“We believe in peacekeeping” pledges Canadian Prime Minister

Peacekeeping has the power to transform the world but bold innovations are needed to make UN missions more effective in the years ahead.

That's according to Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, in his key address to the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference, taking place in Vancouver.

The UN's peacekeeping chief told the largest annual meeting of defence ministers from around the world that the challenges missions face could be overcome, but "we cannot do it alone".

Matt Wells is in Vancouver.

The gathering of more than 80 defence ministerial teams involved in peacekeeping, hosted by Canada, began with the last post, in honour of the hundreds of UN blue helmets from dozens of nations, who have lost their lives over the past 70 years.

Under-Secretary-General in charge of peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said peacekeeping missions faced greater challenges than ever before, and there were crucial gaps such as helicopters and better-qualified personnel, which urgently needed to be filled.

"We can overcome these challenges; we cannot do it alone. We need you, we need your support, we need the support of troop-contributing countries, we need the support of civil society, and outstanding leaders who can help us in defence, and in support of the UN. So we at the UN will work tirelessly to make UN peacekeeping more effective and more efficient."

Mr Lacroix told the packed conference chamber that a greater focus was needed on key priorities, finding political solutions to intractable conflicts, and boosting the presence of women so that peacekeepers could truly be a "force for peace and justice".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the first so-called "smart pledges" of the day, designed to fill gaps in dangerous missions in countries such as Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He unveiled the new Vancouver Principles on preventing child soldiers from even reaching the battlefield, and promised that Canada would do all in its power to help transform UN peacekeeping.

"Modern peace operations bring with them some of the biggest challenges, the toughest decisions and the most heart-breaking consequences of anything we do. But our commitment to the effort endures, because we believe in peacekeeping. We have seen its power to transform and we know there is no greater gift that we can leave our children and our grandchildren than true and lasting peace. So let's be bold, let us innovate. Let us try new things. Let us be the change we need, to build a more peaceful world together."

Mr Trudeau made four commitments including a new initiative to increase womens' participation as the best way of tackling root causes of conflict; new training teams which would aide blue helmets before and during deployment; and tangible assets such as a tactical airlift capability for the UN's transport hub in East Africa.

Source: United Nations Radio