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Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 453–475 | Cite as

Knight Errant, Cold Warrior or Cautious Ally? Canada on the United Nations Security Council, 1948–1949

  • Hector MackenzieEmail author
Article

Abstract

Canada’s self-image in world affairs has been as a bold internationalist, with its status and responsibility as a middle power and its role as a mediator emphasised. Assessments highlight the transformation of Canada’s international relations after the Second World War and contrast its engagement in the United Nations with its performance at the League of Nations. Curiously, these appraisals ignore Canada’s first term on the UN Security Council (1948–1949), particularly its response to crises which challenged world peace and the UN’s authority. From an examination of unpublished and published papers in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, this article contends that Canada’s performance did not correspond with the popular image of its role in world affairs, nor did the government take advantage of this exceptional opportunity to demonstrate its international commitment. Moreover, it also shied away from taking a leading part in advocating the ideals and objectives of the western alliance. Instead, it preferred to play a supporting role as the divisions of the cold war deepened. When the UN Security Council dealt with controversies and clashes, Canada followed the lead of the United States and the United Kingdom, and its priority was to maintain a common outlook and approach within the North Atlantic Triangle. Canada’s early post-war foreign policy, as evident in its first term on the UN Security Council, seems remarkably consistent with its longstanding concerns and priorities in world affairs and considerably less indicative of any significant departure in approach or policies.

Keywords

Canada United Nations Security Council North Atlantic Triangle United Kingdom United States Canadian foreign policy 

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Foreign Affairs and International TradeCanada

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