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Ban Ki-moon lauds Trudeau’s ‘recommitment’ to UN

by (feat. David Perry)

The Globe and Mail
February 11, 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is welcoming Canada’s renewed commitment to the world body, which the Prime Minister said will include a plan to seek a non-permanent seat on the Security Council and a pledge to support more UN peacekeeping operations.

Mr. Ban met with Justin Trudeau in chilly Ottawa on Thursday, part of a three-day visit to Canada. His tour comes as the Liberal government, celebrating its 100th day in office, looks to reinvigorate relations with the international institution.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the weather here is quite cold, but the relationship between the United Nations and Canada is very, very warm,” Mr. Ban said during a joint news conference with the Prime Minister. “Mr. Trudeau has declared Canada’s recommitment to the United Nations. I am here to declare that the United Nations … welcomes this commitment.”

Part of that re-engagement process is an eventual bid for a rotating, non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Mr. Trudeau said, repeating a promise he made during the election campaign.

However, the Prime Minister did not indicate when Canada would launch its bid. “We’re looking at a number of windows in the coming years. We’re going to evaluate the opportunities for Canada to mount a successful bid and we will have more to say about that in due course,” he said.

The former Conservative government was often highly critical of the UN after a failed bid to win a Security Council seat in 2010.

Mr. Ban acknowledged former prime minister Lester Pearson’s efforts to “pioneer” UN peacekeeping and applauded Mr. Trudeau’s commitment to involve the country in more missions going forward.

The Prime Minister said Canada is interested in working in areas where sexual violence is used as a weapon of war.

He also took some suggestions from Mr. Ban. “One of the suggestions that I greatly appreciate and that we will consider is having Canada send in not just more police officers, but more women, female police officers, in order to provide assistance,” he said in French. “I acknowledge the importance of having francophone, bilingual forces involved.”

Mr. Trudeau said the government is currently in talks with the UN to see how Canada can re-engage in peacekeeping missions, but he did not indicate any regions or countries where it would be interested in doing so.

Dave Perry, senior analyst at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said there are not many traditional “peacekeeping” opportunities any more, where two conflicting parties have volunteered to separate and allow an independent party to intervene.

He said there is more possibility for a situation where those factors do not exist, parties are not yet at peace and third party is not welcomed by all involved.

The current UN peace operation in Mali would present an ideal opportunity for Canadian support, Mr. Perry said. The mission was established in 2013 after a military coup toppled the government the year prior. He said Canadian troops could contribute a lot, including logistical, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.

Mr. Ban and Mr. Trudeau also discussed Canada’s climate-change commitments, including the Prime Minister’s leadership at the UN Paris summit last year, the ongoing crisis in global hot spots such as Syria and Iraq, and Ottawa’s plan to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

Mr. Ban said this is the fifth time he has travelled to Canada as Secretary-General. His term ends in December.

He and Mr. Trudeau took part in a student assembly at an Ottawa high school on Thursday afternoon followed by a dinner at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. On Friday, Mr. Ban will head to Montreal, where he will meet Mayor Denis Coderre, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard and members of the International Civil Aviation Organization. He will also deliver an address at McGill University.

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