TORONTO — The Canadian government said Friday it will restore the country’s traditional U.N. peacekeeping role by providing up to 600 soldiers for missions around the world.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said that Canada is committed to re-engaging in many multilateral peace operations.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to return Canada to peacekeeping after more than a decade of dwindling participation. Canada had participated in more direct combat operations, such as the war in Afghanistan.
The additional soldiers represent an increase over the 19 Canadian troops deployed on peacekeeping missions at the end of July, bringing the total more in line with the number of Canadian peacekeepers deployed in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The Canadian government did not say where the troops will be deployed. Sajjan recently returned from Africa.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric welcomed the contribution and renewed re-engagement. The commitment comes ahead of a U.N. peacekeeping conference in London Sept. 7-8.
“The Canadian military has a long and illustrious history with peacekeeping. And we’re happy in a sense they’re re-engaging and coming back,” Dujarric said.
“Peacekeeping by its very nature, especially in the past few years, has become increasingly complex, increasingly complicated and we have no doubt that the contributions of Canada can help us meet those needs.”
Canada has a history of successful peacekeeping missions in the Middle East, the Balkans and on the Indian subcontinent.
Although peacekeeping has existed for a long time, the formalized United Nations concept of neutral, multinational intervention was first proposed in the 1950s by Canada’s foreign minister, Lester B. Pearson, who went on to become prime minister and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.