Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation
(S. 392) on June 27, 2007, that would pay the United Nations more
for peacekeeping than current U.S. law allows. The legislation
would increase the 25 percent cap to 27.1 percent for 2005 through
2008 to enable the United States to pay the U.N. an estimated $157
million more than the U.S. would otherwise pay for its share of the
U.N.'s peacekeeping budget. The key sponsor of the legislation,
Senator Joseph R. Biden (D-DE), justifies the legislation with
the assertion that we should not "fail to pay our bills" to the
This argument not
only misrepresents the situation and misreads history, but also
does a grave injustice to people who were abused by the U.N.
peacekeepers that should have protected them. The cap on U.S. dues
was created to spread the costs of peacekeeping more equitably
among the member states and to prompt the U.N. to adopt specified
reforms. This legislation would reward the U.N. even though it
has failed to adopt critical reforms to prevent sexual abuse and
other misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers and to enhance transparency,
accountability, and oversight of U.N. procurement.
Raising the 25
percent cap on U.S. contributions to the U.N. peacekeeping budget
is simply bad policy. It would:
- Remove the
key incentive for the U.N. to honor its promise in 2000 to
lower the U.S. peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent.
- Throw away an
opportunity for the U.S. to use its financial leverage to
pressure the U.N. to adopt rules, procedures, and practices that
would prevent mismanagement and corruption, discourage peacekeeper
misconduct, and require member states to punish sexual abuse and
criminal acts by their nationals participating in U.N.
- Increase the
cap far above the 26.0864 percent for 2007 and 25.9624 percent
for 2008-2009 that the U.N. has decided to assess the U.S., thereby
opening up the possibility that the U.N. would increase the U.S.
assessment in the future.
- Surrender the
key principle that nations possessing equal privileges in the
U.N. should assume equal responsibilities, including
Senate has a full calendar after the August recess, the Biden
legislation may be considered independently or as an amendment
to the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related
Programs Appropriations Act of 2008 (H.R. 2764), which covers U.S.
contributions to the U.N. peacekeeping budget and already includes
language to increase the peacekeeping cap for 2008. Congress should
keep the 25 percent cap, both to leverage much-needed reform
of peacekeeping rules and practices and to support efforts to
assess U.N. member states more equitably for U.N.
The 25 Percent
As freedom and
economic vitality have spread around the world, the United States
has tried to increase the financial commitment of other nations to
the U.N. Since the earliest days of the United Nations, the U.S.
has been concerned that the organization would rely too
heavily on America to fund its activities. The founding members of
the U.N. wanted to assess the U.S. nearly 50 percent of the U.N.
budget. The U.S. finally agreed to pay 39.84 percent of the budget
Administrations have had to fight hard to reduce the U.S.
assessment for the U.N. regular (non-peacekeeping) budget because
other member states have resisted increasing their own
contributions. Over the past 60 years, the U.S. has
managed to marginally reduce its U.N. assessment (the
percentage of the U.N. budget charged to the U.S.), but it
continues to pay more than any other nation. Not until 1973 did the
U.S. persuade the U.N. to reduce the U.S. regular budget
assessment to 25 percent. Lowering the U.S. regular
budget assessment to 22 percent took another 28 years.
Congress played a
key role in this process. The U.S. Congress has adopted a number of
initiatives over the past two decades to constrain the growth of
U.N. expenditures and to improve accountability and transparency in
the organization, including using financial leverage to press U.N.
member states to agree to a consensus-based budgeting process and
to create the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to
operate as a type of inspector general over U.N. activities.
When the end of
the Cold War resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of
missions and a corresponding increase in the amount that the
U.S. paid for U.N. peacekeeping under its assessment, Congress
focused on the U.N. peacekeeping budget. Between 1988 and
1994, over 20 new U.N. peacekeeping operations were established. By
comparison, there were only 13 U.N. peacekeeping operations
between 1948 and 1988. U.N. peacekeeping expenditures rose
from $384 million in 1988 to $4.039 billion in 1994, and
U.S. contributions rose proportionally.
cost of U.N. peacekeeping brought home the uneven assessments
charged by the U.N. Most U.N. member states receive
substantial discounts in their peacekeeping assessments- up to
90 percent lower than their regular budget assessment. In
1994, the U.S. paid more (31.7 percent) than the combined
assessments of over 170 member states. As President Bill Clinton
noted before the U.N. General Assembly in 1993:
operations must not only be adequately funded, but also fairly
funded.... [O]ur rates should be reduced to reflect the rise of
other nations that can now bear more of the financial burden.
When the U.N.
chose not to reduce the U.S. assessment, Congress passed
legislation capping the U.S. contribution at 25 percent, and
President Clinton signed it into law in 1994.
between the U.N. assessment and the cap led to a sharp increase in
U.S. contested arrears in the 1990s. Congress passed legislation to
pay or forgive $926 million of the accumulated difference in
return for reforms specified in the Helms- Biden United Nations
Reform Act of 1999. These included requiring the U.N. to
reduce the U.S. regular budget assessment to 22 percent and
the U.S. peacekeeping assessment to 25 percent.
In 2000, the U.S.
succeeded in securing a commitment from the U.N. to meet the
Helms-Biden requirements by reducing America's portion of the
regular budget to 22 percent and the peacekeeping budget to 25
percent in return for paying arrears to the U.N. In January 2001,
the General Assembly agreed to cap the contribution of any
individual nation to the regular budget at 22 percent.
The process for
reducing U.S. contributions to the peacekeeping budget has been
more protracted. The U.N. has yet to lower the U.S. peacekeeping
assessment to 25 percent as agreed.
Richard C. Holbrooke negotiated a reduction in the U.S.
peacekeeping assessment from about 30.3 percent in 2000 to
28.1 percent in 2001 and received assurances from the U.N. and
other member states that the rate would be lowered further in
subsequent years. In testimony before the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee in 2001, Holbrooke stated, "The
U.S. rate will continue to progressively decline, and we expect
that it will reach 25% by roughly 2006 or 2007."
Helms (R-NC) clearly believed that this timeline and agreement were
[T]he U.N. put in
place a six-year plan to reduce what the U.N. now says the U.S.
owes for peacekeeping. Here's how it will work. The U.S. share of
peacekeeping costs will drop: from 31 percent to about 28
percent in the first six months of 2001; and then, Mr.
President, to about 27 1/2 percent in the second half of 2001; and
then, Mr. President, to about 26 1/2 percent in 2002; and then, Mr.
President, down to approximately the 25 percent benchmark
specified in the Helms-Biden law….
Based on the clear prospect of U.S. peacekeeping dues
moving down to 25 percent in the coming years, we propose to agree
to releasing the Year 2 dues payment of $582 million [as outlined
in the Helms- Biden legislation] to the United Nations
these assurances in good faith. Even though the reduction in the
U.S. assessment was not the 25 percent required by Helms-
Biden, Congress approved payment of the arrears provided for in the
Helms-Biden agreement and temporarily increased the 25 percent cap
to avoid accumulating arrears while the U.N. lowered the U.S.
assessment to 25 percent.
however, to maintain the 25 percent cap as an incentive for the
U.N. to follow through on its promise. As stated by Senator
I emphasize that
the United States does not owe the United Nations one dime more
than 25 percent of the peacekeeping budget. In fact, in 1994,
Senator Bob Dole led a bipartisan effort to institute a cap on how
much the U.S. would pay to the U.N. for peacekeeping. That year, a
Democrat-controlled Congress passed, and President Clinton
signed, a 25 percent cap on the U.S. share of the U.N. peacekeeping
I see no reason
to abandon that bipartisan policy. Some may argue that, in addition
to releasing the Year 2 arrears, we should remove that cap as well.
I cannot and will not agree to that.... But we must not (and will
not if I have anything to do with it) concede that the United
States expects, in the coming years that the U.N. will
ultimately reach the 25 percent rate mandated by Congress.
U.N. has not honored its side of the bargain. According to the deal
struck by Holbrooke, the U.S. assessment was supposed to be
less than 26 percent by 2004. Three years later, it
still has not fallen below 26 percent. The U.S. peacekeeping
assessment is 26.08 percent for 2007 and is scheduled to fall to
25.96 percent in 2008 and 2009-still nearly a full percentage point
more than the 25 percent sought by the U.S.
point difference may seem minor, but with the U.N. peacekeeping
budget at $5.246 billion in the fiscal year ending in June 2007,
the difference is over $50 million per year. This amount is
expected to rise when the recently approved U.N. mission for
Darfur-estimated to cost over $2 billion in 2008-is deployed. The
discrepancy means that the U.S. taxpayer will be charged
hundreds of millions of dollars more for U.N. peacekeeping because
the U.N. broke its promise to lower the U.S. assessment to 25
cap is a contentious issue, but the U.N. has made it worse by
inflating the amount that it claims the U.S. owes. In January, the
U.N. claimed that the U.S. owed about $291 million in arrears to
the regular budget and $677 million in arrears to the peacekeeping
budget. Some of these "arrears" are in reality
costs for unexpected expenses that were not budgeted by the
peacekeeping budget varies considerably during the course of
the year as missions are approved, expanded, or wound down. For
instance, the estimated peacekeeping budget from July 1, 2006,
through June 30, 2007, was $4.75 billion in October 2006-about $500
million less than in June 2007. The Administration cannot
be faulted for failing to anticipate expenses that did not exist
when it submitted its budget request to Congress. Traditionally,
the U.S. has made up for unexpected expenses through subsequent
appropriations or supplemental appropriations.
situation exists in the regular budget because the U.S. pays at the
end of the year rather than at the beginning. This creates
"arrears" for the first nine months that are paid at the end of the
year. For example, the amount that the U.N. claimed the U.S. owed
in "arrears" to the regular budget increased from $291 million in
the beginning of 2007 to $785 million in May 2007, with virtually
all of the increase resulting from America's delayed payment
practice rather than any intent to withhold payment.
The U.N. knows this and is deliberately overstating the situation
when it fails to acknowledge that these shortfalls will be
are the continuing claims by the U.N. that the U.S. owes the
organization hundreds of millions of dollars in arrears dating back
to the 1990s. The Helms-Biden agreement specified payment of
$819 million in arrears owed by the U.S. and forgiveness of $107
million owed the U.S. by the U.N. in return for lowering the U.S.
assessments. An additional requirement was the creation of a
"contested arrears" account into which the difference between
the $1.3 billion that the U.N. claimed the U.S. owed and the amount
the U.S. agreed to pay the organization under Helms-Biden would be
placed. As Senator Biden noted,
[The U.S. and the
U.N.] did not agree on what the arrears are. We have a figure that
is lower than-is viewed by some in the United Nations as so-called
contested arrears which will, I believe, never be paid by the
The source of
these arrears is various restrictions on U.S. contributions to the
U.N. that Congress has adopted over decades. The U.S. position that
it does not recognize the contested arrears and will not pay them
has been consistent. However, the failure of the Administration to
maintain an updated public account of what it has paid the U.N.,
what it intends to pay, and the amount of the arrears that it does
not recognize and will never pay unnecessarily muddies the issue
and allows the U.N. to falsely inflate the amount it claims the
U.S. owes in arrears.
U.N.'s failure to abide by its promised schedule for reducing
the U.S. assessment, Senator Biden has sought several times in
recent years to increase the 25 percent cap to the level charged by
the U.N. Most recently, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
unanimously passed legislation co-sponsored by Chairman Biden
and Ranking Member Richard G. Lugar (R-IN) to increase the 25
percent cap to 27.1 percent for calendar years 2005 through
2008 to permit payment of arrears resulting from the cap over that
period and to prevent arrears from accumulating in 2008.
This would cost
American taxpayers an estimated $157 million-more if
additional operations are approved and deployed. Senator Biden
justified the measure by arguing that:
At a time when
our government continues to seek important reforms at the United
Nations, it is a mistake for us to continue to fall short on our
dues at the UN. Rather than encourage reform, it may cause an
adverse reaction by other nations, and undermine our reform agenda.
How can we, in good faith, fail to pay our bills while at the same
time [we] push the UN to get its financial house in order?
This reasoning is
entirely backward. The U.S. cannot in good conscience reward the
United Nations with higher peacekeeping contributions when the
organization and many member states doggedly refuse to adopt
reforms that would address the abuse, misconduct, mismanagement,
and corruption that have plagued U.N. peacekeeping operations
with disconcerting frequency in recent years.
in the management and oversight of U.N. peacekeeping and in
the accountability and discipline of U.N. peacekeepers are
particularly troubling because the number, size, and cost of
peacekeeping operations have increased rapidly, making more
resources vulnerable to misuse or corruption. Even more troubling
are the disturbing accounts of U.N. peacekeepers abusing the very
people whom they were assigned to protect and the U.N.'s inability
to prevent such abuses or punish the perpetrators.
Fraud, and Corruption. The U.N. Secretariat annually procures
billions of dollars in goods and services, mostly to support
peacekeeping, which has more than quadrupled in size since
1999. Without proper oversight, transparency, and controls,
U.N. peacekeeping procurement is extremely vulnerable to
mismanagement and corruption. In a study of U.N. peacekeeping
procurement practices, the U.S. Government Accountability Office
While the U.N.
Department of Management is responsible for U.N. procurement,
field procurement staff are instead supervised by the U.N.
Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which currently lacks
the expertise and capacities needed to manage field
An OIOS audit of
$1 billion in U.N. peacekeeping procurement contracts over a
six-year period found that at least $265 million was subject to
waste, fraud, or abuse. This is equivalent to the entire U.S.
share of that procurement.
criminal acts are not limited to procurement, as illustrated by
U.N. peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have
been accused of smuggling gold, torturing and murdering
prisoners, and trading arms to the rebels that they were charged
with disarming. An anonymous U.N. official informed
the BBC that the U.N. had planned to bury the results of the
investigation into charges of gold smuggling and arms trading to
avoid angering Pakistan, which is one of the largest contributors
of troops to U.N. peacekeeping.
In a related
area, political pressure, favoritism, and cronyism still plague the
U.N., resulting in institutional weaknesses and a staff that is
less than ideally equipped to complete the required tasks,
effectively undermining internal checks and balances. For
instance, Sanjay Bahel's recent conviction for fraud and corruption
in steering $100 million in U.N. peacekeeping procurement contracts
to an Indian firm has been lauded by the U.N. as an example of how
it is "committed to actively pursuing any fraud and wrongdoing
at the United Nations." However, the U.N. is less eager to
discuss the circumstances that led the U.N. twice to exonerate
Bahel of those same charges.
Misconduct. In recent years, reports of crimes committed by
U.N. peacekeepers have included rape and forced prostitution of
women and young girls. The most notorious incidents involved the
U.N. Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Indeed,
allegations and confirmed incidents of sexual exploitation and
abuse by U.N. personnel have become depressingly routine, with
allegations being reported in Bosnia, Burundi, Cambodia, Congo,
Guinea, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan.
Most recently, a
battalion of Moroccan peacekeepers were accused of sexually
abusing minors in the Ivory Coast. The alleged perpetrators
include U.N. uniformed personnel from a number of U.N. member
states involved in peace operations. The victims are refugees-many
of them children-who have been terrorized by years of war and
looked to the U.N. for safety and protection.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan's announced "zero tolerance" policy,
the perpetrators are rarely punished. The result of 319
investigations into allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation in
U.N. peacekeeping missions between January 2004 and November 2006
was 18 civilians dismissed and 17 police and 144 military personnel
sent back to their home countries. Very few of these
individuals were tried or otherwise punished for these crimes.
The standard memorandum of understanding between the U.N. and
troop contributors appropriately grants troop-contributing
countries jurisdiction over military personnel participating in
U.N. peace operations, but little is done if these countries fail
to investigate, try, and punish those who are guilty of such
Despite a bevy of
embarrassing and disgraceful scandals in recent years, the U.N. is
ill-equipped to discourage or demand that member states punish such
abuse by U.N. peacekeepers. Worse, the U.N. seems disinclined to
press the issue, as illustrated by a statement by
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie
Guehenno on the U.N. investigation into allegations of gold and
arms smuggling by U.N. peacekeepers in the Congo: "We have shared
the report with the concerned troop contributor and I'm confident
they will take the required action. This issue is closed."
Sadly, only a
minority of U.N. member states have sought to adopt strong reforms
to address weaknesses in U.N. peacekeeping. Most member states have
supported efforts to delay and weaken proposals by former
Secretary-General Annan to reform oversight, management, and
accountability of U.N. peacekeeping. The few reforms approved
by the General Assembly are unlikely to improve the situation
The United States
and Prince Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein of Jordan, the
Secretary-General's adviser on sexual exploitation and abuse by
U.N. peacekeeping personnel, proposed numerous initiatives,
including adding contact and discipline units to peacekeeping
missions and requiring troops to undergo briefing and training on
behavior and conduct. The General Assembly adopted them in
2005, but recent incidents of abuse by U.N. peacekeepers clearly
demonstrate that the initiatives are woefully insufficient. As
admitted by U.N. officials, the U.N.'s zero tolerance policy has
been "limited" by the U.N.'s reliance on member states to follow
through on investigations and evidence by trying and, if they are
found guilty, punishing those who are charged with criminal
separating the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations into a
Department of Peace Operations and a Department of Field
Support will do little to address corruption in and
mismanagement of peacekeeping procurement. First, the
Department of Management, which has had serious problems in the
past, will continue to conduct the bulk of procurement.
Second, field procurement conducted at the mission level lacks
fundamental checks, transparency, and accountability, without
which problems and corruption will continue to plague peacekeeping
fundamental problems will not be addressed until the General
Assembly increases the independence and resources of the Office of
Internal Oversight Services, creates a truly independent
external auditing body like the Independent Audit Advisory
Committee, adopts enhanced transparency and checks within the
procurement process, and reforms the budgetary process.
How the U.N.
Assessment Undermines Reform
improve management, oversight, and accountability of U.N.
peacekeeping are hindered by a fundamental inconsistency between
privileges and responsibilities among U.N. member states. The
United Nations was created in 1945 as a "parliament of
nations" in which each member state has one vote in the General
Assembly, despite vast differences in military power,
population, geographical size, and gross domestic product
one-vote rule is clearly established in the U.N. Charter and
is based on the principle of sovereign equality-not of all
nations, but of freedom-loving nations that uphold the principles
of the U.N. Under this principle and within the parameters
established by the Charter, U.N. member states are granted equal
standing and privileges in the organization regardless of real
disparities. However, the Charter clearly states that
nations that do not uphold fundamental human rights and the U.N.'s
founding principles can be expelled from the U.N.
equality of privileges in the U.N. is not matched by equal
responsibility in financial matters. The Charter states, "The
expenses of the Organization shall be borne by the Members as
apportioned by the General Assembly," and the General Assembly
has apportioned those expenses in a decidedly unequal fashion.
(See Table 1. For more detailed data on all U.N. member states, see
Under the current
assessment scale for the U.N. regular budget:
- The top eight contributors are assessed 71.1 percent of
the regular budget in 2007.
- The U.S. is assessed 22 percent of the $4.174 billion
2006-2007 biennial regular budget (about $459 million per year).
- The combined assessment of the 128 countries with the lowest
assessment-two-thirds of General Assembly members-is a paltry
0.919 percent of the U.N. regular budget. In other words, the
U.S. pays over 22 times their combinedregular budget
assessment, yet these 128 countries have the power to approve
budget increases over the objection of the U.S.
- The 54 countries with the lowest U.N. regular budget assessment
in 2007 (0.001 percent of the U.N. regular budget) pay just under
$21,000 per year.
The assessment scale for the U.N. peacekeeping budget, while
based on the regular budget assessment, is even more
- The top eight contributors are assessed 77.6 percent of the
peacekeeping budget for 2007.
- The U.S. pays 25 percent of the $5.246 billion peacekeeping
budget ($1.311 billion) and is assessed 26.0864 percent for 2007
- The 128 lowest-paying countries pay a minuscule 0.232
percent of the peacekeeping budget.
- The 35 countries with the lowest peacekeeping assessment
(0.0001 percent) pay just over $5,000 per year.
the regular budget and peacekeeping budget assessments are
tied to a country's ability to pay, which is based largely on its
gross national income. However, these data are subject to
interpretation. As U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton
While the United
States remains a strong supporter of a more effective, streamlined
and efficient U.N., we do feel that other member states can and
should contribute more.…
proposal we are considering is data on purchasing power parity
(PPP) in our calculation of gross national income. PPP is the
numbers of units of a country's currency needed to buy in the
country the same amounts of goods and services in a different
country. At this time, the assessment is based on Gross National
Income (GNI) as determined by Gross Domestic Product. These numbers
can be greatly skewed however by distortions introduced into
the marketplace by currencies which are non-convertible and by
other factors as well.
Table 1 and Table
2 illustrate the disparities in U.N. assessments. Of the five
permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia pay far
less than they should pay based on nominal and PPP-adjusted GDP
data. The United States pays less based on nominal GDP, but
overpays based on adjusted GDP numbers. France and the U.K. are
overassessed in both cases. Japan is grossly overassessed
according to both methodologies.
countries in general are significantly underassessed-a situation
that is preserved by their numerical advantages in the General
Assembly and the special discount that most earn as developing
countries. (See Table 2.) China and India in particular are
greatly underassessed. Understandably, developing nations have
fewer resources than developed nations, but surely even the
poorest nations can afford more than $26,000 for the privilege of
full membership in the U.N.
assessment system is not in the best interests of the U.N. The
one-country, one-vote structure of the General Assembly, which
ignores financial contributions, creates a free-rider problem in
which countries that pay little drive financial decisions. This
divorce between obligations and decision making is perhaps the
greatest cause of the decades-long intransigence at the U.N. on
real reform. Vital U.N. reforms are unlikely to be implemented
unless budget decisions are tied more closely to financial
What Should Be
mistreatment of those under the protection of the U.N. undermines
the credibility of U.N. peace operations and needs to be addressed
through an effective plan and commitment to end abuses and ensure
accountability. Similarly, criminality, corruption,
and mismanagement by U.N. staff and peacekeepers undermine the
credibility and reputation of the organization.
This problem is
particularly urgent given that the peacekeeping budget will
increase by more than $2 billion when the Security Council approves
a joint African Union and U.N. peacekeeping operation in the Darfur
region of Sudan. It is more imperative than ever that the
U.S. press the U.N. to adopt reforms to protect the peacekeeping
budget-projected to exceed $7 billion in 2008-from misuse,
corruption, and mismanagement. As Ambassador Bolton noted:
accountable, cost-effective, efficient and transparent U.N.
procurement practices, the U.N. will not have its essential goods
and services, billions of dollars of contributions might be
ill-spent or not properly accounted and the effectiveness of U.N.
peacekeeping operations would be jeopardized.
The First Two
Steps. Rather than adopting successive temporary increases
in the cap on U.S. peacekeeping contributions, Congress should
condition payment of any peacekeeping arrears on the taking of
concrete steps, both by U.N. member states and by the U.N.
Secretariat, to address the serious problems in U.N.
U.S. should demand that the U.N.:
mandatory, uniform standards of conduct for civilian and military
personnel participating in U.N. peace operations. Member
states contributing personnel to U.N. peace operations should be
required to cooperate with investigations of abuses or misconduct
that are conducted by the U.N. or authorities in the nation where
the alleged crime occurred. This should not necessarily involve
yielding jurisdiction over personnel to the U.N. or
non-national judicial authority, but it should require member
states to commit to investigate, try, and punish their personnel
when credible evidence exists and to inform the U.N. and the host
nation of the results of such efforts.
Equally important, a reformed U.N. must be more willing to hold
member countries to these standards. States that fail to fulfill
their commitments to discipline their troops should be barred
from providing uniformed personnel for peace operations.
- Adopt the
reforms proposed by Secretary-General Annan to enhance transparency
and accountability in the U.N. The U.N. Department of
Management and the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations
accepted a majority of the 32 recommendations from the OIOS
audit. However, a number of disagreements
remain, and whether these new procedures will be implemented fully
or will prove sufficient to prevent a recurrence of fraud and
corruption remains to be seen. While the General Assembly approved
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's proposal to split the U.N.
Department of Peacekeeping into two separate operational and
logistical units, this new structure alone will not resolve the
weaknesses that led to corruption in and mismanagement of
These two steps
are essential to changing the U.N.'s reputation for corruption and
impotence in enforcing its code of conduct and for deploying
undisciplined peacekeepers that prey upon those whom they should
Inequity Between Privileges and Responsibilities. In the long
term, the U.N. needs to address the inequities between the
countries that pay the expenses of the U.N. and those that pay
little but still drive budgetary decisions. If this problem is not
addressed, reform efforts will continue to be stymied by
nations that have little financial incentive to focus the
organization on priorities and to ensure that resources are used
U.S. should push the U.N. to:
- Adopt a more
equitable scale of assessment for the organization. Beyond its
inconsistency with the principle that equal responsibilities should
accompany equal privileges, the one-country, one-vote structure of
the General Assembly creates a free-rider problem in which
countries that pay little drive financial decisions. Reforms are
unlikely unless a stronger relationship between budget
decisions and financial contributions can be achieved.
The U.N. could address this problem in two ways: by giving major
contributors more voting weight on budgetary issues or by assessing
member states more equally.
In the past, the U.S. has tried to persuade the U.N. to adopt
weighted voting on budgetary matters, but it has succeeded only in
securing an informal agreement in the 1980s to decide all budgetary
matters by consensus, which gave every nation a de facto
veto over the budget. This flawed system helped to restrict
expansion of the budget but hindered reform efforts because any one
nation could scuttle any reform proposal. Even this agreement
broke down in 2006 when developing countries opposed to reform
broke the informal rule on consensus to pass the budget and oppose
and delay reforms proposed by Annan.
Prospects for weighted voting on budgetary matters are growing
less likely as developing nations resist proposals to give more
influence to major contributors and seek to eliminate such weighted
voting arrangements within the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank.
An alternative is to assess all U.N. member states equally. This
egalitarian reform would entail assessing each member state 0.5208
percent of the U.N. regular budget. Under the current adjusted
2006-2007 U.N. regular budget of $4.174 billion, each member state
would pay $21.739 million for the two-year budget or $10.869
million in 2007. Such an equitable scale of assessment could be
phased in to ease the pain of budget adjustments. Although this
would be a significant increase for the 54 countries with the
lowest assessment (0.001 percent of the budget, or just under
$21,000), it should be within the resources of most sovereign
nations that value the privileges of U.N. membership.
Assessing member states equally for the U.N. regular budget is
consistent with the one-country, one-vote tradition of the
General Assembly. However, the powers and privileges of the U.N.
Security Council are decidedly unequal, and the assessment for the
peacekeeping budget should reflect this reality. The U.S. proposal
to use PPP-adjusted GDP data to set the assessments would increase
the assessments for China, Russia, and other member states and
would reduce Japan's assessment. While a welcome adjustment, this
change would not address the underlying free-rider problem.
A better option would be to assess the countries with equivalent
privileges in the Security Council equally. Specifically, the
five permanent members of the Security Council, which each have a
veto, should be assessed the same rate, albeit at a higher rate
than the council's 10 non-permanent members. By the same token, the
10 elected members of the Security Council should be assessed more
than countries that that are not on the council. However, to avoid
the free-rider problem currently plaguing the U.N., each member
state should pay enough so that it has a stake in protecting the
peacekeeping budget from waste and mismanagement.
One possible assessment scale could charge the five permanent
Security Council members at a set level (e.g., 7.5 percent of the
peacekeeping budget); all elected members of the Security Council
at a lower level (e.g., 1 percent) during their term on the
council; and all other member states of the U.N. equally at an even
lower level (e.g., 0.2966 percent). Under such a system, the
assessments for the July 2006 to June 2007 peacekeeping budget
would have been $393.4 million for permanent Security Council
members, $52.5 million for the elected members of the Security
Council, and $15.6 million for all other U.N. member states.
Adjusting the peacekeeping assessment in this fashion would
significantly increase the assessments for China and Russia,
lower the U.S. assessment, and leave assessments for France and the
U.K. largely unchanged. Japan and Germany would see large
reductions even if they sat on the Security Council as an elected
member. States paying the least assessments would experience a
significant increase, but only relative to their paltry assessment
under the current system. Regardless of the specific
assessments for each category-perhaps the permanent members
and elected members of the Security Council should be assessed
more and the non-members less-the principle of assessing equally
those with equal privileges would help to alleviate the free-rider
problem in a manner that is consistent with the U.N.'s own
tradition of sovereign equality of nations.
Moreover, by increasing the cost of running for a seat on the
Security Council, this reform would help to dissuade countries from
seeking a seat simply for prestige. By increasing the cost of
peacekeeping for most members of the U.N., this proposal should
instill a stronger incentive for council members to review and
assess the merit of proposed peacekeeping operations and make sure
that peacekeeping expenditures are not subject to corruption and
- Maintain the
25 percent cap on U.N. peacekeeping. Changing the way the
U.N. assesses member states is likely to be a long, arduous
process. Despite being inconsistent with the U.N. principle of
one nation, one vote, too many member states benefit from the
current system for it to change quickly. The cap is a necessary
spur for the U.N. to meet its obligation to lower the U.S.
assessment to 25 percent, as agreed in 2000, and a useful hedge
Keeping the cap will not put new missions like Sudan in jeopardy,
because the U.S. would continue to pay 25 percent of the
costs. The difference between what the U.S. would pay and what
the U.N. charges the U.S. for that the mission would be only about
$20 million based on the mission's estimated cost of $2 billion for
the first year. If the U.N. spread the difference equitably across
all the remaining 191 member states, their assessments would
increase by only about $105,000. Moreover, this is less than the
amount that the U.N. has likely squandered each year through
corruption and mismanagement under its current rules and
oversight, accountability, and discipline continue to plague
U.N. peacekeeping operations. Without fundamental reform,
these problems will likely continue or grow worse, further
undermining the U.N.'s credibility and ability to
accomplish one of its primary missions: maintaining
international peace and security.
rewarding the U.N. by paying recent peacekeeping arrears and
raising the cap on U.S. contributions to peacekeeping, the U.S.
should refuse to pay arrears until the organization has implemented
the reforms needed to correct waste in peacekeeping procurement and
to ensure that peacekeepers are held accountable for abuses and
In addition, the
U.S. should seek to address the fundamental problem in the U.N.
system in which a small minority of countries pays the vast bulk of
the budget while a large majority of the member states, which make
minor budget contributions, drives budgetary and management
decisions. This reality flies in the face of the U.N.'s claims of
equality among nations. Nations enjoying equal privileges should
have equal responsibilities. If all nations felt the financial
consequences of their decisions, they would be more willing to
support reforms that help to ensure that their contributions are
The first, albeit
insufficient, step in moving toward a more equitable assessment of
U.N. member states is to keep the 25 percent cap, which
maintains pressure on the U.N. to honor its promise to lower
the U.S. peacekeeping assessment.
Brett D. Schaefer is Jay
Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs in the
Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the Kathryn and
Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The
here to view Appendix
Budget Office, cost estimate of S. 392, July 3, 2007, in Report
110-130, Ensuring Payment of United States Assessments for
United Nations Peacekeeping Operations for the 2005 Through 2008
Time Period, Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, 110th
Cong., 1st Sess., July 16, 2007, at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp110:FLD010:@1(sr130)
(August 28, 2007).
 Report 110-197,
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations
Bill, 2008, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of
Representatives, 110th Cong., 1st Sess., June 18, 2007, p. 141, at
 Marjorie Ann
Browne, "United Nations Peacekeeping: Issues for Congress,"
Congressional Research Service Issue Brief for Congress,
updated June 4, 2007.
 Public Law
106-113 and Marjorie Ann Browne, "United Nations System Funding:
Congressional Issues," Congressional Research Service Report for
Congress, updated February 15, 2007, pp. 18-19.
 "Scale of
Assessments for the Apportionment of the Expenses of the United
Nations," A/RES/55/5 B-F, U.N. General Assembly, 55th Sess.,
January 22, 2001.
"United Nations Peacekeeping," pp. 5-6.
 Richard C.
Holbrooke, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations,
testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate,
January 9, 2001.
Nations Peacekeeping Assessment Adjustment," Congressional
Record, February 7, 2001, pp. S1110-S1111.
[16 ]Public Law
107-228, Sec. 402.
Nations Peacekeeping Assessment Adjustment."
Chollet and Robert Orr, "Carpe Diem: Reclaiming Success at the
United Nations," The Washington Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 4
(Autumn 2001), p. 13, at www.twq.com/01autumn/chollet.pdf
(August 22, 2007).
 U.N. General
Assembly, "Scale Implementation of General Assembly Resolutions
55/235 and 55/236," A/61/139/Add.1, 61st Sess., December 27,
 The total of
approved resources for U.N. peacekeeping operations and the U.N.
logistics base in Italy from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2007, was
$5.246 billion. If additional missions are approved, the
peacekeeping budget could exceed $7 billion within the next few
months. See U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, "United
Nations Peacekeeping Operations," Background Note, June 30,
2007, at www.un.org/Depts/dpko/dpko/bnote.htm
(July 13, 2007); press release, "United Nations Military,
Police Deployment Reaches All-Time High in October," U.N.
Department of Public Information, November 10, 2006, at www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/pko152.doc.htm
(July 13, 2007); and U.N. General Assembly, "Approved
Resources for Peacekeeping Operations for the Period from 1 July
2006 to 30 June 2007," A/C.5/61/18, 61st Sess., January 15,
 See U.N.
Department of Peacekeeping Operations, "United Nations Peacekeeping
Operations"; press release, "United Nations Military, Police
Deployment Reaches All-Time High in October"; and U.N. General
Assembly, "Approved Resources for Peacekeeping Operations for the
Period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007."
"Biden: UN Arrears Resolution Progressing."
 The U.S.
adopted this practice in the early 1980s to realize a one-year
budget savings but should end it because it gives unwarranted
ammunition to critics of U.S. policy. For more information, see
Brett D. Schaefer, "The U.S. Should Return to Paying Its U.N.
Assessment in Advance," Heritage Foundation Executive
Memorandum No. 782, October 4, 2001, at www.heritage.org/Research/InternationalOrganizations/EM782.cfm.
 Congressional Budget Office, cost
estimate of S. 392.
release, "Biden Introduces Legislation Allowing for Full Payment of
U.S. Dues to UN Peacekeeping Operations."
 David M.
Walker, Comptroller General of the United States, "United Nations:
Internal Oversight and Procurement Controls and Processes Need
Strengthening," GAO-06-701T, testimony before the Committee on
International Relations, U.S. House of Representatives, April 27,
2006, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d06701t.pdf (August 22,
Security Council, "Peacekeeping Procurement Audit Found
Mismanagement, Risk of Financial Loss, Security Council Told in
Briefing by Chief of Staff," SC/8645, U.N. Department of Public
Information, February 22, 2006, at www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sc8645.doc.htm
(February 1, 2007).
 BBC News,
"UN Attacked over DR Congo Report," July 23, 2007, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6912740.stm
(August 22, 2007), and Evelyn Leopold, "UN Probes Torture
Allegation by Congo Peacekeepers," Reuters, June 12, 2007, at www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N11208678.htm
(August 22, 2007).
 BBC News,
"Peacekeeper 'Smuggled Congo Gold,'" July 13, 2007, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6896881.stm
(August 22, 2007), and Martin Plaut, "UN Troops 'Traded Gold
for Guns,'" BBC News, May 23, 2007, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6681457.stm
(August 22, 2007).
Rosett and George Russell, "Analysis: Will Fraud Conviction Help
U.N. Reform Its Secretive 'Culture of Impunity'?" Fox News, June
13, 2007, at www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,282014,00.html
(August 22, 2007).
 See Kate
Holt and Sarah Hughes, "UN Staff Accused of Raping Children in
Sudan," The Daily Telegraph, January 4, 2007, at www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/03/wsudan03.xml
(February 1, 2007); Kate Holt and Sarah Hughes, "Sex and the
UN: When Peacemakers Become Predators," The Independent,
January 11, 2005, at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article14411.ece
(February 1, 2007); and Colum Lynch, "UN Faces More Accusations of
Sexual Misconduct," The Washington Post, March 13, 2005, p.
A22, at www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A30286-2005Mar12.html
(February 1, 2007).
 BBC News,
"UN Attacked over DR Congo Report."
 Charter of
the United Nations, Chap. I, Article 2.
 "A Member of
the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles
contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the
Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the
Security Council." Charter of the United Nations, Chap. II, Article
 Charter of
the United Nations, Chap. IV, Article 17.
 U.N. General
Assembly, "Scale Implementation of General Assembly Resolutions
55/235 and 55/236."
 The U.N.
budget is adopted biennially (every two years). However, the budget
is adjusted annually, generally resulting in an increase. The
2006-2007 regular budget was originally set at $3.83 billion in
December 2005 but was increased to $4.174 billion in the revised
budget. See "Programme Budget for the Biennium 2006-2007: Revised
Budget Appropriations for the Biennium 2006-2007," U.N. General
Assembly Resolution A/RES/61/253 A-C, 61st Sess., March 14, 2007.
The U.S. appropriated $439 million for the regular budget in
2006-higher than the projected 22 percent of the original U.N.
regular budget but less than 22 percent of the revised budget. See
U.S. Department of State, International Affairs Function 150,
Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Request: Summary and Highlights, p. 87,
(August 22, 2007).
decisions are made by a majority of member states. However,
decisions on important matters such as admitting new members or
approving the budget require approval by a two-thirds majority (128
of the 192 members), even if those member states contribute little
to the U.N. budget.
Department of Peacekeeping Operations, "United Nations Peacekeeping
Operations"; U.N. General Assembly, "Approved Resources for
Peacekeeping Operations for the Period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June
2007"; and U.N. General Assembly, "Scale Implementation of General
Assembly Resolutions 55/235 and 55/236."
 John R.
Bolton, "Moving Ahead on UN Reform," statement before the
Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce, Committee on
Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, April 5, 2006, at
(August 22, 2007).
 Jane Holl
Lute, Assistant Secretary-General, U.N. Department of Peacekeeping
Operations, "Lute: Hybrid Peacekeeping Force in Darfur an
'Unprecedented' Operation," interview by Stephanie Hanson, Council
on Foreign Relations, August 2, 2007, at www.cfr.org/publication/13977 (August
 John R.
Bolton, statement in the U.N. Security Council, February 22,
Security Council, "Peacekeeping Procurement Audit Found
"The Status of United Nations Reform."
 The U.N.
system of one country, one vote is a marked difference from the
voting system of the Bretton Woods institutions
(the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank), which were set up one year before the U.N. The
Bretton Woods institutions have a system of weighted voting, based
on the financial contributions of member countries to the
 Those few
countries for which this amount would be a monumental burden, such
as some small island nations with very small populations, could
have their dues subsidized voluntarily by wealthier nations or
enter into observer status with the right to speak but not vote.
Importantly, should these nations continue as member states, they
should still be required to make a significant contribution to
avoid the free-rider problem. The U.N. member states could also
reduce the burden on poor developing countries and improve the
effectiveness of the organization by shifting funding for U.N.
mandates and activities that are not central to the daily
operations of the Secretariat, General Assembly, and Security
Council. Non-core activities, like the U.N. Human Rights Council,
should be funded through voluntary contributions so that member
states could tailor their financial support to bolster U.N.
activities that perform well and to reduce support for activities
that perform poorly.
 Some have
argued against the cap because the arrears that accumulate when the
U.N. refuses to reduce the U.S. assessment undermine the
willingness of countries to contribute to U.N. peacekeeping
operations. When pressed on this issue during a recent hearing
before the House Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human
Rights, and Oversight, witnesses acknowledged that U.S. arrears
played a minimal role in such decisions for key troop contributors.
For instance, Timothy E. Wirth, president of the United Nations
Foundation and the Better World Fund, noted difficulties in
recruiting U.N. peacekeeping personnel, given the unprecedented
demands with the current number and size of U.N. missions, but
stated, "I am not sure that it is exacerbated now by the deficit
situation [U.S. arrears]." Timothy E. Wirth, in hearing, U.N.
Peacekeeping Forces: A Force Multiplier for the U.S.?
Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and
Oversight, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of
Representatives, 110th Cong., 1st Sess., June 13, 2007, p. 76, at
(August 22, 2007). The U.N. pays the governments of
troop-contributing countries $1,110 per soldier per month of
deployment-an amount that exceeds most countries' costs for
participating in the missions. United Nations Foundation, "Season
of the Blue Helmets," UNF Insights: New Ideas for
International Cooperation, Issue 4, at www.unfoundation.org/features/unf_insights/season_blue_helmets.asp
(February 6, 2007). By contrast, the U.S. Government Accountability
Office estimated that average annual compensation to active-duty
U.S. personnel in 2004 was $112,000 ($9,333 per month). U.S.
Government Accountability Office, Military Personnel: DOD
Needs to Improve the Transparency and Reassess the Reasonableness,
Appropriateness, Affordability, and Sustainability of Its Military
Compensation System, GAO-05-798, July 2005, p. 5, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d05798.pdf
(August 22, 2007). The bottom line is that most developed
countries are not fully compensated when they contribute troops to
U.N. peacekeeping operations-it costs them money to participate. By
contrast, most developing countries that contribute personnel to
U.N. peacekeeping benefit financially. They also use peacekeeping
missions to give their personnel training and experience. As a
result, most major participants in U.N. peacekeeping are from
developing countries. Even if they receive less than anticipated,
most major participants in U.N. peacekeeping realize substantial
benefits and will participate if they have the capacity to do so.
For estimates of personnel expenditures by member states, see U.N.
Department of Disarmament Affairs, "United Nations Instrument for
Reporting Military Expenditures," Web page, at http://disarmament.un.org/cab/milex.html
(August 22, 2007); James Hackett, ed., The Military
Balance 2007, International Institute for Strategic Studies,