Helms-Biden Agreement (1999)
In the late 1990s, Congress and the Administration negotiated and agreed to legislation that would further U.S. reform policy at the United Nations. The Helms- Biden bill authorized payment of some U.S. arrears if specific reform benchmarks were met and certified to Congress by the Secretary of State.123 Under the terms of Helms-Biden, the United States agreed to: (1) pay $819 million in arrearages over fiscal years 1998, 1999, and 2000, and (2) forgive $107 million owed to the United States by the United Nations in peacekeeping costs if the United Nations applied the $107 million to U.S. peacekeeping arrears. For arrearage payments to occur, Congress required that the U.S. assessment for contributions to the U.N. regular budget be reduced from 25% to 22% and that the peacekeeping contribution be reduced from 30% to 25%.124 In December 2000, the U.N. General Assembly reduced the regular budget assessment level to from 25% to 22%, and the Peacekeeping share from approximately30.4% to 28%. In subsequent years, the U.S. peacekeeping assessment continued to fall and is now close to 26.5%.
Henry J. Hyde U.N. Reform Act (2005)
In the 109th Congress, the House of Representatives passed, but Congress did not enact, H.R. 2745, The Henry J. Hyde United Nations Reform Act. The act would have required that the United States withhold 50% of its assessed payments beginning in calendar year 2007 if the United Nations did not implement 32 of 40 changes, including 15 mandatory reforms (the potential withholding would have come from FY2008 funds). The proposed changes included transferring 18 U.N. programs from mandatory to voluntary funding, and reducing funding for U.N. General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services. Under the act, the State Department would have been required to certify and report to Congress that each condition was accomplished. The Bush Administration did not fully support the Hyde Act because it was concerned the automatic withholdings would impact its ability to pursue its foreign policy objectives.
123 The Helms-Biden Agreement was incorporated into the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2000 (H.R. 3194, P.L. 106-113), November 19, 1999.
124 See CRS Report RL33700, United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress, by Marjorie Ann Browne for further information.