Where we should not be

So, I see, in a report byThe Canadian Press, published by Global OliphantRobert_LibNews, that Liberal MP “Rob Oliphant told an all-party press conference that Canada is not pulling its weight,” in the UN peacekeeping arena. ““Canada’s peacekeeping operations pale in comparison to those offered by many African countries,” said the Toronto MP, who recently visited Rwanda as co-chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association. “When you look at what Ethiopia contributes, what Kenya contributes, what Ghana contributes, what Rwanda contributes, Canada is not pulling its weight.”” Mr. Oliphant seems, to me, like one of the good guys; one of those Liberals, and there are several, who thinks about issues and cares about how Canada conducts itself in the world.

I’m sorry to burst Mr. Oliphant’s bubble, but most UN peacekeeping, especially that done by Africans in Africa, is a farce. There are HUGE Afro-Asian forces deployed under the UN’s banner because, mainly, the UN pays a nation $(US)1,400+ per month for each soldier wearing a blue beret, but, the BBC reports thatCountries are paid to provide personnel to UN missions and the top countries providing troops are unrepresentatively poor. The amount countries are paid for providing those troops is considerably higher than the average wage in most of the countries sending large numbers of troops.

In other words many (I would say most) African countries and some Asian countries send lots of poorly paid, ill-trained, unprofessional, second or third rate troops to the UN to serve as peacekeepers in what is essentially a profitable commercial transaction. Let’s use Rwanda, a country about which Mr. Oliphant knows and cares, as an example: some sources say that a Rwandan worker, on average, earns about $(CA)295.00 per month, some estimates are lower, only about $(CA)120.00 per month. Let’s guess that a typical Rwandan soldier, not one of the colonels or generals …

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… is paid something in between those two numbers, say, at a guess, $(CA)205.00 ($(US)154.00) per month. That means that every month the Rwandan government pockets almost $(US)1,275.00 ($(US)1,428.00 – $(US)154.00) for each soldier it deploys, and, in early 2019, Rwanda has over 6,000 soldiers on UN peacekeeping duties, that means it gets over $(US)90 Million ($(CA)120+ Million) every year. In 2016/17 Canada sent about $(CA)25 Million to Rwanda in direct aid, so, for Rwanda, sending soldiers to UN peacekeeping missions garners almost five times as much money as Canada sends in aid. 

Rwanda is not the biggest provider of cannon fodder peacekeepers to the UN. Ethiopia sends over 8,000 soldiers, India sends almost 7,500 (who are well trained, very well led, professionals) and Pakistan sends over 7,000 (also quite well trained) while Bangladesh (6,700+) and Rwanda (6,100+) round out the top 5 troop providing nations.

If the UN really wanted to make and keep the peace in Africa there would be 75,000 Indian soldiers, not just 7,500, and countries like Australia, Canada, China, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, and Singapore would be providing logistics, signal communications, engineering, medical/dental and air and aviation support, and all would be operating under very robust ‘rules of engagement.’ But that, bringing peace to Africa, is not what UN peacekeeping is all about.

mali-1Canada is making a credible and valuable contribution in Mali. The mission, however, is, probably, a waste of time and effort. The real peacemaking in Mali is being done, outside of the UN, by the French …  but solely to advance France’s selfish interests in Africa. The UN is a bystander.

Put simply: UN peacekeeping is a bad joke … it lines the pockets some of poor troop providing nations, and that’s about it. No one, including Justin Trudeau and UN Secretary-General António Guterres gives a damn about Africa or peace. Canada is doing a good job in Mali … a job that Rwanda, for example, could not do. But Canada has done enough and should not do more; not, at least, until UN peacekeeping is overhauled to make it both efficient and effective.

One thought on “Where we should not be

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