Peace-Keeping in a Changing World
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 17 Nov 1988, p. 118-129
Manson, General Paul D., Speaker
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Item Type
The blue beret and what it symbolizes. Recent developments in various world conflicts. A warming of East-West relations. The Canadian role in peace-keeping. Some facts and history about the United Nations and several of its operations. Some non-United Nations peace-keeping activities by Canadians. What a peace-keeping force is, and what it does. Some criticism of UN peace-keeping operations. Some specific examples of operations and problems with them. Changes in peace-keeping and the factors that have contributed to them. Frustrations and difficulties for UN troops; eliminating them. Some practical proposals. Canadian forces in the UN; their role, activities, difficulties; paying the price, taking the risks. Advantages for Canada in its participation in the UN. The easing of global tension. Canada's future role in the UN.
Date of Original
17 Nov 1988
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Full Text
General Paul D. Manson Chief of the Defence Staff Department of National Defence
Chairman: A. A. van Straubenzee President


It is just a little hard to overlook the fact that we are nearing the end of a federal campaign and with the final weekend approaching, many of our members are campaigning for their favourite candidates. Across the street, the Prime Minister is having his final rally with his troops in Toronto and, if the campaign lasted much longer, we would have to call in the army and use our own Peace-Keeping Forces here at home.

If that were to happen, it would present no difficulty for our Armed Forces. They have established a reputation for superior service throughout the world. We were one of the nations awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for our peace-keeping efforts over these past 40 years or so.

As we all know, a contingent was recently sent to Iran/Iraq to keep the peace over there. And that is not an easy task. It calls for diplomacy, arbitration, judgment, setting an example and extraordinary leadership.

It is often only during wars that our military leaders make the headlines and become famous. Hence, names like Guy Simonds, Chris Vokes, Churchill Mann, Worthy Worthington, are familiar to our parents - many of whom served under them in war time. Billy Bishop VC, of course, in the First World War, is one of our great heroes as well - and we musn't forget that in the Second World War our airforce ranked fourth in size and that

General Manson himself is an accomplished pilot.

I particularly remember the late General Vokes because he was my father's last CO. Occasionally, I would be invited to the Officers' Mess for a social function. General Volks did not approve of me because I had not enrolled in COTC or ROTP and had broken a long family attachment to the army. So when I arrived at the Mess, he used to make me stand on my head and drink a double rye and water-and I was only a teenager at the time. I'm sure that explains to some of my Empire Club Directors why I'm topsy turvy in some of my ideas. It did teach me one important thing-I love rye and water. I will always remember Chris Vokes who was an outstanding soldier.

Our Armed Forces have a great tradition and the Empire Club of Canada shares in that tradition with Major General Reg Lewis and Major General Bruce Legge, Brigadier General Stephen Andrunyk and Colonel Bob Hilborn-all of whom are Past Presidents of this Club. And there are many other outstanding retired officers such as the highly decorated Bud Hoffman and Bill Whiteacre, MC.

But today we welcome our Chief of Defence Staff, General Paul Manson, who is a modern day CDS. Like our troops abroad, he must be a great diplomat, negotiator, leader, recruiter, trainer, and answer the charge of his men and women of "Give us the tools, and we will finish the job."

I spoke at length a few decades ago to a Major General who was rumored to be in line for what was then known as the Chief of the General Staff. He told me that he could not stand the thought of the politics that went with the job. And so he retired to private life and took up a position in business. Not so, General Manson. This outstanding officer has never shied away from any challenge. He attended both Royal Roads and RMC and upon graduating from the latter, received the coveted Sword of Honour.

General Manson has served as CO of the 441 Reconnaissance Squadron. He was a Base Commander in Chatham, New Brunswick-Commander of our Air Group in Germany and Commander of the Air Command before becoming CDS in 1986. He is perhaps best known for the major contribution he made in managing the new fighter aircraft program for the evaluation, selection and procurement of Canada's CF 18 Fighter Aircraft. General, sir, we particularly thank you for arranging to have the peacekeeping casualties on the Remembrance Day Rolls on Armistice Day. We are proud of the Nobel Prize and we are proud of you.

General Paul D. Manson:

Last Friday, at Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country, the blue beret was worn by Canadians who had seen service with United Nations peace-keeping forces. It was a new and welcome recognition of those who have contributed in a very direct and personal way to peace in a troubled world. The blue beret symbolizes the practical truth of one of Sir Winston Churchill's more famous observations, to the effect that "Jaw, jaw is better than war, war:" It's a sentiment that is enjoying increasing acceptance. Nations and factions which, until recently, were exchanging bullets are now tossing words at one another, and the prospects for peace in many troubled parts of the world are better than they have been for many years. The Gulf War has been halted; a settlement seems imminent in Angola and Namibia; serious negotiations are taking place in regard to the Western Sahara; and there is hope for a peaceful resolution of problems in Central America and Kampuchea.

These developments, it seems, aren't coincidental. Underlying them, and perhaps serving as a catalyst, is the considerable warming of East-West relations which we all welcome. All in all, it has been a good year for peace, and it will be capped next month when the Secretary General of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cuellar, accepts the Nobel Prize on behalf of United Nations peace-keepers, past and present.

Canadians can feel justifiably proud of this award, given the role that their Armed Forces have played over the years in United Nations and other multinational peace-keeping operations. In all, about 80,000 Canadian servicemen and women have served in UN peace-keeping units. The Canadian Forces have participated, in one capacity or another, in every single UN operation since 1949.

These operations have taken our military peace-keepers to many trouble spots around the world: the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Sub Continent, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and lately, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. Ours is a proud record, unmatched by that of any other nation.

The events of the past year bring UN peace-keeping to something of a crossroads. Peace, it seems, is breaking out all over, and with this new atmosphere of reconciliation comes the prospect of new demands for peace-keepers. It is an appropriate time, then, to look back at past achievements and to reflect on the future of peace-keeping, with particular reference to Canada's role in this highly specialized field of military activity. That is what I would like to do today.

It's important at the outset to understand that there are two different sorts of peace-keeping operations. The first is the imposition, with the agreement of both sides to the conflict, of an armed peace-keeping force whose presence enables the belligerents to initiate a ceasefire and helps to create a stable environment for the conduct of peace negotiations. The first peace-keeping operation of this type was the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt, which permitted the separation of the belligerents during the Suez Crisis of 1956.

Other examples of this type of operation were in the Congo in the early 1960s, Cyprus in 1964 (which is still going on 24 years later), the Second United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt in the 1970s, and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon in 1978.

The other type of peace-keeping operation is the provision of unarmed military officers to observe the withdrawal of forces and to monitor compliance with the terms of a ceasefire. The first of these observer operations, one in which Canada participated, was the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan in 1949, followed by the UN Command Military Armistice Commission in Korea in 1953. In 1954, we joined the UN Truce Supervisory Organization in the Middle East, which had been established in 1948. Incidentally, all of these operations are still in effect.

There have been several other such observer missions over the years, but the most notable recent examples are two wellpublicized undertakings during the past year, one in Afghanistan and the other in Iran and Iraq; I will say more about the latter in a moment.

You should note as well that not all peace-keeping is done under the auspices of the United Nations. Canadians have participated in such non-UN operations as the International

Observer Team in Nigeria and the International Commissions for Supervision and Control in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos during the mid 1950s and again in the mid 1970s. Since 1986, approximately 140 Canadian military men and women have been serving with the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, established in 1981, in connection with the Camp David Accords.

Regardless of its sponsor, UN or otherwise, a peace-keeping force which is acceptable to all parties takes time to identify and assemble, because agreement must be sought on the nature of the operation and the makeup of the peace-keeping forces. Under current practice, these negotiations are conducted on an ad-hoc basis for each operation, and potential donor countries are asked, informally, what their reaction would be to a formal request for their participation in certain specific ways and at certain specific levels. After negotiations and agreement, formal requests are then made of countries acceptable to all parties to the dispute.

United Nations authorities are careful not to allow any donor country to dominate the force by the nature or size of its contribution. In general, they rely on industrialized donor nations having sophisticated armed forces to supply the technical, communications, aviation and logistic support components of a peace-keeping force, whereas they often seek infantrymen and observers from a broader base of less developed countries. This does not preclude requests for infantry from industrialized countries such as Canada, however, as our experience in Egypt and Cyprus indicates.

The most common criticism of UN peace-keeping operations is that once started they never end, and that, far from helping to resolve the underlying causes of conflict, they seem to inhibit early political solutions by stabilizing the environment and making inaction both possible and politically comfortable. There is a certain legitimacy to this point of view and there are, as I have already noted, more than a few current United Nations operations that have their origins in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

This is surely not the fault of the peace-keepers; if anything, it suggests they are doing their job too well. The problem lies principally on the political side, where enthusiasm and urgency for serious negotiations to resolve difficult and complex problems are often dampened by the presence of UN forces. In fairness, though, I wouldn't want to underestimate the political issues facing the disputing parties; these sometimes have their origins centuries or even millennia in the past. Quick solutions to such deeply-rooted problems aren't easy to find.

There is hope, however, and I cite the recent progress in political negotiations to conclude a settlement in Cyprus after 24 years of active peace-keeping by UN forces. Canada's investment in this operation has been enormous. Just last month we completed our 50th Cyprus rotation, each of which involved the transfer of a 500 to 1,000-man unit to that island and the return home of a similar group after six months of difficult peace-keeping duty. At one point, in 1974, our troops in Cyprus were caught in the middle of a major shooting war which took the life of one of our soldiers. It hasn't been easy, but Churchill was right: negotiation under the UN umbrella is infinitely better than a war between Greece and Turkey which, after all, are two of our NATO allies.

You may recall that, in August, when we sent our 500-man signals squadron to Iran and Iraq to establish the communications system for the entire UN peace-keeping force in that area, there was some concern and criticism that this, too, would become an open-ended, interminable commitment. I'm happy to say that, as we predicted, this will not happen. A first group of our signalers has already returned to Canada, a second will be airlifted home within the next few days, and the last members of the signals squadron will fly home before Christmas. The only Canadians remaining in the Iran/Iraq operation beyond that point will be our 15 officers in the UN Observer Force.

Not long ago, there was a growing feeling that the age of peace-keeping had come and gone and that, although existing operations might continue, the prospect for new peacekeeping initiatives was at best uncertain. Recent developments in Afghanistan and Iran and Iraq have put this notion to rest rather dramatically and, as I have already mentioned, there are prospects for further peace-keeping initiatives in several other trouble spots around the world. Something obviously has happened.

Many complex factors have come into confluence to create this change of heart for peace-keeping, not the least of which is the new and constructive attitude of both the United States and the Soviet Union toward the United Nations (and, if I may say so, towards each other). In any case, it's a good time to ask ourselves, in this promising new environment, whether we can benefit from past experience and put in place more disciplined and appropriate mechanisms for raising, training and deploying - and, of course, financing - United Nations peace-keeping forces.

For some years, Canada has advocated certain practical measures to this end. We ourselves have regularly designated specific Canadian Forces' units as standby forces for UN service, and we have encouraged others to do the same. We might want to go further and explore the possibility of identifying larger numbers of Canadian military units and groupings which could be used as building blocks together with similar units from other nations, to create an appropriate structure for a particular UN operation. The United Nations might also set up a rotational system in the longer-term peace-keeping operations to help relieve the strain on nations contributing major technical services or large formed units. Here, again, Cyprus would be a good case in point.

Another useful development would be for the United Nations to agree on standard military operating procedures and to issue guidance in, advance to all potential donor countries on how peace-keeping duties should be carried out. The United Nations could also formally sponsor training for peace-keeping forces.

Above all, it would be very useful if a detailed Visiting

Forces Agreement could be drawn up between the United Nations and its member nations, to identify clearly the status of troops serving with the United Nations. The absence of such a legal understanding has created many problems in past operations. I would even go so far as to suggest that the provision of UN peace-keeping forces in a given dispute should be conditional on the acceptance by all parties of a Status of Forces Agreement. In addition to establishing the basis for resolution of complex questions of jurisdiction in civil and military matters involving UN forces, such an agreement would help to resolve the many practical problems encountered in deploying to a theatre of operations and settling in. For example, it would have helped us avoid the delays in deployment we experienced in Iran and Iraq due to confusion over passports and drivers' and vehicle licensing requirements, and also the carrying of small arms for selfdefence by our soldiers.

To summarize the point I wish to make here, many of the frustrations and difficulties which UN troops so often encounter in the early days of a new operation could be eliminated, or at least alleviated, by the putting in place of standard UN procedures and conditions of employment. Although there will always be a certain element of on-the-spot arrangements, given the unique nature of each new peacekeeping operation, the more that can be set out in advance, the less risk there will be of failure in the critical early days.

I must say that the current climate in the UN regarding peace-keeping operations would appear to offer an excellent opportunity to explore some of these practical proposals to improve the effectiveness of peace-keeping operations, and you may be sure that we are pursuing these.

The prospect of new and possibly demanding peacekeeping missions around the world raises hard questions about the size and configuration of the forces we might contribute and the role they might play.

I noted earlier the proclivity of the United Nations to call on Canada and other developed nations which are not permanent members of the Security Council to provide the technical communications, aviation and logistical support for UN operations.

These are all tasks that the Canadian Forces do very well and we are pleased to be doing them, but they present something of a dilemma, since our armed forces are designed in the first instance to meet our alliance rather than our peace-keeping commitments. Forces tailored for NATO duty must have their support elements on hand if they are to get useful field training and to maintain the necessary degree of readiness. If some of these support units are taken away for peace-keeping duties, a big gap is left in their capability to do their assigned jobs in peace and war.

One way to overcome this difficulty, obviously, would be to give the Canadian Forces extra support units, but I'm afraid that would be both impractical and inordinately expensive. For one thing, it is impossible to predict just what sort of support units the UN will need at a given time, and there is bound to be inefficiency, to say nothing of the distortions that would be created in our force structure; in other words, the "teeth-to-tail" ratio becomes unbalanced.

Happily, a partial solution to some of these questions will be achieved with the implementation of our new total force concept, whereby the Reserves will be expanded significantly, together with a reduction in differences between the Reserves and the Regular Force in terms of training, equipment and employment.

In this concept, a greater use can be made of Reserve personnel in support of peace-keeping operations. It is interesting to note that 85 of the 575 Canadian personnel currently serving in Cyprus are Reservists.

While the total force approach will certainly help in the long term, for the next few years we must give constructive thought to other possibilities. For example, we might arrange to use equipment provided by nations which are not contributing people. Perhaps we could also contract out some support activities to the private sector.

We must also give some thought, with the prospect of an increase in new peace-keeping commitments, as to whether we must always adhere to our country's longstanding criteria for participation in peace-keeping operations. These criteria, which are very precisely defined, are intended to ensure that Canadian peace-keepers are welcomed by all parties to a given conflict, that there is a genuine need and a real chance of success and that there is effective third party political control of the Force, normally by the United Nations.

If our criteria are met, and the Canadian Forces have the resources to undertake a new operation without prejudicing our other commitments, mounting a Canadian contingent is a relatively straightforward operation. In the real world, however, things don't often go that smoothly. Only rarely are all the criteria met, so risks must be taken and careful judgment exercised.

So far, we have been reasonably fortunate. But Canadians must not delude themselves: peace-keeping is an inherently risky business. There is often a danger of landmines and unex ploded munitions in the theatre of operations. There is sometimes a risk of being caught in an outbreak of shooting, or even a resumption of hostilities. As Cyprus and the Golan Heights have already shown, peace-keepers can get caught in the middle of a full-scale war. These are risks that are normally acceptable, given the real value of peace-keeping.

That Canada and Canadians are prepared to pay the price of this vital international activity and accept its risks is clearly evident from the record. I have already mentioned that our soldiers have participated in every UN peacekeeping operation to date. Consider also the fact that we contribute about 10 per cent of the approximately 13,000 peace-keepers on duty around the world today. Over the years, more than 500 peace-keepers have been killed on UN duty. Of these, 81 have been Canadian. That sad statistic alone is a telling measure of our national commitment to the cause.

Peace-keeping is not a one-way street. It offers excellent training for formed units in peacetime and provides a realistic environment for the training and development of junior officers and non-commissioned officers. The observer missions provide officers with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with different parts of the world and to develop negotiating and diplomatic skills. Above all it is a thoroughly operational activity, one in which our military participants are deeply conscious of the fact that they are making a very real, personal contribution to world peace. I invite you to talk to any of the 80,000 Canadians who have participated over the years, and you will sense, as I have so often, the profound feeling of pride and accomplishment that peace-keeping service generates.

On balance, participation in these United Nations and other multinational peace-keeping operations has been good for the Canadian Forces. It has also been good for Canada's image, both at home and abroad. We are particularly well placed to respond to requests for peace-keepers. Canada is not a superpower but we have sophisticated, modern armed forces. We are not a militaristic nation, yet we have a long and proud military history and an enviable military reputation. Ours is a modern industrial state but we do not carry the baggage of being a former colonial power.

Peace-keeping comes naturally to Canadians, as history has shown. The image of a Canadian soldier wearing his blue beret, standing watch at some lonely outpost in a strife-torn foreign land with binoculars at the ready, is very much an element of the modern Canadian mosaic, and a proud part of our national heritage.

Let me conclude by making a point which, to me, is absolutely fundamental, yet which tends to be overlooked. The peace-keeping I have been discussing today has a very distinct meaning in military terms. In a broader sense, however, everything that we do is peace-keeping. Our very real contribution to deterrent forces in NATO and NORAD over many decades now has helped to keep the Western World in a state of peace that has permitted Canada to grow and prosper. I believe with great conviction that the easing of tensions between East and West today is the product of Canada's determination, with her allies, to stand firm and strong over the years.

Now that global tensions have eased remarkably, the nations of the world have a golden opportunity to work together to eliminate conflict at the lower end of the spectrum, using United Nations peace-keeping forces more effectively than ever before. l know that, once again, Canada's armed forces will be in the forefront of this new effort, and that our men and women will acquit themselves in a way that will be fully in keeping with our past achievements, and a source of pride to all Canadians.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Major General Reginald Lewis, C.M.M., C.M., C.D., President, Toronto Economic Development Corporation; President, the Confederation of Reserve Officers of NATO; and a Past President of the Empire Club of Canada.

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Peace-Keeping in a Changing World

The blue beret and what it symbolizes. Recent developments in various world conflicts. A warming of East-West relations. The Canadian role in peace-keeping. Some facts and history about the United Nations and several of its operations. Some non-United Nations peace-keeping activities by Canadians. What a peace-keeping force is, and what it does. Some criticism of UN peace-keeping operations. Some specific examples of operations and problems with them. Changes in peace-keeping and the factors that have contributed to them. Frustrations and difficulties for UN troops; eliminating them. Some practical proposals. Canadian forces in the UN; their role, activities, difficulties; paying the price, taking the risks. Advantages for Canada in its participation in the UN. The easing of global tension. Canada's future role in the UN.