US President Barack Obama has pledged increased support to the UN peacekeeping operations during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, US.
Obama has signed a memo offering to deploy military, police, and civilian personnel to support or participate in peace operations, only if the need is in a capability, in which the US has specialised expertise and also if the troops are able to substantially improve the overall effectiveness of the mission.
According to the memo released by the White House, the deployment cannot adversely impact current or projected US operations elsewhere, and Obama would not relinquish command of any deployed forces.
As commander in chief, the president, has the authority to place the personnel under the operational control of a foreign commander to serve national security interests.
Obama said: "The United States has compelling reasons to support the effective conduct of UN and other multilateral peace operations, but must be judicious about where we advocate their establishment since they are not the appropriate response in all instances."
The US would primarily focus on building partner capacity to support UN peace operations, contributing diplomatic support, enabling capabilities, and personnel, as well as leading and supporting efforts at the UN for systemic reform.
The memo states that the increased support is needed due to US’ national security interest in revitalising weak states and preventing, containing, and resolving armed conflict, and cited Libya, Syria and Somalia as examples of failed states.
The memo noted: "Left unassisted, many of these fragile states, where conflict festers and development stagnates, could become hosts of violent extremism; afford safe havens that transnational terrorists and criminals exploit; generate large flows of refugees and displaced persons that can destabilise neighbouring countries and sow regional instability; create humanitarian emergencies; facilitate the spread of pandemic disease; and increase the risk of mass atrocities.
The peacekeeping missions span the spectrum of conflict prevention, peacemaking, and peacebuilding interventions authorised by the UN Security Council, and are said to have now reached all-time high levels of cost, complexity and risk.
Currently, the UN manages 16 peacekeeping missions, with more than 100,000 uniformed personnel and more than 19,000 civilian staff deployed worldwide.
In addition, the body also operates 11 field-based political missions and peace-building support offices in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Image: US President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the UN meeting in New York City, US. Photo: courtesy of White House photo by Pete Souza.