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U.S DEPARTMENT OF STATE
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
FEBRUARY 3, 1995
[EXCERPTS FROM DAILY PRESS BRIEFING OF FEBRUARY 3, 1995]
PRESS BRIEFING BY
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1995
MS. SHELLY (Acting Spokesman): Good afternoon, ladies
and gentlemen. Today we begin our briefing with a very
special guest: Ambassador Madeleine Albright, the U.S.
Permanent Representative to the United Nations since January
l993. I know she is well and favorably known to you. But
as this is her first appearance at the State Department
Press Briefing, let me also refresh your memory with a few
details about her background.
Prior to her appointment to the United Nations,
Ambassador Albright was President of the Center for National
Policy, a nonprofit research organization that promotes the
study and discussion of domestic and international issues.
As a Research Professor of International Affairs and
Director of the Women in Foreign Service Program at
Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, she
taught courses in international affairs, U.S. foreign
policy, Russian foreign policy, and Central and Eastern
European politics. From l978 to '8l, Ambassador Albright
was a Staff Member on the National Security Council, where
she was responsible for foreign policy legislation.
Ambassador Albright is here today to address U.S.
objectives for U.N. peacekeeping.
In light of the U.N.'s 50th Anniversary, she will also
discuss the overall U.S.-U.N. relationship.
She will begin with remarks and then will be happy to
take your questions.
Ambassador Albright, the floor is yours.
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Christine.
I'm really very happy to be able to have the opportunity to
be in this forum.
As Christine mentioned, I am here today to discuss the
Administration's view with respect to legislation now in
Congress, part of the so-called Contract. And what I see it
as is that it would destroy U.N. peacekeeping as an option
for responding to conflict overseas.
This bill, H.R. 7, was approved on Tuesday by the House
International Relations Committee. The Administration
opposes it strongly, and I want to explain why.
Obviously peacekeeping is no substitute for vigorous
alliances or a strong national defense. Nor would we rely
on it to protect our vital interests. But it does provide
the President with an alternative to the extremes of
unilateral intervention or inaction when foreign crises
It can help to end conflicts and address emergencies
that, if left unattended, could affect us directly. It can
nurture emerging democracies, lower the global tide of
refugees and prevent small wars from growing into big ones.
And it allows us to influence events at a cost and risk far
less than if we intervened alone.
We understand well that U.N. peacekeeping grew too fast
and tried to do too much during the last year of the Bush
Administration and the first year of ours. It is a limited
tool that may not be effective in situations where the
prompt and decisive application of force is required.
That is why we now insist that tough questions about
the cost, size, risk, mandate, and duration of a
peacekeeping mission be asked and answered satisfactorily
before one is started or renewed. That policy has resulted
in fewer and smaller new operations, and better management
of existing ones.
A number of myths about U.N. peacekeeping have been
circulated in recent months, and here are a few facts:
The total number of U.N. peacekeepers is currently the
lowest in almost two years. Because of genocide, the Rwanda
mission was expanded, but there were no major new U.N. peace
missions in 1994; and, meanwhile, three operations, in El
Salvador, Somalia and Mozambique, are ending.
Direct U.S. participation in U.N. peace operations is
actually modest. We rank 26th among nations in the number
of troops participating. The cost to us of U.N. assessments
for peacekeeping is less than one-half of one percent of
what we spend for national security and foreign policy.
Further, the President's budget, to be released next Monday,
will reflect a mandated reduction in our share of U.N.
peacekeeping costs from more than 30 percent to 25 percent
beginning on October 1.
The proponents of H.R. 7 say they want America to be
treated fairly by the U.N., and so do we. The fact is that
the U.N. reimburses the U.S. for equipment, troops and
services on the same terms and conditions that apply to
other countries. In addition, by far the largest single
share of U.N. Headquarters procurement for peacekeeping
belongs to the United States -- more than 36 percent in
The proponents of H.R. 7 say they want U.N. reform, and
so do we; and we are achieving it. Last year, the General
Assembly established an independent office with the
functions of an Inspector General. The new Under Secretary
General for Management -- a former CEO of Price Waterhouse -
- has an ambitious agenda for reform. And we are supporting
efforts to improve the efficiency of U.N. procurement.
The proponents of H.R. 7 say they want to keep American
forces from being deployed under incompetent commanders, and
so do we. Under our policy -- and, in fact, under the
Constitution -- the Commander-in-Chief always has command
authority over U.S. forces. And we have a policy that when
either important American interests or significant numbers
of American troops are involved, the senior military
commander will ordinarily be an American. Defense Secretary
Perry testified just last week that he will support
assigning forces to an operation only when he is "convinced
that the rules of engagement are right, the operation is
properly sized and equipped to carry out the tasks, and the
commander is up to the task and the challenge."
Finally, the proponents of H.R. 7 say they want to
protect the military readiness of our armed forces, and so
do we. That's one of the reasons we want to strengthen and
reform U.N. capabilities, because the better able the U.N.
is to contain conflict, the less likely it is we will have
to deploy our own troops.
The Administration has discussed, and will continue to
discuss, these and other points with Congress. We agree,
for example, that we need a better mechanism for ensuring
that Congress has an appropriate role in decisions that
result in new financial obligations.
What we're not prepared to do is allow Congress to
infringe on the constitutional powers of the President. Nor
will we allow American interests to be harmed, and world
peace endangered, by the calculated destruction of U.N.
This would surely happen if the combination of
unilateral withholdings, conditions, delays and
micromanagement proposed by H.R. 7 were enacted. These
provisions would make it impossible to plan or budget for
U.N. peace operations and invite other nations to adopt
similar unilateral policies to which we would surely object.
So the sponsors of H.R. 7 should be asked:
Is it really in our interests or that of world peace to
yank U.N. peacekeepers out of Cyprus, Lebanon, Kashmir and
the border between Kuwait and Iraq?
Is the withdrawal of the U.N. force from Bosnia in our
interests, or would such a withdrawal under present
conditions require the assistance of American forces --
possibly at great cost and considerable risk -- and likely
lead to a wider war?
Should we discount entirely the benefits to American
interests and ideals of successful U.N. missions in such
diverse places as Namibia, Cambodia, El Salvador and
Mozambique -- where longstanding conflicts were ended and
transitions to democracy begun?
Would it be smart to terminate the U.N.'s observer role
in Georgia and Tajikistan, where Russian peacekeepers are
deployed and newly independent governments are struggling to
assert their sovereignty?
Will American leadership be strengthened by walking
away from commitments entered into under the U.N. Charter
and supported by Administrations from both parties for the
past fifty years?
Will we be better off by limiting ourselves to the
choice, as Secretary Christopher put it in his testimony
last week, "between acting alone and doing nothing" whenever
The Administration does not believe American interests
would be well-served by destroying or crippling U.N.
We have a policy that is working to make the U.N. peace
operations more selective and effective.
We believe the American people support this kind of
burden-sharing and that the U.S. should continue to act with
others when it is consistent with our interests to do so.
This does not, in any way, deprive us of the right to
take unilateral action when necessary to defend the vital
interests of the United States. That right is specifically
recognized by the United Nations Charter and will never be
relinquished by this or, I would hope, by any
Thank you. Now, I will be happy to take whatever
Q Ambassador Albright, the proponents of this
proposal say that the Administration is grossly
overreacting; that this will not kill U.N. peacekeeping;
it's simply an effort to get a little better handle on the
way the money is spent and the way the Administration goes
about engaging in peacekeeping.
Can you respond to their accusation that you are
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: We have analyzed the bill fairly
carefully, as you can well imagine. We think that it is
fatally flawed. First of all, it is very bad foreign policy
because of the demands that it makes and because of the
whole approach it takes in terms of micromanagement and an
attitude that there is no good out of burden-sharing. And
then it is bad constitutional law.
I myself, as some of you know and as Christine said,
have worked on the Hill; I understand very well the
appropriate role for Congress in foreign policy-making
discussion. But this bill, the way it is set up, really
makes major inroads into the President's role as the
Commander-in-Chief and the chief foreign policy-maker in
So we think it is an irresponsible bill in that way.
We are going to explain -- and I have already begun so;
Secretary Perry, Secretary Christopher, and General
Shalikashvili and others -- that perhaps they don't know
what they've done. But the language, in terms of
reimbursements and a variety of withholdings, is absolutely
a meat-ax approach. We are all for making sure that the
U.N. functions property and we don't pay more than we
should, but we are not for this kind of killer approach to
Q Ambassador Albright, you were billed as talking
about the U.S. relationship with the U.N. as this 50th
Anniversary year comes up. In line with that, could you
review the process now on whether the Security Council will
be enlarged to include Japan and Germany, for example? Do
you expect to see it this year? What feeling do you get out
of the Security Council?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: The U.S. has been backing the
idea of an expanded Security Council because we want very
much to see the Security Council reflect the actual world
situation so that it is realistically based in the power
structure, but we don't want to undermine the effectiveness
of the Security Council.
We have been proponents of having Germany and Japan
become new Permanent Members because they do, in fact,
represent a large part of new economic power, and we believe
that they need to be part of the decision-making process.
As we have introduced this whole idea and are
discussing it with people in the U.N., it is evident that if
the Council were only to add those two countries, it would
become a very "industrialized-centric" Council -- to coin a
phrase -- and therefore we understand why other regions in
the world would like to have greater representation.
But because nothing is ever simple, what has happened
is that there has become a discussion about which countries
ought to be additional members, non-Permanent Members, and
should it be major regional powers, larger population areas
-- a whole bunch of questions have come up about it.
There are those who believe that the Council ought to
be as large as 25 or up to 30. We would like to see it at a
maximum of 20. This has now gone into a working group where
a number of proposals have surfaced. I have to say, though
I was hopeful that this would be something that would happen
during the 50th Anniversary year, I think we are seeing that
it is somewhat delayed. But we have not given up our idea
that the Council should be enlarged to represent what is
actually the situation in terms of world reality.
Q Ambassador Albright, two questions. First, if
Congress passes H.R. 7 as it's currently written, will the
President veto it? And do you count enough votes to sustain
Secondly, the Republicans make the argument that if it
were in effect last year, given the waivers that it allows
the President, actually $240 million of the total $1 billion
assessment would have been cut. What do you think of those
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me say on the
first part of your question, I have testified, as have
others, that various sections of the bill are fatally flawed
and unconstitutional and we are opposed to them.
I am obviously not going to speak on behalf of the
President as to whether he is going to veto it or not. But
as a member of his Cabinet, and as Permanent Representative
to the United Nations, I will recommend a veto if the bill
is in the form that it currently is and does in fact
continue this approach -- maybe inadvertently but definitely
by fact -- of killing off peacekeeping as a tool for
As to the specific numbers that you state, I would
doubt them; but we will see whether those numbers -- I have
not worked those out in that particular way. But my own
sense that it isn't so much -- were it in operation now, I
think that it would basically gut things, so it's not a
matter of trying to decide whether the savings are there.
Let me just say this. We are doing everything we can
to have the savings. One of the things that is in this bill
we are for; and the President stated it outright when he was
at the General Assembly: We are only going to pay 25
percent of peacekeeping assessments starting October 1. It
was an idea that President Clinton had. It has now been
mandated by Congress, so there will be savings.
Q Do you have the votes to sustain a Presidential
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: I have not begun the vote
counting, but I think what will happen in the intervening
weeks is that we will be spending a great deal of time on
the Hill talking with people. I have already found, as have
my colleagues, that when people are really faced with what
is in this bill, they are taking a very close second look.
We expect that as this proceeds through the House and
into the Senate, it will be given a very careful look and
that people will understand that this is not what they
intended, because what this really does is take us out of
the whole peacekeeping setup. Peacekeeping, as I hope will
become evident, is actually very much in American national
We only support peacekeeping operations when we feel
that they are a good tool for American national interests.
Q Madam Ambassador, why do you feel that H.R. 7, as
it is, would precipitate the withdrawal of peacekeepers in
Bosnia? Could you explain in a little detail about that?
And, secondly, could you tell me from your perspective
at the U.N. -- tell us -- what does it look like for Croatia
and the withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers there and this
unilateral lift movement? How are things going since the
visit of Haris Silajdzic here?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: The statement I made in my
remarks is that basically peacekeeping per se would be ended
because by asking for reimbursements for all American
contributions, we would be in a position clearly where other
countries would ask the same thing -- the French, for
instance, have sent large numbers of forces into Rwanda, and
they would want to be reimbursed; and the Japanese would
probably want to be reimbursed for a fund they provided for
Ultimately, what we would be in is, I think, a totally
ludicrous situation where the U.N. would be paying member
countries, just in terms of rolling over money; and they
don't have it. So that is why all peacekeeping operations
basically would have to be pulled, because they would have
no money. So that is that question and how I put Bosnia
Let me talk a little bit about the Croatian mandate.
We have, as the United States and also as the Security
Council, stated our very deep concern about President
Tudjman's decision and have asked and urged that he re-
examine it because we have been very concerned about the
potential spill-out effect of that and the danger that it
creates for the area.
We do believe that there needs to be a step up in
diplomatic efforts; that we need to use this period in a
more vigorous diplomatic way; and that there is a job to be
done by UNPROFOR in Croatia in terms of monitoring the cease-
fire, being concerned about the delivery of humanitarian
assistance. So we are hoping and urging that President
Tudjman reconsider or re-examine his decision.
Q Are you seeing any give there at this time?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: I think there are lots of
discussions going on. As to the effect of Prime Minister
Silajdzic's visit here, as always he presents a very
compelling case. We spoke with him, as did others, about
the difficulty and basic unworkability of a unilateral lift
because of what it would do in terms of the position that
the Bosnians themselves might be in, what would be provided
to them, how it would affect other United Nations regimes --
the whole series of arguments.
We are following up with him. There's going to be a
meeting in Munich on Sunday, which Assistant Secretary
Holbrooke will be chairing, where discussions about the
Federation are going to take place and how to strengthen
that Federation; and I think that that is something that
Prime Minister Silajdzic will see as an outgrowth of his
Q Madam Ambassador, it seems like this law is also
going to cast a long shadow on funding of "Operation Provide
Comfort" in Turkey that protects Kurds in northern Iraq.
Could you please comment on the repercussions?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: It is exactly the kind of thing
where money and goods are provided that would then be asked
for in terms of reimbursement that could not in fact be
given, where more money would be going out than coming in.
I think actually that is a very good example of an operation
where it is a UN-blessed operation that is really very
important to the United States, where additional countries
participate so that we're not lifting and carrying on the
burden all ourselves; and it is something that we are doing
because we believe that it is in the U.S. national interest.
We are in a position where in fact there are others who
then assisted so that we don't have to be all alone.
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: It would be very serious, yes. I
mean, it's very hard -- I don't want to state it that
categorically, but it is clearly a tremendous damage.
Q I have a very basic question. You keep saying
that this is in our national security interests to belong to
the U.N. Could you explain to us why?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Yes. It requires a little bit of
a longer answer. I believe that the United States is the
foremost country in the world and a leader in the world and
that our position of leadership is essential for this and
every other phase in our international relations. But we
believe fully that there are now a number of countries that
can operate with us and also have a responsibility for peace
and security in a variety of places in the world.
The United Nations was set up 50 years ago in order to
deal with a number of issues -- some of them in the social
and economic field; some in a variety of humanitarian
aspects; refugees; all kinds of issues -- but the Security
Council specifically is supposed to deal with problems where
security is threatened in any particular region where other
countries respond to it.
Why I think it's important to the U.S. is that I happen
to believe that the U.S. cannot operate in a climate where
other countries are fighting across borders or there are
massive humanitarian disruptions and not have it affect us.
I don't happen to think that we have to wait until people
are crawling on our shores before we decide that it is a
national interest for us to do something about it.
The reason that it's in America's interest to be a part
of the U.N. is that that organization helps us to carry out
these responsibilities in conjunction with others, it
provides a collective network in order to take care of these
particular problems, and it provides machinery for us to
share the burden, share the risks and share the costs.
Q Two questions on Bosnia. Yesterday Lieutenant
General Rose said on several occasions that the problem in
Bosnia is the unwillingness of the three sides to actually
want peace. I want to know if that's your position as well.
And, secondly, now that we've given up on using airstrikes
to get the Serbs to the table, they have not received --
they've refused the Contact Group effort to get them to say
they accept the peace plan and multilateral lift is not
acceptable to the Security Council. What is the vehicle for
getting the Serbs to the table?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think you know I
have not always agreed with General Rose, and I think that
there are parties that genuinely want peace and have stated
so by accepting the Contact Group's Map.
I think it has been said that this is a period where
the Contact Group had not had the success that it wanted in
terms of dealing with the Pale Serbs. Nevertheless, what I
think we need to keep in mind is that there is a very
important window here while the cessation of hostilities is
in place, and additional diplomatic efforts have to be made.
Our support for them is very important and our leadership in
I think the kind of meeting that is going to take place
in Munich on Sunday is a part of our willingness and support
for the whole process; and we will be looking at ways to
reinvigorate the Contact Group and looking at a variety of
modalities that can use this very crucial period to move the
process forward, because I do believe that a number of the
parties do want peace.
Q On that point, are the representatives of the
Carter Center who are camped in Pale and advising Karadzic
helpful to your efforts?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: I really can't comment on what
they are doing at this point and what their role has been in
Q I hear they're sitting in on Contact Group
meetings, much to our chagrin.
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: You've answered the question, I
Q You said at the outset that in '92 and '93
peacekeeping grew too rapidly. Is that an attempt to pacify
the critics' recognition -- sort of a nod to them -- and, if
so, what kinds of missions that the U.S. favored in '92 and
'93 would no longer be acceptable?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: Let me kind of give you my take
on what I think happened, and that is that at the end of the
Cold War there was a sense of relief and at the same time a
recognition that there were a number of problems that were
out there that had the potential danger of exploding. The
possibility of peacekeeping as an instrument was heightened
by the fact that the Secretary General had this agenda for
peace in which he spoke about the hope for peacekeeping.
What I found, frankly, when I got there in February
1993 was that -- I actually had the temerity to ask: How do
we choose which peacekeeping operations you undertake? Are
there any criteria? And I was told it depends on whether
it's on TV or whether there's a client state. I mean, there
didn't seem to be an awful lot of rhyme and reason.
So the Clinton Administration began at the beginning of
our Administration to sort out what the appropriate criteria
ought to be for when we support a peacekeeping operation and
when we actually engage in one, and the PDD-25 is the result
I think this happened, this kind of initial growth,
because there was a desire to find an international
instrument to deal with major horrors. It isn't as if
people were out looking, trolling, for problems in order to
solve them, but because there really were genuine problems.
And there was a feeling that the U.N. could do it.
My own sense -- and some of you have heard me say this
-- is the U.N. became the global 911, and we found that the
structure simply wasn't there to support these operations.
So not only have we done the PDD-25, but we've worked very
hard at the United Nations to get them to make some sense
out of their peacekeeping office.
We have helped in terms of their situation center and
in making it a more rational operation. But it was a
historic event in terms of a growth, because it seemed like
a good idea, and then lessons were learned from a variety of
Q At the end of the Cold War in this period that
you referred to, there was a great deal of -- a lot of
written and public statements that the U.N. would finally be
able to live up to its mission from 50 years ago, 45 years
Are you suggesting that that it can't, that it hasn't
been able to do that?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: That is absolutely not true.
What I think happened was that there was an initial
enthusiasm and overreaching, and what is happening now is a
realistic approach to what the U.N. can do and very much a
sense that the U.N. is expanding to deal with expanding
problems and adjusting to realities.
So as we face -- some of you maybe in this room have
faced your 50th year; I have -- is that you basically
evaluate where you have been and where you are going; and I
think that we have now -- and the U.S. is the major pusher
behind this -- (gotten) a better handle, a more realistic
handle on what the U.N. can do so that it can live up to the
hopes of the signers of the Charter.
MS. SHELLY: One last question.
Q Are there any candidates for U.N. peacekeeping
operations as you see it right now?
AMBASSADOR ALBRIGHT: We are looking at Angola. That
is a peacekeeping operation that is now under consideration,
one that has very wide bipartisan support, where people
believe that if the negotiations can in fact hold and the
conditions are all right -- and there's a lot of
conditionality in this particular potential mandate, and
this is part of the resolution -- the Security Council has
to look at it again before troops are deployed. This
particular operation is out there, and it is going to be
done according to all the lessons that we have learned about
how to control and how to monitor and modify and clarify
mandates and put in enough conditionality so that we can
stop it at any particular point.
Thanks a lot, Christine.
MS. SHELLY: Thank you very much, Ambassador Albright.
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