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13 March 2019
High Alert to Support Full UN Funding
By Stephen F. Moseley, President, UNA-NCA

This week, the Administration presented its Fiscal Year 2020 Proposed Budget to Congress for October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020. The budget proposed will dramatically reduce U.S. support of the core activities of the United Nations by nearly 25% and further proposes even greater reductions and elimination of US support of many of its operational agencies and other specialized agencies. Congressional leaders for foreign affairs policy and appropriations have already stated this week that the proposed budget is "dead on arrival", and that they will fight to ensure that the support for the State Department diplomacy remains strong. Additionally, they wish to secure resources to strengthen the UN and support the U.S. humanitarian and development aid both multilaterally with the UN and bilaterally with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). We need to increase and voice our support to stop such attacks on the budget of the UN and U.S. diplomacy and humanitarian aid.

This marks the third year in a row that the President has called for dramatic cuts in international affairs spending, effectively proposing that the U.S. wash its hands of leadership and responsibility for building peace, aiding the growing numbers of people in desperate poverty and dire health emergencies and instead, lower the U.S. level of support for peacekeeping forces. The budget also proposes a dramatic shift from the balanced effective organization of emergency humanitarian aid, which is carefully articulated between the delivery systems of the UN and the direct aid from USAID, and bureaus of the State Department. The Administration proposed a new agency under U.S. government control, which while sounding like a management improvement, would both jeopardize the global alliances and effective agencies of the UN, likely interfere with collaborative efforts with other major nations, and include a cut back of over 30% in funding of such humanitarian aid from the U.S.  The new agency proposal masquerades as a new effectiveness and efficiency plan, while in fact covering up the reality that this approach will put even more people at risk of starvation, poor health, and economic instability. Such actions are often the very ingredients that fuel terrorism and violence in many parts of the world and undermine national security interests.

The proposals and budget changes would roll back the improvements made in addressing world poverty over the past 25 years. It would place many nations’ plans at risk by lowering education opportunities, especially for girls, increasing the health risks of global pandemics, which cross borders to all countries. The threat to economic stability for many countries in not making advance investments through humanitarian and development aid and maintaining peacebuilding and peacekeeping to prevent wars from spreading or regenerating will only lead to the longer run need for increased resources in the decade ahead.

We know from recent polls that our own U.S. citizens consistently say that maintaining a strong UN and sound investments in American Diplomacy for collaboration with other like-minded countries are sound and essential investments for sustaining democracy and finding peaceful means to resolve and prevent conflict. These international investments in American diplomacy through foreign aid and UN support amount each year to less than 2% of the total U.S. budget and, within that small amount, U.S. funding for the UN programs is less than 1/4 of 1% of the U.S. annual budget. What could be more cost-effective? We also know that if the U.S. Department of Defense had to send U.S. troops to keep peace in the more than 16 UN Peacekeeping Missions operated by forces drawn from other countries, the cost to the U.S. would be more than eight times than it costs currently, and more American lives would be directly at risk.

For several years, UNA-NCA members have joined with other organizations and UNA-USA chapters from across the country to help Congressional Members more fully understand these important funding needs. With many new Members in the 116th Congress, the education about the roles and programs of the UN will be even more critical this year. Our Advocacy Committee has already begun these meetings, and we look forward to more members participating in and supporting this part of our mission.

Please read here the more detailed analysis of the proposed budget prepared by our colleagues from the Better World Campaign. To see an excellent overview of the top program priorities for the UN's work around the world, see their report this month titled "Promoting Peace, Projecting Strength: the U.S. and the UN in 2019."