U.N. Peacekeeping:

Executive Branch Consultations With Congress Did Not Fully Meet Expectations in 1999-2000

GAO-01-917: Published: Sep 10, 2001. Publicly Released: Oct 11, 2001.

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Harold J. Johnson, Jr
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Presidential Decision Directive 25 states that U.S. involvement in international peacekeeping operations must be selective and effective. Toward this end, the directive established guidance that U.S. officials must consider before deciding whether to support proposed operations, including whether the operations advanced U.S. interests, had realistic criteria for ending the operations, and had appropriate forces and financing to accomplish their missions. The directive established these factors as an aid for executive decision-making and not as criteria for supporting particular operations. Executive branch officials thoroughly considered all Presidential Decision Directive 25 factors before deciding to support the authorization or expansion of peacekeeping operations in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the time the decisions were made, executive branch assessments identified at least one Directive 25 shortfall in all of the proposed operations and several shortfalls in six of them. Executive branch officials nonetheless decided to support the operations because they believed that these shortfalls were outweighed by the presence of other Directive 25 factors and various other factors, including U.S. interests in the region. Executive branch officials provided Congress with considerable information about the conflicts that the proposed operations were intended to address. However, GAO found no evidence that Congress was informed about most Directive 25 shortfalls identified in executive branch assessments of the proposed operations in East Timor and Sierra Leone or about U.S. plans to address the risks posed by these shortfalls. Congress was informed, about most shortfalls identified in executive branch assessments of the proposed U.N. operations in the Congo.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response, as of 2004, the Department of State, Office of Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs has provided detailed briefings to Congress on a monthly basis about new or substantially revised operations and the issues that confront them. Also, State now includes in its notifications to Congress discussions about the shortfalls in operations and the steps to mitigate them.

    Recommendation: To improve executive branch consultations with Congress, the Secretary of State and other appropriate officials should provide Congress with timely, detailed, and complete information about Directive 25 shortfalls for all proposed new or substantially revised peacekeeping operations and the plans to mitigate the shortfalls. The timing of providing such information to Congress is a matter of judgment; however, at a minimum, this information should be provided no later than at the time Congress is informed in writing about the decisions to support such operations.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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