September 27, 2014 - 12:46 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The United States and dozens of other countries vowed Friday, Sept 26, to speed up and strengthen the UN's overstretched peacekeeping response to crises around the world.
More than 130,000 peacekeeping staffers are now deployed in operations around the world, a record, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a special meeting that he and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hosted on the sidelines of the annual General Assembly of world leaders.
The UN doesn't have its own standing army and relies on contributions from its 193 member states. In recent years, stress has soared as peacekeepers have been sent to the front lines of everything from ethnic conflict to Islamic extremism. This month, the UN withdrew its peacekeepers from many positions on the Golan Heights after 45 Fijian peacekeepers were held for two weeks by fighters from the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
According to the UN, 102 peacekeepers died in 2013, 36 from direct attacks and others from accidents and illnesses. The secretary-general on Friday included the Ebola outbreak as a looming security issue.
At the end of the meeting, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said more than 30 countries had stepped up with "concrete commitments" to improving operations that range from South Sudan to the India-Pakistan border.
The budget for UN peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, is just over $7 billion. It is separate from the UN's regular operating budget and the U.S. pays the largest share, over 28 percent, followed by Japan at nearly 11 percent. Rwanda is the fifth-largest contributor of troops to UN peacekeeping.
The U.S., which says it plans to contribute $1.9 billion to peacekeeping this fiscal year, down from $2.1 billion the previous year, announced it would review its contribution to peacekeeping efforts.