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United Nations Reform: U.S. Policy and - page 14 / 38





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for some activities and programs related to the Palestine Liberation Organization or entities associated with it.45

In addition to withholding a proportionate share of U.S. funding, Congress may consider enacting legislation decreasing or increasing U.S. assessment levels or linking payment of U.S. arrears to policies it favors. In October 1993, for example, Congress directed that the U.S. payments of peacekeeping assessments be capped at 25% (lower than the assessment level set by the United Nations).46 Congress also used this strategy to further its U.N. reform policies. Enacted legislation such as the Helms-Biden Agreement linked U.S. assessment levels and the payment of U.S. arrears to reform benchmarks (see Appendix A for more information on legislation).

Arguments For and Against Linking U.S. Funding to U.N. Reform. Opponents of linking U.S. funding to progress on U.N. reform are concerned that doing so may weaken U.S. influence at the United Nations, thereby undercutting its ability to conduct diplomacy and make foreign policy decisions.47 Some argue that withholding U.S. assessed payments to the United Nations infringes on U.S. treaty obligations and alienates other U.N. member states. Opponents also note that withholding U.S. funds could have an impact on diplomatic relations outside of the U.N. system. Additionally, some contend that U.N. reform legislation proposals may be unrealistic because the scope and depth of reforms required by the legislation cannot be adequately achieved in the proposed time frames.48

Supporters of linking U.S. funding to specific reforms argue that the United States should use its position as the largest U.N. financial contributor to push for the implementation of policies that lead to comprehensive reform. Theynote that despite diplomatic and political pressures from many countries, the United Nations has been slow to implement substantive reform. Advocates also argue that some previously implemented reforms, such as the new Human Rights Council, have proved to be ineffective. They believe that tying U.S. funding to U.N. reform may motivate countries to find common ground on divisive issues. They also emphasize that past legislation that threatened to cut off U.S. funding of the United Nations (such as the


Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195; Sec. 307; 22 USC 2227), as amended.

46 Foreign Affairs Authorization Act for FY1994 and 1995 (P.L. 103-236), April 30, 1994. On September 30, 2002, Congress lifted the 25% cap on Peacekeeping assessment to allow the United States to pay its current assessments (P.L. 107-228, section 402). For more information on U.N. Peacekeeping funding, see CRS Report RL33700, United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress, by Marjorie Ann Browne.

47 Additionally, some observers contend that if the United States were to delay or stop payment of its arrears, it may risk losing its vote in the General Assembly — a generally undesirable outcome for many Members of Congress and the Administration. In 1999, for example, the United States came very close to losing its General Assembly vote. Under Article 19 of the U.N. Charter, a U.N. member state with arrears equaling or exceeding the member states’s assessments for the two preceding years will have no vote in the General Assembly.

48 “The Right Approach to Achieving U.N. Reform,” Better World Campaign Fact Sheet, available at [http://www.betterworldcampaign.org].

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