REP. BERMAN: (Sounds gavel.) The committee will come to order. This morning we are quite privileged to be joined by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Susan Rice, as well as a distinguished private panel that will follow her testimony and question period.
I first want to begin on a somewhat different point by thanking Ambassador Rice for her tremendous efforts to rebuild the United Nations human rights mechanism, which has been badly compromised by a pathological focus on Israel and tarnished by a failure to focus on some of the world's worst human rights violators. But the purpose of this hearing is to examine the challenges faced by international peacekeeping operations and to explore various options for making such operations more effective, particularly in protecting innocent civilians.
Since 1948, the member states of the United Nations have supported 63 peacekeeping operations on four continents. Today the UN fields more than 90,000 uniformed peacekeepers and thousands of civilian personnel in 15 peacekeeping missions, from Congo to Haiti to Lebanon. We support UN peacekeeping efforts because it is in our national interest to see that states do not fail, that voids are not open for terrorists to fill, and that economies and lives not crumble under the weight of war. And for these reasons, it's very important that we pay our UN peacekeeping dues in full, as we propose in the State Department authorization bill, passed by this committee in the House last month.
Around the world, many UN peacekeeping operations have yielded positive results on the ground. In the Balkans and East Timor, in Kashmir and Liberia, in Cyprus and the Golan Heights, UN blue helmets have worked to create the political space for peace, prevent mass atrocities, and avoid the collapse of states. As we consider the future of peacekeeping, it's important to recognize that such operations have become increasingly complex. More than ever before, they are designed to address the root causes of conflict and to build sustainable peace. This is reflected in the sheer scale of current operations, which have an average of nine times as many troops, observers and police, and 13 times as many civilians as the average operation did 10 years ago. But these expanded peacekeeping mandates have put a severe strain on the system. The demand for resources often exceeds the supply provided by the international community, and as a result, peacekeeping missions frequently lack the troops, helicopters and other equipment they need. At a time when peacekeepers are increasingly deployed in complex and unstable situations and sometimes become the targets of combatants, that can be a recipe for disaster.
The United States has taken some important steps to address the lack of capacity and resources. For example, the U.S. military is assisted in the strategic movement of troops, equipment and supplies to support U.S. peacekeeping missions. In Darfur, we have funded over 25 percent of the cost of the hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping operation and constructed and maintained 34 Darfur base camps for over 7,000 African Union peacekeepers. And through the Global Peace Operations Initiative, we will provide training and material assistance to 75,000 troops from a number of African countries, many of whom will be deployed with UN peacekeeping missions.
What else can the U.S. and other nations do to increase the capacity of the United Nations and regional organizations to respond to emerging crises? Are expanded peacekeeping mandates the right approach to dealing with the types of conflicts we face today, or are we asking our peacekeepers to do too much? And what steps can we take to help ensure that UN peacekeeping operations have adequate personnel and resources to carry out their missions? One of the key tests of the international peacekeeping system is its ability to protect civilians consistent with the emerging international norm known as the responsibility to protect. This concept, endorsed by the UN Security Council in 2006, holds that states have a responsibility to protect their citizens from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Should they fail to do so, the international community has a responsibility to step in and protect threatened populations, with the use of force, if absolutely necessary. But strong words have not always been matched by strong actions.
Since 1999, when a UN peacekeeping operation was established in the Eastern Congo, over 5 million people -- 5 million have died as a consequence of war, and an additional 45,000 perish every month. And in conflict zones from Congo to Bosnia to Darfur, peacekeepers have been unable to prevent the use of rape as a weapon of war and even genocide. How can we equip the United Nations to more effectively protect civilians and prevent mass atrocities? What can the United States do at the Security Council to discourage or overcome political foot-dragging, as we saw in Kosovo and Rwanda, that prevents rapid deployments at times of humanitarian crisis? What is our strategy for making sure that women form a critical mass of peacekeepers and peacemakers, both to reduce sexual violence in conflict and to ensure that post-conflict reconstruction prioritizes the well-being of women and girls? And, finally, the key question: Is the international peacekeeping system, as it is conceived today, capable of preventing genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other mass atrocities, or do we need to develop an entirely new model for our increasingly complex world?
We thank Ambassador Rice and our other panelists for being here today to share your insights on this important set of issues, and we do look forward to your testimony. I now turn to my friend and the ranking member of the committee, the gentlelady from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for any opening remarks she might wish to make.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL): Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. As well, I welcome Ambassador Rice to our committee today. And this is an important and timely hearing. Promoting reform at the United Nations has been among my highest priorities for this committee. And I do this not as an enemy of the UN but as someone who is committed to helping the UN help itself.
I hope that today's session marks the beginning of a series of hearings and comprehensive review of real UN reform and that we will soon consider H.R. 557, the United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act. The peacekeeping section of this bill that I introduce requires the adoption of a uniform code of conduct that would apply equally to all UN peacekeeping personnel, military and civilian alike. It also requires the UN to maintain a database to trap violations of the code of conduct, which should be shared across all UN agencies. This will help ensure that those who have abused the very population that they have been sent there to protect are not simply recycled to other missions. And, Ambassador Rice, I would ask your cooperation on this legislation and your commitment to work together on the promotion of comprehensive reforms at the United Nations, particularly in regards to peacekeeping.
UN peacekeeping has contributed to the promotion of peace and stability for more than 60 years, and the overwhelming majority of peacekeepers have served with honor and courage. But to allow the operational failures and the unconscionable acts of misconduct that come to plague the UN peacekeeping operations to go unchecked undermines the credibility of the UN The United Nations has over 116,000 personnel from 120 countries, deployed across 17 peace operations, including two special political missions. Seven new missions requiring more than 54,000 uniformed personnel have been authorized over the past five years alone. The budget for July 9th through June 2010 has swelled to 7.8 billion (dollars), with more than 2 billion (dollars) coming from us in the United States. The days of traditional peacekeeping, when peacekeepers deployed only to places where there was a peace to be kept, monitored lines of disengagement, and used force only in self-defense. Those days have long since passed.
Experts say that we now have entered a second- generation of peacekeeping where missions are increasingly complex and dangerous. The mission in Haiti, which was proceeded by a U.S.-led multinational interim force, was authorized in 2004. Not a traditional monitoring mission, the mission in Haiti has been charged with securing a stable environment, restructuring and reforming the Haitian national police, assisting in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs, supporting the political process, and monitoring human rights.
The mission in Democratic Republic of Congo was originally deployed in the year 2000 as a traditional monitoring mission with just over 5,500 uniformed personnel. Today it has an authorized strength of 19,815 uniformed personnel and an aggressive mandate to use force to protect civilians, forcibly disarm combatants, train and mentor the armed forces of the DRC, seize illegal arms shipments, and provide advice to strengthen democratic institution and processes at every level of the government. The complexity and dangerous nature of the Congo mission is eclipsed only by the hybrid UN-African Union mission in Darfur, Sudan. With multiple chains of command and direct interference by the Sudanese regime, the hybrid model presents unique challenges, and now the UN is being pushed to launch a new mission in Somalia as the UN General Assembly has adopted the concept of responsibility to protect.
Ambassador Rice, please discuss, if you could, how the U.S. interprets this responsibility and how the U.S. views requirements, if any, on individual nations stemming from the responsibility to protect, and when we expect this concept to be applied and how. The discussion is timely, following last week's debate at the UN The United States has a strong record of support for peacekeeping.
Since 2004, we have supported the provision of training and equipment for 81,000 new peacekeepers worldwide for the Global Peace Operations Initiative, GPOI. Through GPOI we have also supported the training of 2,000 instructors at the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units. We have facilitated the deployment of nearly 50,000 peacekeepers to 20 UN and regional peace support operations, and we have been at the forefront of efforts to secure critical mission enablers, including utility and tactical helicopters to support missions in Darfur, Chad, Congo, Afghanistan and beyond.
I look forward to your testimony, Ambassador Rice, on how we can make this assistance even more effective while coordinating efforts with our regional combatant commands and other donors to insure appropriate and equitable burden-sharing. As conflicts rage and new models of peace operations emerge, it would seem that UN peacekeeping is currently faced with three fundamental questions: one, is United Nations peacekeeping the right instrument; what task can United Nations peacekeeping actually accomplish; and how can United Nations peacekeeping becomes more effective? Thank you very much, Ambassador, for your testimony, and thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the opportunity.
BERMAN: And thank you. And I'm now going to recognize -- we have one key hearing -- after the ambassador finishes and the questioners finish, we have a UN official and then an excellent panel. So I'm going to recognize the chairman and ranking member -- if he shows up -- for the appropriate subcommittee, and then hope to get directly to Ambassador Rice's testimony so we can finish this sometime during the daylight hours. The chairman of the International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight Subcommittee, Mr. Delahunt, is recognized for up to three minutes.
REP. BILL DELAHUNT (D-MA): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, as you're aware, there is a markup going on in Judiciary. I'm going to excuse myself for the first 20 minutes. But, Ambassador Rice, welcome.
The gentlelady alluded to Haiti and the peacekeeping mission there. I daresay if the United Nations was not present in Haiti today, that there would be a significant United States both civilian and military presence there. Back in 2006, myself and the ranking member of the subcommittee, Mr. Rohrabacher, requested that the GAO compare the costs of the then- current and still current UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti with the hypothetical costs of what a U.S.-only mission of the same size would entail. And I've read your testimony and you have referenced it, but in terms of the American taxpayer, I think it cannot be stated often enough that it certainly has proven to be, simply on a financial basis, a good investment. It would have cost the United States taxpayer to support a U.S.-only mission there eight times of what it costs the United States taxpayer now.
More importantly, as you well know, peacekeeping -- and I think your words were it has saved the United States not only treasure but blood. Again, the gentlelady indicated that there is over 100,000 people -- well, personnel in terms of peacekeeping worldwide. Ninety- three of those are American personnel. So, given the multiple challenges facing the United States, and recognizing that there are problems that have to be addressed and improvements that can be made, it's my belief that one of the most favorable aspects of the United Nations in terms of the United States is the peacekeeping operations.
And I know that many of us look forward to your testimony, your leadership, and I'm sure there will be consultations over the course of your tenure and our tenure here regarding peacekeeping operations because the gentlelady, the ranking member, as well as the chair are correct; there are increasing demands on the UN, and I think it's critical that we have discussions and debate to determine how we can improve those missions. And welcome, again, and I yield back.
BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired, and now Ambassador Rice. Ambassador Susan Rice serves as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations. She was unanimously confirmed to this Cabinet- ranked position by the U.S. Senate on January 22nd, 2009. Would only other confirmations come so quickly. From 2002 to 2009, Ambassador Rice was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she focused on U.S. foreign policy, transnational security threats, weak states, global poverty and development. And from 1997 to 2001, Ambassador Rice was assistant secretary of State for African Affairs, and prior to that served as senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. Ambassador Rice received a Master's degree and a Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and her B.A. from Stanford University.
We are very pleased to have you here in your first appearance in this capacity before the committee, and welcome. Your testimony, your entire statement, will be included in the record.
AMB. RICE: Thank you very much Chairman Berman, thank you Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen, Distinguished Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am grateful for your convening this hearing on the opportunities and challenges of global peacekeeping, particularly in Africa. I deeply appreciate the Committee’s broad interest in these questions.
And with your permission, Mr. Chairman, as you just said, I would like to summarize my testimony, and submit it in its entirety for the record.
I am particularly pleased to make my first appearance on the Hill as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations to discuss an issue that has enjoyed such strong bipartisan support for more than sixty years. From the Truman Administration’s backing of the first dispatch of the UN military observers in the Middle East in 1948, to the Bush Administration’s support for unprecedented growth in UN peacekeeping between 2003 and 2008, the United States has repeatedly turned to the United Nations, and its peacekeeping capacity, as an essential instrument for advancing our security.
Increasing the effectiveness and the efficiency of peacekeeping is one of the Obama Administration’s highest priorities at the United Nations. The Administration recognizes that many of today’s peacekeeping operations face significant limitations and challenges. But like our predecessors, we know that UN peacekeeping addresses pressing international needs and serves our national interests.
There are five compelling reasons why it is in the U.S. national interest to invest in UN peacekeeping.
First, UN peacekeeping delivers real results in conflict zones. UN peacekeepers can provide the political and practical reassurances that warring parties often need to agree to and implement an effective cease-fire. Their deployment can help limit or stop the escalation of armed conflict—and stave off wider war.
Today’s UN operations do much more than just observe cease-fires. They provide security and access so that humanitarian aid can reach the sick, the hungry, and the desperate. They help protect vulnerable civilians and create conditions that will allow refugees to return home. And they help emerging democracies hold elections and strengthen the rule of law.
Many countries are more peaceful and stable today due to UN peacekeeping. In recent years, UN peacekeepers helped avert an explosion of ethnic violence in Burundi, extend a fledgling government’s authority in Sierra Leone, keep order in Liberia, and take back Cité Soleil from the lawless gangs in Haiti. All of these countries, I should note, now enjoy democratically elected governments.
Second, UN peacekeeping allows us to share the burden of creating a more peaceful and secure world. America simply cannot send our fighting forces to every corner of the globe wherever war breaks out. Today, UN peacekeeping enlists the contributions of some 118 countries, which provide more than 93,000 troops and police to 15 different UN operations. We are grateful for our partners’ efforts to forge a safer, more decent world.
This is burden sharing at its most effective: The United States, as was mentioned earlier by Mr. Delahunt, currently contributes 93 military and police personnel to UN operations—approximately 0.1 percent of all uniformed UN personnel deployed worldwide. Sixty-five countries contribute more than the United States, including the other four permanent members of the Security Council.
Third, UN peacekeeping is cost-effective. The total cost of UN peacekeeping is expected to exceed $7.75 billion this year. As large as this figure is, it actually represents less than 1 percent of global military spending.
The United States contributes slightly more than a quarter of the annual costs for UN peacekeeping. The European Union countries and Japan together pay more than half of the UN’s peacekeeping bill. We estimate that the U.S. share of the Fiscal Year 2009 costs will reach, as Ms. Ros-Lehtinen had pointed out, about $2.2 billion. We are grateful to Congress for the appropriations that will enable us to make our payments in full during Fiscal 2009, as well as address arrears accrued from 2005 to 2008.
But let’s be plain. $2.2 billion is a lot of money, but the costs of inaction would likely be far greater, both in blood and treasure. According to the same GAO report that Mr. Delahunt referenced in 2006, the U.S. contribution to the UN mission in Haiti was $116 million for the first 14 months of the operation—roughly an eighth of the cost of a unilateral American mission of the same size and duration. That works out to 12 cents on the dollar—money that seems particularly well-spent when one recalls that the arrival of UN peacekeepers in Haiti let American troops depart without leaving chaos in their wake.
Fourth, the United Nations is uniquely able to mount multi-faceted operations. We have learned in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere how important it is to have an integrated, comprehensive approach. The UN has particular expertise here and can pull political, military, police, humanitarian, human rights, electoral, and development activities under the leadership of a single individual on the ground.
Fifth, sometimes warring parties won’t let other outside actors in—except for the UN. Governments, rebels, warlords, and other antagonists often don’t want foreign forces in their country. But the UN’s universal character and its unique legitimacy can make it a little easier for some governments and opposition elements to decide to let constructive outsiders in.
All of these factors make UN peacekeeping an effective and dynamic instrument for advancing U.S. interests.
At the same time, we must be clear about the very real challenges facing UN peacekeeping, especially its missions to Africa. And let me highlight three of these challenges.
First, the sheer volume and growth of peacekeeping has put the UN and its missions under severe strain. Over the past six years, the UN has had to launch or expand eight missions in rapid succession. In 2003, the UN had about 36,000 uniformed personnel deployed around the world. Today, as I just said, it’s more than 93,000.
UN officials are the first to acknowledge that it has been difficult to generate, recruit, and deploy the numbers of personnel required, while keeping quality high and ongoing improvements on track.
A series of initiatives started in 2000 and continued in 2007 greatly enhanced the UN’s administrative and logistical support capabilities, but they never envisioned the scale and scope of today’s deployments. So, there is much still to be done.
Second, the UN is being asked to take on harder, riskier operations—often without the support and capabilities it needs from member states. The Security Council has recently given some very ambitious mandates to peacekeeping operations in Africa, such as protecting civilians under the threat of physical violence—including sexual violence—in vast and populous territories with limited infrastructure, faltering peace processes, ongoing hostilities, and uncooperative host governments.
Consider what the world is asking of UNAMID, the hybrid African Union-UN mission in Darfur. Darfur is about the size of California, with a pre-war population of 6.5 million people. Only 20,000 peacekeepers, and we’re not even yet at that strength, are inherently limited in their ability to patrol territory so vast and to protect so many civilians. Imagine how much more difficult their task becomes, as it has, when the host government actively hinders their efforts, the parties balk at cease-fire talks, and the peacekeepers are deployed below their full operating capacity.
The Government of Sudan has repeatedly failed to cooperate with international peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, denying them access, expelling international humanitarian groups, refusing entry visas for desperately needed personnel and blocking the delivery of critical logistical support. While President Obama’s Special Envoy on Sudan, General Scott Gration, helped persuade the Government of Sudan to let four new humanitarian NGOs in, we continue to urge Khartoum to fill the gaps in critical humanitarian aid services and to improve its cooperation with UNAMID.
UNAMID is now only at 69 percent of the 19,500 troops it was authorized to field, and only 45 percent of its authorized police strength. The United States has provided over $100 million worth of heavy equipment and training, as well as $17 million worth of airlift assistance for African peacekeepers in Darfur, and as was just mentioned, we helped secure a pledge of five tactical-helicopters for UNAMID from the Government of Ethiopia. But you may recall that UNAMID continues to plead with the international community, now for over two years, for 18 medium-sized utility helicopters and about 400 personnel to fly them and maintain them. The missions in Chad and the Congo also lack critical helicopter units to enable them to quickly deploy to areas where vulnerable civilians need their help most.
And, third, host governments often lack the security and rule-of-law capacities needed to take over successfully from UN peacekeepers when they leave.
Let me flag one brief example: Liberia, which has made considerable progress during the last six years that UNMIL, the UN Mission, has been on the ground—I saw for myself in May, when I led a Security Council mission to Liberia. But Liberia’s army, police, justice, and prisons systems are very weak; poverty, unemployment, and violent crime are high; disputes over land and ethnicity persist. The country’s hard-won progress would unravel if peacekeepers leave too soon.
So, it will take concerted action by many actors to meet these difficult challenges facing UN peacekeeping. It will also take U.S. leadership—in areas where we are uniquely able to provide it. And the new Administration is moving ahead swiftly on five particularly important fronts.
First, we are working with our fellow Security Council members to provide credible and achievable mandates for UN operations. And we are working on a Presidential Statement with our partners that would outline a better process for formulating peacekeeping mandates, and measuring progress in their implementation.
We have demonstrated our commitment to resist endorsing un-achievable or ill-conceived mandates, for example by opposing in the present circumstances the establishment of a UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Peacekeeping missions are not always the right answer; some situations require other types of UN-authorized military deployments, such as regional efforts or multinational forces operating under the framework of a lead nation. And effective mediation needs to precede and accompany all peacekeeping efforts, if they are to succeed.
Second, we are breathing new life into faltering peace processes where peacekeeping operations are currently deployed. Our objective is to get the parties in fragile peace talks to abide by their commitments, to cooperate with peacekeepers, and build mutual trust.
Our most immediate priorities in Africa are Darfur and Sudan’s North-South peace process, the Great Lakes region, and the Horn of Africa.
Third, we will do more to help expand the pool of willing and capable troop and police contributors. Our immediate priority is to help secure the capabilities that the missions in Darfur, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo need to better protect civilians under imminent threat. But we are also pursuing more long-term efforts.
Since 2005, the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative, or GPOI, and its African component, ACOTA, have focused on training the peacekeepers needed to meet this spike in global demand. And as of this month, the program had trained more than 81,000 peacekeepers and helped deploy nearly 50,000 of them to peacekeeping operations around the world.
We must also prime the pump to generate even more peacekeepers. Other countries’ willingness to provide troops and police is likely to increase if they see that key Security Council members, including the United States, not only value their sacrifice but respect their concerns.
The United States, for our part, is willing to consider directly contributing more military observers, military staff officers, civilian police, and other civilian personnel—including more women I should note—to UN peacekeeping operations. We will also explore ways to provide initial enabling assistance to peacekeeping missions, either by ourselves or together with partners.
Fourth, we will help build up host governments’ security sectors and rule-of-law institutions, as part of an overall peace-building strategy. Our immediate priorities in this regard are Haiti, Liberia, and the DRC—three places where such efforts could help let UN peacekeeping missions depart sooner.
As a host government’s capacities grow, the role of a UN mission can be reduced. But we will not be rushed out of lasting results. We have made it abundantly clear to our Security Council partners that while we seek to lessen the peacekeeping load, as appropriate, we will not support arbitrary or abrupt efforts to downsize or terminate missions.
And finally, the United States will pursue a new generation of peacekeeping reforms from the UN Secretariat. We will support reforms that help achieve economies of scale and realize cost savings; that strengthen oversight, transparency, and accountability; that improve field personnel and procurement systems; that strengthen the process of mission planning; that reduce deployment delays; and encourage stronger mission leadership; and clarify the roles and responsibilities of all UN actors, in the field and at headquarters.
The Administration is also encouraging reform efforts that elevate performance standards and prevent fraud and abuse, including sexual exploitation. The UN has taken several critical steps in recent years to establish and implement a zero-tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel—including establishing a well-publicized code of conduct and creating Conduct and Discipline Units in the field to perform training, carry out initial investigations, and support victims. The Administration strongly supports these measures, and we will remain vigilant to ensure that they are implemented effectively.
Chairman Berman, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen, Distinguished Members, I hope that this provides a helpful starting point for our discussions today. It is pragmatism and a clear sense of America’s interests that drives us to support UN peacekeeping. And it is also pragmatism and principle that drive us to pursue critical reforms in this important national security tool. We need peacekeeping missions that are planned well, deployed quickly, budgeted realistically, equipped seriously, led ably, and ended responsibly. I look forward to your questions, your good counsel, and your continued support as we work together to build a more secure America and a more peaceful world.
It’s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
REP. BERMAN: Well, thank you very much, Madame Ambassador. And I yield myself five minutes. You present both a compelling case for why peacekeeping is in -- so much in our interests, as well as recognition of serious problems and a strategy for addressing those problems. I want to ask you just a couple of questions. Let me ask -- three issues I want to raise with you and then give you a chance to comment.
First, the issue of -- in these conflicts, the soldiers use of rape as a weapon of war in Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Congo. We need a mechanism to hold the individuals accountable for their crimes. Have you any thoughts on the question of whether a UN charter -- the UN charter could be amended to hold member states responsible for prosecuting their nationals who commit criminal acts, while serving in an international peacekeeping operation? And of course in the alternative: Should there be an international mechanism -- a military tribunal established for these kinds of cases?
The other issue I'd like to address -- you touched on an interesting point in pointing out some of the priorities -- particularly in Africa -- for the sustaining and strengthening of peacekeeping operations and then mentioning that Somalia was a case where that wasn't appropriate. And I'm curious -- could you expand on a little bit the notion of where it makes sense and where it doesn't in your mind? So I know with my remaining three minutes.
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Two very important issues you raise. Let me begin with the first about accountability for sexual crimes and other abuses committed -- I presume you mean to focus on peacekeepers. Is that right?
REP. BERMAN: Well, I mean –
AMB. RICE: Or do you mean criminals in war?
REP. BERMAN: Both, but let's start with the peacekeepers.
AMB. RICE: Okay, because they're two –
REP. BERMAN: You touched on the peace –
AMB. RICE: -- would be quite different.
REP. BERMAN: Okay.
AMB. RICE: First of all, obviously, the United States -- the administration, Congress -- we are all deeply concerned about the prevalence of rape as a crime of war. It is not a new phenomenon unfortunately. It is as old as time, but it is particularly egregious and strikingly prevalent in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, which I visited myself recently in May and spoke with victims of sexual abuse and rape. It's prevalent in Congo and Liberia, Sudan and elsewhere. And these need to be addressed in a very serious way when they're committed by combatants, as well as by peacekeepers.
Now, I think it's important to note that while there have been some very unacceptable egregious instances of abuse by UN personnel, that is a very small fraction of the problem. The vast majority of peacekeepers, as Ms. Ros-Lehtinen pointed out, are responsible, principled and are contributing to the protection of civilians rather than the alternative. But where abuses occur by peacekeepers there does need to be accountability, which is why we have been so supportive of the UN's zero-tolerance policy, its placement in the field of code of conduct teams that can investigate, that can train and that can enable mission leaders to hold accountable personnel and remove them.
The present circumstance, however, as you know is that every national government, every troop-contributing country is responsible ultimately for the prosecution and the disposition of their own troops in cases of crimes. That is, as you know, a privilege we jealously guard ourselves. And so while I think it is certainly worth considering and exploring what additional legal mechanisms -- international legal mechanisms might be available to ensure that when perpetrators are identified and convicted that they are in fact held accountable, we need to be realistic about what member states are prepared to allow their own personnel to be subjected to in the form of international justice. It's analogous to the debate that we're all familiar with that we've had in this country and elsewhere with respect to the international criminal court, which is a vehicle, theoretically, that might be appropriate in this instance. And so when you talk about an amendment to the U.S. charter, you're talking about two-thirds of the member states of the General Assembly, ratification by our own Senate and I think it's a high bar, because if we were to sponsor that we would have to be willing to subject ourselves to it.
REP. BERMAN: I take your point. My time is expired. And the five minutes is both -- I would like to hear the answer to the Somali issue, but I –
AMB. RICE: I imagine somebody else will raise it and I will certainly address it. (Laughter.)
REP. BERMAN: I am pleased to recognize Ms. Ros-Lehtinen for five minutes.
REP. ROS-LEHTINEN: Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your testimony, Ambassador Rice. The first question, although it does not relate to peacekeeping, I'd like to ask your views on the UN Human Rights Council and your plans for reforming this failed body. For example, a few months ago, the council praised the Cuban tyranny's human rights record. And it repeatedly condemns Israel; its membership includes Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China. Over 80 percent of their country-specific condemnations target Israel, while Zimbabwe, for example, escapes scrutiny, because it's got serial human rights abusers on the panel.
On Haiti, I recently traveled to Haiti with some of my south border congressional colleagues: Congressman Meek, Wasserman Shultz, Diaz-Balarts. We witnessed the important role played by the UN mission in Haiti. I strongly believe that the objective and the success of the mission there are crucial to Haiti's future as a stable, democratic and prosperous nation. And this is what we hope for Haiti. I also witnessed U.S. programs at work in Haiti. How is the coordinating going with the UN peacekeeping mission there to help ensure maximum impact and efficiency for our efforts in Haiti. And how do you see the appointment of former President Clinton as facilitating this coordination and helping to strengthen Haiti's capacity to help its own people and again move into a new phase marked by growth and stability?
And lastly, on Lebanon there are repeated reports of UNIFIL engaging in anti-Israel, pro-Hezbollah behavior. During Israel's defensive war against Hezbollah in 2006, UNIFIL reportedly displayed Israeli troop movements on its website. Last year, UNIFIL soldiers saluted a passing convoy that was bedecked by Hezbollah flags and carried the coffin and pictures of a Hezbollah militant. UNIFIL has essentially shrugged off criticism of this outrageous behavior. What will the administration do to enforce accountability regarding these incidents and weed out potential Hezbollah sympathizers from this UNIFIL force? Thank you, Madame Ambassador.
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen. I will do my best in the two-and-a-half minutes that I have to deal with those three questions, but it's going to be a challenge. Let me begin first with the Human Rights Council -- and then forgive me if I start talking fast to try to be responsive.
We made the decision that the United States would be better off inside the Human Rights Council fighting for what we believe in, playing an active role in trying to call attention to those countries in the world that are the most egregious human rights abusers and standing up against and actively pushing back on the outrageous and ridiculous focus on Israel that has been the pattern in the Human Rights Council. We know very well that this is a body that has not lived up to its expectations, that is flawed. But we think that the United States can best lead on an issue that we care so deeply about -- human rights and democracy -- from within. And we will play a very active and energetic role in focusing effort and attention on those countries that deserve it and ensuring that there is balance and a reasonable approach to the issue of Israel. From inside we will work on the universal periodic review mechanism, which is a good opportunity to deal with a number of countries we have a particular interest in. And we will be actively engaged in the review of the council in 2011 to ensure that it is enhanced and improved.
With respect to Haiti, I –
REP. BERMAN: I'm going to ask unanimous consent that the gentlelady have an additional minute just to finish.
AMB. RICE: Thank you. Does that mean I can talk a little less fast?
REP. BERMAN: No, the fast is good, but you have a lot to cover here.
AMB. RICE: Okay. Haiti. I too had the privilege of visiting Haiti in recent months. I was with the Security Council on a delegation there in March, and I can say that, in my judgment, this is a mission that is performing well, that has done a tremendous job of helping to bring stability and security to parts of the country, particularly the slums of Port au Prince that have -- were completely lawless, and to create the space for the police to be trained to take over and play a critical role in Haiti's security. So this is a mission that is, in my judgment, on track, well led, with good coordination among its civilian and military and police elements. I was pleased to see American police officers serving with distinction and finding that to be a very worthwhile contribution. With respect to President Clinton, I think that Haiti and, indeed, the United Nations and the United States are, frankly, blessed to have somebody of his commitment and stature actively engaged in supporting Haiti. He will, among other things, help with Haiti's economic development and bringing attention to -- and I hope investors and resources -- to Haiti at this critical point because getting on its feet economically and reducing poverty is such a critical element of success, as you well know.
With respect to Lebanon, I share your concerns about the incidents that you have raised. We clearly have cause for even greater concern in recent days with the explosion of the arms cache which we believed to have been in violation of 1701 and a Hezbollah likely sponsored cache. We think that there is reason for continued vigilance and scrutiny, not only with respect to violations of 1701 and the arms embargo -- and we will do that and continue to do that, but we will also ensure that UNIFIL and its troop contributors act in a fashion consistent with their mandate and their purpose. Many of these troop contributors, as you know, are some of our closest allies and partners.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentlelady has expired. The chairman of the African Global Health Subcommittee, Mr. Payne, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. PAYNE: Thank you very much. And let me welcome you, Dr. Rice, and I'm so pleased that you've been appointed to a position. Your background as assistant secretary and NASA security and Brookings Institute really prepared you well for the position, and from what I have gotten from member states, your presence there has changed the image of the U.S., and I really appreciate that.
Let me also commend you for the work you did on the Human Rights Commission to insert the United States again, and we know that there's still a lot of work to be done, but it's far from where it used to be, and the fact that you had the courage to present the United States in an election which has won maybe 97 percent of the available votes so that your judgment was right -- I certainly also appreciate the work you did on making the Durban conference a -- you know, less stringent. I certainly believe we should have participated, but I think that your work there made the conference better. We -- my position is we know what Ahmadinejad is going to say. He says it every year. I think if someone's there to refute what he says makes more sense than no one there to answer it or, if you're there, you walk out. I don't -- we confront in my city, in my town where I grew up. We sit eye to eye with our enemy, and we do battle. We don't not or be invisible.
Let me just ask a quick question -- two quick ones. One, some countries say that they are -- they're unable to have troops because of the wet-lease issue where, in many instances, the troops are not fully prepared with equipment and so forth. Is the UN looking at how you can assist countries that are willing to provide troops, but are in powers that do not have the equipment and the uniforms and other things that -- to provide?
Secondly, as relates to Somalia, as you know, that is probably one of the most important countries right now. If Somalia is lost to extremists, it will be a disaster for the Horn and, therefore, what can -- number one, AU has the current mandate, and their mandate is not Chapter 7, so their troops cannot even fight back under the AU. Is there any consideration to attempt to change the mandate from AU to UN and that there could be ample forces put in because it is so key, and I think that with help from the UN that Sheikh Sharif, Sheikh Hamid's troops, if given the proper training, will be able to defend themselves and defend Mogadishu and the general Somalia area, but they need help, as Sheikh Sharif told me on my recent trip to Mogadishu. The hijackers have money because they get it from the shipping industry and that whole group. The Al Shabab and Hezbollah, Islambollah, have funds from Al Qaida. The government lacks the funds that they need, and so the enemies have the funds, but the government lacks it. So is there any way that we can move that forward?
And, finally, will the mission in Haiti remain, and do you see development going with the new emphasis that the UN has with President Clinton being there so that development in some way can expand in Haiti?
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Payne. And thank you for your kind comments about my service and for your long friendship and support on these very critical issues. I will try my best.
Troop contributors who lack equipment, that is, as you know, a perennial challenge, particularly as we are searching for more and more troops and having to look in various different locations to find them. The UN has turned often to troop- contributing countries that have the will to contribute but may not have the resources, and we have -- they have sourced equipment externally to provide to such troop contingents. The United States has supported in certain instances, including in Darfur, the equipping of certain contingents so that they could deploy and have what they need. It still remains a challenge, it's far from perfect, but there are efforts to match troops with equipment packages so that they can be functional. I'd like to come back to Somalia. And let me just deal with Haiti really quickly and say, yes, I think the mission is there to stay for some time, through at least the upcoming elections, and I'm hopeful that President Clinton's leadership will be very constructive with respect to accelerating Haiti's development. But Somalia –
REP. BERMAN: I'll just -- to balance it out, one additional minute. And then from now on, remember questions, answers all in five minutes, so we might have to limit our questions to hear answers.
REP. DONALD PAYNE (D-NJ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I was going to ask about Cote d'Ivoire, if you have a second, too.
AMB. RICE: Whoa. Okay. (Laughter.) Let me treat Somalia, if I might, because now the chairman also asked about it and I wasn't able to touch on it. We are very concerned, obviously, about the situation in Somalia. We have an enormous stake in the survival of the transitional federal government and in the defeat of Al Shabab and other extremist groups that are affiliated with Al Qaida and are gravely imperiling that transitional federal government. That is why the United States has provided 80 tons of military equipment, including ammunition, to the TFG to support it. That is why we have been the principal supporter of AMISOM in funding its logistic support package. AMISOM is playing a very important role, even within the bounds of its mandates. It is helping to defend the TFG and we think that's vitally important.
With respect to whether it is a circumstance ripe for UN peacekeeping, we think it is certainly a circumstance where we need a credible security support for the government. AMISOM is -- has committed to play that role. We think it is the best approach at present because there is a history in Somalia, as you will recall, of the United Nations which wasn't entirely a happy one, to put it mildly. There is a tradition of really violent opposition to outsiders of all sorts, and AMISOM has succeeded to a substantial extent in being accepted by the population, particularly in Mogadishu, because it's engaged in medical outreach and support, provision of services to the population. It is not viewed with the same skepticism and hostility that the UN might. Plus, we have just discussed the problem of giving the UN mandates that they can't fulfill, and this is a case where even Amasom is not staffed at its full complement. So to hand that over to the UN, with the current deficit we have in the gaps between the authorized strength in Darfur and Congo and the actual troops available, would only be to exacerbate the problem.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman is expired. Now back to the five-minute rule, Mr. Smith.
REP. CHRISTOPHER SMITH (R-NJ): Just in time for me. Ambassador Rice, thank you for your testimony and for your leadership. Let me just say at the outset, Mr. Chairman, for the entirety of my 29 years in the House, my support for UN peacekeeping has been strong and consistent, but not unqualified. Peacekeepers must always be on the side of protection, not some of the time but all of the time.
So, in my very limited time, let me ask you to address two of my ongoing concerns. First, on the issue of mandates. Ambassador Williamson makes some 14 incisive observations, and I agree with him on each and every one of them, including and especially the issue of mandates or rules of engagement. I'll never forget, because I was very active in the Balkans -- went over there many times during the Balkans war; was in Vukovar just before it fell, and the shame of Srebrenitsa, where some 8,000 Bosniaks were slaughtered -- and I've been back to Srebrenitsa several times since -- in this so-called safe haven. Hopefully, there was a lessons learned with regards to -- (inaudible) -- mandate, which was very, very ineffective. I'll never forget, on a trip to Darfur, meeting with a Major Ajumbo, who was with the A.U. He was also in the Balkans. And he said our rules of engagement here are very similar, in terms of protection, as they were in the Balkans. Now, we know the mandate, or the rule of engagement has been changed. My hope is -- and I would ask you to comment on this, whether or not, in real terms, it will really be all about protection.
Secondly, on the issue of the Congo -- the D.R. Congo and the abuse of children, especially by peacekeepers. I held three hearings on this outrageous behavior. Jane Holl Lute, who is now back in the administration, was the assistant -- UN assistant secretary-general for mission support, she was outraged, as were others in the UN She said the "blue helmets" have become black and blue through self- inflicted wounds, and -- (inaudible) -- and we will not sit idly by until the blue helmet is restored. Many good things were put into effect. Prince Zayid's recommendations have been followed, but only to some extent. The database, to the best for my knowledge, is not UN-wide, and maybe you want to comment on that. But my concern that I had -- I visited Goma in 2008, and was shocked to learn that the OIOS, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, had been redeployed out of Goma. Just today, the general who operates the MONUC said that he's concerned that there are several cases of exploitation, some of which that have gone undetected, particularly in the remote areas. And I was told by the OIOS leadership in Goma, right before they were redeployed out of the area, "How can you investigate when you're not there" -- you know, in proximity to where the abuses are taking place? My question would be, is there an effort to get OIOS back to Goma? Are they back? I've been unable to discover whether or not they are back. And what can we do to really make zero tolerance stick? At our hearings we kept hearing from, particularly the private witnesses, zero tolerance is -- has really meant zero compliance, which I think is a bit of hyperbole, but it does raise some serious questions about the seriousness that this is being combated.
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Smith. And let me also thank you for your deep and longstanding concern about this whole panoply of issues. It's a concern that we share. And, indeed, the theme of your question comes back down to civilian protection, including that that is being perpetrated in the worst instances -- in rare but severe, by United Nations personnel. And you referenced both Darfur and Congo children and women. I think it's all, in effect, the same question.
So, let me say this, in both Darfur and Congo mandates have been strengthened to focus very directly and specifically on the challenge of civilian protection. And this is -- particularly in the case of Congo, the principal focus of MONUC now -- I was there in May and I saw some of the specific steps that the UN is taking to deal with this problem, because in the Congo, as you know, the bulk of the violence is being perpetrated by the FDLR, the LRA, and some renegade elements of the FARDC, the Congolese forces. And what MONUC is doing is creating joint protection teams, which are joint civilian military teams that are rapid response capable. So that, in many areas of the Kivus, they can reach -- I can give you the whole details, they can reach civilians at risk within seven minutes, which is a huge improvement over what has been the case in the past. So, there is an improved civilian protection response capability that I was, frankly, surprised by, and impressed by, in parts of North Kivu that didn't exist before. That's progress.
But, with respect to zero tolerance and making that real on the ground, the UN has put investigative teams in place. I will check into your specific question of OIOS and get back to you. But, the broad story is that there are real efforts underway to have the UN investigate itself and hold itself accountable. And I'm confident that that will yield improved results.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentlelady from California, Ms. Woolsey, for five minutes.
REP. LYNN WOOLSEY (D-CA): Thank you very much. And what an honor to be with you, Ambassador Rice. I'm going to change the subject just a little, but it's about the UN For a long time I've been a supporter of moving from military peacekeeping to what I call "smart power." And I believe that that fits right in with President Obama and Secretary Clinton's missions as well, a smart security platform where we move from the military into diplomacy, and economic support, and health care and alternatives to a military mission. So, I'm going to segue that into something that I think is smart power. And I question why the United States doesn't ratify the conventions, the UN conventions that -- we are becoming a very small, part of a very small group of holdouts in not ratifying the Rights of the Child, the Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW, and the Kyoto convention on climate change. And I'm not sure, did we -- did they sign the UN CRPD, the Disabilities, today -- this week? If so, have we signed -- the president signed it Friday night in the White House.
AMB. RICE: He instructed me to sign it next -- later this week –
REP. WOOLSEY: All right.
AMB. RICE: So yes, we will be signing –
REP. WOOLSEY: Okay. All right, well that's -- you're setting a precedent. But could you tell me what's going on with -- I mean, I can tell you that I have introduced CEDAW in the House -- because it's not ours, it's the Senate's, but asking the Senate to do their part so that it could be ratified. And I've done this every Congress since 1993, and we have 123 cosponsors on it this year alone. I mean, every year. We want it ratified, along with these other conventions. So, my question is, do you know what's happening with all of them?
AMB. RICE: Thank you very much. We share your commitment to effective employment of smart power, and also your belief that in a number of instances, these treaties -- particularly those that are critical to the respect of human rights, advance our ability not only to protect and promote human rights internationally, but enhance our smart power.
Let me treat the three treaties that you raised with specificity. As I just mentioned, and as you can imagine, the administration is going through a process as we get our personnel in place, of reviewing a number of treaties that have not been ratified, and some not signed, some signed and not submitted for ratification. This is a lengthy legal process, but we're pursuing it expeditiously.
The first one to emerge from that review process has been the Disabilities convention. As you mentioned, on Friday the president announced our commitment to sign it. I will sign it tomorrow in New York. And we will look forward to Senate action on it.
With respect to the CEDAW, as Secretary Clinton has said, as I have said, and others, this is an important treaty that the administration wants to see ratified and ratified swiftly. I think we have strong champions of that on the Senate side. I don't know when exactly on the schedule it might be able to be considered, but we have indicated -- certainly informally, and will ultimately do so formally, that this is an important priority for the administration.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, as you know, was signed by the Clinton administration in 1995, 193 countries have ratified it. The United States and Somalia are the two countries that have not ratified it. It is a complicated treaty where we will have to consider whether we can adapt it to our very complex state and local laws. And we are in the process -- or we will soon launch a process, I should say, of reviewing that treaty and considering whether or not we can craft a complex set of reservations that meet our concerns, or not, and then make a decision on how to pursue that particular convention. Thank you.
REP. WOOLSEY: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you. And Mr. Smith tells me that he thinks it was President Bush who signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
AMB. RICE: Well, I will certainly check. I believe it was –
REP. BERMAN: Bush 41.
AMB. RICE: -- in 1995, but –
REP. : If the gentleman would yield?
AMB. RICE: 1995
REP. BERMAN: The gentleman from California, Mr. -- (inaudible) –
AMB. RICE: But –
REP. ED ROYCE (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ambassador Rice, good to see you again. It was nice to see you in New York, and I appreciate very much the working relationship we've had on issues regarding Africa in your previous positions. I was going to ask you about Eritrea, the concern there -- especially expressed to me by different ambassadors from Sub-Saharan Africa, now that the A.U. has gone on record with a kind of an unprecedented step of asking for sanctions on Eritrea, because they are training these jihadists that end up killing African Union troops in Somalia. They'd like to know what we could do -- maybe up in New York -- regarding this new problem, or old problem actually, but one which is taking on an increasing toll.
AMB. RICE: Thank you Mr. Royce and thank you for your kind words. I certainly have been grateful for our cooperation over the years and I too enjoyed our time together in New York.
I'm glad you raise the issue of Eritrea because it is a timely and topical issue in our deliberations in New York. We have considered it twice in the last month in the Security Council both in the context of Somalia and Djibouti. And I will share here and this will be essentially what I said in New York which is that the United States is deeply concerned and very frustrated with Eritrea's behavior in Somalia where it is arming, supporting, funding Al Shabaab and other extremist elements and undermining the security there of the transition Federal government, which as I mentioned earlier is important to our national security. So they are taking steps that are destabilizing Somalia, the region and that have a direct impact on our security and that of others. It is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it. And nor will other members of the Security Council.
We take note of the EGAD and African Union call for sanctions. This is indeed, as you point out, highly unusual and we will continue to discuss with colleagues in the Security Council appropriate measures including potentially sanctions against Eritrea ports actions in Somalia.
There's another issue however and that is Djibouti where the Security Council passed a resolution following Eritrea's incursion into Djibouti, the killing of 40 Djiboutian soldiers in a border incident last year. The Council demanded that Eritrea acknowledge this dispute and act to resolve it. Djibouti has upheld its obligations, Eritrea has not. And it has essentially stiffed and stonewalled the UN and others on this.
The United States and the new Administration had hoped and frankly continues to hope that there may be a window for improved relations with Eritrea. That Eritrea will step back from its destabilizing activities in Somalia and the broader region and return to a more constructive role in the region. We have tried to convey that message very directly to the government of Eritrea and they seem not to be particularly receptive to hearing it from us or others. And so as I said in New York, there is a very short window for Eritrea to signal through its actions that it wishes a better relationship with the United States and indeed the wider international community. If we do not see signs of that signal in short order I can assure you that we will be taking appropriate steps with partners in Africa and the Security Council to take cognizance of Eritrea's actions both in Somalia and in the wider region.
REP. ROYCE: Thank you Ambassador Rice. One step we could take would be to put Eritrea back -- put them on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But let me go to another issue. The issue in Cyprus, it seems that Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots probably would work out a resolution of some type. But there are 40,000 Turkish soldiers on the island and it would seem to me that if the United States could persuade Turkey that this standing army is not needed for any legitimate security purpose and to draw that force down, it could go a long way in terms of reconciling and creating an atmosphere on the island of Cyprus that would be conducive to harmony. I want to get your opinion on that.
REP. BERMAN: I stand totally behind the gentleman's question I think it's very important and there's no time to answer it -- (scattered laughter) -- now. But –
AMB. RICE: I'm happy to talk offline about that.
REP. BERMAN: The gentlelady from Texas Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee is recognized for five minutes.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Madame Ambassador, thank you so very much for your presence here today and for the longstanding friendship and the knowledge that you bring to the Ambassadorship and the mission in the United Nations. Might I take a moment of personal privilege to acknowledge the very distinguished brother that you have as well, that we're aware about the efforts that he is making for our country.
AMB. RICE: Thank you. I'm very proud of my brother. Thank you so much.
REP. JACKSON LEE: And your whole family. I don't want to leave anyone out, but I very much appreciate his leadership. You mentioned some important issues. First of all I want to thank my colleague and friend the Chairman, Chairman Berman and the ranking member. And also my friend Congressman Delahunt and his committee which I am on that really laid the groundwork for saying what is the cost of not doing peacekeeping. And that's where I'd like to focus my line of questioning. And just -- take for example your words about how UN peacekeeping allows us to share the burden of creating a more peaceful and secure world. I think America needs to focus on that a little bit more as we relate to what the United Nation actually does. And then there is a point that you made that maybe you were not able to elaborate on. The issue -- I'll keep looking at it as I try to ask -- the difficulty of doing peacekeeping.
So let me try to focus my questions on the cost and give you these three issues; Haiti, what progress have we made and how is the envoy, President Clinton, doing as relates to Haiti? With respect to Sudan, I met with the African Union before the peacekeeping status was set up and I know that it was slow in moving and I'm interested in how the peacekeeping process is in Sudan as we talk about the comprehensive peace agreement, and certainly we have an envoy there. I also believe that it's important that we look at questions dealing with peacekeepers. And I'd be interested in the role that the United Nations is taking to establish and implement a zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeeping personnel. I appreciate a brief on that issue, particularly as sometimes they made it in transmitting STD's and how were handling that. If I might yield to you for those questions.
AMB. RICE: Thank you very much Ms. Jackson Lee for those questions. Let me try as best I can in the time we have to cover as much ground as I might. You asked about the cost of not supporting UN peacekeeping, and I think that's a very important issue. It's one I touched upon in my testimony. The UN is in 15 different conflict areas around the world at present. And I think it's fair to say that if the UN were not present in many of those zones that the conflicts would continue to rage on, that fragile peace processes would collapse, elections would not be held in places as critical as the Democratic Republic of Congo or Liberia or Haiti. And we would, as would other members of the international community, face the consequences of conflict. Because as we know conflict zones not only cost the lives, the precious lives of innocents, conflicts not only impedes development, it spills over and can infect an entire region. And we saw that in Liberia, we saw that in the Great Lakes region –
REP. JACKSON LEE: So it's not just a cheap way of doing it, it is actually impacting saving lives and the United States involvement in conflicts around the world overspilling –
AMB. RICE: It is saving lives and it is preventing conflict zones from being exploited as they often are by extremists, by criminals. They can also often become breeding zones for disease and other trans-national security threats that can affect America's security. We cannot as the United States be in everyone of those conflict zones and be ourselves the peacekeepers. But through the United Nations where we have a 93,000 military and police personnel from 118 other countries doing that work. We contribute 93 military and police personnel to UN operations. The rest of the world is doing the bulk of this important work, without which our security would be negatively impacted.
REP. JACKSON LEE: How are we doing in Sudan and the sexual exploitation? I just don't want to miss getting your great answers on that, Sudan and the sexual exploitation.
AMB. RICE: Well I've spoken earlier about the sexual exploitation and zero tolerance. I've also spoken about Haiti. But with respect to zero tolerance, the UN has taken important steps to implement that on the ground in critical places like Congo and Sudan. We continue to be dismayed by the fact that cases of abuse occasionally still do arise. But the steps that they have taken to investigate, prevent and then hold accountable those who have committed crimes are directionally correct.
And on Sudan, that is a bigger and longer question. But let me say this. The United States is deeply committed to two critical things in Sudan. One is effective implementation of the North/South peace agreement, the CPA. And the other is saving lives and ending the suffering in Darfur. And the president has placed a top priority on this issue. He's appointed General Scott Gration as his special envoy to work actively on both those issues, and we are committed to doing our utmost to achieve success in both regards.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentlelady has expired.
REP. JACKSON LEE: Thank you very much for your leadership. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. BERMAN: And I might remind the committee that at 2:30 the committee will be having a private briefing with General Gration regarding Sudan, and I invite all members to come. The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Klein, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. RON KLEIN (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madame Ambassador, I'm all the way over here to the far left. (Laughs.)
REP. BERMAN: So to speak.
REP. KLEIN: Figuratively and physically. Thank you for being here. Congratulations on your appointment.
AMB. RICE: Thank you.
REP. KLEIN: The ranking member discussed this briefly, talking about UNIFIL and the mandate, and obviously the fact that it's coming up and there's concerns over the last number of weeks, based on the munitions depot in South Lebanon and the fact that the UNIFIL soldiers attempted to investigate this incident. A mob of civilians attacked the soldiers, who, at least from the observations we have, instead of confronting the mob, abandoned the investigation and their responsibilities, it's our understanding, and additionally reported that Lebanese civilians crossed the blue line to plant Hezbollah flags at a makeshift observation point several yards into Israel.
The concerns we've had the last number of months and for a period now is that UNIFIL is not fulfilling what we believe is necessary to keep things in check there. And although the rockets haven't been coming, there has been a massive rearming of that area. And I had the chance to travel to Lebanon a number of months ago in a bipartisan group, and we spoke to the Lebanese government about it and expressed our significant concern. And for all practical purposes, we did not get a response that we believe was forthcoming. We want to work with Lebanon, and we appreciate the fact that the Lebanese people had a very -- expressed themselves politically in a way that I think would be consistent with our beliefs. But the specific question I have for you is, what can we do to strengthen this mandate that UNIFIL has to really take on and fulfill the UN resolutions?
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Klein. And I think you posed the question precisely and correctly, because, as you know, UNIFIL is currently limited to a Chapter 6 mandate. And others can provide the history better than I, because this mandate was passed and updated prior to my tenure. But it was a contentious discussion and debate, and there were those who didn't want to give UNIFIL the enhanced capacity that it has today. And so the strengthening of the mandate is an interest that I understand many good people on the Hill share, and we certainly are sympathetic to it. But I don't think, as a practical matter, that we will be able to muster the support in the Security Council that would be necessary to substantially strengthen the mandate. So we are dealing with a Chapter 6 operation. We're dealing with a Chapter 6 operation that's got about 12,000 personnel. Many have been contributed from some of our most important allies in Europe.
And we frankly think that all of the problems you have described, that others have described notwithstanding, that on balance the role that UNIFIL is playing adds value rather than the opposite, even as we wish it would be able to do more. It is, in fact, taking active steps to visibly mark the blue line. Forty points along the blue line have been agreed by the parties. Seventeen markers have been installed or are under construction. It is investigating, where it can, consistent with its mandate, violations of 1701, including arms flows. It did not succeed as it went to try to investigate the arms cache that exploded on the 14th of July, not because it lacked the will but because it lacked the strength on the ground to frankly repel and didn't have the mandate to repel with force –
REP. KLEIN: I guess I might ask you, though -- and I appreciate your explanation. Sometimes there's a role that -- it has a, quote, "legitimate role" there. That's been established. But, you know, I think many of us think that the role of legitimacy, if, in fact, it is limited in its capacity, sometimes provides cover for what is actually going on there. And again, we're happy that nothing is -- there's no attacks on Israel right now. But, I mean, I think it's a ticking time bomb just waiting to happen. And, you know, whether UNIFIL is playing a role, I hear you. We may not be able to go any farther with it. But, you know, are you satisfied with just continuing this on indefinitely and saying that –
AMB. RICE: I don't think anybody could say they're satisfied with UNIFIL in its current capacity. But I think we support it because we think its presence contributes, on balance. It's better than the alternative. Were there no UNIFIL there, there would be no ability to demarcate the blue line, to investigate these abuses, and to provide some eyes and ears on what is transpiring in this very, very sensitive zone.
REP. KLEIN: The only other thing I'd like to add, on a separate note, is Durban. And I do want to express appreciation. I know this country did try to work through and change what was prepared for at the Durban conference. I appreciate the approach we did take and I appreciate the fact that we did not participate. And I do appreciate the fact that we are trying, in a constructive way, through the Human Rights Council, to change the dynamic there as well.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. DELAHUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Ambassador Rice, as I look at the challenges that are facing the United Nations in terms of peacekeeping, the one that I think is most striking is the issue of timeliness of response. And I know that you're familiar with the statistics. You know, it's -- 15 percent of a force is, on the average, deployed within 90 days. And again, looking at the averages, it's 14 months, or 13 months, I guess, before a force is fully deployed. And, you know, it's like just about everything in life. Early intervention is the key to success. And the idea of rapid deployment, I know, is a concern to you and a concern to the administration. What ideas are out there at this point in time in terms of accelerating the response to crises which, if allowed to fester over time, really change the facts on the ground, and most often in a negative fashion, making the challenge even more serious and that much more difficult to address?
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Delahunt. And you absolutely put your finger on what is a critical and, frankly, growing challenge over the course of the last decade for the United Nations. There was a time in the 1990s, even as there was a fair demand on peacekeepers, that the rate of full deployment was substantially swifter than it is today. Part of that -- in large part it's a function of the fact that we are at a level and complexity of deployment of the UN that has never been seen before. There are 93,000 uniformed personnel, as you know, across 15 missions. And even within some of those missions, notably Darfur and Congo, they are not yet at authorized strength.
The reality is that there is a gap between supply and demand. We are doing what we can to help increase supply and be more rational on the demand side. But we believe we need those additional troops in Darfur and in Congo, and they are roughly 6,000 troops short when you add those two together. They're about 4,000 short, even though it's not a UN mission, for AMISOM in Somalia. So we need to increase -- we, the international community, including the United States – in the supply of available, well-trained, well-equipped forces, and we need to be more rational as we put increased demands on the United Nations. Secondly, we can look at means, and the United Nations Secretariat is looking at means, to speed the dispatch of those who are available to go. We have often trouble with airlift, with contracting procedures that we, the United States, have insisted on be very, very rigorous, for good reason with respect to accountability and transparency. And yet the procurement process and the contracting procedures impede rapid deployment.
So we are looking at ways that we can help the United Nations speed deployment, as was done under the previous administration in Darfur, as we assisted in Somalia and other places getting the AU in there. But we're also working with the UN, and it is looking in its own internal New Horizons Initiative at ways it can streamline and expedite the procurement process. DELAHUNT: Might there be a role for a small increase in the number of U.S. military, given the expertise and the professionalism of the U.S. military forces, to accelerate a quick response, particularly in a crisis that does not require substantial amounts of military personnel?
RICE: I want to be sure I'm understanding your question. We have contributed, as you know, through airlift, through training, to enable –
REP. DELAHUNT: I'm talking -- I guess what I'm talking about is a leadership cadre of American military officers to coordinate and to assist in the effort to accelerate that response.
AMB. RICE: I think it's an interesting idea, and I'd certainly be interested in exploring it further with you. But as I said in my testimony, we are willing to consider the contribution of additional military observers, staff officers and the like, that could support strengthening these missions.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentlelady from California, Ms. Barbara Lee. Ms. Lee?
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Ambassador Rice. Let me just also congratulate you and just say how excited we are that you're at the United Nations. We're confident of your abilities to represent the United States. I mean you've demonstrated already your brilliance and also your commitment to the fundamental principles of cooperation and human rights –
AMB. RICE: Thank you.
REP. LEE: -- and so it's really wonderful to see you. Let me just take a moment and associate myself with the remarks of Chairman Don Payne as it relates to the conference on racism. And I do appreciate your hanging in there and working to try to make sure that the document was one that the United States could support. Unfortunately that didn't happen. And let me also just for the record say that I know and Chairman Berman was very helpful in this, that we'd wanted that conference on racism to be just exactly what it was about, racism. And in fact we worked to make sure that the document was 99.9 percent what the United States and that 0.1 percent unfortunately was not. And that determined our lack of participation. And I am unlike Mr. Klein as a minority, and many members of the Congressional Black Caucus feel this way, we were very disappointed that we did not have a voice, a United States voice at that conference. So I hope as we move forward we'll figure out ways to be able to participate formally in that conference because who better, what country has had the experience of dealing with racial discrimination and racism and have come so far and can lead on this but yet have many issues that we need to address in an international forum. So I'm very sorry that we did not participate and hopefully we'll be able to figure this out next time.
Let me ask you about the appropriations for the United Nations and how it impacts the arrears issue, how it impacts peacekeeping operations. Now, it's my understanding that in the foreign ops bill which recently passed, we provided 2.1 billion, which is about 135 million below the president's request and 263 million below 2009 for our contributions to international peacekeeping activities. And given the increasing demands I want to make sure that we have adequate resources to meet the growing peacekeeping needs around the globe.
And also I want to find out how you're attempting to reverse the trend of United States arrears to the United Nations. I mean, what do we need to do here in Congress? Are we addressing benchmarks? What impact, you know, what do we need to do? What do we need to know? And also what impact has the United States arrears had on those growing peacekeeping missions and their ability to address the severe strain of the missions around the globe? And finally if you could just quickly just make a distinction between peacekeeping and peacemaking and what mandates of the United Nations authorize peacekeeping versus peacemaking? Thank you very much and again good to see you.
AMB. RICE: Thank you so much and thank you for your kind words and for your leadership on so many of these issues. Let me turn it swiftly to the arrears question since we have very little time left. It's complicated and I can give you more specifics in back up but the short version is that given what Congress appropriated for fiscal 2009, as well as in the Iraq and other war supplemental, we -- and assuming as we hope that Congress will fully fund the president's 2010 request, we will be in good shape to meet our obligations with respect to our peacekeeping commitments and our regular budget obligations. We will also have eliminated significant arrears on the peacekeeping side, accrued between 2005 and 2008 where there was a gap between what Congress appropriated and what we were assessed. They're called cap-related arrears and the funding in the 2009 supplemental bill will enable us to pay back those arrears and that accounts for the vast bulk of our outstanding peacekeeping arrears that the United States is committed to pay and that we feel we are rightly being asked to pay. There is a long history of contested arrears that proceed the year 2000 that I won't bore you with, but we are focused on these recent arrears and getting current on both the peacekeeping and the regular budget and we are doing that. So I am able to now say to my colleagues in New York that the United States is soon to be up to date and lead from a position of responsibility and strength. And I'm very grateful to Congress for that.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentlelady has expired. The gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Ellison is recognized for five minutes.
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D-MN): Good morning, Ambassador. My name is Keith Ellison and I want to join everyone who has said such nice things about you and I -- this is my first time meeting you but I've read a lot about you and I'm really pleased you're doing the job you're doing. You know, in your prepared remarks, I think you did an excellent job at making a good case for the U.S. to support peacekeeping. And I know it wasn't your point to sort of raise questions about whether we could do more, your point was to say we're doing a lot and it's a good thing to do. But I couldn't help wondering what your thoughts were, you know, regarding whether we could do more given that other countries have more people in uniform than our country does and we're a pretty big country and that when I look at a figure like 2.2 billion, I say yeah, you're right, it's a lot of money, but is it a week in Iraq? I don't know. Can you offer your thoughts? Can we, should we be doing more to support peacekeeping around the globe?
AMB. RICE: Well thank you very much for your kind words. I look forward to getting to know you better. I've followed your career as well and you ask a very important question about how the U.S. can contribute.
First of all, I think it's important to acknowledge how we are contributing. We are paying slightly more than 25 percent of the cost of these operations. We are contributing over and above that on a voluntary basis to lift in and equip and support and train and deploy many of the peace keepers that are active in the most complex and important operations. We are through the global peace operation initiative -- as I mentioned in my testimony we've trained 81,000 peace keepers. This is actually an initiative that had its antecedents back in the middle of the Clinton Administration in my previous incarnation and it grew through the Bush Administration and it continues to be an important element of the U.S. contribution to building global peacekeeping capacity. And it's costly and it's important.
I did say in my testimony to answer what I think is the real thrust of your question that the new administration is prepared to consider where we can make contributions with respect to military officers, observers, police, civilians, a very important component of what is necessary for strong leadership of these missions. Even as we obviously are making enormous contributions, outside of the UN context in places like Afghanistan and indeed Iraq. Our ability to contribute more than that at this stage is obviously constrained and I think we would also have some questions about the wisdom of a different form of U.S. contribution but it is something that we are open to and will consider as appropriate down the road. But when it comes to the specific capabilities that we can provide to military observers through staff officers, through police where we've really made real contributions as I've personally witnessed in both Haiti and Liberia, U.S. police personnel are really adding value. These are areas that we're open to when we receive a specific request from the United Nations for such contributions, we'll weigh it carefully and make a judgment on a case-by-case basis.
REP. ELLISON: Somalia. I appreciate you mentioning the 80 tons of weapons and ammunition, those sort of materials are important, you know but there's about I think at least 2.3 maybe more than that millions of people who are food insecure in Somalia. Can you talk about other things in the nature of social economic aid that we might be doing in Somalia in order to help stabilize that country?
AMB. RICE: Yes. The prior question when I mentioned this didn't really give me an opportunity to elaborate on the extent of our contributions. But I think it's important to say that first of all, our assistance to Somalia goes well beyond, the bulk of our assistance is in the humanitarian realm where we are by in large the most generous contributor of humanitarian assistance. In Somalia, we've provided almost half of the WSPs food aid just this year in 2009 for Somalia. We've also in just fiscal year 2009 provided more than $149 million for humanitarian assistance programs in Somalia. And that's crucial obviously to respond to the enormous suffering that is facing the people of Somalia in the current insecure environment. And in particular as the transitional federal government faces the threat that it does from al Shabab and others.
That said, the long term stability and security of Somalia won't be accomplished by the delivery of ammunition or of life saving humanitarian assistance. It requires an effective stable government that is broad based, that is representative and that has the capacity to deliver for its people, which is why we are investing in trying to support the TFG which we think is the best prospect for that in a long time. But it's fragile, and it needs our support and the support of others.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The gentleman from York, Mr. McMahon.
REP. MICHAEL E. MCMAHON (D-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Ambassador, I want to associate myself with the remarks of Congressman Ellison in regards to the work that you're doing and certainly as someone who believes in the overall mission of the United Nations. It's good to have some -- an ambassador from the United States who believes in that as well and puts such a good face, if you will, on American interests and American involvement there. I represent Brooklyn and Staton Island, New York, the great city from which I know you come as well, and my district is incredibly diverse. In fact, as you talk about all the regions that the peacekeeping efforts are involved and it sounds like you're describing my district. We're the largest Liberian TPS population -- actually the largest Liberian relation outside of Monrovia, a large Sri Lankan population, the largest mosque in New York City, the largest Muslim voting population outside of Michigan is located in the district. There's this growing Jewish population in the City of New York as well. I tell you all that as a segway to my invitation to you to please come to my district and I would love to have you at an event maybe at the college to talk about some of the work that you're doing because the issues are very relevant to the folks in my district. I have sent a letter to your office and would like to just call it to your attention.
RICE: Thank you.
REP. MCMAHON: So that's my first request, if you would take that under advisement. Secondly, I'd like to go over one of the issues that the Ranking Member talked about, the situation in Lebanon with the recent bombing as you mentioned -- or the recent explosion at Khirbet Silim, obviously the ammunitions depot that was in violation of UN Resolution 1701, and you spoke about your concerns about that issue. But I'd like to just maybe ask a little bit further what specific actions do you see? For instance should the resolution itself be tightened and be more specific language? Is more enforcement vigilance needed? What can we do to make sure that the forces of Hezbollah, which are, you know, bent on just bringing down Israel, are not allowed to get any more arms in that area?
AMB. RICE: Thank you very much. I'm fascinated to hear about the diverse composition of your district. It sounds like a tremendous place and I'd be honored to have the opportunity to spend time there with you, so let's definitely follow up on that. Turning to Lebanon, we've touched on this a couple of times already. There are challenges as I pointed out in response to Mr. Klein's question about changing the mandate of UNIFL pursuant to 1701. It's a Chapter 7 -- a Chapter 6 mandate with built in limitations and there are a number of relevant countries that have a say in this that take a different view than we do. That said, and was mentioned earlier, we take the view that on balance UNIFL's contributions are beneficial even if they fall far short of what we would like to see. In terms of next steps, UNIFL and the Lebanese Armed Forces are conducting a joint investigation of this arms cache. We think that's important. The preliminary indications as reported to the Security Council by the UN Secretariat are in fact that it was a Hezbollah-related arms cache and it underscores the fact that arms continue to flow into Lebanon and it makes the principal foundation of 1701 that the only forces that should have access to arms in Lebanon are the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFL all that much more urgent. So we're going to be pushing on an effective investigation and enforcement of 1701 within the confines of its mandate. We are pushing very hard on all concerned players and urging the government of Lebanon to assert its responsibilities in this regard to the maximum extent possible. As I said also earlier, we can by no means say that we are satisfied. We will continue to push for better performance and yet I do insist that on balance having UNIFL there even with its limitations is far better than the alternative of no international presence in that very sensitive area.
REP. MCMAHON: Is the UNIFL force large enough in your opinion?
AMB. RICE: I think at 12,000 roughly it is substantial. I have not been persuaded based on what I've heard thus far that the issue is the need for more troops. I think we certainly would be open to considering that as we talk about how to strengthen UNIFL, but I think at this stage the real issues is let's ensure that it's doing its utmost with the troops it has –
REP. BERMAN: The –
AMB. RICE: -- within the mandate it has.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman has expired. The Ambassador needed to leave here at noon. We have four people who have not yet questioned. For our good behavior can we get 10 more minutes out of you or –
AMB. RICE: You might get -- I have
REP. BERMAN: Ten –
AMB. RICE: I -- (Cross talk.)
REP. BERMAN: Ten –
AMB. RICE: I have –
REP. BERMAN: Ten minutes past noon.
AMB. RICE: I meant to join Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Miliband for a luncheon –
REP. BERMAN: Oh –
AMB. RICE: -- as soon as I'm due to leave here.
REP. BERMAN: All right. Well –
AMB. RICE: I'll be as generous as I can without getting fired if you don't mind.
BERMAN: Right. No. (Laughter.)
REP. BERMAN: Or missing lunch. But -- Mr. Scott, the gentleman from Georgia is recognized for some number of minutes.
REP. DAVID SCOTT (D-GA): Thank you, sir.
REP. BERMAN: But no more than five.
REP. SCOTT: I'll be as quick as I can. Madam Secretary, I'm going to ask you about the virulent use of rape as a weapon, and particularly in the war in the Congo, Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, having visited over there a few months ago, visiting the hospitals and seeing that particularly -- and I brought this up with Secretary Clinton as well -- that the most prominent injury to women have been sexual violence, not just rape, but the violence that happens there to women. And without mechanisms to hold individual soldiers accountable for their crimes this tragedy will continue. Should the UN charter be amended to hold member states responsible for prosecuting these individuals that commit criminals acts while serving in an international peacekeeping operation?
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Scott. I think I was asked a very similar question by Chairman Berman, and I did respond on the question of the amendment to the charter, but let me address in addition the broader question you raise, which is the use of rape as a weapon of war. This is a horrific phenomenon in many hot conflict zones including those where the United Nations is present. I myself, as I mentioned earlier, was also in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Goma. I too visited these hospitals where rape victims are being cared for. I met with them. I spoke with them, and as a human being and as a woman I can only tell you that I take this issue very personally, and I am -- I feel it deeply and so did my colleagues on the Security Council with whom I traveled.
REP. SCOTT: Mm hmm.
AMB. RICE: And the issue there -- I mean, a lot of the focus when we talk about rape somehow falls on peacekeepers, and that's not because there haven't been outrages and abuses by peacekeepers. There have been and they must be held accountable, and I've described earlier the mechanisms that are in place and where the gaps are that remain. But the bulk -- the vast bulk of the abuse that is being committed against women on the Congo is being committed by the FDLR and by the LRA and to a lesser extent but a terrible extent by elements of the Congolese Armed Forces themselves.
REP. SCOTT: All right.
AMB. RICE: And the effort that MONUC and indeed the Congolese Armed Forces are making to try to deal with the remnants of the FDLR and the LRA are an essential part, albeit a very costly, in terms of humanitarian consequences, part of dealing with this problem –
REP. SCOTT: Okay.
AMB. RICE: -- of violence against civilians. And we can't have it both ways. We can't say that, you know, we don't support MONUC and others trying to deal with these negative forces the FDLR and the LRA and then say we're deeply concerned about abuse of civilians.
REP. SCOTT: Yeah.
AMB. RICE: I want to add one other point if I might. The Security Council delegation gave to President Kabila a list of five names of senior FARDC Congolese commanders that was provided by the UN that we believe to be responsible for crimes against women and children. We have demanded that they be removed. He has agreed that they be removed. We're going to be -- follow up to be very sure that the Congolese leadership hold their own people who are committing these atrocities accountable.
REP. SCOTT: Thank you so much. And I want to ask just one other thing -- I've got a minute left. But the point about this is beyond the soldiers what happens is it becomes a way of life. After these soldiers leave, they get back into society, and they continue this, and it's so despicable and shameful. In my minute left, I want to touch on Somalia. It's so complex there. I visited over there as well at the height of this thing going over there. What is the attitude towards the existing Somalian government and the US side with the position of -- regardless of the difficulties there, but because of al-Shabad and all of that going in there, that we should get behind that existing government and help them to stand against this al-Qaeda front?
AMB. RICE: Yes is the short answer. The United States supports the transitional federal government and would indeed –
REP. SCOTT: Would that mean whether giving money to them to help them fight –
AMB. RICE: We -- yes. We have given money and we have given 80 tons of ammunition. We have given humanitarian assistance. We have given political support. We support the Djibouti process, the political peace process to shore up the TF –
REP. SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. BERMAN: The time of the gentleman is expired. The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Connolly.
REP. GERALD E. CONNOLLY (D-VA): I thank the Chair and Ambassador Rice. A great privilege being with you. And I hope someday you'll come to our district just across the river and maybe speak at George Mason University –
REP. BERMAN: You better watch out for -- you better watch out for this. (Laughter.)
REP. CONNOLLY: I don't want you just going to Stanton Island. My district by the way is 27 percent foreign born from well over 100 countries, so lots of diversity.
Mr. Chairman, I'd ask without objection my opening statement be entered into the record.
REP. BERMAN: It will be so ordered.
REP. CONNOLLY: I've got two sets of questions. The first is peacekeeping operations, because we hear so much criticism in the United Nations. Have they served you as foreign policy over the 61 years since the first one?
AMB. RICE: Absolutely.
REP. CONNOLLY: Can you think of a peacekeeping operation undertaken by the United Nations that went against the desires and wishes, and even the vote, of the United States?
AMB. RICE: I'm sorry -- the vote?
REP. CONNOLLY: Can you think of one peacekeeping --
AMB. RICE: There's not a peacekeeping mission that can be established without the United States' support. Now, have there been instances where peacekeeping operations have fallen short of our desires and expectations --
REP. CONNOLLY: Different question. I'm going to get to that.
AMB. RICE: Okay.
REP. CONNOLLY: But in terms of serving U.S. diplomatic interests, there's not a single example you can think of, is there, in 61 years where the UN tried to undertake a peacekeeping operation against the interests or desires of the United States?
AMB. RICE: No. By definition, because we have a veto, that can't -- unless we believe it serves our interests, we would not support it.
REP. CONNOLLY: Right. Because you -- sometimes listening to some rhetoric, Ambassador, you'd think that somehow peacekeeping are against U.S. interests. As a matter of fact, as you say, they've never been against U.S. interests. For 61 years they have served our interests and you've laid it out pretty well in your testimony all the various aspects of that.
The second question has to do with efficacy. And I guess the example I'd give is the tragic example of Srebrenica. Peacekeeping operations aren't also what we'd like them to be -- as you were just about to say. What discussions have been going on at UN headquarters in New York? And what discussions have we, the United States, undertaken to try to strengthen the role of peacekeeping operations and to clarify their instructions when something as tragic as what happened in Srebrenica, for example, occurred?
AMB. RICE: Thank you very much, Mr. Connolly. And I have been to your district. I'm sure I'll go back many times.
REP. CONNOLLY: You would be welcome.
AMB. RICE: Thank you very much. There is much to be done to strengthen UN peacekeeping. And that's been, as you know, the theme we've been discussing in its various aspects most of the morning.
There are things that we can do as members of the Security Council. For example, to ensure that the mandates that we give UN missions are well tailored, achievable and rational. And that has not always been the case to the extent necessary.
We need to match supply with demand, and we've talked about that as well. Today there are 93,000 peacekeepers in the field. The UN is overstretched. There are several critical authorizations where the authorized strength is not met by the number of troops on the ground and there is a gap -- a major capacity gap that needs to be filled.
And we are doing our best in terms of training and recruiting and supporting and equipping and lifting in peacekeepers, but it's a gap that needs to be closed, less this tool that we need that serves our interest risks falling into irreparable disrepair.
We also can strengthen the UN’s own internal management. And there have been a series of reforms -- first in 2000, more recently 2007 -- and today, the UN is again looking at in the current context, which is unprecedented and was in fact, unanticipated in the last waves of reform as to what can be done to close the gap between demand and supply, to enable the UN to deploy more rapidly to ensure that its operations are performed with greater transparency and efficiency and cost effectiveness.
And all of these are areas that we are very much focused on and committed to pursuing. I spoke earlier about procurement and economies of scale. All of these are important things that we think need to be pursued in the interests of reforming UN peacekeeping.
REP. CONNOLLY: Right. My time is up, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back. Thank you.
AMB. RICE: Thank you, Mr. Connolly.
REP. BERMAN: The gentleman has been given up. Ambassador Rice, meet Ambassador Watson -- five minutes.
REP. DIANE WATSON (D-CA): See that you get to your lunch pretty much on time and yield back most of my time, but I just wanted to say to you that we're so proud that you're there representing us in the UN
I've been sitting here listening to your enthusiasm. You mention a word that we very seldom hear. You said "wisdom". And I would hope that we would act with more wisdom. It's not used a lot in this place. And I just want you to know that your broad base of knowledge on all the issues that have been raised at this table today indicates to us that our presence at the UN was most needed. And that there have been moves in the past to withdraw our membership and not pay our dues.
So thank you so much for serving us well. I yield back my time. Give my greetings to those you're having lunch with and get on your way!
AMB. RICE: Thank you very much, Ambassador Watson, for those very kind words and I'm very grateful.
REP. BERMAN: Thank you, Ambassador Watson. And we are done with the questions. I'm going to give 15 seconds to the gentleman from New Jersey first just to correct the record.
REP. SMITH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me just say, Ambassador Rice that you were right. The Clinton administration did sign it. And George Bush I and Ronald Reagan, as we all know, negotiated the treaty. I actually gave the speech on November 10th, 1989 on behalf of the administration at the United Nations in favor of the Convention on the Rights of a Child. And I remember my conversation --
REP. BERMAN: You forgot to get a signature. (Laughter.)
REP. SMITH: So I'll give you a copy of my speech.
AMB. RICE: I would love to see that speech!
REP. SMITH: Okay! But I believe in accuracy even when it's inconvenient.
REP. BERMAN: It was virtually signed in 1989. (Laughter.)
AMB. RICE: Thank you.
REP. BERMAN: Ambassador Rice, thank you very, very much. I'm just going to make one last point. The gentlelady from California, Ms. Lee and my friend from New Jersey, Mr. Payne, and I could disagree on the final decision, but I have to say -- because I know how hard you worked to get that Durbin document in the right shape. We can quibble about it was 0.1 percent, or a substantial issue, but the fact is no one worked harder than you did to try and make it happen and we all appreciate that -- however we view the final decision.
Thank you very much for being here.
AMB. RICE: Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and all of the members for your support, your great commitment to this issue. I've very much appreciated this opportunity.
REP. BERMAN: Great. And with that, you go to lunch and we don't, because -- (laughter).
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