Friday, May 20, 2005

Henry Hyde is at it again. Hyde is pushing a bill through the House that would withhold US dues from the UN unless the UN reforms.

I consider this to be absolutely outrageous. The UN is a multinational organization that does not, and cannot, answer to one nation. UN reform is important, but it is equally important that such reform be accomplished through consensus between nations that make up the UN. It is apalling for one nation to dictate the outcome of the process.

If the bill is passed and US money is indeed withheld, I hope the UN will take away the US general assembly seat, as it threatened to do the last time Hyde pulled the same shenanigans during the Clinton years.

9 Comments:

At 7:28 PM, Blogger Kerry said...

Consensus between nations? You're kidding, right? I believe the U.S. provides some 20% of the UN's money; do not hold me to that figure. But isn't it wise for us, regardless of how many countries we are, or how much or how little we provide in dues (tribute) to the UN, to insist upon wise and judicious use of the money? That the head of the UN's Human Right's Commission at various times has been both Libya and Zimbabwe, speaks reams about the character of that "multinational organization." It is more a kleptocracy than an expression of idealistic world governance. In other contexts, i.e. corporations,the phrase "multinational" is used perjoratively.

 
At 8:18 PM, Blogger alex said...

"Consensus between nations? You're kidding, right?"

Nope. The rather stringent requirements for consensus before UN action are one reason why the UN has sometimes been slow to take action.

"I believe the U.S. provides some 20% of the UN's money"

The UN financing scheme involves each country paying a percentage roughly proportional to its GDP - for obvious reasons, it makes little sense for the US and Madagaskar to pay the same amount of money. US GDP is 21.2% of the world GDP based on 2004 data.

"isn't it wise for us...to insist upon wise and judicious use of the money?....That the head of the UN's Human Right's Commission at various times has been both Libya and Zimbabwe, speaks reams about the character of that "multinational organization.""

If you don't like it, then pull out. No one is forcing the United States to be a part of this organization.

But it is outrageous for the United States to violate its financial commitments to the UN while staying in.

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger jult52 said...

C'mon, Alex. The Hyde bill is a way of pressuring the UN to change certain of its policies. Would you really prefer that the US drop out of the UN rather than suspend payments to the UN? I doubt that. This is politics.

BTW, your thread at the bottom denying that the US has any more moral authority than Zimbabwe (did you really write that?) is plain embarassing.

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger alex said...

"The Hyde bill is a way of pressuring the UN to change certain of its policies."

There are acceptable and unacceptable ways to pressure, and the Hyde bill is an unacceptable way, for the reasons that I have spelled out. Cutting off payments to the UN, while remaining a member, is more than a violation of the spirit of the UN; it is a also a violation of the UN Charter, which the US signed and agreed to abide by. In my opinion, this move represents the worst of "American exceptionalism" - the apparent belief by Hyde, and his supporters, that the US is free to break treaties at will.

"Would you really prefer that the US drop out of the UN rather than suspend payments to the UN? "

I'd prefer neither, but the former is at least morally justifiable, while I do not see any argument that could justify the latter, which involves breaking a treaty the US has agreed to abide by.

"BTW, your thread at the bottom denying that the US has any more moral authority than Zimbabwe (did you really write that?) is plain embarassing."

If you ask me, even more embarassing are comments that try to dismiss a position without providing any arguments for why that position is wrong.

(Not to mention that your one sentence summary reveals that you have not even understood my post - the US does not have the same moral authority as Zimbabwe, which can be accused of having committed mass murder. The point made in the post was that given that the US sends people to be tortured in Uzbekistan, its difficult to see why the US is better, as far as principles go, than Uzbekistan. As a result, both the US and Zimbabwe belong to that class of nations which have no business lecturing anyone else on human rights. To say this is not to assert they have the same moral authority.)

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger jult52 said...

Alex -- delaying payments is a traditional way of exerting pressure -- it is pervasive across the world in all kinds of transactions.

I apparently misunderstood your comment about Zimbabwe, so I apologize.

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger alex said...

"Alex -- delaying payments is a traditional way of exerting pressure -- it is pervasive across the world in all kinds of transactions."

Well,

- For one thing, we are not talking about delaying payments; Hyde has threatened to stop them altogether. This is also exactly what Hyde did during a lengthy period in the 90s when the US did not pay its full dues to the UN.

- "a traditional way of exerting pressure," you say. But does that really justify it? Merely because an unethical practice (breaking a contract, in this case) happens a lot does not make it right.

- Article 17 of the UN charter is pretty clear:

"The expenses of the Organization shall be borne by the Members as apportioned by the General Assembly"

so that there is, I believe, no possible difference of opinion as to whether Hyde's action involves breaking a contract.

 
At 6:35 AM, Blogger jult52 said...

Alex -- I can really tell you're an academic.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger alex said...

thanks...I think...

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger alex said...

I forgot to mention something else - for all the "pervasiveness" of this maneuver, the US is the only country to use it. Other countries who have been in debt to the UN have done so because they were poor (the list includes a lot of African countries and Eastern European ones during the post-communist transition). No country has stopped payments to the UN as a matter of policy.

In other words, the politicians of rest of the world recognize they have two options.

i. remain a signatory of the UN Charter and abide by its terms
ii. withdraw from the UN charter if some of the terms are unacceptable

Hyde, however, believes America has a third option:

iii. remain a signatory of the UN Charter, and derive the benefits thereof (like the security council veto), while violating its terms if convenient.

This is the American exceptionalism that I was speaking of earlier.

 

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