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Officials Ask For U.S. To Continue Support For U.N. In Capitol Hill Meetings

The U.N. needs the U.S. to continue providing strong financial support, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told U.S. lawmakers in Washington on Thursday, “as President Barack Obama and Congress negotiate federal budget cuts to try to avoid a government shutdown,” Reuters reports. “We need to have robust financial support from the United States,” Ban said (Cornwell/Alexander, 4/7).

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ban “stated that it is important for U.S. dollars to go as far as possible, especially in hard economic times.” Ban talked about Cote d’Ivoire and Libya, as well as other areas where the U.N. is currently involved, the U.N. News Centre writes. “The United Nations does on a daily basis what no country can do alone,” he said. Ban agreed with committee members that the U.N. must deliver on its responsibilities “with the greatest possible commitment to accountability, transparency, and effectiveness. This is essential in the best of times and even more important in tough economic conditions, he said,” the news service writes (4/7).

Ban also met with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Talk Radio News Service reports. It would be “‘unwise and dangerous’ for the U.S. to reduce it’s presence in global institutions and and international affairs,” Kerry told reporters after his meeting with Ban (Whitt, 4/7). “In all of my years in the Senate, I can’t remember a time when there have been as many places where the United Nations is stepping up to play as critical a role as it is right now,” Kerry said, according to the U.N. News Centre.

Ban also met with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (4/7). Clinton and Ban talked about the U.N.’s work in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya. Clinton “welcomed the appointment of Abdel Ilah Al-Khatib as the U.N. Special Envoy to Libya, as well as the work of the U.N. agencies on the ground … They also discussed their shared goal of seeing the U.N. reform itself and improve its management practices,” a State Department statement notes (4/7).

U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Warns Against Funding Reductions

Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the U.N., “warned Congress on Thursday against proposed changes to the funding of U.N. programs, saying this could end up costing Washington more cash if other nations follow suit,” Reuters reports.

“Treating our bills as an a la carte menu would invite others to follow suit – and would likely lead to greater financial burdens on the United States,” Rice said in prepared remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “It would leave us having to pay more for the programs we care most about – likely significantly more than we pay today,” she added (Cornwell, 4/7).

Rice acknowledged that changes to the U.N. are needed, “but said the United States was already succeeding in pressing the world body to change its ways without the threat of cutting off funding,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. “The United States is the U.N.’s biggest contributor, with U.S. dollars accounting for 22 percent of its annual budget. … In comparison, some member states’ annual payments are as little as $35,000,” the news service writes.

At the hearing, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chair of the House committee, “said she planned to reintroduce legislation soon that will change the way the United States contributes, from a mandatory assessment to voluntary payments. ‘Americans, not U.N. bureaucrats or other countries, should determine how much taxpayer dollars are spent on the U.N., where they go, and for what purpose,’ she said” (4/8). “Rice said withholding contributions to promote reform, as was tried in the early 1990s, would be a mistake. ‘There’s no question that when the United States is in debt to the United Nations, when we fail to meet our treaty obligations to pay our assessed contributions, that our influence is diminished,'” Rice said, VOA News reports (Socolovsky, 4/7).

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