Index of "Bureau of International Organizations Press Releases and Statements"
Index of "Intl. Organizations and Conferences" ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
95/03/23 TESTIMONY: D. BENNET ON FY 1996 BUDGET ESTIMATES
BUREAU FOR INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AFFAIRS
DOUGLAS J. BENNET, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
THE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
COMMERCE, JUSTICE, STATE, THE JUDICIARY AND
FY 1996 BUDGET ESTIMATES
CONTRIBUTIONS TO INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES AND CONTINGENCIES
MARCH 23, 1995
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to discuss with you this
morning the Administration's request for assessed contributions to
international organizations and conferences. The investments proposed
advance a wide range of vital U.S. foreign policy objectives, including
promoting peace, strengthening democratic institutions, and fostering
economic growth and sustainable development.
Our participation in the fifty agencies and programs presented here
today contributes to maintaining our influence in a wide range of
critical arenas; to promoting our values of democracy, human rights and
free markets; and to helping hundreds of millions of people improve
their condition. Our contributions enable us to share costs and risks
with others. They ultimately return significant dividends to the
Whether we mail a letter overseas, fight drugs, track typhoons, sell
American goods, or seek allies in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, one
or more of the United Nations and other international agencies are
involved. Our active leadership, together with that of the private
sector and other agency partners in a number of international commodity
organizations supported by this account such as the International Wheat
Council helps protect our trading interests in the global market place.
Every time we take an airplane outside our borders, we can be reassured
as to aircraft reliability and to air traffic safety through our
membership in the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The fifty agencies in this account are an alphabet soup of acronyms, but
the soup is chocked full of healthful ingredients. Organizations such
as the ITU (the International Telecommunications Union) and the UPU (the
Universal Postal Union) were established in the 19th Century long before
the UN, when the United States as an emerging economic power needed
predictable ways to reach other nations. These organizations have kept
up with the times and are essential to us today in the fields of modern
telecommunications and the rapid transfer of information across the
borders of the world.
The UN Secretariat, the Security Council and certain agencies like the
Human Rights Commission account for our largest assessment other than
peacekeeping. The UN has been around for fifty years. There is no
conceivable scenario for the next fifty years in which U.S. interests
will not be best served by a healthy UN--a meaningful political forum,
an instrument that can help keep the peace, and an entity that affirms
human rights and other standards on a global basis.
Mr. Chairman, large numbers of Americans benefit directly from these
organizations and most support cooperation through the UN. Recent
public opinion surveys consistently demonstrate that a sizeable majority
of the population endorse the humanitarian, economic and security
objectives of the UN. According to a CBS/New York Times poll last year,
77% believe the United Nations is contributing to world peace, and 89%
say the U.S. should cooperate with other countries through the UN.
Americans are pragmatic. They see evidence in their daily lives that
the world is increasingly interdependent. The plagues of the modern
age--drugs, terrorism, pollution and epidemic disease--respect no
borders. Our workers, farmers and business people understand this
reality very well because they compete in the global market every day.
The UN and many of its parts need reinvention for different times, just
like national governments. Some encouraging reinvention of the UN is
now going on under the American Under Secretary General for Management,
Joseph Conner, and with the implementation of the the U.S.-initiated
Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The management problems of the UN are partly a legacy of the Cold War
and North-South confrontation. They are partly a result of bureaucratic
ineptitude and sometimes fraud. Some arise from the fact that the UN
agencies are complex international organizations that the world asks to
accomplish complex tasks. And some result from failures of stewardship
by member governments all too often more content with patronage politics
and getting even than with getting results.
Under the Clinton Administration we are trying something different--the
pursuit of efficient, good government. We are clarifying U.S.
objectives in all of the UN institutions and working with others on
governing boards to set clear priorities so we can hold management
accountable for results. We are demanding transparency. We are
examining the structure and processes of all the major agencies,
particularly with regard to adequate inspection and oversight. To a
considerable degree, the UN reinvention buck stops on my desk, and I
will be happy to tell the Committee in more detail how we hope to make
real gains in effectiveness.
As I have indicated, the CIO account comprises fifty international
organizations engaged in predominantly technical, normative, and trade
activities. As you know, all of these agencies for many years have been
held to "zero real growth" which accounts for inflation but requires
that new activities displace old ones. For most organizations, our
assessment is capped at 25%. The FY 96 request of $934,057,000
represents full funding of our international obligations to these
organizations consistent with statutory restrictions. This amount
reflects an increase of $61,936,000 over FY 95, of which $46,211,000 is
contained in the UN line item. $15,312,000 of this change in the UN
estimate is due to an increase in the net U.S. assessment in FY 96
resulting primarily from mandatory cost increases. Most of the
remaining $30,899,000 reflects a one-time adjustment between FY 94 and
FY 95 payments. This adjustment resulted in the line item for the UN in
FY 95 understating the actual requirements for the year and,
consequently, overstating the real increase in the UN assessment for FY
Because of budget constraints, the FY 96 request does not include any
funding for the payment of arrearages which currently total about
$218,570,000; however, the Administration is committed to paying these
treaty obligations in future years, for our leadership in the
international community is obviously related to the fulfillment of our
The agencies supported by this request can be grouped into the following
four categories: those in the UN system; several important Inter-
American Organizations; Regional Organizations; and other international
organizations primarily concerned with international trade. Being so
diverse and covering every aspect of our life and well-being on this
small planet, I would like to touch on a few representative
organizations, but would welcome your questions on any and all of the
others as well.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Our contributions to the UN
system's International Atomic Energy Agency serve to protect Americans
from the insidious danger posed by nuclear proliferation. The IAEA
administers a unique system of international safeguards to deter the
diversion of material and equipment for nuclear explosive purposes, and,
in so doing makes a major contribution to international peace and
security. Today, IAEA applies safeguards on nuclear materials and
technology at some 822 locations in 61 countries around the globe.
World Meteorological Organization (WMO): One of the smaller agencies of
the UN, the World Meteorological Organization exemplifies how
interdependent we are on the free flow of information essential to the
well-being of our citizens. Through a world-wide, coordinated network
of stations, telecommunications systems and forecasting centers, the WMO
supplies such essential information to the U.S. Weather Service for use
in the development of weather forecasts and warnings. This information
is also of direct benefit to American aviation, shipping and
World Health Organization (WHO): The World Health Organization is one
of the larger organizations of the UN responsible for technical
assistance and the setting of standards and disease treatment protocols
for the international health community. WHO's progress in controlling
diseases, such as the eradication of smallpox, protecting us from the
spread of infectious diseases and working very closely with our Center
for Disease Control and HHS in combating HIV/AIDs, all are important
benefits to the health and well-being of Americans whether in the U.S.
or traveling abroad.
As part of our reinventing the UN strategy, the U.S. in cooperation with
other members of the WHO governing board has gained agreement on
shifting approximately $40 million in planned expenditures from low
priority activities to those of high priority.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): The Food and Agriculture
Organization is also one of the oldest and largest of the UN Specialized
Agencies. The FAO enhances international trade in agricultural and
fisheries products through the development of international standards
and food safety measures. FAO also protects U.S. agriculture from
potential losses of billions of dollars through plant, pest, and animal
disease control programs. Codex Alimentarius, jointly sponsored by FAO
and WHO, sets international food product safety and quality standards,
protecting the health of American consumers.
Organization of American States (OAS): The Organization of American
States promotes democracy and political stability on our continent and
in South America. Led by a dynamic new Secretary General and coming off
of the recent success of the Summit of the Americas, the OAS is well
placed to help advance the democratization and development of such
nations as Guatemala, Nicaragua, Suriname and Haiti. The OAS also
directly assists us in narcotics education and control, in environmental
protection and regional trade. Our assessed contribution contained in
the CIO request would give OAS the means to continue this vital work.
The end result for the U.S. will be more stable and prosperous neighbors
that are better able to import our goods and less pressure from
As I have mentioned several important commodity organizations are
supported by our contribution such as the International Rubber
Organization, the International Cotton Advisory Committee, and the
International Tropical Timber Organization where our leadership and
participation is important in establishing standards to promote rule
based, nondiscriminatory global trade regimes in key commodities.
World Trade Organization (WTO): The World Trade Organization is the
centerpiece of this aspect of our international relations. Created as
an outcome of the GATT Uruguay Round negotiations, active U.S.
participation is critical to advancing liberalization of world trade,
thus opening new markets for U.S. goods and services. The WTO will
assume the functions of the GATT as the foremost intergovernmental forum
for examining trade issues and resolving trade disputes.
Other international agencies supported under this request promote world
tourism, the preservation of historic sites and cancer research. With
regard to the latter, The International Agency for Research on Cancer
(IARC), while comparatively small as indicated by our $1.7 million
request (approximately 9% of the Agency's income), plays a vital role in
bringing U.S. cancer researchers together with those counterparts from a
wide range of countries, especially those not readily accessible to U.S.
officials. Such collaboration on research goals supplements in a
critical way cancer research done by U.S. experts, particularly through
IARC's evaluation of the environmental causes of cancer.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES AND CONTINGENCIES
Mr. Chairman, the FY 96 request of $6 million for international
conferences and contingencies is the same level as in FY 95. This
account provides funds to finance and control the United States'
participation in international meetings some of which are associated
with the CIO account. Funds cover the travel, per diem and
administrative costs of accredited U.S. delegates, and representation.
This appropriation is used also to fund and manage domestic hostships
such as the recent Columbus Ohio UNCTAD Symposium on Trade and last
year's Seattle APEC Ministerial where American technology was
highlighted. Currently, we are working on a major ITU conference
scheduled for 1998 where we expect to show case the U.S.
Telecommunications industry to hundreds of foreign markets.
In FY 96 it is expected that the U.S. will send delegations to some 600
meetings down from over 800 meetings in the early 1980's. The account
provides the means to get our key experts to meetings of the IAEA, NATO,
the OECD and the WTO as well as to a number of other important technical
conferences, where U.S. leadership is critical.
We have taken steps to reduce costs of our participation in
international meetings by limiting the number of accredited to delegates
to 10 in all but a few exceptional cases. In fact about 25% of our
official representation to international meetings consists of only 1 or
2 accredited experts. In Geneva one of the key international conference
centers, the number of conference days supported by this program has
dropped from over 1,500 in 1991 to less than 1,300 in 1994.
I take great pride in the efficiency and transparency of our Office of
International Conferences and would be happy to answer any questions
about its programs.
I will conclude my statement, Mr. Chairman, with the fact that we in
America pay an average of seven dollars apiece for our share of the
annual cost of the UN system: for everything from blue helmets for
peacekeeping to polio vaccines for babies. The sums are modest, the
burden is shared and the benefits are real.
Today, we have an historic opportunity, in the words of Secretary of
State Warren Christopher to "build and renew the lasting relationships,
structures and institutions that advance America's enduring interests."
Among these are the international organizations which I have reviewed
with you this morning and which are no longer paralyzed by Cold War
rivalry, or held back by artificial divisions between north and south.
These institutions can be whatever their members choose to make them.
This is especially welcome news for us, because the international
political climate is more favorable to American interests and values,
more inclined towards promoting democracy, open markets and human rights
than it has ever been. What is needed is the sustained yet committed
international engagement that our FY 1996 budget request will support.
To the top of this page