United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund President Timothy E. Wirth Testifies Before House Foreign Affairs Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C.  The President of the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund, Timothy E. Wirth, testified in Congress today in favor of a stronger U.S.-UN relationship at a hearing led by Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). He was joined on the panel by the Honorable George Mitchell, former U.S. Senate Majority Leader and former Co-Chair of the U.S. Institute for Peace Task Force on the United Nations, and the Honorable John Bolton, the former U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN.

Wirth spoke of the present opportunity and need for renewed U.S. engagement with the world at the UN.

“Every day, it becomes more and more apparent that the great global challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism and proliferation to climate change and poverty – require international cooperation,” said Wirth. “Even if one wanted to pay all the bills or take all the risks, these cross-cutting global issues demonstrate that no single government, and no single sector, is capable of solving these challenges alone. New global partnerships can help to clear the path to a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world in the 21st century.”

Acknowledging that the UN is a “juicy target” for critics, Wirth said that the UN’s value to the United States and the world “dwarfs” its blemishes. He challenged Congress to seize the “golden opportunity present with a new Secretary-General and new Congressional leadership” and build a stronger U.S.-UN relationship.

“Together, the Administration and the Congress have an opportunity to strengthen – rapidly and effectively – the UN as an institution and the important U.S.-UN relationship. Everyone will benefit,” said Wirth.

Wirth laid out a ten-point plan to revitalize the successful partnership between the U.S. and the UN that help lead the world out of the Cold War. At its core, the plan calls for restoring trust and constructive U.S. engagement at the UN – including fully funding our dues and arrears to the UN, its agencies, and its peacekeeping missions. Wirth also called for lifting of the congressionally imposed cap on U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping operations.

“It is time for the United States, first and foremost, to honor its commitments to the UN and pay its dues on time and in full,” said Wirth.

Wirth also urged the Administration to work with the UN to help improve Israel’s relationships within the UN system, lead international efforts to mitigate climate change, act swiftly to help stop the genocide in Darfur, reengage in key international treaties, and take a leadership role on the new Human Rights Council.

“The principles of the United Nations and the multilateral system are the principles of equality, democracy, and law. They are the principles of the United States. For more than 60 years, these principles and the multilateral system have provided the mechanisms through which the world’s leaders have contemplated, discussed, and solved global problems,” said Wirth. “Let’s use our influence, from the Congress and the President on down, to revitalize and support the UN.”

To read Wirth’s testimony, click here.