Washington, D.C. (Jan. 12, 2017) — The Better World Campaign and the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) issued the following statement today from Better World Campaign President Peter Yeo in response to proposed legislation to withhold funding for the United Nations:
“Members of Congress and the incoming Administration have an opportunity to work with the new Secretary-General to achieve real reforms that will strengthen the United Nations’ ability to carry out its life-saving work around the world. Withholding funding for the UN will significantly jeopardize America’s influence and ability to steer the international agenda – potentially allowing other nations to take the reins.
“Conditioning funding to the United Nations to persuade the Security Council to reverse its vote will not work. Such a step will be welcomed by our opponents and undermine U.S. foreign policy and Israeli objectives while crippling vital UN operations. The reduction of American influence that goes along with refusing to pay our dues will make it nearly impossible to garner support at the UN for the American position on North Korea, Iran, and Syria.
“It is critical to remember that the initiator of December’s Security Council resolution against Israel was not the UN, but 14 of its member states. In this case, as in select others, the UN was the stage, not the actor.
“Although imperfect, no other organization has the reach and impact of the UN. Each year, the UN provides food to 80 million people in 80 countries, assists over 60 million refugees and other people fleeing conflict, vaccinates 40 percent of the world’s children, and keeps peace through 120,000 peacekeepers – the world’s largest deployed military force.
“Despite these many benefits, U.S. funding for the UN amounts to only 0.1 percent of the total federal budget. Working with our allies through the UN means that the U.S. can share the burden of solving global challenges – and doesn’t need to go it alone.
“Cutting funds for the UN is also out of touch with the wishes of the American people. A new poll by the Better World Campaign shows that bipartisan support for the UN remains high – 88 percent of Americans support active engagement at the UN.
“For decades, such an action has also been rejected by Republican and Democratic Administrations. In 2005, eight former U.S. Ambassadors to the UN, including those for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, signed a letter stating, “Reforming the United Nations is the right goal. Withholding our dues to the UN is the wrong methodology. When we last built debt with the UN, the United States isolated ourselves from our allies within the UN and made diplomacy a near impossible task.”
“We appreciate the important role played by Senator Lindsey Graham, the bill’s sponsor, in supporting full UN funding since 2009, and we look forward to working with him closely on this and other initiatives.
“We know from experience that staying engaged is the best way to advance American interests. Full UN funding is essential to ensure that the U.S. has the power to effect change.”
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.
About the United Nations Association of the United States of America
The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) is a 50-state grassroots organization dedicated to inform, inspire, and mobilize the American people to support the ideals and vital work of the United Nations. For 70 years UNA-USA has worked to accomplish its mission through its national network of Chapters, youth engagement, advocacy efforts, education programs, and public events. UNA-USA is a program of the United Nations Foundation.