In advance of U.S. President George W. Bush’s upcoming trip to Africa and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s testimony on the Administration’s fiscal 2009 international affairs budget request, the Better World Campaign today urged Congress to scrutinize the Administration’s anemic funding request and growing mountain of unpaid bills for UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and around the world. What follows is a statement by Deborah Derrick, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign.
“The United States is already more than $1 billion behind in honoring its commitments to UN peacekeeping, and the Administration’s budget request would add at least another $600 million to our growing and worrisome unpaid peacekeeping assessments. UN peacekeeping is a tremendous value for the United States, ensuring that we don’t have to pay all the bills or take all the risks for securing peace and stability in the world. By working with other nations, we can promote peace at a fraction of the cost. Simply put, in today’s complex and dangerous world the United States can’t afford to go it alone and therefore we can’t afford not to pay our fair share of international peacekeeping.
“Shortchanging UN peacekeeping missions severely undermines the budget’s stated goal of helping to ‘end conflicts, restore peace, and strengthen regional stability.’ It also complicates President Bush’s planned trip to Africa next week. There are a variety of difficult conflicts underway in Africa–stretching across the continent–from Sudan and Chad in North Africa to Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa’s heartland to Cote D’Ivoire and Liberia in the West. UN peacekeeping is essential to maintaining basic stability in these areas, but the Administration’s budget has significant shortfalls in funding for each of these missions.
“Full payment of dues to the UN is a necessary step in advancing our national interests and moral obligations in Africa and also can help improve the U.S. image in the international community. America’s reputation and standing are not helped when we call and vote for–but don’t pay our fair share of–new and bigger U.N. peacekeeping operations in places like Darfur and Chad. Congress and the Administration need to work together in the coming months to ensure that the United States honors fully its commitments to UN peacekeeping. Great nations pay their bills.”