After more than two decades of Congressional controversy over the payment of U.S.
contributions to the UN regular budget, peacekeeping, and UN specialized agencies and
voluntary programs, the United States fully funded its commitments to the United Nations
system in recent years. Unfortunately, in light of the serious budgetary challenges currently
facing our country, staying in good financial standing at the UN could be quite difficult in Fiscal
Year (FY) 2014. Specifically, unless Congress acts to address funding shortfalls for UN
peacekeeping likely to be accumulated in FY’13, it is possible that the U.S. could go into arrears
with regards to its peacekeeping dues.
At a time when the United States and United Nations are working together to address some of
the world’s most pressing challenges—from the humanitarian needs of civilians fleeing Syria’s
civil war, to ongoing instability and governance challenges in South Sudan, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Mali, Afghanistan, and Iraq, to the continued threat posed by the Iranian
and North Korean nuclear programs—it is more important than ever that America maintain its
longstanding commitment to global leadership and engagement by fully funding the UN.
Please support full funding for the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets:
$2.183 billion for UN peacekeeping operations funded under the Contributions to
International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account. We also request $347 million
for the Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) account, which provides voluntary funding to
several critical regional peacekeeping missions.
$1.57 billion for the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account,
which funds the UN regular budget and specialized agencies. In addition, we ask that
Congress provide the President with waiver authority to fund UNESCO, as requested
in his FY’14 budget.
Lift the arbitrary 25% peacekeeping cap and allow the U.S. to pay its peacekeeping
dues at the full assessed rate of 28.4%.
The importance of continuing to fully fund the UN:
Assessed contributions are vital as they are the primary source of reliable funding for core
UN activities, such as peacekeeping. The U.S. is assessed 22 percent of the UN’s regular
budget and 28 percent of the UN’s peacekeeping budget. (However, an outdated
Congressional mandate caps U.S. expenditures at 25 percent of the UN’s peacekeeping
budget.) Currently, more than 75% of the UN’s total assessed budget is spent on
peacekeeping, and since no mission can operate without the United States’ vote in the
Security Council, this means that the U.S. directly determines a majority of the UN’s
assessed budget. In addition, U.S. financial support for UN peacekeeping is highly cost-
effective. A 2006 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that UN
peacekeeping is eight times cheaper than fielding a comparable U.S. force.
In order to continue to effectively use our influence at the UN and press for greater
accountability, we must maintain our seat at the table. Some of the most significant
reforms undertaken by the UN in recent years have occurred because we are current on our
dues and willing to use our seat at the table to press for improvements. Efforts to
strengthen UN oversight and transparency, the creation of a new ethics office, and the
consolidation of four disparate entities into UN Women, have all come at a time when the
U.S. is constructively-engaged with the body and up to date on its financial obligations.
Reforms and accountability come from engagement, not estrangement.
Cutting UN funding undermines U.S. national security objectives by jeopardizing UN
programs that serve critical U.S. interests and severely erodes U.S. legitimacy and respect
abroad. Not fully funding the UN would undermine U.S. national security, severely erode
U.S. legitimacy abroad and cause massive new U.S. debt to the UN. In addition, it would
seriously impact UN political missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and potentially result in the
U.S. paying significantly more for these initiatives than it currently does. These missions are
paid for out of our assessed dues and are effective because they are funded by all member
states and therefore carry international legitimacy.
Failing to meet our obligations will diminish our ability to leverage the UN in support of
vital U.S. interests. In recent years, the UN Security Council has authorized military action
to protect innocent lives in Libya, imposed tough new sanctions on Iran and North Korea to
curb their illicit nuclear programs, and established critical new peacekeeping missions to
improve security and spur development in South Sudan. In addition, in recent months the
Council has also voted unanimously to create new peacekeeping mandates to help stabilize
the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali. Why would we retreat from the UN when
we have seen effective action on issues that are central to our foreign policy interests?
Fully funding UNESCO and other UN specialized agencies is critical to advancing core U.S.
interests. In October 2011, the General Conference of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted overwhelmingly to admit the
Palestinians as a member state. However, in light of two U.S. laws enacted in the early
1990s that prohibit the U.S. from funding any UN entity that recognizes the Palestinians, the
U.S. was forced to immediately cut all funding to UNESCO. This loss of funding is damaging
to UNESCO and the U.S. itself, as the agency supports literacy training for Afghan police,
tsunami warning capabilities in the Pacific, and a number of other activities that advance a
wide range of U.S. interests and priorities. In addition, these laws could threaten the work
of a host of other UN agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The President’s FY’14 budget requests full
funding for UNESCO as well as waiver authority to bypass these damaging laws. In light of
the fact that the U.S. will lose its vote at the next UNESCO General Conference in October if
Congress doesn’t act, it is critical that they fulfill these requests.