Ongoing crises in countries like Mali, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and Ukraine may appear far enough away that there is no need for us to pay attention to them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We should all take note, remain engaged and invested in global solutions to address these countries in need.
Why? The reason is fairly simple: The more the U.S. draws on international partners like the United Nations, the less likely we are to see members of our community flying thousands of miles, risking their lives to reestablish peace and security. By supporting U.N. peacekeeping there will be less American soldiers occupying the world’s hotspots.
The U.S. cannot promote international security alone, nor should it have to do so. U.N. peacekeeping has over 100,000 troops in 16 countries and one special political mission – the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) – led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, drawing upon the economic and human resources of U.N. member countries. This allows our nation to share the burden of protecting global security.
Unfortunately, when Congress passed its latest bill to fund the government in 2014, it left gaping holes in what is owed to the U.N.’s peacekeeping operations. In fact, the FY14 omnibus bill underfunds U.N. peacekeeping by 12 percent. It zeroed out funding for the latest U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali – a nation which had, until very recently, been a hub for al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists. It keeps a cap on peacekeeping contributions meaning we are currently underfunding every single peacekeeping mission.
Of course, it is a positive development when the world’s largest economy passes a budget after so many delays and a government shutdown. However, we cannot sit idly by when we are driven into financial arrears with our international partners and the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions are undermined.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to make sure that this does not happen: The Administration’s FY15 budget proposal makes progress in getting the U.S. out of the red at the U.N. and back in good standing with our allies and international partners. The budget allocates $2.5 billion to U.N. peacekeeping in FY15, making a major down payment on our back dues and wisely anticipating potential needs in places like the Central African Republic (CAR). In addition, it calls for the cap on peacekeeping contributions be lifted, and to fully fund the Mali mission in FY15.
Congress now needs to do its part and approve the peacekeeping funding in the FY15 budget proposal. By authorizing and appropriating the resources needed to support peacekeeping missions, Congress would send a strong message that the U.S. will honor its commitments and work in partnership to make the world a more peaceful, secure place.
The U.N. is sending peacekeepers to complete the missions we asked them. Their work means less risk for our men and women in uniform – people who very well may live in our communities. We must do our part to support the U.N. and pay our commitments in 2015.