Thursday, July 2, 2009

US Budget for Peacekeeping

US contributions for peacekeeping are funded mostly through two accounts within the 150 (Foreign Affairs/State Department) account; the Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account and the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) account. CIPA supports our assessed contributions to UN operations while PKO allows for voluntary contributions to peacekeeping efforts. Today, this includes (among other things) support for SSR in various African countries and the Global Peace Operations Initiative.

A couple important things are happening with the FY10 budget in this area. First of all, as the President requested, it looks like Congress is agreeing to pay the arrears we've accumulated on UN peacekeeping since the 1999 Helms-Biden Agreement. To cut a long story short, the UN assesses contributions to peacekeeping, the Congress didn't agree with the assessment for the UN and decided we should pay less. Well, if the Senate follows the House, we're paying that money back, all $721 million.

A second important change: because of differences in our fiscal year (or synchronization) vs. the UN's fiscal year, we've been late in paying our dues to the UN, whether for its regular operating budget or for peacekeeping. That's still under discussion since it looks like on the House side, $100 million was cut from the $175 million requested for synchronization.

Third, we're continuing to fund missions in such places as DRC, Liberia, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Haiti (through CIPA). On Somalia, it looks like the House decided that funding for AMISOM, which the President had requested be moved from PKO to CIPA, should in fact stay with PKO because we are not members of the African Union. The view is that contributions to such efforts should remain voluntary and therefore live in PKO. The House did recognize the (remote) possibility that AMISOM could become a UN mission and provided transfer authority, from PKO to CIPA, in case that does happen.

Finally, the President proposed continuing funding GPOI within PKO, to the tune of just under $100 million per year. That's good news. The program was created by President Bush in 2004 and aimed to train 75,000 peacekeepers, mostly in Africa, by 2010. We got (according to the Congressional Research Service) to roughly 58,000 as of early 2009 of which almost 50,000 actually deployed. Given how hard a time the UN has had in finding soldiers to send on its missions, continuing that program is very important. One of the challenges State faces: figuring out how effective that training is once the troops are on the ground.

So overall, it looks like the House will vote on this after it returns from its 4th of July recess. One problem: it's going in under an open rule, with a deadline for amendments early next week. On the Senate side, the Bill is in Committee and should move to a vote the following week.

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