The Key to Changing the United Nations System (National Secu…

The Key to Changing the United Nations System (National Secu...

Core funding for most UN agencies (“regular budget”) and nearly all peacekeeping activities typically comes from “assessed,” or “mandatory,” contributions, a system under which members’ shares are calculated based on a so-called capacity-to-pay formula that is adjusted periodically to take into account changes in per-capita gross national income and other factors. (1) Significantly, however, decisions on budgets and programs by the General Assembly and the governing bodies of the galaxy of specialized UN agencies are made on the basis of “one country, one vote” no matter what share of the assessments any member government pays. (2) Not surprisingly, governments that pay comparatively low assessments but receive comparatively high benefits have combined repeatedly to create and fund programs that inure to their benefit. Under this system, the United States was “assessed” 22 percent of UN regular budgets in 2007 and just over 26 percent in the case of peacekeeping. (3) Each of the UN’s 191 other member governments pays a far lower rate of assessment than the United States. Japan was the second-largest contributor to the UN regular budget in 2007, paying 16.6 percent, followed by Germany at 8.6 percent. Permanent UN Security Council member Britain was the fourth-largest contributor at 6.6 percent, followed by fellow European permanent Security Council member France at 6.3 percent. The other two permanent members of the Security Council, China and Russia, paid 2.7 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. Thus, the United States paid 25 percent more in regular-budget assessments than the combined totals of the other four permanent members of the Security Council. The forty-three lowest-paying UN member governments, each assessed 0.001 percent for the regular budget in 2007, together pay a whopping 0.043 percent of the total UN regular budget. The 128 lowest-paying governments pay a combined 1.064 percent of the budget. By contrast, the sixteen countries that each pay annual, regularbudget assessments of over 1 percent contributed, in the aggregate, 85.4 percent of the UN’s budget in 2007.

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