SO popular are United Nations peacekeepers these days that the
world body can hardly keep pace with the demand.
All those troops, police, and civilians now heading for Cambodia
and Yugoslavia will bring the global ranks of UN peacekeepers to an
all-time high of about 50,000, a fourfold jump since the start of
the year. Somalia and Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh could be next.
The scope of peacekeeping in the newly energized United Nations
is also broadening. The soldier wearing the UN blue beret is no
longer just a monitor of a cease-fire. The peacekeeping operation
in Cambodia will attempt the broadest array of tasks ever - from
administering the country and organizing 1993 elections to helping
repatriate refugees and promote human rights.
Peacekeeping is nowhere to be found in the UN charter.
Undersecretary-General Marrack Goulding says that omission gives
peacekeeping a rare flexibility. The only limits to the concept, he
says, are what the parties to a conflict are ready to accept, what
the Security Council will authorize, and what the General Assembly
The geographical spread of those supplying troops, police,
civilian workers, and equipment to UN peacekeeping missions is also
growing. Though most troops still come from a handful of countries
long viewed as neutral, about one-third of the UN's membership, 58
nations, now make some materiel contribution. Since the end of the
cold war, the permanent five members of the Security Council, often
involved as brokers in past conflicts, have been encouraged to
contribute, too. French and Russian troops are part of the UN
"Ideally, every member state should participate so that it feels
a part of this high-profile activity," insists Mr. Goulding, the
UN's top peacekeeping official.
Yet some governments are more willing to take part in such
operations and to applaud their goals and gains than to actually
pay for them. At the start of 1992 the UN was still owed $375
million in peacekeeping dues - about half of the operations' annual
The Yugoslav and Cambodian ventures are expected to push the
yearly cost to more than $3 billion. A number of US lawmakers say
the 30 percent US share of dues is too high. The permanent five -
China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States -
are assessed 57 percent of total peacekeeping costs. Many say
Germany and Japan, barred constitutionally from contributing
troops, should pay more than they do. Japan will pay more than its
12.5 percent share of the UN Cambodian mission's costs.
Members of UN peacekeeping battalions remain in national units
and wear their own uniforms, but work together under one UN
commander. Guns, not carried at all on observer missions, are to be
used only in self-defense.
Though the UN supplies training guidelines, all troops are
trained nationally. The Nordic nations for years have had a strong
cooperative arrangement with national specializations such as
Denmark's training of all military police. "We realized that we are
small countries and had to organize our efforts; it's worked very
well," says Col. …