Trump Administration Assesses Global Peacekeeping Priorities

Apr 10, 2017
Originally published on April 11, 2017 7:30 am
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Budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration include a big cut for the United Nations. Among other things, the administration proposes to spend less on U.N. peacekeeping operations. Such a change would be felt in Africa, which is where we find NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton.

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: The world's most dangerous peacekeeping mission is in the West African nation of Mali.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Speaking French).


QUIST ARCTON: An exchange of gunfire in a French military video of its peacekeeping operation in Mali. At the invitation of the Malian government, the French have been there since 2013 in an effort to curb continuing extremist violence in the Sahara desert nation. Last week, the 19th French soldier was killed in an ambush in Mali, where the French work alongside the U.N. peacekeeping force there.


NIKKI HALEY: The Mali mission is a key example of where the United States believes we need to take a hard look.

QUIST ARCTON: That's the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, last week. She's the rotating president of the U.N. Security Council. Now, the Trump administration has made the case for deep cuts to the U.N.'s peacekeeping budget. And Haley has been critical of some missions - especially the U.N.'s biggest and costliest peacekeeping operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo - accusing the U.N. mission there of partnering with a corrupt government that preys on its citizens.


HALEY: We need to see host governments and peacekeepers working together to make life safer for people on the ground. We need to make sure that we have the backs of peacekeepers. And we need to make sure missions have benchmarks for accountability.

QUIST ARCTON: U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has also made his case for peacekeepers.


ANTONIO GUTERRES: The United Nations' peacekeeping operations are a necessity for global peace, security and prosperity. And they are achieving results. Today's peacekeeping budget is less than one half of 1 percent of global military spending.

QUIST ARCTON: The U.N. chief has acknowledged that peacekeeping needs reform. But Guterres urges member states not to be hasty about possible cuts to U.N. peacekeeping.


GUTERRES: Much remains to be done. There is no one-size-fits-all peace operation. In the short term, we must end operations that have achieved their goals and reform those that no longer meet needs on the ground.


HALEY: When I think about U.N. peacekeeping, I go back to what I learned as a young accountant. Go back to the basics. Ensure there are measurables and accountability. We need to work smarter. We need to show results. We need to find value.

QUIST ARCTON: Haley says leadership means knowing when something needs fixing and having the will to do something about it. Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Dakar. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.