Washington, D.C. (June 14, 2005) – The Better World Campaign (BWC) today released a letter signed by eight former U.S. ambassadors to the United Nations as part of BWC’s campaign against the withholding of UN dues. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is slated to vote on legislation titled the “United Nations Reform Act of 2005.” Sponsored by International Relations Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL), the bill would automatically stop payment of a large portion of the United States’ annual dues to the UN causing a huge debt and inhibiting the U.S.’ ability to lead within the institution.
“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,” the letter said.
The eight former ambassadors are Madeleine Albright, John Danforth, Richard Holbrooke, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Donald F. McHenry, Thomas R. Pickering, Bill Richardson, and Andrew Young.
As part of this initiative, the BWC also launched today an advertising campaign. Ads will run today and Thursday in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Congress Daily AM, Congressional Quarterly, and Roll Call.
“The last time we reneged on our dues, other countries became less willing to work with the U.S. and more resistant to our proposals. American support is critical to make the UN more effective,” the first advertisement reads.
Several years ago the U.S. accrued one billion in debt to the UN from non payment of dues. A broad and bipartisan group in Congress, led by Senators Jesse Helms and Joe Biden, ultimately drafted and passed legislation to normalize U.S.-UN relations out of concern that the large and growing arrears were harmful to U.S. interests with other member states of the UN.
“Withholding UN dues to the United Nations may sound like smart policy, but would be counter-productive at this time, so soon after the Helms-Biden process was completed. It would create resentment, build animosity and actually strengthen opponents of reform. It would place in jeopardy the reform initiatives most important to U.S. interests. The fact is reforms cost money and withholding dues impairs the UN’s ability to make the changes needed,” the ambassadors wrote.
If passed, the UN Reform Act of 2005 would endanger UN peacekeeping efforts by reinstating a 25 percent cap on U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping missions despite the fact that Congress has voted since 2001 to pay our currently assessed share, which is now at 27.1 percent. It will also cause a shortfall in funds needed to sustain troops on the ground which will jeopardize the newly authorized peacekeeping mission in Sudan.
“The US must pay its dues and demand the same of other nations. And we must provide diplomatic leadership to bring nations together to help the UN more effectively address crucial world problems,” the ad said.
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.