We Must Pay Our U.N. Bills, Obama Administration Insists

(CNSNews.com) – Amid continuing calls to reduce U.S. funding of the United Nations, two senior Obama administration officials this week gave speeches asserting the importance of full – and fully-paid up – engagement with the world body.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice addressed the United Nations Association of the United States (UNA-USA) on Monday, urging the advocacy group to help the administration make the case to the American people that “the U.N. plays an indispensable role in advancing our interests and defending our values.”

On Wednesday Esther Brimmer, the assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, took the message to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, arguing that the administration was successfully countering anti-Israel bias at international forums, particularly the U.N. and its Human Rights Council (HRC).

Both Rice and Brimmer referred to calls by U.N. critics for the U.S. to reduce funding.

Republicans in the House Foreign Affairs Committee want U.S. contributions to be linked to the implementation of reforms at the U.N.

Committee chairwoman Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) is pushing a bill designed to achieve that goal, which among steps calls for the U.S. to withdraw from the HRC.

The continuing resolution passed by Congress in April to fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2011 included a $377 million reduction in funding to the U.N. compared to the previous year.

Heritage Foundation scholar Brett Schaefer points out that the U.N. regular biennial budget has more than doubled between 2000-2001 and 2010-11 (from $2.49 billion to $5.16 billion), while the separate biennial peacekeeping budget has grown threefold over that same period (from $1.7 billion to $7.2 billion).

The U.S. alone pays 22 percent of the regular budget and more than 25 percent of the peacekeeping budget. The contributions are assessed according to member states’ relative “capacity to pay,” calculated from national economic output.

Apart from these “assessed contributions,” the U.S. contributes considerably more in “voluntary contributions,” which benefit a range of agencies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.

Ros-Lehtinen and others want the U.S. to shift funding from an “assessed” basis to a “voluntary” one, arguing that this will enable it to target programs that are well-run and are in America’s interests.

“We should only pay for U.N. programs and activities that advance our interests and our values,” she told a committee hearing in March. “If other countries want different things to be funded, they can pay for it themselves.” http://www.cnsnews.com/news/art...ration-insists