UN Peacekeeping Missions


"The stark and inescapable fact is that today we cannot defend our society by war since total war is total destruction, and if war is used as an instrument of policy, eventually we will have total war." - Lester B Pearson

Canada has always been a strong supporter of the United Nations and of peacekeeping, and has participated in almost every mission since its inception.

Below is a chronology of UN peacekeeping missions in which Canada has been involved.

Pre-1956 UN Observer Missions

1947-48: "UNTCOK—United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea. Canada sends a contingent to Korea to supervise elections and withdrawal of USSR and US from Korea.

1948-ongoing: UNTSO—United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. Canada contributes a contingent to the 1st peacekeeping type operation operated by UN observer groups in Palestine. Today, military observer groups (including 7 Canadian military observers) continue to supervise and monitor the ceasefire.

1949-ongoing: UNMOGIP—United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (Kashmir). Canada contributes a contingent to the mission in Pakistan to supervise ceasefire between India and Pakistan.

1950-53: UNSK—United Nations Service in Korea. Canada sends the 3rd largest contingent to UN mission in Korea.

1953-ongoing: UNCMAC—United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission. Canada sends a contingent as part of UNCMAC to supervise the implementation of the armistice, putting an end to the Korean War. Although UNCMAC is still ongoing today, in 1978, the responsibilities of the Canadian contingent were transferred to the Canadian military attaché in Seoul, whose purpose is to serve on the UNMAC Advisory Group.

1956: Canada’s Minister for External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson proposes to the UN General Assembly to send a multinational contingent to the Middle East, in response to the Suez Crisis. This culminated in the first designated UN “peacekeeping” mission—UNEF I.

Post-1956 UN Peacekeeping Missions

1956-67: UNEF 1—United Nations Emergency Force I. Canada sends a contingent to the UN mission in Egypt to supervise the withdrawal of French, Israeli and British troops from Egypt.

1957: Lester B. Pearson is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his remarkable diplomatic achievements and his innovative thinking in resolving the Suez Crisis through the establishment of a UN Emergency Force.

1958: UNOGIL—United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon. Canada sends a contingent to the UN mission in Lebanon.

1960-64: ONUC—United Nations Operation in the Congo. A Canadian contingent is sent to the Congo. The mission’s purpose is to restore order in the African nation while assisting in the removal of Belgium troops.

1962-63: UNSF—United Nations Security Force in West New Guinea. Canada sends a contingent to monitor the ceasefire between Indonesia and the Netherlands, and help ensure peaceful transition of the territory to Indonesia. The purpose of UNSF was to assist the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority (UNTEA) in administering the territory, maintaining the rule of law, and protecting human rights.

1963-64: UNYOM—United Nations Yemen Observer Mission. Canada sends a contingent to Yemen.

1964-ongoing: UNIFICYP—United Nations Forces in Cyprus. UNIFICYP is Canada’s longest UN peacekeeping mission. The purpose was to maintain balance between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots in their newly created island.

1965-66: DOMREP—Mission of the Representative of the SG in the Dominican Republic. Canada contributes to the observation of the ceasefire and to the withdrawal of OAS forces.

1965-66: UNIPOM—United Nations India-Pakistan Observer Mission. Canada sends contingent to the border between India and Pakistan to supervise ceasefire.

1973-79: UNEF II—United Nations Emergency Force II. Canada sends a contingent to Egypt to supervise the ceasefire between Egyptian and Israeli forces. The greatest loss of Canadians lives on a peacekeeping mission occurred when nine Canadian peacekeeping soldiers serving as part of UNEF II were killed when the plane they were traveling in was shot down.

1974-ongoing: UNDOF—United Nations Disengagement Observer Force. Canada sends a contingent to the buffer zone between Israel and Syria, and provides communication, logistics and technical support for the UN force.

1978-ongoing: UNIFIL—United Nations Force in Lebanon. Canada sends contingent to Lebanon to support security to the government.

1981: UN establishes September 21st as the annual International Day of Peace, celebrating global ceasefire and non-violence.

1988-90: UNGOMAP—United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Canada sends contingent to Afghanistan.

1988-91: UNIIMOG—United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group. Canada sends a contingent to the borders of Iran-Iraq.

1988: UN Peacekeeping Forces are recognized and win the Nobel Peace Prize for their contribution to reducing tensions around the world under extremely difficult conditions.

1989-91: UNAVEM I—United Nations Angola Verification Missions I. Canada sends contingent to Angola to monitor the withdrawal of Cuban troops.

1989-90: UNTAG—UN Transition Assistance Group in Namibia. Canada sends contingent to Namibia to assist in the transition to independence.

1989-92: ONUCA—United Nations Observer Group in Central America. Canada sends contingent to Central America to monitor compliance with the ceasefire.

1990-91: ONUVEH—United Nations Observer Group for the Verification of the Elections in Haiti. Canada sends contingent to Haiti to observe electoral process.

1991-95: UNAVEM II— United Nations Angola Verification Missions II. Canada assists in monitoring the ceasefire. Subsequent missions in Angola (in which Canada did not take part) are: UNAVEM III from 1995 to 1997 and MONUA from 1997 to 1999.

1991-2003: UNIKOM—United Nations Iraq -Kuwait Observer Mission. Canada sends contingent to monitor the Knor Abdullah waterway between Iraq and Kuwait. Canada provides mine clearance and unexploded ordnance disposal duties.

1991-ongoing: MINURSO—United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara. Canada sends contingent to Western Sahara to monitor ceasefire.

1991-95: ONUSAL—United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador. Canada sends contingent to observer mission to monitor ceasefire following El Salvador’s 12-year civil war.

1991-92: UNAMIC—United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia. Canada assists in monitoring the ceasefire and establishes mine awareness.

1991-99: UNSCOM—United Nations Special Commission on Iraq. Canada sends contingent to supervise commission in Iraq.

1992-95: UNPROFOR—United Nations Protection Force. Canada sends a contingent to Croatia to monitor de-militarization of designated areas. The mandate was later extended to Macedonia to monitor border areas.

1992-93: UNTAC—United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia. Canada sends contingent to Cambodia to monitor ceasefire.

1992-95: UNOSOM I and UNOSOM II—United Nations Operations in Somalia I and II. Canada sends contingent to UN mission in Somalia. This mission produces no political success. As well, the mission gains attention and becomes a national scandal referred to as “the Somalia Affair” after Canadian soldiers are convicted of torture, assault and murder of Somali civilians.

1992: Creation of DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) to provide support to field missions.

1992-94: ONUMOZ—United Nations Operation in Mozambique. Canada sends contingent to Mozambique to monitor the elections in 1993.

1993-94: UNOMUR—United Nations Observer Mission in Uganda-Rwanda. Canada assists in verifying that military supplies do not cross the border into Rwanda.

1993-96: UNAMIR—United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda. Canada sends contingent to the mission in Rwanda. Canadian Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire led this mission to supervise the warring Tutsi and Hutu population. This mission meets significant hurdles as UN troops witness the slaughter of nearly 800,000 Rwandans in what will later be identified as genocide. Despite specific plans by Lt. General Dallaire to retaliate upon growing violence, the UN fails to assist him or change the Rules of Engagement. This mission is viewed as a significant failure of the UN, not of Lt.-Gen. Dallaire's failure to perform, resulting in not only the loss of hundreds of thousand Rwandans but also a significant loss of UN lives.

1995-2002: UNPREDEP —United Nations Preventive Deployment Force to the Balkans.

1995-2002: UNMIBH—United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Canada contributes 30 civilian police.

1993-96: UNMIH—United Nations Mission in Haiti. Canada contributes 750 military personnel and 100 civilian police.

1994: Operation Forward Action. Canada sends contingent to UN blockade of Haiti.

1996-2002: UNMOP—United Nations Mission of Observers in Prevlaka.

1996-97: UNSMIH—United Nations Support Mission in Haiti. Canada contributes 752 military personnel and 100 civilian police.

1997: SHIRBRIG is officially established. SHIRBRIG is a multinational Stand-by High Readiness Brigade created to rapidly deploy at any given time by the UN.

1997: UNTMIH—United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti. Canada contributes a contingent of 650 military personnel and 60 civilian police.

1997: MINUGHA—United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala. Canada assists in monitoring the ceasefire agreement.

1997-2000: MIPONUH —United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti. Canada contributes 22 civilian police and police trainers.

1999: UNAMET—United Nations Mission in East Timor. Canada sends a contingent to assist in East Timor’s democratic independence from Indonesia.

1999-ongoing: MONUC—United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Canada is contributing 9 military observers.

2000-ongoing: UNMEE—United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Canada sends 450 military personnel between 2000 and 2002.

2000: Creation of mandate by the UN Security Council (Resolution 1325) for mainstreaming gender perspectives in peacekeeping operations and to identify the importance and significance of women’s roles in peace and security.

2003: On October 24th, the 1st annual International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers pays tribute to all men and women who have, and continue to, serve in UN peacekeeping missions. The UN invites all peoples and nations to celebrate the global day of ceasefire.

2003: Retired Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire releases his influential book, Shake Hands with the Devil, recounting the mission he led in Rwanda and identifying its failures, such as the international community’s reluctance to commit further troops to stop the violence. Dallaire’s book becomes a significant contribution to the obstacles that peacekeeping missions are facing. His book identifies the failure of the international community to stop the genocide, despite the UN’s involvement.

2004-ongoing: UNOCI—United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire. Canada is contributing 2 civilian police.

2004-ongoing: MINUSTAH—United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Canada is contributing 66 civilian police and five military personnel.

2005-ongoing: UNMIS—United Nations Mission in the Sudan. Canada is contributing a total of 31 troops, police and military observers. In 2006, the mandate of UNMIS was expanded to include its deployment to Darfur in support of the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

2005: Member states approve a standing civilian police capacity and military strategic reserve force to make peacekeeping missions more efficient and effective.

2006: The Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping name August 9th as Peacekeeping Day to recognize the service and dedication of Canadians who served and continue to serve in the name of peace and security. On August 9th, 1974, Canada suffered the greatest single loss of Canadian lives on a peacekeeping mission; 9 Canadian peacekeepers died while serving with UNEF I.

2006: Canada ranks 55th (out of 108) as a UN peacekeeping nation based on its commitment of military and police personnel. Over the years, Canada has sent more than 120,000 troops as part of UN peacekeeping missions, and it has the 2nd highest peacekeeping fatality with 114 fatalities.

Sources: CBC.ca, Department of National Defence, UN Operations and Missions