French diplomat to head UN peacekeeping chief
French diplomat Alain Le Roy is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's choice to become the newest peacekeeping chief.
Le Roy, who has been helping French President Nicolas Sarkozy's administration bolster its ties with North Africa, was tapped Monday to succeed Jean-Marie Guehenno. Le Roy also has worked as an oil engineer for French energy company Total. He is not expected to start in his new job until late summer.
The decision keeps the high-profile job of U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations within France's portfolio. France, which considers its support for peacekeeping and human rights among its top priorities, pays 7 percent of the peacekeeping department's US$7.5 billion budget and contributes nearly 2,000 troops.
That makes it the fifth-biggest financial contributor to U.N. peacekeeping, behind the 26 percent paid by the United States, 17 percent by Japan, 9 percent by Germany and 8 percent by Britain. France is the 10th-biggest troop contributor, far behind the more than 10,000 contributed by Pakistan and more than 9,000 each from Bangladesh and India.
The 55-year-old Le Roy, who also has extensive experience in the Balkans, takes over a department facing the challenge of running some 20 peacekeeping operations with more than 100,000 personnel. That is a roughly tenfold increase from the start of the 1990s. The U.N. marked 60 years of peacekeeping operations in May, with Guehenno cautioning that the famous "blue helmets" may be stretched too thin. The U.N. relies on member nations to contribute troops, police and gear.
Guehenno at times disagreed with the U.N. Security Council on the wisdom of sending peacekeeping missions into war zones where peace is elusive.