June 15, 2023

Castro, Jacobs, Jackson, Phillips and Kamlager-Dove Reintroduce U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act

WASHINGTON – Today, Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Dean Phillips (MN-03), and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37) reintroduced the U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act, which would eliminate the Congressionally-mandated cap of United States contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations and help restore U.S. standing on the global stage.

In 1994, Congress voted to cap U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping operations at 25 percent. But since then, the U.S.’s negotiated rate has been higher than the congressionally mandated cap, resulting in the U.S. failing to fully pay its UN peacekeeping dues of more than $1.2 billion. Strategic competitors like the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia have pointed to this debt to paint the U.S. as unreliable, advance relationships with the Global South, and push back against U.S. interests in areas like human rights.

“Eight decades ago, the United States mobilized the world around the creation of the United Nations with a mission to maintain world peace and security,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. "Today, our peacekeeping arrears are hurting our international standing and making it harder for the U.N. to fulfill that vital mission. The U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act will support resilient and modern U.N. operations and reassure allies and would-be competitors that the United States is fully committed to our rightful place as leader of the free world.”

“The United States derives its comparative advantage over other strategic competitors by our ability to build international coalitions that further our shared values and goals,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs. “But by failing to pay more than $1.2 billion in dues to the UN, we haven’t been living up to our commitments, which has left our partners to pick up the slack in UN missions, ceded ground in crucial human rights protections, and allowed the PRC to make inroads with our Global South partners. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce the U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act to scrap the UN peacekeeping dues cap and allow U.S. dollars to match our values and follow through on our international commitments.”

“By co-sponsoring the U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act of 2023, we're taking definitive action to retire our $1.2 billion debt to UN peacekeeping operations—a point frequently exploited by countries like China to question our reliability,” said Congressman Jonathan L. Jackson. “This Act ensures we move from being a subject of critique to a catalyst for change, strengthening UN peacekeeping efforts and reaffirming our dedication to global stability.”

“It’s past time that we pay our dues to fund UN Peacekeeping missions,” said Congressman Dean Phillips. “Doing so will burnish American leadership and credibility, and provide security without the risk and hefty price tag - both in dollars and lives - that result from military engagement.”

“I’m proud to co-lead the U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act to promote U.S. leadership at the United Nations and to show up for our partners who depend on peacekeeping missions to maintain stability and recover from conflict,” said Congresswoman Kamlager-Dove. “Fully paying our peacekeeping dues strengthens U.S. engagement at the UN, enhancing our ability to advocate for necessary peacekeeping reforms and ensuring that human rights and democratic values inform the UN’s work.”

“United Nations Peacekeeping missions save civilian lives and help prevent a return to war, while costing the American taxpayer eight times less than a U.S. military deployment,” said Ursala Knudsen-Latta, Legislative Manager for Peacebuilding Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation. “The Friends Committee on National Legislation supports the U.N. and its role in pursuing peace and justice globally. FCNL urges the United States to participate fully and in good faith in the U.N.’s work, including paying its dues to U.N. Peacekeeping on time and in full. FCNL welcomes the U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act of 2023’s repeal of the 25 percent cap on U.S. contributions.”

“This bill sets out a robust and forward-leaning agenda for the United States on the future of UN peacekeeping,” said Hardin Lang, Vice President of Refugees International. “A renewed focus on political strategy, host state and community engagement, and more agile and adaptable forces will be essential for UN peacekeeping to remain fit for purpose in the years ahead. Such a commitment is all the more important at a time when the Russian invasion has forced Ukraine to withdraw its air support from already under-resourced UN peacekeeping missions. The bill introduced by Rep. Sara Jacobs to repeal the 25 percent cap on US contributions to peacekeeping will allow for greater long-term strategic planning in UN peacekeeping missions. It will provide the ability to deploy more adaptable and agile forces that will result in more effective peacekeeping. Having worked close to two decades in UN peace operations across the world, I can attest to the necessity of a well-funded peacekeeping operation and the positive impact it has. The US fulfilling its financial obligations is imperative for the prevalence of international peace and security. We commend Congresswomen Jacobs for her steadfast leadership on this timely legislation.”

“Americans understand that our credibility on the world stage depends largely on us following through on commitments,” said Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign. “Paying our assessed and agreed upon dues – as outlined in the far-sighted U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act - strengthens our position and favorability in the world and ensures that other authoritarian nations can’t fill the gap that our arrears have created. Congresswoman Jacobs, who has worked at the State Department and United Nations, understands this and has seen first-hand how the U.S. and UN partner in conflict zones around the world helping the most vulnerable.  As a member of both the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, she knows that UN peacekeeping saves lives, shortens conflicts, and is far more cost-effective than having to put U.S. boots on the ground. Providing this financial and material assistance, as we promised, burnishes our image abroad and benefits our national security interests.

“UNA-USA members, which comprise the largest network of UN supporters in America, are champions of UN Peacekeeping and understand that fulfilling our financial obligations is essential to maintaining a strong U.S.-UN partnership,” said Rachel Bowen Pittman, Executive Director, United Nations Association of the USA. “We’re grateful to Representatives Jacobs, Kamlager-Dove, Phillips, Castro, and Jackson for co-leading the U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act of 2023.”

“Our research and work in peacekeeping contexts has shown clearly that UN peacekeeping saves lives,” said Wendy MacClinchy, United Nations Director, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC). “Peacekeepers protect civilians, including those most vulnerable to harm. They monitor and investigate human rights violations, prevent mass atrocities, support community early warning systems, and enable survivors of conflict-related sexual violence get access to justice, often amidst sustained armed conflict. Yet the United States has not reliably funded its share of peacekeeping. If passed, this bill would help the US meet its commitments and enable peacekeeping to remain effective and properly resourced, including through more agile operations, better community engagement, and preparing for peacekeeping transitions.”