Participation in international ventures, such as the Korean War, allowed Canada to take an active role in world affairs, but these undertakings did not fully meet the needs of Canadian foreign policy. Canada had not yet found a comfortable role in which to exercise its middle-power status. Neither the functional principle nor the concept of the middle power had been recognized in the United Nations Charter of 1945. Canada also faced the problem of avoiding too great an American influence on its foreign policy. Certainly the United States was the dominant partner in the collective security organizations that had been created in the post-war years.

Ultimately, however, Canada was able to find a niche that was perfectly suited to its national temperament and middle-power status. The role that Canada created for itself was that of mediator and peacemaker. Canada became recognized for its efforts to use quiet diplomacy to resolve international disputes. Even more significantly, these efforts to broker peace agreements were accompanied by a willingness to participate in UN peacekeeping missions with military force. This peacekeeping role was useful, responsible, and relatively inexpensive. It became a pillar of Canadian foreign policy in the post-war period. And it depended, fundamentally, on the skills, dedication, and strength of the Canadian military. Between 1947 and the present, Canada has participated in almost 40 UN peacekeeping missions. More than 100,000 soldiers have served as peacekeepers.

The United Nations pursues two main forms of peacekeeping. In one case, military observers, widely known as UNMOs (United Nations Military Observers) are sent to observe and report the status of a truce; these observers are generally unarmed and their force is essential moral. Indeed, perhaps UNMO's most significant weapon is that the violations they report are freely communicated via unencrypted radio, which allows them to be monitored by both sides. Within hours their reports will be published and posted for the press to access in the truce mission headquarters and at UN Headquarters in New York. In other circumstances, combat units are deployed in a ceasefire zone between two conflicting forces. The presence of such troops is intended to give additional stability to a ceasefire. Both types of peacekeeping are often present in the same area. For example, in the Golan Heights, UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) complements the line of observation posts manned by UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization). The latter is made up solely of UNMOs. The troops come from countries not involved in the dispute, and their job is to enforce the ceasefire terms. Then, peaceful solutions can be sought through diplomacy and negotiation. Canadian troops have served in both these contexts as well as performing arms control verification, communications and technical support, and humanitarian assistance in a variety of trouble spots. Canada has also participated in peacekeeping missions not sponsored by the United Nations. For example, a team was sent to Nigeria in 1968-1969, and Canada's current peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia serves under the NATO rather than UN banner. Although NATO carried out the international military intervention in Kosovo, the peacekeeping operation is a UN mandate. The UN intervention in the Congo was unique in that, at one point, the very large UN peacekeeping force went to war with a large infantry division to reintegrate the breakaway province of Katanga into the Congo.


Copyright © 2018 The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum
Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre
10440 - 108 Ave, Edmonton