House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) spearheaded a letter, signed by 50 Members of Congress, to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) and SFOPS Ranking Member Hal Rogers (R-KY). The letter requests full funding for our nation’s UN dues as part of the FY 2022 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill.
In the appropriations request, the Members of Congress note that the UN has long been a force-multiplier for the U.S., helping to protect our interests and spread our values in ways that we could not do alone. For example, UN peacekeeping operations have long played a role in shortening the duration of conflicts, stabilizing fragile states, ensuring peaceful transitions of power, and reducing civilian deaths and sexual and gender-based violence.
The letter also emphasizes other areas of the UN’s critically important work that support U.S. values and interests. UN humanitarian agencies provide food, shelter, medical assistance, clean water, and other essential services to tens of millions of people affected by conflicts or natural disasters every year, often in areas where the U.S. itself has limited reach. The World Health Organization, a UN specialized agency, has been coordinating the international response since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That being said, since FY’17, the U.S. has failed to pay its share of membership dues to the UN, accruing more than $1.1 billion in peacekeeping arrears alone (due to enforcement of an arbitrary 25% cap on peacekeeping contributions). The U.S. has also accrued nearly $90 million in regular budget arrears due to the previous administration’s practice of withholding assessed contributions to UN human rights bodies.
The letter concludes by noting that “failing to meet our financial obligations is not in our nation’s long-term strategic interests, undermines U.S. values and, ultimately, our credibility as champions of multilateralism.”