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TO LIMIT U.S. CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE UNITED
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 1971
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met at 10 a.m. in room 2255, Rayburn House Oflice Building, Hon. Donald M. Fraser (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding
Mr. FRASER. The subcommittee will come to order.
The purpose of today's hearing is to consider the proposal made in H.R. 11386 and other identical resolutions to limit U.S. financial contributions to the United Nations and its affiliated agencies. Without objection, we will have the bill printed in the record at this point.
(The bill referred to follows:)
II.R. 11386: 92d Cong., first sess. A BILL To limit United States contributions to the United Nations Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the aggregate amount of assessed and voluntary contributions by the United States to the United Nations and its affiliated agencies for any calendar year after 1971 shall not exceed an amount which bears the same ratio to the total budget of the United Nations and its affiliated agencies as the total population of the United States bears to the total population of all the member states of the United Nations.
Mr. FRASER. The implications of this proposal are indeed far-reaching, raising some major problems concerning international law and the position of the United States as a leader in international cooperative efforts. In the course of today's hearing, it is important for the subcommittee to address itself to questions such as:
(1) What obligation has the United States incurred under the Charter of the United Nations to pay assessed contributions to the United Nations ?
(2) What effect would a reduction such as that proposed in this resolution have on the ability of the United Nations to function?
(3) What benefits accrue to the United States by continuing to be a major contributor to the United Nations?
(4) What is the justification for basing our contributions on population rather than gross national product?
(5) Would this resolution be regarded as retaliation against the defeat of the U.S. position on Chinese representation in the United Nations?
(6) What is the capacity of the United States to make financial contributions to the United Nations compared to the financial capacity of other members?
These and other important questions should be carefully considered in order for the subcommittee to fully understand the implications of this legislation.
We are fortunate in having obtained some expert witnesses eminently qualified to answer the questions raised by this legislation: the three principal sponsors, Representatives Sikes, Crane, and Waggonner; former Ambassador to the United Nations Arthur Goldberg; Assistant Secretary of State Samuel De Palma; and Mr. Stephen Schwebel, professor of international law at Johns Hopkins University.
Congressman Sikes, we are delighted to have you here. We are honored by your presence as one of our most eminent colleagues. Would you proceed, please ?
STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT L. F. SIKES, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF FLORIDA
Mr. Sikes. Mr. Chairman, you are very kind. I do welcome this opportunity to appear.
As I think this committee realizes, I am not an advocate of the United Nations. I try to be objective. I am not influenced by personal considerations. I have not had a personal association with the organization or with any organization having an interest pro or con in the U.N. Perhaps this gives me more freedom of expression.
From my standpoint, I don't think the American taxpayer is getting his money's worth from the U.S. contributions to the U.N., and in this I include all sums paid to the U.N. and its agencies by our Government.
I am not impressed by the argument that the U.N. represents the only world forum which is available to us. I have seen endless and seemingly useless semantics come out of U.N. debates for years, much of it directed against the United States or our world objectives for peace without surrender to communism.
Also, I see some good being done by some of the U.N. organizations, particularly in health and child programs. I am not impressed by others, such as the ILO which seems largely to be dominated now by the Russians, who by no stretch of the imagination can be called a model for labor policies.
Yet I am a realistic person. I know that the administration and a very substantial number of Congressmen and Senators are going to want to continue our participation in the U.N. and our contributions to it.
So I am directing my interest primarily at helping to put an end to the grandiose scale of payments whereby we pick up half the bill for U.N. operations. Regardless of all other considerations, we can't afford it. This country is broke. We are operating on borrowed money and we are paying our contributions to the U.X. with borrowed money.
We don't have money to give away. The U.S. deficit for the years 1970, 1971, and 1972 will total about $50 billion. This is an amount equal to the total U.S. deficit for the years 1916 through 1967.
The situation is worsening every year. Even when we helped to rebuild the world following World War II, plus the costs of Korea, plus the tremendous costs of Vietnam, the deficits were not as great as they are now. We are writing blank checks on borrowed money.
The taxpayers are alarmed and unhappy. Sooner or later, they will get the bill for all of our expenditures and they are becoming increasingly concerned about expenditures that are unnecessary. I submit that an unfair share of U.N. expenditures is an unnecessary expense, particularly when no other country even approaches payments as large as ours and many pay little or nothing.
No, Mr. (hairman, the United States is not the richest nation on earth. Our debt is staggering and so are debt costs. Our currency is under attack. Our balance of payments stands at a record deficit. It is time to retrench.
Many bills have been introduced to accomplish a reduction in U.S. contributions to the U.N. The bill which I advocate is cosponsored by 71 Members. There are other bills. We seek an amendment to existing law.
There is a limitation to U.S. contributions to the United Nations and its agencies. I refer you to 22 U.S.C. 262b, which states in part:
No representatives of the United States Government in any international organization after fiscal year 1953 shall make any commitment requiring the appropriation of funds for a contribution by the United States in excess of 3342 percentum of the budget of any international organization for which the appropriation for the United States contribution is contained in the act * *
That limitation, Mr. Chairman, is contained in the Department of State Appropriation Act, adopted July 10, 1952, and I am informed it is permanent law.
There will be those who suggest that a limitation on funds is in violation of treaty obligations incurred by ratification of the U.N. Charter. Let me point out that the language just cited was proposed and approved by the U.S. Senate, the same body which ratified the charter.
That body obviously saw no conflict between the language of the amendment and the language contained in the U.N. Charter. It is just as obvious that subsequent Congresses have seen no conflict, for the language continues to stand as the law of the land (Public Law 495, 82d Cong.), and has not been repealed.
Regardless of this situation, we have not adhered to the limitation. We have exceeded it. Let me call to your attention the words “in excess of." If I understand the meaning of this language, our Government's agencies have been violating the intent of the law for years in that we have consistently paid more than 331/3 percent of the costs of the U.N. and its agencies.
Since the limitation is in the form of a ceiling, obviously it permits lower payment.
Since the United Nations came into being in 1946, its total expenditures through calendar year 1970 have amounted to $9.2 billion. Of this amount, the United States has contributed $3.8 billion, or 41
percent of the total U.X. outlays. In calendar year 1970, the total U.N.
outlay for the operation of U.N. headquarters and Secretariat was $152 million. Of this amount, the United States contributed $58.9 million, or about 38 percent of the cost.
The United States is a member of at least 18 United Nations agencies, and there are many other examples of a disproportionate--and possibly illegal-U.S. level of contributions. Our total payment to the U.N. in 1971 is $335.5 million, not a small sum.
Now the United States is in deep trouble financially. We can no longer carry the present unfair share of the expense of the United Nations. There are too many other areas where tax dollars are more urgently needed, and these urgent areas, particularly domestic programs in the United States, should have prior consideration.
Those witnesses who speak here in support of the taxpayer's position will tell you the taxpayers are tired of being taken for granted when our Government makes excess payments to the United Nations and, by so doing, neglects needed programs at home. It is their money that has been given away so generously throughout the history of the United Nations.
The world picture has changed very greatly since the U.N. was organized. When the great powers met in 1945 to arrive at a means of averting another worldwide war, it appeared that only the United States possessed sufficient economic strength to undertake the financial support of a world organization. Great Britain, Russia, and France had been shattered by the war. Japan and Italy lay defeated and impotent. Germany was crushed and divided. China had been overrun by the Japanese and soon would be taken over by the Communists. With characteristic generosity, the United States undertook to finance the rebuilding of the world.
That was more than a quarter century ago. Today, Russia challenges the United States for world leadership. Japan is an industrial giant. France and Italy are cornerstones in the Common Market. Great Britain is growing stronger. Red China is a nuclear power, is a member of the United Nations, and is making its power and position felt against the United States.
What we propose in the bill now under consideration is a downward revision of the limitation already on the statute books. By following the formula suggested in the bill, the U.S. contribution would be based on the relative populations of the United States and the U.N. member states.
With Communist China now in the U.N., the U.S. percentage of population stands at approximately 6 percent of the total. Russia now has 7.5 percent, and Communist China about 23 percent.
Assuming a billion dollar U.N. budget for the coming vear, the U.S. contribution would be about $60 million instead of the $350-$400 million it has been estimated we are spending. Russia would contribute about $75 million instead of the $11.9 million contributed by the Soviets in 1970. and Communist China would contribute about $230 million to the U.N. and its agencies. That seems to be a proper proportionate share of the costs.
While there is little the Congress can do to compel the United Nations to adopt the population formula as official policy, the Congress can-as it has alreally done-place more stringent limits on our