Washington, D.C. (Feb. 4, 2022) — “Today the U.S. House of Representatives took a critical step forward – 28 years in the making—enhancing U.S. effectiveness at the United Nations while countering the increasing influence of geopolitical competitors like China.
“The U.S Commitment to Peacekeeping Act amendment—based on legislation introduced this summer by Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA)—and co-sponsored by Representatives Castro (D-TX), Malinowski (D-NJ), and Bass (D-CA)—removes an artificial “cap” on U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping.
“The 25 percent cap, first instituted in 1994, prevents the U.S. from paying the full amount of dues we owe the UN. As a result, the U.S. has often not paid its fair share of the UN Peacekeeping budget. While Congress lifted the peacekeeping cap dozens of times on an annual basis in appropriations bills, the permanent statutory cap was not addressed.
“As it stands, the U.S. owes more than a billion dollars to the UN Peacekeeping budget, accrued primarily during the four years of the Trump Administration. The impacts of U.S. underpayments are profound. It means that troop contributing countries—usually developing nations like Bangladesh, Ghana and Uruguay—are forced to absorb the cost of U.S. underpayments. This limits the U.S. ability to argue effectively for peacekeeping reforms and undercuts our ability to counter China’s influence, which is now the second largest financial contributor to UN Peacekeeping and the largest contributor of troops within the Security Council. China has seized upon arrears to portray the U.S. as unreliable on the world stage and sought to capitalize on their own contributions to peacekeeping to gain influence at the UN and pursue national interests with troop contributing countries. Overall, strong support of UN Peacekeeping by the U.S. would provide a competitive and strategic advantage relative to China.
“The reality is—and decades of academic research backs this up—UN peacekeeping missions are remarkably effective at resolving civil wars, saving lives, reducing sexual and gender-based violence, preventing wars from recurring, and rebuilding state institutions, all at one-eighth the cost of deploying American troops. The passage of this amendment—if it becomes law—will unquestionably help restore U.S. leadership and influence at the UN, strengthen our ties with allies, and ensure that countries who are putting their troops in harm’s way are fully reimbursed.
“We applaud Representative Jacobs for spearheading this effort. As someone who has served at the UN, State Department, and now Congress, she had a clear understanding of the value of peacekeeping operations and was resolute in moving the process forward. We also greatly appreciate the efforts of Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Congressman Joaquin Castro on the House Foreign Affairs Committee for continually raising these issues in hearings and offering legislation which discussed how problematic underfunding the UN is to U.S. national interests. We urge the Senate to follow suit and include this language in its version of the underlying bill and hope the President will sign.”
About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign, an initiative of the Better World Fund, works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations. It encourages U.S. leadership to enhance the UN’s ability to carry out its invaluable international work on behalf of peace, progress, freedom, and justice. For more information, visit www.betterworldcampaign.org.