Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) has filed legislation to ensure the United States pays its share for United Nations Peacekeeping missions, to bolster U.S. credibility and influence at the UN, and to boost efforts to strengthen and reform peacekeeping operations. Since 2017, the United States has accrued more than $1 billion in debt on its financial obligations to UN Peacekeeping and damaged its credibility at the UN. The UN currently maintains thirteen missions around the world.
Congresswoman Jacobs’ The United States Commitment to Peacekeeping Act (bill text here) permanently repeals the cap on U.S. contributions to the UN’s Peacekeeping operations, which was established by Congress in 1994, and requires the State Department to report to Congress on its efforts to advocate for reforms at the UN and how UN Peacekeeping operations can be improved.
Congresswoman Jacobs is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and worked at the State Department and the United Nations before being elected to Congress. Congresswoman Jacobs’ legislation was introduced Thursday with Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Chair of the Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights Subcommittee, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), Chair of the International Development, International Organizations and Global Corporate Social Impact Subcommittee, and Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI-01) as co-leads.
The Better World Campaign, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the United Nations Association of the United States, Refugees International, and the Center for Civilians in Conflict have endorsed the legislation.
UN Member State dues to support peacekeeping operations are calculated based on the size of each nation’s economy and other factors, a process agreed to by the United States. But under current law, U.S. payments are capped at 25 percent of the total peacekeeping budget, which has led to the U.S. accumulating billions in unpaid dues to the UN, weakening the strength and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations around the world. Recognizing this problem, Congress has waived the cap 15 times since Fiscal Year 2000, but dating to 2017, the U.S. has again begun accumulating new arrears, as the current UN dues assessment is at 27.89 percent. According to a 2019 UN report, regular budget shortfalls for the UN Peacekeeping program “puts at risk not only the functioning of its operations but also the people that serve in difficult environments.”
“Fully paying our UN peacekeeping dues is good for the world and good for the United States. UN peacekeeping missions make the world a safer place and are more cost effective than U.S. military operations. The peacekeeping dues cap introduced by Congress in 1994 has undermined our credibility, weakened peacekeeping missions, and contributed to a leadership vacuum at the UN that has contributed to the detriment of the organization’s commitment to human rights. It’s time for the United States to fulfill our promises and pay our share in support of our UN peacekeeping dues,” said Congresswoman Jacobs.
“Peacekeeping efforts around the world, especially on the African continent, are vitally important. I’m proud to stand in support of this important piece of legislation to allow the United States to more effectively advocate for its national security interests and needed reforms at the United Nations. I urge my colleagues to support this bill,” said Congresswoman Bass.
“The largest and most impactful part of the United Nations’ budget is for peacekeeping missions, which the United States has historically fallen short of fully supporting due to an arbitrary cap and racked up a debt that must be paid,” said Congressman Castro. “This bill is an opportunity for Congress to reaffirm U.S. global leadership and ensure our values advance UN strategy, or we risk other countries such a China filling the void. I appreciate Congresswoman Jacobs’ leadership on this legislation, and I hope my colleagues in Congress will support this bill to help prevent conflict around the world and keep the American people safe here at home.”
“United Nations peacekeeping missions are essential for ensuring the safety and security of people around the world, especially those on the margins of society,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Under the previous president, the United States fell behind significantly on its obligations to international peacekeeping efforts. I’m proud to join Congresswoman Jacobs in leading this effort to restore American leadership abroad.”
“Living up to our treaty obligations is a large part of America reclaiming its leadership role on the global stage. The U.S. is a great nation, and great nations pay their dues. Representative Jacobs, who has worked at the State Department and United Nations, understands this point as do her colleagues, Representatives Castro, Bass, and Cicilline. They have seen first-hand how the U.S. and UN partner in conflict zones around the world helping the most vulnerable. Providing this financial and material assistance, as we promised, burnishes our image abroad and benefits our national security interests,” said Peter Yeo, Better World Campaign.
“UNA-USA members, which comprise the largest network of United Nations advocates in the world, are dedicated supporters of UN Peacekeeping and understand that fulfilling our financial obligations is critical to maintaining a strong U.S.-UN partnership. We’re grateful to Representatives Jacobs, Castro, Bass, and Cicilline for their efforts in introducing this legislation,” said Rachel Pittman, Executive Director, United Nations Association of the USA.
“UN peacekeeping missions save civilian lives and help prevent a return to war, while costing the American taxpayer eight times less than a U.S. military deployment. The Friends Committee on National Legislation believes the United States should pay its dues to United Nations Peacekeeping on time and in full, and welcomes the U.S. Commitment to Peacekeeping Act of 2021’s repeal of the 25 percent cap on U.S. contributions,” said Diana Ohlbaum, Senior Strategist and Legislative Director for Foreign Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
“This bill sets out a robust and forward-leaning agenda for the United States on the future of UN peacekeeping. A renewed focus on political strategy, host state and community engagement, and more agile and adaptable forces will be essential for UN peacekeeping to remain fit for purpose in the years ahead. Having served in a number of UN peace operations, I can testify to the importance of these priorities. Furthermore, Refugees International wholeheartedly supports the repeal of the 25 percent cap on U.S. contributions to peacekeeping operations. Peacekeeping diminishes the severity and duration of conflicts, reduces atrocities and population displacement, and sustains peace. The evidence is clear – UN peacekeeping works. But it needs to be properly resourced to succeed. We wish to thank Congresswoman Jacobs, Chairman Castro, Chairwoman Bass, and Congressman Cicilline for their extraordinary foresight, commitment, and leadership,” said Hardin Lang, Vice President of Refugees International.
"UN peacekeeping operations do what individual UN Member States are unable to do on their own – deploy a comprehensive response of political and military tools to tackle some of the world’s most complex crises. For over half a century, the United States has partnered with UN peacekeeping operations to halt mass atrocities, bring major conflicts to an end, and fight global pandemics. To succeed, these operations need resources. The legislation introduced by Congresswoman Sara Jacobs and her fellow House Foreign Affairs Committee colleagues, Representatives Castro, Bass, and Cicilline, will ensure the U.S. is doing its part by delivering in full and on time the dues the U.S. government has committed to pay,” said Alison Giffen, Director, UN Program, Center for Civilians in Conflict.