Breaking Up is Hard to Do: GOP Seeks to Leave United Nations

by Rebecca Berry

 
The United Nations was formed immediately following World War II as an
international organization to promote dialogue among members rather
than of war, to administer international law, and to help nations
develop and prosper in an atmosphere of world peace.  Peacekeeping by
United Nations forces plays a vital role in the mission of the United
Nations. Troops monitor elections, disarm warring factions, and
provide protection for international aid workers helping victims of
war, famine, and disease. Peacekeeping missions require many men and
women, tight coordination between soldiers who often have arrived from
many countries, and large expenditures.
	The United States, in late 1994, had over 70,000 troops
participating in peacekeeping missions in such areas as Iraq, Bosnia,
Macedonia, the Adriatic Sea, Rwanda, and the Caribbean. In addition,
the United States was assessed by the United Nations for payment of
31.7% of the UN's total peacekeeping budget. This is nearly three
times what the next largest contributor pays. These figures clearly
demonstrate the importance of United States forces and funding to one
of the United Nation's most vital roles, that of peacekeeping. If the
National Security Revitalization Act becomes law, this vital function
will be severely jeopardized.
	The National Security Revitalization Act seeks to reduce the
United States' commitment to peacekeeping. It does so by placing a
restriction on peacekeeping missions by United States forces by
stipulating that they may not operate under the command of a foreign
military officer.
	The principle behind peacekeeping missions is that they are
multinational efforts, and often require American troops to be under
foreign commanders. Additionally, the act requires that the United
States effectively reduce its contributions to peacekeeping by setting
strict limits on the allocation of money to pay for United Nations
assessments to the Unites States for peacekeeping. According to the
Act, money may be allocated to the UN only if it exceeds the amount
spent the previous fiscal year by the Defense Department to support
peacekeeping missions, minus the amount reimbursed by the United
Nations for US participation in missions. (The UN reimburses a certain
percentage of a country's costs.)
	For 1994, this act would in all likelihood have prevented the
President from allocating the funds for the US UN assessment, as the
United States was assessed $1.5 billion and the Department of Defense
spent $1.7 billion in order to support peacekeeping operations.
Without United States assessments, the peacekeeping program would very
likely fall apart. This is particularly dangerous because the United
States is also the heaviest contributor to the United Nations overall
budget, and often does not receive reimbursement for its participation
in peacekeeping missions.
	Not part of the National Security Revitalization Act, but also
a subject of debate in the Senate are the United States contributions
to the UN general budget, particularly funds for the United Nations
Development Program, the United Nations Fund for Population
Activities, and the World Food Program. All of these programs work to
provide development opportunties for developing countries where wars
are most likely to break out over a lack of resources. Such wars in
turn lead to a need for costly famine and refugee relief and
peacekeeping missions. We have seen many such wars on the African
continent, Somalia and Rwanda among the most prominent, but there have
been many others, such as the ongoing war in Sudan. The majority of UN
peacekeeping missions are in Africa. If United States assessments for
peacekeeping are eliminated, and additional cuts are made to the UN
budget due to a reduction of United States contributions, the United
States will be eliminating programs that help prevent the need for
peacekeeping in the first place, and will also be eliminating a
program that will suddenly increase in necessity.


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