Open call to member states to increase funding to UN peacekeeping missions
The International United Nations Watch (IUNW) calls on UN member states to honor their peacekeeping commitments by paying off existing arrears and increasing overall funding for peacekeeping missions. Just as UN Secretary-General Guterres warned earlier this month that the organisation currently struggles to pay staff salaries, so too UN peacekeeping activities face a similar funding crisis.
Peacekeeping missions are funded separately from the UN’s central budget. Currently, 100,950 peacekeepers serve around the world on 20 different peacekeeping missions. While UN peacekeepers attempt to ensure peace in a quarter of the world’s conflicts today, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) accounts for 0.5% of global military spending. Furthermore, funding for peacekeeping has been severely reduced in recent years with the 2019-2020 budget presenting an average 1.9% reduction of the approved budget of 2018-2019. Additionally, UN Member States currently in arrears owe nearly $2 billion in peacekeeping dues.
India’s Ambassador to the U.N. Syed Akbaruddin has stated that the $2 billion shortfall is “unsustainable,” noting that some troop-contributing countries “are owed amounts equivalent to their annual assessed contributions for 100 years -- some even more.” Of the almost $2 billion owed for peacekeeping operations, the United States is responsible for a third. Of current funding for peacekeeping, 27.89% comes from the U.S. assessment, marginally less than the 28+% in 2018. The assessment issue has been a political bone of contention in ongoing negotiations between the U.S. and the UN. Differences within U.S. government circles have led to disputes about how much the US should be assessed. Some contend that the country’s peacekeeping contributions should be capped at no more than 25%. Last year, Cherith Norman Chalet, the U.S. envoy to the U.N. Management and Reform and Alternative Representative to the General Assembly, warned that lack of agreement on a 25% ceiling would leave the UN still facing “a 3% shortfall in its peacekeeping budget.” International United Nations Watch believes this situation makes it incumbent on the U.N. diversify its funding base and that it should call on its Member States to increase funding for UN peacekeeping missions.
UN peacekeepers are made available on a voluntary basis by troop-contributing countries among Member States, most notably Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Rwanda. Troops are paid by their governments in accordance with their national salary scales, and the governments are reimbursed by the UN. As of 2018, the average peacekeeper was $1,428 per month. Notwithstanding a rigorous UN Code of Conduct for peacekeepers including a zero-tolerance policy with regard to inappropriate sexual behaviour peacekeeper discipline and conduct has come under widespread criticism over the years with accusations of sexual and other abusive and ill-disciplined behaviour. Below standard training levels, lack of familiarity with local conditions, culture, customs and poor language skills are a recurring problem in peacekeeping missions. Adding to the complexity of peacekeeping missions is the fact that individual peacekeeping contingents are guided not only by the specific U.N. mandate they serve under but also by their own chain of command.