UN council support tough action for peacekeeping failures

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday to support tougher U.N. action against peacekeepers who fail to protect civilians, including by sending them home and refusing to pay their governments.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said after the adoption of the U.S.-sponsored resolution that the council had responded to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' challenge "to step up and strengthen peacekeeping."

"The actions we take today will make the United Nations a better, more effective instrument of peace and security," she said. "This resolution mandates a timely and transparent reporting process for performance failures. It creates real accountability measures for when these failures occur."

The United Nations, which deploys 96,000 peacekeepers in 14 far-flung missions from the Mideast to Africa to Haiti, has come under sharp criticism in recent years for sexual abuse by its troops and failures to protect civilians.

The United States is the largest contributor to peacekeeping, but deploys only 50 officers to U.N. missions.

Haley has been trying to cut the peacekeeping budget, which this year is $7.3 billion, and she announced in March that the Trump administration was reducing its 28.5 percent assessment to 25 percent.

Some countries that contribute troops to U.N. missions privately expressed unhappiness at the initial U.S. draft resolution. Russia and China said earlier this month that the views of troop contributors needed to be taken into account, and Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Friday he almost voted against the measure.

Haley said the U.S. rejected "business as usual" for the resolution and did engage major troop contributing countries.

The resolution honors "the heroic work of tens of thousands of United Nations uniformed and civilian peacekeeping personnel" and underscores that the U.N. "should not let the performance failures of a few tarnish the achievements of the whole."

But it also expresses "deep concern about the serious and continuous allegations and underreporting of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeepers." It further takes aim at "continued instances of underperformance," including inaction by U.N. soldiers against imminent threats to civilians they are mandated to protect.

The council reaffirmed support for the development of a comprehensive policy with clear standards on peacekeeping performance and "well-defined benchmarks to ensure accountability for underperformance and incentives and recognition for outstanding performance."

It said "a range of responses proportionate to the identified performance failures" are needed. These should include "transparent public reporting," repatriating or replacing military units, and withholding financial payments to governments of uniformed personnel, the council said. For civilian members of U.N. missions, the measures for performance failures should include revoking or changing duties, dismissing them or not renewing contracts, it said.