Your Influence Counts ... Use It! The SPOTLIGHT by Liberty Lobby

Reprinted from, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive

Small Victory

Congress won a tiny half-victory over the United Nations when it was agreed to reduce U.S. dues. Congress had refused to authorize payment of $1.3 billion in alleged "arrears" until the UN acted to reduce this nation's financial obligations to the world body.

Under the accord approved by the General Assembly, the U.S. share of the $1.1 billion operating budget will be reduced from 25 percent to 22 percent. Considering that there are 189 member states, many with booming economies, this reduction in U.S. costs is quite modest.

A second congressional mandate was that the U.S. share of peacekeeping costs, now estimated at $3 billion annually, be reduced from 30.5 percent to 25 percent -- also an obviously modest adjustment.

But the UN Assembly agreed only to reduce these costs to about 26 percent to 27 percent -- higher than the congressional mandate. This means the Clinton administration, before leaving office at high noon on Jan. 20, must convince Congress to agree to an amendment to the legislation on UN arrears.

But UN bureaucrats were celebrating as if the deal had been completed.

"Now we are there, we are there," said Secretary-General Kofi Annan when the UN General Assembly ap proved the modest reductions. During speeches before and after the vote, delegates said they expected Washington to pay the "arrears" on time and without conditions.

"The United States has moved the goal posts so many times in the past," said Singapore Ambassador Kishore Mahbubani. "If it does so again, there will be tremendous disappointment."

"It's a very good deal," said Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Rela tions Committee, who helped craft the legislation with Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). "It's win-win for everyone."

Biden told The Washington Times that the only thing that could unravel the deal would be a rejection by the Bush administration. But "I can't imagine them not embracing it," he said.