The United Nations Foundation and the Better World Campaign recently released the results of a poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates.
Voters were asked a series of questions regarding their attitudes on the United Nations and various international issues. The makeup of the respondents came from both major political parties – Democratic and Republican - as well as Independents.
The findings of the poll revealed more than 8 in 10 voters polled wanted the United States to continue to have a strong relationship with the U.N. Moreover, 64 percent of respondents questioned indicated their desire for the U.S. to pay its dues to the U.N. in full and on time. U.N. Funding Continues To Remain Front and Center The issue of U.N. funding is vitally important if the global institution is to continue performing its critical work around the world. However, a number of members on Capitol Hill seem to be ignoring their constituents’ wishes.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations recently passed the fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Appropriations bill. Regrettably, the measure does not provide full funding to the U.N.; therefore, the U.S. cannot meet its commitment to the global body. As Peter Yeo, Executive Director of the Better World Campaign noted when discussing this piece of legislation for the hill.com“…the support that the U.S. receives from the U.N. is vital to our national security objectives and we cannot afford to diminish it…” This bill is in complete contrast to what voters revealed in their responses. Specifically, some of the important aspects of the poll to highlight are: · 93% believe the U.S. should maintain membership in the World Health Organization (WHO). · 89% feel the U.S. should support the programs of the world body in the areas of health care, education, livelihood, and rights for women and girls. 75% support continued funding for U.N. peacekeeping.
What is interesting to note from these polling numbers is that three-quarters of the survey participants favor U.S. funding for U.N. peacekeeping operations; however, a review of the Foreign Appropriations bill sees significantly less monies allocated than what the Better World Campaign recommended.
Furthermore, the bill eliminates all funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the U.N. Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). SHORTSIGHTED APPROACH TAKEN BY THE HILL Each of these U.N. agencies does admirable work in their particular areas of expertise. The decision by the House committee to eliminate their funding shows a clear lack of respect for their accomplishments and, furthermore, a limited understanding of the vital roles they play around the world.
The U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) handles important matters relating to the health and safety of women and girls. According to the polling data, 89% believe the U.S. should support U.N. programs that assist with these issues. The House measure that would strip this agency of its funding does not align itself with the views of voters. In addition, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) serves to advance American interests abroad by promoting democratic values. A significant percentage of poll respondents, 89%, feel that the work of UNESCO is extremely important.
U.S. contributions to UNESCO account for 22% of its budget, so defunding would be devastating to the agency.
In the case of the U.N. Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), it is especially crucial to fund this initiative with Rio+20-the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development- taking place on June 20th. U.S CREDIBILITY AT STAKE
With the House Committee on Appropriations bill falling far short of fully funding the U.N., and keeping with our commitment to the global body, American credibility is on the line. The U.S. voters and taxpayers recognize this fact and they have let their opinions known based on their responses to this poll. Why do they not see this on Capitol Hill?
The time has come for elected Representatives to hear directly from their constituents on issues relating to U.N. funding and its relation to national security.