Washington, D.C. (Dec. 21, 2020) — Better World Campaign President Peter Yeo issued the following statement on the passage of the Funding Agreement for Fiscal Year 2021 and supplemental appropriations for the response to COVID-19:
“With respect to the FY’21 omnibus spending bill, we are encouraged to see that Congress recognized the value of multilateral organizations. The bill fully funds the entire U.S. assessment to the UN regular budget and provides sufficient funding to UN agencies engaged in critical security, humanitarian, and development assistance abroad.
“Their action paves the way for the Biden-Harris administration to resume funding for two key agencies, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO),” Yeo said, “which had been cut by the Trump administration.”
“We are grateful for all of the work that Congress has done on Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations and the COVID-19 Supplemental. While the Better World Campaign has called on Congress to support $20 billion for the international response, we appreciate the final negotiation resulted in funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The $4 billion for Gavi, will be critical to ensure lower-income economies have equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines on the same urgent timeline, advancing COVAX’s efforts to bring an end to this urgent phase of the pandemic. We hope that this funding is a down-payment toward the larger efforts of the global ACT Accelerator. To end this global pandemic, we need to ensure this global effort – combining governments, foundations, the private sector, the UN and WHO, and global health organizations, like Gavi, the Global Fund, and CEPI – can deliver the diagnostics, treatments, and the broader universe of interventions, like access to PPE and support for health systems, that are needed.”
“It is exactly the kind of forward thinking and solidarity that can help the United States and the world emerge from this pandemic faster,” Yeo added.
“However, we do echo the concerns of Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Leahy, who noted this amount is just a fraction of what’s required for the global pandemic response. In 2021, we will look to ensure a robust international response, including for the United Nations and World Health Organization.
“We must also acknowledge, as Senator Leahy did, a ‘key deficiency’ around UN peacekeeping. The bill retains the 25 percent cap on funding for U.S. peacekeeping assessments, which will push U.S. arrears over one billion dollars and in the Senator’s words, “undermine U.S. credibility and influence and weaken UN peacekeeping missions.”
“The U.S. must continue pushing for reform and change at the UN, including strengthening UN peacekeeping missions which prevent the collapse of fragile states and protect civilians in conflict zones. Paying our UN membership dues increases American influence and boosts our nation’s ability to achieve a more effective, transparent and accountable UN,” Yeo said.
“As the 116th Congress comes to a close, we are especially grateful to House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey, who has been a driving force funding education, women’s health, and the United Nations during her time in Congress. We at the Better World Campaign remain deeply appreciative of her leadership.
“Over the coming year, we look forward to working closely with Congress and the Biden Administration to ensure sufficient resources are in place for international affairs, which contribute directly to America’s safety and security.”
About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign, an initiative of the Better World Fund, works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. It encourages U.S. leadership to enhance the UN’s ability to carry out its invaluable international work on behalf of peace, progress, freedom, and justice. For more information, visit www.betterworldcampaign.org.
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