important instructions to his defence and foreign ministers to make Canadian personnel and specialized military capabilities available to the UN. Also they were to lead in international peacekeeping training and to help the United Nations respond more quickly to emerging conflicts.

At the London Peacekeeping Ministerial in 2016, Canada pledged to provide up to 600 military personnel and 150 police. That would be a big jump from the previous government but was little more than half of what Canada had provided for the 40 years after leading the establishment of the first peacekeeping force in 1956. Nevertheless, the newly pledged contribution would be highly valuable to a world organization struggling to help humanity.

Unfortunately, in practice, the government reached an all-time low in the number of soldiers and police in UN service, with only 56 uniformed personnel deployed in May 2018, six months after Trudeau hosted a major global ministerial conference in Vancouver on peacekeeping.

The government has deployed only one military unit and only for a short-term: a highly capable task force in Mali.

When the Mali mission closes at the end of this month, Canada will be back to providing less than 30 military personnel and less than 30 police officers — a far cry from the 600 and 150 figures. In fact, the Harper government during its tenure deployed more uniformed personnel (157 on average per month) than the Trudeau government (at 114).

Furthermore, the promised peacekeeping training program has not launched in four years. And the Quick Reaction Force pledged at the 2017 Vancouver Ministerial is far from being quickly deployed. In fact, even the destination is still not known.

It is only fair to ask: what or who was responsible for this broken promise? It is true that the Department of National Defence had a lot of catching up to do in order to reengage in peacekeeping and learn the workings of the UN.

The first-time MP and minister, Harjit Sajjan, took a cautious and plodding approach on his steep learning curve about UN operations. Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance believed in the importance of UN peacekeeping but abandoned the can-do attitude that chiefs took in an earlier era.

The Canadian military had provided soldiers to every UN mission until 1995. And in the one decade of the 1990s, the Canadian Armed Forces provided generals to lead seven UN missions, though none since. With NATO prioritized far ahead of the UN, many UN requests were turned down at lower levels of National Defence Headquarters. It is amazing the UN continued asking. Canada could not even place an officer into UN headquarters.

However, in December 2016, the military was ready to provide a force commander for the UN’s Mali mission and the UN held open the position for two months waiting for the final decision. But the cabinet failed to approve the contribution when Chrystia Freeland took over from Stéphane Dion as foreign minister, a position that has the lead in cabinet on peacekeeping matters.

Freeland spoke much about the need for a rules-based international order but did little to help the centre of that international order, the United Nations, and its flagship enterprise in conflict zones, peacekeeping. Freeland did take one initiative: promoting women in peacekeeping from different countries, even as Canada provided only two military women. The numbers increased impressively with the Mali mission, but they will be back to less than a half-a-dozen women in a month.

Finally, the new C-130 transport service announced last week? It is certainly innovative and it should help the UN but it is not a great commitment to divert a single plane from NATO duty in Iraq for only five days a month of UN service.

So who undermined Trudeau’s peacekeeping promise? Well, it was Trudeau himself. He failed to get important proposals passed by his cabinet. He did not pressure his ministers on the issue. So Canada’s peacekeeping reputation suffered and the world learned that reality lagged far behind rhetoric on the Trudeau government’s support for UN peacekeeping.

 

Walter Dorn is president of the World Federalist Movement — Canada and a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College.

 

Canadian Peacekeeping Quotes

Quotes on Canadian Peacekeeping 

Collated by Walter Dorn, 9 August 2019

 

 

“It is surprising that Canada, despite its almost unsurpassed record of participation in peacekeeping since its invention, and indeed the Canadian claim that Lester Pearson invented it, has contributed so little to doctrinal development, particularly with regard to the use of force.”
          –  Findlay, Trevor. The Use of Force in UN Peace Operations. SIPRI/OUP, 2002, p.407

 

“I need brains. I don’t need the quantities,” he said. “Your officer training is top level in the world. More importantly, you have French language skills as well, which we need when we provide advice for our Malian friends.”   
         – Gen. Esa Pulkkinen, director general of the EU’s military staff. [He] told The Canadian Press that he has asked the Canadian government to bring its military training expertise to Mali.
              Source: EU military wants to partner with Canada in Mali as it races for exit, 25 March 2019,
              https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/eu-military-wants-to-partner-with-canada-in-mali-as-it-races-for-exit-1.4350592