Common practice for years saw the U.S. neglecting its obligation to fully fund its dues to the United Nations. A reversal came in 2009 against that trend and arrears were redressed. H.R. 2829, sponsored by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), seeks to, amongst other proposals, mandate a voluntary funding mechanism for all member states, allowing them to pick and choose what they fund at the UN.
The president’s 2013 budget fully funds the U.S. contribution to support the United Nations. Congress must continue to support the imperative engagement of the United Nations by fully funding our financial obligation and oppose H.R. 2829. Failing to fund that obligation negates America’s capacity to effectively lead on humanitarian and international security issues, thereby threatening not only the global arena but also America’s vital national security interests.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stated that H.R. 2829 would "undercut international collaboration in advancing core U.S. national security interests," such as "stopping nuclear proliferation, combating terrorism and enforcing sanctions against certain countries." The intent of the legislation to compel UN reform is not unworthy, but its method is inherently dangerous.
Presently, over 120,000 UN peacekeepers are in the field across four continents, making it second in size only to the U.S. in military deployments. These missions are serving in Haiti, South Sudan, Lebanon, and 12 other areas of critical need. The breadth of the UN’s work across human rights, education, nuclear proliferation, development and myriad more is essential. H.R. 2829 would severely cut funding across the board and disallow the U.S. to support future or expanded peacekeeping operations.
Contrary to conventional opinion, the American people strongly support U.S. commitment to the UN. In a bipartisan poll conducted of U.S. voters, 60% of respondents agreed that the U.S. should pay our dues on time and in full. This number grew to 69% when focused specifically on peacekeeping and was consistent across political party affiliation. Eighty-five percent of voters believe it is “important that the United States maintain an active role within the United Nations,” while 67% “believe the United Nations is still needed today.” Fifty-nine percent of voters polled have a “favorable image of the United Nations” while 28% had an “unfavorable image.”
These numbers exhibit the reality that despite the rhetoric of many current members of Congress, the American public are behind the UN and believe the U.S./UN partnership is one of immense importance.
The UN, like any institution, has shortcomings which demand reform and such should be sought collectively and carefully by the member states. While H.R. 2829 is intended towards this goal, it is a veiled attempt to undermine the UN’s mission and it must fail passage.
In the totality of its enormous responsibilities, the United Nations is a highly effective institution which serves the dire needs of millions across the globe and without whose presence would add an insurmountable charge to the United States in securing peace abroad, promoting economic development globally and protecting vital national security interests at home.
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