One of the United Nations' primary responsibilities—and the one with which Americans most agree—is to help maintain international peace and security. Since the end of the Cold War, the U.N. Security Council has been far more active in establishing peacekeeping operations. This steep increase in missions was reversed temporarily by the debacles in Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia, and missteps in these missions led to a necessary re-evaluation of U.N. peacekeeping.
However, as troubling situations have arisen in recent years, many of them in Africa, the Security Council has found itself under pressure to respond and "do something." The response, for better or worse, has often been to establish yet another peacekeeping operation.
U.N. peacekeeping is now being conducted with unprecedented pace, scope, and ambition, and increasing demands have revealed ongoing, serious flaws. Specifically, recent audits and investigations have uncovered substantial problems with mismanagement, fraud, and corruption in procurement for U.N. peacekeeping, and incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and civilian personnel have been shockingly widespread.
While the U.N. has limited authority to discipline peacekeepers who commit such crimes, it has failed to take steps that are within its power to hold nations accountable when they fail to investigate or punish their troops' misconduct. The U.N. Security Council has also yielded to pressure to "do something" in situations like Darfur even though it violates the dearest lesson learned—emphasized in the 2000 Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations— that "the United Nations does not wage war."
U.N. peacekeeping operations can be useful and successful if entered into with an awareness of the limitations and weaknesses of U.N. peacekeeping. This awareness is crucial, because there is little indication that the demand for U.N. peacekeeping will decline in the foreseeable future. This requires the U.S. to press for substantial changes to address serious problems with U.N. peacekeeping. Without fundamental reform, these problems will likely continue and expand, undermining the U.N.'s credibility and ability to accomplish one of its key stated missions: maintaining international peace and security.
Within the U.N. system, the U.N. Charter places the principal responsibility for maintaining international peace and security on the Security Council. The Charter, adopted in 1945, gives the Security Council extensive powers to investigate disputes to determine whether they endanger international peace and security; to call on participants in a dispute to settle the conflict through peaceful negotiation; to impose economic, travel, and diplomatic sanctions; and ultimately to authorize the use of military force. This robust vision of the U.N. as a key vehicle for maintaining international peace and security quickly ran afoul of the interests of member states, particularly during the Cold War when opposing alliances largely prevented the U.N. from taking decisive action—except when the interests of the major powers were minimally involved.
As a result, between 1945 and 1990, the United Nations established only 18 peace operations, despite a multitude of conflicts that threatened international peace and security to a greater or lesser degree. Traditionally, Security Council authorizations of military force have involved deployments into relatively low-risk situations such as truce monitoring. The bulk of these peace operations were fact-finding missions, observer missions, and other roles in assisting peace processes in which the parties had agreed to cease hostilities. U.N. peace operations were rarely authorized with the expectation that they would involve the use of force.
Since the end of the Cold War, the U.N. Security Council has been far more active in establishing peace operations. In the early 1990s, crises in the Balkans, Somalia, and Cambodia led to a dramatic increase in missions. The debacle in Somalia and the failure of U.N. peacekeepers to intervene and prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda or to stop the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, Bosnia, however, led to skepticism about U.N. peacekeeping.
With a number of troubling situations, many of them in Africa, receiving increasing attention from the media in recent years, the Security Council has found itself under pressure to respond and "do something." The response, for better or worse, has often been to establish another peacekeeping operation.
The Security Council has approved more than 40 new peace operations since 1990. Half of all current peacekeeping operations have been authorized since 2000. These post-1990 operations often have involved mandates beyond traditional peacekeeping in terms of scope, purpose, and responsibilities. Moreover, these missions often have been focused on quelling civil wars, reflecting a change in the nature of conflict from inter-state conflict between nations to intra-state conflict within states.
This expansion of risk and responsibilities was justified by pointing out the international consequences of the conflict, such as refugees fleeing to neighboring countries or widespread conflict and instability. As a result, from a rather modest history of monitoring cease-fires, demilitarized zones, and post-conflict security, U.N. peace operations have expanded to include multiple responsibilities, including more complex military interventions, civilian police duties, human rights interventions, reconstruction, overseeing elections, and post-conflict reconstruction. Such actions, while they may be justified in some cases, represent a dramatic shift from earlier doctrine.
At the end of May 2008, there were 17 active U.N. peacekeeping operations and another three political or peace-building operations directed and supported by the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). Ten of these operations, including political missions, were in Africa (Burundi, Central African Republic and Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Darfur, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Western Sahara); one was in the Caribbean (Haiti); three were in Europe (Cyprus, Georgia, and Kosovo); and the remaining six missions were in the Middle East (Lebanon, the Syrian Golan Heights, and a region-wide mission) and Asia (Afghanistan, East Timor, and India and Pakistan).
The size and expense of U.N. peace operations have risen to unprecedented levels. The 17 peacekeeping missions cited above involved some 88,000 uniformed personnel from 117 countries, including over 74,000 troops, 2,500 military observers, and 11,000 police personnel. There were also over 19,500 U.N. volunteers and other international and local civilian personnel employed in these 17 operations. Additionally, more than 2,000 military observers, police, international and local civilians, and U.N. volunteers were involved in the three political or peace-building missions directed and supported by the DPKO.
All told, including international and local civilian personnel and U.N. volunteers, the personnel involved in U.N. peacekeeping, political, or peace-building operations overseen by the DPKO totaled more than 109,500 at the end of May 2008. These operations involved the deployment of more uniformed personnel than were deployed by any single nation in the world other than the United States. (See Table 1.)
This activity has also led to a dramatically increased budget. The approved budget for the DPKO—just one department in the U.N. Secretariat—from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008, was approximately $6.8 billion. The projected budget for U.N. peacekeeping operations is $7.4 billion for the July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, fiscal year. This is a 10 percent increase over the previous budget and a nearly threefold increase in budget and personnel since 2003.
By comparison, the annual peacekeeping budget is now triple the size of the annualized U.N. regular biennial 2008–2009 budget for the rest of the Secretariat.
In general, the U.S. has supported the expansion of U.N. peacekeeping. Multiple Administrations have concluded that it is in America's interest to support U.N. operations as a useful, cost-effective way to influence situations that affect the U.S. national interest but do not require direct U.S. intervention. Although the U.N. peacekeeping record includes significant failures, U.N. peace operations overall have proven to be a convenient, sometimes effective multilateral means for addressing humanitarian concerns in situations where conflict or instability make civilians vulnerable to atrocities, for promoting peace efforts, and for supporting the transition to democracy and post-conflict rebuilding.
The U.S. contributes the greatest share of funding for peacekeeping operations. All permanent members of the Security Council—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—are charged a premium above their regular assessment rate. The U.S. is assessed 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget. For 2008–2009, the U.N. peacekeeping budget assessment for the U.S. is just under 26 percent. China is assessed 3.15 percent; France, 7.4 percent; Russia, 1.4 percent; and the U.K., 7.8 percent.
Thus, the U.S. is assessed more than all of the other permanent members combined. Japan and Germany, even though they are not permanent members of the Security Council, rank second and third in assessments at 16.6 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively.
Based on the U.N.'s July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, budget projection of $7.4 billion for peacekeeping, the U.S. will be asked to pay more than $1.9 billion for U.N. peacekeeping activities over that time. The 30-plus countries assessed the lowest rate of 0.0001 percent of the peacekeeping budget for 2008–2009 will be assessed just over $7,000 each based on that projection.
Although the U.S. and other developed countries regularly provide transportation (particularly airlift) and logistics support for U.N. peacekeeping, many developed countries that possess trained personnel and other essential resources are generally reluctant to participate directly in U.N. peace operations. The five permanent members contribute a total of less than 6 percent of U.N. uniformed personnel. The U.S. contribution totaled 14 troops, 16 military observers, and 259 police as of May 31, 2008. This is roughly comparable to Russia and the U.K., which contributed 358 and 299 uniformed personnel, respectively. China and France contributed more at 1,977 and 2,090 personnel, respectively.
The top 10 contributors of uniformed personnel to U.N. operations are nearly all developing countries: Pakistan (10,623); Bangladesh (9,037); India (8,862); Nigeria (5,218); Nepal (3,711); Ghana (3,239); Jordan (3,017); Rwanda (3,001); Italy (2,864); and Uruguay (2,617). A number of reasons account for this situation, including the fact that many major contributors use U.N. participation as a form of training and income.
While the U.S. clearly should support U.N. peacekeeping operations when they support America's national interests, broadening U.N. peace operations into non-traditional missions, such as peace enforcement, and the inability to garner broad international support in terms of troop contributions and logistics support raise legitimate questions as to whether or not the U.N. should be engaged in the current number of missions and whether these situations are best addressed through the U.N. or through regional, multilateral, or ad hoc efforts with Security Council support. Concerns are growing in Congress that, given the far larger financial demands of this expanded role for U.N. peacekeeping, the system for assessing the U.N. peacekeeping budget is inappropriate. Such questions are primarily political and can be resolved only by the member states.
Outside of the political realm, however, lies the fundamental question of whether the system as currently structured is capable of meeting its responsibilities. Indisputably, the unprecedented frequency and size of recent U.N. deployments and their resulting financial demands have challenged and overwhelmed the capabilities of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, leading to serious problems of mismanagement, misconduct, poor planning, corruption, sexual abuse by U.N. personnel, unclear mandates, and other weaknesses.
Mismanagement, Fraud, and Corruption
The U.N., as illustrated by the Oil-for-Food scandal and the more recent instances of mismanagement by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in North Korea, has proven to be susceptible to mismanagement, fraud, and corruption. This also applies to U.N. peacekeeping.
The Secretariat procured more than $1.6 billion in goods and services in 2005, mostly to support peacekeeping, which has more than quadrupled in size since 1999. An Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) audit of $1 billion in DPKO procurement contracts over a six-year period found that at least $265 million was subject to waste, fraud, or abuse. The U.S. Government Accountability Office concluded:
While the UN Department of Management is responsible for UN procurement, field procurement staff are supervised by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which lacks the expertise and capacity to manage field procurement.
The Department of Management and the DPKO accepted a majority of the 32 OIOS audit recommendations for addressing the findings. However, a recent report indicates that these new procedures may not be sufficient to prevent a recurrence of fraud and corruption. Specifically, the OIOS revealed earlier this year that it is investigating about 250 instances of wrongdoing ranging from sexual abuse by peacekeepers to financial irregularities. According to Inga-Britt Ahlenius, head of the OIOS, "We can say that we found mismanagement and fraud and corruption to an extent we didn't really expect."
According to a 2007 OIOS report, an examination of $1.4 billion worth of peacekeeping contracts turned up "significant" corruption schemes involving more than $619 million—44 percent of the total value of the contracts. At the time of the report, the task force had looked at only seven of the 18 U.N. peacekeeping missions that were operational over the period of the investigation. A recent report on the audit of the U.N. mission in Sudan revealed tens of millions of dollars lost to mismanagement and waste and substantial indications of fraud and corruption.
Worse, even the OIOS seems to be susceptible to improper influence. Allegations were made in 2006 that U.N. peacekeepers had illegal dealings with Congolese militias, including gold smuggling and arms trafficking. The lead OIOS investigator in charge of investigating the charges against the U.N. peacekeepers in the Congo found the allegations of abuses by Pakistani peacekeepers to be "credible," but the "the investigation was taken away from my team after we resisted what we saw as attempts to influence the outcome. My fellow team members and I were appalled to see that the oversight office's final report was little short of a whitewash." The BBC and Human Rights Watch have provided evidence that the U.N. covered up evidence of wrongdoing by its peacekeepers in Congo.
In recent years, there have been several harrowing reports of crimes committed by U.N. personnel, from rape to the forced prostitution of women and young girls. The most notorious of these reports have involved the U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC). Indeed, allegations and confirmed incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. personnel have become depressingly routine, having occurred in Bosnia, Burundi, Cambodia, Congo, Guinea, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
The alleged perpetrators of these abuses include U.N. military and civilian personnel from a number of U.N. member states involved in peace operations and from U.N. funds and programs. The victims are often refugees—many of them children—who have been terrorized by years of war and look to the U.N. for safety and protection. In addition to the horrible mistreatment of those who are under the protection of the U.N., sexual exploitation and abuse undermine the credibility of U.N. peace operations and must be addressed through an effective plan and commitment to end abuses and ensure accountability.
After intense lobbying by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations since early 2004, as well as pressure from several key Members of Congress, the U.N. Secretariat agreed to adopt stricter requirements for peacekeeping troops and their contributing countries. The U.S. also helped the DPKO to publish a resource manual on trafficking for U.N. peacekeepers.
In 2005, Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein of Jordan, the Secretary-General's adviser on sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. peacekeepers, submitted his report to the Secretary-General with recommendations on how to address the sexual abuse problem, including imposing a uniform standard of conduct, conducting professional investigations, and holding troop-contributing countries accountable for the actions of their soldiers and for enforcing proper disciplinary action. In June 2005, the General Assembly adopted the recommendations in principle, and some recommendations have been implemented. Contact and discipline teams are now present in most missions, and troops are now required to undergo briefing and training on behavior and conduct.
Tragically, this does not seem to have addressed the problem adequately. Only this past May, the international nonprofit Save the Children accused aid workers and peacekeepers of sexually abusing young children in war zones and disaster zones in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan, and Haiti—and going largely unpunished. U.N. peacekeepers were most likely to be responsible for abuse. According to a report issued by Save the Children, "Children as young as six are trading sex with aid workers and peacekeepers in exchange for food, money, soap and, in very few cases, luxury items such as mobile phones."
However, despite this action and then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan's announcement of a "zero tolerance" policy, the perpetrators of these crimes are very rarely punished, as was revealed in a January 2007 news report on U.N. abuses in southern Sudan. The standard memorandum of understanding between the U.N. and troop contributors appropriately grants troop-contributing countries jurisdiction over military members who participate in U.N. peace operations, but little is done if these countries fail to investigate or punish those who are guilty of such crimes.
A Political Problem
The problems of mismanagement, corruption, and misconduct cry out for fundamental reform of the U.N. peacekeeping structure to improve accountability and transparency. However, corruption, mismanagement, and sexual misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers are not the only problems with U.N. peacekeeping.
The other problem is a political problem. The vast expansion of U.N. peacekeeping—with the possibility of even more operations on the horizon like the proposal for a new Somalia mission with up to 27,000 peacekeepers—has led some to point out that the U.N. Security Council has gone "mandate crazy" in its attempts to be seen as effective and "doing something." The willingness of the council to approve missions where "there is no peace to keep"—such as Darfur, Somalia, or Chad—violates a dearly learned lesson that U.N. peacekeepers are not war fighters.
In general, the U.N. and its member states had accepted the fact—in the wake of the Somalia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone missions in which there was no peace to keep—that U.N. peace operations should not include a mandate to enforce peace outside of limited circumstances and should focus instead on assisting countries in shifting from conflict to a negotiated peace and from peace agreements to legitimate governance and development. As noted in the Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations:
[T]he United Nations does not wage war. Where enforcement action is required, it has consistently been entrusted to coalitions of willing States, with the authorization of the Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter.
Even situations short of war that may require a U.N. peace operation are still rife with danger, as illustrated by the nearly 2,500 peacekeepers that have been killed in operations since 1948. They also involve great demands in resources, management, and personnel. Indeed, these operations have increasingly strained the ability of countries that are willing to provide peacekeepers, especially in Darfur. Worse, this investment may not be helping the situation.
Dr. Greg Mills, director of the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation, and Dr. Terence McNamee, director of publications at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), have conducted several case studies of U.N. peacekeeping operations for a forthcoming Heritage Foundation book. They have concluded that, in the cases of Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is an open question whether the U.N. peacekeeping missions have contributed to resolving the situations or to exacerbating them.
In other cases, such as the U.N. missions in Cyprus and the Western Sahara, established in 1964 and 1991, respectively, the U.N. presence is simply an historical palliative. The peacekeepers do little to keep the peace. Nor does their presence seem to have contributed to the process for resolving the decades-long political standoff. Instead, the missions continue out of inertia or because of requests by parties to the conflict that they remain in operation. It is an open question whether or not the U.N. presence has contributed to the intractability of the situation by providing the excuse not to develop a resolution of what is largely a political problem.
The next U.S. Administration should fundamentally re-evaluate all U.N. operations that date back to the early 1990s or before—some, like UNTSO in the Middle East and UNMOGIP in Kashmir, date back to the 1940s—to determine whether the U.N. is contributing to resolving the situation or retarding that process. These missions are generally small and among the least costly, but such a re-evaluation would send a welcome message of accountability and assessment that too often has been lacking in the rubber-stamp process of reauthorizing peacekeeping operations.
Limited Success Stories
This is not to say that U.N. missions are never useful and should be rejected out of hand. U.N. missions have been successful in situations like Cambodia, where U.N. peacekeepers helped to restore stability following dictatorship and civil war. Indeed, no one wants another Rwanda, and the consequences of doing nothing could end in tragedy. But a long list of operations that have been less than successful indicates that the Security Council should be far more judicious when adopting decisions to intervene.
Darfur is particularly relevant. The U.S. has called the situation in Darfur "genocide." The U.N. did not come to that conclusion, but it did recognize the widespread human rights violations and suffering. After the African Union mission failed to curtail the violence and suffering, the U.N. adopted a resolution authorizing a joint AU–U.N. peacekeeping force despite ongoing conflict and considerable evidence that neither the rebels nor the government-backed forces were prepared to abide by a peace agreement. Protected by China's veto, Sudan also demanded that the peacekeepers be African. This has led to a severe constraint on the number of available troops: There simply are not enough trained and capable African troops to meet the demand.
As a result, Jan Eliasson, the Secretary-General's special envoy for Darfur, told the Security Council that the situation in Darfur had deteriorated despite the efforts of U.N. and African Union troops. The recent decision of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek an indictment against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir may, if approved by the ICC pretrial chamber, lead to further complications.
In Darfur, the U.N. Security Council yielded to the pressure to act. Massive suffering was occurring and would likely have grown worse without U.N. backing and support for the AU peacekeeping effort. However, the council accepted demands from Sudan that vastly complicate peacekeeping efforts, such as restricting U.N. peacekeepers for that mission to African nationals. The council also entered a conflict situation against the lessons of its own experience. It compounded the error by failing to adopt clear objectives, metrics for success, or an exit strategy.
Because of these failings, not to mention the potential for deterioration toward broader conflict or a stiffening of resolve by President Bashir, if the ICC proceeds with its indictment, Darfur could very easily become the U.N.'s next spectacular failure.
What the U.N. Should Do
There are several actions that the U.N. and the Security Council can and should take to address the foregoing weaknesses. Specifically:
Be more judicious in authorizing U.N. peacekeeping operations. The pressure to "do something" must not trump sensible consideration of whether a U.N. presence will improve or destabilize the situation, which includes clearly establishing the objectives of the operations, ensuring that they are achievable, carefully planning the requirements for achieving them, securing pledges for providing what is needed to achieve them before authorizing the operation, and demanding an exit strategy to prevent the "perpetual mission" trap.
This process should also apply in reauthorization of existing missions, where there is often a rubber-stamp approach. If a mission has not achieved its objective or has not made evident progress toward that end after a lengthy period, the Security Council should assess whether it is serving a positive function. In its deliberations, however, the council should recognize that short, easy missions are extremely rare. When authorizing a mission, the council should recognize that it may be there for a lengthy period. If the council seems unlikely to persevere, it should consider not approving the mission.
Critically, this recommendation should not be construed as implying that all U.N. peacekeeping operations should be or can be identical. On the contrary, differing circumstances often require differing approaches. Indeed, if peacekeeping missions are to be successful, the council must be flexible in the makeup and composition of U.N. peacekeeping operations or in choosing to stand back in favor of a regional intervention or an ad hoc coalition if those approaches better fit the immediate situation. However, in the process of deciding to authorize a mission, the council should not let an "emergency" override the prudent evaluation and assessment process that is necessary to ensure that the prospective mission has the largest chance of success.
Transform the DPKO structure to enable it to handle increased peace operation demands and to plan for future operations more effectively. This requires more direct involvement of the Security Council; more staff, supplies, and training; and greatly improved oversight by an independent inspector general dedicated to peace operations.
A key element of this should include transforming the DPKO to incorporate greater flexibility so that it can rapidly expand and contract to meet varying levels of peace operation activity. Current U.N. rules do not permit the necessary authority and discretion in hiring and shifting resources to meet priorities. A core professional military staff must be maintained and used, but the DPKO should also be able to rely on gratis military and other seconded professionals to meet exceptional demands on U.N. peace operations. This would readily provide the expertise and experience needed to assess the requirements of mandates under consideration, including troop numbers, equipment, timeline, and rules of engagement, both efficiently and realistically.
Build up peacekeeping capabilities around the world, particularly in Africa, and further develop a U.N. database of qualified, trained, pre-screened uniformed and civilian personnel available for U.N. operations. The U.N. has no standing armed forces and is entirely dependent on member states to donate troops and other personnel to fulfill peace operation mandates. This is appropriate. Nations should maintain control of their armed forces and refuse to support the establishment of armed forces outside of direct national oversight and responsibility. However, the current arrangement results in an ad hoc system plagued by delays; inadequately trained personnel; insufficient numbers of military troops, military observers, civilian police, and civilian staff; inadequate planning; inadequate or non-functional equipment; and logistical gaps.
The U.N. has established a Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS), wherein member states make conditional commitments to prepare and maintain specified resources (military formations, specialized personnel, services, matériel, and equipment) on "stand-by" in their home countries to fulfill specified tasks or functions for U.N. peace operations. This is their prerogative, but the resources committed under the UNSAS fall short of needs.
To speed up deployment on missions, the U.N. needs to further develop a database of information on individuals' and units' past experience in U.N. operations; disciplinary issues; performance evaluations; expertise (e.g., language, engineering, and combat skills); and availability for deployment. In addition, U.S. efforts under the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) contribute significantly to bolstering the capacity and capabilities of regional troops, particularly in Africa, to serve as peacekeepers through the U.N. or regional organizations like the African Union.
Implement a modern logistics system and streamline procurement procedures so that missions receive what they need when they need it. To be effective, procurement and contracting must "have a formal governance structure responsible for its oversight and direction," as former Under-Secretary-General for Management Catherine Bertini advised Congress in 2005. Critically, the new logistics system and the procurement system must be subject to appropriate transparency, rigorous accountability, and independent oversight accompanied by robust investigatory capabilities and a reliable system of internal justice.
The new restructuring of the DPKO into a Department of Peacekeeping Operations and a Department of Field Support, as proposed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and approved by the General Assembly, does not appear to have led to any substantial improvement in peacekeeping procurement. This may be due to the fact that the new department did not receive requested personnel or funding, but it also appears to be a case of "paper reform" rather than actual reform. Most of the same people remain in place, and it is uncertain that tasking or procedures have changed.
Implement mandatory, uniform standards of conduct for civilian and military personnel participating in U.N. peace operations. If the U.N. is to take serious steps to end sexual exploitation, abuse, and other misconduct by peacekeepers, it must do more than adopt a U.N. code of conduct, issue manuals, and send abusers home. The remedy should not involve yielding jurisdiction over personnel to the U.N. or to non-national judicial authority, but it should entail commitments by member states to investigate, try, and punish their personnel in cases of misconduct.
Investigators should be granted full cooperation and access to witnesses, records, and sites where crimes allegedly occurred so that trials can proceed. Equally important, the U.N. must be stricter in holding member countries to these standards. States that fail to fulfill their commitments to discipline their troops should be barred from providing troops for peace operations.
U.N. peacekeeping operations can be useful and successful if entered into with an awareness of their limitations and weaknesses. This awareness is crucial, because there seems to be little indication that the demand for U.N. peacekeeping will decline in the foreseeable future.
The unprecedented pace, scope, and ambition of U.N. peacekeeping operations have led to numerous flaws, limitations, and weaknesses that are serious and need to be addressed. The Bush Administration and Congress need to consider carefully any requests by the United Nations for additional funding for a system in which procurement problems have wasted millions of dollars and sexual abuse by peacekeepers is still occurring. Without fundamental reform, these problems will likely continue and expand, undermining the U.N.'s credibility and ability to accomplish one of its primary missions: maintaining international peace and security.
Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation. This paper is based on testimony delivered by the author before the Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Democracy, and Human Rights of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on July 23, 2008.