Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Senate Votes to Cut Funding for UN Peacekeeping

The Senate voted Wednesday to reduce the United States’ share of the cost of UN peacekeeping missions by about $75 million.

U.S. dues are now capped at 27.1 percent of the peacekeeping budget. Under a 1994 law, that cap is to be reduced to 25 percent. The Bush administration — with the support of Democrats — asked that the cap be maintained at 27.1 percent, a measure that was defeated mostly along party lines.

The Associated Press reports:
The vote reflected congressional criticism of the United Nations following allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the oil-for-food program for Iraq, sexual abuses by peacekeepers and other scandals.

America, including our congressional leaders, was quick to criticize other nations for their failure to provide support for the War in Iraq (who can forget the renaming of french fries in the US House cafeteria?). Yet, we are now prepared to unilaterally limit our contributions for UN peacekeeping operations in places such as Haiti and Sudan.

The US has historically tied calls for reform at the UN to funding. Currently, the US is the largest single contributor of funds to the UN as well as the largest debtor. According to the Global Policy Forum:
The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $10 billion each year, or about $1.70 for each of the world's inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is just a tiny fraction of the world's military spending. Yet for over a decade, the UN has faced a debilitating financial crisis and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN's voluntary funds. As of December 31, 2004, members arrears to the Regular Budget topped $357 million, of which the United States alone owed $241 million (68% of the regular budget).

American reluctance to fulfill our obligations to the UN has bred resentment among UN members and undermined US influence at the UN. This action will undoubtedly further anti-American sentiments at the body.


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