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U.S. Budget for Intl. Organizations & Peacekeeping

Statement on the President's Fiscal Year 2007 Budget for International
Organizations and Peacekeeping

Kristen Silverberg , Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs
Statement before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce
Washington, DC
April 5, 2006

Thank you, Chairman Wolf, Ranking Member Mollohan, and Members of the Subcommittee, for inviting me here to discuss the President's Fiscal Year 2007 budget for international organizations and peacekeeping. I am grateful to have with me today my colleague at the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Bolton.

I ask that my full statement be submitted for the record.

Mr. Chairman, the President has requested $1.269 billion to fund the CIO account, and $1.135 billion for the peacekeeping account. This request will allow the United States to pay U.S. assessed contributions to the UN and 44 other international organizations, and to pay its share of UN peacekeeping assessments. This request recognizes the importance of our work in the United Nations and other international organizations in pursuing America's interests, spreading freedom and prosperity, and strengthening our security. The request represents increases of $117 million for CIO and $113 million for CIPA over the appropriated Fiscal Year 2006 amounts.

In his second Inaugural Address, President Bush committed the United States to work "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." We cannot achieve this mission with the tools of traditional diplomacy alone.

As Secretary Rice has argued, today the greatest threats emerge within states as well as between them. We need to approach diplomacy in a new way. The objective of "transformational diplomacy," as the Secretary calls it, must be "to work with our partners around the world, to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."

The United Nations has a critical role to play in this effort. In countries such as Burma or Sudan, Iran or North Korea, we believe in a strong and effective UN, able to promote democratic reform, protect human rights, and address threats to peace and security.

To rise to these challenges, the UN must take action to aggressively address serious deficiencies in the organization. As the Gingrich-Mitchell Task Force, which this subcommittee commissioned, stated: "Until and unless it changes dramatically, the United Nations will remain an uncertain instrument, both for the governments that comprise it and for those who look to it for salvation." I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your strong commitment to UN reform and for initiating the Task Force, which has been a great aid to us in pursuing needed reforms.

In September 2005 heads of state and government from around the world met in New York to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, and to recommit themselves to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. The World Summit culminated in adoption by consensus of the World Summit Outcome Document, in which heads of state agreed to establish a Peacebuilding Commission, to replace the Commission on Human Rights with a new Human Rights Council, and to reform the management of the United Nations to make it more effective, efficient and accountable.

Mr. Chairman, six months after the World Summit, I must report that, although we have made some progress, we still have a long way to go before the United Nations meets the vision articulated by the President in September. Let me start with the progress.

One U.S. priority for UN reform was establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission that would bring a more coordinated and integrated approach to post-conflict situations. The Peacebuilding Commission was established by concurrent Security Council and General Assembly resolutions in December. The Commission will fill an important gap in the UN system, marshalling the resources of the international community to support integrated strategies for post-conflict recovery, focusing on reconstruction and institution-building to lay the foundation for sustainable development.

Another U.S. priority for UN reform was establishment of a UN Democracy Fund, an initiative of the President's that would provide assistance to new and emerging democracies. The Secretary-General officially established the Democracy Fund in August, and within months the fund had received pledges totaling $43 million, with an additional $7.92 million the Congress appropriated for FY06. The fund will add value to the UN's programs on electoral assistance and good governance by assisting civil society in countries on the road to democracy.

On the management front, the United Nations has implemented some of the much-needed management reforms. It established an Ethics Office at the beginning of this year, with an American serving as interim head. It also enacted new whistleblower protections and financial disclosure policies, which will be overseen by the Ethics Office.

United Nations action on other priorities has not been as swift or strong. As many of you know, the United States recently voted against the resolution establishing a new Human Rights Council. We had great hopes for a strong Human Rights Council. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had said that the old Human Rights Commission "casts a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole." The Secretary-General made several sound proposals for a new Human Rights Council, including addressing the problem of membership by requiring the new Council to elect its members by a two-thirds majority. We agreed that the body's membership was the key to its credibility, adding our own proposal that countries under Security Council sanctions related to human rights abuses or acts of terrorism be automatically excluded from eligibility for membership.

In spite of a vigorous effort by Ambassador Bolton and his team in New York; robust outreach by the Secretary, Under Secretary Burns, and others; and energetic diplomacy by my bureau, the final text establishing the Human Rights Council contained neither of these provisions. Instead, it simply calls on member states to "take into account" a candidate's human rights record when voting. It also makes it more difficult to suspend an elected member - which requires a two-thirds vote - than to elect a new member.

There were some positive elements of the resolution, however, faced with the prospect of joining in the creation of a Human Rights Council lacking stronger mechanisms for maintaining credible membership, the United States could not join consensus on the resolution, and instead voted against it. In spite of that, we have committed to work cooperatively with other Member States to make the Council as effective as it can be.

Mr. Chairman, let me be clear: we do not consider this element of reform to have been fully achieved -- we will continue to press for a Human Rights Council with strong membership that can truly act to address the world's most pressing human rights problems.

On management reform, we also have a very long way to go. The Secretary-General himself has said that what is needed "is a radical overhaul of the entire Secretariat -- its rules, its structure, its systems -- to bring it more in line with today's realities." He has put forward several proposals, most recently in a report titled "Investing in the United Nations." We are in the process of reviewing these recommendations. The Gingrich-Mitchell report and the Hyde UN Reform bill also lay out a number of excellent recommendations for strengthening management and oversight, and these have helped shape our effort during the last year.

One of the most important areas of management reform is mandate review, an evaluation of all older UN directives to assess whether they still serve a useful purpose or should be modified or eliminated. The Secretary-General released his report on mandate review on March 30, and we are reviewing it closely. We view this process as an important opportunity to address some of the waste and redundancy that exists throughout the UN system. The United States will seek to ensure that the UN eliminates mandates that have become obsolete, change those which have proven ineffective, and reallocate resources toward priority objectives. We will work to see that decisions on mandates are reflected in the 2006-2007 program budget and that a regular process for meaningful, ongoing review of UN activities is established.

We also seek reforms to strengthen oversight, such as ensuring adequate resources and independence for the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). The OIOS has been central in exposing some of the recent problems in the UN, and we believe that a stronger, more independent OIOS can serve more effectively as a catalyst for change. We are also pushing the UN to operationalize an independent audit advisory body to check the quality of UN oversight bodies' work and recommend appropriate levels of resources for them, an idea on which the Gingrich-Mitchell Task Force contributed importantly to our thinking.

Finally, although the UN has made some progress in dealing with sexual exploitation and abuse by UN peacekeepers, much remains to be done. The UN is implementing a strategy adopted in April 2005 that focuses on prevention, enforcement of a zero tolerance policy, and assistance to victims. It has implemented a uniform standard of conduct and produced training modules for all peacekeeping personnel, and pressed the issue of sexual abuse with the leadership of all UN missions, both civilian and military. We remain deeply concerned about the problem, and will insist the UN and troop contributing countries treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. We will not stand by while personnel assigned to relieve human suffering contribute to that suffering.

It is also a high priority to ensure greater United States representation on the staff and secretariats of international organizations. We have had a few successes in the last year, including placement of Chris Burnham as UN Under Secretary-General for Management, Larry Johnson as Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs, Ann Veneman as Executive Director of UNICEF, and Dr. Howard Zucker as Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization.

We are not satisfied with the current level of American citizen employment in the UN and are bolstering resources to address this situation. We have an interagency task force to identify candidates for positions, have a senior advisor focused on senior level positions, and are broadening our outreach via the Internet and career fairs.

In closing, let me say a few words about the situation in Darfur, which is one of my highest priorities for the IO Bureau. We are working with our partners in the Security Council and the major contributors to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to expand the UN Mission in Sudan to include Darfur, incorporating the forces already there under the auspices of AMIS. This "rehatting" would build on the work performed by AMIS, and make way for a new UN operation with greater troop levels and capabilities. To this end, on March 24 the Security Council adopted Resolution 1663, requesting the Secretary-General to present plans for a UN Darfur mission by April 24. The United States is also providing military planners to assist the UN in developing military options to stabilize Darfur.

In the meantime, the AU-mediated talks on Darfur continue in Abuja, Nigeria, and some progress is being made. The Deputy Secretary has made four visits to Sudan in the past year, and in March he led the U.S. delegation to the Paris donor consortium on Sudan to press the two sides to reach an agreement. With others in the Administration, Deputy Secretary Zoellick is pursuing a comprehensive approach to mitigate and end the unconscionable suffering in Darfur.

I look forward to working with this subcommittee and with Congress to ensure that our funding to the United Nations and other international organizations is an effective use of our taxpayer resources. Thank you.

Released on April 5, 2006

ENDS


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