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United Nations System Funding: Congressional Issues

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Abstract:

The congressional debate over United Nations funding focuses on several questions, including: (1) What is the appropriate level of U.S. funding for U.N. system operations and programs? (2) What U.S. funding actions are most likely to produce a positive continuation of U.N. system reform efforts?

The U.N. system includes the United Nations, a number of specialized or affiliated agencies, voluntary and special funds and programs, and U.N. peacekeeping operations. Participating states finance the system with assessed contributions to the budgets of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. In addition, voluntary contributions are made both to those agencies and to the special programs and funds they set up and manage. For more than 60 years, the United States has been the single largest financial contributor to the U.N. system, supplying in recent years 22% of most U.N. agency budgets. (See Appendix B for an organizational chart that illustrates the components of the U.N. system.)

Both Congress and the executive branch have sought to promote their policy goals and reform of the United Nations and its system of organizations and programs, especially to improve management and budgeting practices. In the 1990s, Congress linked payment of U.S. financial contributions and its arrears to reform.

This report, which will be updated, tracks the process by which Congress provides the funding for U.S. assessed contributions to the regular budgets of the United Nations, its agencies, and U.N. peacekeeping operation accounts as well for U.S. voluntary contributions to U.N. system programs and funds. It includes information on the President's request and the congressional response as well as congressional initiatives during this legislative process. Basic information is provided to help the reader understand this process.

This report replaces CRS Issue Brief IB86116, United Nations System Funding: Congressional Issues, by Marjorie Ann Browne and Vita Bite.