Tell Congress: Maintain Funding for the UN and Let the U.S. Lead
As newspapers around the country are filled with stories of the United States and the United Nations working together to address some of the most serious issues confronting the world today, a new threat to the United Nations has emerged.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced damaging anti-UN legislation in Congress that would cut 50% of funding to the UN and all funding to agencies such as UNICEF and the World Food Programme.
In Libya, Sudan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the U.S. and the UN are tackling serious security and political crises. The UN is also on the ground working to deliver critical humanitarian aid to those affected by natural catastrophes around the world — from the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa to devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Japan.
We are hard-pressed to find a moment in history where the UN has played a greater role in promoting American interests. Despite the importance of this vital partnership between the U.S. and the UN, legislation was introduced in Congress last week that would threaten funding to the UN.
Such a drastic measure requires urgent action - tell Congress today to maintain funding for the UN and let the U.S. continue to lead positive change.
I am writing to urge you to vote NO on H.R. 2829. The bill is called the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act of 2011, but it would NOT accomplish any of these laudable goals. H.R. 2829 would actually erode America's leadership at the United Nations, eliminate funding, and return the U.S. to a period when it failed to meet its global commitments.
H.R. 2829 would have us withhold 50% of our obligated payments unless most UN funding is changed from assessed dues to voluntary contributions. A shift towards voluntary contributions would increase U.S. costs because countries could pick and choose what they want to fund. For example, under the current system the rest of the world pays almost 80% of the bill for the critical UN political missions in Iraq and Afghanistan - missions that are working to stabilize those countries so U.S. troops can come home. It's unlikely countries would continue picking up the tab for those missions specifically and overall, financial contributions from countries would certainly drop for other U.S. priorities under a voluntary funding scheme. Therefore, the UN regular budget should continue to be funded by assessed dues.
The reality is reforms and accountability come from engagement, not estrangement. The decision by the Obama Administration and Congress to return to our nation's longstanding tradition to support the UN and pay UN dues in full has made it easier for the U.S. to push for major reforms including strengthening UN oversight and ethics rules and streamlining peacekeeping field operations. Of course, more must be done, but with 193 member states, we cannot expect progress overnight or without setbacks. But much of this forward progress will be lost, as will the United States' ability to advance reform that best serves our interests, if the U.S. loses its legitimacy and seat at the UN by withholding payments.
I urge you to vote NO on H.R. 2829.
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