Foreign Affairs Report Entitled "The New NATO and the Evolution of Peacekeeping: Implications for Canada"

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 139, Issue 27
Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Inquiry-Debate Continued
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry calling the attention of the Senate to the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs: The New NATO and the Evolution of Peacekeeping: Implications for Canada.-(Honourable Senator Roche).

Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, about one year ago, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, after extensive study, tabled a report: "The New NATO and the Evolution of Peacekeeping: Implications for Canada." On April 3, 2001, Senator Andreychuk, in an important address, reviewed this report from the perspective of a year's experience. Senator Andreychuk's timely action has opened anew the debate on Canada's role and responsibilities in the complicated intertwined agenda of peacekeeping, peacemaking and peace-building.

In short, we now know that the international community must find a way to reconcile respect for the sovereign rights of states with the need to act in the face of massive violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Decisions about military intervention are extremely difficult. Canada, in order to uphold our basic tenet of respect for international law, must be very careful in how it proceeds in effort to diffuse or help resolve conflicts abroad.

A fundamental question in this debate is the establishment of a credible force for peace in the 21st century and the application of the rule of law. The thrust of my thinking is to ask: How will international law be imposed in years ahead? By the militarily powerful determining what the law will be, or by a collective world effort reposing the seat of law in the United Nations system?

I ask this question at the outset because of the 1999 Kosovo experience when Canada put its allegiance to NATO ahead of its obligations to international law as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. With many others, I maintain that NATO's bombing operation over Kosovo and Serbia, considered a humanitarian intervention by many, was illegal and a massive miscalculation. I will not restate my opposition here because I have already done so in many forums, including this chamber, at the time of the bombing. However, I cannot ignore the costs of NATO's miscalculation.

NATO's countries engaged in the Kosovo campaign admitted to spending more than $4 billion in 78 days of bombing, dropping more than 23,000 bombs and missiles. On the first night of the war, NATO launched more than $71 million worth of weapons with just 30 flights. By the last week of the air campaign, the alliance had 36,300 personnel in the Balkans and across Europe, playing a part in up to 700 sorties every day.

A Human Rights Watch Report from February 2000 concluded that as many as 527 Yugoslav civilians were killed in 90 separate incidents as a result of NATO bombing.

We must learn from the mistakes of the Kosovo war. Canada must be brave enough to never turn its back on the principles that have served us so well in the past. It must abide by the rules of the UN Charter, while striving to further reform that body and its institutions. Canada must refuse to intervene militarily in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state without Security Council or General Assembly approval.

What Kosovo and later East Timor and before them Rwanda and Bosnia demonstrate is the dire need for an effective international interventionist force with a sense of purpose and cohesion, particularly in the cause of restoring order and establishing the foundations for peace-building.

The UN Security Council remains the paramount global instrument to safeguard peace and security. A strong, effective and purposeful council is, therefore, imperative for the maintenance of international stability. But what of its credibility? As nations flout their responsibilities to it and alliances ignore it, many perceive the Security Council as falling short of its responsibilities. The UN is chronically hampered by lack of resolve, yet it is difficult to escape one great irony of our age: the powers reluctant to support the UN on the grounds that it is inefficient or incompetent are the very ones that render it so.

Expectations of the UN's ability to keep and enforce the peace have exploded in the decade that followed the end of the Cold War. There have been 54 United Nations-mandated peace, humanitarian and observer missions through December 31, 2000. Thirty-five of these were initiated in the 1990's alone. Most remarkable, however, is that many of these missions have involved unprecedented responsibilities and conflicts within states rather than between them, and where there was no peace to keep but to be imposed.

The UN has continually found itself poorly equipped to address the reality that 90 per cent of today's wars are internal and 90 per cent of the victims are civilian. Such developments have fundamentally changed the nature of the security problem that we face. The traditional one still exists, but it is now being complicated by a much different set of security issues and, therefore, we must change our ability to respond.

Throughout the 1990s, NATO became stronger and the UN became weaker, just the reverse of what was needed to build a foundation for peace supportable by all the regions of the world following the Cold War.

Canada, for its part, has worked diligently at the UN for the establishment of a rapid deployment capacity that could effectively respond to complex humanitarian emergencies such as those faced by peacekeepers throughout the 1990s. Canada tabled a study towards a rapid reaction capability for the United Nations at the fiftieth session of the General Assembly. This groundbreaking study offered a number of concrete recommendations to enhance the UN's capacity to respond rapidly and deploy more effectively in crisis situations.

Canadian efforts within the Secretary-General's special committee on peacekeeping operations, appointed in March, 2000, have underlined that a rapid deployment capability for the UN is a comprehensive concept that requires cooperation across the UN system, as well as action and commitment by member states.

Fortunately, the UN is moving forward on a peacekeeping agenda that has been considerably influenced by Canadian efforts. An important UN report on UN peace operations, known as the Brahimi report, was issued a few months after theSenate report on NATO. The Brahimi report, listing56 recommendations to improve planning, preparation and execution of peace operations, should be studied extensively by all NATO members. The report provides the international community with a blueprint for developing the kind of effective response to complex humanitarian emergencies so desperately needed in every region of the world.

This valuable and comprehensive report gives substance to the high hopes expressed both in the Secretary-General's Millennium Report and at the Millennium Summit for developing a pragmatic and practical framework to improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. Many of the report's recommendations are consistent with longstanding Canadian concerns and initiatives in peacekeeping, including the requirement for clear and achievable mandates, matching mandates with appropriate resources and the development of rapid deployment capacities.

The report's recommendations focused not only on politics and strategy but perhaps even more importantly on operational and organizational areas of need. These include, and I will list just a few, honourable senators: First, mandates that provides peacekeepers with robust rules of engagement and defining peacekeeping as a core function of the UN rather than a temporary necessity by substantially increasing resources in UN headquarters devoted to supporting peacekeeping field operations.

Second, doctrines that call for more effective conflict prevention strategies, pointing out that prevention is far more preferable for those who would otherwise suffer the consequences of war and a less costly option of the international community than military action, emergency humanitarian relief, or reconstruction after a war has run its course.


Third, developing peace-building strategies in which peacekeepers and peace builders are inseparable partners, creating a self-sustaining peace that allows a ready exit for peacekeepers. Such efforts would include the deployment of a panel of legal experts facilitating the transition to civil administration in post-conflict environments pending the re-establishment of local rule of law and law enforcement capacity.

Fourth, personnel must be provided by member states in order to work together to form a coherent, multinational brigade-type force that is ready for effective deployment within a set of full deployment time line standards of 30 days for traditional, and90 days for complex peacekeeping operations following passage of a Security Council resolution.

We should note that this report does not call for a standing UN army, but it does call for the establishment of on-call lists of about 100 military and about 100 police officers and experts from national armies and police forces who would be available on seven days' notice to establish new mission headquarters.

On October 20, 2000, Secretary-General Annan submitted his own report on implementing the Brahimi report. He stressed that the 56 recommendations applied to armed UN missions deployed with the consent of all factions, rather than as a series of steps to create a UN army. He also cautioned that peacekeeping operations should not be used as a substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict, which can only be remedied by coordinated political, social and developmental efforts.

Many key components of the report, particularly the resolve to give UN peacekeeping missions clear, credible and achievable mandates, were unanimously adopted on November 13, 2000 in UN Security Council resolution 1327. This is encouraging, but a great deal more work needs to be done, both by individual member states and at the international level.

In short, the world especially needs to find a way to reconcile seemingly irreconcilable notions of intervention and state sovereignty. Canada is currently making an important contribution in this area through its sponsorship of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Originated by Canada's former foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, the commission, headed by Gareth Evans of Australia and Mohammed Sahoun of Nigeria will try to advise the UN on when intervention is justified, taking into account all the key issues - political, ethical, legal and operational.

There are times when the use of force may be legitimate in the pursuit of peace, but unless the UN Security Council is restored to its pre-eminent position as the sole source of legitimacy on the use of force, the world is perilously foregoing law for anarchy. NATO cannot be permitted to determine by itself when force will be used. We would do well to reflect upon UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's words to the UN General Assembly on September 20, 1999. He said: the event that forceful intervention becomes necessary, we must ensure that the Security Council, the body charged with authorizing force under international law, is able to rise to the challenge... intervention must be based on legitimate and universal principles if it is to enjoy the sustained support of the world's peoples.

Honourable senators, the Brahimi report embodies much of Canada's yearning for peace. However, the elements of the UN secretariat responsible for peacekeeping remain underfunded, understaffed and unprepared to administer a country in a post-conflict environment. However, the assumptions that the UN cannot be called upon to undertake complex peace missions and that regional organizations such as NATO should handle all elements of them are not credible. Better that the UN be prepared for such missions because force alone cannot create peace. Peace can only be built by sustained political support, an integrated and rapidly deployable force and a sound peace-building capacity of the United Nations. Strengthening the abilities and the credibility of the UN must be Canada's prime foreign policy goal.