Thank you, sir, for your consideration, and thank you for the honour of testifying before this important committee.
My past testimony before parliamentary committees has been on arms control, Afghanistan operations, peacekeeping, and the United Nations. Those subjects are in my comfort zone. I have to say that NATO isn't in my area of expertise, but NATO is an organization that has premier status in the institutions in which I teach military officers, namely the Royal Military College and the Canadian Forces College.
I'd like to use my presentation to compare Canada's role in NATO with its role in the United Nations. The last time I testified to the Senate, the question was, which would you give emphasis to, NATO or the UN? I realize that some people may view them as dichotomous; in my case, I view them as complementary institutions. Both are vital to Canadian and global security, and Canada can do more for both.
As you know, Canada, and particularly the diplomat and politician Lester B. Pearson, played an important role in the creation of both organizations. In 1945 the Canadian delegation in San Francisco negotiated hard for an economic dimension in the UN Charter. Similarly, in the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO's charter, Canada pushed for article 2, sometimes known as the Canadian article, to include political and economic co-operation along with military co-operation in this new treaty. There will be more about the current implementation later.
The UN was created as an organization for collective security to deal with threats globally, including threats created by its own members. In contrast, NATO was created as an organization for collective defence to deal with external threats, namely the menacing rise of the Soviet bloc. It also had other functions: as Lord Ismay, the first NATO Secretary General informally put it, “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.
Over time, the organization realized that there was no reason to fear that Germany would rise again as a menacing military power, but the Russian threat has recently risen again, and there's a need to keep Russia out of the affairs of many states—not only its neighbours, such as Ukraine, but also, in our cyber age, the democracies of Europe and North America.
Both organizations run military operations. It might surprise people to know that the UN has more military personnel on operations than NATO has. Currently, the UN Secretary-General has 84,000 military personnel under his operational control in 16 peacekeeping operations, while those under NATO number some 20,000: 13,000 in Afghanistan, 4,500 in Kosovo, 4,500 in the Baltics, and smaller numbers in naval operations.
It should be noted that NATO had at its peak 130,000 troops under NATO operational control in Afghanistan, with Canada contributing 3,300, mostly in Kandahar. Currently the Canadian Armed Forces has deployed 450 members, plus 250 temporary members, in Latvia, and our navy contributes to NATO exercises. The air force is now contributing to NATO air policing in Romania. Until 2014 the air force also provided personnel for NATO's airborne early warning and control force. Maybe Canada should reconsider joining that program again.
Canadian generals have played major leadership roles in both organizations. In the UN, General Tommy Burns was the first commander of the UN's first peacekeeping force, created at Pearson's urging to end the Suez Crisis of 1956. In the 1990s, Canada provided the military adviser to the Secretary General, General Maurice Baril, and seven military commanders of seven UN missions, though none so far in this century.
In recent NATO history Canada provided the chair of the military committee, General Ray Henault, from 2004 to 2008, and the commander of its mission in Libya, General Charles Bouchard.
I hasten to add that the NATO mission in Libya was under Security Council mandate and was very well executed, in my opinion. The problem in Libya was that afterwards, both NATO and the UN shied away from any post-conflict peace force, thinking erroneously that the job was done, leaving Libya a deeply fractured country to this day.
In the past, NATO has not only done defence and enforcement but also peacekeeping, and done it well. After the UN protection force was unable to end the conflict or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, NATO provided a very capable force, composed of many nations that had contributed to the UN force, but now with much better equipment and organization and, I add, at much greater financial cost.
Here I come to a major difference. In NATO, the player pays—that is, each contributing country covers its own costs—while in the UN, there is a reimbursement scheme that allows for a significant portion, if not all, of the nation's costs to be recovered with UN funding.
Like the UN, NATO operations are a combination of national contributions, but NATO features advanced western countries providing cutting-edge equipment—again, at their own expense—to the NATO operations. Plus, NATO has spent almost 70 years developing a high level of interoperability among its members, even while growing from 12 to 29 countries, while the interoperability among the UN's current 125 or so peacekeeping contributors is much poorer. The range of equipment quality among the developed and developing countries is much wider; however, the re-engagement of European countries in UN peacekeeping is raising the technological standards of UN missions.
Canada can do much more to contribute to UN missions across the range of functions from personnel to training, from aircraft to reconnaissance vehicles, from night vision to long-range surveillance, including by using Canadian experience in NATO.
There is much that the UN can learn from NATO on military operations: intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, otherwise known as ISR; command and control; logistics; standardization agreements; industrial coordination; and particularly exercises and simulations, among many things.
Like the UN, but on a much smaller scale, NATO also has co-operation programs outside of the military domain. In a handout, Dr. Danielle Stodilka, a senior fellow at the Canadian International Council, and I summarized three important NATO programs: the science for peace and security program, the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre, and the NATO centres of excellence, or COEs.
We found that Canada was under-represented in all these activities, and we make some concrete recommendations, so here I go.
In the next year, Canada should host a NATO science for peace and security information day, led by a high-level delegation from NATO's emerging security challenges division, to explore possible partnerships with Ukraine and other countries. It should also increase support for programs of the NATO Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre.
In other conclusions, showing my nuanced approach to NATO, one, there is a danger that the world will march into a new cold war. The UN experience shows that it is important to keep talking even while exposing Russian wrongdoings. Deterrence will have its value, but both sides have to ensure that extremist arguments and extremist weapons do not win the day. While there is clear aggression on the Russian side, the conflicts are not entirely black and white. There are shades of grey, with measures needed to protect Russian-speaking minorities in the “near abroad”, as Russia calls it. Some sensitivity to Russian arguments should be shown, even as military, political, economic, and legal measures are all taken against misbehaviour.
Two, the UN has made major advances to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction. Through treaties, tens of thousands of tonnes of chemical weapons have been disarmed and biological weapons have been banned. Also, much progress has been made in nuclear weapons disarmament, the latest advance being the nuclear prohibition treaty negotiated at the UN and opened for signature in September.
Nuclear weapons belong in the dustbin of history, along with other weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons. No one could or should seriously consider incinerating cities and killing millions of people. The only sane approach to end the mutual assured destruction, or MAD, strategy of nuclear deterrence is nuclear abolition, so NATO should drop its faith in nuclear weapons as the “supreme guarantee” of peace. It should move the world along the path of mutual balanced reductions in nuclear forces so that one day there will be no nuclear weapons that can fall into terrorists' hands, be used during escalation of tensions, or be fired by accident. We should be careful not to succumb to the strong-arm tactics of the nuclear nations.
Three, NATO can be an important instrument for the United Nations. This was seen in Kosovo with the UN-mandated and NATO-led Kosovo Force, KFOR, working with the UN mission in Kosovo. It was also seen in Libya in the execution of Security Council resolution 1973 to protect civilians, though the follow-up peacekeeping force should have been implemented and should still be implemented by the UN.
Overall, UN-NATO co-operation should be encouraged, especially as UN peacekeeping seeks to modernize and become better equipped.
Four, NATO has 24 centres of excellence, but none on peace support operations, or PSOs, and none in Canada. Since the Minister of National Defence is mandated to lead international training efforts in peace operations, creating a PSO centre of excellence in Canada would be a major step forward. Since the closure of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in 2013 due to lack of government funding, Canada lacks a place where military, police, and civilians from different countries can train together.
Finally, speaking to parliamentarians, NATO has a parliamentary assembly, which had a Canadian MP as president at its founding conference and which serves as a consultative body to the North Atlantic Council. That can be a model for a future UN parliamentary assembly, bringing together legislators from all member states. The NATO PA accepted NATO members and then went further by integrating parliamentarians from the European Parliament and associated countries.
I have just a couple of other final points. As the UN modernizes, NATO could provide the UN with many technologies and procedures. NATO already has someone stationed at UN headquarters, and it has provided satellite imagery of Syria, for example, to the UN, but it could do much more.
It wouldn't be fair unless I had a note on women, peace, and security, where NATO's policy is built on UN Security Council resolution 1325, but NATO is considerably behind the United Nations and many member states, including Canada, in its implementation, so Canada could certainly push in that area.
I thank you for your attention and for letting me share some thoughts and ideas with you.