House Republicans are planning to introduce today legislation that seeks to force major changes at the United Nations, using as leverage the U.S.’s 22 percent contribution to the world body’s operating budget.
The bill by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, would require the UN to adopt a voluntary budget model in which countries selectively fund UN agencies rather than according to a set formula. It would end funding for Palestinian refugees, limit use of U.S. funds to only purposes outlined by Congress and stop contributions to peacekeeping operations until management changes are made.
The legislation represents the leading edge of Republican moves against the world body at a time when the Obama administration is increasingly building its foreign policy around multilateral institutions, making the alliance-based approach central to its stance on Libya. The bill may advance in the Republican-controlled House but is likely to hit opposition in the Senate and from President Barack Obama.
Ros-Lehtinen had UN reform on her agenda even before the Florida congresswoman gained leadership of the committee in January, calling the New York-based body a “stew of corruption, mismanagement and negligence” in July 2010.
The U.S. pays 22 percent of the UN’s regular operations budget and is assessed 27 percent of the peacekeeping budget. The U.S. payments totaled $3.35 billion in 2010, of which $2.67 billion was dedicated to the 16 peacekeeping operations worldwide, from South Sudan to Haiti.