FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AMBASSADOR RICE: Good morning, everyone. And, Dick, thank you so much. Thank you all for welcoming me to Twitter and for taking time out of your busy day to participate in this discussion. It's a real honor. I also want to thank those that are watching via Ustream live, and I'm looking forward to maximum participation in our conversation today.
A good part of my job is explaining to the American people why it is the United Nations in the 21st century serves American interests. Some people have their doubts, and sometimes with good reason. But I'm out here on the west coast this week to talk about our stake in an effective United Nations and how it serves our national security, whether we are trying to defeat the proliferation of nuclear weapons by Iran or North Korea, whether we're trying to share the burden of resolving conflict and halting genocide in places like Darfur or Congo or Haiti, or whether we are looking to share the burden of providing desperately needed humanitarian assistance or food aid or vaccine to prevent disease in parts of the world. All of these are functions that the United Nations, and sometimes the United Nations alone, performs. And we would be far worse off without their efforts and their services and without 191 other member-states to share with us the costs and the burdens of supporting it.
So I'm looking very much forward to the opportunity to talk about the United Nations, about the world, about American foreign policy, which is also an important part of my job, on this very interesting and exciting day. And I want to say thank you to all of you here at Twitter. You are doing amazing work, and I hope you have the satisfaction every day of knowing that it's having real-time, real impact in parts of the world as far-flung as Zimbabwe, where I just learned you have 66,000 users, of course, to the Middle East and so many other parts of the world. You should be very proud. And as an American and a policy maker, I'm very proud of you and proud to be here. So thank you so much, and I look forward to our conversation. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thanks so much for joining us today. You picked a great day to be here and answer some questions. So we've asked both Twitter employees to submit some questions as well as people in the Twitter community. And so we've received a great variety of questions, but we thought we'd start with one that's probably the most relevant. So this comes from @MargotMain and she asks: What is the U.S.'s reaction regarding Mubarak's pending resignation?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thank you very much. First of all, we're all watching and waiting to see what will unfold. And at least as of two minutes ago when we came up onstage, we were still waiting to see what announcements, if any, might be made today. So I don't want to prejudge what, in fact, may happen, but let me say this about America's approach and America's policy.
We support democracy in Egypt, and we look forward to its full realization in an orderly and prompt and meaningful way. This means
that we need to now see a process in which all elements of the opposition are able to negotiate with the government on a constitutional and responsible path that will lead to free and fair democratic elections and the building of democratic institutions that are reflective of the will of the people.
That process needs to proceed and be irreversible, and we have supported that. We have called for this to be a very peaceful process, without violence. And to a remarkable extent, that has been the case. And where there has been violence, we have been very clear and forceful in condemning it.
But what is clear is that the people of Egypt - young and old, all different religions, male and female - are asking for and demanding a
different future, one where they have real economic opportunity, real opportunity for meaningful employment. Young people who have been well-educated with no real prospects for jobs that are adequate to their training are understandably frustrated. And people who feel like for years and years they have not had the opportunity to express themselves freely, to assemble freely, to determine the nature of their government, are people that have very, very legitimate aspirations and whose peaceful example we very much admire.
MODERATOR: Great, thank you.
MODERATOR: So before we get to the second question, I just wanted to thank Ustream for actually getting this all out to the people in the world. We really do love it when politicians such as yourself can engage - or ambassadors, I should say - ambassadors, I should say - such as yourself can actually engage directly with people, and Ustream is really helping us make that happen today.
So the question here is from @SaveDarfur and it says: How will the U.S. work towards empowering UNAMID to better protect civilians in - and uses the hashtag #Darfur in 2011?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thank you. I really appreciate that question. Let me just put it in context. The UN force in Darfur is known as UNAMID, and that was the acronym you were referring to. It's a force of roughly 20,000 troops, mainly from Africa. It's a joint African Union-UN peacekeeping force with a robust mandate to protect civilians. It was what we call a Chapter 7 mandate, meaning that legally they have the right to use force to carry out their mandate and defend themselves as peacekeepers.
UNAMID has been long in getting up to full force strength. I visited Darfur most recently in October and spent time in some of the refugee camps and with UNAMID peacekeepers. And UNAMID is gradually not only getting up to full strength, but gradually implementing its mandate more robustly.
But to tell you the truth, I've been frustrated because of the relative tentativeness of the peacekeepers on the ground in Darfur in terms of forcing their way through barriers that the government has put in their way to get to civilians who are in need or investigate violations of the ceasefire. UNAMID's access and freedom of movement have regularly been restricted by the Government of Sudan, which is utterly unacceptable. And we have bitterly complained and pressured the government, as recently as yesterday, in the Security Council, to open up access, to halt attacks on civilians, to stop aerial bombardment, and enable UNAMID to do its job of protecting innocents.
What has changed of late - under, frankly, a fair bit of American pressure - is that UNAMID is now no longer seeking permission to move from place to place, but announcing that it will be going from place to place and making its way there, even if they encounter hostility and resistance. It's not perfect; they need to be more robust. But they're making progress, and as a consequence, I am hopeful that they will be more effective in protecting civilians where they are most at risk. But it's a work in progress.
MODERATOR: So this question comes from Craig Newmark, so @craignewmark, who is the founder of Craigslist, in San Francisco. He wants to know: Is there any connection between United Nations and the White House Islamic Outreach Partnership for a New Beginning?
AMBASSADOR RICE: I was hoping - I was glad he wasn't asking about Craigslist in the news. (Laughter.) Okay.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, as you know, when President Obama spoke in Cairo in June of 2009, he not only spoke about the vital importance of economic reform, political freedom, and transformation, but he talked about the need to expand people-to-people ties, technology ties, science, innovation, education, and build bridges between the United States and the Arab and Muslim world on all of those dimensions. And we've had very robust follow-up of that through entire offices at the White House and State Department that are dedicated to that, our embassies and missions throughout the Arab and Muslim world, and indeed in New York as well, where we have, as you now, every country in the world represented.
So for our part, I was very honored that I was able to host all of the Arab and Muslim ambassadors at our residence on the day that the
President gave his speech in Cairo, to listen to the speech together and then have a discussion about its meaning and its implications. And we've had follow-up to those - that initial discussion on a number of occasions. We do events like having Eid dinners, and it is one venue in which, both from a policy point of view and a public diplomacy point of view, we're able to advance the agenda and the plans that the President laid out in Cairo.
And I think there have been a number of conferences, both at the White House and elsewhere, where there have been follow-up. But I think we are now beginning, as these dramatic events unfold in the region, to see both the importance of that initiative, its prescience, and the urgent need for there to be follow-up. There is an entire generation of young people or youngish people who are hungry for the kinds of exchange and information and technology and innovation and education and entrepreneurship opportunities that the President's initiative envisions. And so we're looking very much forward to its expansion, both primarily in the region itself - our efforts are based in Washington, but we also join them with parallel work in New York.
MODERATOR: So the next question is an absolutely horrible question. It's from @MidAmericanGuy, and I completely disagree with the question. But hopefully you're answering it can show why we all should disagree with the question. And the question is: Why doesn't the U.S. just leave the UN? The UN is corrupt and anti-American. Our generosity and leadership are not appreciated.
AMBASSADOR RICE: What's the guy's name?
MODERATOR: It's @MidAmericanGuy, Joe American.
AMBASSADOR RICE: @MidAmericanGuy. Okay. Well, I actually very much appreciate that question, because I think while the vast majority of Americans, 72 percent or more, believe that the United States ought to be active in the United Nations, ought to pay its bills in full and on-time, there are those who share the perspective that Joe America does, as expressed in his Tweet. And we need to step back and recall, first of all, it was the United States that was instrumental in forming the United Nations, as you all know, here in this city in 1945. And we did so for a reason: Because we recognized that we needed a venue in which the world's problems could be aired, conflicts could be prevented, and where they couldn't be prevented, there was some means to respond to them that could contain them and end them on a permanent basis.
Now, I'm the first to agree that the United Nations is far from perfect. There are isolated incidents of corruption and mismanagement. It is a large bureaucracy that could undoubtedly be further trimmed. But having said that, I am absolutely certain that you and I would be much worse off without it. Let me give a few examples. We're concerned about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, and we are worried about Iran and North Korea's programs in particular. We have basically three choices: We could ignore them, dangerous; we could go to war to prevent them, perhaps even more dangerous; or we could build international pressure, economic and political, to try to bring those parties to a reasonable negotiation to halt their nuclear weapons programs.
Now, to build that pressure there are a certain amount of things we can do ourselves, and we do do, through our legislation, through executive orders, through what we call unilateral sanctions. But there's a whole lot we cannot do as effectively without the cooperation of and the obligation of every country in the world to do the same. And so we work, and we recently succeeded in passing in the UN Security Council the toughest sanctions regimes to date on Iran and North Korea, and we see the practical impact that they are having. And they provide a foundation - they provide, first of all, a baseline for all nations of the world who are obligated to, for example, prevent the sale of any technology that could facilitate Iran pursuing its nuclear program, the ingredients or its ballistic missile capability. There are restrictions now on Iran's ability to finance its nuclear programs. And in various different ways they are being limited and constrained. And I can assure you, as you've heard others of my colleagues do, that this is having an impact.
Now, once the United Nations has passed its sanctions regime, a lot of countries then have a domestic legal foundation on which to strengthen their own domestic laws above and beyond what the UN has done. And so the European Union and Japan and South Korea and the United Arab Emirates and Australia and Canada and others, after we passed the UN sanctions on Iran last June, implemented their own laws that further strengthened the pressure on Iran and further restricted their access to financial markets and the like. And we, of course, then in the United States passed our own legislation. And the combination has been quite potent. That is one way in which multilateral institutions like the United Nations serve our interests and make us - put us in a better place than where we would be if were acting alone.
We were talking a little while ago about Sudan, where we have stood up and been very determined to end the genocide that occurred and has occurred in Darfur. Well, again, we have a choice: Do nothing; do it ourselves; or do it together with others who share the burden and the cost. There are some 120,000 United Nations peacekeepers - military, police, and civilians - deployed in 14 missions around the world. Eighty seven of them are Americans in uniform. Of that total cost of those 14 missions, the United States pays a little - about 27 percent. The rest of the world pays the balance. So it is a form of burden sharing that is economical, and it is a form of burden sharing that is far more effective in preventing conflict, protecting civilians even when these missions are not perfect, as I just described about Darfur - than the alternative, which would be to leave the - leave war crimes and genocide and conflict to fester or face a choice of doing it by ourselves.
So, in so many ways, we need this institution. And it serves our interest 66 years later after its founding. Now, that doesn't mean it
can't be better. It doesn't mean it needs - it doesn't need reform. It doesn't mean that we don't search for and work for savings and
improvements in the efficacy of the organization. That's what we do every day, because it's in our interest that the institution work and be more efficient and be more effective so that it can not only sustain the support of the American people, but do the vital work that makes Americans every day safer and more secure.
MODERATOR: Can you speak a little bit to the second part of the question, which was about sort of the reputation of the United States
within the United Nations?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thank you. The United Nations is not an anti-American organization, at least not in my experience over the last two years. Quite the opposite. We are now viewed as a leader, as a force for common ground and compromise and cooperation. I think, frankly, in the recent past there was a period following the Iraq war, and when one of my predecessors used to say that we could just lop ten stories off the UN tower and it wouldn't matter, where the U.S. was more isolated and more criticized in the context of the United Nations.
But that has changed dramatically, and it's changed because we have demonstrated through our actions and our approach that we see the value of the institution, we want it to succeed, we want to make it better, we're going to fight to reform it, but we're doing so from within, from the perspective of somebody who wants to see the institution succeed. And so where in the past we might find ourselves an outlier on a range of issues or unable to bring others together for the issues that we care most about, whether it's sanctions or peacekeeping or what have you, we are now a glue and a force for progress and compromise.
And let me just give you one small example. Last December, the General Assembly - that's where all 192 member-states come together - inexplicably passed a resolution that reversed previous policy and made it the case there were no longer any protections in this resolution on extrajudicial killing for the killing of gays or lesbians or transgender people on the basis of their sexual orientation. It was an outrage. And the Europeans had been working on this issue; they had the lead. They're good partners of ours, among others, at the United Nations, but somehow this got past them and it became the text of an amendment that emerged from one of the UN's principal committees. And the United States stood up and said this is outrageous, it's unacceptable, and we're going to fight to change it when that same piece of - that same resolution came before the entire General Assembly later that month.
And we waged a campaign that energized the Europeans, it energized Africans, it energized Latin Americas, and we got that fixed so that it is, again, the policy of the United Nations that it is wrong and unacceptable and no longer agreed to be tolerated, that there could be any basis for extrajudicial killings, least of all, on the basis of people's sexual orientation.
Now, that might have been a fight that in the past the United States would have taken a pass on. Not anymore, because it's a matter of
principle, it's a matter of human rights, it's a matter of human dignity, and it's a core value of our country and our Administration.
And so we were able to do that and turn it around.
And on issues from the establishment of this new organization, called UN Women, which is a big accomplishment, to ensuring that we have strong resolutions that condemn human rights abuses in Iran or Burma and North Korea, we are leading and building coalitions and turning out vote margins that are greater than ever before. And that's not because we are reviled and because it's an anti-American institution. It's because when the United States comes to play and play constructively, the world wants to work with us.
MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. I love the next question. I just finished reading Nicholas Kristof's book Half the Sky, which talks about how investments in women and girls is not just a moral imperative, but an economic and political imperative. So this comes from RoomtoRead, which asks and says: The best investment in the developing world is educating girls, yet less than 2 cents per developing dollar goes to girls. How do we fix this?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, the author of that Tweet and Nick Kristof and so many others are absolutely right. There are many, many studies that show that investment in girls and girls' education has massive development benefits that flow from it. And the United States in its development programs, particularly under Secretary Clinton's leadership, are prioritizing women and girls, and we are shifting resources in that direction. And we are looking at not only education, but health and access to information, to technology.
In the UN context, as I just mentioned, we have just in the last several months, formed this entity called UN Women, which is about consolidating the UN's work not only in New York, but in the field, on behalf of women and girls. It focuses on everything from reproductive health and education to protecting women and girls more effectively from sexual violence and conflict.
All of these things are vital as we try to elevate the - not only the importance we attach to our investments in girls and women, but the
actual dollars that we devote.
MODERATOR: So this next question is from Habeeb Hadad (ph), and the question is: The new Mideast is - he's using a lot of contractions - so the new Middle East is its youth. Military aids are not helping, especially when to oppressive regimes, yet there's not really a focus on entrepreneurship, education, and technology.
AMBASSADOR RICE: That's where 140 characters becomes problematic. (Laughter.) I think he had more to say.
Well, first of all, we agree that it is vital that there be economic opportunities and investments in education and technology and
innovation, and I described earlier that flowing out of the President's Cairo speech a very important U.S. initiative in that regard. And we
have seen not just efforts by the United States, but by countries themselves in the region increasingly, but also by its partners to
recognize that we have in the Arab and Muslim world, and particularly in the Middle East, but frankly throughout Africa and many other parts of the world, a huge cadre of young people who are increasingly - the majority of their national populations who have been left out of jobs, of hope, of opportunity, of political power, and that is, as we are seeing every day, manifestly unsustainable.
And so while we have partnerships that are multidimensional, including military-to-military partnerships, which frankly in the case of Egypt which is now in the news, I think has been - proved its worth in the sense that we have seen that the military has largely been a force for calm and has not engaged, for the most part, in violence against its citizens. But the other aspects of our relationships, our investments in education, in health and technology, are vitally important.
The UN has for many years put out something called the Arab Development Report - Human Development Report, which is the best set of data on all of these indicators throughout the Arab world. And by - in and of itself, that data has been an impetus for the kinds of programs and attention that are needed. But there's no doubt that this is an area that has not been adequately supported or invested in, and we and others need to do more.
MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. We received this question from many different Twitter users so we just picked one of them, which was
@JennyVanbergmack (ph), which says: I am concerned about the LRA. What is the UN Security Council planning on doing to address this?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Let me explain the question. The LRA, for those who may not know, is the Lord's Resistance Army. It is a horrific and brutal rebellion that was - that originated in Uganda and has now spread through parts of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, as well as Uganda. It's been going on for almost 30 years, and it is notorious for kidnapping and forcing into military service children - boys especially, but girls as well, ages 8, 9, 12, 13 - and killing their parents, terrorizing them, and basically holding them hostage. It's a horrible, horrible rebellion. But it is increasingly diminished in size and it is now sort of on the run through this multistate region that I just described.
The United Nations is - and in the Security Council in our resolutions have given the United Nations forces in Congo the authority to cooperate with not only the Congolese Government, but the Ugandan Government to root out LRA elements that are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and they provide logistical support, joint planning, and that sort of thing. The United States itself bilaterally has a very active effort with the Government of Uganda to support its efforts to reduce the LRA to a corps that is hopefully eventually insignificant.
Now, this is one of those problems that we have tried to resolve through all kinds of means. The Government of Uganda's tried negotiations repeatedly. It's tried brute military force, it's tried a combination - none of which has worked. Their leader is a man named Joseph Kony, who's one of the most enigmatic and dangerous, and arguably, irrational people to have ever lead a rebel movement. And I think most of the countries in the region have concluded that the only way to deal with this is to try to root them out, even as they continue to terrorize villages and large parts of that region. So it's a very real concern. It's one we deeply share.
The President last year signed legislation sponsored bipartisan - on a bipartisan basis in Congress to step up our national efforts to help Uganda combat the LRA, and we're implementing that robustly.
MODERATOR: Here's one from RAR64, Richard Robins (ph): How have other governments' views of Twitter and Facebook changed in the weeks since the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, I'm not sure I'm the best to try to explain how other governments' views have changed. But I think, as we all are, as informed observers, it's impossible to escape the recognition that Twitter and Facebook and other forms of social media have had an enormous impact on the emergence and the coalescence of these political movements. And governments are increasingly cognizant of their power and their importance, and different ones have responded differently. Some have chosen to try to suppress free expression. Others have recognized that that's futile. And some have done both.
But I think it's an extraordinary moment, as I sought to allude to in my opening comments. And the power of this technology, the power of social networking, to channel and champion public sentiment has been more evident in the last few weeks than ever before, and I think we can only begin to speculate what its impact will be elsewhere throughout the world.
MODERATOR: Thank you. This question comes from @wejammin (ph), benjammin (ph), who asked: What would the UN policy be for demanding and supporting democracy and human rights among member nations? And he uses the hashtag #Egypt and China.
AMBASSADOR RICE: So on that - is that a question about Egypt and China?
MODERATOR: Yeah, and so I think he's really asking how does the UN basically encourage human rights with its member nations in places where human rights has become a pretty big issue - Egypt, Syria, China certainly.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, this is - I'm going to interpret this question as I think it's intended - this is a really complicated issue as a
practical matter. The UN's founding charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights all clearly support universal rights and
democratic principles and norms. There are many member-states of the United Nations that are very aggressive in supporting and promoting those norms. And every year, we have resolutions that champion human rights and democracy in places that - like I just mentioned, such as Iran or Burma or North Korea. But they're controversial.
And while those resolutions are winning by growing margins, there are still many member-states that either oppose them or abstain on them. And there's a large and long tradition within the UN membership that, rather than focus on those aspects of the charter, prefer to focus on another aspect of the UN charter which champions the non-interference in the sovereign affairs of each member-state. And some rely on that as a basis for saying that it's none of anybody else's business what happens in my country. We're not going to interfere in your country; don't interfere in mine.
And so there is a constant discussion and debate about the appropriate scope of UN involvement, particularly by the Security Council in these sorts of issues. And the fact is that countries like Egypt, China are very powerful, very influential, and very effective in defending their - what they would argue are their sovereign rights to act as they will within their own territory.
The UN itself does a lot of work to promote democracy and human rights through its programs in states around the world, through its
peacekeeping missions which organize elections and promote the rule of law and try to professionalize security forces.
The Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has spoken out aggressively and repeatedly on Egypt, on Haiti, on Cote d'Ivoire, on China, just to name a few. And every time he does, some other member-state will stand up and say that what he has said is inappropriate and out of line. He got criticized - I won't say by whom, but you can find it - when he spoke most recently from Europe last week on events in Egypt.
So this is a really complicated issue. There are limits to what can be agreed or win a majority in the membership of the General Assembly. There is a lot that the UN as an institution is doing that's very positive and very effective in seeding and supporting democracy. And then the Secretary General himself - or, hopefully, one day herself - has a bully pulpit as well. But we're some distance from the Security Council with the way member-states interpret the UN charter being looked to or agreed upon as a vehicle for democracy promotion, separate and apart from when they have a mandate to do so as part of a larger peacekeeping mission.
MODERATOR: So this is a question I'm going to paraphrase a little bit from Andy Carvin; acarvin is his user ID. But the answer that you just gave, how does that flow into the United States's credibility within the region, that tension between sovereignty and advocating for change in some of these places?
AMBASSADOR RICE: The United States has long taken the view that stability and democracy are not mutually exclusive but actually mutually reinforcing. And that's what President Obama said in Cairo. And when the United States says that we support democracy in Egypt, as we have been saying publicly and privately for many years, the reason is because we think that even in complex societies that don't have necessarily a long tradition of democracy, that societies are inherently more stable, more equitable, more functional, more peaceful when their people have the ability and the space to express themselves freely, when the institutions are representative of the people, when they are, in essence, democratic.
Now that's not, in every quarter, a self-evident proposition. It's not without some controversy. But it is the view that underpins our foreign
policy in 2011. And while none of us have a crystal ball and we can't, in all candor, predict with certainly how democratic development will unfold in each and every context, we support and are committed to democracy and human rights because we believe that not only is it right, not only is it fair, not only is it moral, but it manifestly serves our national security over the long run.
MODERATOR: So there's a lot of chatter on Twitter right now, a lot of people thanking you for the questions that you're - the answers that you're giving to their questions, particularly on the LRA. So thank you on their behalf.
A question from @VBIR (ph). You talked a little bit about peacekeeping in Sudan, but - and also generally with the U.S. But the question here is: Have you had success in closing the gap between peacekeeping aspirations and contributions, especially from developed nations? Can you talk a little bit about how that works? So maybe you can talk a little bit generally about how does peacekeeping work today, what is the general budget, how is it decided, what - which peacekeepers go where, how are budgets allocated, so forth, just a general overview.
AMBASSADOR RICE: Well, as I mentioned earlier, the UN currently has 14 peacekeeping missions around the world, 120,000 people in the field, mostly military and police, some civilians. They are deployed in places from Haiti to Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Western Sahara - I'm not going to name them all - Congo, two missions in Sudan, Cyprus, Lebanon, East Timor, et cetera.
Every peacekeeping mission has to be voted on and approved by the 15-nation Security Council, where we and four other countries have a veto. So there's no peacekeeping mission that goes anywhere in the world without the United States agreeing to its deployment and its mandate, its timeframe. And these missions get renewed on usually an annual basis, sometimes it's six months, every-six-month basis. And they range in mandate and complexity from the old-fashioned kind, as I like to call them, in Cyprus or the Golan Heights, where these missions have been deployed for decades. And they are essentially keeping the peace between two warring parties, and often monitoring a ceasefire zone or a ceasefire line in an inter-positional fashion. In other words, they're positioning themselves between the two parties, monitoring any violations and preventing the resumption of hostilities.
That's the old school form of peacekeeping and we still have some of that. And then on the other extreme are the highly complex, large,
Chapter 7 protection of civilians missions of the sort that we now have in Darfur and Congo in particular. Both of those are - as I mentioned, Darfur is about 20,000, Congo is sort of 17-, 18,000. And there, the challenge is they're not simply two warring parties on a clear-cut ceasefire line. They are rebel factions and militia and government all at each other simultaneously with the population in the middle.
In Darfur, many of the civilians most at risk have congregated, as you know, in IDP or refugee camps. So part of the challenge is protecting those camps and getting to remote areas where fighting between and among rebels or rebels in the government is still occurring. And it's really hard because Congo, for example, is a country the size of the United States east of the Mississippi. And 20,000 may sound like a lot of troops, but when you think about that vast territory, when you recognize that Congo has literally no infrastructure, virtually no roads, everything - to move, you got to move by helicopter in most instances. The UN has very unfortunately not had sufficient helicopter contributions either in Darfur or in Congo from member-states, so it's always short of air mobility. And so its ability to get to and around these vast territories is somewhat constrained.
The peacekeepers themselves come from a wide range of countries. The most generous contributors of peacekeepers today are - you may be surprised to know - Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. Other countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Jordan are also very active and generous peacekeeping contributors. China, which used to never field any peacekeepers, now is probably somewhere between 10 and 15 in the rankings of contributors. And France and the UK and the United States and Russia, which used to be bigger contributors, are now very minor contributors comparatively. We invest a lot in helping to professionalize and train and equip and lift peacekeepers, particularly from Africa, as they go into missions largely but not exclusively in Africa. But it is - it's a huge enterprise. The UN has the largest force in the field of - compared to any country in the world, second only to the United States.
And as I mentioned earlier, it is, from the U.S. point of view, a very good investment, a bargain when you figure that the cost of deploying a single United Nations peacekeeper is much, much cheaper than the cost of deploying an American soldier. When you assess the relative benefits of leaving these places to fester and burn with huge human costs and huge costs in terms of incubating everything from disease to extremism to massive criminal networks, we're better off trying to prevent and resolve these conflicts and protect civilians at risk than we are letting them fester. And we're much better off if we can do that with a burden-sharing mechanism where the costs and the risks to the United States is limited.
MODERATOR: I think we have time for just one more question, and we have a number of users in Brazil, so we got a question from one of our Brazilian users. It's @bernardovigital (ph) and I'm sure I'm mispronouncing that. But what is your view on the Brazilian ambition to join the Security Council?
AMBASSADOR RICE: Hello, Brazil. Brazil is currently serving on the Security Council as a rotating member, so I mentioned earlier there are 15 members of the Security Council, there are five permanent members, meaning that they've been there since 1945, they have a veto - that's the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia. Then the 10 other countries serve on a rotating basis. They're elected for two-year terms and they can serve two years and come back later and serve another two years.
Brazil is actually, as we speak right now, the president of the Security Council for the month of February. And each country on the Council gets a turn at the presidency every 15 months. We were the president in December. Brazil and Germany, which is also on the Security Council, India, which is also presently on the Security Council as an elected member, and Japan, which just rotated off as an elected member, along with South Africa and Nigeria who also happen both to be on the Council are among the countries that aspire to permanent membership. They want the charter to be changed so that they too can have permanent seats, preferably with a veto.
This is what we call the debate about Security Council reform at the United Nations, and it is a hot topic, it is a debate that's been going
on for years, and it's likely to go on some while longer. There are countries like those that want permanent seats and think that their time has come, and then there's another half of the membership, approximately, which doesn't want any country to have a permanent - any more countries to have a permanent seat, so - and it's interesting. Not surprisingly, India wants a permanent seat. Pakistan opposes any permanent members. Brazil wants a permanent seat. Mexico opposes any permanent members, as does Canada. And Italy opposes permanent seats, but Germany wants one.
So it's a very fluid and active debate, and our view is that we are open, from a United States point of view, to a modest expansion of the
Security Council. We don't want it to get so large that it's unwieldy. We are not open to an extension of the veto. We're open-minded about whether we add permanent and/or nonpermanent members. But it's interesting, with Brazil and Germany and India and South Africa and Nigeria all on the Council at the same time, to see how they comport themselves to see the kinds of positions they take on key issues of international peace and security, democracy, and human rights. They are, in effect, in an extended audition for the rest of the world as to their readiness for permanent membership.
MODERATOR: So Ambassador Rice, thank you so much for taking the time out of a very busy schedule and a very important day and spending it with us and answering all these great questions. Thank you to Ustream for putting this all together and streaming this. I think it's Ustream.tv/ambassadorrice. And thank you to USUN for helping to organize this.
So, a round of applause. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
AMBASSADOR RICE: Thanks a lot, you all.
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