Good morning and welcome to the inaugural meeting of the United States-Brazil Peacekeeping Working Group. We have been looking forward to today for quite some time and wish that we were able to hold this discussion in person. We hope that we can do so for future meetings. This Working Group was first discussed during the October 2019 U.S.-Brazil Political-Military Dialogue as a mechanism to better coordinate, and possibly integrate, our respective peace operations capacity building initiatives.
As two of the largest democracies and economies in the Western Hemisphere, it is in our mutual interest to work together toward shared international peace and security objectives; UN peacekeeping is a space in which we share much common ground. 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.
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. It is our aim to help prepare partner troop and police contributing countries as they commit to deploying to these missions.
The United States currently provides training, equipment, and other assistance to 55 partner countries around the world through our Global Peace Operations Initiative, or GPOI. While we have previously partnered with Brazil 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.
In today’s meeting, we are joined by representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and our GPOI program team in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. While this is a Department of State program, we execute our assistance in close coordination with our Department of Defense colleagues, some of whom have joined us for this meeting today from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Southern Command, and the U.S. Army’s Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute.
We would like to thank you for your patience as we have all worked diligently on coordinating this meeting since the 2019 U.S.-Brazil Political-Military Dialogue. We also appreciate your original invitation for our team to come to Brasilia in March 2020 and your flexibility in scheduling this discussion virtually given continued travel limitations due to COVID-19. We hope that this is just the first meeting of the Peacekeeping Working Group and that we can follow today’s meeting with further discussion on our training proposal and continued exploration of other areas for collaboration.