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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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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