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U.S. Support for the United Nations: Engagement, Innovation and Renewal

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U.S. Support for the United Nations: Engagement, Innovation and Renewal

September 6, 2000

At the start of a new Century and a new Millennium, the UN remains a critical instrument for the advancement of important U.S. foreign policy objectives.

U.S. Engagement with the United Nations. The United States is the largest supporter of the UN, which is involved in critical issues relating to peace and security, humanitarian assistance, development and health. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2000, the United States will have contributed about $500 million to UN peacekeeping, some $565 million to UN and development-related agencies and about $1 billion to UN humanitarian agencies. The United States also contributes military observers or police officers to seven UN missions, and U.S. troops work in cooperation with UN operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor.

The Clinton Administration worked closely with the U.S. Congress to secure enactment of UN arrears legislation in November 1999, which appropriates $926 million to pay U.S. arrears to the United Nations in three tranches. The Clinton Administration is working with the UN members to enact the institutional reforms that will permit the full payment of this appropriation.

U.S. Support for Innovation at the UN. The United States has promoted innovation efforts designed to equip the UN to meet the challenges of the new Century. These include:

  • Peacekeeping. The Clinton Administration supports the major recommendations of the Secretary General's blue-ribbon panel on peacekeeping reform, such as improved UN planning capacity, better training and equipment for UN troops operating in uncertain environments and greater efforts to develop the building blocks for political transitions -- judicial institutions, electoral systems, economic development -- so that the end of war can be turned into lasting peace. The Clinton Administration has been working hard to promote such enhancements through initiatives to train peacekeepers from African countries, to the provision worldwide of more than 800 civilian police (the largest contingent in the UN)-- who are critical to ensuring community-level protection of civilians in post-conflict environments -- to short-term transitional aid and longer term development assistance through the U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • Accountability. The United States is the largest contributor to the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and has strongly supported establishment of special courts for Cambodia and Sierra Leone.
  • Human Dimension of Security Issues. The United States has successfully pressed the UN Security Council and other UN institutions to recognize more effectively the human dimension of security issues. The U.S. focus on HIV/AIDS and the exploitation of women and children has cast a light on a previously ignored dimension of human suffering, and the United States is leading international efforts to enhance funding and support to fight infectious diseases.

U.S. Support for Renewal of the UN. The United States has led efforts to improve the institutional capacity of the UN to do its job. The United States strongly supported the establishment of an Office of Internal Oversight at the UN, which has worked to promote greater efficiency. Through such efforts, the organization has cut its budget by about $100 million over six years and reduced its staff by about 1,000 over the past four years. There is more to be done, and the Clinton Administration is seeking additional institutional reforms through improvements in human resource management, budgeting by objective and other means.

The United States also strongly supports efforts to reform UN assessments and put the UN's finances on a more secure footing, as the current assessment regime is largely outdated and does not reflect the current capacity or responsibilities of UN members. The United States has gained support among many UN Members for such reform, designed to better equip the UN to meet the challenges of the new Century.

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