- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

NEW YORK A long-overdue restructuring of the troubled U.N. peacekeeping department will cost an initial $22 million next year and require as many as 250 new posts, according to the first detailed financial analysis of the organization's plans.

U.N. officials stress the projected cost is modest, less than 1 percent of the organization's overall budget. But it could be enough to jeopardize $100 million of the $846 million Washington has agreed to contribute to the peacekeeping budget next year.

Under the spending bill passed Thursday by Congress which appropriates money for the United Nations under the Commerce, Justice and State Department budgets the organization risks forfeiting the $100 million if it raises its cost to member states.

The president has promised to veto that legislation, but not because of U.N. issues.

U.S. officials have been following the matter closely, but yesterday they declined to comment in detail on the budget outline or staffing requests.

"The numbers on the surface look reasonable. But before we say yes, we have to see exactly what these new positions do," said Donald Hays, the budget expert for the U.S. mission in New York. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke said the 250 new jobs that the analysis found would be needed to bolster the peacekeeping department were "in the ballpark, but we don't know yet exactly what they're supposed to be doing."

Washington has scarcely wasted an opportunity to criticize the peacekeeping department, whose management has grown haphazardly even as operations in the field have mushroomed.

Today, there are fewer than 450 support personnel at headquarters in New York to plan, supervise, equip and manage 38,000 soldiers contributed by member countries and serving in 15 peacekeeping missions in four regions.

In August, a commission appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and headed by former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi recommended a substantial renovation of the department.

Jean-Marie Guehenno, who runs the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said yesterday that the creation of an executive committee to monitor and analyze security and intelligence is one of the most important aspects of peacekeeping reform.

"We need to have an integrated approach … so it is not a series of directorates," he said, emphasizing the coordination of military and police units, strengthening various support functions and redefining the scope of the unit that analyzes previous peacekeeping and peace-building efforts.

"This is an emergency package. It's the most critical needs of peacekeeping operations support that are being addressed."

Many of those redeployed to the executive committee already work for the United Nations in political affairs, disarmament, management, communications, cartography and other branches.

In addition, people would be hired to supplement the support functions procurement, logistics, mission planning, analyzing tensions and so on.

A fuller accounting of the peacekeeping budget will be released late Friday, said U.N. Controller Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, cautioning that even that would be only a partial insight into the cost of actions that must be undertaken by the secretary-general, Security Council and the member states themselves.

"There are additional recommendations not yet addressed," said Mr. Halbwachs, who declined to speculate on how much the sweeping recommendations could eventually cost.

The Brahimi Report identified scores of peacekeeping-related functions that must be changed to avoid repeating failures and difficulties such as those experienced in Somalia, Sierra Leone, the Balkans and Angola.

But the United Nations has been on what Mr. Annan called a "starvation diet" for the last six years, absorbing currency fluctuations and inflation to keep its $1.2 billion annual operating budget.

Just over $7 million of the $22 million increase proposed yesterday which must be approved by the General Assembly before it adjourns in December falls into that regular budget.

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