Reuters gets its hands on a letter from the US Special Envoy on Sudan Richard Williamson to the Secretary General in which Williamson blames the UN for the slow deployment of UNAMID, the peacekeeping mission to Darfur. This kind of critique tends to infuriate me. The United Nations cannot waive a magic wand to summon the kind of troops and equipment necessary to make UNAMID a success. Rather, it depends on member states to pony up the cash, personnel and equipment. It is incredibly disingenuous to blame the UN for UNAMID’s slow deployment when one’s government is not offering troops or equipment — nor even living up to its basic treaty obligation to financially support UN peacekeeping as a whole. (Right now, the United States is $1.4 billion in arrears in the UN peacekeeping account, which is far from chump change considering that the UN’s peacekeeping budget is only $7 billion annually).
Even if the United States does not want to send troops or equipment to Darfur — which is understandable — it could still help the situation by using its diplomatic clout to press for peace in Darfur. UNAMID, after all, will only be successful if there is an underlying peace to keep. One obvious way the United States could help politically and diplomatically is to make Darfur a higher priority in its bilateral relationship with China, which has close ties to Sudan. But so far, many in the United States government have found it easier to scapegoat the UN over Darfur than empower it to succeed there.