$2,957,000,000: U.S. Taxpayers Will Fund Lion’s Share of UN Budget Again in 2016

By Patrick Goodenough | December 27, 2015 | 11:30 PM EST

United Nations member-states’ flags fly at U.N. headquarters in New York City. (U.N. Photo by J.C. McIlwaine)

(CNSNews.com) – American taxpayers will once again be liable for more than one-fifth of the United Nations’ regular budget next year, as well as more than one-quarter of the much-larger peacekeeping budget – a total of approximately $2,957,000,000.

The U.N. General Assembly just before Christmas approved a regular operating budget of $5.4 billion for the 2016-17 period. (That budget is calculated biannually.) Of the $2.7 billion earmarked for 2016, the U.S. will account for 22 percent, or $594 million.

Of the separate peacekeeping budget – $8.27 billion for the year ending June 30 – the U.S. is liable for 28.5783 percent, or $2.363 billion. Combined, the two U.S. contributions amount to just under $3 billion.

In actual fact the full extent of U.S. funding for the U.N. system will be considerably more than that: The $2.957 billion figure comprises the U.S. “assessed contributions” to the two main budgets, but the U.S. in addition provides much more in “voluntary contributions” to a range of U.N. agencies.

(The last time the administration was obliged by law to provide Congress with a full breakdown, the total for fiscal year 2010 was $7.69 billion. The reporting requirement fell away in 2011.)

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power tweeted her congratulations to the U.S. team involved in committee haggling over the budget – or what she described as “tough negotiations to secure more fair UN budget to slow growing costs & take steps to streamline UN ops.”

While the U.S. rate of 22 percent remains unchanged in the latest approved “scale of assessments” – the formula determining how much each member-state pays – one major shift this year affects China, which will now be liable for a substantially bigger proportion of the total budget, although still far behind that of the U.S.

China’s assessment for the regular budget has jumped from 5.148 percent to 7.921 percent, meaning China will now be the third biggest contributor to that budget ($213 million for next year) – after the U.S. at 22 percent ($594 million) and Japan at 9.68 percent ($261 million).

China was previously in sixth place, behind the U.S., Japan, Germany, France and Britain.

Of the peacekeeping budget, China will move to the second highest assessment – 10.28 percent – behind only the U.S. at the significantly higher 28.5783 percent. Japan drops from second to third place.

Japan is the biggest beneficiary of the increased obligation for China. Tokyo’s 9.68 percent of the regular budget is the first time its contribution has fallen below 10 percent since the 1980s.

The U.N. Security Council meets in New York. China and Russia, permanent members of the Security Council, have long paid much less in contributions to the world body than non-permanent members Japan and Germany. (UN Photo/Loey Felipe, File)

Unlike China, Japan is not a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and has long resented paying much more for the U.N.’s upkeep than China and Russia, despite the fact China and Russia enjoy far more sway as a result of their permanent member status and accompanying veto power. (Adding to the sting for Japan is the fact that Beijing has been the single biggest opponent of a permanent Security Council seat for its regional rival.)

Chinese officials hailed the shift as a reflection of their country’s rising global role. Deputy ambassador to the U.N. Wang Min called it “an important sign that its international influence has increased greatly.”

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang called the move “natural, as China becomes world’s second-largest economy.”

“As a responsible major country and a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China will contribute in full and on time what it is obligated to financially, shoulder its special responsibility as a permanent member of the Security Council in sharing the peacekeeping cost, and support the U.N. in playing a bigger role in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development,” he said.

Controversy

As reported previously, according to data compiled by the conservative Heritage Foundation, American taxpayers’ share of the U.N. regular budget exceeds that paid by their counterparts in 176 other U.N. member-states, combined; while the U.S. proportion of the peacekeeping budget is bigger than that contributed by 185 other countries, combined.

There are 193 U.N. member-states. When decisions are made on the U.N. budget, the U.S. has the same (one) vote as does every other member, despite the size of its contribution. America’s 22 percent contribution comes with no more weight in the budget process than the 0.001 percent paid by the lowest-assessed nations.

The U.N. General Assembly’s various budgetary decisions passed last week without a hitch – and mostly without recorded votes – although a measure relating to the controversial doctrine known as “responsibility to protect” (R2P) was contentious.

(Endorsed by U.N. member-states in 2005, the “R2P” concept says that that governments must protect their people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.

Where a government fails to do so, the international community can take steps including the dispatch of a U.N. envoy, the imposition of Security Council sanctions and the threat of International Criminal Court prosecution. If those measures fail, the Security Council may approve military action, as a last resort.)

Cuba’s delegate objected to a budgetary item relating to a U.N. Special Advisor on the RTP, saying the matter should be set aside until governments are in agreement over the concept – which the Castro regime wants to include an explicit recognition of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in countries’ internal affairs.

Amendments proposed by Cuba were supported by Iran, Syria and Nicaragua, but opposed by the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

When the matter was put to a recorded vote, Cuba’s amendments were rejected by 74 votes to 12, with 58 abstentions.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow