“Price of Peace” e-campaign calls for U.S. to pay UN peacekeeping dues

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 1, 2007) – Warning that the United States risks being $1 billion in debt to the United Nations for international peacekeeping efforts, the Better World Campaign announced today the launch of its new web-based campaign at www.PriceOfPeace.org to engage Americans and encourage the U.S. government to pay its full and fair share of these crucial missions in Fiscal Year 2008.

The United States currently owes over $500 million to the UN peacekeeping, or Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA), account. The Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget request under-funds this account by an additional $500 million. This means that unless Congress acts soon, U.S. shortfalls in UN peacekeeping dues will grow to over $1 billion.

PriceOfPeace.org hosts an online petition asking Congress to fully fund UN peacekeeping efforts. This petition will be delivered to Members of Congress in the coming weeks.

“UN peacekeeping is a great value for the United States—it promotes global political and economic stability, and is a key means of ensuring that no one country must shoulder all of the costs and risks in promoting our shared security,” said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, a sister organization to the Better World Campaign. “Simply put, fully funding UN peacekeeping is in U.S. national security interests. And who better to send this message to Congress than the American people,” he said.

“Although the United States has repeatedly called and voted for renewed or expanded UN peacekeeping efforts in countries like Sudan, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Haiti, Congress and the Administration are short-changing these very efforts by letting UN peacekeeping bills go unpaid,” said Deborah Derrick, Executive Director of The Better World Campaign, an organization dedicated to strengthening the relationship between the United States and the United Nations.

She added: “Great nations pay their bills. At a time when the United States is calling on the UN to increase its peacekeeping operations, it is crucial that Congress address this major shortfall in the FY 2008 appropriations process and begin formulating a plan to pay back our debt and keep our promise to the international community.”

UN peacekeeping has received favorable ratings from the highest levels of the U.S. government and from other respected sources. A U.S. Government Accountability Office report found UN peacekeeping to be eight times less expensive than funding a comparable U.S. force. The White House Office of Management and Budget rated U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping with three stars—its highest rating—judging it to be “effective, achieving its stated goals, and contributing to U.S. objectives.” Finally, a 2005 RAND report found that UN peacekeeping operations have a high rate of success.

In addition to the petition, the campaign includes interactive features including: a 60-second Flash video emphasizing the cost-effective and burden-sharing value of UN peacekeeping; educational components including video remarks by Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary-General of UN Peacekeeping and a former career officer in the United States Army; and a “viral” component including “tell-a-friend” e-cards and downloadable internet banner advertisements.

The PriceOfPeace.org campaign was initiated by The Better World Campaign and is supported by a growing list of independent non-governmental organizations including Americans for Informed Democracy, Citizens for Global Solutions, Refugees International, and the United Nations Association of the United States of America.