The US needs to reassess its relationship with UN peacekeeping operations to help develop an effective method to protect civilians trapped in conflict, NGO Refugees International argues in a report released overnight.
The report, Greater Expectations: UN Peacekeeping & Civilian Protection, recommends that the US provide forces and assets, including strategic lift capacity and expert personnel, such as engineers, to help UN missions deploy quickly and completely.
The US should also work with the UN to provide standardized peacekeeping training and help increase global peacekeeping capacity.
“The US routinely relies on peacekeepers to stabilize regions in conflict and protect vulnerable civilians,” says Erin Weir, Refugees International’s Peacekeeping Advocate who testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday on the challenges facing peacekeeping forces.
“While the Obama administration and Congress have funded critical UN peacekeeping missions, more needs to be done. It is in everyone’s best interest to help peacekeepers achieve their goals.”
Greater Expectations assesses the challenges and successes of UN peacekeeping at present and makes recommendations to improve peacekeeping operations, highlighting areas where the deployment of UN peacekeepers is not appropriate.
In addition, the UN needs to be more flexible in how it accepts forces so that countries with advanced military forces can contribute more troops and resources to UN peacekeeping.
Currently, the UN acquires forces in a piecemeal fashion, with different training standards and combat capabilities, making the cohesiveness of forces and their effectiveness difficult.
“The US has a unique ability to support UN peacekeepers’ efforts to protect people in conflict zones,” said Weir. “The UN has taken steps to improve the effectiveness of its troops, and the US can provide new forms of support to bolster these efforts.”