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Letter to Congressional Leaders Transmitting a Report on Reform of United Nations Peacekeeping

February 13, 1995

Dear Mr. Chairman: (Dear Member:)

There have been few times in history when mankind has had such an opportunity to enhance peace. The founding of the United Nations fifty years ago was one such opportunity. The victorious Allies put in place an institutional mechanism that could be used to enhance peace. Unfortunately, it was not used properly, and Cold War replaced peace.

Now, with the Cold War behind us, we have another important opportunity. Around the world, old enemies are coming together in the Middle East, South Africa, Haiti, Ireland, Central America, and across the great rift that divided Europe for almost five decades. This is a unique period. It can be, as was written in Ecclesiastes, a time for peace.

Peace, however, does not come easily or quickly. Numerous threats remain to our own and our allies' security.

For our generation to seize this opportunity for wider global peace, America must stay engaged. We must also be prepared to pay our fair share of the price of peace, for it is far less than the cost of war.

One of the tools we have to build this new peace is that institution created fifty years ago, the United Nations. As the Cold War ended, the previous Administration turned to the UN and its peacekeeping mechanism to deal with many of the conflicts left over from the superpowers' competition. As a result, the number of UN peacekeepers and their cost sky-rocketed, overburdening the capabilities of the UN system.

I have made UN peacekeeping reform a key goal, working to reduce costs and improve efficiency, using UN peacekeeping when it will work and restraining it when the situation is not ripe. More needs to be done to make UN peacekeeping realize its potential and more effectively serve U.S. interests. It is in the U.S. interest to ensure that UN peacekeeping works and to improve it, because peacekeeping is one of the most effective forms of burdensharing available. Today, other nations pay more than two-thirds of the costs of peacekeeping and contribute almost 99 percent of the troops. Troops from seventy-seven nations are deployed throughout the world in the service of peace.

The UN, once a forum for anti-American debate and propaganda, now is a vehicle for promoting the values we share. Throughout the world, the UN is promoting democracy and providing security for free elections. Its agencies are the chief instruments in the battle against proliferation of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction. UN forces have assumed roles that once had been performed by American troops—in Kuwait, Somalia, Rwanda and soon Haiti. They stand on battlements in places of great importance to us: on Israel's border, and Iraq's, in the Mediterranean between two NATO allies, in Europe on the border of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to deter a wider Balkan conflict, and in the Caribbean. The UN recently completed and closed successful operations in numerous places, including in our own backyard in Central America, Cambodia, Namibia and Mozambique.

Were the UN not engaged in promoting peace and security, we would have to invent it. If we did so, it might not look precisely as it has now evolved. The U.S. assessment share would be less. It would be able to respond more rapidly to disasters and do so more economically and effectively. These and other improvements we seek can be achieved only if the U.S. stays engaged in the world and we remain a member of the United Nations in good standing.

I look forward to working with the Congress, as we continue the task of reforming UN peacekeeping and the mission of building and consolidating world peace.

The enclosed report is submitted pursuant to Section 407(d) of the FY 1994/1995 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (PL 103-236).



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Jesse Helms, chairman, and Claiborne Pell, ranking member, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Mark O. Hatfield, chairman, and Robert C. Byrd, ranking member, Senate Committee on Appropriations; Benjamin A. Gilman, chairman, and Lee H. Hamilton, ranking member, House Committee on International Relations; and Robert L. Livingston, chairman, and David R. Obey, ranking member, House Committee on Appropriations.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders Transmitting a Report on Reform of United Nations Peacekeeping Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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