News

UN Ambassador Says US Committed to Peacekeeping

Multimedia

Audio

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, says the Obama administration is committed to supporting international peacekeeping operations, including reforms to address issues such as misconduct by peacekeepers. Rice also addressed specific trouble spots in Africa, including the conflict in Somalia.

Ambassador Rice said the Obama administration is moving ahead on several fronts to support peacekeeping, including working with Security Council members on a better process of formulating credible and achievable mandates for U.N. operations.

The United States is contributing $2.2 billion of a $7.8 billion U.N. peacekeeping budget for 2009.

Rice said the United States strongly supports reforms that will save money, strengthen oversight, transparency, accountability and planning, reduce deployment delays, and prevent fraud and abuse, including a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation by peacekeepers. "It [rape as a crime of war] is prevalent in Congo and Liberia, Sudan and elsewhere. And these need to be addressed in a very serious way when they are committed by combatants as well as peacekeepers," she said.

The situation in Somalia, as well as challenges facing U.N. peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region, emerged as a key a focus of questioning by lawmakers on the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Rice said the ability of the U.N. force in Darfur to do its job has been made worse by the Khartoum government denying access to and expelling humanitarian workers and blocking delivery of critical support.

"While President [Barack] Obama's special envoy on Sudan, General Scott Gration, helped persuade the government of Sudan to let four new humanitarian NGO's [non-governmental organizations] in, we continue to urge Khartoum to fill the gaps in critical humanitarian aid services and to improve its cooperation with UNAMID," she said.

The United States has provided humanitarian aid, as well as 80 tons of military support to the Somalia Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu. Rice said the United States has an enormous stake in the survival of that administration and the "defeat of al-Shabaab" and other extremists groups affiliated with al-Qaida.

Rice also had some sharp criticism for Eritrea, which she said is arming, supporting and funding al-Shabab and helping to destabilize Somalia and the region with a direct impact on U.S. security.

Ambassador Rice signaled that Eritrea could face international action, including sanctions, if it does not change its behavior in Somalia.

"As I said in New York, there is a very short window for Eritrea to signal, through its actions, that it wishes a better relationship with the United States and the wider international community. If we do not see signs of that signal in short order, I can assure you that we will be taking appropriate steps with partners in Africa and the Security Council to take cognizance of Eritrea's actions both in Somalia and the wider region," she said.

Rice said the United States does not support a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia, saying the African Union force is the best approach at present because it has been largely accepted by the population there.

In Wednesday's hearing, House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman said it is in America's interest to support U.N. peacekeeping. But he also posed this question.

"Is the international peacekeeping system, as it is conceived today, capable of preventing genocide, ethnic cleansing and other mass atrocities, or do we need to develop an entirely new model for our increasingly complex world?"

In addition to challenges facing U.N. operations in Darfur, Ambassador Rice said missions in Chad and Congo also lack critical equipment, such as helicopters, needed to help vulnerable civilians.

Ambassador Rice cited Liberia as an example of the importance of U.N. peacekeeping, saying hard-won progress there could unravel if peacekeepers leave too soon because of continuing weaknesses in the army, police and justice systems.

 

In Haiti, Rice said the Obama administration supports extending the U.N. mission, which she said is "on track and well-led," at least until upcoming elections and hopes that the involvement of former President Bill Clinton, who is the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will help contribute to that nation's economic health and stability. 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs