UN Funding and Piracy Fighting

Late last week, President Obama submitted his 2009 Supplemental Funding request to congress.  Included was $836 million for UN Peacekeeping.  This is helpful, because the FY 2009 omnibus left an almost $800 million shortfall in what the United States owes UN Peacekeeping.  The request for UN Peacekeeping in the Supplemental covers that shortfall, plus a portion of backlogged U.S. debt to UN Peacekeeping.

UN Foundation honcho, Senator Tim Wirth is pleased:

“The UN Foundation commends President Obama for his request to Congress for $836 million for United Nations peacekeeping as part of the FY 2009 Supplemental Funding request.  The U.S. supported the creation of all of these peacekeeping missions, which are vital to U.S. national security interests, and now we must pay our share of the bill.
“We are pleased to see the Obama Administration reinforce its commitment to working with the UN to help meet the transnational challenges of the 21st century.  We urge the Congress to move forward with this vital funding, which will help restore the United States to good financial standing at the United Nations and show that great nations pay their bills.” 

What’s interesting to note here is that funding for UN Peacekeeping can directly support efforts to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean. Here’s why:  Later this week, the Secretary General is due to send a report to the Security Council that outlines the UN’s options for dealing with the crisis of governance and security in Somalia.  Specifically, the report will sketch out the feasibility of mounting a UN Peacekeeping mission in Somalia.  Chances are, the Secretary General will recommend against a peacekeeping mission because the conditions on the ground are not conducive to a successful mission. (Rather, the Secretary General will likely  recommend stepped-up support for the small African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM).  Still, if the Security Council does authorize some sort of peacekeeping mission to Somalia, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations says that a mission would require the following to succeed:

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations estimates that, subject to the fine- tuning of specific tasks through the integrated mission planning process and an assessment on the ground, some 22,500 troops would be needed to operate in five brigade-sized sectors throughout southern and central Somalia. The starting point would be Mogadishu, where the force headquarters and two brigades would be deployed, comprising a composite brigade with one mechanized, one infantry and one marine battalion to secure the seaports and airports and provide key point protection; and a homogeneous brigade, consisting of three infantry battalions and three mechanized companies, as a rapid reaction force. An additional mechanized battalion would act as the theatre reserve. Four sectors will be supported by an aviation element comprising utility and attack helicopters. All five sectors would  require combat and construction engineers. 

This all costs money.  Not as much money as indefinitely patrolling the Indian Ocean, but money nonetheless.  American funding of UN Peacekeeping makes contingencies like this possible. 

Photo: Flickr