President Bush and our obligation to the United Nations
President Bush tried to foist his views on abortion on the world and the world has reacted by voting the United States off the UN Human Rights Commission. Now the Legislature has decided to blackmail the UN by withholding payments that are long overdue. And the President correctly says we should pay our back dues.
Well it is my hope the the President has learned a lesson: not to be so self righteous and arrogant in dealing with the rest of the world. Americans enjoy unprecedented wealth and are currently using 25% of the world's energy. 300 million people using one fourth of the world's energy and 5,700 million people using the other 75%.
The members of the United Nations have sent a message to the United States and some of us are too arrogant to listen. We need to lead by example not by blackmail. We need to pay the amount we have promised to pay. And we need to consider that maybe the rest of the world has a legitimate issue with the United States.
May 10, 2001
House Freezes U.N. Dues Over Rights Snub
By John Whitesides
WASHINGTON (May 10) - The House struck back at the United Nations on Thursday, freezing the final payment of U.S. arrears to the world body until the United States regains its lost seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
Brushing aside objections from the White House, the chamber voted 252-165 to condition the third and last arrears payment -- of $244 million, due next year -- on Washington's return to the Geneva-based commission.
The measure does not affect this year's $582 million arrears payment, protecting it from a wave of outrage in Congress over last week's vote to remove the United States from the 53-member U.N. Human Rights Commission.
Supporters said the measure was a modest compromise that allowed Congress to register its anger over the U.N. snub without unraveling a long-sought 1999 deal that allows payment of the U.S. arrears in exchange for a lowering of U.S. dues and peacekeeping contributions.
The measure, attached to a bill that authorizes fiscal 2002 and 2003 spending for the State Department and related agencies, gives U.N. members time to return the United States to the commission next year, they said.
WARNING TO ''OUR U.N. FRIENDS''
''Actions have consequences. Our U.N. friends have an option -- if they would like to get the payment, they will vote the United States back on the commission,'' said Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the ranking Democrat on the House International Relations Committee and co-sponsor of the proposal with the committee's chairman, Republican Rep. Henry Hyde of Illinois.
But opponents said Washington should not use its debts as bargaining chips and should not punish the United Nations for the U.N. Economic and Social Council's vote elevating France, Austria and Sweden to the commission's three open slots for Western nations.
''The deal we agreed to was to pay our dues,'' said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat. ''It's wrong for us to turn around and change the rules.''
The payments had been the subject of a contentious dispute that frayed relations between Washington and the United Nations for years. They struck a deal in 1999 promising payment of the arrears in exchange for reduced U.N. dues and peacekeeping assessments.
The Senate approved the pending $582 million payment earlier this year but has not addressed next year's $244 million payment. Differences between the Senate and House measures will be worked out in a joint negotiating committee.
WHITE HOUSE POSITION
The Bush administration urged Congress Wednesday not to link the payments to the dispute over the human rights commission, saying that doing so could damage the United States' influence and standing in international organizations.
A series of Democratic speakers said they were astounded to find themselves in agreement with the Republican president.
''How can we expect the United Nations to improve its performance or respect us if we go back on our word and refuse to pay our bills?'' asked Rep. Cynthia McKinney, a Georgia Democrat.
Some congressional Democrats have blamed the administration of President Bush for the surprise U.S. loss, saying it has ignored the world body and angered key friends.
Supporters of the Hyde-Lantos measure said the move was payback for outspoken U.S. support of human rights worldwide, calling it outrageous that the United States had lost its seat on a commission that included some of the world's most egregious human rights violators.
''We will not turn the other cheek as the Sudans and Libyas of the world declare the United States unfit to serve on the Human Rights Commission,'' Lantos said.
The House will continue debate on the State Department bill next week, when it will battle over language that would reverse Bush's ban on providing U.S. funds to family planning groups that perform or advocate abortions overseas. Hyde plans to offer an amendment eliminating that provision.