Late yesterday, the United Nations General Assembly approved a 5% budget increase for 2012-2013–with half of the additional spending going towards the UN’s “political missions,” which typically handle peacemaking and conflict resolution. In a time of global austerity, the UN’s career diplomats have decided they deserve more cash.
The spending is particularly concerning given the fact that the UN is hardly known for running a tight financial ship. Last week, the Associated Press published an article headlined: “Santa Arrives Early at UN,” referring to the newly renovated office of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who also received a “new armored car wrapped in a red ribbon with a big bow.” A significant amount of UN spending is also wasted on controversial propaganda, such as a recent art display depicting the proto-state of Palestine as encompassing all of the State of Israel.
The United States is responsible for 22% of the UN’s regular budget, including the political missions. Some of these missions complement U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan; others, such as the UN Special Coordinator Office for the Middle East Peace Process, do not.
In 2003, Terje Larsen, then UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace, was forced to admit (after initial denials) that the UN had video implicating Hezbollah terrorists in the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers–using UN vehicles and symbols as cover (the soldiers were killed).
As the U.S. enters the final week of tough internal negotiations about spending and taxes, and other cash-strapped western governments struggle to find the funds to meet their obligations to their own citizens, the UN’s request for a significant budget increase evokes what the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick once said about the UN’s overly ambitious Universal Declaration of Human Rights–i.e. a “letter to Santa Claus.”
Photo credit: Michael McLaughlin/The Huffington Post