Is the U.S. really being short-changed by the U.N.?

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The United Nations has an annual budget of $1.8 billion, of which the United States pays 22%. U.S. deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Mark P. Lagon, says that UN member states, especially large contributors, want to know if they are getting their money’s worth. He also says that those who look to the U.N. for assistance want to know whether the world is getting the best possible value for U.N. contributions.

Thalif Deen, writing for Inter Press Service News Agency, believes that Lagon is asking this question with his fingers crossed behind his back. The reality, says Deen, is that the U.S. has gotten quite a bit for its 22%. According to the latest U.N. figures, the U.S. has consistently held the number one spot in obtaining procurement contracts, averaging over 22.5% of all U.N. purchases annually.

Russia, which has the next highest average–10.36%–pays only 1.1% of the U.N.’s annual budget. Several western European nations average 4.8% and 8.6%. The European Union contributes a total of 37% of the U.N.’s budget and therefore claims that it is the largest contributor and not the U.S.

According to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, the U.N. and its agencies contributed about 3.2 billion annually to the city’s economy during the late 1990s. Deen points out that that figure is bound to be higher now; however, U.N. Ambassador John Bolton has complained that “the United States doesn’t get value for (its) money.”

Norman Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, has pointed out that “what the United States spent to violate the U.N. Charter with the invasion of Iraq could have funded the entire budget of the United Nations for decades.”

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