The United Nations’ Message to U.S.: We Welcome Your Money, but Leave Your Ideas at the Door

Would you donate money to an organization or institution whose values and objectives were mostly contrary to your core beliefs and values?  Say you agreed with the organization’s actions only 31.7 percent of the time.  Would you want to send them a big fat check in the mail?

We can safely assume the answer is ‘no.’

As of 2001, over a 28 year period, the UN consensus votes have gone our way only 31.7 percent of the time, according to State Department statistics.  Yet, amazingly, there were (and are) still some who posit that U.S. involvement in the U.N. has been extremely advantageous for our country.  They praise our “leadership role at the U.N.” and the decades of “close cooperation” at the U.N. between the U.S. and the international community. 

That seems like a stretch, but reasonable minds can differ…

The U.S. relationship with the U.N. has certainly benefitted the latter party.  But if the numbers mean anything, the same cannot be said of the U.S.

Here’s how.

Since the organization’s founding, the U.S. has been the largest financial supporter of the U.N.  Yet, the funding does not translate into having a meaningful say at the U.N.:

“The 129 least-assessed countries together pay about 1 percent of the U.N. budget, and yet constitute a two-thirds majority of member nations. They can pass the U.N. budget over the objection of the U.S.”

Heritage’s Brett Schaefer does not take this lightly:

“The disconnect between influence and budgetary responsibilities is pernicious. The U.N. budget has more than doubled over the past decade, as U.S. reform efforts have been ignored, undermined, or reversed.”

More recently, Schafer has called for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  It’s not because he’s some evil guy who hates education, science, and culture but because UNESCO granted membership to the Palestinian Authority.  This does not send the right message to our ally, Israel; not that the Obama administration seems concerned with sending the right message to Israel.

This was not an isolated bad call.  Among other embarrassments, in 2001, “UNESCO elected Syria to the organization’s human rights committee in 2011 despite evidence that it was slaughtering its own citizens.”  Yet, President Obama is still eager to fund them.  This is especially appalling in light of where the funding actually goes.  Shaefer notes that over 82 percent of UNESCO’s 2012-2013 budget “was dedicated to staff costs, travel, and general operating expenses. That leaves very little for actual physical projects on the ground.”

Shaefer lies to rest any remaining doubt that there’s any good reason for supporting UNESCO.  President Reagan withdrew the U.S. from UNESCO in 1984 “because of its poor management and hostility to ‘basic institutions of a free society, especially a free market and a free press.’”  It rejoined in 2003 not because the U.S. would benefit in any way, but because of reforms to the organization.

Some lawmakers have already opposed President Obama in his efforts to change the law regarding funding for UNESCO, and they should continue to do so.


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