Remarks at U.S. Institute for Peace on the Future of UN Peace Operations
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Thank you Ambassador Moose. Welcome to Chairman Ramos-Horta and Vice Chair Haq and your fellow Panel members. And thank you to USIP – a place near and dear to my heart, and the United Nations Foundation for making today’s conversation possible. I am honored to participate in this excellent event.
Last September, in New York, I participated in the Peacekeeping Summit co-hosted by Vice President Biden, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Rwanda, Japan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. And the enthusiasm in the room and the commitment of the Summit participants to contribute to UN peacekeeping missions and to help fill key gaps was palpable. Our hope is that today’s event will build off that enthusiasm and that it will be one additional step on the path to strengthening and reforming UN peace operations and UN peacekeeping.
Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken will speak today about why the United States would like to see UN peace operations reformed and what specifically we would like to see the high level panel focus on. I think it’s fair to note that we are at a unique moment as the world faces a dramatic level of security challenges. From political crisis in Libya and Yemen to the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, to the CAR and South Sudan, just to name a few. And with both major and minor crisis today the United Nations is there, being asked to play a role, from preventing a relapse to war, to addressing extremist threats to governance, to helping stave off Ebola, to trying to end the abuse of children as soldiers, and so much more.
I’m struck by how much then, we need to look at modernizing the United Nations to keep up with this demand. Certainly its power lies in its uniqueness and as it brings the weight of the world’s nations to bear against such problems, and with it a clear voice and legitimacy.
It’s been as we’ve heard 15 years since the Brahimi report, which last addressed comprehensively the reform of UN field missions. Yet as our ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, noted in her remarks in Brussels yesterday, we are asking peacekeepers to do more in more places and in more complex conflicts than at any time in history. So we have a lot to discuss today and on that note I’m pleased to introduce U.S Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
Deputy Secretary Blinken is no stranger to peacekeeping. Before joining the State Department in January, Tony held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations spanning two decades, most recently as President Obama’s principal deputy national security advisor. And in that capacity Tony played a key role in helping to make the Vice President’s peacekeeping summit last September a success.
Prior to working at the White House for President Obama and Vice President Biden, Tony spent 6 years on the Hill as democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He also worked on President Clinton’s national security staff, including as chief foreign policy speech writer and as his principal advisor on Europe, the European Union, and NATO.
Throughout Tony has seen or worked on every permutation of U.N peace operations, as well as multi-national force operations of every stripe. From Kosovo to Bosnia, to Somalia to South Sudan, Mali, Iraq and Afghanistan more recently, Tony is deeply versed in the needs, the challenges, and the opportunities. He has seen where our collective efforts have worked and where they have fallen short. And perhaps most pertinent to today’s discussions, he knows better than almost anyone what the United States can contribute to those efforts. I can think of no one better to situate today’s conversations than Deputy Secretary Blinken. Please join me in welcoming him to the podium.