United Nations Foundation President Senator Timothy E. Wirth today issued the following statement regarding the House of Representatives passage of the United Nations Reform Act of 2005 by a vote of 221 to 184:
“I am disappointed by today’s vote in the House of Representatives in favor of the so-called United Nations Reform Act. Although this bill does contain reform measures that will help make the UN more effective and accountable, many of which the UN has already initiated, it also includes counterproductive provisions that would automatically withhold U.S. payment of dues to the UN and undermine meaningful reform. The U.S. has gone down this flawed path before, incurring more than a billion dollars in arrears to the UN, impairing the ability of the UN to do its job and making other countries less willing to work with the U.S. We should not make this mistake again.
“Fortunately, the Bush Administration and a bipartisan group of former U.S. ambassadors to the UN have spoken out strongly against coupling UN reform and withholding dues provisions. They know that to achieve constructive UN reform we must use our diplomatic strength to build coalitions and consensus. It is crucial that we work with our allies to create a UN for the 21st century which is better prepared to address today’s international challenges such as nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran, nation-building in Iraq, and stopping the genocide and violence in Sudan.
“I encourage the U.S. Senate to follow the lead of the Administration and our former UN ambassadors. Let’s make the UN more effective and accountable and continue to honor our commitment and pay our dues.
“Prior to the vote on the bill, the House rejected 190-216 an alternative from Reps. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Chris Shays (R-CT) which detailed similar reforms without tying them to the automatic withholding of U.S. dues.”
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations’ causes. The UN Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the UN. Through its grant making and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the UN Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.