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Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's Special Order Speech - 9/18/00


WHY THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT OWE DUES TO THE UNITED NATIONS (House of Representatives - September 18, 2000)

[Page: H7695] 

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Bartlett) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. BARTLETT of Maryland. Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a few minutes this evening about U.N. dues. I am not going to talk about the proposal of the U.N. to levy taxes on the countries of the world, including ours, which frightens a number of our people. Indeed, that is frightening. I am not going to talk about the proposal that the U.N. have its own army, and I know that there are those and some of them from our country in the past and at present who genuinely feel that the world would be a safer place if the U.N. had the largest army in the world and, therefore, could keep the peace. I am frightened by that prospect, and I know a number of our people are.

I am not going to talk about U.N. resolutions which once they are made have the effect of law, which have the effect of setting our laws aside and actually sometimes have the effect of setting our Constitution aside. Of course, that should be unthinkable but it has happened and we need to talk about that, but I am not going to talk about that because I am sure that others will this evening.

I am also not going to talk about whether the U.N. is effective or not, whether it really meets the promise that we held for the U.N. when it was established a number of years ago. I am not going to talk about whether the U.N. should be expanded or not. I understand they want 10 new floors on their building. They are already a monstrous bureaucracy. I am not sure being a bigger one would make them more effective.

I am not going to talk either about whether it is in our vital national security interests to continue to be a part of the U.N. That needs to be debated. I hope it will be debated across the countries; and others, this evening, I am sure will cover that subject. I am also not going to talk about whether 25 percent dues and 31.5 percent for peacekeeping is a fair share for the United States. I do not think we have 25 percent of the vote or 31.5 percent of the vote. As a matter of fact, when one looks at our vote, the U.N. has threatened to remove our vote because we have not paid our dues; that is, our vote in the General Assembly.

Let us just look at that vote for a moment and what it would mean if we did not have a vote in the General Assembly. We have less than 1 percent of the vote cast in the General Assembly, and there are a number of countries, we could easily name 15 or 20 countries, that if we vote yes they vote no and some of those countries have less citizens than the District of Columbia, and so they can cancel our vote in the U.N. What does our vote mean in the General Assembly?

It means very little, obviously, if it can be cancelled by a half dozen countries that have no more population than the District of Columbia.

The only vote in the U.N. that has any importance for us is our vote on the Security Council of the U.N. and they cannot remove that vote for not paying dues.

What I do want to talk about is a lonely fight that I waged here for several years to keep us from paying dues that we had already paid a number of times over. What I am talking about is the enormous cost of peacekeeping operations which we have borne. Three agencies of the government have looked at these costs, the CRS, Congressional Research Service; GAO, the Government Accounting Office; and the Pentagon.

They have all reached essentially the same conclusions, that we have spent about $19 billion on peacekeeping activities since 1992. Now, we have been credited with $1.8 billion of that against U.N. dues, so a precedent has already been made, that if we spend money on an authorized U.N. peacekeeping activity that those monies that we have spent there are in lieu of dues; that is, they could replace dues. They only did that, though, with $1.8 billion. There is about another $17 billion that is still out there that we have received no credit for.

All I wanted was a very simple thing, which was an accounting of the dues that we owe. I was not arguing whether 25 percent was too much or 31 percent of peacekeeping was too much; my only argument was that we needed to get credit for what we have spent on legitimate peacekeeping activities. I think that most Americans when they hear that argument say, well, of course, it makes sense, that if we are sending our military there, if we are using our resources there in the pursuit of a U.N. resolution, an authorized U.N. activity, that we should be given credit for the monies that we spend doing that. We have been given credit for $1.8 billion, but what about the other roughly $17 billion?

Mr. Speaker, that needs to be accounted for before we pay another dime in U.N. dues.


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