Enhancing American Interests
As a permanent, veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, the United States authorizes every UN peacekeeping mission and contributes one quarter of its costs. For more than 64 years, the United States has provided critical resources and training for missions and worked with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to create every mandate.
The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) oversees the second largest deployed military force in the world, with over 120,000 military, police, and civilian personnel from 119 countries currently serving in 16 missions and one special political mission on four continents. While the United States authorizes and in many cases advocates for new missions, it provides few personnel to the operations and other UN Member States cover nearly three-quarters of their costs.
Today, UN peacekeeping efforts serve key U.S. interests by:
• Sharing the burden. The United States cannot promote international security alone, nor should it have to. UN peacekeeping draws upon the economic and human resources of UN Member States, allowing our nation to share the burden of protecting global peace and collective security and reducing the need for unilateral intervention.
• Saving money. UN Peacekeeping is a cost-effective way to prevent conflict, keep the peace, and rebuild societies emerging from war. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), dispatching UN peacekeepers to Haiti was eight times less expensive than fielding a comparable U.S. mission. Another study found that deploying UN peacekeepers reduces the hazard that a country will slide back into all-out war by 50%, while an additional report determined that in the first three years after a conflict, UN peacekeeping missions have a substantial effect on GDP, with annual growth rates nearly 2.4% higher in post-conflict countries where peacekeeping missions are present.
• Preventing failed states. With the help of the United States, UN peacekeeping continues to prevent the collapse of weak states by supporting peace agreements, demobilizing combatants, facilitating humanitarian efforts, training police, and creating conditions for political reconciliation and democratic elections. Fewer failed states mean fewer safe havens for terrorists and criminals – a boon for U.S. national security.
• Promoting democratic governance. The promotion of democracy is a key U.S. foreign policy priority. UN peacekeeping operations provide security in order to prevent political violence and allow elections to proceed freely and fairly, with recent examples including Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Haiti. These operations also build capacity for sustainable governance, promote rule of law, and support human rights in fragile post-conflict states.
• Leveraging international legitimacy. Because of its diverse membership and their adherence to the UN Charter, UN peacekeeping operations enjoy a level of international legitimacy that unilateral and coalition efforts do not. As a permanent member of the Security Council, the United States is able to leverage that legitimacy in pursuit of its values and strategic interests.
The United States has supported every UN peacekeeping operation since 1948 because of the important stabilization, recovery, and peacebuilding roles that the UN plays.