The Global Citizen: peacekeeping
Yesterday, President Obama released a first-ever National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which instructs agencies across the government to intergrate a gender persepctive in all matters relating to peace and security.
The plan's goal is to "empower half of the world's population as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened and affected by war, violence, and insecurity." The NAP recognizes that long-term peace and stability cannot be maintained without the particpation of women.
Some of the plan's implementation steps mirror key recommendations found in the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping's report, "U.S. Engagement in International Peacekeeping: From Aspiration to Implementation." For example, the NAP advocates for women to be considered for more senior level positions at the U.N. The peacekeeping report also identified a shortage of women in higher posts and called for this problem to be corrected.
The NAP calls for leveraging the participation of female U.S. military personnel to encourage and model gender intergration in other partner nations. The peacekeeping report takes this a step further and suggests that the U.S. engage with our own military and training institutions to increase the role of U.S. women in peacekeeping operations.
In my job, it's not that often that I look at the results of the congressional appropriations process with satisfaction, especially in the current economic and foreign policy climate. However, Congress has surprised me this year in two welcome ways.
First, the House and Senate passed a large "omnibus" appropriations package, including funding for the State Department, before their Christmas recess without threat of a government shutdown (okay, it's two and a half months past their original deadline, but why quibble?). Second, the Fiscal Year 2012 budget mostly delivers pretty good results for the international affairs budget. It's a Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa miracle!
The last U.S. convoy rode out of Iraq yesterday in the early morning hours, marking the final moment of the Iraq War. The war was officially declared over last Thursday during a ceremony attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at a terminal in the Baghdad airport. The statement and withdrawal were more than two weeks ahead of the end of year deadline for ending U.S. combat in Iraq. Panetta told troops, "You will leave with great pride, lasting pride, secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people begin a new chapter in history free from tyranny and full of hope for prosperity and peace."
More than 1 million U.S. troops have served in the almost 9 year war, of which 4,474 were killed and roughly 30,000 were wounded. The U.S. spent more than $800 billion on the war that cost more than 100,000 Iraqis their lives. The war does little to change day-to-day life of the Iraqis, as U.S. troops withdrew from most cities last year to focus on training Iraqi military forces.
Syria lives in a very flammable neighborhood, surrounded by Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. The neighbors are getting very worried that the escalation of violence in Syria could quickly spread to surrounding nations, and are taking steps to prevent the flames from spreading. It's time for the U.N. Security Council to support this effort and help form a neighborhood fire brigade that can prevent a civil war and protect the Syrian people.
Today, Syria announced it was "in talks" with the Arab League to send civilian and military observers into the country in the hopes of ending the violence that has wracked the country for eight months.
But if experience tells us anything, President Bashir al-Assad's talk is cheap and is just permitting him more time for tactical stalling.
There are many tools available to protect civilians from violence, including economic sanctions, establishing a no -fly zone or referring Assad to the International Criminal Court for prosecution for crimes against humanity.
But the best option available to have the greatest immediate impact for the Syrian people would be to back the Arab League's move and establish a U.N. authorized and funded observer force that is led by the Arab League and comprised of regional forces.
The situation in Syria is rapidly devolving into a civil war. Embassies are being attacked, and defectors from the military are meeting violence with violence. The international community's window of opportunity to protect Syrian civilians is closing.
While the Arab League threatened to suspend Syria's membership in the organization, it has given the Assad regime one last chance to cooperate before continuing on the path of isolating the regime. This proposal would allow civilian and military observers to enter Syria to determine if the Assad regime is complying with ending the violence against civilians.
At Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on “U.S. Policy in Syria,” the message from senators and witnesses alike was that the situation in Syria has passed a point of no return, making the question no longer if Assad will step down, but if the international community can take action to force his regime from power before more innocent lives are lost.
Witnesses included Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Luke Bronin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes. Feltman and Bronin both spoke to the overwhelming success of U.S. and European sanctions in financially crippling the Assad regime, in the hopes of forcing the dictator out. But they also both cautioned that serious action must still be taken if the international community wants to ensure that the country inherited by protestors isn’t one broken by economic hardship and sectarian violence.
The annual game of hurry-up-and-wait has begun in earnest for those of us who follow the congressional appropriations process. Although Fiscal Year 2012 officially began on October 1st, neither the full House nor the full Senate has yet approved legislation to fund the State Department and other international affairs agencies for the upcoming year, and it remains unclear exactly how or when they will do so.
For the past few weeks, the talk in the Senate has been about "minibuses"-combinations of several appropriations bills, which are smaller versions of the large "omnibus" packages to fund the entire federal government to which Congress frequently resorts when it fails to pass individual appropriations bills on time. The Senate Appropriations Committee has passed the State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill, which provides the bulk of international affairs funding, and this bill was expected to be combined with several other appropriations bills into a minibus and brought to the Senate floor for a vote last week. However, delays have set in, and the latest word is that no Senate action on a State/Foreign operations bill is likely until at least next week, and possibly even later than that.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has taken another step in her anti-UN campaign--asking the leaders of the congressional "supercommittee" to cut funding for the United Nations.
Ros-Lehtinen wrote to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the co-chairs of the supercommittee which has been tasked with making serious cuts to the U.S. budget by November in order to reduce the national deficit, with a laundry list of UN and other programs under her committee's jurisdiction that she thinks could use a good trimming. Among her requests: a cut in funding for the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account, which pays our dues to the UN as well as to other international organizations such as NATO; and keeping in place the "peacekeeping cap" which would limit the amount the U.S. contributes to UN peacekeeping missions, hurting the UN's ability to support these missions around the globe. To read Ros-Lehtinen's full letter, click here.
Citizens for Global Solutions, as a partner organization in the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping, launched a new peacekeeping report today at the National Press Club. The report provides Congress and the Administration with tangible recommendations on how the U.S. can improve its participation in international peacekeeping missions.
The impetus for the report came from a desire to implement the aspirations of the Obama Administration for the U.S. to increase involvement in peacekeeping missions. In 2009, President Obama delivered a speech to the leaders of the top troop contributing countries where he said,
"We will consider contributing more U.S. civilian police, civilian personnel, and military staff officers to U.N. missions."
This report's goal is to provide a plan for implementing this mission.
The event featured a key note address from Amb. Nancy Soderberg, President of the Connect U.S. Fund and former Alternative Representative to the U.N. Soderberg believed the report's recommendatoins were important, and said,
"This report should be read by senior policymakers within the U.S. government writ large."
Soderberg also noted,
Citizens for Global Solutions, as part of the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping, has released a new report entitled, "U.S. Engagement in International Peacekeeping: From Aspiration to Implementation."
The report calls on Congress and the Obama Administration to improve U.S. participation in international peacekeeping operations and offers recommendations in four areas:
- U.S. funding of U.N. peacekeeping
- Women in peacekeeping
- Training and Equipping Peacekeepers
- Standing Civilian and Police Capacity
Citizens for Global Solutions CEO Don Kraus and co-founder of the Partnership for Effective Peacekeeping noted,
"In 2009, President Obama considered 'contributing more U.S. civilian police, civilian personnel, and military staff officers to UN missions.' Ambassador Susan Rice urged that 'the chronic shortages of ... helicopter, engineering, and medical units' and an 'expanded Standing Police Capacity' be resolved. These aspirations have yet to be implemented."
This report provides 26 recommendations for Congress and the Adminstration with tangible steps to improve U.S. participation in these vital operations.
Highlighted recommendations include:
- Arms Control (22)
- Become a Member (3)
- Become a Member (1)
- Capitol Hill (164)
- CGS Political Action Committee (PAC) (17)
- Chapters (4)
- Civilian Protection (133)
- Climate Change (94)
- Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) (2)
- Congressional Report Card (7)
- Current Campaigns (8)
- Election News & Analysis (101)
- Fellows (2)
- Gender Based Violence (26)
- Genocide Prevention (113)
- Get Involved (68)
- Home (12)
- Human Rights (223)
- Human Rights Council (31)
- International Criminal Court (167)
- International Criminal Justice (51)
- Law & Justice (211)
- Law of the Sea Treaty (55)
- Nuclear Disarmament (81)
- Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) (2)
- Other (33)
- PAC: 2010 Election Endorsements (3)
- Partners for Global Change (2)
- Peacekeeping (104)
- Prevent War (181)
- Rights of the Child Treaty (10)
- Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) (19)
- Support Us (14)
- Take Action (24)
- Tax Deductible Giving (2)
- UN Funding (71)
- UN Reform & Revitalization (43)
- United Nations (321)
- usaforicc.org (1)
- WFI (5)
- Women's Rights Treaty (CEDAW) (47)