FACT SHEET: U.S. Support to Peace Operations 2015 Leaders’ Summit on UN Peacekeeping

Today, President Barack Obama hosted a Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping culminating a year-long effort to address critical gaps in peacekeeping missions, initiated by a leader level summit co-hosted last year by Vice President Biden. The United States recognizes the critical importance of UN peacekeeping in promoting peace and security all around the world, and our contributions reflect this—from our assessed dues, which at more than $2 billion make us by far the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, to additional support that we provide often through both UN and bilateral channels. Over the past 15 years, the United States has seconded over 5,000 police officers to UN missions and contributed nearly $1 billion to train and equip partner nations to deploy to peacekeeping operations through the Global Peace Operations Initiative, which has facilitated the deployment of nearly 200,000 personnel from 38 countries to 29 peace operations around the world.

Last year, President Obama announced the new African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, which commits $110 million per year for 3 to 5 years to build the capability of six leading African militaries to deploy peacekeepers rapidly in response to emerging conflict.  Currently, more than 40 U.S. military personnel and nearly 50 American police and corrections officers serve in peacekeeping operations in Haiti, South Sudan and Liberia. To ensure the United States’ continued leadership in helping UN peacekeeping to quell the crises of today, and face the challenges of tomorrow, President Obama today is announcing a new Presidential Memorandum on Support to UN Peace Operations, in addition to several new and concrete contributions to UN peacekeeping.

Much as the United States and its international partners see the importance of UN peacekeeping for sharing the costs and burdens of conflict prevention and mitigation, we also know that it must be strengthened and modernized to meet the challenges posed by crises of increasing number and complexity.  At today’s summit, more than fifty countries announced a total of nearly 150 military and police contributions to UN peacekeeping, amounting to around 40,000 new troops and police, a surplus of nearly 40 percent of all uniformed personnel in UN operations today.

These contributions covered the range of UN peacekeeping needs for the foreseeable future. Countries pledged almost 30 infantry battalions; more than 15 police units; and significant commitments of high-end “enabling” assets, including approximately 40 helicopters, ten field hospitals and fifteen engineering companies.  Countries also announced almost 30 specific commitments to build the capacity of the United Nations and partner countries, in areas from counter-IED to intelligence to policing.

New Presidential Policy on U.S. Support to UN Peace Operations.  President Obama has issued a new Presidential Memorandum to U.S. Government Departments and Agencies reaffirming the strong support of the United States for UN peace operations and directing a wide range of actions to strengthen and modernize UN operations for a new era. The Memorandum—which is the first Presidential guidance on multilateral peace operations in more than 20 years—provides among other things that:

  • Building partner capacity. The United States is committed to enhancing the capabilities of our partners to enable more effective field operations, including by: increasing our support for the UN’s conflict prevention and resolution efforts and capacity-building activities; ensuring that UN peace operations have strong, capable and diverse leadership teams; supporting UN force generation efforts and enhancing U.S. training and equipping of Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs) and Police Contributing Countries (PCCs) so that UN peace operations can draw from more skilled, deployment-ready, high-quality military and police contingents; enhancing UN, TCC and PCC preparation and readiness for the field through military exercises, deeper mil-to-mil relations with TCC partners, and the provision of U.S. expertise in training, planning, doctrine, and situational analysis; prioritizing U.S. assistance to capable TCCs and PCCs who demonstrate the will to implement fully peacekeeping mandates and uphold the highest standards of performance and conduct; and supporting deeper cooperation between the UN and regional organizations to strengthen UN peace operations and the transitions to and from them.
  • Expanding U.S. contributions. The United States will seek to provide direct contributions and enabling support to UN peace operations and to augment our own institutional capacity to do so.  We will strengthen our capacity for conflict prevention and resolution so the United States can better drive and support peace processes.  The United States will increase the provision of material support to the UN and become a leading “technology contributing country” to UN peace operations by assisting the UN, regional organizations, TCCs, and PCCs to integrate technologies into missions in critical areas such as basing and logistics, force protection, and information-led operations.  Recognizing that participating U.S. uniformed and civilian personnel regularly have a significant impact on the effectiveness of UN peace operations, the United States will more actively consider and facilitate the provision of U.S. military, police, and civilian personnel to UN peace operations.  The President will always retain command of U.S. military personnel in UN peace operations and the United States will continue to seek the strongest possible protections for them.
  • Driving reform. Given the implications for U.S. national security interests and resource commitments, the United States will continue to advance critical and systemic reform of UN peace operations, notably: rigorous oversight of UN mission performance; merit-based selection of mission leadership; enhanced pre-deployment and contingency  planning, including conditions-based paths toward mission closure; better rapid response capabilities for missions in high-risk environments, including for medical evacuation and force protection; a strategic UN force generation system; stronger mechanisms to ensure accountability for performance in the field and for sexual exploitation and abuse; a sustained effort to implement protection of civilian mandates; and improved human resources and procurement practices that enable missions to deploy more quickly, effectively, and flexibly.

New U.S. Commitments to UN Peacekeeping.  Consistent with the new Policy, at today’s Summit, President Obama is announcing a package of concrete U.S. contributions to and support for peace operations in areas where the United States has a comparative advantage in the critical capabilities needed by the UN:

  • Staff Officers:  The United States offers to work with the UN to double its contribution of military staff officers serving in UN missions.  Through this offer, the U.S. would support mission planning, logistics, and counter-IED capabilities, and contribute other expertise that the UN and the High-Level Panel on Peace Operations and the UN have recently highlighted as needed. 
  • New Logistics Support Framework:  The United States recently concluded an international agreement with the UN that will enable the provision of airlift, sealift, and other logistic support, supplies, and services around the world. This is the first such agreement that the United States has concluded with the United Nations, and it will facilitate the rapid provision of support to UN missions, particularly in the early phases of deployment when it is critical to saving lives.   To ensure that we make the most of this new framework, we will designate a U.S. liaison from the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) to assist in coordinating transportation support for UN peacekeeping operations. 
  • Technology Support: Consistent with the 2014 Experts’ Panel on Technology and Innovation, U.S. personnel will work directly with UN experts to identify cost-effective technology solutions to critical operational challenges, such as shortfalls in countering IEDs, force protection, protection of civilians, collaborative planning, information-led operations, rapid deployment of the vanguard force, and expeditionary logistics.
  • Engineering Support: The United States has unique engineering capabilities that could be used to provide support to UN missions. This includes technical expertise that would be critical in the start-up phase of new peacekeeping missions. In most cases, local contractors, with U.S. engineering oversight, quality control, and remote support, are the most efficient option to build infrastructure in support of UN peace operations. In addition, U.S. engineering experts could work with partner countries which have deployed engineering units dedicated to the UN. In situations where there is an urgent need that the United States is uniquely‎ positioned to address, the U.S. may also make available military engineers to undertake specific engineering projects under existing U.S. command and control.
  • In-Mission Training and Mentoring:  Responding to the UN’s request for in-mission training, partnerships, and mentoring, the United States intends to make available mobile training teams on a case-by-case basis for deployment on peacekeeping operations alongside partners who are contributing forces.
  • Prepositioned Non-Lethal Support/Defense Equipment: The United States plans to take steps that would allow it to pre-position defense equipment to accelerate the equipping and deployment of personnel to UN and regional peacekeeping operations.  In those circumstances where U.S. surplus defense equipment is available, the United States will also include UN and regional peacekeeping needs as a priority consideration when determining which countries may receive such property.
  • Civil-Military Command Exercises:  The United States offers to work with the UN to develop table-top, scenario-based exercises designed to help a peacekeeping operation’s senior-level leadership plan for and mitigate crises. 
  • Pre-Deployment Training for Police in Peacekeeping:  The United States intends to increase its already significant contributions to UN police in peacekeeping by allocating an additional $2 million to develop and expand the capability of African partners deploying police personnel (up to 450 police would be trained) to peace and stabilization operations in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa where violent extremism threatens local, regional, and international peace and security. 
  • Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) Training and Assessment: The United States plans to contribute $2 million for C-IED training for partner countries deploying forces to the UN mission in Mali and the African Union mission in Somalia. The U.S. military intends to offer specialists to conduct strategic and operational-level assessments in select UN peacekeeping operations where there is an urgent need for such expertise.