United Nations:

Cost of Peacekeeping Is Likely to Exceed Current Estimate

NSIAD-00-228BR: Published: Aug 31, 2000. Publicly Released: Sep 12, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the United Nations' (U.N.) peacekeeping budget, focusing on: (1) GAO's estimate of the cost of U.N. peacekeeping, as funded from the 2001 U.N. peacekeeping budget; and (2) the major uncertainties in estimating this cost.

GAO noted that: (1) GAO estimates that the cost of U.N. peacekeeping funded from the 2001 U.N. peacekeeping budget will be about $2.7 billion, which exceeds the amount currently budgeted by about $600 million; (2) GAO's estimate includes additional appropriations in the United Nations will consider for missions in the Congo and East Timor when budgets for these missions are revised or fully developed later this year; (3) GAO's estimate also includes anticipated increases for expanded operations in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia-Eritrea, and Lebanon; (4) in deciding whether or not to appropriate additional funds for these proposed expansions, the Security Council will need to approve an expanded mandate for each mission and the Secretary General will have to: (a) complete a report that justifies the increased cost; (b) submit a revised budget to the U.N. finance committee for review; and (c) obtain General Assembly approval for an increased appropriation; (5) if the General Assembly--where each member state has one vote--approves the increased appropriation, each member, including the United States, is assessed an additional amount; (6) the major uncertainties in estimating the cost of peacekeeping include: (a) whether each mission's area of operation is sufficiently secure and will allow planned or proposed increases in troops and operations to proceed; (b) if so, when the troops might be deployed and operations expanded; and (c) whether the costs for building infrastructure have been accurately forecast; and (7) for example, the uncertainties in estimating the cost of the Congo mission relate to whether the Secretary General certifies that conditions on the ground are secure enough to expand operations from 90 observers to over 5,500 troops--when contributing countries might provide adequately provisioned troops--and what might be the cost of supporting these troops in inaccessible locations.

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