International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA)

FY2018 Funding Recommendation:  
$2.39 billion


Funding History


       House/Senate FY2017 Request  

       InterAction's FY2018 Recommendation

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 Key Facts

  • In 2014, Steven Pinker, a Harvard scholar, summarized recent research on peacekeeping operations success rate in preventing conflict from reigniting. Pinker made clear that, “[t]he answer from the statistical studies is: absolutely, they [peacekeeping operations] work massively. And the better financed and armed the peacekeeping force, the more effective they are.”

  • The UN’s total annual peacekeeping budget is less than 0.5% of world military expenditures, but is currently the largest deployed military force in the world. Furthermore, the GAO has determined that UN peacekeeping missions are eight times cheaper than deploying U.S. forces.

  • UN peacekeeping missions have become increasingly hazardous for their personnel. While the first peacekeeping operation was deployed in 1948, almost 40% of all peacekeeper fatalities have occurred within the last 10 years.

The Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account funds the United States’ assessed obligations to UN peacekeeping missions. InterAction recommends a FY2018 level that is flat-lined from the same request for FY2017. 

There are currently nearly 125,000 UN peacekeepers – soldiers, police, and civilians – serving on 16 peacekeeping missions across four continents. These operations advance American interests by stabilizing conflict zones, protecting civilians from violence, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to vulnerable communities, and disarming and reintegrating former combatants.

The U.S. is the most powerful country in the world, but it cannot and should not shoulder the responsibility for upholding international peace and security alone. The advantage of UN peacekeeping is that it is a collective effort, harnessing the capacities and resources of all UN member states to pursue objectives that, as noted above, are squarely in the nation’s interests. For example, the U.S., as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, wields veto power over the decision to deploy UN peacekeepers in the first place and plays a central role in crafting their mandates. As a result, the U.S. pays a significant portion of the UN’s annual peacekeeping budget. At the same time, however, the U.S. provides very few uniformed personnel to these missions (currently less than 100 U.S. soldiers and police serve as UN peacekeepers, out of a total force of more than 100,000), with developing countries like Bangladesh, Ghana, and Nepal picking up much of the slack. As a result, UN peacekeeping is an excellent example of global burden-sharing, allowing the U.S. to pursue its interests in a variety of places without having to put boots on the ground. As Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Presidents Bush and Obama, said: “[United Nations] peacekeepers help promote stability and help reduce the risks that major U.S. military interventions may be required. Therefore, the success of these operations is very much in our national interest.” 

Aside from its burden-sharing related advantages, UN peacekeeping has also been proven effective at promoting international peace and security. A 2013 study by researchers in the U.S. and Sweden, for example, found that deploying a sufficiently large force of UN peacekeepers “dramatically reduces civilian killings” in armed conflicts.

UN peacekeeping missions currently face an array of critical and weighty demands, and are increasingly deployed to more dangerous operating environments. Despite these challenges, however, UN peacekeepers have been able to claim some noteworthy achievements in recent years. For example, UN missions in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire played a central role in ensuring stability and facilitating free and fair elections in these countries. As a result, both missions are currently in the process of drawing down.

Nevertheless, UN peacekeepers continue to face unprecedented challenges in other theaters of operation. In South Sudan, for example, UN forces are currently working to protect nearly 200,000 civilians who have fled a devastating two-year civil war and sought refuge at UN bases. Meanwhile, in the West African nation of Mali, peacekeepers working to secure the country’s vast northern region have increasingly come under threat from extremist groups, including a regional affiliate of al-Qaeda, with more than 70 UN personnel killed in militant attacks since July 2013. UN peacekeepers are also working to restore law and order in the Central African Republic, a country that was torn apart by vicious sectarian violence. Given the increasing complexity of their mandates, the difficulty of their operating environments, and the growing dangers facing their personal security, continued strong U.S. financial support for UN peacekeeping missions is more vital than ever.

Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)

In recent fiscal years, Congress has provided Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to increase the level of funding for the primary accounts used to respond to international conflicts and disasters, as well as international peacekeeping: International Disaster Assistance (IDA), Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA), Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA), and Peacekeeping Operations (PKO). OCO was created to house temporary spending related to operations and programs in frontline states. From FY2015 to FY2017, OCO accounted for over 70% of appropriated IDA, MRA, CIPA, and PKO funding.

These funds are critical to allow the U.S. to respond to crises. However, InterAction and its members are concerned that locating such a high proportion of spending in a temporary account puts humanitarian and peacekeeping funding levels at risk as Congress and the new administration reconcile various views on OCO. This is particularly concerning because for many of the major humanitarian crises occurring around the world, such as Syria, there is no clear resolution in sight.

The administration should work with Congress to protect and maintain total funding for the foreign assistance budget, including humanitarian and peacekeeping accounts. This funding is critical to saving millions of lives and advances U.S. interests overseas.

Success Story

The UN Peacekeeping Mission in Côte d’Ivoire

For much of its post-independence history Côte d’Ivoire was one of West Africa’s most prosperous and stable countries. But for more than 10 years beginning in 1999, it was beset by civil conflict and political turmoil. In late 2010, Alassane Ouattara, a former IMF official and Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, was certified as the winner of presidential elections, and the international community strongly backed the legitimacy of Mr. Ouattara’s victory. However, the incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede, and launched a campaign of organized violence against Mr. Ouattara’s supporters and civilians. During the four-month crisis that followed, the UN peacekeeping mission (UNOCI) and its base were attacked, nearly 1 million people were driven from their homes and 3,000 were killed. In a proactive effort to protect civilians in the commercial capital of Abidjan, UNOCI teamed with French forces to destroy stockpiles of heavy weapons that Mr. Gbagbo’s forces had been using against civilians.  Ultimately, the joint UN operation with the French shortened the conflict, saving lives, and paving the way for Mr. Ouattara’s inauguration. 

Since that time, Côte d’Ivoire has made important strides in political stabilization and economic growth. For the last three years, the Ivorian economy has experienced remarkable annual growth – three consecutive years at 9% – which the IMF projects will continue in 2016. This growth is due in large part to an improved security environment, in which UNOCI has played an integral role.  In another sign of progress, on October 25, 2015, the country successfully held its second presidential election since the 2010 crisis. While not entirely free of controversy, the election was nevertheless mostly peaceful, and nearly 5,000 national and international observers judged the voting process to be generally free, fair, and transparent.

Throughout the electoral process, UNOCI and the UN Development Program provided critical assistance to Ivorian authorities. The UN helped the government prepare and implement a comprehensive security plan to prevent election-related violence, facilitated the delivery of electoral materials to and retrieval of results from polling locations across the country, supported efforts to improve women’s participation, and promoted pre-election dialogue between election officials, youth and women representatives, and other key national stakeholders. In addition to its election-related activities, UNOCI is also supporting broader efforts to help stabilize the country, providing vocational training and other services to nearly 20,000 former combatants to help ease their reintegration into society.

While numerous political, human rights, development, and security challenges facing Côte d’Ivoire remain unresolved, the country – with assistance from the international community – has made remarkable progress over the last five years. In fact, because of these recent improvements, UNOCI is currently in the process of drawing down its force levels, and there is a distinct possibility that the UN Security Council could decide to terminate the mission entirely by the end of 2016. In order for this to happen, the U.S. should continue to meet its financial obligations to UN peacekeeping by fully funding the CIPA account.

Photo: Better World Campaign

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