Canada and Peacekeeping: Prospects for the Future


56 pages
ISBN 0-920231-00-4




Edited by R.B. Byers and Michael Slack
Reviewed by Alexander Craig

Alexander Craig is a freelance journalist in Lennoxville, Quebec.


Ask most Canadians what Canada’s greatest contribution to the world has been and more likely than not they’ll say “peacekeeping.” They might not be able to tell you much more, but anyone who wants to be brought up to date on the matter will find this publication useful.

Interesting, too — it’s a short account, the summary of a workshop sponsored by the York Research Programme in Strategic Studies in cooperation with the International Peace Academy in 1983. In the few short tables presented we get a glimpse of the complexities (in logistics just as much as in international diplomacy) that must lie behind the positioning of military officers from Uruguay and Fiji and Canada and many other countries in UNMOGIP (Kashmin), UNTCOK (Korea), the Middle East (various sets of initials), and divers other parts of the world.

Professor Byers provides an excellent introduction. He makes the valuable point that we can expect peacekeeping operations in only one war out of ten. He makes another basic point when he says, “All too often peacekeeping operations have become a substitute for peace-making... There are grounds to argue that the utilization of peacekeeping forces can increase the reluctance of the parties involved to reach a negotiated settlement. Under such circumstances peacekeeping forces become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.”

The 158 members of the UN don’t always get along as perfectly as smaller families do, but another of the themes running through this rewarding study is that peacekeeping forces, if they are to work, should be organized within the UN framework rather than outside it. This is only one of several lessons that this brief study suggests for anyone concerned with what is going on today in the Middle East, Central America, and other convulsive parts of the world.


“Canada and Peacekeeping: Prospects for the Future,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,