Leadership

Pledge: while no international pledge was made by Canada, the Prime Minister did request his defence minister to provide “mission commanders” for the UN. Canada has not yet done so.

Historical Background: The UN’s first chief military observer (BGen Harry Angle in UNMOGIP) and its first Force Commander (MGen E.L.M. Burns in UNEF) were Canadians. Canada provided seven force commanders and two commanders in observer missions in the 1990s but none since. The commanders (force commanders or heads of military components of missions) in the 1990s were:

 MGen Clive Milner  UNFICYP 1988-1992
 BGen Lewis MacKenzie  ONUCA 1990-1991
 MGen Armand Roy  MINURSO 1991-1992
 MGen Roméo Dalliare  UNOMUR/UNAMIR 1993-94
 MGen Guy Tousignant  UNAMIR II 1994-95
 LGen Maurice Baril  MNF (E.Zaire) 1996
 BGen Pierre Daigle  UNSMIH 1996-1997
 BGen Robin Gagnon  UNTMIH 1997
 BGen Cam Ross  UNDOF 1998

Canada has not provided any Force Commanders or heads of military components in the twenty-first century. Canada was offered the opportunity to submit candidates for force commanders in the D.R. Congo and Mali around 2008 and 2016, respectively, but did not commit. The highest ranking positions in the twenty-first century has been the Force Chief of Staff (military) in MINUSTAH (Haiti), 2005-2017, and Deputy Chief of Staff in MONUSCO (DR Congo).

On the police side, a Canadian police officer has headed the police component in the UN’s missions in Haiti since 2004.

Status: Canada lost its most significant military position in UN missions with the end of MINUSTAH (colonel position as Chief of Staff) in 2017 when the mission was converted to MINUJUSTH. However, Canada did retain the role of police commissioner and mission leader in MINUJUSTH. Canada lost the major opportunity to provide the Force Commander for the Mali (MINUSMA) mission in January 2017 when it continued to dither and delay on the Mali mission, with Cabinet unable to commit. A force package for Mali was only delivered a year-and-a-half later. The Force Commander position went to a Major-General Jean-Paul Deconinck of Belgium and two years later to Lieutenant-General Gyllensporre from Sweden.

Aside: On the civilian side, two Canadians host positions of mission leadership (Special Representative of the Secretary-General or SRSG): Colin Stewart leading the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) (since Dec 2017) and Elizabeth Spehar leading (since April 2016) the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). But these leaders are not provided by or seconded from the Canadian government. They are part of the international civil service, individually recruited by the United Nations.

Conclusion:  In terms of providing military leadership of UN missions, this is a major failure for Canada, especially given the illustrious history of past contributions and the contributions of other middle-power nations (including Ireland and Norway, fellow contenders for a Security Council seat 2021-22). The opportunity to lead the Mali mission was missed catastrophically.

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