Letter to Congress: Don't Eviscerate United Nations
We write to urge you to oppose H.R. 2829, the United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act. We agree that the U.N. needs to continue to make itself more accountable, responsible and effective as an institution; U.N. reform is in all of our interests. However, we strongly disagree that H.R. 2829 is the right way to advance U.N. reform.
As the United States grapples with the fragmentation of power in a multi-polar world and transnational issues such as climate change, deadly conflict, nuclear proliferation, and infectious disease, the United Nations provides an invaluable and irreplaceable mechanism for global cooperation. As a world leader and founding member of the U.N., the United States has a responsibility to support the organization in striving to meet the shared goals of advancing global peace and security and protecting human rights. We believe H.R. 2829 would seriously erode U.S.-U.N. relations and undermine the United States’ ability to work with the international community to address global challenges.
One of the most damaging aspects of the bill would require the U.S. to withhold 50% of our obligated payments unless most U.N. funding is changed from assessed dues to voluntary contributions. The likelihood of such a change occurring is exceedingly slim given the strong opposition from even our closest allies throughout Europe and Asia. Assessed contributions are critical to the overall U.N. mission, which the United States has long supported. By maintaining this system, stable predictable funding is guaranteed for many core activities that are directly in the interest of the United States.
H.R. 2829 also calls for a moratorium on new or expanded U.N. peacekeeping missions, even though such missions are not created or expanded without express U.S. support in the Security Council. U.N. peace operations are cost-efficient and often prove vital in consolidating the peace and preventing the re-emergence of violent conflict in countries recovering from war. U.N. peacekeepers play a vital role in protecting civilians, preventing displacement, restoring and maintaining rule of law and enabling post-conflict political and economic reconstruction. Further, supporting U.N. peacekeeping is much more cost effective than unilateral responses. A 2006 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study concluded that U.N. peacekeeping is eight times less expensive than funding a U.S. force.
We are also deeply concerned that H.R. 2829 would undermine security for both Israelis and Palestinians and fuel violent conflict in the Middle East. The bill would effectively eliminate funding for UNRWA, which provides life-saving humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees, and would require the U.S. to withhold all funding to any U.N. program that recognizes an upgrade to the status of the Palestinian mission at the U.N. These measures would only jeopardize prospects for peace in the Middle East by increasing desperation among the Palestinian population and strengthening the voices of extremists on all sides of the conflict. Moreover, the bill unjustly punishes not only Palestinians, but the entire U.N. system and all those around the world who benefit from its life-saving programs.
Over the last few years, with Congress paying U.N. dues in full, the U.S. was empowered to support major reforms including strengthening U.N. oversight and ethics rules and streamlining peacekeeping field operations. The U.S.'s standing in the world, relationships with critical allies, and ability to advance shared goals at the UN would be drastically undermined by passage of H.R. 2829.
We urge you to oppose H.R. 2829 and instead support U.S. payment of U.N. dues on time and in full.