The Administration identified democracy promotion — particularly the U.N. Democracy Fund (UNDEF) — as a U.S. priority for U.N. reform. On September 21, 2004, President Bush proposed the establishment of UNDEF to provide resources and assistance for projects that promote emerging democracies. The Fund accepts voluntary funding from U.N. member states and promotes activities related to democratic governance, rule of law, electoral assistance, and anti-corruption in new democracies.70 In 2005, Secretary-General Annan established UNDEF as a U.N. trust fund, and held its inaugural advisory board meeting on March 6, 2006. The United States has contributed over $25 million to UNDEF. As of July 23, 2008, U.N. member states have pledged or contributed more that $97 million.71
Human Rights Council
The Administration generally supported the establishment of a Human Rights Council (the Council) to replace the now-defunct Commission on Human Rights as a component of U.N. reform. The previous Commission was criticized by the United States and other countries over the composition of its membership when countries perceived by many to have poor human rights standards were elected as members. On March 15, 2006, the U.N. General Assembly agreed to a resolution creating the new Council, but the United States was one of four countries to vote against the resolution, contending that the new Council “lacked stronger mechanisms for maintaining credible membership.” 72
The United States has expressed disappointment with the Council’s work during its first two years, which focused primarily on alleged Israel’s human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Lebanon.73 On April 8, 2008, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, stated that the United States would withhold a portion of its contributions to the 2008 U.N. regular budget equivalent to the U.S. share of the Human Rights Council budget.74 Khalilzad stated that the Council “is less willing to take affirmative action, but is more willing to focus on Israel-bashing exercises.”75 On June 6, 2008, the Administration further
70 For further information on UNDEF, see [http://www.unfoundation.org/features/ un_democracy_fund.asp].
71 Top UNDEF donors include Australia, India, Japan, Qatar, and the United States. For a list of all donors, see [http://www.un.org/democracyfund/XFinancialContributions.htm].
72 Drawn fromthen-Ambassador Bolton’s statement in the U.N. provisional verbatimrecord. U.N. document, A/60/PV.72, March 15, 2006, p. 6.
73 For more information on the Human Rights Council, see CRS Report RL33608, United Nations Human Rights Council: Issues for Congress, by Luisa Blanchfield.
74 U.S. Mission to the United Nations press release #075(08), “Statement by Zalmay Khalilzad on the Durban II Conference and the Human Rights Council,” April 8, 2008, available at [http://www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov/press_releases/20080408_075.html].
U.S. Mission to the United Nations press release #075(08), “Statement by Zalmay (continued...)