Global Policy Forum

Statement on Legislation to Allow Fulfillment

United Nations Association of the USA
January 30, 2007

The United Nations Association of the USA strongly supports the initiative introduced last week by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) that would enable the United States to pay in full its United Nations peacekeeping dues. The legislation, S. 392, would temporarily adjust a statutory cap enacted by Congress in 1994 that prohibits the US from paying more than 25 percent of UN peacekeeping costs. The cap had been lifted in recent years, but reverted to its initial 25-percent limit in late 2005. Since the US is currently responsible for paying 26 percent of the UN's peacekeeping budget, the cap is causing the US to amass new arrears owed to the UN.

Ambassador William H. Luers, president of the United Nations Association of the USA, called on Congress to urgently adopt this important legislation. "At a time when the United States is asking the United Nations to manage critical and complex peacekeeping operations in places such as Lebanon, Haiti and Darfur, failure to pay our mutually agreed-upon share of UN peacekeeping costs is both irresponsible and shortsighted," said Luers. "The deployment of UN peacekeeping missions in unstable crisis areas around the world serves US national security interests and allows the United States to share the burden with other countries," he added. "The United Nations is currently operating 18 peacekeeping missions worldwide, involving a combined total of over 100,000 personnel. Failure to meet our financial obligations to UN peacekeeping threatens the success of these operations and undermines important US foreign policy objectives."

Luers noted that new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a point of raising this issue with President George W. Bush and congressional leaders during his first official visit to Washington. "In his meetings on Capitol Hill and at the White House earlier this month, Ban stressed the need for Congress to lift the peacekeeping cap before it disrupts the UN's ability to effectively conduct its peacekeeping assignments," observed Luers. "However, it's not only the Secretary-General who's making this request of Congress-the Bush administration has also made repeated calls for the cap to be lifted. Though the bill introduced yesterday by Senator Biden does not provide for a permanent fix to the cap, it nonetheless represents an important first step."

The US currently owes the UN approximately $400 million in outstanding peacekeeping dues assessed prior to the current fiscal year. For fiscal year 2007, the US could accumulate several hundred million dollars of new UN peacekeeping arrears.

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