U.N. Secretary-General Calls U.S. a ‘Deadbeat’ Donor, Sparking Republican Complaints
March 12, 2009 - 6:58 AMThe U.S. gives more financial support to the United Nations than any other country, but on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the U.S. "the biggest deadbeat" donor.
The U.S. still owes around $1 billion to the world body, Ban told lawmakers. “We cannot do the work you ask us to do without the resources to get the job done,” the U.N. quoted him as telling the House committee.
One Republican at the meeting called Ban’s comments “beyond belief.”
“Last year, American taxpayers ponied up nearly $5 billion for the UN system,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) “The U.S. is by far the world's largest donor to the UN. The U.S. provides other assistance for peacekeeping operations. The U.S. responds to emergency appeals. We are always on deck.
"Yet, the head of the UN comes to Congress and scolds us for not doing enough? He demands yet more money from us while making little progress in cleaning up the badly-broken UN?
"The UN's ineffectiveness is not from a lack of cash, but the result of a corrupt system which wastes money and apologizes for dictatorships,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
According to the Associated Press, Ban issued a statement Wednesday night saying that the U.S. "generously supports the work of the U.N., both in assessed and voluntary contributions" and that he "enjoys an excellent working relationship with the United States and appreciates the many ways that it supports the United Nations."
During his visit to Washington, Ban also met with Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who heads a House global warming panel, and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Around the world, the United Nations is underfunded and overtasked," Kerry said in an appearance with Ban, adding that he and the U.N. chief had talked about the need for the U.S. to meet its financial obligations to the U.N. and to adopt climate legislation this year to make cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Obama administration is more supportive of the United Nations than the Bush administration was.
At her confirmation hearing on Jan. 15, 2009, Susan Rice, President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, said she would attempt to “refresh and renew America’s leadership in the United Nations” and make the U.S. a “responsible, fully engaged partner.”
“To do so,” she said, “we must fulfill our financial obligations while insisting on effective accountability. In the past, our failure to pay all of our dues and to pay them on a timely basis has constrained the UN’s performance and deprived us of the ability to use our influence most effectively to promote reform.”
According to Rice’s testimony, “President-elect Obama believes the U.S. should pay our dues to the UN in full and on time.”
In the past, Congress has passed legislation withholding U.S. dues from the United Nations in an effort to prompt reform at the world body.
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