Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan inspects a military honor guard on June 1 in Berlin. (Photo: Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images)"When Canada goes in, yes, we will be fulfilling that mandate of protection of civilians and proactively acting in that manner. And we expect other nations to do the same thing," he said. "That's one concern I do have and I will be looking at that all the way through." The comments follow several incidents in South Sudan, including one in July in which peacekeepers failed to respond for hours as local soldiers attacked and raped foreign aid workers at a nearby hotel. Peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali have also been accused of not doing enough to protect civilians from attacks by local militias and insurgents. The mandate and rules of engagement for all three peacekeeping missions allow the use of deadly force to protect civilians if needed.
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A South Sudanese police officer examines the remains of the logistic base of the United Nations World Food Program in the Jebel district in Juba on August 18 after it was looted between July 8 and July 11. (Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images)
Tory critic brings up UN bureaucracy interfereSpeaking against the Liberals' peacekeeping plan on Thursday, Conservative defence critic James Bezan asked a series of questions, including: "Will UN bureaucracy interfere with our chain of command?" But Sajjan pushed back against the idea. Rather, he said, the government has been talking with other countries about making sure the UN force commanders on the ground have the flexibility to be able to make quick decisions and protect civilians without having to check with national capitals. "I want to limit caveats, because by putting more caveats and decision-making processes, that doesn't allow for the troops on the ground to be able to respond," he said. "And having experienced that in many different cases, I can assure you how important that actually is to the commander on the ground."
Sajjan's comments are part of a push by western countries to eliminate caveats and make sure all peacekeeping countries are willing and able to do what's necessary to protect civilians, said Gowan. But no matter what, Canada will need some type of contingency plan to make sure the troops are supported in a dangerous situation, he said. "Ottawa is going to have to not merely put troops on the ground, but actually do quite a lot of diplomatic work to calculate which countries it feels it is safe to operate alongside," he said. "And do you want to have contingency planning and have capacity to get your guys out in a worst-case scenario? Yes." - Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.
"And do you want to have contingency planning and have capacity to get your guys out in a worst-case scenario? Yes."
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