Reconciliation: Canada’s Peacekeeping Monument

Peace KeeperAs signed on June 26, 1945 at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, the Charter of the United Nations grants the United Nations Security Council the authority and responsibility of intervening in world affairs to preserve international peace and security. Since 1948, peacekeeping forces of the UN have participated in 71 operations around the globe, and at the time of this article there were UN troops actively involved in 12 different interventions for which the UN had budgeted $6.37 billion. Down through the years, approximately 114 countries have contributed uniformed personnel to this cause, with an estimated 3,120 casualties that have occurred while carrying out the special duties in the field. The UN describes a peacekeeping force as involving “military, police and civilian personnel, who work to deliver security, political and early peacebuilding support.” For the country of Canada, it is estimated that approximately 125,000 citizens have participated in UN and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) peacekeeping missions, and the United Nations officially lists 121 Canadian fatalities that have occurred during such worldwide efforts to preserve tranquility. The Canadian government itself claims a total of 130 citizens that have died as part of UN interventions, and an additional 12 to conflicts involving NATO. Canadian dedication to the principle of peace, and to those that have died to preserve it, is very evident in the Reconciliation and Peace Keeping Monument located in the capital of Ottawa.

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The Canadian Peacekeeping Monument
Photo credit: Canada’s Capital – Capitale du Canada / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Situated proudly on Confederation Boulevard in Ottawa, the monument venerates the memory of Canadians, both living and deceased, who have participated in peacekeeping missions down through the years since 1947. Depicting 3 peacekeepers – two men and one woman – that are standing on sharp edges of stone that cut through the rubble and debris of war, this unique memorial symbolizes the resolution of wartime conflict. Below the three military figures, the word “reconciliation” is etched in stone, and elsewhere the monument is also inscribed with the words of former Canadian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Laureate Lester B. Pearson, who said “we need action not only to end the fighting but to make the peace… My own government would be glad to recommend Canadian participation in such a United Nations force, a truly international peace and police force.” Completed in 1992, the memorial is the work of architects Richard and George Henriquez, who have long been dedicated to the moral and social dimensions that can be a part of architectural endeavors. It is situated an easy walking’s distance from the National Gallery of Canada and the U. S. Embassy.

Besides the recognition it brings to the peacekeepers in Canadian history, the Canadian Peacekeeping Monument also serves as a testimony to the important role Lester Pearson and Canada have played in the worldwide development of peacekeeping efforts by the UN. During the Suez Crisis of the 1950s, Israel and Egypt fought tenaciously for control of the Suez Canal – with France and Great Britain at one point taking the side of Israel and even bombing Cairo on the behalf of the Israelis. In order to grant the invading powers the opportunity to save face and withdraw from occupied territory adjacent to the Suez Canal, Pearson proposed to the United Nations the idea of organizing a peacekeeping force that

would intervene in the crisis. The end result of his efforts was the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), which played an active presence in the area from 1956 until 1967. Pearson proposed the creation of UNEF during his tenure as the Canadian Minister of External Affairs, and to this day he is considered to be the father of the modern theory of “peacekeeping.” Thus, the Peacekeeping Monument located in Ottawa is not just a hallmark to the sacrifice of Canadian peacekeeping forces, but also to the birth and significance of that concept in international affairs. In recognition of his efforts, Pearson – who died in 1972 – won the Noble Peace Prize in 1957.

United Nations Peacekeeping Forces

The Blue Helmet of UN Forces
Photo credit: United Nations Photo / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Wearing the familiar blue combat helmet of the United Nations, troops performing peacekeeping duties around the world are empowered to promote, monitor, and observe the peacebuilding process taking place in post-conflict areas of concern. As indicated at the UN Peacekeeping website, these forces “are called upon not only to maintain peace and security, but also to facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.” Since the end of the Cold War, the number and cost of peacekeeping efforts has risen steadily, due mostly to the increased spirit of cooperation that broke upon the world stage. Furthermore, this involvement has come to include ever-increasing non-military connotations, such as the promotion and monitoring of desired civic functions, including democratic elections.

Canadians have every right to be proud of the role they have taken in bringing the concept of peacekeeping onto the international scene. However, the sacrifice and hope represented in their Peacekeeping Monument is for the whole world, meaning that it is a symbol that reaches beyond the geographic boundaries of Canada and speaks to a worldwide human need – namely peace. The promoters of this website ask you to show your commitment to these ideals by clicking on the link below and signing the petition to which we are dedicated. Like the Canadian Peacekeeping Monument, a memorial dedicated to the victims of terrorism is a statement on the need for peace, and you can express your commitment to that need in the next 5 minutes.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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Seeds of Peace: Jumpstarting the Peacebuilding Process

One of the most familiar sayings in the world is the Seedoften quoted adage that the “pen is mightier than the sword.” Although it is an old axiom, there is great truth to the statement – and there is perchance no better example of that reality to international peace than the late John Wallach. A 1965 graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, Wallach was the son of German immigrant parents that escaped from the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in 1941 and found their way to the hopeful shores of the United States. Attracted to the world of the media, publication, and writing, Wallach earned a master’s degree in social research and quickly found his way to Hearst Newspapers, where he served as Foreign Editor from 1968 to 1994 – writing syndicated articles through the New York Times News Service. During the 1970s and 1980s, he was a frequent guest to television news programs on networks such as CNN, NBC (Meet the Press), and PBS (Washington Week in Review) – speaking out on matters of foreign policy, international peace, and worldwide cooperation. His rise to prominence as a newsman included an appointment as the BBC’s first Visiting Foreign Affairs Correspondent – and for his role in breaking the Iran-Contra story he was the winner of the Edwin Hood Award, the National Press Club’s highest honor given to a writer.

Wallach’s wri1878379968_cf300ting career served as a springboard into the world of peacebuilding and international goodwill, even receiving the 1991 Medal of Friendship from President Mikhail Gorbachev for his role in promoting US-Soviet relations. For his coverage of the 1978 Camp David Egyptian-Israeli Peace Accords, President Jimmy Carter presented him with the Congressional Correspondents Award – but his image as a peacemaker perhaps reached its highest level of recognition during his 1997-1998 role as a Senior Fellow of the United States Institute of Peace, which published his book The Enemy Has A Face: The Seeds of Peace Experience. Writing in the hope of establishing lasting reconciliation and peace between Arabs and Israelis, Wallach utilized the book as a means of outlining the Seeds of Peace Program – a visionary idea of his for planting the hope of peaceful coexistence in the Mideast through “open dialogue and reconciliation between Arab and Israeli youth.” Experts in the promotion of diplomacy and peace, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, have described the program as a dynamic idea for true and everlasting peace in that area of the world.

Established in 1993 through the efforts of Wallach, Seeds of Peace is a very unique camp experience that allows young people and educators living in areas of ongoing violent conflict the opportunity to meet their “historic enemy” face-to-face, with the specific purpose of advancing the possibility of peace. Meeting at an international camp facility in Maine, over 5,000 young people (ages 14-16) and their educators from 27 countries have participated in the experience – striving to “prove that solutions exist, peace is possible, and there is reason to have hope for a better future.” Very strictly dedicated to remaining apolitical in order to allow participants to express their beliefs without fear, the activities sponsored by Seeds of Peace are funded almost totally by donations, although it has also provided programs funded by the U. S. Agency for International Development. Based in New York City, there are also offices located in Tel Aviv, Ramallah , Amman, Lahore, Mumbai and Kabul – with the overall emphasis of achieving 350 new Seeds graduates during the summer camp, as well as the organization of regional programs for those who have returned home to promote the ideals they have gained from the experience. Now more than 20 years old, graduates of the program derive from Egypt, the Palestinian territories, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Pakistan, Maine, Cyprus and the Balkans.

The Seeds of Peace International Camp experience incorporates an abundance of deliberately intensive activities focused on the confrontation of prejudice, problem solving and conflict resolution. Although the program includes traditional American events such as singing around bonfires, Color Wars, and swimming, the major emphasis of the curriculum is dedicated to dialogue “where Israeli and Palestinian campers heatedly discuss their identities, homelands, politics, and pain.” The follow-up program that reaches out to graduates of the original camp experience includes education in negotiation and mediation skills, exercises in active listening, and role plays. New abilities that are acquired are typically included as part of a group negotiation simulation, or by some other similar means that allows for practical application of the learned material. As one writer has noted, “initial fear and mistrust of the ‘enemy’ gives way to friendship and understanding, as the campers get beyond the stereotypes and grow to know one another as friends.” In a nutshell, the Seeds of Peace philosophy is committed to establishing common ground as part of the negotiation process, by raising the level of tolerance between cultures that have been in conflict.

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Seeds of Peace at the International Camp Experience
Photo credit: Seeds_of_Peace / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

So how important is cultural and religious tolerance to the promotion of peace and the lessening of terrorism in the world? As mentioned elsewhere on this website when discussing the Museum of Tolerance, there is no other issue more crucial to the realization of peace! As noted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), tolerance is the “respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.” Without tolerance, international relationships can disintegrate into an open disregard for justice, outright violence, blatant discrimination, and social marginalization. In a similar fashion to Seeds of Peace, UNESCO has praised and sponsored educational programs that promote tolerance – as a means of ending the vicious cycle of revenge that can sometimes appear on the world stage in the form of transnational violence. As stated by the present Chairman of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, Frederico Mayor Zaragoza, “let us educate for tolerance in our schools and communities, in our homes and workplaces and, most of all, in our hearts and minds.” All the more reason for the establishment of a monument such as the one sponsored by this web site. Please join us and sign the petition by clicking on the link below.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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