Randy Forbes: Where does your money go at the UN?
Here’s a question for you to consider: Do you know what your taxpayer dollars are funding at the United Nations (UN)? You probably don’t – and you would have difficulty finding out. The reality is, the federal government doesn’t even have a full grasp on exactly how the UN is using its money.
I believe it is unconscionable that the United States (and more accurately the U.S. taxpayer) is the largest contributor to the United Nations, yet we are not confident we can account for how that money is being spent. In the ten year spanbetween 2002 and 2012, funding for the United Nations nearly tripled, from roughly $15 billion to $41.5 billion, according to the Heritage Foundation. Also according to the Heritage Foundation, on average the U.S. provided approximately one-fifth of the contributions for that time period. All of this at a time when the United States is trillions of dollars in debt.
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. In 2014, an Associated Press story detailed news that top officials within the UN tampered with evidence so as to prevent investigations into corruption cases.
Funding to the UN also largely operates in 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 can get 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 (UNPF), which has been linked to China’s brutal one child policy. U.S. contributions may also have been used to fund conferences, some of which have become platforms to promote anti-democratic, anti-American values.
The more of an investment you make in something, the greater the stakes become. At a bare minimum, the United States 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 and then pulling funding entirely when necessary.
In Congress, I’m working to demand full accountability for the U.S. dollars being funneled into the United Nations, so 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.
That’s why I’ve cosponsored H.R. 1034, which requires the Office of Management and Budget to provide a report to Congress each year, detailing all U.S. contributions to the UN and its 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. All American funds should be withheld until the United Nations can demonstrate this level of transparency and accountability for U.S. dollars. Period.
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.
Randy Forbes represents the Fourth District of Virginia in Congress.