Tags: Clinton | Diverted | Billions | From | Pentagon | U.N. | Peacekeeping

Clinton Diverted Billions From Pentagon to U.N. Peacekeeping

Tuesday, 12 February 2002 12:00 AM

The report shows that America's "debt" to the United Nations was more than compensated for by extra peacekeeping assistance that the world organization never gave the United States credit for, U.N. critics said.

"This new GAO report makes it absolutely clear that the U.S. debt to the U.N. was a complete fraud," said Cliff Kincaid, a journalist and president of America's Survival, who released a copy of the draft report.

"And remember that this report only covers the fiscal years 1996 - 2001," Kincaid added. "If the complete years of the Clinton administration were taken into account, the figure could rise by several more billions."

The Clinton era saw an explosion in the number of U.N.-sponsored peacekeeping missions carried out by U.S. forces that were not necessarily supported by Congress.

Those peacekeeping operations were the cause of heated disagreements over dues, including debates on whether the United States had accumulated sufficient back dues to be voted out of the U.N. General Assembly.

Between fiscal years 1996 and 2001, the United States directly contributed an estimated $3.45 billion to support U.N. peacekeeping, the report states.

During the same period, however, U.S. indirect contributions to U.N. peacekeeping amounted to $24.2 billion.

Of the $24.2 billion figure, the GAO found that the largest indirect contribution - about $21.8 billion - was for U.S. military operations and services. This meant military personnel and equipment had to be diverted from Pentagon operations to the United Nations.

The GAO defined indirect contributions as "U.S. programs and activities that are located in the same area as an ongoing U.N. peacekeeping operation, have objectives that help the peacekeeping operation achieve its mandated objectives, and are not an official part of the U.N. operation."

For example, estimated U.S. indirect contributions to U.N. operations in Kosovo and East Timor, which involved nation building and the training of local government agencies, "amounted to over $5.1 billion and included military operations to help provide a secure environment and programs to provide food and shelter for refugees and train police and court officials."

The United Nations assesses member states a percentage share of the total cost of peacekeeping operations. The U.S. assessed share has historically been over 30 percent of total peacekeeping costs.

In November 1994, Congress limited the amount the United States could pay to 25 percent of peacekeeping costs, beginning in fiscal year 1996, the report noted. However, the United Nations continued to bill the United States at its historically 30 percent of total costs, leading to U.S. arrears.

In 2000, U.N. member states agreed to change the assessment formula and to drop the U.S. share of the peacekeeping budget over a three-year period to 27 percent, the report said.

Between fiscal years 1996, which began October 1995, and June 30, 2001, the United Nations conducted 33 peacekeeping operations in 28 countries, according to the report. As of January 2002, 15 of these operations were still ongoing in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, involving over 47,000 military personnel, civilian police, and observers.

"When you're spending American taxpayer dollars you need accountability for American taxpayer dollars, and the procedure that the U.N. has of requesting donations and the practice of the Clinton administration to categorize expenditures as donations removes that accountability," said a senior official familiar with the GAO report.

Speaking at Heritage Foundation in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said of U.S. involvement in peacekeeping operations: "If there is a threat to international peace and security out there, and it needs to be dealt with, it is better that we do it where possible with other partners who are picking up part of the cost."

He added: "So I would say that while we always want to be careful about the costs and we always want to be careful about where it is that we decide to undertake U.N. peacekeeping operations, there are demonstrable benefits for the United States."

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The report shows that America's debt to the United Nations was more than compensated for by extra peacekeeping assistance that the world organization never gave the United States credit for, U.N. critics said. This new GAO report makes it absolutely clear that the U.S....
Clinton,Diverted,Billions,From,Pentagon,U.N.,Peacekeeping
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2002-00-12
Tuesday, 12 February 2002 12:00 AM
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