Friday, July 30, 2021

UN states agree to US$6 billion peacekeeping budget, averting shutdown

Some diplomats blamed tough negotiations between China and Western countries for threatening to delay an agreement.

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United Nations member states agreed on Tuesday to a budget of US$6 billion for its worldwide peacekeeping missions for the next year, diplomats said, narrowly averting a shutdown of the operations.

The 193-member UN General Assembly budget committee agreed to the peacekeeping budget for the year until Jun 30, 2022. It will be formally adopted by the General Assembly on Wednesday, reports Reuters.

Top UN officials said on Monday that UN peacekeeping missions – most of which are in Africa and the Middle East – had been advised to start putting contingency plans in place in case a new budget was not adopted by June 30.

Some diplomats blamed tough negotiations between China and Western countries over the size of contributions for threatening to delay an agreement.

The US is the largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget, responsible for about 28%, followed by China with 15.2%, and Japan with 8.5%.

“Our chronic inability to respect deadlines puts the entire peacekeeping architecture in unprecedented jeopardy,” European Union diplomat Thibault Camelli told the budget committee on Tuesday. “For future negotiations, we owe it to the women and men in the field who carry out the peacekeeping mandates to finish our work in a timely fashion.”

Catherine Pollard, the UN head of management strategy, policy and compliance, told reporters on Monday that if the June 30 deadline was missed then secretary-general Antonio Guterres could only spend money to safeguard UN assets and ensure the protection of staff and peacekeepers, not pursue their duty of peacekeeping.

There are peacekeeping missions currently underway across three continents: two in Asia, four in the Middle East, seven in Africa, and two in Europe. The purpose behind these is mostly to keep civilians safe and attempt to secure areas that are engaged in violent conflict.

The largest outside of Africa is the Unifil operation in Lebanon, with just over 10,000 peacekeepers, and which includes troops from Cambodia, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

The UN marks the International Day of UN Peacekeepers every year on May 29 as an occasion to pay tribute to the contribution civilian and uniformed personnel have made to the organisation.

More than 4,000 peacekeepers have died since 1948, and the undertaking remains dangerous in the 21st century, particularly given the rise of groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram.

Last year, 130 peacekeepers died serving under the UN flag.

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