Index of "US Mission to the UN Press Releases"
Index of "Intl. Organizations and Conferences" ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
U.S. Department of State
96/01/25 USUN Press Relase #008-(96)
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE USUN PRESS RELEASE #008-(96)
CHECK TEXT AGAINST DELIVERY JANUARY 25, 1996
Statement by David E. Birenbaum, United States Representative for United
Nations Management and Reform, in the High-Level, Open-Ended Working
Group on the Financial Situation of the United Nations, January 25, 1996
Mr. Chairman, we are very pleased that this critical Working Group is
again under the able direction of you and Ambassador des Iles.
Yesterday, Under-Secretary-General Connor gave us a sobering assessment
of the organization's financial situation. As he mentioned, the
shortfall in cash receipts is severe. Both in 1993 and 1994, my
government paid more than one billion dollars in UN assessments. By
contrast, In 1995 and so far in 1996, we have been able to make only
smaller partial payments because of the unresolved situation regarding
the U.S. government's budget.
The Clinton Administration remains firmly committed to seeing that U.S.
obligations to the UN are met. As President Clinton said in his address
to the General Assembly in October: "I am determined that we must fully
meet our obligations, and I am working with our Congress on a plan to do
The problem of payment goes well beyond the U.S. As Mr. Connor noted,
only about half the member states paid their regular contributions in
full by the end of 1995. A far smaller number paid their peacekeeping
assessments in full. And 22 member states made no payment at all for
the regular budget. This pattern is not unique to 1995; it has
prevailed for a number of years including those in which the U.S. made
Mr. Chairman, this record sends a clear, consistent and compelling
message -- to regain the confidence of its member states, the UN must
reform. We dare not ignore that message. And we aren't.
-- This working group is examining, among other issues, whether the
scales of assessment should be reformed so as to assure that they fairly
apportion the costs of this organization and do so in a transparent
manner. Along with many other states, we strongly believe such a reform
is long overdue.
-- Last month, the General Assembly approved a no-growth budget that
constitutes a legislative mandate for reform. It will go far to make
the UN a more efficient and effective organization.
-- Other working groups are engaged in reviewing virtually all aspects
of the UN's operations and structure--the Security Council, the General
Assembly, ECOSOC and the Secretariat included. Their goal is to
revitalize, reform and strengthen the UN and the UN system.
In short, we are engaged this year in the most sweeping process of
reform and change in the UN's history. The stakes are very high. We
must succeed in this the 50th Anniversary session to lay the foundation
for the UN of the 21st Century. There is no other choice.
Ambassador Keating of New Zealand said it well in his statement here
yesterday: This is the only way to rebuild the political will needed to
restore the financial well being of our organization.
We congratulate the European Union for submitting a carefully-devised
proposal for resolving the financial crisis, and we look forward to
discussing it. We find constructive the changes proposed for the
regular budget scale regarding base period, GNP, floor rate, scheme of
limits, relief for low-income countries and automatic adjustment. On
the peacekeeping scale, we support the proposed replacement of the
current rigid and anachronistic group structure by a sliding scale of
relief for those that truly need it.
Our overriding objection to the EU's scale proposal is that the U.S.
peacekeeping rate would be over the 25 percent limit required by U.S.
law. As member states are aware, the US has been barred from paying at
a rate in excess of 25 percent since October 1, 1995 when the law took
effect. We believe that 25 percent is the maximum any single nation
should be required to pay. We believe also that such a limit is
important to make it clear that the organization is a common enterprise
in which all member states have a stake.
Regarding the other elements of the European Union's proposal, as we
have stated on previous occasions, the United States generally favors
incentives and strongly opposes disincentives or penalties. We agree
with others that no system of incentives or penalties can substitute for
the political will of member states to meet their obligations to the UN
in full and on time. More importantly, punitive measures will have the
opposite effect -- they will erode support for the UN and undermine our
efforts to secure the funds to pay our arrears.
We have taken note of the suggestion yesterday by Ambassador Owada of
Japan of a fixed collective surcharge for the permanent members of the
Security Council and are considering it further.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to comment on the subject of Other
Financial Mechanisms, which is included as Item I.B in the Compendium of
Views that was prepared for our work. This is an issue that, as some of
you know, has received much attention this past week. My government
does not believe that the funding problems of the UN can or should be
addressed by the imposition of new taxes. The United States is strongly
opposed to such taxing schemes. Proposals of this type are not useful
because they are wholly impractical and because they divert attention
from the central issue. The best way to ensure adequate and predictable
funding for the UN system is through reforms which result in a fair
system of financing, which reduce overall costs and which focus the UN's
efforts and limited resources on high-priority activities. Thank you.
To the top of this page