September 7, 2017


Today, Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that oversees the United Nations, sent a letter to the Comptroller General asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations.

Young and Merkley issued the following joint statement today: “Reform of UN peacekeeping is needed, and this GAO review will provide Congress and the administration valuable information to ensure UN peacekeeping operations are as efficient and effective as possible—focusing on the protection of civilians.”

The request continues Young and Merkley’s active and bipartisan leadership of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy. 

Ambassador Haley has made UN peacekeeping reform a major priority, raising the issue again at the UN Security Council on August 29

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Dodaro:

On April 6, 2017, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley delivered remarks concerning UN peacekeeping operations at a meeting of the UN Security Council. Ambassador Haley highlighted five principles that she believes should guide and inform the assessment and reform of UN peacekeeping missions. Ambassador Haley’s five principles for effective UN peacekeeping included: 1) missions supporting political solutions; 2) host country cooperation; 3) realistic and achievable peacekeeping mandates; 4) exit strategies; and 5) willingness to adjust mandates when situations either improve or fail to improve.

On August 29, 2017, Ambassador Haley reiterated the need for reform of UN peacekeeping saying, “At the heart of this vision for reform are the civilians we are meant to serve.”  She continued, “In peacekeeping, the UN must strive to ensure the ability of people to live in peace and security without a UN presence.”  

As the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee responsible for oversight of the UN, we request that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) examine, and provide answers to, the following questions regarding all ongoing UN peacekeeping operations: 

1)     To what degree do the mandate and associated peacekeeping operations support a realistic and achievable political solution and exit strategy?  Is the peacekeeping force appropriately tasked, adequately resourced, and deployed in sufficient numbers to best protect civilians against current threats?

2)     To what degree does the mission enjoy host-country cooperation? How are the Security Council and UN regional members using multilateral and bilateral pressure to support the peace process and prevent obstruction to peacekeepers carrying out their mandate?

3)     When was the mandate last updated, and what differences exist between the mandate and the current situation on the ground?

We would welcome an interim update by December 1, 2017, but request that GAO provide its findings in a written final report no later than March 1, 2018. To the extent possible, we ask that this report be unclassified, but understand that classified reporting may be needed. Thank you for your timely attention to this request. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our staffs.