Good late morning and early afternoon to our guests and witnesses today on our study on Canada's contribution to international peacekeeping. Thank you for joining us.
Today we have, from United Nations University in New York, Dr. Adam Day, head of programs, Centre for Policy Research. We also have Dr. Richard Gowan, senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research.
As an individual, from New York as well, we have Ameerah Haq, former under-secretary-general, department of field support, United Nations.
From Tufts University, we have Dr. Ian Johnstone. He is in Brussels, Belgium.
Thank you all very much for appearing. It is important that we have outside perspectives on what we're talking about today.
It is a bit difficult to manage a video conference with three or four people on screens, so if you see me make this gesture, it means I am asking you to wind down your comments in 30 seconds so we can have a nice, graceful exit, we can move on, and I can manage everyone's time.
Having said that, I will turn the floor over to Dr. Adam Day.
I would appreciate it if you would please stick to 10 minutes for your remarks and then we can get into the discussion.
Thanks, for this opportunity to brief this committee. I'll be under 10 minutes, so no worries there.
Today I'll speak from my experience as the former political adviser to the UN peace operation in Congo, and from sometimes serving in other large peacekeeping operations.
I'll try to cover three issues. The first is on current trends in peacekeeping. The second is on key gaps and entry points into missions that are created by these trends. The third is on some considerations and maybe some questions for Canada's re-engagement and contribution.
On current trends, in the past 15 years conflict has become more complex in three ways that have impacted peacekeeping. First, there has been a rise in intrastate civil wars, where civilians are increasingly the target of violence. Second, there has been a trend of regional involvement in these internal wars. Mali is one example, but Congo, Syria and Yemen are others. Third, the rise in importance of so-called jihadi groups has complicated traditional peacekeeping in several ways, which we can get into in the question and answer period.
One point to really flag is that across all conflict settings the risk to civilians has grown dramatically in recent years. Since the end of the Cold War, 2015 was the most dangerous year worldwide for civilians, and protection of civilians has become, really, the overriding priority of many UN peacekeeping operations today.
To meet some of these challenges, UN peacekeeping has increasingly entered into a range of partnerships with other actors and entities. There's the hybrid UN–AU mission in Darfur, UNAMID; the use of the G5 Sahel force in Mali; AMISOM's AU soldiers, who are deployed alongside the UN mission in Somalia; and the regional protection force in South Sudan, which is another example of a partnership that the UN has entered into. This does create new opportunities for troop-contributing countries to gain experience alongside other troops, but it also creates new challenges.
A final trend to note is the downward pressure on budgets. MONUSCO has undergone significant cuts in Congo three years running. UNAMID in Darfur is closing down within the next year or so. MINUJUSTH in Haiti is phasing out. Across the board, key member states are looking for cost savings and reductions. These trends combine to create concrete needs for UN peacekeeping today and opportunities for member state engagement. I'll list a few of them that may be interesting for this committee.
In MONUSCO, the reduction of the static footprint of the military component over the last few years has created a “protection through projection” concept, which requires greater airlift capacities and longer-range use of drones. That is a very concrete need that the mission has because of these reductions in static footprint.
In many of the more complex environments, including Mali, increased use of peacekeeping intelligence, as it's called, is also a premium, and new capacities have been created in missions like MINUSMA and MONUSCO to build this intelligence capacity.
Many of you may be aware of the action for peacekeeping initiative that was signed last week. There is a clear need articulated in that commitment for renewed commitment to training and equipping troops who deploy to ensure they're capable of responding quickly and effectively to protection threats. I would flag that the Elsie initiative is something worth discussing later on training as well.
All three of these—air capacities, peacekeeping intelligence, and training and equipment—are areas where demand outstrips supply today. This raises a set of questions for Canada's potential re-engagement in peacekeeping. The first question is, what kind of experience is Canada hoping to achieve through re-engagement? Is it to contribute directly to the robust protection activities of today's peacekeeping in places like Central African Republic, or is it more to gain important joint experience with European partners in the Sahel? Is Canada planning to contribute a long-term capacity to peacekeeping or a shorter one-off deployment, which you see in some contributing countries, in Mali and elsewhere? Is Canada interested in deploying only troops, or would it consider the deployment of something like formed police units, which might be more effective in some of the settings where there are large-scale urban risks as well?
Another question is how well the commitments made last year in Vancouver match the needs that I've just described. In my view they're an excellent match. The air task force in Mali is filling a crucial gap of the kind I just mentioned, air capacity. Strategic air lift in Entebbe would be a major asset to the missions in that area. A quick reaction force would almost certainly boost the protection capacities of the UN, which is exactly the set of needs I've described. The offer of training is exactly what the action for peacekeeping had in mind. I think that following through on the Vancouver commitments would be a great contribution to peacekeeping, as I've described it.
I'd add that, across the board, everybody I talk to in and around peacekeeping considers the Elsie project for increasing the role of women in peacekeeping to be a vital initiative that requires further support.
The final question I have is this: Where is Canada's value-added in peacekeeping? I work directly with Canadian officers in a range of settings and I think they're some of the best, if not the best, that I've seen in peacekeeping. I think specifically Canada can offer a combination of linguistic capabilities and excellence in military training that almost no other country in the world has today, and it's much needed in some of the bigger missions that I've listed here.
At a time when the bulk of today's peacekeeping requires both the ability to engage with the local population and the experience to develop complex strategic plans, true contributors like Canada are needed more than ever.
I will stop there and turn it back over to the committee.
I would like to focus my remarks on three issues, building on Adam's statement. I will look at the strategic effect of current UN peace operations, peacekeeping's place in Canada's broader strategic relationships and the need for strategic innovation in UN operations.
To turn first to strategic effects, I think we must admit that the effects of peacekeeping are currently in question. The UN is going through a difficult period, with missions from Congo to the Golan Heights under a high level of pressure. We have seen the end of a series of largely successful UN state-building operations in places such as Liberia, Haiti and Côte d'Ivoire, and I think all those cases, despite many problems such as the cholera scandal in Haiti, showed that the UN can build states and can stabilize very weak countries.
But today, three-quarters of UN peacekeepers are deployed in five big missions in Africa—in Mali, Central African Republic, the Congo, Sudan and South Sudan—where they face even greater challenges and the chances of an easy win are essentially nil. UN forces in Lebanon and the Golan Heights also face heightened risks due to the insecure situation in the Middle East.
Nonetheless, I think we should emphasize that peacekeeping operations today do still have positive strategic effects. Even if they cannot deliver easy stability, they limit and contain violence in fragile states such as Mali, ensuring that jihadi groups and other non-state groups do not overthrow governments and create regional instability. They protect and facilitate vital humanitarian aid, saving many lives. Most importantly, they provide frameworks for long-term political peacemaking processes.
They do not do these things perfectly. The UN is honest about its failures. We have seen a series of UN reports, including the HIPPO report, which Ameerah Haq led, being very straight about the challenges that the blue helmets face. There is considerable space for improvement. UN peace operations are not always the right tools for dealing with weak states—cases such as Somalia.
Nonetheless, peacekeeping has proven to be resilient. We have not seen a collapse of the peacekeeping mission as we did in the 1990s in cases such as Bosnia and Somalia. I think peacekeeping is continuing to prove its strategic worth.
This relates to peacekeeping's place in Canada's broader strategic relationships. In addition to their immediate impact, peace operations are a rare source of consensus among states in a period where there is very little consensus about international security. The vast majority of UN members continue to support blue helmet operations. Adam referred to the action for peacekeeping initiative. It's worth noting that 149 nations and four regional organizations have endorsed that initiative, showing that this is an area where the international community can still find common ground. It's also worth noting that all members of the P5, including China and Russia, have signed up for that initiative.
More specifically, I would argue that peacekeeping operations contribute to Canada's strategic relationships in three ways.
First, UN peacekeeping is part of your transatlantic burden sharing. You sometimes hear analysts draw a sharp dichotomy between NATO contributions and UN contributions, but for many European governments, especially France and the Mediterranean governments, the UN mission in Mali is a very important part of the regional security architecture, just as the missions in the Baltic run by NATO are an important part of European security. By contributing to UN peacekeeping in the Sahel, you are contributing to the security of your NATO allies, even if not under a NATO flag, and that is appreciated in Europe.
Second, there is a link between peacekeeping and your trans-Pacific security relationships. We're seeing a lot of Asia-Pacific countries investing more in peace operations, and most notably, we're seeing China really investing in peacekeeping as part of its global footprint. In an era where we face growing strategic competition with China, peacekeeping is an area of co-operation.
Although China still only has roughly, I think, 3,000 troops in UN missions, that number is likely to rise very dramatically in coming years. I think it is worth seeing working in peacekeeping as a way of developing relationships with the PLA.
It's sometimes said that China spies on other peacekeepers in UN operations. That is true. It is also worth saying that other countries spy on Chinese units in UN peacekeeping operations. This is a fact of life. More generally, I would emphasize that peacekeeping is a platform for co-operation with a number of Pacific partners.
Finally, peacekeeping can contribute to global counter-terror efforts. Peacekeeping operations should not become counterterrorism missions, and there are dangers where peacekeepers come into contact with jihadi groups. Nonetheless, in a case such as Mali, the presence of a UN force does help provide broad security and relief and a framework for political and economic work with communities recovering from jihadi rule. I think we should understand that peacekeeping can be an element, although only an element, in challenging terrorist organizations, especially in Africa.
I have one last very brief point about strategic innovation. I think it's important to recognize that the current peacekeeping system centring on the five big missions in Africa that I've mentioned is not permanent. UN peacekeeping often goes through periods of rapid change. We saw that in the 1990s and again in the 2000s. In recent years we've seen the UN take on new operational challenges, including the removal of chemical weapons from Syria and containing Ebola in west Africa, and we're seeing the UN at least considering new missions in new regions such as potentially patrolling the eastern Ukraine to end the Russian-Ukranian standoff.
As Adam has noted, the UN is also developing a new range of modalities for working with partners such as the African Union in places like Somalia. Peace operations are a flexible tool, and they're a tool that evolved often in response to crises.
Canada has long played an important role in guiding the evolution of peacekeeping. After all, essentially Canada made up peacekeeping in the 1950s. I think it is important that, not only the Canadian government, but also Canadian research institutes and think tanks continue to contribute to fresh thinking about the future of peacekeeping in an increasingly complex international security environment.
Thank you very much for inviting me.
A lot has already been said by Adam and Richard, so I'm going to try my best not to repeat but perhaps to emphasize different facets of what they said.
First of all, I want to set the context of where we are and how we define terms. Even though we're talking about peacekeeping, I think we see ourselves moving more and more into arenas of conflict resolution. This we recognized in the HIPPO report. Even though it's been four years since that report was written, I think much of what was said there remains quite current.
With the shift in thinking, and putting into context peace operations as opposed to peacekeeping per se—and even from four years ago, as I said—we find ourselves much more in an arena of conflict resolution. Within conflict resolution, of course, we see that regional and international competition among powerful states is influencing these conflict resolution efforts around the world.
I think the UN's role as a peacekeeper is now seen in an environment of great power politics, and therefore special envoys and SRSGs are facing and having to deal with increasing regional tensions, much more deepening geopolitical fissures, and we must also recognize, in an environment of growing skepticism towards multilateralism.
That, I hope, will frame some of what you take to New York. We certainly see—at least I do—Canada performing a very important role against this tide of skepticism towards multilateralism. I think that initial broadening support and reiteration of multilateralism is very important.
Richard also mentioned, and I want to make the point, that we cannot relabel peacekeeping as countering violent extremism. The question is, how are we going to operate in these theatres where we find ourselves in these situations?
As we said in the HIPPO report, in terms of making and resourcing the missions that we are and we have, I still recall the intense debates we had internally within the UN before going into Mali, as to whether the UN was actually equipped to be in Mali with the kinds of resources we have.
We need to understand that it is a tough time for peacekeeping, particularly when expectations of the population are high, but also expectations of the member state. There are very easy and dismissive comments about the inability of the UN, when the UN in fact is not resourced.
I think the push to make sure that the UN and its troops are adequately resourced.... This does not just mean with more technology and sophisticated equipment and intelligence and all of those things, but it also means things like training, which both Adam and Richard referred to.
We also need to be cognizant of the fact that this notion of an international community is also disappearing. We tend to use that in terms of understanding there's a world out there that thinks as one, but I think that is also eroding slowly.
Again, I think Canada's role is very important in countering that kind of thinking and attitude of powerful states in terms of “might is right”.
The whole validity of the UN is being questioned.
In this context, you probably have very specific questions about your own involvement in peacekeeping, based on the experience of what your troops are encountering in Mali. That's important, but the fundamental positioning of where the UN should be on this notion of how we can rebuild the concept of the international community and fight against this attitude toward multilateralism that's being questioned is very important.
Specifics that I have are that training, of course, remains very important. In the kinds of operations we've seen, whether it was in Congo, or where we have partnerships in Somalia with the African Union and all of that, training is very important and Canada can play a very important role in that.
Adam mentioned formed police units, but I would also say that Canada has a stellar record and reputation in terms of community policing. That kind of training and embedding of those who are sensitive to community policing is important, particularly when we look at inherent cases of domestic violence and abuse.
Last, the whole issue of sexual exploitation and abuse is still very much at the fore. Canada can play a very important role there, too, in assisting in the training of those countries that are deploying troops to the United Nations. As much as we have all the pre-deployment training, we have seen through experience that even that is not enough. Canada can bring a lot to bear on that whole issue of sexual exploitation and abuse.
If someone comes in and puts a chocolate on my pillow, you'll know why.
Also, I'll be with you for a little more than an hour. I have to leave a little past noon your time. Please forgive me for that.
In my opening remarks, like my colleagues, I'm going to start by highlighting what I see as two broad trends in peace operations in the last 20 years or so, and then present four propositions on how to make peacekeeping more effective.
Before doing that, I want to begin by emphasizing that while the record for peacekeeping since the end of the Cold War is mixed, it has had its fair share of successes. Various academic studies have concluded that, on balance, peacekeeping works. Measuring or even defining success is difficult, but there's a broad consensus in the academic literature that deployment of a peace operation substantially reduces the chance of a relapse into full-scale conflict. In that sense, it has a preventative effect.
Some of the more widely touted success stories are in Namibia, El Salvador and Mozambique in the early 1990s, Timor-Leste and Sierra Leone in the early 2000s, and Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire more recently.
That being said, as my colleagues have pointed out, the enterprise is not getting any easier. The environment into which peacekeepers are being deployed is getting more dangerous and the ability to get at the underlying causes of conflict more difficult.
There are two broad trends. This won't be new to you, but I think it's worth summarizing in order to put some of the contemporary challenges into perspective. The first trend is that operations have become more robust, with force being used for a wider range of purposes. The second is that civilian functions of peace operations have become more expansive, getting deeply involved in certain aspects of governance. The progress has not been linear, but the trend lines are clear.
What is also clear is percolating concern about the implications of both. Some worry that the growing robustness of peace operations is at the expense of political strategies and solutions. Others worry that expansive state building is both impossible to achieve and ideologically suspect. I understand both sets of concerns, but I believe that they are exaggerated.
I will be turning first to robustness. Originally, as you all know, peacekeepers were deployed on the basis of chapter VI of the UN charter and used force only in self-defence. Today many peace operations use force not only in self-defence, but also to protect civilians and to counter spoilers, typically with a mandate under chapter VII of the UN charter.
The protection of civilians goes back to 1999 in Sierra Leone. It has been included in the mandates of most peace operations since then.
How to protect civilians with limited resources is a major challenge, and the UN has had to innovate in recent years through devices like the Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and opening its bases to 180,000 displaced persons in South Sudan.
As regards spoilers, the Brahimi report of 2001 said that peace operations must have bigger and better equipped forces in order to deal effectively with groups that seem to undermine the peace process via violence. That, plus the protection of civilian mandates, was the basis for giving the Force Intervention Brigade the mandate to carry out, and here I'm quoting from the resolution, “targeted offensive operations” to “neutralize and disarm” armed groups in the east.
The protection challenge in Mali is how to do it without engaging in counterterrorism, which most agree UN peace operations should not do. MINUSMA does not have a proper counterterrorism mandate, but it does have the authority, and here again I'm quoting from the resolution, where it says, “to take robust and active steps” to counter asymmetric threats against civilians, and to prevent a return of armed elements to areas where civilians are at risk. In Mali, the line between protecting civilians and countering terrorism has become fine, indeed.
There is still strong support for robust action by the UN, especially for force protection and to protect civilians. There's also concern that the militarization of peacekeeping is overshadowing, and may even be crowding out the search for political solutions. I'll come back to that in a moment.
What about the second trend, expansive state building? Multi-dimensional [Technical difficulty—Editor] since the Cold War [Technical difficulty—Editor] and state-building functions for refugee repatriation and human rights monitoring, holding elections, and rebuilding justice [Technical difficulty—Editor].
Conventional peacekeeping is to get at the root causes of conflicts, and you can only get at those root causes through a holistic approach, combining military, police and civilian elements. It starts with mediation among the parties but must go beyond that to supporting inclusive political processes, building legitimate institutions and providing a foundation for economic development.
The backlash against this expansive peace-building agenda stems from at least two sources. First, it's seen by some as a wish list that's impossible to fulfill. As Secretary-General Guterres said to the Security Council last year in a reference to the so-called Christmas tree mandates, “Christmas is over, and the [UN] Mission in South Sudan cannot possibly implement [its] 209 mandated tasks.”
Second, most governments are increasingly resistant to being tutored on how to govern. This is true in Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It's tempting to respond by invoking the principle of national ownership and letting those governments call all the shots, but if that means helping them to impose their authority on wide swaths of a population that sees them as illegitimate, it's deeply problematic.
Those are the two big trends I see in peace operations and some of the operational complexities they raise now.
I'm going to turn now to the four propositions about how to manage those complexities.
First, as the HIPPO report and others have said, we must design more tailored, context appropriate and adaptable missions. The practical challenge is not to concoct some ideal end state and design a mission to achieve that, but rather to determine what is achievable in light of conditions on the ground. The prospects of achieving any outcome will depend heavily on local, regional and global political dynamics.
In some circumstances [Technical difficulty—Editor] state building may be possible. In others, reducing the level of violence and providing some protection to civilians may be all that's achievable. The point is that one size does not fit all. The trick is to figure out what is achievable in the circumstances, design a mission accordingly, and prepare to adapt as the circumstances require.
The second proposition as regards the [Technical difficulty—Editor] first steps.
Third [Technical difficulty—Editor]
Thank you for that important question. It's something that I think all of us here who are appearing before you feel is a very important element. I want to give you two examples.
When we took over from the African Union, both in Darfur and in Mali, one of the things that struck us was the lack of training as we were moving to get those troops into UN peacekeeping. With regard to this transfer of troops and vetting of troops in terms of training, of those already in theatre in Darfur and in Mali, number one, we found a lot of child soldiers among those troops. Number two, also, was just the level of operations for those troops. It was a very difficult vetting process of letting troops go and then trying to find troops who would meet the UN standards.
One thing is that there are different bilateral and other international programs of bringing troops into many countries, where they are operating in these kinds of theatres, up to capacity. As we've talked more about partnerships with regional organizations, we want to make sure those troops have that capacity. One is operational and tactical, with all the kinds of training that goes along with those.
The second is that by participating in UN peacekeeping, the troops then need more training on the very important elements of understanding human rights and understanding issues related to gender and other things, which the United Nations provides for pre-deployment of troops. The United Nations obviously can't go to every single peacekeeping institute where troops are being prepared for United Nations deployment, so that kind of training, on a bilateral basis or with other partners from that context, is also important, to bring their capacities up.
When we talk with our force commanders, they tell us about certain deficiencies, which are sometimes quite basic. Even though we have standards and even though we feel we meet those standards, there is still a very important element for, as I said, tactical/operational, human rights, and gender sensitivity, and then also important elements like strategic planning. We talk over and over again since force commanders and contingent commanders are sometimes worlds apart in terms of bringing this whole deployment into one strategic plan. It is important for those officers to have these planning capabilities.
Let me say that all facets of planning are required, and there is absolutely a dearth, I think, of well-honed capacity in the troops we get in the United Nations. I saw that four years ago, and I can be quite confident that the world hasn't changed within those four years, so I think that need for training still exists.
Thanks very much, Mr. Martel.
One quick note: I was never deployed in Mali, so these are observations from the outside.
I think the security situation in Mali tends to ebb and flow, and there have been some gains by the military component of MINUSMA in some of the areas where it's deployed around places like Tessalit, Kidal and some of those more eastern points.
I think one of the other gains is also in terms of regional involvement. The deployment of the G5 Sahel has brought key regional member states into the commitment to solve the issues in Mali. I think that, in and of itself, is an important development.
The UN Secretary-General's reports talk about gains on the civilian protection side as well over the last couple of years. I don't know how sustainable they are. Mali is a very big place.
In terms of the political process, that's a more difficult one. My understanding is that the political progress with the so-called compliant armed groups has reached a set of commitments that are gradually being implemented. One of the challenges of Mali is, obviously, that there are two different sets of groups. One set is involved in the political process and the other one is excluded from it by being called a terrorist armed group. I think one of the challenges for the mission going forward will be addressing those groups in a sustainable way.
It's possible that Richard may have some views on this as well.
Thanks very much.
I'm really going to have to say all of the above—
Voices: Oh, oh!
Ms. Ameerah Haq: —but let me tell you, on pre-deployment training, as I said, it's impossible for the UN to send trainers to every troop deployment. I talked about this when I was in DFS. If we could get trainers.... I think Canada has a very nice program where you utilize retired.... I forget the name of that program, but we've used it. We could send them out, particularly when we are entering into a partnership, as Adam said, with respect to Mali, and we know we're working in parallel with another troop deployment. That could be done through UN auspices. You'll have to speak to my colleagues now in DPKO and DFS and others. If we could send out more people to pre-deployment training, that would be of great value. That could be done.
The second is the training in theatre. The UN has a training unit in every single mission. There again, I think it's important that as we have specific courses, perhaps you can work closely with the training unit to see where Canada could have special input, as I said earlier, particularly in relation to community policing and things like protection of civilians. A number of troops coming from certain countries just do not have an inherent socialization toward those kinds of issues, but Canada does. When I worked in East Timor, we worked very closely with the Australian and New Zealand troops on those kinds of issues.
Those are specific skills which again, you could bring to bear in pre-deployment, in theatre and the reiteration of that. You have very high standards on sexual exploitation and abuse. Again, those need reinforcing. Then, of course, there is whatever is done on bilateral or other organizational ways. The EU provided a lot of training to the troops that were going into the UNOSOM operation in Somalia.
I think you could come in at many different levels.
There are training materials but, as I said, sometimes I feel we're a little behind. Again, things may have changed, but I always felt that.... Now so much is available. I think bringing in some kind of technological innovation and access of information to troops, and using better technology is also a potential area of support.
I assume by that you mean the use of multiple different troop-contributing countries within a single.... Okay.
It differs from country to country. I think one of the main difficulties has been a wide variety of training and capacities across different kinds of peacekeepers. In some of the most important missions in terms of protection of civilians and those other key tasks, having a widely differentiated set of troop contributors has been a challenge.
I think that points to the need for countries like Canada to engage even more.
Linguistic challenges are obviously there, especially in a lot of the francophone missions and many of the troops from the region are francophone. Having anglophone staff officers creates a strange asymmetry, I've found, and having more francophone staff officers would obviously be helpful.
I think there is an underlying dynamic where the African Union still considers sometimes the UN to be a slightly western imposition, so those partnerships that I was talking about—bringing in the neighbouring states, partnering with the African Union, partnering with the ECCAS and others—have helped address some of those issues of multinational tensions. I think, actually, there's a lot of success there on the ground, despite not particularly good success in places like Darfur on the ground.
Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
I'm going to continue that line of questioning. The question is for you, Richard, but, Adam, if you want to also comment, I'd be very grateful.
It sounds a little odd. Richard, as part of your presentation you talked about the missions in Africa. You talked about how a peacekeeping mission provides a framework for long-term peace, vital humanitarian aid, and you went through a list.
Does the UN have the right peacekeeping objectives? Every time the UN goes in, does it have the right things in mind as it is actually going into these peacekeeping initiatives, into the different countries? I'm assuming that we're working with the local governments to come up with those objectives.
Let me start off with that, and we'll go from there.
I think you've served in some of these places, too, so thank you for this perspective.
For me, there is nothing dividing the military from the other aspects of things. The starting point, I think, and what the Secretary-General has talked about when he designed these reforms for the UN, is to build an architecture where the immediate operational work is linked to the longer-term peace-building.
I think one of your entry points is going to be the new peace and security architecture here in New York, which is meant to have peace-building aligned with the political processes a bit more, and also with regional desks that sit above them looking at regional strategies. That's an important entry point for your understanding of how the UN may be responding to these things.
The UN development system reform, currently in the final stages, I suppose, is also meant to make non-mission settings and development-oriented agencies more oriented toward preventing conflicts before they break out. That's another one for your analysts to be thinking about: how we can, in the whole panoply of other development settings, be better at preventing the outbreak.
There has been a lot of work in connecting the UN and the World Bank more closely together around conflict prevention and management. There are some very good entry points we can flag for your analysts in terms of understanding how we can work better with those agencies, connecting the short-term with the long-term interventions.
Richard, do you have a follow-up?
The first thing I would say is that, clearly, there is a difference between comparing NATO and UN missions for Canada, but we're also talking about comparing UN and African Union missions, for example, in Africa.
I think the development of the African Union peace and security architecture over the last decade has been impressive and is something to celebrate, but when you're looking at running big, multi-dimensional missions, the UN is still better at managing a lot of the technicalities and the administration of those. For the time being, in Africa, the UN remains best placed to run large-scale multi-dimensional peace operations. What's very notable is that African countries themselves have massively expanded their contributions to UN peace operations. That is another positive development.
I think you can support both the AU and the UN, but in operational terms, the UN is still the market leader on the African continent. In terms of the balance between UN missions and NATO missions for a country like Canada, clearly there are a lot of complex choices there that go beyond peacekeeping policy.
What we do see in Mali is a positive development of a number of NATO countries coming together to work through the UN, and despite some friction, discovering that the UN framework is one they're comfortable in. As I said in my opening remarks, for the French and a number of other European countries, having an effective mission in Mali is an important national security interest, so perhaps the NATO-UN dichotomy is not quite as extreme as it once was.
We can both take a stab at that one.
Just to address the Chinese question, they actually came with very well-prepared and equipped troops to do the tasks that I saw them doing. That was in Darfur. My experience with them has been relatively positive.
There is an obvious concern about who is going to have your back in some of these settings. I think the set-up they have in Mali is probably one in which most of the European troops are very comfortable with who has their back. That would be something you would have to decide among yourselves.
As Richard pointed out, the vast majority of casualties are of the troops that aren't coming from Europe. I think they've had 99 in MINUSMA and a very small number were western troops. I think the set-up there isn't exactly serving immediately alongside troops that you'd be worried about.
On the SEA front, I'll just make one point. The more we can get troops like yours closer to troops that are higher risk, hopefully the better they will behave. I think there's a lot to be gained from high-quality, well-trained troops in setting a good example and in having extra eyes out there. To be frank and very pragmatic from a peacekeeping perspective, there's a huge value to be added with Canadian deployment on that issue.