UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is thrilled that Canada will be recommitting to its involvement with the UN.
“The weather here is quite cold, but the relationship between the UNited Nations and Canada is very, very warm,” Ban said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined Ban in Ottawa Thursday to discuss climate change, refugees and peacekeeping, as well as Canada’s involvement in the security council and UN peacekeeper’s recent sex abuse scandal.
Ban called the sexual assault allegations an “unacceptable violation of human rights” and said he will be implementing the recommendations of former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps, who has advised the UN on how to prevent future abuse.
Ban says the meeting, which touched on a wide range of subjects including climate change and Syria, was “very productive.”
“I thank the prime minister for his vigorous cooperation with the UN,” Ki-moon said.
Ban called Canada’s refugee policy “compassionate” and applauded the government’s commitment to accept 25,000 refugees from Syria.
He also urged Trudeau to follow through with the plan set out during climate talks in Paris.
“We need Canada to put the agreement into action, and put the rest of the world on track,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of Canada sitting on the Security Council, Ban said he’s keeping a close eye on how Canada responds to steep international aid targets set by the UN.
“I believe Canada has the capacity and the resources, I know the prime minister may have all different priorities, but I’m sure that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government will pay more focus on this matter and I count on your leadership,” Ban said.
Trudeau said Canada is interested in joining the council, and that the country would be actively pursuing a role on it.
“We’re going to evaluate the opportunities for Canada to operate a successful bid,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said Canada has committed $1.6 billion in the coalition against Islamic State and will continue to give generously to international aid.
The meeting is part of Trudeau’s efforts to have Canada work more closely with the world body. Trudeau has criticized the former Harper government for diminishing the country’s role at the UN.
The Prime Minister said the government is committed to strengthening the UN’s peacekeeping ability in the world, and is especially anxious to be involved with human rights efforts aimed at increasing gender equality around the world.
“Canada looks forward to a strengthened relationship with the United Nations in the coming years,” Trudeau said.
Canada’s contributions to peacekeeping missions have fallen to a few dozen troops in recent years from a high of several thousand in the mid-1990s.
However, a recent report by the Rideau Institute and the Centre for Policy Alternatives said the mission in Afghanistan left the Canadian Forces without the skills for peacekeeping work.
Trudeau and Ban will also meet students at an Ottawa high school to discuss the importance of building diverse societies to promote peace and broad economic growth.
— With files from Canadian Press