As a part of the agreement that ended the Arab-Israeli war in 1973, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established to maintain the ceasefire between Syria and Israel, supervise the disengagement of Israeli and Syrian forces and monitor the areas of separation in the Golan Heights. Since then, UNDOF has successfully fulfilled its mandate, monitoring the area of separation and reporting on all breaches of the agreement. Though both parties have generally been compliant, continued tensions have necessitated the ongoing peacekeeping presence.
GOLAN HEIGHTS (UNDOF)
How UNDOF Supports U.S. Interests
The U.S. has a longstanding interest in ensuring the maintaining the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Syria. This is especially relevant given the conflict inside Syria.
UNDOF’s efforts to monitor implementation of the agreement has long been critical to ensuring that the situation along the Israel-Syria border remains stable. Given the increased tensions in the area brought about by the ongoing civil war in Syria, it is important that UNDOF continue to serve as a buffer between these two countries.
Humanitarian assistance and civilian protection are not part of UNDOF’s mandate; however, in emergency situations, UNDOF’s presence in the Golan Heights has helped save lives. During periods of intense fighting, inhabitants of nearby villages have sought temporary shelter outside of UNDOF positions.
Given the threat that unexploded ordnance poses to local civilians, UNDOF has worked to help clear the area of land mines, while partnering with UNICEF to promote mine awareness among children.
While the U.S. is the largest single contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping budget at 26.94 percent or $1.8 billion of the total budget, other UN member states pay the vast majority of costs and contribute 99 percent of the nearly 90,000 troops. Provided below is a breakdown of the cost of each mission and the U.S. contribution to UNDOF.