Where is your money going at the UN?

Published 6:41 pm Saturday, May 9, 2015

Do you know what your taxpayer dollars are funding at the United Nations?

You probably don’t — and you would probably have difficulty finding out. The reality is, the federal government doesn’t even have a full grasp of how the UN is using its money.

The United States (and more accurately U.S. taxpayers) is the largest contributor to the United Nations. Between 2002 and 2012, funding for the United Nations nearly tripled, from roughly $15 billion to $41.5 billion. According to the Heritage Foundation, on average the U.S. provided approximately one-fifth of the contributions for that time period.

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The UN is a mammoth organization demanding mammoth funding levels. Within it, there are many distinct agencies, each with their own funding streams and their own objectives and activities. And, although the UN is subjected to audits in some cases, the organization is fraught with a history of scandal, corruption, and fraud. As such, the audits don’t always tell the whole story.

Just last year, an Associated Press story detailed news that top officials within the UN tampered with evidence to prevent investigations into corruption cases.

UN funding also largely operates on a “no-strings-attached” model. Dollars are appropriated to various agencies and funds with little accountability or understanding of how those dollars might be used.

Because it’s difficult to trace the money, U.S. funding gets tied up in activities that are deeply opposed to our national interests. Taxpayer dollars, for instance, are believed to have been used in the United Nations Population Fund, which has been linked to China’s brutal one-child policy.

U.S. contributions have also been used to fund conferences that promoted anti-democratic , anti-American values.

These are all matters America cannot afford to overlook. The original charter of the UN seeks to maintain global peace and security, create opportunities for cooperation among nations and promote basic human rights. Our nation has always stood for those values. Unfortunately, the UN has moved further away from those values.

The more you invest in something, the greater the stakes. The U.S. government has a responsibility to do its due diligence in making sure the UN’s intent is being carried through and that our national interests are not at risk. We have a responsibility to demand transparency and accountability, tracking dollars – even pulling funding when necessary.

We must make it a priority to implement vital reforms in our relationship with the UN to ensure that the American people know where and how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. Our government has a responsibility to ensure that money is not being wasted or spent contrary to U.S. interests. We have an obligation to make certain that American sovereignty is never undermined.

H.R. 1034, a bill that I have cosponsored, requires that the Office of Management and Budget provide a report to Congress each year, detailing all U.S. contributions to the UN and affiliated agencies. The report requires a detailed description and purpose of each contribution, as well as the percentage of U.S. contribution to each agency, compared to contributions from other sources, like other nations. This adds a layer of accountability that has been grossly missing from the UN funding process.

Transparency and accountability in funding at the UN is an economic and spending issue, but it is also an issue of what is in the American people’s best interest. The U.S. should not be forced to support activities that are wholly opposed to our national interests and what we, as a nation, stand for.

America operates best when it is governed of the people, by the people, for the people — not of the people, by the people, for the United Nations.

Congressman J. Randy Forbes represents Virginia’s Fourth District, which includes Suffolk, in the U.S. House of Representatives. Visit his website at forbes.house.gov.