The state of ongoing peacekeeping operations on the African continent was the topic of a hearing held Thursday by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees Africa and international human rights.
"There are several current peacekeeping operations in Africa encouraged and/or supported by the U.S. government, and others are being planned even now," said Smith. "The effectiveness of peacekeeping operations has been called into question in terms of planning and execution. Today's hearing offers an opportunity to look at how we evaluate the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations we support in Africa." Click here to read Chairman Smith's opening remarks.
The hearing, entitled "Assessing U.S. Policy on Peacekeeping Operations in Africa," featured top U.S. officials from the State Department before an open hearing of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights. The hearing examined the daunting challenges and the bold hopes for peace, democracy, basic human rights and other issues that are so important to a better future for millions of people in Africa.
Testimony by the Assistant Secretary of State and head of the Bureau of African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, defended the need for U.S. support of peacekeeping initiatives to bring stability to the region.
"Should we falter in our commitment to developing African peacekeeping capacity, the consequence will be heavier burdens on the international community as a whole, whether through the deployment of more UN "blue-helmet' operations, or even direct military interventions when national security is at stake," Carson said. "We strongly believe that the only way to achieve sustainable, long-term stability of the continent is to provide our African partners with the tools needed to bring about that stability themselves."
Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, told the panel about the seven U.N.-led or supported peacekeeping missions in sub-Saharan Africa.
"We have seen the recent -- and critical -- role of peacekeepers across Africa," Brimmer said. "Supporting a new country in South Sudan. Helping run elections in Liberia. Promoting stability in Cote d'Ivoire. Trying to stem renewed violence in eastern Congo. These missions are challenging and risky, but we recognize their contributions to peace and stability throughout the continent."