- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2000

NEW YORK President Clinton yesterday advocated a wider mandate and a more robust force for U.N. peacekeeping efforts, saying that "until we confront the iron link between deprivation, disease and war," peace will remain elusive.

"We must do more to equip the United Nations to do what we ask it to do," Mr. Clinton told a rare gathering of the 15 Security Council leaders.

"They need to be able to be peacekeepers who can be rapidly deployed, properly trained and equipped, able to project credible force."

President Clinton has sent U.S. troops on a peacetime record of 48 peacekeeping and war missions in the 1990s, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The hot pace has not only worn out weapons and equipment, it has taken a toll on the troops themselves. The U.S. Army has encountered problems in retaining enough captains its future leaders.

In focus groups, one of their main complaints is that they did not join the Army to do peacekeeping, but rather to prepare for and fight a war.

At the council session, the president also stressed the importance of expanding the definition of security beyond traditional conflicts and emergencies.

"War kills massively, crosses borders, destabilizes whole regions. Today, we face other problems that kill massively, cross borders and destabilize whole regions," he said, noting that infectious diseases like malaria and AIDS cause one-quarter of deaths around the globe.

Washington also claimed a preliminary victory in its efforts to update the scale of peacekeeping assessments, which has not been updated since 1972.

Separate declarations by the whole Security Council and its five permanent members indicated a willingness to consider changes in the way contributions are assessed.

Currently, the United States is assessed 31 percent of the budget, which this year will top $2 billion, but it pays only 25 percent. Reducing the U.S. contribution is one of several conditions set down by Congress before it will release some $600 million in arrears money.

The council said yesterday it "agrees to support the provision of a more up-to-date and sounder foundation for financing peacekeeping operations."

The permanent members Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States went even further.

"Taking into account our special responsibilities as permanent members of the Security Council and the duty of all member states to meet their financial obligations to the U.N., we commit to creating a more stable and equitable financial foundation for current and future U.N. operations," the five permanent members said in a joint statement.

Decisions on assessments are undertaken by the entire General Assembly.

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said last night that the statement is significant "because adjustments in scale would go far to ease U.N. financial problems and put U.S.-U.N. relations on a solid footing."

There was general agreement yesterday that it is necessary to address the underlying causes of conflict including poverty, disease and disaster. Also noted was the obligation of the richer nations to assist their poorer neighbors.

There was no consensus, however, on whether the council theoretically the sole legitimizer of the use of force in the name of the United Nations is morally obligated to intervene against massive human rights violations.

NATO's controversial air war over Kosovo divided the council along predictable lines, while U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's declaration one year ago that human rights were more important than national boundaries stimulated debate among the whole U.N. membership.

Russia and China sensitive to accusations about Chechnya and Tibet firmly opposed intervention without the approval of all parties.

"Only the Security Council has the right to sanction such an extreme measure as the use of force in the situation of crisis," said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"It does so on behalf of and in the interests of the whole world community."

• Rowan Scarborough contributed to this report from Washington.

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