A number of continuing budget practices have once again placed the U.S. in a position of incurring continuing arrearages to the United Nations and UN specialized agencies.
1. Insufficient Funding for Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) and Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA). These accounts provide funding to pay US assessed dues to 45 treaty-based agencies, including the UN, the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency and NATO, as well as for peacekeeping costs. The Administration should request, and Congress should appropriate, sufficient funding to allow the U.S. to is assessed dues in full.
2. Late Payment of Dues. In addition to the insufficient funding provided for CIO and CIPA, the U.S. fails to pay its assessments to many of the agencies until nearly a year after they are due. Without the U.S. dues - nearly 1/4 of the operating budget - the UN must borrow internally from its peacekeeping accounts, which means that countries that contribute to peacekeeping missions aren't reimbursed on a timely basis. Other countries have also begun to follow the U.S.'s example, and not pay their dues at the time of assessment. To put our payment schedule back on track, the U.S. could either make a lump payment through an advance appropriation, or incrementally increase each year's payments over several years.
3. 25% Cap on Peacekeeping Dues. Legislation enacted in the mid-1990’s caps the amount of funding for US contributions to UN peacekeeping expenses at 25%. However, under a scale of assessments agreed to by UN member states in 2000, the U.S. is assessed approximately 26% of peacekeeping expenses. While the cap has been temporarily adjusted in some years, in others it has not, resulting in an annual gap of approximately $150-200 million between US assessed and paid expenses. Congress needs to enact legislation to permanently repeal the 25% cap.
Fiscal Year 2009 Funding
President Obama requested $53.9 billion in FY10 funding for the International Affairs account. On July 13, 2009 the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3081, the FY10 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill with funding of $48.8 billion. On the same day, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported its version of the bill with a funding level of $48.7 billion. The full Senate has not acted on the bill as of this date. These amounts are nearly $1.2 billion below funds enacted for FY09. The ABA has urged Congress to provide no less than the funding level requested by the Administration.
On June 10, 2009, the House passed H.R. 2410, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2010 and FY2011. This legislation authorizes appropriations as may be necessary to pay all U.S. arrearages to the UN, lifts the statutory cap on U.S. payment of assessed dues for peacekeeping expenses for 3 years, and requires the President to submit a plan implement previous legislation that calls for the U.S. to resume paying its assessments to the UN at the beginning of each calendar year. The ABA supports these provisions.
The ABA supports funding the international affairs amount at or above the level requested by the President, and supports increased funding for democratization and rule of law programs. On March 18, 2009, then-ABA President H. Thomas Wells submitted a statement (PDF) to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs. On March 25, 2009, former ABA President Michael Greco testified before the Subcommittee on behalf of the ABA. Greco noted that programs that promote the rule of law abroad are a sound investment of U.S. dollars that enhance the national security and economic prosperity of the U.S., as well as of the emerging democracies themselves. He urged the subcommittee to increase the overall amount of funding available for agencies and programs that support international rule of law initiatives and, specifically, for the ABA’s international technical legal assistance projects.