Royal Canadian Dragoon camp in the Sinai
during peacekeeping operations in Egypt
as part of the UNEF force - RAFAH CAMP

Okanagan Military Museum


Peacekeeping (1945 - today) - Canada has established an enviable international record for UN peacekeeping and indeed the very concept of peacekeeping forces being deployed under UN auspices to prevent or stop conflicts around the globe is a Canadian invention.


Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson receives the Nobel Peace Prize

In 1957 Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his initiative in helping to resolve the 1956 Suez Crisis while he was then serving as Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs. He suggested the insertion of a neutral UN force to monitor the disengagement and cease fire between the combatants.

Royal Canadian Dragoon camp in the Sinai during peacekeeping operations in Egypt as part of the UNEF force

Since then Canada has participated in many peacekeeping operations around the world with over 100,000 Canadian servicemen and women wearing the UN blue beret in the service of peace. Over 100 Canadians have lost their lives while on these missions. Canadians troops have monitored cease fires, negotiated with warring parties. protected civilians and been caught in the fighting on many occasions.

Peacekeeping Veterans on parade, some of the over 100,000 Canadian men and women who have served in five decades of Canadian peacekeeping efforts around the world. The Canadian "Blue Berets and helmets" , named after the UN blue coloured headdress they wore on peacekeeping duty have been honoured with their own memorial in Ottawa. (DND photo)  The
repatriation ceremony at Zagreb Airport, Croatia, for Corporal Jamie Vermeulen, A Company, Second Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry who died while serving in Bosnia-Herzegovina. His name was added to the memorial at Camp Black Bear in Velika-Kladusa, Bosnia, which has now been transferred to new Canadian War Museum.(DND photo)

Peacekeeping, always a demanding task for our troops, was made more so by the conflicts of the 1990s when peacekeeping missions faced new challenges in dealing with conflicts within failed states where no state authorities existed and anarchy reigned. This was a far different situation than the context in which peacekeeping was created. The 'classic' peacekeeping operations involved placing a lightly armed peacekeeping force in-between the regular armed forces of states in conflict. A critical component of this type of peacekeeping was the agreement of the two warring parties to the presence of a UN force.

In the 1990s UN peacekeeping missions where increasing being introduced into civil conflicts within states where this tacit agreement between warring parties did not exist. UN missions in Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda faced severe resistance that overwhelmed peacekeeping forces on many occasions. It was in this environment that the concept of peacekeeping was adapted to "peacemaking" and saw the involvement of heavily armed NATO forces, such as the Implementation (of the Dayton Accords) or IFOR and Stabilization or SFOR Nato coalition forces that took over from the UNPROFOR (UN Protection Force) that had been overwhelmed by the ferocity of the war it tried as best it could to stop in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. While more heavily armed and with different "rules of engagement" regarding the use of force these missions represented a more aggressive form of international peacekeeping. They still held to the aims of the peacekeeping tradition however in bringing peace, security and stability to the
populations of war torn areas.

Canadian soldiers distribute school supplies at a school in Bosnia-Herzegovina.(DND) Corporal Mike Angrignon of 44 Field Engineer Squadron based in Trail, BC teaches a young Bosnian child about the dangers of mines in the area. (DND)

Canadian soldiers visit households as part of Civil Military Affairs activities to monitor the needs and concerns of local populations during peacekeeping operations. (DND) A Canadian Forces combat engineer probes for mines. (DND)

To find out more about Canadian Forces peacekeeping operations go to these websites:

Canada and Peacekeeping Peacekeeper website
OP PALLADIUM- Bosnia-Herzegovina UN Peackeeping
(UN website)