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Let's Become "Deadbeat" on the UN By: Joseph Klein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Only in the alternate reality that prevails at the United Nations can its greatest contributor be considered a “deadbeat.” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon tarred the United States with that pejorative during a meeting with Congressional leaders on March 11.

At a press conference held on March 12 and attended by FrontPage Magazine, Ban Ki-moon tried to explain away his comments by saying it had all been a “misunderstanding.” He indicated that he was just trying to emphasize the fact that the United States is about $1 billion behind on its payments, “soon to be $1.6 billion.”

“Speaking with a group of members of the House of Representatives, I noted how generous the United States has been in supporting the UN, both in terms of assessed and voluntary contributions,” Ban said in trying to wiggle out of the hole that he had dug for himself. “At the same time, I noted that the United States is also the largest debtor…With such a large sum of amount in arrears, it is very difficult for the United Nations to conduct smoothly all these peacekeeping operations and other activities of the United Nations.”

This seems like cold gratitude for the immense contribution the United States has made to the ineffective world body. The U.S. has been the largest financial contributor to the UN every year since its creation in 1945. The United States funds 22 percent of the UN’s regular budget, as well as about 25 percent of the peacekeeping budget. We provide billions more in contributions, both cash and in-kind (such as food donations for the World Food Program), to the UN system.

Data compiled by the State Department for the 2006-2007 UN budget cycle gives a picture of the massive amount of U.S. spending on the UN. The U.S. contributed more than $5.3 billion in total to the United Nations system to support all UN agencies and peacekeeping operations during that cycle. This included $459 million annually toward the UN’s regular 2006-2007 budget of $4.17 billion, and nearly $870 million more to the UN’s peacekeeping budget.  

Unlike his predecessor, Kofi Annan, this secretary general does not normally go out of his way to insult the United States or to coddle dictators. In fact, in the same press conference, Ban Ki-moon strongly supported President Obama’s decision to send 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan and delivered a backhand verbal slap at Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the anti-American, anti-Semitic president of the UN General Assembly. In response to a question about Brockmann’s divisive statements, Ban admonished that “the responsible position holders like the president of the General Assembly or the Secretary-General of the United Nations should speak for the common interests.”

However, Ban Ki-moon went way overboard with his deadbeat comment.

By contrast, the 54 countries with the lowest assessment of 0.001 percent of the regular budget each paid less than $21,000. Yet they are counted the same as the United States in setting the UN’s budget and in all other matters within the purview of the one state, one-vote General Assembly. 

The member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference, including all of the oil rich countries in the Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere in the Muslim world, were assessed a combined 3 percent of the regular 2006-2007 UN budget and 1.2 percent of the peacekeeping budget. Yet they represented more than 29 percent of the General Assembly’s votes and held more than one-third of the seats on the Human Rights Council. 

As the Heritage Foundation put it more than 20 years ago, “The nonaligned nations, many of whom pay only 0.01 percent of the UN budget, use their voting strength to approve ever expanding UN budgets and ever more programs, committees, and conferences, which generally accomplish very little.” As a consequence, the UN’s budget is out of control. Its regular budget has increased by an average of 17 percent annually over the past five years and has increased by 193 percent since the 1998/1999 biennial budget. The U.S. government’s own budget, by contrast, grew by an average of only seven percent annually over that period. 

All this indicates the United Nations’ budget process needs supervision. There must be some form of weighted voting on budgetary matters that would enable the United States, Japan, and other major contributors to the UN budget to eliminate the layers upon layers of redundant or worthless UN committees, reports, conferences and investigations, including the discredited Durban II review conference against racism.   

The United Nations is not “underfunded and overtasked,” as Senator John Kerry claimed during his joint appearance with Ban Ki-moon after the Secretary General’s “deadbeat” malapropism. It is an overfunded, oversized, and under-achieving mass of deadwood.

We have already contributed way too much toward subsidizing this deadwood. The U.S. should not consider paying even a dime of its budget arrears until there is a transparent top-to-bottom audit of all of the UN’s operations to ferret out the massive waste and corruption, and the UN implements every one of the audit’s findings. Let the UN’s swarm of parasites make up the difference.

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