U.S. Money, U.N. Budgets

Sisyphus might have preferred his eternal labor with the boulder to attempting to reform the United Nations. Florida representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, is having a go it nonetheless with her U.N. Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act, which deserves the support of all the Republican presidential candidates. It is meant to allow us to better track how our dollars are spent at the United Nations and to tie U.S. contributions to our policy goals.

Historically, U.S. diplomacy has succeeded in achieving some of the easier reforms. But the tougher U.N. reforms have been forthcoming only when Congress has withheld or threatened to withhold funding. The United States contributes a quarter of the U.N.’s budget but is entitled to only one vote on how it is spent. It is thus unsurprising both that budget constraint and management reforms are of more interest to the United States than to most other members, and that withholding funds is our strongest leverage in forcing structural change at Turtle Bay.

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