Secretary-General appeals to US leaders to drop spending cap on UN peacekeeping

Secretary-General appeals to US leaders to drop spending cap on UN peacekeeping

Ban Ki-moon speaks to reporters
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that he has called on United States President George W. Bush and the country’s Congressional leaders to lift their spending cap on the United Nations peacekeeping budget, warning that if the limit remains then the work of individual operations may be hampered.

Speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York after returning from a two-day visit to Washington, D.C., Mr. Ban noted that the Congress has imposed a cap so that the US – the largest financial contributor to the UN – pays no more than 25 per cent of expenses for peacekeeping operations.

According to a scale of assessments agreed upon by UN Member States in 2000, the US is required to pay about 27 per cent.

Mr. Ban said the gap of two percentage points “will result in annually a $150 million or $200 million shortage of American contributions, which will, if accumulated, create very difficult constraints in smoothly carrying out peacekeeping operations.”

The Secretary-General said Mr. Bush and the Congressional leaders assured him during their meetings over the past two days that they would discuss the issue.

Mr. Ban’s trip to Washington was his first meeting with President Bush since he assumed office on 1 January, and the pair discussed a range of problems and issues, including the situation in Darfur, the Middle East, non-proliferation, UN reform, climate change and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mr. Ban said today Mr. Bush wanted to see the UN have an increased participation in Iraq, but he told the President that ongoing security concerns meant the size and role of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) was constrained.

The meetings with Congressional figures included talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and with many members of the Senate and House committees dealing with foreign relations.

He stressed that he was encouraged by the strong support and warm reception that both Mr. Bush and Congressional leaders gave him: “I am satisfied with my visit. I will continue to closely work with the US Government.”