GOP bill threatens to cut off US funds to United Nations without massive reforms

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) has introduced legislation that would radically alter U.S. participation in the United Nations. 

Ros-Lehtinen's bill threatens to cut off U.S. funding to the U.N. unless the world body moves to a voluntary contribution system that would allow the U.S. to selectively fund only the programs it supports. 

The 153-page bill would also definitively eliminate U.S. contributions to several programs that Republicans have criticized for several years unless they undergo dramatic reforms. These include the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

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Ros-Lehtinen is planning a committee markup of her bill, the United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act, in the next few weeks.

Because the U.S. contributes 22 percent (about $3 billion) to the U.N.'s annual budget, the legislation would put significant pressure on the organization to both reform its dues collection process and ensure the various programs it runs are in line with U.S. interests.

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For example, the U.N. would have two years under the bill to ensure that 80 percent of its programs are funded through voluntary contributions, not annual assessments. If that deadline were not met, the U.S. would be required to withhold half of its annual assessment until the 80 percent threshold is achieved.

Along these lines, the bill would also impose new steps to monitor how U.S. money is spent at the U.N., such as by requiring the comptroller general to investigate U.S. contributions and make funding contingent on U.N. cooperation with the comptroller general.

Title III of the bill also sets out a series of related U.S. policy goals for U.S. participation in the U.N., which includes efforts to publish detailed information on various U.N. programs and related staff salaries and requiring all U.N. staff to file annual financial disclosure forms. Detailed reports — including performance reviews and promotions — would also be required.

As expected, the bill would also establish U.S. policy at the U.N. in several areas, an implied criticism of how the Obama administration has conducted foreign policy on these issues.

Title IV of the bill, for instance, would direct the U.S. to oppose efforts by Palestinian leaders to avoid a negotiated peace settlement with Israel, and withhold money from U.N. programs that upgrade the status of the PLO/Palestinian observer mission without those negotiations.

Title V would prevent the U.S. from running for a seat on the body's Human Rights Council, and would require the U.S. to withhold its portion of funding for the council until the State Department certifies that several reforms have taken place. These include findings that the council does not include countries that are subject to Security Council sanctions, under Security Council mandated human-rights investigations, state sponsors of terrorism or suspected of religious freedom violations.

Title VI requires the U.S. to repudiate the so-called "Goldstone Report," which a summary of the bill says "falsely accused Israel of deliberately attacking Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead."

Title VII would withhold U.S. funding for the Durban Process, a U.N. program aimed at fighting racism that has been "hijacked by rogue regimes and used to advance an anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-Western, anti-freedom agenda," according to the summary.

The legislation would also block funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, require reforms to the International Atomic Energy Agency and limit funding for U.N. peacekeeping missions.

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