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Better World Campaign Executive Director Peter Yeo: Appropriations Subcommittee Cuts to State & Foreign Operations are Inconsistent with Voter Support for the UN

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Washington, D.C. (May 9, 2012) — In a move that contrasts with voter sentiment, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations today passed the fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which fails to fully fund the United States’ commitment to the United Nations.

While the measure presents cuts that are less drastic than the previous year, the $48.3 billion bill nonetheless allocates $160 million less than the amount which the Better World Campaign has urged for Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) and $244 million under the Campaign’s recommendations to fund the State Department’s Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA). This bill also eliminates all funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

In response, Better World Campaign Executive Director Peter Yeo made the following statement:

“We appreciate the Subcommittee’s efforts to enact a State and Foreign Operations bill that could be an effective long-term guide to strengthening the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. However, particularly at a time when more than eight in ten voters support a strong U.S.-UN relationship, the bill set forth today is a step in the wrong direction. As the measure moves forward, we look forward to working closely with policymakers to better achieve this goal.

“While there are no easy solutions when it comes to balancing our budget, the support that the U.S. receives from the UN is vital to our national security objectives, and we cannot afford to diminish it — nor do Americans wish to do so. In fact, new polling released just days ago shows that majorities of Republicans, Independents, and Democrats favor the U.S. paying its dues to the UN on time and in full. However, the Subcommittee’s measure will force our nation back into debt at the UN and consequently undermine our national security interests.

“The Better World Campaign urges Congress to take a step back and consider what is on the line. Cuts to the CIO account would mean significant reductions to the UN missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, jeopardizing their overall effectiveness. Further, from Haiti, to South Sudan, to the Middle East, and so on, the United States has called upon UN peacekeepers to stand on the front lines in protecting civilians. This longstanding, important tradition has been a cornerstone of Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and in fact, it was under President George W. Bush that we saw the largest expansion of peacekeeping missions of any administration to date. Reducing and eliminating funding for such key UN programs would inhibit development and the ability of democracies to flourish.

“Further, Americans agree that the UN’s reproductive health programs are critical to the health and safety of women around the world.  Yet ending funding for UNFPA flies in the face of what 79 percent of Americans think the UN should be doing.  Additionally, over 80 percent of Americans think we need to remain members of UNESCO, but without paying our dues, we will soon lose our seat at this important agency.

“At a time when Americans want our dollar to go farther, this bill unnecessarily targets UN agencies — the very vehicles we need to make that happen. Failure to pay our dues to the UN will erode America’s ability to further its national security interests and contradict what voters want.”

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.

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