United Nations Peacekeeping
After the devastation of World War II (September, 1939 - August, 1945), many of the world's nations sought to secure an enduring peace. Fifty countries sent representatives to a United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. The aim of the meetings was to establish a world body that would:
- maintain international peace and security
- develop friendly relations among nations
- cooperate in solving international economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems
- promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
- be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in attaining these ends
An agreement was signed by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, and a majority of the other attending countries to form a United Nations Organization. The UNO (known nowadays as the UN) came into existence, officially, on 24 October, 1945. United Nations Day is now celebrated, annually, October 24. UN offices are headquartered in New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Based on the agreement signed by its founding nations to maintain international peace and security, the UN tries to resolve disagreements through diplomatic negotiations. When needed, military personnel from neutral UN members are deployed to act as buffers between disputing parties.
The Middle East has required frequent UN interventions:
- 1948 - The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), a multi-national group, unarmed, was sent to supervise an armistice between Israel and its Arab neighbours
- 1956 and 1967 - The United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), a multi-national deployment, lightly-armed for self-protection, acted as a buffer between Egypt and Israel
- 1973 - The United Nations Emergency Force 2 (UNEF-2) interceded once again between Egypt and Israel. In coordination, the United Nations Emergency Force - Middle East (UNEF-ME) was inserted between Israel and Syria. Both Forces were lightly-armed.
- 1974 - The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), a multi-national unit, unarmed, was assigned to monitor the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria.
During these years, Canada contributed much to UN efforts, and has continued to do so:
- 1956 - Lester Pearson, the Canadian Ambassador to the UN, proposed the creation of the UNEF to resolve the Suez Canal crisis. Pearson's resolution included the assignment of Canadian troops, alongside those from other UN neutrals, to intervene between the belligerents.
- 1967 and 1973 - Canadian Peacekeepers were deployed again as part of the UN contingent sent to stand between the warring Middle East neighbours.
- 1974 - To provide airlift support for UNEF-2, UNEF-ME and UNDOF, Canada contributed its 116 Air Transport Unit. 116 ATU was equipped with three unarmed CC-115 Buffaloes, numbers 115452, 115460 and 115461. The aircraft were painted in the traditional white and blue UN colours, were tasked to fly UN Flight 51, and were headquartered in Ismailia, Egypt. By August, 1974, UN Flight 51 was flying a six days a week schedule.
The United Nations Association of Canada provides a detailed chronology of Canadian participation in United Nations Peacekeeping missions.