UN dismay over Capitol Hill plan to cut funding

Republican plans to cut US contributions to the United Nations are sowing near-panic among national delegations at the UN. The debate on the "National Security Revitalisation Act" opened yesterday on the floor of the House of Representatives. If carried out to the letter, the measure could bring the UN's entire peace-keeping edifice tumbling down.

The House version of the law was expected to be adopted last night or today. At the heart of the legislation, which was promised to voters as part of the Speaker, Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America", is a pledge to cut back US contributions to UN peace-keeping. Specifically, it would oblige the administration to deduct from its UN contributions any money it is spending unilaterally to bolster peace-keeping operations.

"The legislation is a conversation-stopper quite frankly," a senior European diplomat remarked yesterday. "I don't see how the peace-keeping arrangements could continue." Kofi Annan, the UN Under Secretary-General in charge of peace-keeping, this week broke a diplomatic silence on the subject. "It will be extremely difficult for us if the funds are not forthcoming," he said. "I hope that after the issues have been thoroughly discussed, Congress will come to the conclusion that peace-keeping must be strengthened, not weakened."

The Clinton administration has been in high-gear for several weeks to try to deflect the Republican majority from its course. Two days ago, both the Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, and the Defense Secretary, William Perry, wrote a joint article in the New York Times, suggesting the law would "effectively abrogate our treaty obligation to pay our share of peace-keeping missions agreed in the Security Council", and, "end peace- keeping overnight".

There is little optimism in New York, however, that the administration is making much headway. Some solace is taken from a pledge from the White House to veto the legislation. But it is not certain that a presidential veto would escape an override in Congress.

Especially infuriating for other countries is the notion that it is just the US that pays more for peace-keeping than is reflected in the UN books. Britain spent three times its UN-assessed contribution on peace-keeping between 1992 and 1994.

"The idea that the Americans should be weeping gently in the corner of the public bar of the pub because they are unduly disadvantaged is a load of hogwash. They are not alone," commented one official.

The cost of UN peace-keeping escalated after 1990 when the year's bill was only $270m (£174m). By last year it had reached $3.19bn. Moreover, because of a historical bias that demands that richer countries contribute disproportionately, the US was called upon last year to pay 31.7 per cent of the peace-keeping bill. Britain's share is 6.57 per cent.

Even before the Republicans took control of Capitol Hill, Congress last year passed a separate law requiring that the US share of peace-keeping costs not be allowed to exceed 25 per cent. That measure alone, scheduled to come into effect in October, will leave a hole in UN operations.

The Security Council continues to approve new peace-keeping operations; in the past month it gave the go-ahead for missions to both Haiti and Angola.

The approaching cash crisis could prompt United Nations members to jump- start negotiations to expand the permanent membership of the Security Council with an eye in particular on offering seats to Japan and Germany, the two countries considered most likely to be in a position to increase their peace-keeping contributions.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Graphic Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An In-house Graphic Designer is required to wo...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Service Engineer - Vehicles

£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's premier supplie...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate