On March 25, Better World Campaign Senior Director Hannum testified before the House Appropriations Committee on State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee’s FY’2016 bill. The full text of his oral testimony is below.
Chairwoman Granger, Ranking Member Lowey, Members of the Subcommittee. I thank you for your past support for UN and global health funding and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to testify in support of accounts within the FY 2016 State/Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. I’d like to say at the outset it’s a pleasure to be back here on the House side as I began my career 15 years ago as a legislative aide with Congresswoman Connie Morella.
Today I would like to discuss support for UN Peacekeeping, the UN Regular Budget, as well as global health interventions.
Funding for UN Peacekeeping—CIPA
Let me begin by mentioning UN peacekeeping operations. As a permanent, veto-wielding member of the Security Council, the U.S. has final say over all UN peacekeeping missions. Given this crucial leadership role, it is vital that we pay our FY’16 peacekeeping dues on-time, in-full, and without preconditions. While we understand that budgets are tight across the federal government, peacekeeping is worth the investment.
UN peacekeeping missions are cost-effective, having been found by the GAO to be 8 times cheaper than U.S. forces acting alone. The UN is also continuing to update its operations to better meet evolving challenges. Over the past five years, they have streamlined operations, resulting in hundreds of millions in cost reductions. The UN has also established a High-Level Panel to recommend how the operations can better address the challenges of the 21st century.
One particularly salient example of the UN’s peacekeeping work is in South Sudan. Many members of this Subcommittee, both past and present, played a central role in pushing for South Sudan’s independence, and I know we’re all dismayed by the horrific violence that has engulfed the country since December 2013. Despite difficulties, the peacekeeping mission is working to protect more than 100,000 civilians who have sought shelter at UN bases to escape the fighting.
The Peacekeeping operation is also working alongside UNICEF and other organizations to help end the recruitment of child soldiers in South Sudan. Over the past 3 months, the UN has helped negotiate the release of 1,000 child soldiers from a rebel militia, one of the largest demobilizations of children ever (9, 10, 11 years olds). Aiming to free another 2,000 children in the coming weeks. These activities undertaken by the Mission demonstrate the importance of peacekeeping operations and how they manifestly operate in our interest.
Funding for the CIO Account
In addition to peacekeeping, engagement with the UN advances American foreign policy interests on a number of other fronts. Via the CIO account, the UN administers political missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, monitors global compliance with Security Council sanctions against Iran, North Korea, and al-Qaeda, and coordinates electoral assistance for emerging democracies.
For FY’16, we are recommending full funding for the CIO account, which includes the UN Regular Budget. Funding within the account represents burden sharing, as other member states pay nearly 80 percent of the Regular Budget’s costs.
The United Nations plays an equally vital role in enhancing our global health policy. The UN promotes maternal health, to protect the lives of 30 million women each year. The UN helps to vaccinate 60 percent of the world’s children. Over the years, through these efforts and that of UN partners, 1 billion children have been immunized against measles and the number of new polio cases has dropped by 99 percent, leaving the world nearly polio-free. And of course, our contributions are leveraged with that of the other 192 member states.
In short, the work of the UN saves millions of lives and its activities are central to our national security and foreign policy priorities, including the U.S. goal of ending preventable child and maternal deaths. For FY’16, we encourage funding for these health interventions at the levels outlined in our written testimony.