Washington, D.C. (Dec. 17, 2015) — Under strong leadership from Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representatives Kay Granger (R-TX) and Nita Lowey (D-NY), Congress is set to pass a Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) spending measure that advances the United States’ vital partnership with the United Nations. The Better World Campaign urges both chambers to approve the measure.
“Congress is funding important international initiatives that will save lives and safeguard the American people,” said Peter Yeo, President of the Better World Campaign. “Their leadership on the international affairs budget reflects smart decisions that will offer a strong return on investment for a mere one percent of the total federal budget.”
The FY16 spending bill, as outlined, robustly funds U.S. dues to UN peacekeeping and life-saving global health initiatives—such as the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Gavi, and the President’s Malaria Initiative—which enable the UN and its partners to halt the spread of preventable diseases and global health threats.
“This is what real leadership looks like,” added Yeo. “This measure reflects that the U.S. is fully committed to achieving the global goals for sustainable development by working with other nations, the private sector and our partners. What’s more, it embraces the principle that the United States cannot go it alone in stamping out extremism or eradicating disease – we need the UN as our partner.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, terrorists attacked a hotel in Mali where peace negotiations were underway. Peacekeepers were among the first responders, and they have also been among the conflict’s casualties. These brave men and women are working to stamp out extremism and allow democracy to grow. With global extremism on the rise, their efforts, just one example among many, are unquestionably in our interests here at home — a premise that appropriators have embraced with this sound bill.
“Likewise, Congress is taking a stand for the health workers delivering vaccines to eradicate polio in some of the most dangerous and remote parts of the globe. Despite daily threat of attack, they are bringing us ever closer to permanently wiping out a crippling virus from our planet, and this budget will unquestionably advance their work.”
Specifically, the bill would provide for the following:
- UN Peacekeeping: The budget appropriates 2.62 billion for the 17 UN and UN supported peacekeeping missions – currently the largest deployed military force in the world. This year, as opposed to past years, much of the funding for UN peacekeeping is provided in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.
- UN Regular Budget: The budget appropriates $1.45 billion for the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account, which includes critical funding to the UN regular budget and its various political missions in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
- Voluntary Contributions: The measure represents an increase from the President’s Budget request for voluntary UN contributions, appropriating $339 million for agencies. Full funding for these contributions support the work of UNICEF, UNDP, and UN Women. Unfortunately, funding for UNFPA was slightly reduced.
- Health: Appropriators increased funding for global immunization efforts, especially for Gavi and the fight against polio. The President’s Malaria Initiative also saw an increase, and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will continue to be supported at current levels. Congressional leaders also saw to it that bilateral reproductive health funding continued at strong levels.
“While tough decisions must be made in this challenging fiscal climate, working with the UN is a resoundingly good bargain for us,” concluded Yeo. “Congress has led the way to robust UN funding for seven years now, and we are confident that this bill’s enactment will again enable the U.S. to fulfill its multilateral commitments. In the years ahead, as OCO funding is phased down, we look forward to working with the Executive and Legislative branch to ensure the ‘base’ accounts have the requisite funding to fully meet our assessed and voluntary contributions.”
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.