From partial de-funding efforts to the recent "reform" bill, Republican moves against the UN risk U.S. global leadership and would cost far more than they'd save
GOP presidential contender Rick Perry has said of the UN, "We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multi-lateral debating societies" / Reuters
For a case study of misguided Congressional efforts to micromanage U.S. foreign policy, look no further than H.R. 2829. If it became law, The United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011 (PDF)--introduced this week by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee--would destroy U.S. leadership at the United Nations and undermine critical U.S. national interests. It would alienate U.S. allies, encourage other nations to adopt similarly irresponsible policies, and impose heavy costs on U.S. taxpayers. Fortunately, the bill has zero chance of becoming law.
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The proposed legislation contains several problematic provisions. It would forbid any new or expanded UN peacekeeping operations, unless a series of unilateral U.S. demands are met. It would withhold U.S. funding for (and prohibit U.S. membership in) the UN Human Rights Council, despite unprecedented progress over the past year in getting that (still imperfect) body to hold rights abusers to account. It would end U.S. funding for any UN agency that does not sign a special "transparency certification" with the U.S. Comptroller General. And it would cut U.S. funding to any UN entity tasked with implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
But the bill's most egregious provision is a proposal to cut assessed U.S. contributions to the United Nations by 50% unless the world body moves to a "voluntary" funding model. Currently, the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets are financed through annual assessments on member states, roughly proportional to their share of global GDP. The United States, given its relative wealth, sustains approximately 22% of the UN's regular (and 27% of its peacekeeping) budget.