WASHINGTON – Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has introduced a measure that would withhold U.S. dues payments to the United Nations until the United States is fully compensated for money it has spent on peacekeeping operations.
“This is a pretty simple issue,” said Bartlett, a Frederick Republican. “We’ve met our commitment to the U.N. and a whole lot more.”
The bill is based on a General Accounting Office report that said the United States contributed $6.6 billion to U.N.-sponsored peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Rwanda, Somalia and former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1995. That was more than any other country contributed.
However, the United Nations says the United States owes it more than $1 billion in dues.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, speaking before a congressional committee on Wednesday, said it was important for the country to meet its obligations to the United Nations.
“Our continued leadership at the U.N. and within other international organizations depends upon [payment],” she said. “Our principles require it. Our interests demand it. And our budget allows it.”
Albright did, however, recognize the peculiar position of the United States as both the largest contributor to U.N. operations and its largest debtor.
To pay back the outstanding debt, President Clinton has proposed spending $100 million in fiscal year 1998 and more than $900 million in 1999.
Bartlett’s measure would prohibit those payments until all of the money spent on peacekeeping operations is either reimbursed or credited toward U.N. dues.
So far, about $1.9 billion of the total peacekeeping costs have been credited toward U.S. outstanding dues or reimbursed directly, the bill stated.
Bartlett’s measure has attracted 50 cosponsors, including Rep. Robert Ehrlich, a Timonium Republican; House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican; and Rep. Sam Johnson, a Texas Republican.
“The United States is paying for the U.N.’s worldwide operations,” Johnson said. “I think Roscoe’s right on target.” No hearings have been scheduled yet on the measure, but the House International Relations Committee will address the issue later this month, committee staff said. -30-