Washington, D.C. (Sept. 14, 2012) – During a Congressional hearing Thursday, members of Congress and witnesses from the Department of State lauded United Nations peacekeeping efforts for upholding both moral and fiscal American values. The House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights, Chaired by Christopher Smith (R-NJ), focused its discussion on U.S. policy on peacekeeping operations in Africa.
The collective praise from the Subcommittee and Administration is a signal that the U.S.-UN relationship remains as critical as ever to advancing U.S. foreign policy interests, noted Peter Yeo, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign.
“The Chairman and Ranking Member are to be commended for their initiative in calling this important hearing and acknowledging the life-saving work of UN peacekeepers,” said Yeo. “The U.S. cannot promote international security alone, nor should it have to. As the Members and Administration officials observed today, UN peacekeeping draws upon the economic and human resources of UN Member States, allowing our nation to share the burden of protecting global peace and collective security, and reducing the need for unilateral intervention.”
Chairman Smith, while acknowledging elements in peacekeeping could be further strengthened, noted that “there’s a reason those blue helmets won the Nobel Peace Prize,” referring to the trademark uniform of UN peacekeepers.
Additionally, Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA) stated that “Over the last decade, the UN Security Council, with steadfast support from the U.S. under Republican and Democratic Administrations, has authorized a nearly three-fold increase in the number of peacekeeping personnel serving in the field. The reason for this is clear—UN peacekeeping operations are firmly in America’s interest.”
Bass continued that, “Countries undergoing conflict threaten the national and economic security of the U.S., risk becoming safe havens for terrorists and criminals, and often feature levels of human rights abuses and human deprivation that are an affront to the values of the American people. By allowing the U.S. to share the burden for addressing these issues it is clear that the success of these missions is in our long-term interest.”
Meanwhile, Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary with the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs testified that, “Over 70 percent of the annual cost of UN peacekeeping operations is paid by the rest of the world. Clearly, the cost of any unilateral action would be far greater. And because UN peacekeeping takes advantage of collective action and leverages the unique expertise of the UN, we ensure the efficient use of taxpayer dollars while significantly advancing U.S. national interests.”
Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary with the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, did note however that to adequately address the conflicts in Africa, “we need well-resourced UN, African Union (AU), and regional peacekeeping operations.”
About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign (BWC), an initiative of the Better World Fund, works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. It encourages U.S. leadership to enhance the UN’s ability to carry out its invaluable international work on behalf of peace, progress, freedom, and justice. For more information, visit www.betterworldcampaign.org.