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U.N. Looking for Ways to Enhance African Peacekeeping
U.N. peacekeeping operations should have clearly defined goals and specific missions, timelines and budgets, and they should not be a substitute for ending conflicts or an excuse for delaying ways to resolve them, says U.S. Ambassador Zalmay
U.N. peacekeeping operations should have clearly defined goals and specific missions, timelines and budgets, and they should not be a substitute for ending conflicts or an excuse for delaying ways to resolve them, says U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

"Despite substantial improvements, we face enormous challenges," Khalilzad says of U.N. peacekeeping efforts. Part of the problem faced by the United Nations is that resources are overstretched and the supply of well-equipped peacekeepers does not meet demand, he says.

To resolve shortfalls, Khalilzad says, existing U.N. resources must be used more effectively and efficiently in combination with international organizations and with the African Union (AU). And these efforts must be matched with building more capacity --â? particularly regional capacity -- to conduct peacekeeping operations.

The United Nations recently held an open debate in the Security Council on strengthening the relationship with regional organizations and the African Union on peace and security in Africa.

"The United States supports democratic transitions and economic development in African countries," Khalilzad said in the discussion. And that includes working in post-conflict countries and across Africa assisting civil society organizations in combating gender-based violence, trafficking in persons and other human rights violations, he said.

Khalilzad, the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, proposed that the Security Council first should assess how it plans peacekeeping operations and how it will sustain them. "Peacekeeping operations should be a means to an end, rather than a substitute for resolving conflicts or an excuse for delay," he said. "While we understand the risks of leaving too soon, we should look to terminate nonviable peacekeeping operations."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is fully committed to enhancing cooperation with regional organizations to develop more effective ways for conflict prevention and resolution, as well as a predictable, interlinked and reliable system for global peacekeeping.

"Preventing and resolving conflict peacefully must remain high on the shared agenda of the African Union and the U.N.," he said.
Ban also said work in Sudan's Darfur region and in Somalia must be stepped up for desperately needed progress.

Khalilzad said one goal should be to free up forces and funds for where they are most needed in places like Darfur, where the U.N. peacekeeping mission has been collaborating with the African Union.

"The U.N. and AU have embarked on a historic cooperative effort --â? the deployment of the U.N.-AU hybrid force UNAMID [United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur]," Khalilzad said. The United States has called for immediate and full deployment of UNAMID to improve the situation in Darfur, but also to show that the United Nations and AU can form effective partnerships, he said.

At the same time, the AU must enhance its capacity to conduct successful peacekeeping and other nations should help, he said. That also requires AU members to increase their national peacekeeping capacity.

Since 2005, the United States has trained 34,750 peacekeepers from 40 countries and has provided $375 million to increase global capacity for peacekeeping in Africa and elsewhere, Khalilzad said. The program, known as the Global Peace Operations Initiative, has developed regional organizations' peacekeeping capacity in Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, South and Central Asia, South and Central America, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere. One of the roles for the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is to enhance overall AU peacekeeping capabilities.

And funding to support this capacity building is equally important, Khalilzad said. A final recommendation is for closer U.N. and AU cooperation, he said, citing the UNDPKO-AU [United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations - African Union] Peace Support Team and its work in mission planning and the management of logistics and resources.
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