Washington, D.C. (August 1, 2007) — Deborah Derrick, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign, will testify today before a hearing of U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the continuing under representation of Americans at the United Nations. In her testimony, Derrick warns that insufficient numbers of American staff at the United Nations limit the U.S. ability to engage the UN at a time when Americans are facing huge international security challenges.
“I believe that the under-representation of Americans at the United Nations undermines the United States’ global vision and its ability to conduct sound diplomacy in this key global institution,” Derrick’s testimony reads.
“The UN is increasingly being asked to address the biggest problems in the world—from nuclear proliferation to global warming; from Darfur to Iraq. Having too few Americans [at the UN] means that the U.S. is operating at a disadvantage when it seeks to enact policies or reforms at the UN,” her testimony continues. “It forces the United States to use its biggest guns and the bluntest measures to get its way there—whether that is threatening to walk out of negotiations or standing alone in blocking budgets.”
A 2006 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report noted that the proportion of U.S. foreign assistance funding going through multilateral agencies plummeted from 26% in 2000 to 8% in 2005. “This puts the U.S. near the bottom of the barrel in terms of how much assistance it leverages through multilateral institutions,” Derrick’s testimony notes.
“Rather than working to influence the UN with an inside game – by paying our dues on time and in full and placing American civil servants within the UN system – the U.S. appears to have a history of relying on financial threats and public criticism to get its way at the UN. This is not the recommended way to influence friends and thwart enemies,” her testimony reads. Derrick’s testimony also notes the ill effect that under-funding of State Department operations has on its ability to place Americans in the UN system, and suggests that “now it’s time to commit resources” for funding new positions at the UN, and devoting more money to diplomacy.
The hearing, “Building a Stronger American Diplomatic Presence,” was a two-part hearing that examined: (1) shortfalls in Department of State staffing and foreign language skills and the impact on the ability to conduct U.S. foreign policy; and (2) the continuing under-representation of Americans at the United Nations and its organizations. Derrick was joined on the second panel by: Mr. John Naland, President, American Foreign Service Association; and Ambassador Thomas Boyatt, President and CEO, Foreign Affairs Council. Other panelists included: Heather Hodges, Acting Director General, U.S. Department of State; James Warlick, Principal Deputy Assistance Secretary, Bureau of International Organizations, U.S. Department of State; Jess T. Ford, Director, International Affairs and Trade, U.S. Government Accountability Office.
About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign works to foster a strong relationship between the U.S. and the UN to promote core American interests and build a more secure, prosperous, and healthy world. The Better World Campaign engages policymakers, the media, and the American public alike to increase awareness of the critical role played by the UN in world affairs and the importance of constructive U.S.-UN relations.