Republicans Plan to Defund UN | Corruption Prompts Re-Evaluation of US Donations

Republican Members Of Congress Want UN Funding Slashed

Nikola Krastev|GlobalSecurity

UNITED NATIONS — Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives have criticized the United Nations as “bloated” and “ineffective” and vowed to press for reforms and a reduction in U.S. funding.

At a January 25 meeting of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, members characterized the world body as inefficient and corrupt.

Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is leading the drive to slash funding and has introduced a bill to get the UN on a rapid schedule of reforms.

In a statement, Ros-Lehtinen said she planned to introduce a bill that would condition U.S. contributions to the UN on “real, sweeping reform,” including changing the UN budget so that member governments can offer to fund only the programs they like.

That way, she said, “U.S. taxpayers can pay for the UN programs and activities that advance our interests and values, and if other countries want different things to be funded, they can pay for it themselves.”

‘Prime Target’

Congressional scrutiny of the UN comes as Republicans in Congress are vowing to slash $100 billion in domestic spending this year.

One Republican member of the committee, Dana Rohrabacher of California, said “the UN should be one of [the United States’] prime targets for reducing expenditures in order to bring down this deficit in the next few years.”

Historically, U.S. Republicans have been suspicious of the UN’s ability to accomplish its goals and stand up to dictators. In the 1990s, the influential head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms, succeeded in blocking all U.S. funding for the world body for an extended period of time.

The corruption scandals related to the UN-administered oil-for-food program in Iraq further diminished the world body’s reputation in Washington. And for at least part of President George W. Bush’s term in the White House, the United States did not participate in the UN Human Rights Council, complaining that the panel had lost credibility when it criticized Israel for human rights abuses related to its treatment of the Palestinians.

Mark Lagon, an adjunct senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, told RFE/RL that efforts to target UN funding are only a small part of the Republicans’ overall cut-and-save strategy.

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