I am honored to participate alongside this esteemed group of panelists to explore with you the topic of how effective capacity-building partnerships can contribute to improved mission performance and accountability.
Let me begin by thanking our Rwandan co-hosts for compiling that truly excellent video, which so exceptionally highlights Rwanda’s expansive contributions to UN peacekeeping and showcases the long and productive peacekeeping capacity-building partnership between our countries.
For nearly two decades, the United States and Rwanda have partnered to invest in Rwanda’s peacekeeping capabilities, ushering Rwanda’s transformation to one of the largest and most capable UN troop- and police-contributing countries. Today, Rwanda deploys seven infantry battalions, one level 2 hospital, one helicopter unit, and six formed police units to UN operations. Moreover, Rwanda is widely recognized as a high-performing contributor and staunch advocate for protection of civilian efforts in UN operations. This capacity-building model demonstrates how enduring, accountable partnerships can play a vital role in strengthening UN peacekeeping.
The United States is deeply committed to enhancing UN peacekeeping, serving as the world’s largest troop and police capacity-building contributor. This year, we are budgeting $74 million through our two primary peacekeeping capacity-building initiatives: the Global Peace Operations Initiative, or GPOI, and our International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support Program, or IPPOS. Since 2005, we have invested more than $1.5 billion in activities to strengthen troop- and police-contributing country participation in UN and regional peace operations, with measurable impacts on the ground.
Numerous factors contribute to the success of U.S. capacity-building programs. First, as exemplified by our long-standing collaboration with Rwanda, the United States views capacity-building partnerships as long-term relationships that build toward clear end-state objectives. In consultation with each partner, we identify mutually agreed upon objectives, focused on the partner’s ability to operationalize specific peacekeeping capabilities they have pledged to the UN’s Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System.
The development of effective peacekeeping capabilities takes time and requires an enduring investment, not just in peacekeeping training for a deploying unit but, more broadly, in the institutional capacity of a country to prepare, deploy, and sustain its peacekeeping forces. An important aspect of the United States’ approach has been our focus on the full spectrum of factors that influence a country’s peacekeeping capabilities, including, for example: the advancement of a partner’s national trainer cadre, the provision of training equipment, the construction of safe and appropriate training facilities, and the refinement of processes to generate, deploy, and sustain units. This approach acknowledges that pre-deployment training will not produce effective peacekeeping units if there is not an institutional framework in place to develop core military and police skills—or if such training does not nest within a broader structure for managing human and financial resources and logistics.
Our partnership with Rwanda on police peacekeeping exemplifies this approach. In 2014, the United States, through the IPPOS program, began to train police units deploying to MINUSCA. From the beginning, our letter of agreement with Rwanda outlined a shared vision of success that focused on fostering the capacity of Rwanda’s training cadre to independently prepare units for deployment. This vision began to bear fruit by 2017, when our assistance to the specialized Protection Support Unit, or PSU, transitioned from direct training to mentoring Rwandan instructors. The PSU has gone on to serve with distinction. In fact, just a few months ago, the Central African Republic’s Prime Minister recognized members of the PSU for their excellence in providing him protective services. We continue to partner with Rwanda to identify gaps that we can help fill to promote their sustained high performance.
A second factor contributing to successful capacity-building partnerships is accountability. The United States invests in countries that are dedicated to developing and sustaining their national peacekeeping capabilities. We engage partners that demonstrate ownership of these capabilities, committing national funds, personnel, and resources to supplement U.S. and other donor assistance. We further focus assistance on partners that demonstrate the willingness and mindset to effectively perform their functions in mission.
El Salvador serves as a compelling example of such an accountable peacekeeping partnership. For the last 10 years, the United States and El Salvador have worked together to build El Salvador’s helicopter capacity for UN deployments. El Salvador has subsequently sustained high-performing armed helicopter rotations in MINUSMA, routinely recognized for their rapid response when called to stem or prevent impending violence. El Salvador further champions the meaningful participation of women in peacekeeping, integrating female pilots into deployed units. This example highlights the successful outcomes achievable through a partnership based on mutual commitment to improving peacekeeping performance.
Another important component of our capacity-building programs is the integration of a robust monitoring and evaluation framework to measure the effectiveness of assistance activities. We compile and analyze data not only to track program outputs but, more importantly, to assess performance outcomes. For example, we conduct annual partner country assessments to measure progress toward end-state objectives, and we organize lessons learned workshops with redeploying peacekeepers to evaluate the applicability of assistance. We further conduct mission visits and review public mission reporting to identify best practices and adjust any efforts that are not achieving desired objectives. As a learning organization, we strive to continually refine and more effectively deliver capacity-building assistance to strengthen results.
Finally, the United States is committed to ensuring the assistance we provide addresses UN requirements. The UN has made great strides in developing comprehensive peacekeeping doctrine, standards, and training materials, and as a capacity-building provider, we are committed to sustained support for these efforts. We will continue to assist the UN’s development, translation, and dissemination of these materials. Further, we will ensure that U.S. assistance aligns with UN policy and training standards.
Strengthening the performance and accountability of UN peacekeeping remains a high priority for the U.S. government. Troop- and police-contributing countries must ensure their peacekeepers are appropriately trained and adequately equipped for the operational environments to which they are deploying and that they are willing and able to protect civilians and effectively execute mission tasks. Focused and effective capacity-building partnerships can help. The United States remains committed to reinforcing the peacekeeping capacity of those countries willing to invest in and commit to the development of high-performing peacekeeping capabilities. And through these enduring, accountable partnerships, we will strengthen UN peacekeeping together.