Washington, D.C. (June 11, 2015) – As the House Appropriations Committee sends to the floor a State and Foreign Operations funding measure, the Better World Campaign cautioned lawmakers against implementing cuts that would undermine the work of the United Nations—particularly peacekeeping—in advancing U.S. foreign policy and security interests.
As drafted, the Committee’s FY’16 international affairs funding bill underfunds UN peacekeeping dues by more than a quarter. It also provides no funding for U.S. voluntary contributions to the UN agencies that work to, for example: oversee the response to the Syrian refugee crisis; advance democratic governance in post-terrorist states like Mali; and prevent maternal and infant mortality in more than 150 countries and territories. The full House is expected to take up the bill sometime in the next two weeks.
“While the Committee is understandably facing a tough climate for our budget, and we appreciate efforts to fund the UN and international global health needs, the current State and Foreign Operations bill would weaken programs manifestly in our national interest. The full House must carefully weigh the unintended consequences of such cuts. We cannot advance national security without enabling our international partners to defend the world’s most fragile democracies.”
Yeo’s concerns are in line with the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which this week wrote to the Committee that “These profound reductions would damage our ability to support strategically significant allies, strengthen democratic institutions in transitioning countries, and help partner governments fight poverty and instability.” OMB Director Shaun Donovan also noted the cuts would “undercut the U.S. government’s commitment to paying its UN dues in full and on time.”
Specifically, the House measure would underfund international peacekeeping by 25 percent, or more than $900 million from the administration’s request. It would also eliminate funds for the UN agencies such as:
- Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: Oversees the response to the worlds’ worst emergencies, from typhoons to terrorist attacks.
- UN Development Program: Advances efforts in democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, energy and environment, and HIV/AIDS.
- UNFPA: Ensures women have access to reproductive health services that help prevent maternal and infant mortality in 150 countries and territories.
- UN Environment Program: Coordinates the UN’s environmental activities, encourages new civil sector partnerships, and strengthens institutions so they can better protect the environment.
“These proposed cuts could not come at a worse time,” added Yeo. “Right now UN peacekeepers are protecting over 100,000 South Sudanese who have fled horrific violence — action that has unquestionably saved thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of lives. They are also stabilizing Mali, a nation that up until two years ago was under the control of radical Islamist groups. The U.S. can’t go it alone; we need to work with the UN to address these crises.”
“Congress has led the way to full funding for the UN for the past six years, and we are confident that bipartisan, bicameral collaboration again be the key to positive resolution for our multilateral commitments. We look forward to working with House and Senate to get to full funding before the end of the budget process.”
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.