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Why good peacekeeping training really matters

| March 1, 2016

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While Yves Engler's recent blog ("Foreign-policy left should resist temptation to embrace militarized peacekeeping," Feb. 28) has many targets, the focus of this response will be his comments about the joint Rideau Institute-CCPA report Unprepared for Peace? The decline of Canadian Peacekeeping Training (And What to Do About It), co-authored by Walter Dorn and Josh Libben.

This report is about the fundamental importance of good peacekeeping training for military peacekeepers.  It is not a report analyzing UN peacekeeping missions to determine which ones have been a success, in whole or in part, and which ones have not delivered a sustainable, inclusive peace. It most certainly is not a report that praises the UN missions in Haiti.

Successive UN peacekeeping reviews have emphasized that UN peacekeeping is not a substitute for politics. If the political framework for the peace operation is flawed, then the peacekeeping mission will have an uphill battle in helping the country transition from conflict to a sustainable peace and inclusive governance.

Haiti is almost a text book example of a deeply flawed political process, imposed from the outside, and which has consistently denied the majority a chance to choose the government they want.  There are recent glimpses that the political landscape may be opening again but the point remains the same -- to date UN peacekeeping in Haiti has been hugely problematic.

It is our hope at the Rideau Institute that the highest caliber of peacekeeping training, for civilians as well as military, will underscore this most basic and fundamental lesson of good UN peacekeeping -- that it will not succeed without a credible, inclusive peace process which leads in turn to broadly acceptable governance structures.

Corrupt and powerful elites would be only too happy if the UN shed its peacekeeping role. The people of Haiti need good peacekeeping, not an abandonment of the field. This is precisely why we at the Rideau Institute are working so hard to help improve UN peacekeeping.   

Peggy Mason is the President of the Rideau Institute and a former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN.

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