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November 30, 2018

Canada will stand for election to the United Nations Security Council in June, 2020. Our competitors are Norway and Ireland. Of the three countries, two will win seats on the council and begin their two-year terms in January, 2021.

There is no guarantee of victory for Canada, but it is still worth the effort. As international tensions mount and the United States retreats from global leadership, Canada and like-minded countries must do what they can to sustain co-operation and the wobbling structures of a rules-based international system. This task extends far beyond the United Nations, but the world body remains the flagship of the multilateral system.

At the core of the UN is the Security Council, still the most important table in international politics. Its 15 members, including five permanent ones – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – and 10 that hold rotating seats, grapple with the world’s most pressing security problems. With geopolitical rivalry on the rise,...

July 23, 2018

in Thomas G. Weiss and Sam Dawes, eds., The Oxford Handbook of the United Nations, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2018).

Peacebuilding – helping societies make the transition from civil violence to a durable peace – has been the United Nations’ principal security activity since the end of the Cold War. Although peacebuilding methods have been refined during years of trial and error, it remains an uncertain science, yielding mixed results. But for all its shortcomings, the international peacebuilding "project" remains one of the most remarkable exercises in collective conflict management the world has ever witnessed. This chapter identifies the principal features of the UN’s peacebuilding operations, examines the record of peacebuilding since the end of the Cold War, and describes some of the main issues and controversies surrounding these missions.

December 17, 2014


The greatest risk to United Nations peace operations is not operational failure, but the growing divergence of opinion among countries that mandate, finance and supply personnel to these operations regarding the purposes and practices of peacekeeping itself.

The UN currently runs 16 peacekeeping missions with roughly 103,000 uniformed personnel and 16,000 civilians – along with another 11 peacebuilding and political missions consisting mainly of civilian personnel. Contrary to those who suggest that UN peace operations are in decline, the chart below shows that business is booming: The number of uniformed personnel deployed on these missions has never been greater (click on image for larger version).


        Number of Uniformed UN Peacekeeping Personnel, 1991-2014. Source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

The problem, however, is that business is literally booming: More and more, peacekeepers are finding themselves in situations where there i...

November 9, 2010

Panel discussion on CPAC

Watch here.

"The Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) at the University of Ottawa, organized a panel discussion, "Canada and the UN Security Council: Now What?," on October 13th. Participants examined the outcome and implications of Canada's failure to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council. Canada withdrew its bid the previous day after trailing Portugal on the second ballot. The panellists were Yves Fortier (Canadian Ambassador to the UN from 1988 to 1992), Louise Fréchette (UN Deputy Secretary-General from 1998 to 2006), Paul Heinbecker (Canadian Ambassador to the UN from 2000 to 2004) and the Honourable Allan Rock (Canadian Ambassador to the UN from 2004 to 2006)."

August 11, 2007

Globe & Mail

One way or another, Kosovo will become an independent state. The real question is how to get from here to there without blowing up the Balkans. The solution may lie in coaxing Kosovo's leaders into issuing the most limited and self-constraining declaration of independence in world history.

Nominally part of Serbia, the territory has been administered by the United Nations since 1999, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombed Serb positions and deployed peacekeepers to protect the province's majority Albanian population. In practice, Kosovo has been a separate state for eight years, under international authority.

There is no realistic prospect of reintegrating Kosovo into Serbia. The local population is overwhelmingly opposed and will almost certainly fight to prevent it. The last thing the region needs is a return to ethnic bloodletting, which would be difficult to contain within Kosovo's boundaries.

Last March, UN mediator Martti Ahtisaari proposed that the w...

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

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