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Hannum to House Foreign Affairs Committee: Engage and Invest in the UN


On March 23, 2021, Better World Campaign Executive Director Jordie Hannum testified on Capitol Hill before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations and Global Corporate Social Impact. Hannum’s testimony focused on how U.S. standing in international organizations has suffered over the last four years and why engagement and funding for the UN is in our country’s best interests.

The testimony was framed around four C’s: Credibility; Competition; Cooperation; and COVID-19.

At the outset, he noted that since 2017, the U.S. downgraded its engagement with the UN system in several ways, including underfunding, defunding, or outright withdrawing from UN agencies and activities. Of particular concern, we currently owe more than one billion dollars for UN peacekeeping alone.

These actions both undermined our credibility on the world stage and enabled countries like Russia and China to claim that the United States is not interested in helping countries solve the complex transnational challenges that confront us all.

Hannum argued that a policy based on withdrawal and withholding does not advance our interests; instead, we must “engage and invest” in the United Nations and other multilateral partners. In practice, this means we must increase support for the State Department and USAID, continue to rejoin key UN bodies that we walked away from, pay our dues on time, and pay back our arrears. He noted that we have seen the positive results when we work in collaboration with the UN, both in terms of management reform and realizing results on the ground.

Hannum also stressed that time is of the essence as cooperation will be key in combatting COVID-19. This can only be done in partnership with the international community and entities like the World Health Organization (WHO). As it stands, the WHO is at the center of a global cooperative effort to equitably distribute the necessary tests, treatments and vaccines. In particular, as more vaccines become available, most of humanity will get it through efforts backed by the WHO and multilateral partners. Hannum concluded by noting that, “this is what will ultimately end the pandemic, and this is why investing in the UN is so essential.”

You can read the testimony here or watch it below.