$2.4 Billion for Peacekeeping? Trump Administration Mulls UN Funding Cuts

by PATRICK GOODENOUGH March 14, 2017

With the Trump administration looking at ways to reduce U.S. contributions to the United Nations, the approximately $2.4 billion of taxpayers' money that goes towards peacekeeping missions each year is in the spotlight.

The U.S. is liable for 28.57 percent of the total budget for global peacekeeping missions. The Obama administration's request for FY2017 was $2.394 billion.

The FY2016 U.S. funding estimate was $2.460 billion.

U.S. taxpayers accounted for 28.57 percent of the total U.N. peacekeeping budget in 2016. The next highest contributors were China at 10.29 percent and Japan at 9.68 percent. (Graph: CNSNews.com)

The next biggest contributors in 2016 were China (10.29 percent), Japan (9.68 percent) and Germany (6.39 percent). At the other end of the scale, more than 70 U.N. member-states contributed 0.001 percent or less.

Some of the current 16 missions around the world, comprising more than 125,000 personnel today, have been in existence for well over half a century, while the newest - in the Central African Republic - is just three years old.

Nine of the 16 missions are in Africa, three are in the Middle East, two are in Europe, with Asia and the Western Hemisphere accounting for one each.

A State Department map shows current U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world. (Two entries - the standing police capacity in Brindisi, Italy and UNSOM in Somalia, are not current peacekeeping missions.) (Map: State Department)

Three of them - a 13-year-old mission in Haiti; a 14-year-old mission in Liberia; and a 13-year-old mission in Côte d'Ivoire - are in the process of winding down.

But others offer little sign of following suit.

U.S. taxpayers in FY 2016 accounted for $440.6 million for a seven-year-old mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo; $368.2 million for a decade-old mission in Darfur, Sudan; $342 million for a six-year-old mission in South Sudan; $286.7 million for a three-year-old mission in Central African Republic; $267.6 million for a four-year-old mission in Mali; and $147.8 million for a 39-year-old mission in southern Lebanon.

The 193 U.N. member-states' contributions to the U.N. peacekeeping budget (like the regular U.N. budget) are assessed according to their relative "capacity to pay," a formula based on factors including population size and gross national income.

The U.S. assessment of 28.57 percent is more than three percent higher than allowed by legislation signed by President Clinton in 1994, which set a 25 percent cap on the U.S. contribution to U.N. peacekeeping.

The discrepancy between that cap and the U.N. assessment led to arrears mounting up, but under Helms-Biden legislation negotiated in 1999, the U.S. agreed to settle the arrears in return for a U.N. pledge to gradually reduce the assessment, then above 30 percent, to 25 percent.

According to Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Brett Schaefer, the previous administration's inability to persuade the U.N. to keep to its commitment cost U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The current peacekeeping missions range in size from a 116-strong team observing the "line of control" dividing Indian- and Pakistani-controlled areas of disputed Kashmir since 1949 to a 22,500-strong force in DRC.

While peacekeeping missions established after the end of fighting and signing of peace agreements have tended to be more successful, some of the more recent ones, in Africa especially, face far more challenging conditions.

"Today, a growing number of missions operate in remote and austere environments where no political agreement exists, or where efforts to establish or re-establish one have faltered," a U.N.-commissioned report by a high-level independent panel stated in 2015.

"They face ongoing hostilities and parties who are unwilling to negotiate or otherwise undermine the presence of a mission by condoning or inflicting restrictions on its ability to operate," it said, citing the missions in Mali, DRC and Darfur in particular.

The Better World Campaign, which advocates strong U.S. engagement with the U.N., argues that the money going to peacekeeping operations is well spent.

It points to a 2006 Government Accountability Office report which estimated that the then-14-month-old U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, if carried out by U.S. forces, would have cost about eight times as much as the U.S. contribution to the U.N. mission ($876 million compared to $116 million

"Over the past two decades, both Republican and Democratic administrations have used U.S. influence at the [Security] Council to champion new missions with more complex mandates," the advocacy group states.

"This bipartisan support stems from the fact that countries undergoing conflict threaten U.S. national security, risk becoming safe havens for terrorist and criminal organizations, and feature levels of deprivation and abuses of human rights that are an affront to American values."

Current U.N. peacekeeping missions

Below is a summary of each mission, including its age, location, number of personnel (military and civilian), its total budget for the current two-year budget cycle, and the amount the Obama administration requested for it in the FY2017 budget.

U.N. Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
Established: 1948 (69 years old)
Based: Middle East, headquartered in Jerusalem
Personnel: 385
Budget (2016-2017): $68.9 million
Administration's FY2017 request: -

U.N. Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)
Established: 1949 (68 years)
Based: Islamabad, Srinagar (Kashmir)
Personnel: 116
Budget (2016-2017): $21.1 million
Administration's FY2017 request: -

U.N. Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)
Established: 1964 (53 years)
Based: Nicosia
Personnel: 1,105
Budget (2016-2017): $55.5 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $9.5 million

U.N. Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)
Established: 1974 (43 years)
Based: Golan Heights
Personnel: 970
Budget (2016-2017): $47.7 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $14.0 million

U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
Established: 1978 (39 years)
Based: Southern Lebanon
Personnel: 11,425
Budget (2016-2017): $488.6 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $149.0 million

U.N. Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)
Established: 1991 (26 years)
Based: Western Sahara
Personnel: 477
Budget (2016-2017): $56.5 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $17.5 million

U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)
Established: 1999 (18 years)
Based: Kosovo
Personnel: 364
Budget (2016-2017): $36.4 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $11.1 million

U.N. Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)
Established: 2003 (14 years)
Based: Liberia
Personnel: 2,976
Budget (2016-2017): $187.1 million
Administration's FY2017 request: -

U.N. Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI)
Established: 2004 (13 years)
Based: Cote d'Ivoire
Personnel: 3,400
Budget (2012-2013): $153.0 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $99.5 million

U.N. Stabilization Mission In Haiti (MINUSTAH)
Established: 2004 (13 years)
Based: Haiti
Personnel: 6,131
Budget (2016-2017): $345.9 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $106.5 million

African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)
Established: 2007 (10 years)
Based: Darfur, Sudan
Personnel: 20,806
Budget (2016-2017): $1.039 billion
Administration's FY2017 request: $324.0 million    

U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the D.R. Congo (MONUSCO)
Established: 2010 (7 years)
Based: D.R. Congo
Personnel: 22,500
Budget (2016-2017): $1.23 billion
Administration's FY2017 request: $440.0 million

U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA)
Established: 2011 (6 years)
Based: Abyei, Sudan/South Sudan
Personnel: 4,725
Budget (2016-2017): $268.6 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $86.5 million

U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
Established: 2011 (6 years)
Based: South Sudan
Personnel: 15,298
Budget (2016-2017): $1.081 billion
Administration's FY2017 request: $372.0 million

U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)
Established: 2013 (4 years)
Based: Mali
Personnel: 13,275
Budget (2016-2017): $933.4 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $298.0 million

U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA)
Established: 2014 (3 years)
Based: Central African Republic
Personnel: 13,071
Budget (2016-2017): $920.7 million
Administration's FY2017 request: $285.0 million

Courtesy of CNSNews.com 

Patrick covered government and politics in South Africa and the Middle East before joining CNSNews.com in 1999. Since then he has launched foreign bureaus for CNSNews.com in Jerusalem, London and the Pacific Rim. From October 2006 to July 2007, Patrick served as Managing Editor at the organization's world headquarters in Alexandria, Va. Now back in the Pacific Rim, as International Editor he reports on politics, international relations, security, terrorism, ethics and religion, and oversees reporting by CNSNews.com's roster of international stringers.

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