Canada News Agency

Global peacekeeping conference kicks off in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, Nov. 14 -- Nearly 60 defence ministers gathered here Tuesday for a two-day event aimed at rallying support for UN peacekeeping missions, Xinhua reported.
 
Speaking at the opening ceremony at the city's downtown convention center, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan raised the legacy of former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who was also a respected diplomat and WWI veteran.
 
"He (Pearson) had a hand in the creation of the United Nations, NATO and the very first United Nations-led peacekeeping force some 60 years ago," Sajjan said.
 
Noting that the nature of peacekeeping and the scope of threats to global stability are changing, Sajjan said peacekeeping today is more about protecting civilians and "working to build peace amid belligerents who are not easily identifiable."
 
"We need to be frank about what is working and what is not," he said, calling for more innovation, and more support for women in peacekeeping roles.
 
The conference will include a series of pledge announcements, roundtable discussions and speeches through Wednesday.
 
Among the events will be a keynote speech by Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who is also the special envoy of the United Nations' High Commissioner for Refugees.
 
Jolie delivered a speech last year at the first UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial gathering in London. There, she called for more rigorous prosecution of peacekeepers accused of sexual exploitation and abuse.
 
UN Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix also spoke at the opening ceremony.
 
The conference aims to generate more support and solutions focused on protecting vulnerable populations, Lacroix said.