United Nations

Two soldiers wearing peacekeeping berets speak.

Pyla, Cyprus. 24 November 2008 – Captain Michael Solonynko (right), Operation and Information Analyst Officer for the UN HQ in Cyprus, discusses patrol routes to prevent overlapping patrols with UN Civilian Police Officer Nasir Ahmed from India, the Detachment Commander of Pyla Station. (Photo by MCpl Robert Bottrill, Canadian Forces Combat Camera)

 The United Nations (UN): a mission partner in peace and security

One of the roles of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is to contribute to international peace and security.  The CAF works with allies and mission partners in this role. They join together against perceived common threats to Canada, North America and the international community.  CAF allies include other nations with similar goals and values. Allies also include organizations that span across international borders. The United Nations (UN) is one such group.

 Canada is a founding member of the UN, which was formed in 1945 following World War II. It is currently made up of 193 countries from around the globe, which are considered member states.  The UN’s work is guided by its founding charter. The charter is based on the principle of sovereign equality which means that each member state is equal in its right to govern itself.  The UN also drew up the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The CAF role with the UN

A key role of the UN is to help stop conflict between countries and groups of peoples, with the overall goal of maintaining peace and security around the globe.  The UN works toward this by bringing the member states together to take collective action against threats to peace and security. This may include the use of a country’s military forces and assets for peacekeeping. 

As a UN ally, Canada may volunteer CAF resources for a UN-led operation or mission when requested. These are usually peacekeeping or peace-related operations. CAF members serve on UN operations through a formal process within the military construct.

The Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is in charge of most CAF operations. This includes CAF support to UN-led operations and missions.  CJOC provides military leadership and also forms and sends out the task forces that are needed.  A task force is made up of all the CAF members and assets for a specific mission.  It may involve hundreds of military members or fewer than a dozen. It may be a ground, air or naval operation or one that involves elements of each. A mission is planned so that a CAF task force carries out very specific tasks where it is sent to operate.

Peace Support Operations

Canada and other UN member nations send military groups and members to take part in UN-led peace support operations around the globe. The CAF sends members and leaders of all ranks on these missions.  Some CAF officers take special training to become United Nations Military Observers (UNMOs).  Learn more about UNMOs.

The CAF has a clear set of rules and guidelines to enable its members, while they are serving on a UN mission in another country.

Sometimes a UN operation takes place in the same country or region as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) operation. One may follow the other or they may be linked together. The CAF may support both operations in helping bring peace, security and stability to the country.

 CAF Operations under the UN

Related links

Government of Canada – a partner in peace

Date modified: