United States and the United Nations


United States and the United Nations

The United States is a charter member of the United Nations and one of five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

U.S. role in establishing the UN

The term "United Nations" was suggested by Franklin D. Roosevelt [ [http://www.wordorigins.org/wordoru.htm#united Etymologies & Word Origins] , giving the origin of United Nations] and Winston Churchill during World War II, to refer to the Allies. It appeared in the Declaration by the United Nations where, on January 1, 1942, 26 nations pledged to continue fighting the Axis powers.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his advisers were the principal founders of the United Nations. Their main inspiration was the League of Nation; however, their goals were to rectify the League’s imperfections [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 43-44] in order to create an organization that would be “the primary vehicle for maintaining peace and stability.” [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 44] Roosevelt’s main role was to convince the different allies, especially Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin, to join the new organization. [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 44] The negotiations mainly took place during the Dumbarton Oaks Conference and the Yalta Conference, where the three world leaders tried to reach a consensus concerning the United Nation’s structure, purposes and principles. [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 43] It is interesting to note that “Roosevelt saw the United Nations as the crowning achievement of his political career.” [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 46]

In 1945, representatives from 50 countries met in San Francisco for the United Nations Conference on International Organization. They deliberated on proposals that had been drafted by representatives of the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at the Dumbarton Oaks Conference between August and October of 1944. Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin reviewed the Dumbarton Oaks proposal during the Yalta Conference in February 1945. The purpose of the conference was to discuss post-war settlements [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 51] and to reach a final agreement concerning “the UN’s structure and membership and set the date of the San Francisco organizing conference” [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 52] The world leaders eventually agreed on Roosevelt’s proposal to give certain members a veto power [Francis O. Wilcox. “II. The Yalta Voting Formula” The American Political Science Review 39, no. 5 (Oct, 1945), http://www.jstor.org/ (accessed September 30, 2008), 953] so “that the Organization could take no important action without their joint consent.” [Francis O. Wilcox. “II. The Yalta Voting Formula” The American Political Science Review 39, no. 5 (Oct, 1945), http://www.jstor.org/ (accessed September 30, 2008), 944] Though the veto power question created a lot of disagreement among the different signatories [Francis O. Wilcox. “II. The Yalta Voting Formula” The American Political Science Review 39, no. 5 (Oct, 1945), http://www.jstor.org/ (accessed September 30, 2008), 943] , its inclusion in the charter was never a matter of negotiation for Roosevelt and his allies [Francis O. Wilcox. “II. The Yalta Voting Formula” The American Political Science Review 39, no. 5 (Oct, 1945), http://www.jstor.org/ (accessed September 30, 2008), 954] . Finally, during the Yalta conference, Stalin agreed to make the USSR a member of the United Nations. [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 52]

The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945, when the Charter was ratified by the Republic of China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States as well as a majority of other signatories.

The most important American contribution to the United Nations system is perhaps the Bretton Woods conference. This conference took place in 1944 and its goal was “to create a new international monetary and trade regime that was stable and predictable.” [John Allphin Moore and Jr. Jerry Pubantz. The New United Nations: International Organization in the Twenty-First Century (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), 53] This new system opened world markets, promoted a liberal economy and was implemented through different institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. [Chronis Polychroniou. “Rise and Fall of US Imperialism” Economic and Political Weekly 30, no. 30 (July 29, 1995), http://www.jstor.org/ (accessed September 30, 2008), 58]

The United Nations was the first international governmental organization to receive significant support from the United States. Its forerunner, the League of Nations, had been championed by Woodrow Wilson after World War I to prevent future conflicts. While it was supported by most European nations, it was never ratified by the United States Congress due to the inability to reach a compromise regarding the Lodge Reservations or the Hitchcock Reservations.

Shortly after the establishment of the United Nations, the United States came into conflict with another member of the Security Council. Since the Soviet Union was a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, it had the power to veto any binding UN resolution. In fact, Soviet foreign minister and UN ambassador Vyacheslav Molotov used veto power twice as often as any other permanent member, earning him the title "Mr. Veto". (see Soviet Union and the United Nations)

Relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (later Russia) within the UN have evolved in step with the larger geopolitical situation between the two powers. While the Soviet Union was boycotting the Security Council and China's seat was represented by U.S.-friendly Republic of China (instead of the communist People's Republic of China which would replace the ROC in the UN in 1971), the U.S. and UN jointly condemned the invasion of South Korea by North Korean troops, leading to the UN sanctioned Korean War. Later, the U.S. persuaded all permanent members of the Security Council to authorize force against Iraq after that nation invaded Kuwait in 1991. This was a major step toward U.S. and Russian reconciliation after the end of the Cold War.

Sources of conflict

Since 1991 the United States has been the world's dominant military, economic, social, and political power. The United Nations was not designed for such a unipolar world with a single superpower, and conflict between an ascendant U.S. and other UN members has increased. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. and subsequent military conflicts have clarified the desire of other countries to use the UN as a vehicle to rein in what they see as American unilateralism.Fact|date=September 2008

Conflict between the U.S. and the UN is not new. The first major defeat for the U.S. at the UN was Resolution 2758 - the admission of the People's Republic of China and removal of the Republic of China against U.S. wishes in 1971 (see China and the United Nations). Since the U.S. changed its own China policy shortly after, however, this did not do lasting damage. Far more serious was the General Assembly Resolution 3379 of 1975 equating Zionism with racism, which caused great offense in the United States. Resolution 3379 was eventually negated in 1991 by Resolution 4686, but only after years of increasingly strained relations. Under the Reagan administration, the U.S. withdrew from UNESCO, and began to deliberately withhold its UN dues as a form of pressure on the UN. By far, the U.S. was, and continues to be, the state levied most heavily by the UN. Therefore, U.S. policymakers considered this tactic an effective tool for asserting U.S. influence in the UN. The U.S. eventually repealed its policy of withholding funds in an effort to mend the U.S.-UN relationship, but not before the U.S. had accumulated a significant debt to the UN.Fact|date=September 2008

Persistent use of its veto power in the Security Council with respect to resolutions condemning the actions of Israel has been an ongoing cause of friction between the General Assembly, where the post-cold war status quo is a majority bloc of Arab and developing countries which has condemned Israeli actions on numerous occasions, and the United States (see Negroponte doctrine). In fact, since 1989 the USA has been the sole dissenting vote (out of five permanent member) against security council resolutions on 12 occasions out of 17 total instances when a permanent member dissented. Of those 12 occasions, only two related to issues other than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Fact|date=September 2008

The U.S. arrears issue

The UN has always had problems with members refusing to pay the assessment levied upon them under the United Nations Charter. But the most significant refusal in recent times has been that of the U.S. For a number of years, the U.S. Congress refused to authorize payment of the U.S. dues, in order to force UN compliance with U.S. wishes, as well as a reduction in the U.S. assessment.Fact|date=September 2008

After prolonged negotiations, the U.S. and the UN negotiated an agreement whereby the United States would pay a large part of the money it owes, and in exchange the UN would reduce the assessment rate ceiling from 25% to 22%. The reduction in the assessment rate ceiling was among the reforms contained in the 1999 Helms-Biden legislation, which links payment of $926 million in U.S. arrears to the UN and other international organizations to a series of reform benchmarks.Fact|date=September 2008

U.S. arrears to the UN currently total over $1.3 billion. Of this, $612 million is payable under Helms-Biden. The remaining $700 million result from various legislative and policy withholdings; at present, there are no plans to pay these amounts.Fact|date=September 2008

Under Helms-Biden, the U.S. paid $100 million in arrears to the UN in December 1999; release of the next $582 million awaits a legislative revision to Helms-Biden, necessary because the benchmark requiring a 25 percent peacekeeping assessment rate ceiling was not quite achieved. The U.S. also seeks elimination of the legislated 25 percent cap on U.S. peacekeeping payments in effect since 1995, which continues to generate additional UN arrears. Of the final $244 million under Helms-Biden, $30 million is payable to the UN and $214 million to other international organizations.Fact|date=September 2008

Newer and trustworthierFact|date=July 2008 data can be found here: [http://www.un.org/ga/fifth/sach.un.cash.status.05.08.pdf UN Cash Position by Assistant Secretary-General/Controller Warren Sach]

The Iraq issue

Further conflict between the U.S. and some UN members arose in 2002 and 2003 over the issue of Iraq. George W. Bush maintained that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had not fulfilled the obligations he had entered into at the end of the Gulf War in 1991, namely to rid Iraq of all weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and to renounce their further use. A series of inspections by the IAEA failed to find conclusive evidence that either proved or disproved allegations that Iraq was continuing to develop or harbour such weapons. The findings were conveyed by the leading weapons inspector, Hans Blix, who noted Iraq's failure to cooperate with the inspections on several counts. [ [http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/SC7asdelivered.htm Security Council 7 March 2003 ] ] The U.S. replied by saying that the responsibility of proof of disarmament was upon Iraq, not on the UN or the U.S.Fact|date=September 2008

In November 2002, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1441, giving Iraq an ultimatum to co-operate in disarmament within an unstated timeframe of a few months. However, in March 2003, the U.S., supported by fifty countries (including the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland) which the Bush administration referred to as the "Coalition of the willing" launched military operations against Iraq. On April 9 Saddam Hussein's regime was overthrown and Iraq was placed under occupation, marked by the Fall of Baghdad. The U.S. argued that this action was authorized by Resolution 1441, since Iraq had failed to comply by co-operating fully in the identification and destruction of its weapons programs, and since Resolution 1441 promised 'serious consequences' for lack of full compliance and achievement of its objective.Fact|date=September 2008

Other countries, led by France, Germany and Russia, maintained that Resolution 1441 did not authorize the use of force without passage of a further Resolution. French President Chirac stated "My position is that, whatever the circumstances, France will vote 'no' because this evening it considers that it is not necessary to make war to achieve the stated goal of the disarmament of Iraq". [ [http://www.radiofrance.fr/reportage/dossiers/irak/actu.php?i_id=318 Radio France > Dossiers > Conflit USA - Irak ] ]

Rightly or wrongly the "this evening" qualification was ignored, perhaps because the implications of its English translation are ambiguous. The statement was widely interpreted in the English-speaking world as meaning that France would exercise its right as a Permanent Member of the Security Council to veto any resolution at any time ("whatever the circumstances") to use force against Iraq.Fact|date=September 2008

Following the overthrow of the former Iraqi government, the Iraq Survey Group led an exhaustive search of Iraq for WMDs, but no deployable WMD of any kind was discovered and no production since 1991.Fact|date=September 2008

U.S. Congress looks into reform of the U.N.

The U.S. Congress has shown particular concern with reforms related to UN effectiveness and efficiency. In November 2004, the bill H.R. 4818 mandated the creation of a bipartisan Task Force to report to Congress on how to make the UN more effective in realizing the goals of its Charter. The Task Force came into being in January 2005, co-chaired by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Majority Leader, George J. Mitchell. In June 2005, the task force released "American Interests and UN Reform: Report of the Task Force on the United Nations," [http://www.usip.org/un/] with numerous recommendations on how to improve the UN.Fact|date=September 2008

On June 17, 2005, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill ( [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:h2745: H.R. 2745] ) to slash funds to the UN in half by 2008 if it does not meet certain criteria. This reflects years of complaints about anti-American and anti-Israeli bias in the UN, particularly the exclusion of Israel from many decision making organizations. The U.S. is estimated to contribute about 22% of the UN's yearly budget due to the UN's ability-to-pay scale, making this bill potentially devastating to the UN. The Bush administration and several former U.S. ambassadors to the UN have warned that this may only strengthen anti-American sentiment around the world and serve to hurt current UN reform movements. The bill passed the House in June 2005, and a parallel bill was introduced in the Senate by Gordon Smith on July 13, 2005. [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s1394] However, a number of leading Senate Republicans objected to the requirement that the U.S. contributions be halved if the UN failed to meet all of the criteria. The UN Management, Personnel, and Policy Reform Act of 2005 (S. 1394), introduced on July 12, 2005 into the Senate by Sen. Norm Coleman [R-MN] and Sen. Richard Lugar [R-IN] , called for similar reforms but left the withholding of dues to the discretion of the President [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s1383:] . As of February 2006, neither bill has come to a vote.Fact|date=September 2008

Visa refusal controversy

In April 2007 the U.S. government refused to give an entry visa to the foreign minister of the de facto independent Republic of Abkhazia (de jure part of Georgia) Sergei Shamba who was due to speak at the UN headquarters in New York. The incident caused an international dispute as Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin accused the USA [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/10/AR2007041002033.html] of not letting one side of the conflict speak before UN. Security Council president, British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry, backed the Russian demand for Shamba's visa. [ [http://www.playfuls.com/news_10_23684-ROUNDUP-US-Russia-Clash-Over-Georgias-Abkhazia-Separatist-Demand.html Playfuls.com - Play your life! ] ] [ [http://www.kommersant.com/p758079/r_527/UN/ One-Chairman Show, Kommersant, Apr. 12, 2007] ] But the U.S. Ambassador, Alejandro Wolff, accused the Russian side of “a mischievous effort” to raise “false analogies” between Abkhazia and Kosovo, thus “complicating the discussion.” [ [http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=14935 Online Magazine - Civil Georgia ] ] The USA stated that such airport to UNHQ visa access was not guaranteed to countries seeking international recognition; Kosovo president Fatmir Sejdiu had been given a visa [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6519565.stm UN debates Kosovo's independence, BBC, 3 April 2007, 23:30 GMT] ] . Sergei Shamba himself described the situation as "dual standards". [ [http://www.community-dpr.org/news/world/news_full.php?nid=913& Министр иностранных дел Сергей Шамба расценивает нежелание СБ ООН заслушать абхазскую сторону как «необъективное отношение к одной из сторон в конфликте» Сообщество "За демократию и права народов" ] ] [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/10/AR2007041002033.html Georgian Separatist Spurned by U.S] By ALEXANDRA OLSONThe Associated PressTuesday, April 10, 2007; 11:23 PM] [ [http://en.rian.ru/world/20070411/63467407.html Rice warns Russia against helping separatists in Georgia] RIA Novosti, 11/ 04/ 2007]

The future of the U.S. in the UN

The relevance of the UN in the modern world is questioned by its critics,Fact|date=December 2007 and there is a small but growing movement in the U.S. to withdraw from the UN, which it sees as nonproductive morally and practically.Fact|date=December 2007 This in part stems from a desire to ensure that sovereignty stays with national bodies, and not be yielded to any sort of extranational organization.Fact|date=December 2007 Another possible reason for this dissent is its use as a negotiation tactic; by threatening to walk out, the U.S. is voicing its displeasure and putting pressure on the UN to address U.S. concerns and interests. Yet another motivation is dismay at the failureFact|date=December 2007 of the UN to fulfill its goals in such areas as peacekeeping and human rights.

Few observers expectFact|date=December 2007 the "get U.S. out of U.N." (a pun on the initials for the United States and the pronoun "us") movement to result in the U.S. actually withdrawing. Proposed legislation in both houses of U.S. Congress to withdraw has been met with minimal support, and has never come close to becoming U.S. policy. The appointment of John Bolton, however, who had been a vocal critic of the United Nations, as U.S. Ambassador in July 2005 was generally viewed as an indication that the George W. Bush administration was growing even more skeptical of the merits of the UN.Fact|date=September 2008

References

However it is also said that "if you are an American the United Nation will be in your future--for better or worse." [Harland,Cleveland. The future role of the United States in the United Nations. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 342, American Foreign Policy Challenged (Jul., 1962), pp. 69-79. Published by Sage Publications, Inc in association with the Amercian Academy of Political and Social Science.] The United Nations serves American foreign ploicy in four ways. First it is used as a place where the U.S. can confront great powers. The U.N. also serves as a third party to keep great powers apart, and too settle other people's disputes. The U.N. also serves as a Nation buliding agency. Concerning the future is it said that the United States will continue it's habit of leadership within the United Nations, because that it the inescapable price of power. [Harland,Cleveland. The future role of the United States in the United Nations. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 342, American Foreign Policy Challenged (Jul., 1962), pp. 69-79. Published by Sage Publications, Inc in association with the Amercian Academy of Political and Social Science.]

See also

* United States Ambassador to the United Nations
* List of UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors
* The World Federation of United Nations Associations
* United Nations Association of the United States of America
* The U.S. Committee for the United Nations Development Program

External links

* [http://www.usunnewyork.usmission.gov Official website of the United States mission to the UN]
* http://www.un.org/aboutun/history.htm
* [http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0311-10.htm US Often Uses Security Council Veto for Israel]

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