Fact Sheet: Key Points About UN Reform Act of 2005

Key Points to Remember about UN Reform Act of 2005:

  • Would automatically stop payment of our annual dues to the United Nations
  • At the inception of the United Nations, the U.S. made a legally binding promise to pay our share of UN dues.
  • The U.S. is the biggest financial contributor to the United Nations, paying about 22 percent of the annual $2 billion general budget. Withholding dues would be a major roadblock to important UN reform programs.
  • Bush Administration officials have voiced opposition to this legislation (see below)

If passed, the UN Reform Act of 2005 would:

  • Break our promise to other nations of the world and to the UN.
  • Limit the ability of our diplomats to achieve changes within the UN because it would undercut U.S. credibility.
  • Lead to a huge debt to the UN and inhibit our ability to lead within the institution.

If passed, the UN Reform Act of 2005 would endanger UN peacekeeping efforts by:

  • Reinstating a 25 percent cap on U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping missions despite the fact that Congress has voted since 2001 to pay our currently assessed share, which is now at 27.1 percent.
  • Instituting a shortfall in funds needed to sustain troops on the ground
  • Jeopardizing the newly authorized peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION: OPPOSED TO WITHHOLDING UN DUES

Below you will find a list of quotes from news reports and committee transcripts that highlight the Bush Administration’s opposition to the process of holding back payment of our UN dues.

PRESIDENT BUSH:

  • It [Legislation proposing withholding UN dues] could also put Hyde’s committee on a collision course with President Bush, who has told U.N. officials in the past that he doesn’t believe in withholding dues. [Associated Press, May 20, 2005]

BUSH ADMINISTRATION:

  • The Bush administration opposed the bill [The UN Reform Act of 2005] on grounds that the United States is obliged to pay its U.N. assessment. [Associated Press, June 8, 2005]

ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS:

  • Mark P. Lagon, Ph.D. Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of International Organization Affairs, Department Of State:
    “Question from Rep. Delahunt: Okay. So let me be clear because I think it’s important that we do be clear and that we don’t equivocate. But it’s the position of the administration that the United States should pay its appropriate dues to the United Nations? Not a maybe, not a percentage, but you pay its full dues to the United Nations.
    Answer from Mr. Lagon: It’s an obligation we have signed onto”. [House International Relations Committee Transcript, 5/19/05]
  • Patrick Kennedy, Ambassador to the UN for Management and Reform, U.S. Mission to the UN:
    “I cannot recommend, cannot recommend withholding [dues] because it is potentially too blunt an instrument.”
    “I need to be able to say that my legislature is very interested in improvements but sanctions when I’m negotiating improvements the sanction of withholding [dues] is too blunt an instrument because it is not targeted enough.”
    “…if I’m withholding then it doesn’t achieve our [the U.S. mission/State Department and Congress] joint goals of improving operations and improving the ability of the United Nations to serve as a tool that assists us in achieving our national security goals.”
    [Hearing of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations March 2, 2005. “United Nations Operations: Integrity and Accountability]
  • Kim Holmes, Assistant Secretary Of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs:
    “I think that we have gone to the U.N. We’ve asked it to do a lot of things in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there’s things that we want from the U.N.. And certainly, peacekeeping in Africa, this is areas where we also want participation. And so we want to be able to go in and say that it’s for the good of the United Nations that these changes occur and not make us the issue about funding. Now, as I said, two or three years from now, I can’t predict. I’ll be gone by that point, and I don’t know what the situation will be. I’m just talking about what I know now and what I think would be helpful in the coming year. I think in the coming year that full funding would help us do a better job of making the case for reform.” [House Appropriations Committee: Science, State, Justice And Commerce And Related Agencies Subcommittee Hearing on Fiscal Year 2006 Bureau Of International Organization Affairs Appropriations, April 21, 2005]

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