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Americans to Congress: "Pay Our Peacekeeping Dues"

PriceOfPeace.org Petition Calls for the U.S. to Honor Its U.N. Commitments; Collects Over 32,000 Signatures from 50 States, Support from 34 NGOs

Washington, DC —   June 19, 2007

The Better World Campaign delivered to Congress today a petition calling for the U.S. to fully fund UN peacekeeping operations. The statement, signed by over 32,000 people from 50 states, and supported by 34 civil society groups, calls on the Congress to make up the $500 million shortfall in the Bush Administration’s budget request for UN peacekeeping. The petition, housed online at www.PriceOfPeace.org, was delivered as the U.S. approaches a $1 billion debt to UN peacekeeping, and in advance of the House of Representative’s vote on the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill—a portion of which is allocated for peacekeeping funding—expected this Wednesday.

“At a time when American resources are strained by commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, UN peacekeeping is both a bargain and an opportunity. This petition sends a clear message to Congress that Americans believe UN peacekeeping is an effective means of sharing the burdens for international peace and security – and that the United States ought to pay its fair share in full and on time,” said United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund President Timothy E. Wirth, a former senator from Colorado.

The petition reads: “War and hostility are far too prevalent in today's world, exacting a huge economic, moral, and human cost. In contrast, the price of peace is a fraction of the cost of war. […] No nation should have to bear every burden, pay every bill, or take every risk; I urge you to act now to fully fund our promised contributions to the UN.”

Many petition signers added their own remarks, such as Robert from Indiana who wrote: “I believe in the UN and all that it has done to promote peace. The U.S. should live up to its commitment.” Melanie from Virginia commented: “The United Nations is only as strong as its member states. A strong member state is one that pays it dues and contributes to dialog and peacekeeping.” Corrine from Illinois remarked: “I am amazed and saddened and angry that the U.S. has been ignoring this responsibility and possibility for peace.”

Organizations supporting the petition include: Americans for Informed Democracy; Citizens for Global Solutions; ENOUGH: The Project to Abolish Genocide + Mass Atrocities; Mercy Corps; the Open Society Policy Center; Refugees International; Religions for Peace USA; and the United Nations Association of the USA. A full list of organizational supporters, as well as a collection of statements from individuals signing the petition, can be found at www.betterworldcampaign.org/price_of_peace/supporters.htm.

“Full U.S. support of UN peacekeeping will make a significant contribution to U.S. re-engagement in the world, reinforce the basic support of the American people, and provide additional leverage for continuing reform at the UN,” Wirth added.

“U.S. rhetoric must be matched by financial commitment if UN peacekeeping missions are to succeed. To win the fight against lawlessness, the United States must keep its word and pay its UN peacekeeping bill,” Wirth concluded.

U.S. debt to UN peacekeeping comes from over $500 million in “arrears” or unpaid bills from prior fiscal years —and an additional $500 million shortfall in the U.S. Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget request. The State and Foreign Operations bill, to be voted on by the House tomorrow, aims to begin addressing this budget gap in part by allocating $1.302 billion, a proposed increase of $195 million to the Contributions to International Peacekeeping Account, and a proposed one-year waiver of the 25% “peacekeeping cap” placed on U.S. payments for UN peacekeeping.

The U.S. uses its permanent seat on the UN Security Council to call and vote for UN peacekeeping missions, recently including those in Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan, Haiti, and East Timor. UN peacekeeping operations have grown exponentially in the past two decades, and now have over 100,000 military and civilian personnel engaged in 18 locations in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Middle East, making UN peacekeeping the second-largest deployed military force in the world.

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Note to the editor: Recent testimony of Sen. Wirth before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on International Organizations testimony, and charts and graphs illustrating U.S. arrears to UN peacekeeping, can be found online at www.betterworldcampaign.org.

About the Better World Campaign
The Better World Campaign (BWC), an initiative of the Better World Fund, works to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations through outreach, communications, and advocacy. It encourages U.S. leadership to enhance the UN’s ability to carry out its invaluable international work on behalf of peace, progress, freedom, and justice. In these efforts, BWC engages policy makers, the media, and the American public to increase awareness of and support for the United Nations. For more information, visit www.betterworldcampaign.org.

About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity. For a complete listing of UN Foundation grants and programs or to learn more about the United Nations Foundation, visit www.unfoundation.org.

Press contact:
Adele Waugaman
United Nations Foundation
o: 202.887.9040
e: awaugaman at unfoundation.org

 
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