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House Appropriations Committee Should Reject Measures Recklessly Underfunding UN, Urges Peter Yeo

While FY '14 global health figures are promising, other below-sequestration cuts would endanger programs for children & security

July 23, 2013

As the House Appropriations Committee prepares to vote on foreign operations spending this week, Peter Yeo, executive director of the Better World Campaign and vice president of public policy for the United Nations Foundation warned that current proposals would seriously underfund U.S. international commitments. In some cases the measure, which passed out of subcommittee last week, could endanger programs that safeguard peace and stability. Yeo said:

"The FY'14 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill drastically undercuts funding to the United Nations, below cuts called for through sequestration. While there are some silver linings for global health in the House measure, those actions undercutting our multilateral commitments should be stricken.

"The subcommittee allocated only $745 million to the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account – a low not seen since 1989 – and an amount that is less than half of the President's $1.57 billion request. Further, the proposal zeroes out voluntary funding to a host of UN entities like the UN Development Program (UNDP), UN Women, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) – an organization which is already running out of funds to assist over 3.8 million children inside Syria and around the region.

"The bill does highlight a strong, bipartisan commitment to global health spending, allocating $8.175 billion ($2.505 billion for USAID and $5.67 billion for State Department), a $196 million increase over last year. This bill is a major marker that the U.S. Congress will keep up the fight to eradicate polio and fully fund the U.S. commitments to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and the GAVI Alliance.

"Even so, at a time when we're asking the UN do more with less –; from housing and feeding Syrian refugees, to stabilizing countries terrorized by radical Islamist terrorists – the U.S. simply cannot abandon its treaty commitments and its allies. While over the past several years the U.S. government has prioritized paying our UN dues, this bill would push the U.S. into arrears for the first time since 2008.

"Left unchanged, the House measure threatens to keep the UN from maintaining an already scaled-back operating budget, especially jeopardizing essential work at agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"The jeopardized UN regular budget also finances UN political missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Following the departure of American soldiers from Iraq and the ongoing drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, these UN missions, for which other countries pay almost 80 percent of the tab, have taken on even more essential roles in stabilizing both countries.

"In addition, the bill reduces funding to the Contributions to International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA) account and includes no funding for the new peacekeeping mission in Mali. This mission was promoted by the United States in the UN Security Council, as stability in the region is in our interest; three Americans have already lost their lives to a terrorist plot hatched in Mali. The United States applauded when our allies committed to sending their troops far from their homes and into harm's way, but now we are thinking about abandoning them in their fight by not funding the mission.

"We appreciate the hard work from Chairwoman Kay Granger and Ranking Member Nita Lowey to find solutions in a tough fiscal climate. However, reducing UN funding and imperiling programs that advance American foreign policy objectives will not solve our nation's fiscal challenges. Rather, it could compound them in the long run by creating greater instability in key countries and regions that we will have to address at greater cost in the future.

"While these global health figures are promising, the proposal's cuts to UN funding present serious concerns. At this first step in the FY '14 appropriations process, we look forward to working with Congress towards a bill that fully funds the United Nations and thus the U.S. ability to stand up for American interests and values around the world."

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