Canada's Involvement in Major Events


Fall of Berlin Wall


- NATO forces, including Canadians, kept military bases in West Germany to defend Western Europe from soviet attack

- The Berlin wall became a smbol of the Cold war and the tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

- By 1989 these tensions were easing and by 1991 the soviet union had broken up


Canada and the 1991 Gulf War


- President Saddam Hussein used the excuse than Kuwait was staling Iraqi oil to invade Kuwait

- Canada sent forces to join an international military coalition that was gathering in case Saddam ignored the UN’s order

- When Saddam Hussein ignored the UN’s orders to leave Kuwait by January 15, 1991 – approximately 3 dozen countries, including Canada, authorized the use of force against Iraq

- Canada provided medical help, transported personnel and cargo, and helped refuel fighter planes in the air

- The war ended when the Iraqi forces were overwhelmed and unable to fight the better-equipped coalition force

- After the war, the UN setup a Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission to monitor the situation

-Canadian Forces played an important role, i.e. providing field engineer units to clear landmines

- After the war the UN believed that Saddam may have been planning weapons of mass destruction, therefore Canada and many other countries continued sanctions against Iraq

- Some people believed that these sanctions were hurting the Iraqi people more than Saddam




- After the leader of Yugoslavia (Joseph Tito) died, many of the smaller groups (which later became countries) started to fight for independence

- Over time the different areas (i.e. Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia) gained independence

- The UN negotiated many ceasefires so that peacekeepers could help refugees

- Commander MacKenzie blamed the UN for not properly understanding the problem in Yugoslavia and for sending peacekeepers on a mission bound to fail


Canada and Kosovo


- When Yugoslavia started to crumble, Serbian Kosovars and Albanian Kosovars were in a dispute

- Albanians wanted independence and Serbian Kosovars wanted to keep ties to Serbia

- In 1998 Serbian forces were openly fighting supporters of independence

- NATO tried to broker peace but failed

- NATO launched air strikes on military sites and cities of Belgrade and Pristina; without UN approval

- The airstrikes were controversial as people believed that it violated humanitarian principals and international law

- After the bombings 1000’s of Albanian Kosovars fled to refugee camps in neighbouring countries

- In 2008, Kosovar declared independence


Canadian Peacekeepers in Somalia


- Somalia collapsed in late 1992

- 900 members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment joined the UN peacekeeping mission there

- Peacekeepers were trying to disarm the warring clans as well as provide relief to starving people

- The Canadian regiment committed violent acts against Somali citizens

- The worst was when they tortured and killed a 16 year old boy for attempting to steal supplies

- These incidents tarnished Canada’s peacekeeping reputation

- In 2009, Somalia remained a very chaotic area and became one of the most dangerous waters due to pirates


Canadian Peacekeepers in Rwanda


- In 1993 2500 UN peacekeepers including 400 canadians were sent to Rwanda

- 2 main ethnic groups were in conflict, the Tutsis and Hutus

- In 100 days after the Rwandan president died in a airplane accident, 800,000 people were killed, that included 90% of the Tutsis


UN Failure in Rwanda


- Romeo Dallaire warned the UN and asked for extra power to seize Hutu’s weapons, however they were ignored/rejected

- The UN secretary-General, Boutrous Boutrous-Ghali later admitted that the incident in Rwanda was one of biggest failures of his life

- Informal local courts tried to achieve reconciliation between victims of some of those that were involved in the murders, in some cases they were successful and in other cases they were not

- In addition, the France and Rwanda governments made accusations against each other, including helping the Hutus (against France) and the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana (against Rwanda)



International Criminal Tribunals


- The UN Security Council established 2 tribunals to investigate crimes against humanity

- Neither tribunal made much progress until Canadian Louise Arbour was named chief prosecutor in 1996

- the Rwanda tribunal achieve the 1st conviction for genocide since the UN passed the Convention on Genocide in 1948

- Arbour went on as the UN’s High commissioner for human rights from 2004 – 2008, she was in charge of investigating human rights violations


International Criminal Court (ICC)


- The ICC was established to try people of crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity

- It could not operate until 60 of the 192 members agreed to it and by early 2009, 108 members had signed on to is

- The ICC can only rule on crimes committed within a country that has signed the treaty

- Depends on national police forces

- Many countries supported the court and believed that it promotes international peace and security

- However many powerful countries such as China, the USA, India, and Russia opposed the court and refused to join

- The USA threatened to withhold military aid from countries that support the court

- The USA argued that countries should be allowed to bring war criminals to

Justice in their own courts

- The USA also argues that the ICC would be too powerful as it doesn’t answer to any national government

- These arguments have deterred a large number of UN members for supporting the ICC and left the ICC’s future uncertain