On December 7-8, 2021, the Republic of Korea hosted a virtual meeting of UN member states for the 2021 UN Peacekeeping Ministerial. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield led the U.S. delegation, underscoring our enduring commitment to advancing reforms that enhance peacekeeper performance and accountability to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers and make peacekeeping more effective.
Around the world, peacekeeping operations are essential to promoting international peace and security, protecting some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, and helping countries rebuild and recover from conflict. The United States is not only the largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, but also the world’s single largest provider of peace operations capacity-building assistance, investing more than $1.5 billion since 2005 in security assistance specifically focused on delivering tools and training to partner nations willing to step up to the difficult and dangerous challenges of international peacekeeping.
U.S. peacekeeping assistance is primarily delivered through two key programs: the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) and the International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support Program (IPPOS). These programs rely heavily on U.S. military, police, and contracted subject matter experts to provide training and assistance. However, the United States also collaborates with like-minded partners who share our commitment to peacekeeping and bring to the table specialized experience that helps us work together to supplement and strengthen peacekeeping capacity-building efforts worldwide. While our capacity-building partnerships are extensive, a few of those relationships are highlighted below.
As two of the largest democracies and economies in the Western Hemisphere, the United States and Brazil have a natural interest in working together toward shared international peace and security objectives. We have profound respect for Brazil’s historical contributions to international peacekeeping efforts and consider Brazil a partner of choice in advancing this critical element of peace and security around the globe.
In November, GPOI representatives took part in the inaugural meeting of a new U.S.-Brazil Peacekeeping Working Group, with the intent of exploring potential collaboration to train UN troop-contributing countries for their upcoming deployment to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). Representatives from the Department of State, Department of Defense, and Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense discussed and exchanged information regarding our peacekeeping priorities and opportunities in order to better coordinate our joint capacity-building efforts.
While we have previously partnered to support the development of peacekeeping capabilities in other countries — for example, through regional training partnerships and the Viking peacekeeping exercise — there is significant potential to expand these collaborative engagements in support of UN peacekeeping. Brazil currently deploys a jungle warfare expert team to provide training for MONUSCO, and the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) discussed how we can potentially collaborate with them to draw on that expertise through training we provide via GPOI.
After years of cooperation with India on the joint delivery of peacekeeping training for African partners, the United States is expanding our partnership with India through the GPOI program to tackle important global courses in 2022.
The UN has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse. In an effort to increase accountability for such acts of misconduct, as well as other conduct and discipline issues, the UN now requires troop-contributing countries to assign a National Investigation Officer (NIO) to every deployed military unit of 150 or more personnel. NIOs are military officers who are assigned to deploying units to investigate and document incidents of potential misconduct and gather evidence so that troop-contributing countries can take effective disciplinary and legal action when required. It is essential that NIOs are properly trained by legal and subject matter experts to fulfill this critical role.
The United States, the UN, and India are cooperating to deliver the inaugural UN National Investigation Officer Training of Trainers (NIO TOT) course in February at India’s Center for UN Peacekeeping (CUNPK). This course, in which select troop-contributing countries from around the globe will be invited to participate, will build national capacity to effectively train NIOs.
In 2022, the United States and India will further co-host a UN Peacekeeping Contingent Commanders Course for troop-contributing countries from around the world. The Contingent Commanders course is designed to prepare future UN Contingent Commanders for all important aspects of UN peacekeeping including operations, logistics, humanitarian issues, and thematic subjects such as the protection of civilians.
COLLABORATION WITH EUROPEAN PARTNERS
Since 2007, the United States has enjoyed a strong partnership with the Netherlands to support peacekeeping capacity-building activities in Africa. Drawing on the United States’ extensive experience and robust infrastructure for implementing security assistance, the Netherlands grants funding to the United States to supplement training, equipment, and facilities projects executed through GPOI. In select African countries, the Netherlands also deploys military trainers to jointly instruct and mentor pre-deployment training alongside U.S. teams. This long-standing collaboration provides a strong example of how pooling our financial and personnel resources through joint assistance efforts can maximize capacity building efforts with third country parties.
The United States also works in close coordination with the United Kingdom to support peacekeeping capacity-building efforts in Africa — including, for example, the deployment of joint training teams in Malawi and Zambia and the unfolding of a new partnership with Ghana to enhance its counter-improvised explosive device capabilities.
Additionally, the United States works collaboratively with Italy to build police peacekeeping capabilities. Due to the experience and expertise of the Italian Carabinieri, the national gendarmerie that carries out domestic policing duties, Italy is recognized as a leader for specialized training for formed police units, and it has trained police personnel deploying to peacekeeping missions around the globe. When the GPOI program was launched in 2005 — as the U.S. contribution to the G8 Action Plan for Expanding Global Capability for Peace Support Operations — Italy simultaneously announced its establishment of the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) as a complementary initiative. Since that announcement, the United States has co-sponsored CoESPU, providing grant funding to Italy through GPOI to support the Center’s mission to increase the global capacity of stability police units, also known as formed police units. In November, the State Department conducted its Semi-Annual Talks with the Carabinieri and State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) to discuss our plans for 2022.
PARTNERSHIPS ARE KEY TO PEACEKEEPING
UN and regional peace operations serve a critical stabilization function around the world, helping to manage conflicts that, if left unchecked, could breed volatility, undermine development and prosperity, and create space for violent extremism and criminal networks. When effectively executed, peacekeeping operations are invaluable tools for the maintenance of international peace and security. Through GPOI and IPPOS, the United States will continue to work with other like-minded capacity-building partners to help prepare troop- and police-contributing countries as they commit to deploying to these life-saving missions.
About the Author: Patrick Dolan works as a Regional Coordinator for the Global Peace Operations Initiative program in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Global Programs and Initiatives.