UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States will no longer shoulder more than a quarter of the multibillion-dollar costs of the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations, Washington’s envoy said Wednesday.
“Peacekeeping is a shared responsibility,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said at a Security Council debate on peacekeeping reform. “All of us have a role to play, and all of us must step up.”
The U.S. is the biggest contributor to the U.N.’s 15 peacekeeping missions worldwide. Washington is paying about 28.5 percent of this year’s $7.3 billion peacekeeping budget, though Haley said U.S. law is supposed to cap the contribution at 25 percent.
The second-biggest contributor, China, pays a bit over 10 percent.
President Donald Trump’s administration has complained before that the budget and the U.S. share are too high and pressed to cut to this year’s budget. It is $570 million below last year’s, a smaller decrease than Washington wanted.
“We’re only getting started,” Haley said when the cut was approved in June. It followed a $400 million trim the year before.
Haley said Wednesday the U.S. will work to make sure cuts in its portion are done “in a fair and sensible manner that protects UN peacekeeping.”
The General Assembly sets the budget and respective contributions by vote. Spokesmen for Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declined to comment on Haley’s remarks, noting that the peacekeeping budget will be up to the 193 member states to decide.
Drawing 105,000 troops and other personnel from countries around the world, the peacekeeping missions operate in places from Haiti to parts of India and Pakistan, though the bulk of the operations are in African countries. The biggest is in Congo, where the Security Council agreed just Tuesday to keep the 16,000-troop force in place for another year.
Some missions have been credited with helping to protect civilians and restore stability, others have been criticized for corruption, ineffectiveness and sexual abuse and exploitation. An Associated Press investigative series last year uncovered roughly 2,000 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and other U.N. personnel around the world during a 12-year period.
Peacekeeping also has become increasingly deadly work. Some 59 peacekeepers were killed through “malicious acts” last year, compared to 34 in 2016, Guterres said at Wednesday’s debate. A U.N. report in January blamed many of the deaths on inaction in the field and “a deficit of leadership” from the world body’s headquarters to remote locations.
Guterres noted Wednesday that the U.N. is improving security peacekeepers’ training and security, appointed a victims’ rights advocate for victims of sexual abuse and is reviewing all peacekeeping operations with an eye toward refining their priorities and makeup.
Still, he said more needs to be done to strengthen peacekeeping forces and ensure they’re deployed in tandem with political efforts and not instead of them. They also shouldn’t be overloaded with unrealistic expectations, he said.
“Lives and credibility are being lost,” he said. “A peacekeeping operation is not an army or a counterterrorist force or a humanitarian agency.”
Representatives from many countries also stressed a need for more focused, better trained and equipped peacekeeping missions and more robust political peace processes.
The U.N., its member states and the countries that host peacekeeping missions all “need to shoulder our responsibilities,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country holds the council presidency this month and called the debate.