The effect of these cuts would be devastating
The budget request calls for about a 30% cut to UN funding across the board. This would be devastating–particularly to emergency relief agencies like UNICEF, the World Food Program and the UN Refugee Agency. Each of those programs are funded through what is known as “voluntary contributions;” that is countries are not treaty-bound to pay them. Rather, they are funded like charity. And, by far, the single biggest contributor is — and has always been — the United States. These agencies are currently stretched more thinly than at anytime in history. Between the global refugee crisis and the prospect of four looming famines striking 20 million people in the near future, these agencies need to be scaling up–not pairing back their work. These cuts could lead to a generation wide catastrophe.
The regular UN budget and the budget for UN peacekeeping are paid as member dues to the UN and are assessed at rates negotiated every two years. The USA is currently the largest single funder of the UN, paying 28% of the peacekeeping budget and 22% of the regular budget. The proposed budget calls for an unspecified reduction to the regular budget and a 3% reduction in US peacekeeping dues which would put the USA in arrears. To be sure, the USA pays more than any other country into the UN system. But the actual amounts are not huge — and for the US is better able to leverage the UN (and the rest of the world) behind US national security interests.
Image: UN Photo/McCreary. Dean Virginia C. Gildersleeve, member of the Delegation from the United States, signing the United Nations Charter at a ceremony held at the Veterans’ War Memorial Building on 26 June.