- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

The U.N. chief for peacekeeping was in Washington this week to drum up U.S. support for his agency, saying in an interview that the events of September 11 have demonstrated the danger of allowing remote conflicts to go unattended.
Jean Marie Guehenno said U.N. peacekeeping operations were vital to establishing and maintaining peace in many areas of the world.
"If we allow conflicts to fester, state structures are progressively destroyed and the international system is severely affected," he said.
Mr. Guehenno underscored the need for U.S. support for U.N. peacekeeping operations, citing Bosnia, Kosovo, and most recently, East Timo as places where the two had worked together successfully.
World Bank Mission Chief Sarah Cliff, in published comments last month, said of the U.N. effort in East Timor: "Things weren't perfect, but they also didn't screw up like they did elsewhere."
Mr. Guehenno, speaking this week to a forum sponsored by the Better World Campaign and the Woodrow Wilson Center's Conflict Prevention Project, stressed the importance of long-term results in places like East Timor.
Attempting to garner U.S. support for U.N. peacekeeping, Mr. Guehenno said that since September 11, "Al Qaeda and the Taliban have brought the international community to the understanding that remote places can eventually become a threat."
For years, the United States has been at odds with U.N. peacekeeping efforts, routinely paying its peacekeeping assessments late.
After September 11, Washington's view of U.N. peacekeeping appears to have changed.
The Bush administration has gone to the U.N. Security Council with a number of resolutions backing the war on terrorism.
The conservative Heritage Foundation, in the past a critic of the world body, is now urging Congress to pay what it owes and to pay on time.
Congress "has an opportunity to buttress its relationship with the United Nations by returning to the practices of authorizing and appropriating America's United Nations assessment before the year it is due," the think tank said in a policy statement.
"Such a policy would bear little cost, but could prove helpful in garnering support from the U.N. and its member countries for the U.S.-led war on terrorism."
Because the United Nations runs on a calendar year and Washington's budget year begins in October, the United States can make its payments two months early or 10 months late.
During the Reagan administration, it began using the latter option.
The United States funds about 23 percent of the regular U.N. budget and about 27 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget.
Washington has criticized the organization for using unsound budgetary practices. But U.N. officials say that U.S. arrears including the practice of paying dues 10 months late have forced the world body to cut corners.
Betsy Pisik contributed to this report from New York.


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