It’s time American taxpayers demand accountability at the U.N.

House Committee Votes to Slash U.N. Budget

This week, the House International Relations Committee took long overdue action. 

By a vote of 25 to 22, the committee moved to cut U.S. dues payments to the United Nations by 50 percent if the world body fails to enact sweeping reforms.

The U.N. Reform Act of 2005, the bill passed by the committee, details 39 specific measures the U.N. must implement. These reforms include everything from tightening the budget and imposing stricter audit procedures to streamlining the world body’s massive bureaucracy and revamping the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.  If the U.N. fails to implement at least 32 of the reforms over the course of the next two years, U.S. dues to the world body would be sliced in half.

In an attempt to weaken the bill, the committee’s ranking member, Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), introduced alternative legislation that would have given the Secretary of State discretion to withhold U.S. dues.  Arguing against Lantos’ proposal, committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) rightly declared that anything short of a mandatory reduction of U.S. dues would be an “empty gesture.”

"If you're going to reform something, reform it," Chairman Hyde said. "If you really believe it will kill the United Nations to make it accountable, let's say so today."  Lantos’ substitute was defeated by one vote.

The full House of Representatives, where the U.N. Reform Act of 2005 will be considered next, should act quickly to pass this much-needed legislation. For far too long, the U.N. has been allowed to operate with no accountability for its treachery and failure.  And, in the face of widespread corruption, an oil-for-food scandal that is the largest financial scam in the history of the world, and rampant sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeeping troops – just to name a few of the world body’s recent atrocities -- the U.N. has done little, if anything, to implement meaningful reforms on its own.

American taxpayers pay a whopping 22 percent of the U.N.’s more than $2 billion annual operating budget – and that figure does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars we pay each year for the world body’s peacekeeping, education and development programs. 

What have we gotten for our money?  Frankly, to say the U.N. is an unaccountable, corrupt and out-of-control bureaucracy that consistently fails to advance its stated mission of promoting international peace would be too kind. 

It’s time American taxpayers demand accountability at the U.N.  Chairman Hyde argues that the U.N. Reform Act of 2005 would remedy "the UN's legendary bureaucratization, billions of dollars spent on multitudes of programs with meager results, and outright misappropriation and mismanagement of funds represented by the emerging scandal regarding the Oil for Food program." 

At the very least, it’s a good and necessary first step.

June 9, 2005
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