Force Multiplication for Peace, Enter United Nations Peace Corps

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

The United Nations is as much an organization of ironies as it is of stark contradictions. This is particularly true when comparing geopolitical power differentials between the global north & south. It is therefore unsurprising how annual budgetary contributions of United Nations member states are strictly calculated using the United States Dollar. Based on extensive details from the New York based Council on Foreign Relations from an article on the American subsidization of the United Nations published in 2023 on how much the United States contributed to the United Nations in 2021, it was found one-fifth of the world’s premier supranational organization is directly subsidized by the United States to the tune of $12 billion.

Despite drastic budgetary cutbacks made to the American subsidization of the United Nations during the Trump administration, no other nation, permanent Security Council members specifically, have decisively rivaled American contributions to the United Nations at a time when Washington’s commitment to the United Nations was in serious question. In 2023, the United Nations reported the United States accounted for 22% of the regular UN operating budget while securing 27% of the peacekeeping budget simultaneously despite limiting overall total budgetary contributions to the United Nations to 25% as mandated by the United States Congress.

It is observably ironic. The world’s premier hegemonic superpower is also the greatest subsidizer of the United Nations by comparative volumetric fiscal percentage. Yet the average American remains generally ambivalent to the United Nations despite having deeply American roots. The challenge in rectifying that ambivalence boils down to a question of everyday relevance. It can be implied if one is not a refugee or subsisting in one of the world’s numerous conflict zones, the United Nations as a force of everyday relevance is seemingly passive & intangible. This is especially true for citizens of the global north.

Most disparagingly, the United Nations is drastically hampered by crippling bureaucracies materializing in the form of intra-organizational rivalries. One such example is evidenced by competing geopolitical interests as seen within the Security Council & General Assembly. In 2023 this proved most evident when the United States vetoed a Security Council Resolution on October 18th calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to restore humanitarian aid to 2 million vulnerable Palestinians. It is for this reason why the hegemony of Security Council vetoing power is akin to United Nations history where the world goes in one direction while the unilateral foreign policy interests of a permanent Security Council member runs opposite effectively denying peace to millions.

The question is: how does the United Nations restore everyday relevance to be world citizens not directly impacted by refugee crises, mass migrations, & conflict zones in the global north specifically & the global south generally? Perhaps the answer to that question can be found in American history when President John F. Kennedy initiated the establishment of the Peace Corps by direct executive order in 1961. Since its inception, specialists from the medical, educational, & community development sectors have been dispatched to nations throughout the global south. Specialists are encouraged to learn local languages & familiarize themselves with the local culture wherever they are deployed. They also live & collaborate directly with the communities they serve while receiving a modest stipend from the United States government. As of 1961, the Peace Corps dispatched 240,000 Americans to 170 nations engaged in everything from critical infrastructure projects such as solar powered water system construction in rural Gambia to early pregnancy nutrition training programs in Guatemala.

To date, apart from conventional peacekeeping operations, the United Nations has no true equivalent to the United States Peace Corps. Why have we collectively failed to imagine the internationalization of the work accomplished by the Peace Corps for the global citizen? A United Nations Peace Corps can function as an alternative to mandatory military service in nations where such laws are applicable in exchange for socioeconomic aid under UN guidance while providing a productive outlet for conscientious objectors to military service everywhere.

Socioeconomic aid can be managed & distributed to UN member states with mandatory military conscription laws in direct conjunction with UN Peace Corps officials to initiate critical infrastructure projects to improve & ideally maximize quality of life for communities subsisting on the underdeveloped disparate fringes of their national societies. Sourcing manpower can be achieved by setting a 2-to-4-year development quota derived from set percentages of total personnel redirected from mandatory military conscription by nation for purposes of being reabsorbed into a United Nations Peace Corps for development projects. Military conscripts turned UN Peace Corps personnel would be kept in their home nation to prevent foreign conflicts of interest all under the leadership & guidance of an appointed general rapporteur to monitor & document progress of UN Peace Corps activity per critical development project for vital infrastructure.

Additionally, a UN Peace Corps would have recruiting stations worldwide coupled with scholarships & internship opportunities for youths committed to advancing peace under the concerted goal of maximizing quality of life throughout the global south. Imagine a world where concerned citizens of conscience can join an international force for peace centered on the force multiplication of quality-of-life improvement for humanity & the global environment without the dizzying trappings of UN bureaucracy.

A reformed United Nations is only possible with the direct participation of world citizens combined with redirected manpower from conscripted militaries where both stand committed to building a better world through shared effort via UN Peace Corps.