U.S. Support for UN Peacekeeping: A Long-Term Investment

On September 8, 2016 I will have the honor of accompanying Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in London to meet with senior counterparts from 77 countries for discussions on concrete actions to strengthen and modernize United Nations (UN) peacekeeping. This ministerial will be the first-ever meeting of Defense Ministers and Chiefs of Defense focused on peacekeeping reform. This event continues the high-level international attention to peacekeeping that was launched by Vice President Biden in 2014 and that led to the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping, which President Obama co-hosted on the margins of last year’s UN General Assembly. 

This heavyweight leadership investment makes clear the importance the United States places in the continued evolution of UN peacekeeping, to which the United States contributes more than $2.4 billion annually. Why such an investment? Because peacekeeping missions are one of the primary international tools that the United States uses to address conflict-related crises.  

Peacekeepers from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) attend a transport training outside the UN base near Gao, in northern Mali. [UN photo/Marco Dormino]

United Nations peacekeeping operations work to promote reconciliation, stem ethnic conflict and armed groups, protect civilians, and support peace accords. They also facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and facilitate environments that advance human rights, good governance, and the rule of law .

It is also true that they are imperfect. Without crucial reforms, peacekeeping will lose its legitimacy and credibility. Recent news reports have highlighted failures of peacekeepers to protect civilians, and have brought to light some appalling allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse. We continue to call for urgent action -- by the UN, its member states, and troop- and police-contributing countries -- to address these disturbing problems. 

As we tackle these very real challenges, as well as critical gaps in capacity, we should also pause to note areas where peacekeeping missions are achieving some real results. The United Nations missions in Liberia (UNMIL) and Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), for example, are currently drawing down -- a reflection of the significant progress made in both countries toward restored peace and security after years of violent internal conflict. Peace operations are not the solution to every problem, but these are notable examples of how such missions can play a crucial role in the transition from conflict to stability. Other peacekeeping missions still face tough challenges -- such as experiencing attacks from extremists in Mali and trying to help displaced civilians in South Sudan -- making their jobs hard but demonstrating the power of such missions. 

In London, the conversations will focus on further implementing commitments made by more than 50 world leaders at last year’s Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping, as well as 27 new pledges made since the Summit. In total, these pledges include over 50,000 troops and police, as well as enabling capabilities such as airlift, engineering units, and field hospitals. These pledges are crucial to modernizing peacekeeping to enable it to more effectively confront the challenges of today’s world. 

A logo for the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial, which will be held in London on September 8, 2016. Watch a live webcast here for highlights and key moments from the ministerial. [Photo courtesy of UK Ministry of Defense]

These pledges will not reach their full potential to improve UN peacekeeping unless they are accompanied by major systemic reforms. That is why this ministerial-level meeting will also focus on reforms that range from planning to implementation, both of which are the responsibility of the United Nations’ Secretary-General and of the Member States that authorize and contribute uniformed personnel to engage in UN peacekeeping operations. 

This meeting provides another opportunity to reinforce the international commitment to advance many of the institutional reforms proposed by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations in 2015. Those reforms include strengthened emphasis on conflict prevention, mediation, and analysis of threats; improved planning, field support, leadership and measures to protect civilians; and ending abuse and enhanced accountability. 

Defense Secretary Carter’s participation demonstrates the United States’ resolve to continue to drive progress to ensure that peacekeeping operations can successfully implement their mandates today and in the future. We thank the United Kingdom for hosting this gathering of nations working to advance global peace and security.

About the Author: Victoria Holt serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organizations at the U.S. Department of State.

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Comments

John T.
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New Jersey, USA
October 19, 2016
“I need not be a member of the United Nations Secretariat to know that the UN ‘blueprint’ is a Communist one. I was at the Moscow headquarters of the world Communist party for nearly three years and was acquainted with most of the top leaders.... I went to their colleges; I learned their pattern of operations, and if I see that pattern in effect anywhere, I can recognize it.... “From the point of view of its master designers meeting at Dumbarton Oaks and Bretton Woods, and which included such masterful agents as Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, Lauchlin Currie, and others, the UN was, and is, not a failure. They and the Kremlin masterminds behind them never intended the UN as a peace-keeping organization. What they had in mind was a fancy and colossal Trojan horse.... Its [the UN's] internal setup, Communist designed, is a pattern for sociological conquest; a pattern aimed to serve the purpose of Communist penetration of the West. It is ingenious and deceptive.” ~ Joseph Z. Kornfeder, former top Communist Party of America member, in a speech before the Congress of Freedom, Veterans War Memorial Auditorium, San Francisco, April, 1955 (1) 1. Griffin, G. Edward, The Fearful Master (Boston: Western Islands, 1964), end of Chapter 10.
Helmet and flack jackets of the members of the the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. [UN photo/Marie Frechon]
Posted by Victoria Holt
September 7, 2016

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