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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

USA: UN Arrears

USA: UN Arrears
Date distributed (ymd): 970709
Document reposted by WOA

This posting contains an action alert from the Emergency Coalition for U.S. Financial Support of the United Nations. This posting, as particularly applicable for US residents, is being distributed only to the addresses on the Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List that are identifiable as on US-based host computers. It is not possible to filter by e-mail address non-US residents on such computer hosts as and other US-registered hosts. If you receive this, and it is not relevant for you, please consider forwarding it to your contacts in the US who would be able to act on it.

Although the alert does not specifically mention African issues, this is redistributed because of the particular importance of a viable United Nations for African countries.

For more information contact:

Victoria K. Holt, Executive Director
Emergency Coalition for U.S. Financial Support of the United Nations
110 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 409
Washington, DC 20002
202/546-1572 fax: 202/543-6297 e-mail:

Key Concerns: U.N. Issues in the FY98 State Department Authorization Conference

The House and Senate have acted on the Administration's request for U.N. funding and payment of arrears, having approved their own versions of the Fiscal Year 1998 (FY98) State Department Authorization bill in the last few weeks.

While the House approved the Administration's FY98 request for current dues to the United Nations, it authorized nothing for U.S. arrears to the United Nations. On June 17th, the Senate approved the extensive "Helms/Biden deal" on the United Nations, which provides three-quarters of the arrears (if major conditions are met), but does not fully fund the current FY98 request for assessments (adding conditions as well) and rewrites the U.S. relationship with the United Nations. (Note: For a list of all the conditions, see the earlier five-page summary we provided on all the provisions in the Helms/Biden deal.)

The attached list of issues are key points for Members of Congress and Senators who will meet next week -- after the July 4th recess (week of July 7th) -- for the conference between the House and Senate on FY98 State Department Authorization bill. Reportedly, staff are already meeting. The conference could be completed as early as mid-July. Appropriation subcommittees are scheduled to begin marking up this part of the budget during the week of July 7th in both the House and Senate.

The Emergency Coalition believes that the U.S. should meet its legal obligations to the United Nations and should pay those obligations on time. In light of recent Congressional actions, including the Senate's approval of the Helms/Biden deal, we remain deeply concerned about the cuts in U.N. funding and policy provisions in the Senate and House bills, and believe these areas must be changed. Specifically, we are concerned that the current legislation:

* continues the U.S. debt to the United Nations, and

* starts a new cycle of U.S. arrears to the United Nations.

Attached is a summary of our key concerns about the current U.N. deal in the FY98 State Department Authorization bills. We urge advocates to contact Members of Congress and their staff about these areas that require improvements.

U.N. Issues in the FY98 State Department Authorization bills:
Areas That Require Correction in the House-Senate Conference
July 1, 1997


Both the House and Senate versions of the FY98 State Department Authorization Act continue the U.S. debt to the United Nations because they do not fully fund U.S. arrears to the United Nations.

Doesn't Pay Off Arrears. The Administration requested $1.021 billion to pay U.S. arrears to the United Nations. The House bill provides no funding; the Senate approved $819 million, which is conditioned and spread out over three years.

Conditions May Limit Any Funding. Further, the Senate's provision of $819 million is conditioned on successful negotiations with other countries, not just the behavior of the United Nations. This further reduces the chances that the U.S. will pay even the $819 million.


Full funding for U.S. arrears to the United Nations is needed. Additional funding can and should be made available.

  1. Apply U.S. reimbursements at U.N. to offset peacekeeping arrears. The U.N. owes the U.S. about $107 million for peacekeeping. Congress should allow those reimbursements to be credited to U.S. peacekeeping arrears at the United Nations, as understood in the Helms/Biden deal. The conferees should adopt legislative language allowing for crediting of this reimbursement this year.
  2. Increase funding for arrears by $202 million over the Senate level, as provided in the budget deal. The current five-year budget deal provides for the full payment of arrears to be funded to the U.N. over the next three years. This money is fenced and available for appropriations, pending authorization. If these funds are not appropriated, they can not be used for any other purpose. Conferees should authorize the full amount requested for arrears — $1.021 billion — and take advantage of this opportunity to rid the U.S. of its arrears.
  3. Remove conditions on arrears that can't be met by the United Nations Secretariat. If conditions are applied, they must at least be achievable by the U.N. Some Senate conditions require the approval of other nations, and can not be met by U.N. staff or the Secretary General without it. These conditions should not be adopted. Conferees should reject conditioning U.S. arrears payment on the following Senate requirements, which require other countries to:
  4. create a "contested arrears account," which places U.S. arrears in a special category;
  5. reduce the U.S. assessment to the U.N. for regular dues;
  6. reduce the U.S. assessment for peacekeeping; and
  7. vote to give the U.S. a seat on U.N. Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

At a very minimum, a Presidential waiver for conditions should be established to prevent such measures from tying the hands of the President or if the President determines that such a waiver will advance U.S. national interests. The current funding for arrears requires all conditions to be met or else funding is withheld, even if negotiations are on-going with other nations.


By not authorizing the Administration's FY98 budget request for U.N. assessments, Congress is initiating a whole new cycle of arrears to the U.N. and perpetuates the U.S. position as a debtor nation. At the very time that Congress and the Administration are working to deal with past arrears, once and for all, they must act to prevent future ones.

Doesn't Pay Current Dues to U.N. The Administration requested $240 million for FY98 U.S. obligations for U.N. peacekeeping, and $320 million for FY98 U.S. regular dues to U.N., part of the overall $996 million for assessments to international organizations. The House approved this request, but the Senate did not. The Senate cut peacekeeping by $40 million, and reduced funding to international organizations by $31 million. In addition, the Senate assumes that $27 million in reimbursements to the U.S. should be credited to U.S. arrears, not the FY98 regular request for the U.N. as proposed by the Administration, thus further underfunding this area.

Conditions Could Cause Further Arrears. Funding provided for FY98 assessments to the U.N. are conditioned on successful negotiations with other countries, not just the behavior of the United Nations. This further reduces the ability of the U.S. to pay its current year assessments.


Full funding for U.S. current assessments to the United Nations is absolutely necessary.

  1. Increase funding by $40 million from Senate level for peacekeeping in FY98; adopt the House position. The Administration requested $240 million for peacekeeping, the lowest request in years. The conferees should adopt the House authorization of this request, and reject the Senate cut of $40 million.
  2. Provide full funding to international organizations in FY98. The Administration requested $996 million for contributions to international organizations in FY98, including $27 million in credits from the United Nations. The House approved $960 million, the Senate approved $938 million and disapproved providing the $27 million in savings to this account. The conferees should rejects cuts in this area and approve the full request for FY98.
  3. Reject limits on meeting future assessments to the U.N. and its specialized agencies. Conferees should reject the Senate's cap of $900 million on U.S. funding to international organizations in FY99/FY2000. The Administration is working to reduce U.S. assessed contributions to international organizations, but this requires the agreement of other nations. This cap could require the United States to underfund its assessments to international organizations, which will only put the U.S. further in arrears.


No new conditions should be added to the funding of U.S. obligations to the United Nations.

The arrears payment scheduled should be accelerated to two years, not three years.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Washington Office on Africa (WOA), a not-for-profit church, trade union and civil rights group supported organization that works with Congress on Africa-related legislation. WOA's educational affiliate is the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC).

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