Yesterday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called the United States a “deadbeat” donor to the world body. The White House called these words “unfortunate” and at least rightfully acknowledged the “the contribution that the American taxpayer makes.”
However, these words are much more than “unfortunate.” Let’s start with our donor status. The United States puts up 22% of the operating budget of the United Nations. Compared to other well populated nations with large economies, this is an outstanding number. China barely tops 2%, Brazil is just over 1% and Russia and India barely register as donors at all. Considering our secondary role as the official host country to the United Nations headquarters and any expenses that status costs, it is insulting when the United States is referred to as a “deadbeat” by the UN Secretary-General.
But moving beyond our taxpayer’s considerable financial investment that is largely ignored by the UN is a more prescient issue. The issue is why liberals ignore the incoming insults and believe the UN doesn’t have enough power over the American people?
Earlier today, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations announced he is moving forward on ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) which the UN began working on in 1973. The timing was hard to make up. The Secretary-General’s comments calling us a “deadbeat” happened in a meeting with U.S. lawmakers, including Kerry. And then 24 hours later, these lawmakers reward him with a potential treaty that the United States has refused to sign for nearly thirty years, and five presidents.
Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation put it best: “You have to pay royalties on the value of anything you extract (from the deep seabed), those royalties to be distributed as the new [UN] bureaucracy sees fit, primarily to landlocked countries and underdeveloped countries.” American money would also help fund the International Seabed Authority, which Groves says “would have the potential to become the most massive UN bureaucracy on the planet.”
So it would appear that we may be returning to a phase of American diplomacy where we apologize first, give money second, and ask questions never. The UN Administrative Tribunal (UNAT) recently ordered the UN to pay the legal fees of Benon Sevan, the disgraced former chief of the Oil-For-Food program who is hiding from U.S. indictments of bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in Cyprus. The UN said it would abide by UNAT’s decision. So our “deadbeat” taxpayers are going to pay nearly $1 million in legal fees for a fugitive who led the manipulation of a $60 billion UN program that was steeped in bribery, kickbacks, corruption, and fraud on a global scale. Remember, LOST is going to put this disgraceful bureaucratic mess to shame.
It would seem that President Obama would be well served to do more than call these comments “unfortunate.” We also hope that our Congressional lawmakers stick up for American taxpayers the next time our international integrity is publicly questioned. America being called a “deadbeat” by an organization that as a whole excuses catastrophic human rights abuses, terrorism and widespread financial fraud around the world might be laughable, if it weren’t so expensive.
Read more from The Heritage Foundation at The Foundry