Please be aware that this ‘Peacekeeping’ page is currently under construction.
During the Cold War (1947 to 1991) Canada participated in 12 United Nations peacekeeping operations:
To summarize the Canadian experience here is an article (Canada and the Cold War) from the Canadian Encyclopedia written by Historian J.L. Granatstein (a fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute) which captures the Canadian Peacekeeping experience very nicely. ‘Jack’ (as the then head of the Canadian War Museum) was a real friend of the Diefenbunker during our formative in becoming a Museum of the Cold War, especially in assisting us with advice and getting ‘stuff’ to help ‘dress’ the Museum’s displays. (DND had pretty much stripped the building of its F&E as they were intending to seal it with concrete as they had done the associated Richardson TX site July 1997).
First take a look at this plaque. According to the above Granatstein article about 125 000 Canadians have served on peacekeeping mission of which about 130 have died on duty. We have a duty to remember them.
“The first group of United Nations military observers arrived in the mission area on 24 January of 1949 to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Following renewed hostilities of 1971, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has remained in the area to observe developments pertaining to the strict observance of the ceasefire of 17 December 1971 and report thereon to the Secretary-General.”
The following narrative and images will highlight my own personal story about my year on the Indian Subcontinent with the United Nations Military Observer group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP). Subsequently I will include some information about other Canadian UN Peacekeeping Missions as I research them more thoroughly
Some images from my UNMO service with UNMOGIP in 1973.
Late in 1972 I found out that I had (unknown to me) been selected to serve the year of 1973 with the United Nation Observer Group in India/ Pakistan. I had never heard of it before. At the time I had just two years previously graduated from the Royal Military College of Science in the UK, had been promoted Major and was an (engineer) equipment staff officer at National Defence HQ in Ottawa. This new posting, literally “out-of-(and into)-the-blue”was quite a surprise for me as I had just arranged to take a military sponsored post-graduate Environmental Engineering Degree at Waterloo…plus late October my wife and I had just purchased and moved into a new house (there wasn’t even any grass!). The last minute nature of this posting was due to the originally posted ‘fellow’ military engineer having found a reason not to go. (Maybe he didn’t like heat, humidity, snakes, foot-long centipedes and spicy food…who knows?)
Fortunately the Army doesn’t put one in these situations without at least some preparation so I had a five day training course on the ins-and-outs of the mission, it’s somewhat checkered history, and all the subcontinent’s potential political, religious and cultural ‘baggage’, i.e.,things that could go wrong! Also there was even information about what I was actually supposed to do while there. In the few weeks before departure I had some time-off from my NDHQ staff job to prepare myself and my long suffering, wonderful military wife for the coming year’s absence and to get ready to travel to the posting in Kashmir. The following extract from a UN website summarizes what the mission was all about at the time of my posting to UNMOGIP:
- UNMOGIP’s functions were to observe and report, investigate complaints of ceasefire violations and submit its findings to each party and to the Secretary-General. At the end of 1971, hostilities broke out again between India and Pakistan. When a ceasefire came into effect on 17 December 1971, a number of positions on both sides of the 1949 ceasefire line had changed hands. The UN Security Council met and on 21 Decem
- ber adopted resolution 307 (1971), by which it demanded that a durable ceasefire in all areas of conflict remain in effect until all armed forces had withdrawn to their respective territories and to positions which fully respected the ceasefire line in Jammu and Kashmir supervised by UNMOGIP
- .In July 1972, India and Pakistan signed an agreement defining a Line of Control in Kashmir which, with minor deviations, followed the same course as the ceasefire line established by the Karachi Agreement in 1949.
- India took the position that the mandate of UNMOGIP had lapsed, since it related specifically to the ceasefire line under the Karachi Agreement.
- Pakistan, however, did not accept this position. Given the disagreement between the two parties over UNMOGIP’s mandate and functions, the Secretary-General’s position has been that UNMOGIP could be terminated only by a decision of the Security Council. In the absence of such an agreement, UNMOGIP has been maintained with the same arrangements as established following the December 1971 ceasefire. The last report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on UNMOGIP was published in 1972.
- Since the Simla Agreement of 1972, India has adopted a non-recognition policytowards third parties in their bilateral exchanges with Pakistan over the question regarding the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The military authorities of Pakistan have continued to lodge alleged ceasefire violations complaints with UNMOGIP. The military authorities of India have lodged no complaints since January 1972 limiting the activities of the UN observers on the Indian-administered side of the Line of Control, though they continue to provide necessary security, transport and other services to UNMOGIP.
It appeared to be that the job was to supervise the cease-fire agreement(s) between the Indians and Pakistanis in the disputed area of Kashmir located on the NW frontier. Both of these parties were armed to the teeth, professional militarys who had been at each others throats since the British partitioned the subcontinent in 1949. Fortunately I had my five days of familiarization training to prepare me for this UN Observer assignment! The area had recently been fought over during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistani_War_of_1971). Post this war UNMOs were to ‘supervise’ the newly reestablished Line of Control.
Given that it was still virtually a war zone it was somewhat unnerving that no protective gear such as helmets, ‘flac’ jackets, or arms were provided for the Observers. I suppose it was considered that white jeeps, blue berets, UN shoulder flashes and a UN flag (along with an authoritative demeanor) would be enough to protect us during our inspection tours and other interactions. Oddly, it seemed to work as I felt perfectly safe on most occasions and during most liaison with the local military authorities mainly due to the professionalism of the Indian and Pakistani Officers and Snr NCOs.
(To Be Continued)