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THE PROBLEM OF MEETING UNITED STATES FINANCIAL

OBLIGATIONS TO UNITED NATIONS AGENCIES

O V E R V IE W

ACTION REQUIRED

Support legislation enabling U.S. to resume making legally obligated contributions to assessed budgets of the UN and its specialized agencies.

PROBLEM

In reducing FY 1979 State Department appropriation for "Contributions to International Organizations," Congress last September enacted language prohibiting use of any U.S. assessed contributions to UN agencies for technical assistance (P.L. 95-431).

Organic statutes of UN and specialized agencies prevent their acceptance of assessed contributions with conditions attached.

As long as the Congressional prohibition remains, U.S. will be unable to meet legally binding financial obligations to UN organizations.

EFFECT

Allowing situation to continue casts doubt on U.S.
commitment to UN system, and to multilateral diplomacy
in general.
Weakens U.S. influence in UN, just when U.S. has begun
to reassert leadership role and when UN is engaged in
matters of critical importance for U.S.

Damages U.S. posture in eyes of our allies, who look to U.S. for leadership, and of developing countries who place such importance on UN system.

Lack of U.S. payment may force cutbacks in UN system activities, many of major interest to U.S. - e.g., nuclear safeguards, global disease surveillance and control, exchange of meteorological data, promotion of air navigation safety, control of marine pollution.

RECOMMENDATION

President recommends prompt remedial legislation "so this government can meet its clear obligations under the United Nations Charter and related treaties."

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WHAT IS THE UN SYSTEM?

The United Nations system consists of: (a) the United Nations, including its principal organs General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Trusteeship Council, International Court of Justice (ICJ), and Secretariat - and their subsidiary bodies, and (b) the autonomous specialized agencies!! established by intergovernmental agreement and brought into relationship with the United Nations under Articles 57 and 63 of the UN Charter. 21

The Congressional prohibition against the use of U.S. assessed contributions to UN agencies for technical assistance is limited to the United Nations itself and the following specialized agencies: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). These are the UN organizations to which the United States is obligated to make assessed contributions. The other specialized agencies (the International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Finance Corporation, the International Development Association, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development) are financed by other means.

1/ The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) technically is not a "specialized agency' due to its unique direct relationship to the UN General Assembly, but the IAEA can be considered as a specialized agency for most practical purposes.

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A graphic presentation of the UN system is included in the Appendix, p. i.

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WHAT IS TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE?

The term "technical assistance" refers to the transfer of expertise, as distinct from the large-scale transfers of capital involved in projects such as the construction of major dams, or industrial facilities, etc. The term generally is used to describe activities of the UN agencies

conducted in cooperation with the recipient countries such as providing fellowships for training, sending expert advisers to assist on projects in the recipient countries for short periods of time, and conducting training seminars and workshops. Technical assistance projects provided by the UN and its specialized agencies usually are short in duration and relatively small scale individually.

UN technical assistance activities most often are for the purpose of assisting in economic development. An important aspect of the work in this regard involves the tasks preparatory to the recipient countries obtaining large capital inflows necessary for the development of local industry, commerce, transport, etc.

A smaller, but important, other portion of technical assistance activities conducted by UN agencies (e.g., nuclear safeguards, weather surveillance, child care) are not strictly developmental in that they are not oriented primarily toward improving the economic productivity of the recipient countries. While certainly of benefit to the recipient countries, activities such as these are of prime importance for humanitarian purposes or for establishing and meeting regional or global standards which benefit the international community overall.

HOW MUCH TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE IS PROVIDED BY THE UN SYSTEM

From all sources voluntary and assessed contributions the UN agencies spent approximately $663 million on technical assistance in 1977, the last year for which overall information is available. This amounted to 27.6% of the total funds available within the UN system. The effect of the money spent is multiplied since many of the technical assistance activities in turn stimulate follow-up investments on a much larger scale from the private sector and international financial institutions.

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By activity sector, these funds were allocated as follows:

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• HOW ARE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE ACTIVITIES OF THE UN SYSTEM

FUNDED?

The UN agencies are funded in two basic ways:

Voluntary contributions fully discretionary for contributing members which support programs of special interest to the donor countries. The United States provides about 25% of these contributions.

1/Less than .05%

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