U.N. Peacekeeping: Issues Related to Effectiveness, Cost, and Reform

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-04-09.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                          United States General Accounting Office

GAO                       Testimony
                          Before the Committee on International Relations,
                          House of Representatives

For Release on Delivery
Expected at
10:00 a.m., EDT
                          U.N. PEACEKEEPING
April 9, 1997

                          Issues Related to
                          Effectiveness, Cost, and
                          Statement of Harold J. Johnson, Associate Director,
                          International Relations and Trade Issues,
                          National Security and International Affairs Division

                             Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

                             I am pleased to be here today to discuss the results of the body of work we
                             have completed on issues concerning the effectiveness and cost of U.N.
                             peacekeeping.1 Specifically, my statement will address four key issues:
                             (1) the U.N.’s limitations in conducting peace operations that require the
                             use of force, (2) long-standing peacekeeping missions that are from 6 to
                             nearly 50 years old, (3) the extent to which the United States has provided
                             voluntary support to U.N.-sanctioned peace operations, and (4) the U.N.’s
                             efforts to reform the management of peacekeeping operations.

                             Mr. Chairman, before elaborating on these issues let me summarize my


Limits on Success of U.N.    Over the years, the United Nations has had some degree of success in
Peace Operations             carrying out peacekeeping missions where the use of force was not
Requiring the Use of Force   required. Examples of this might include the U.N. Transition Assistance
                             Group in Namibia and the U.N. Observer Group in Central America.
                             However, as the Cold War came to a close and the United Nations was
                             called on to lead large complex missions that required the use of force to
                             restore peace and security, the United Nations was demonstrably less
                             successful. There are clearly many reasons for this, including the failure to
                             commit sufficient resources, the lack of sufficient will on the part of the
                             international community, an inadequate operational structure for carrying
                             out such missions, and the differences in the geopolitical situations that
                             affect the execution of each mission.

                             Nonetheless, our analysis of seven operations that called for the use of
                             force—either directly by citing Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter or implied
                             by the wording of their mandates2—led us to the conclusion that the
                             reasons for a lack of success were deeper than the conventional wisdom.
                             We concluded that the organizational limits of the United Nations put at
                             risk the success of such missions. Specifically, unlike a sovereign nation,
                             the United Nations (1) cannot conscript troops and resources when

                              A list of GAO products on peace operations is attached to this statement.
                             These include the U.N. peace operations in the Congo, Lebanon, Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, and
                             Eastern Slavonia.

                             Page 1                                                                       GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                          necessary but must rely on sovereign members to voluntarily provide them
                          and (2) has no assurance that national troop contingents will carry out
                          orders issued by a U.N. force commander. The United Nations also seeks
                          the consent of the warring parties to carry out its mandate, even when
                          force is authorized. These organizational limits were particularly apparent
                          in Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda.

                          Because of these limitations, we concluded that the United Nations may
                          not be an appropriate vehicle to lead missions where force is required to
                          restore peace, unless a nation or coalition with sufficient military
                          capability and commitment leads the operation. The U.N.’s limits in
                          leading operations requiring the use of force have become increasingly
                          accepted by experts on peacekeeping and by U.N. officials. This lesson is
                          also reflected in U.S. policy and recent actions by the United States and
                          the U.N. Security Council in ensuring acceptable leadership and support
                          for the operations in Haiti and Eastern Slavonia.

Status of Long-Standing   In recognition of the limited success of operations such as those that
Peacekeeping Missions     required the use of force and the inability to bring closure to several
                          long-standing missions, U.S. and U.N. policy has become more focused.
                          There is now general agreement that the main objective of peacekeeping is
                          to reduce tensions and provide a limited period of time for diplomatic
                          efforts to find a solution to the underlying conflicts. Thus, peacekeeping
                          missions are not to be open-ended commitments, and U.S. policy tries to
                          ensure their effectiveness by seeing that they deploy in support of
                          peacemaking efforts; have clear, realistic objectives; and have end points
                          and exit strategies. These guidelines were articulated in a May 1994 public
                          summary of Presidential Decision Directive 25 (PDD-25), the
                          administration’s policy on peace operations. To further ensure
                          peacekeeping’s value, PDD-25 also directed U.S. officials to consider
                          vetoing the renewal of long-standing missions that are not achieving their

                          Despite the success of U.N. peacekeeping over the last 50 years, some
                          situations have proven to be intractable, and the peacekeeping missions
                          have evolved into open-ended commitments. At your request, we analyzed
                          the eight U.N. operations that are from 6 to nearly 50 years old—including
                          the peace operations in India and Pakistan, Cyprus, Angola, Iraq and
                          Kuwait, the Western Sahara, and three in the Middle East. We focused
                          specifically on whether these older missions are fulfilling their mandates
                          and, if not, why the executive branch continues to support them. We found

                          Page 2                                                   GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                             that three missions—the ones in Lebanon and the Western Sahara and the
                             one between India and Pakistan—essentially were not achieving their
                             mandates, and, according to U.N. reports, had contributed marginally to
                             more secure and stable environments. Three others—including the U.N.
                             Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East and the missions in
                             Angola and Cyprus—were only partially achieving their mandates but had
                             made some positive contributions to stability. The missions in the Golan
                             Heights and between Iraq and Kuwait were successfully carrying out their
                             mandates and contributing to stability in their areas of operation. More
                             importantly however, six of the missions were not linked to settlement
                             agreements, as called for by U.S. policy, and diplomatic efforts to resolve
                             the conflicts had stalled or were stalemated. None had clear end points or
                             exit strategies.

                             Although these eight missions have become, in essence, open-ended
                             commitments, U.S. officials support continuing all of them because in their
                             view the missions help stabilize and prevent the recurrence of conflicts in
                             areas vital to U.S. interests. We have recommended that the United States
                             take the lead in working with other members of the Security Council to
                             identify specific exit criteria and strategies for these missions. This should
                             be done in a manner consistent with PDD-25, balancing the need to bring
                             closure to some of these operations with other U.S. interests such as
                             stabilizing conflicts that pose a threat to U.S. foreign policy objectives.

U.S. Voluntary or Indirect   In addition to paying assessed contributions for U.N. peacekeeping
Support                      operations—currently at a rate of 25 percent of the cost of the
                             operation—the United States often provides additional support to
                             U.N.-sanctioned missions for which it is not reimbursed. In March 1996,
                             we reported that for fiscal years 1992 through 1995, the United States paid
                             $1.3 billion in assessed contributions for the missions in Haiti, the former
                             Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Somalia. But in addition, the United States
                             undertook actions in support of these U.N. operations that cost
                             $5.3 billion. This includes about $3.4 billion in incremental costs incurred
                             by the Department of Defense (DOD) and $1.9 billion incurred for
                             humanitarian and other assistance by other U.S. agencies.

                             For example, in Haiti, the United States spent an additional $953 million to
                             remove the military dictatorship from Haiti, provide training and
                             equipment to countries to help prepare them for participating in the
                             subsequent U.N. operation, and establish civic order so the U.N. mission
                             could function. Similarly, since the humanitarian crisis was overwhelming

                             Page 3                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                           peacekeeping efforts in Rwanda, U.S. agencies spent an additional
                           $463 million to provide emergency food, water, and sanitation for the
                           war-affected population, as well as send 2,000 troops to the region in
                           support of humanitarian actions. And in the former Yugoslavia, DOD
                           incurred about $784 million in incremental costs for humanitarian
                           airdrops, airlift of relief supplies into Sarajevo, and for enforcing the no-fly

U.N. Peacekeeping Reform   Finally, let me comment on management reforms the United Nations has
Efforts                    undertaken to improve the operational effectiveness and efficiency of its
                           peacekeeping missions. In 1992 and 1993, we reported that the United
                           Nations was ill-equipped to plan, logistically support, or deploy personnel
                           to large, complex missions such as in Cambodia and Somalia. The
                           Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York had a very small
                           staff, planning was not integrated, the organizational structure obstructed
                           efficient operations, and field communications with headquarters was
                           difficult and sometimes impossible. Since then, the United Nations, with
                           U.S. and other member support, has made progress in strengthening
                           operations. It has reorganized and expanded the Department of
                           Peacekeeping Operations; established a 24-hour situation center; revised
                           its procurement, contracting, and logistics procedures; and established a
                           logistical support base in Brindisi, Italy. While we have not specifically
                           evaluated the effectiveness of these reforms, we have observed
                           improvements in planning and implementing peacekeeping efforts as we
                           looked at the missions in Haiti and Eastern Slavonia.

                           While steps to improve management have been made, as one would
                           expect, peacekeeping operations are not without problems. Reports by the
                           U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)—created in 1994 at the
                           urging of the United States as an important reform measure—have
                           continued to identify problems with U.N. peacekeeping operations. For
                           example, it recently reported that due to poor planning, almost 900
                           generators costing $6 million were purchased for operations in the former
                           Yugoslavia but were unneeded and not used; bids for supplying fresh food
                           rations to another mission were manipulated to favor one bidder; lack of
                           internal controls caused fraudulent claims to be paid on vehicle spare
                           parts and repairs; and staff members falsely claimed they were in Haiti and
                           received related benefits to which they were not entitled. I should mention
                           that, at the request of Senators Helms and Grams, we are now reviewing
                           how well OIOS is functioning, including whether it is operationally

                           Page 4                                                       GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                       independent, has adequate staffing, and is otherwise equipped to carry out
                       its mandate.

                       Over the past 50 years, the United Nations has led peacekeeping missions
Limits on Success of   with some degree of success; however, as we reported in March 1997, it
U.N. Peace             has not effectively led operations calling for the use of force.3 This
Operations             includes both missions authorized to use force under Chapter VII of the
                       U.N. Charter and those missions whose mandates call for forceful action
                       but do not explicitly authorize it. In part, it is the limits of the U.N.
                       organization that put at risk the success of such operations. These limits
                       stem from the United Nations being an organization based on a
                       fundamental respect for the sovereignty of its members. Unlike sovereign
                       nations, the United Nations (1) cannot conscript troops and raise other
                       resources that may be necessary to effectively conduct operations
                       requiring the use of force; and (2) has no assurance that national
                       contingents under its command will carry out orders issued by a U.N.
                       commander. The United Nations also seeks the consent of warring parties
                       to carry out its mandate, even when force is authorized under Chapter VII
                       of the Charter. These limitations have been overcome when a nation with
                       sufficient military prestige and credibility and the commitment of
                       resources has assumed leadership of the operation.

                       Several examples help illustrate these points. Of the 42 peace operations
                       led by the United Nations since 1945, the operations in Bosnia (1992-95),
                       Somalia (1992-95), and Eastern Slavonia (1996 and ongoing) were
                       explicitly authorized to use force under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.4
                       Four other operations—Lebanon (1978 and ongoing), the Congo (1960-64),
                       Rwanda (1993-96), and the second phase of the Haiti mission
                       (1995-96)—were not so authorized but had mandates calling for forceful
                       action. Of these operations, the ones in which the United Nations had full
                       leadership were hampered by the limitations previously mentioned. For
                       example, despite Security Council calls for action, the United Nations
                       could not obtain adequate troops, equipment, and reinforcements to
                       effectively carry out the operations in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Somalia. For
                       Bosnia, 34,000 additional troops were requested to deter attacks on “safe
                       areas,” but only 7,600 were made available.

                       United Nations: Limitations in Leading Missions Requiring Force to Restore Peace (GAO/NSIAD-97-34,
                       Mar. 27, 1997).
                        The U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission was authorized under Chapter VII to redress small-scale
                       violations of the demilitarized zone, but is not used as an example here because of the limited scope of
                       the authority to use force.

                       Page 5                                                                          GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
Limits on U.N. command and control hindered U.N. commanders from
effectively deploying U.N. peacekeepers to mission-critical locations in
Somalia, Bosnia, and the Congo. National contingents frequently sought
instructions from their capitals before redeploying troops, and in some
cases they refused to redeploy. Finally, the U.N.’s will to use force in
Somalia, Bosnia, and the Congo was uncertain at key points and caused
U.N. forces to lose credibility among the warring factions. The U.N.
operations continued to rely on the consent of the warring parties to
conduct operations. In Bosnia, U.N. officials were reluctant to use
airpower to deter attacks against safe areas, in part because of threats of
retaliation, but also because they feared such action would make it appear
that they were taking sides in an internal fight. Moreover, the U.N.
operation in Bosnia acceded to roadblocks, sought clearance from the
warring factions before moving its vehicles, and allowed the warring
factions to influence the deployment of troop contingents. These actions
partly reflect the U.N.’s fundamental organizational principle of ensuring
that the sovereignty of its members is respected at all times.

In contrast, the operation in Eastern Slavonia and the second phase of the
Haiti mission have been operationally effective, partly because of
leadership by sovereign nations with credibility and respect. The United
States provided leadership for the second phase of the operation in Haiti
and ensured that adequate troops and resources were available to carry
out assigned tasks, used its command and control structure for the
operation, and applied its doctrine for operations other than war to help
guide actions. Military leadership for the operation in Eastern Slavonia is
provided by a Belgian major general, who uses Belgian officers to provide
headquarters command and control. This operation also has the
commitment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to provide
close air support and other help.

Partly in response to peacekeeping operations that were less than fully
successful, the executive branch developed PDD-25, its policy on peace
operations. According to PDD-25, peacekeeping is a tool intended to
provide a finite window of opportunity for combatants to resolve their
differences through diplomatic means. The policy also lays out factors to
be considered both in approving new missions and voting to continue
ongoing ones. These factors include whether U.N. involvement advances
U.S. interests; whether there is a threat to international peace and security;
and whether the missions have clear objectives, international support,
realistic exit criteria, and end points. The application of this policy was
cogently expressed in 1996 by the U.S. Permanent Representative to the

Page 6                                                     GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                United Nations. She said that the international community simply cannot
                afford to maintain operations where the disputants’ commitment to
                overcoming obstacles is in question, where there is no discernable
                progress toward resolution, and where no end is in sight. The policy also
                directs executive branch officials to rigorously scrutinize all missions and
                consider voting against the renewal of long-standing ones not
                accomplishing their objectives.

                Currently there are eight long-standing peacekeeping missions that range
Status of       from 6 to nearly 50 years. These are discussed in some detail in our report
Long-Standing   being released today.5 These long-standing missions account for over 40
Peacekeeping    percent of the current U.N. assessments for peacekeeping and, as of
                March 1997, cumulatively cost over $6.1 billion. Of these eight operations,
Missions        two—the ones in the Golan Heights and on the Iraq-Kuwait border—have
                generally carried out their mandates and helped maintain stability in their
                areas of operation. Three other operations—the ones in Angola, Cyprus,
                and the Truce Supervision Organization in the Middle East—have partially
                fulfilled their mandates and made some positive contributions to stability.

                The remaining three operations—Lebanon, Western Sahara, and on the
                India-Pakistan border—have generally not carried out their mandates and,
                according to U.N. reports, have contributed only marginally to establishing
                more secure and stable environments. For example, while the operation in
                Lebanon does provide humanitarian relief and some security for the local
                population, the U.N. Secretary General has reported for the past several
                years that the operation’s mandate issued in 1978 remains unfulfilled. One
                of the operation’s mandate objectives was to help restore Lebanese
                sovereignty and prevent its area of operation from being used for hostile
                activity of any kind. However, the United Nations has taken the position
                that it has no right to stop Lebanese forces, including Hizbollah, from
                resisting Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon.

                Seven of the eight long-standing operations were originally deployed to
                support diplomatic efforts to achieve lasting settlements of the conflicts.
                However, as of February 1997, talks associated with the conflicts in
                Cyprus, Western Sahara, Syria, Lebanon, the Middle East, and Kashmir had
                stalled or stalemated. I should note that in Angola, progress on the Lusaka
                agreement has stalled; whereas in the case of India and Pakistan, there has
                been some preliminary movement on arranging discussions. U.N. and U.S.

                 U.N. Peacekeeping: Status of Long-standing Operations and U.S. Interests in Supporting Them
                (GAO/NSIAD-97-59, Apr. 9, 1997).

                Page 7                                                                      GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                       officials and area experts attribute the inability to reach settlements after
                       so many years to a variety of factors including the deeply rooted nature of
                       the conflicts and the lack of commitment of the warring parties to resolve
                       differences peacefully. They also point out that the long-standing
                       operations may be a part of the problem by promoting a status quo that
                       seems more preferable than making compromises to achieve settlements.

                       The eight long-standing operations have become costly and open-ended
                       commitments. Although seven of these operations were undertaken to
                       create stable, secure environments to assist diplomatic efforts aimed at
                       settling these underlying conflicts, diplomatic efforts to resolve the
                       underlying conflicts had, in most cases, stalled. Nevertheless, U.S. officials
                       currently see no reasonable alternative to continuing these operations
                       because they help stabilize conflicts that could threaten U.S. security
                       interests. In their view, ending these operations would risk renewed
                       conflict and damage future peacemaking efforts. However, continued
                       support of these operations does not appear to give adequate
                       consideration to other factors articulated by U.S. policy that seeks to
                       ensure that peacekeeping operations are limited in duration, linked to
                       concrete political solutions, and have exit criteria and identified end
                       points for U.N. involvement.

                       In light of U.S. interests in supporting well-defined peacekeeping
                       operations linked to concrete political solutions, our report recommended
                       that the United States take the lead in working with other U.N. Security
                       Council members to identify specific exit criteria and strategies for these
                       operations. We suggested that this should be done in a manner consistent
                       with PDD-25, balancing the need to bring closure to these operations with
                       other U.S. interests such as stabilizing conflicts that pose a threat to U.S.
                       foreign policy objectives. We noted that these strategies need not propose
                       immediate ends to these operations but, rather, may focus on how and
                       when the desired end states can be achieved, what intermediate and final
                       objectives are sought, and what specific role these operations play in
                       achieving the sought-after end states.

                       The United States paid $1.95 billion for U.N.-assessed contributions for
U.S. Support of U.N.   U.N. peacekeeping for fiscal years 1994 through 1996, but according to the
Peace Operations       State Department’s budget request, the United States still owes about
                       $658 million for peacekeeping arrears. Approximately $533 million of the
                       U.S. arrearage is owed for assessments to the mission in the former

                       Page 8                                                      GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                                         In addition to paying for the assessments for U.N. peacekeeping missions,
                                         the United States often provides voluntary support for the operations. As
                                         noted in table 1, during fiscal years 1992 through 1995, the U.S. costs for
                                         supporting U.N.-sanctioned peace operations in Haiti, the former
                                         Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Somalia was about $6.6 billion. This includes
                                         about $1.34 billion in assessments, and an additional $5.26 billion for other
                                         support. For example, in addition to making payments of $786 million in
                                         assessments for the operation in the former Yugoslavia for these years.,
                                         DOD incurred incremental costs of $784 million when it helped enforce
                                         the no-fly zone over Bosnia with other NATO members, provided close air
                                         support for U.N. peacekeepers, launched air strikes against parties that
                                         attacked safe areas, flew humanitarian airdrops with meals-ready-to-eat
                                         and other necessities for besieged enclaves, and operated a hospital in
                                         Croatia for U.N. peacekeepers.

Table 1: U.S. Costs in Support of
Selected U.N. Peace Operations, Fiscal   Dollars in millions
Years 1992-95                                                                                      Fiscal years
                                         Country                           1992           1993            1994           1995       1992-95
                                         Haiti Total                       $79.7        $130.4          $530.8         $875.8       $1,616.7
                                         (U.S. assessment)                    (0)           (0)           (0.5)         (51.9)         (52.4)
                                         Former Yugoslavia
                                         Total                             126.7          408.7          959.0          692.5        2,186.9
                                         (U.S. assessment)                 (76.4)         (70.1)        (459.7)        (179.8)        (786.0)
                                         Rwanda Total                       22.1           24.8          261.4          265.4          573.7
                                         (U.S. assessment)                    (0)            (0)         (34.0)         (75.5)        (109.5)
                                         Somalia Total                      92.9        1,124.8          913.3            92.1       2,223.1
                                         (U.S. assessment)                    (0)         (40.9)        (330.9)          (16.9)       (388.7)
                                         Total                           $321.4       $1,688.7        $2,664.5      $1,925.8        $6,600.4
                                         (U.S. assessment)                (76.4)          (111)         (825.1)       (324.1)       (1,336.6)
                                         Note: As of August 1995, the United Nations had reimbursed the United States $79.4 million for its
                                         participation in these operations.

                                         Other U.S. agencies also provide voluntary support for peacekeeping
                                         operations. Like DOD’s support, most of this assistance is not contributed
                                         directly to the peace operations but helps create environments in which
                                         operations can take place. For example, in fiscal years 1992 through 1995,
                                         the U.S. Agency for International Development spent over $480 million for
                                         activities in Haiti such as training the Haitian police force in conducting
                                         criminal investigations, funding the human rights monitoring mission, and
                                         providing food and health services for the population. In fiscal years 1994
                                         and 1995, the Departments of Justice, Commerce, the Treasury,

                                         Page 9                                                                       GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                    Transportation, and Health and Human Services provided over $55 million
                    for programs to help train Haitian judges, strengthen the criminal justice
                    system, and help with migration emergencies and refugee processing. In
                    Somalia, the U.S. Agency for International Development spent $239 million
                    from fiscal years 1992 through 1995 for activities including food
                    distribution, water and sanitation, mine clearing, and efforts to establish a
                    police and judicial system.

                    Over the years, the United Nations has come under increasing criticism for
U.N. Peacekeeping   its inefficient management of peacekeeping missions. However, by the
Management Reform   early 1990s when the United Nations was called upon to undertake several
Efforts             large, complex missions such as Cambodia, Somalia, and the former
                    Yugoslavia almost simultaneously, the U.N.’s management deficiencies
                    were magnified. In 1992 and 1993 we reported that the United Nations was
                    poorly equipped to efficiently and effectively manage large complex
                    missions. For example, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations
                    lacked sufficient staff to plan and implement missions and, moreover, had
                    to rely on other organizations within the United Nations to prepare
                    budgets, procure equipment and supplies, and provide logistical support.
                    For both the Cambodia and Somalia missions, these weaknesses were
                    reflected in (1) the lack of detailed operational plans prior to deployment,
                    (2) fragmented military and civilian plans, (3) limited and erroneous
                    information, and (4) poor communications between headquarters and the

                    In response to such problems, the United Nations, with the help of
                    member states, has taken steps to improve its capacity to plan, deploy, and
                    support missions. Key reform efforts have been to restructure the U.N.
                    Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which is responsible for the
                    planning and day-to-day conduct of missions; upgrade logistics support for
                    missions; and improve procurement practices. We have not specifically
                    evaluated the effectiveness of these reforms but believe they are steps in
                    the right direction. One indication of the reforms’ impact is the Eastern
                    Slavonia operation, where the Security Council ensured that a NATO
                    member provided the military leadership and the mission’s command and
                    control and where the deployment of 5,000 peacekeepers took place on
                    schedule and without direct assistance from the United States.

                    Despite these positive signs, OIOS has reported some continuing
                    weaknesses in managing operations. Three efforts—(1) the restructuring
                    and strengthening of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; (2) the

                    Page 10                                                    GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                          creation of a logistics center at Brindisi, Italy; and (3) steps to improve
                          procurement practices—help illustrate reform steps taken and the
                          continuing weaknesses.

Restructuring the         The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was restructured over the
Department of             past few years to include the field administration and logistics division.
Peacekeeping Operations   Previously, the field logistics division was in a different department,
                          causing delays in mission planning and support and disagreements on
                          priorities. Several units were also added to the department to support
                          peacekeeping actions to hold elections, mount international civilian police
                          actions, and effectively use information in peacekeeping missions. To
                          ensure adequate staffing for these functions, the department’s personnel
                          was increased from 60 in 1992 to an authorized staff of 398, with an
                          additional 110 military officers on loan from member states to deal with
                          logistics, planning, and procurement. A situation center was also
                          completed and tasked to maintain 24-hour communication with all
                          ongoing missions and provide periodic situation reports from the

                          In reviewing some of the recent field missions, OIOS noted that the
                          Department of Peacekeeping Operations still needs to improve the
                          efficiency and effectiveness of its operations. For example, OIOS reported
                          that the department needs to provide appropriate guidance and direction
                          for operations at headquarters and in the field, and it recommended that
                          the department standardize procedures in the areas of budgeting, finance,
                          field administration, procurement, and property management. It also noted
                          the need to institutionalize the lessons learned from past missions in the
                          form of policies, guidelines, handbooks, and manuals. OIOS said that it
                          would be an extraordinary waste of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth
                          of experience in tasks of continuing significance, such as the
                          demobilization of warring factions, if this experience was not translated
                          into practical guides for future missions.

Establishment of a        To improve logistics, the United Nations established a center at Brindisi,
Logistics Center          Italy, to receive, repair, and store surplus equipment from closing missions
                          and to maintain mission start-up kits. The logistics center was intended to
                          safeguard and put to effective use the millions of dollars’ worth of
                          vehicles, generators, computers, and other assets from completed
                          missions and to organize them into off-the-shelf kits to support new
                          missions. According to the 1996 Annual Report to Congress on

                          Page 11                                                      GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
                       Peacekeeping, the center is cost free, except for utilities and upkeep, and
                       has demonstrated its value.

                       However, an OIOS report raised questions about the cost-effectiveness of
                       the center becasue it was uncertain if its annual operating cost was greater
                       than the value of the equipment it was recovering. For example, the center
                       recorded the value of its inventory at about $20 million. However, this was
                       the purchase price rather than the actual value of the inventory. According
                       to OIOS, much of the equipment and supplies in the inventory was in poor
                       condition and should have been written off. It estimated that 50 percent of
                       the generators were not working and most of the trucks and light vehicles
                       could be used only for spare parts. Some of this equipment—generators
                       and food rations, for instance—was shipped to missions where it was
                       unusable and had to be destroyed or shipped back at additional cost. OIOS
                       reported that “in view of the annual costs of the Logistics Base of more
                       than $7 million, the actual value of the assets stored is a key element in
                       assessing the cost-effectiveness of the Base.”

Peacekeeping           Procurement weaknesses have been a major concern, and the United
Procurement Concerns   Nations has taken several steps to improve its procurement practices.
Continue               According to a recent executive branch report, the United Nations
                       reorganized its Purchase and Transportation Service from regional desks
                       to commodity desks to take advantage of economies of scale and
                       established professional training programs for procurement officers. To
                       expedite procurement of commonly needed items at the lowest cost, the
                       United Nations negotiated 35 contingency contracts for items such as
                       vehicles, spare parts, generators, and rations. Also, the practice of
                       reimbursing troop-contributing countries based on the countries’ own
                       surveys was replaced with a more efficient standardized cost schedule.

                       Despite these steps, reports from OIOS indicated continuing weaknesses
                       involving procurement-related issues. One key weakness was a lack of
                       internal controls in authorization and approval of contracts that might
                       have prevented the purchase of mobile cranes that did not meet the users’
                       needs in Bosnia; the purchase of millions of dollars’ worth of uniforms and
                       protective gear, 50 percent of which were unused at the close of the
                       mission; and a contract for photocopier parts that exceeded the initial
                       value of the contract by 300 percent, partly because of overbilling. OIOS
                       also found several instances in which conflicts of interest were created,
                       such as where the chairman of the contracts committee was also the
                       independent approving official for those contracts and where departments

                       Page 12                                                   GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
requisitioning goods were also responsible for contracting and purchasing
them. Similar problems occurred at other missions.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, this concludes my prepared
remarks. I will be happy to answer any questions you or other Members of
the Committee may have.

Page 13                                                 GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
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(711264)   Page 15                                                  GAO/T-NSIAD-97-139
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