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U. S. Department of State 
95/08/11 Focus: UN Peacekeeping: Supporting US Interests
Bureau of Public Affairs 




                                 Focus on the UN
                   UN Peacekeeping: Supporting U.S. Interests 
 
 
[Were there no UN peacekeeping,] it would leave us with an unacceptable 
option when emergencies arose: a choice between acting alone and doing 
nothing. 
 
           --Secretary Christopher 
              January 6, 1995 

 
The peace and security operations of the United Nations directly support 
U.S. national interests. Peacekeeping has the capacity, under the right 
circumstances, to separate adversaries, maintain cease-fires, facilitate 
the delivery of humanitarian relief, enable refugees and displaced 
persons to return home, demobilize combatants, and create conditions 
under which political reconciliation may occur and free elections may be 
held. In so doing, it can help nurture new democracies, lower the global 
tide of refugees, reduce the likelihood of unwelcome intervention by 
regional powers, and prevent small wars from growing into larger scale 
conflicts which would be far more costly in terms of lives and 
resources. 
 
Burdensharing
 
In the post-Cold War world, one of the best vehicles to ensure 
international burdensharing is UN peacekeeping. Nations that would not 
otherwise deploy their military forces outside of their own borders send 
their own men and women around the world on UN peacekeeping missions. 
More than 90 nations have deployed troops on UN missions; 77 countries 
have troops deployed today. Currently, the U.S. contributes only 5% of 
UN troops. Other nations also pay the lion's share of the cost of UN 
peacekeeping operations. Currently, 70% of total UN costs for 
peacekeeping is assumed by other nations. The U.S. burden in the next 
fiscal year will not exceed 25%. 
 
U.S. and UN: Acting in Concert
 
The map of UN peacekeeping deployments closely parallels the pattern of 
U.S. interests. UN peacekeepers play a key role in the Middle East, 
patrolling the borders of America's close ally, Israel. In Cyprus, they 
separate Greek and Turkish forces, helping to contain tension between 
two of our valuable NATO allies. They have helped or are helping to 
resolve regional conflicts in Europe, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, 
the Persian Gulf, and Central America. The UN Security Council also 
provides international backing for U.S. actions to protect U.S. vital 
national interests, as in the Persian Gulf war. 
 
Most recently, the Clinton Administration won Security Council 
authorization for deployment of a multinational force to Haiti that has 
put the country on the path to democracy. Security Council support was 
instrumental in gaining agreement from more than two dozen other 
countries to participate in the multinational force, maximizing global 
diplomatic support for the operation and enabling the U.S. to hand over 
the peacekeeping function to a UN force. 
 
Humanitarian Relief
 
Wars of ethnicity or nationalism--features of the post-Cold War era--and 
the failure of nation states fuel mass migration, refugees, famine, and 
disease. A necessary component of restoring peace and security is 
stabilizing these calamities and then providing a way for refugees to 
return home. The United Nations, particularly through its High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), plays a key role in coordinating the 
international response to such tragedies. 
 
In many instances, UN peacekeepers provide security for the return of 
refugees and the delivery of humanitarian relief by UNHCR and the many 
government and private voluntary groups that offer assistance. 
Peacekeepers and relief organizations have worked side by side in 
Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia, Georgia, Mozambique, and elsewhere. 
 
Command and Control
 
The President will never--and under the constitution may never--
relinquish his command authority over U.S. military personnel at any 
time. Command constitutes the authority to issue orders covering every 
aspect of military operations and administration. By law, the chain of 
command flows from the President to the lowest U.S. commander in the 
field and remains inviolate. 
 
But it has been long-standing U.S. policy, when it serves U.S. 
interests, to place U.S. forces under the temporary operational control 
of foreign partners. This procedure enables the U.S. to participate in 
operations that directly serve U.S. interests, such as in the UN mission 
in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, while limiting U.S. 
exposure. Moreover, when the U.S. is willing to provide forces to 
collective security actions, it reaps reciprocal benefits when other 
countries contribute forces to U.S.-led operations, as in the Gulf war. 
 
Peacekeeping Improvements
 
The Clinton Administration is pursuing policies to improve and reform UN 
peacekeeping so that it better serves U.S. interests and trying to 
improve international understanding of the decision to lower the U.S. 
peacekeeping assessment to 25% by October 1995. In addition to reducing 
the U.S. share of UN peacekeeping, the Administration is working to 
reduce costs to all UN members by finding ways for the UN to undertake 
needed missions more efficiently. The U.S. also actively supported the 
recently adopted rules changes that reduce the amount paid by the UN for 
heavy equipment--tanks, armored personnel carriers--that troop 
contributors bring with them on peacekeeping missions. 
 
In May 1994, President Clinton signed a Presidential Decision Directive 
on Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations. The policy requires that 
tough questions be asked about the costs, size, risks, mandate, and 
duration of operations before they are launched or renewed. The policy's 
goal is simple: ensure that peacekeepers are equipped properly, that 
money is not wasted, and that operational directives are clearly 
defined. The policy is working and has resulted in fewer and smaller new 
operations and better management of existing ones. Additionally, the 
Departments of State and Defense have been working with the UN to 
streamline procurement, personnel management, and other support services 
for peacekeeping. 
 
The Price of Peace
 
During the Cold War, one or both of the superpowers generally opposed 
using UN peacekeeping to deal with most crises. In the immediate 
aftermath of the Cold War, consensus emerged on the increased use of UN 
peacekeeping and the number of missions, and the total cost of 
peacekeeping escalated. But the absolute cost to the U.S. remains a 
small portion of its national security expenses--the equivalent of less 
than one-half of one percent of the Department of Defense budget. While 
UN peacekeeping costs can and must be better contained, they represent a 
far cheaper choice than either of the alternatives: acting unilaterally 
or taking an isolationist stance until forced to confront crises after 
they have spread to directly threaten U.S. national security interests. 
 
The troubles encountered by UN peacekeeping operations in the former 
Yugoslavia and Somalia have received most of the public's and media's 
attention over the past few years, in line with the "bad news sells" 
maxim. But the harshest critics of UN peacekeeping typically fail to 
acknowledge that many countries that were not long ago wracked by civil 
wars, such as Cambodia, El Salvador, and Mozambique, were helped out of 
the "bad news" headlines by UN operations and today are making 
considerable progress toward democracy and political stability.

(###)

[Box] 
 
U.S. Contributions to UN Peacekeeping (May 31, 1995) 
 
                                          Number 
UN Operation                             of Troops 

UNMIH--Haiti                                2,400 
UNPREDIP--Macedonia                           546 
UNCRO--Croatia                                345 
MINURSO--Western  
       Sahara                                  30 
UNTSO--Middle East                             15 
UNIKOM--Iraq/Kuwait                            15 
UNOMIG--Georgia                                 4 
UNPROFOR--Former  
       Yugoslavia                               3 
 
Total                                       3,358 

SOURCE: United Nations


August 11, 1995
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