House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) spearheaded a letter signed by 28 Members of Congress to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) and SFOPS Ranking Member Hal Rogers (R-KY). The letter requests full funding for our nation’s UN dues as part of the FY’23 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill. The members also asked for the inclusion of language lifting the arbitrary 25 percent cap on U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.
In the appropriations request, the Members of Congress note that the UN has long been a force-multiplier for the U.S., helping to protect our interests and spread our values in ways that we could not do alone. For example, UN peacekeeping operations have long played a role in shortening the duration of conflicts, stabilizing fragile states, ensuring peaceful transitions of power, and reducing civilian deaths and sexual and gender-based violence. However, since FY’17, the U.S. has failed to pay its share of membership dues to the UN, accruing more than $1.1 billion in peacekeeping arrears alone.
The letter also emphasizes other areas of the UN’s critically important work that support U.S. values and interests. UN humanitarian agencies provide food, shelter, medical assistance, clean water, and other essential services to tens of millions of people affected by conflicts or natural disasters every year, often in areas where the U.S. itself has limited reach. The World Health Organization, a UN specialized agency, has been coordinating the international response since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of Russia’s ghastly offensive in Ukraine, if the U.S. would like to remain successful in efforts to lead the international community against the likes of Russia and other foreign adversaries, the members note, it is critical that we prioritize full reengagement with the UN, including by paying our dues on time and in full.