U.S. Senate votes to fully back U.N. peacekeeping
Fri Jun 23, 2006 5:50 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate has agreed to let the United States pay its full share of U.N. peacekeeping costs, which would stop a buildup of back payments to the world body.
An amendment tucked into a defense policy bill that the Senate passed on Thursday would raise the cap for U.S. dues from the current 25-percent share of the U.N. peacekeeping budget set by Congress to the 27 percent the United Nations has said Washington owes.
Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Foreign Relations Committee Democrat, cited State Department figures that put U.S. arrears to the United Nations because of the 25 percent cap at $48 million as of January.
Congress passed a law in 1994 that limited U.S. payments to 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget, even though the U.N. General Assembly, which apportions payments based on a country's wealth, had said Washington should pay 31 percent.
Congress temporarily raised that to 27 percent starting in 2001 to comply with an agreement to pay arrears negotiated by Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. ambassador the United Nations. That congressional authorization has expired.
"At a time when U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world are having a positive effect on countless lives -- from Haiti to Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Kosovo -- we must not shortchange these critical missions," Biden, who pushed the measure, said in a statement.
Washington is pressing for U.N. financial reforms, Biden added, so "we certainly should not fall deeper into arrears on our obligations."
The House of Representatives has not yet acted on a measure to adjust peacekeeping costs.
The United Nations currently has 15 peacekeeping mission with nearly 75,000 troops and police plus another 12,000 civilians. The largest operation is in the Congo with 17,000 troops and police followed by Liberia with 15,800 and southern Sudan with some 9,300.
The cost over the last year, ending in June, was $4.9 billion.