- Associated Press - Monday, March 9, 2015

BRUSSELS (AP) - Peacekeeping missions in conflict areas around the world need contributions from European militaries “more than ever,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday in an appeal to the continent to renew its commitment to such operations.

In a speech in Brussels, Samantha Power said that President Barack Obama will convene a global summit in September in New York “to help catalyze a wave of new commitments” to peacekeeping forces, which currently number nearly 130,000 personnel in 16 different missions.

Power said it is not up to Washington to tell Europe how to maintain peace, “but it is essential that each of us does our fair share.” She said that the U.S. currently has military personnel in more than 100 nations around the world, including 10,000 still in Afghanistan and 2,600 in the global coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

European nations, which 20 years ago contributed more than 40 percent of U.N. peacekeepers around the world, now provide less than 7 percent, she said.

The decline followed the dramatic failures by the international community to prevent bloodshed in the 1990s, particularly during the Rwanda genocide and the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica, atrocities that called into question the effectiveness of UN efforts to rein in violence.

Power said that UN peacekeeping missions now have far more clear and robust mandates to use force and protect civilians as they operate in active conflict zones where violent extremists terrorize civilians and target peacekeepers.

“These new challenges and responsibilities are the reason UN peacekeeping needs European militaries more than ever,” Power said. “European troops have extensive training, professionalism, and high-end equipment.”

Power praised the Netherlands, whose outgunned and outnumbered peacekeepers failed to prevent the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, for recently sending hundreds of troops to a U.N. mission in Mali, even using a helicopter in January to fire on rebels who were attacking Bangladeshi peacekeepers.

“This is what a modern European contribution to a 21st century UN peacekeeping operations looks like,” she said. “Targeted. Effective. Momentum-shifting.”

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