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Why does the US pay a Quarter of UN budget?

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#1 Shalamar

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 02:35 PM

Why does the U.S. pay a fourth of the UN's budget, and 30 % of their military budget?

Here's a quote from November 2003

Quote

As of November 17, 2003, the United States had paid the UN over $897 million in calendar year 2003, comprising the following:

$586 million for UN peacekeeping.  Our current period assessments (through September 30),
representing about 27 percent of the budgets, amount to $621 million.

$253.2 million for the UN Regular Budget*.  Our calendar year 2003 assessment, representing 22 percent of the UN budget, is approximately $341 million, of which $229 million has already been paid.  We expect to pay the remainder as soon as the fiscal year 2004 appropriation is enacted.

$52.5 million for the War Crimes Tribunals.  Our calendar year 2003 assessments, representing about 25 percent of the budgets for the two tribunals (former Yugoslavia and Rwanda), amount to $57 million.  We expect to pay the remaining $4.5 million balance shortly.

$5.5 million for design costs for the Capital Master Plan.  This is our total calendar year 2003 assessment, which represents 22 percent of the total Capital Master Plan budget for 2003.

*$24.2 million relates to the balance of our calendar year 2002 assessment and $229 million relates to part of our calendar year 2003 assessment.

November 18, 2003


Here's a link to who's paid, how much and who hasn't...interesting figures

Honor Roll 2003

Only Germany has  paid more than a 100 million...and Japan paid a whopping 279 million, but no one matches the US...at 341 million...

According to a UN site, the amounts the various countries must pay as dues are based on GNP with a minimum of 1% of the over all UN budget ( I think that is what they were saying but it was a little unclear )
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#2 G1223

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 02:46 PM

No we do not get our monies worth. The corruption in the UN makes it a headless beast that makes a mess where ever it goes.

Now the UN does in some areas sometimes goes into places where we cannot and does actually help with disater relief.  And sometimes helps with ending famines.(When it's not trying to sell the food on the international grain market,)

Basically the UN should be used by the US as a place to talk with possible allies to convince them to have deeper discussions with Washington. It should be used to help with disaster relief for places that might not be able to afford it.

But the UN should not have a say in military operations nor try to play Peacekeeper because it has shown itself to be as useful as a armless man in a weight lifting compatition.
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#3 Bouree57

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 03:41 PM

G1223, on Sep 18 2004, 02:46 PM, said:

But the UN should not have a say in military operations nor try to play Peacekeeper because it has shown itself to be as useful as a armless man in a weight lifting compatition.
All too true. Now the UN is threating Sudan with sanctions. Big Deal. They never did anything to Iraq when they didn't comply with sanctions.

Of course it makes you wonder. Since we are supposedly not a world leader anymore why would/should we put so much into this black hole?

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#4 Meepski

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 04:50 PM

Why is the U.S. putting so much money into the U.N.?  How about because we believe in the ideal that it represents -- that the Earth's various nations can someday rise above parochial nationalism and come together as a whole.

There are problems with the way it works, and I'm all for working on those problems.  It will probably be decades at least, and more likely centuries, before we have a true world government, but we're not going to get any closer by abandoning the effort.

The U.S. puts money into the U.N. because we believe that this is the best hope for humanity to have a long-term future on this planet.
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#5 G1223

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 05:14 PM

LOL that is a nice fairy tale and might have been true at one time.

The reason we support it  it is we get some use out of it and it appeases others  having the idea that the world stands with us.

The UN is now the sick punchline  that comes from the joke where can you get China Sudan and Libya on a commitee for Human Rights.



CJ a while back wrote why to ride the monster of the UN down to the end of it's death throes. Mostly to keep it from being used on us by those countries who would if they could.  

That makes as much sense as anything I have heard.
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#6 GoldenCoal

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 05:26 PM

What Meepski said. Also, one of the things that really keeps the UN back is the member nations themselves. One reason the UN can't seem to get anything done is because UN resolutions are basically just formal agreements without any force behind them. That's because the member nations don't want to give up sovereignty. So, the every resolution has to have nearly unanimous approval before the UN will feel comfortable passing it. Even then, the UN ambassador doesn't have the final say, the higher echelons of the government must then endorse it. It's all a horribly ineffiecent process

   The UN is far from perfect, but nothing better can be obtained without nations willing to sacrifice some of its decision-making power.

   To answer the question: Do we get our money's worth? Well... no. The UN mostly helps the underdeveloped countries and such, ones with real problems with stability and economics and rights and etc. It's mostly charity work.

[Edit]
  And G, what I detailed above also explains why China etc get to serve on the Commitee for Human Rights. Anything that commitee does has to be approved by the General Assembly, and since that includes ALL members of the UN, it would have to go through Libya, China, etc. So instead of waiting for them to object and have to start over, they get to be an active part of the decision making process. Even if a resolution were to pass without their approval, those countries could just ignore it, making the resolution basically useless. So with those countries in the comitee, they can hash out a resolution that will please everyone, get small concessions from the violating countries.
   Efficent? No. Effective? Probably not. But until resolutions become automatically binding with some real enforcement behind them(which I wouldn't hold my breath for), that's all the UN can do.

Edited by GoldenCoal, 18 September 2004 - 05:36 PM.


#7 Meepski

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 06:02 PM

G1223, on Sep 18 2004, 06:14 PM, said:

LOL that is a nice fairy tale and might have been true at one time.

The reason we support it  it is we get some use out of it and it appeases others  having the idea that the world stands with us.

The UN is now the sick punchline  that comes from the joke where can you get China Sudan and Libya on a commitee for Human Rights.



CJ a while back wrote why to ride the monster of the UN down to the end of it's death throes. Mostly to keep it from being used on us by those countries who would if they could. 

That makes as much sense as anything I have heard.
Well G1223, fortunately the U.S. as a whole is not yet as short-sighted and cynical as you are.  Frankly I find the U.N.'s existence a rather surprising thing to have to explain on a board that has its origins in Andromeda fandom.  The reasons for believing in the U.N. are the same as for believing in the Commonwealth -- only all the more desperately relevant because it is the real future of humanity that we are talking about.

It is easy to mock idealism as a "fairy tale".  It is easy to scorn those who have a vision beyond the local.  It's hard to have a belief in a better future and make longterm plans to achieve it, but thankfully some people are willing to try it.
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#8 HubcapDave

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 06:26 PM

Meep,

While I appreciate your belief in the ideal of the UN, as it is presently constituted it has proven itself to be fairly worthless.

#9 Jid

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 06:41 PM

Quote

Why does the U.S. pay a fourth of the UN's budget, and 30 % of their military budget?

Because it's part of the principles upon which the UN was founded.

That is to say, in the original days of the UN, the US actually shouldered a good 49% of the financial burden - an amount which, later years was reduced, as the economies of post WWII Europe recovered, allowing them to shoulder a greater share based nominally on the average GNP of the country over the previous decade.

Much like most income taxation schemes, the idea is to distribute *burden* evenly, rather than payment.  Just as we wouldn't expect a person who earns $20000 a year to pay as much as a person who makes $2 million, in light of what would constitute a "burden" to either person, the UN expects lesser payments from member nations with weaker economies.

Theoretically, the US's portion of payment will continue to reduce, just as soon as many of our world's third-world nations manage to come out of the economic situation they're in. :whatsthat:

To put a spotlight payments, I'll go to the examples Shal cited.

The US currently sits with a GDP at a bit under $11 Trillion dollars.  They have paid $341 million.  So, that works out to a good 0.003 % of the GDP.

Germany paid about 124.4 million.  For their $2.27 trillion GDP, that's a cozy 0.005% of their GDP.

Japan paid 279 million.  For their $3.57 Trillion GDP, that works out to a nice 0.008% of their GDP.

(GDP figures courtesy of the CIA world fact book )

Note that I'm only following what is just for the UN regular budget.  I don't quite feel like digging up a whole boatload of financial charts this close to supper time ;)

But, I guess if the US isn't getting it's money's worth, someone better call Germany and Japan - they're getting ripped off!

#10 Delvo

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 06:47 PM

The assertion that we pay such a bulk of the UN's budget because this country believes in the UN, even if granted as true, still doesn't account for why so little is paid by other countries that also believe in it. What would explain it is probably simple numbers and math. Each member country has a given wealth and economic production level per year, and the UN has a policy, probably a table or formula, specifying how much to charge any country each year according to how much money it has. Naturally, the country with one of the highest populations, one of the highest individual-worker economic production averages, and one of the lowest unemployment rates if not the very lowest, is bound to end up with the highest fees.

If the formula and/or table is being followed and everybody's paying the share they're supposed to, then the question of why the USA pays a lot is answered right there; the question then is whether the policy that makes is so is a fair one.

If the policy is not being followed and some countries are being charged too much or getting away with paying less than they're charged, then the answer to the question of why the US pays such a large fraction of the total is right there; the question then is why the policy isn't being followed.

#11 Jid

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Posted 18 September 2004 - 06:53 PM

Delvo, on Sep 18 2004, 05:47 PM, said:

If the policy is not being followed and some countries are being charged too much or getting away with paying less than they're charged, then the answer to the question of why the US pays such a large fraction of the total is right there; the question then is why the policy isn't being followed.
Actually, after a certain point of non-payment, countries lose their vote in the General Assembly.  (Which ain't much of a deterrent, considering it's something like your unpaid dues can't exceed the amount of dues you were charged in the previous 2 years)

In short, everything I've found in (the admittedly not terribly long) time I spent perusing UN documentation would suggest they draft up their budget, figure out the sum of member nations GDPs, and the divide the cost based on what fraction of the total sum each nation has as GDP.
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#12 G1223

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 10:40 AM

Meepski, on Sep 18 2004, 11:02 PM, said:

Well G1223, fortunately the U.S. as a whole is not yet as short-sighted and cynical as you are.
Nor as open minded to the point of losing perspective of the people we are dealing with at the UN.

North Korea a Bastin for Human rights.
Sudan where people are not sold in to Slavery
China right behind North Korea in looking out for human rights.

Three great examples of nations you wish lay down with and trust like they are sheep. I find it hard to beileve anyone could be so trusting of any of these states to be willing to drop their guard.

Cynical but at least not a fool.

Short sighted? Maybe but at least I know these states as they exist today and understand that their leadership would gladly do us over if they could in a new york second.

Edited by G1223, 19 September 2004 - 10:45 AM.

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#13 Chipper

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 11:32 AM

Well hey, G, why doesn't the US go and DO something about it then?  Becuase God knows we are the bastion of human rights and equalty and freedom, which we have given to the people of Iraq, etc.  Sudan is barely on the news anymore, yet over the summer in Europe ALL they had was Sudan Sudan Sudan.  I asked people about it here and it wasn'ta blip on their radar.

As for the UN, as Jid shows, it's very much a factor of how much the nations' respective GDPs are.  And notably, the US' expenditure compared to other countries listed as a percentage of GDP is less.  We are the richest nation.  

An analogy, if you will.  Should someone w/ a 50,000 income pay the same as a person with a 250,000 one?  No.  The UN may not be effective, but a lot of that is the fault of the countries that are a part of it at this point.
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#14 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 11:42 AM

I agree with my earlier assessment on the UN ride it to the ground and do everything that we can do to tie it into knots as it goes down.  Then replace it with an alliance of like minded nations.  

Quote

Meepski:
There are problems with the way it works, and I'm all for working on those problems.
Problems is the greatest understatement I have ever heard when it comes to the UN.  Try to name something that it did that was successful that actually meant something in the world that couldn’t have been accomplished by the US alone or done by a alliance?  

Quote

Meepski: Frankly I find the U.N.'s existence a rather surprising thing to have to explain on a board that has its origins in Andromeda fandom.
I find it rather ironic that a board “that has its origins in Andromeda fandom” has members who can’t see the inherent evils of the UN when they compare it to the ailing Commonwealth that flew apart. ;)
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#15 GoldenCoal

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 11:49 AM

So, G, if the UN thinks that Sudan has great civil rights, why is there a Field Presence there to help them improve? Link

  Or why the UN is using terms such as "war" to describe how Sudan is treating its people.Link

Or why there have been many resolutions expressing concern with slavery. Link

As for North Korea, I don't think the UN is exactly praising North Korea for its Human Rights record Here and Here

   For China, I couldn't find anything real conclusive through just a quick search. Just a bunch of "Optional" protocols which China only signed, or had no action on.

   Why countries who have human rights violations are on the commitee, I explained in my last post.

#16 Shalamar

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 11:57 AM

I think that the UN on the whole has tried to do the right thing, but they are so toothless as to be useless.

I think that the UN needs to be heavily revamped, and it's sanctions and resolutions given some force behind them to make them effective.

Of course I often to be of the opinion "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"
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#17 Godeskian

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 11:58 AM

If you want the UN to have teeth, give it an army under it's own command.

As long as the UN has to keep borrowing it's troops for actions, then It will never be able to act against the wills of it's senior military members

#18 Shalamar

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 12:00 PM

As the UN now stands I shudder in horror at the thought of  it having a military under it's own command.
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#19 Godeskian

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 12:01 PM

chuckle

you and me both

but it is the only way to garantuee it has teeth.

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#20 Mr.Calgary

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Posted 19 September 2004 - 01:52 PM

CJ AEGIS, on Sep 19 2004, 09:42 AM, said:

I agree with my earlier assessment on the UN....ride it to the ground and do everything that we can do to tie it into knots as it goes down.  Then replace it with an alliance of like minded nations. 
Spot on CJ.  :thumbs-up:

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