UNITED STATES SUPPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS – AN EXERCISE IN MASOCHISM

Preface
I chose the title prior to the 11th hour perfidy of President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, who put the United States in support of the United  Nations’ hateful campaign against Israel. On yet another resolution condemning Israel, the United States abstained rather than vetoed. The result was the resolution passed. The reaction was outrage.
At a time when Jews the world over are celebrating Hanukkah and the miracle of lights, Barack Obama has attempted to turn out the light on the Jewish state.
Kerry “explained” the Administration’s support in a speech at the UN, spending the majority of his time criticizing Israel’s West Bank settlements. Observers were quick to point out that Kerry ignored the key fact – the Palestinians’ position. Settlements are not the issue; the very existence of a Jewish state is the “problem.”
The PLO made this clear after Kerry’s  speech. PLO Executive Committee member Mustafa Barghouti:
Recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would deny the right of the Palestinian people who are citizens of Israel and that is totally unacceptable. Israel cannot be a Jewish and a democratic state at the same time.
Mona Charen, columnist and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Institute, had this acerbic and compelling analysis of Kerry’s speech:

Kerry said]… the U.S. could not ‘stand idly by’ while Israel torpedoed any hope for a two-state solution[.The Obama administration knows all about standing ‘idly by’ … when Syrian strongman Bashar Assad massacred up to 400,000 people by dropping barrel bombs on civilian neighborhoods, shelling hospitals and imposing sieges on cities to starve out the inhabitants, the Obama administration stood very, very idly by. …When ISIS was rampaging through northern Iraq and southern Syria, beheading, crucifying and burning people alive, the Obama administration stood idly by…. Kerry’s … assertion that the Palestinians want an independent state on the West Bank. They have been offered such a state at least twice. … Kerry suggests that ‘solving’ the Israel/Palestinian conflict is the key to ‘stabilizing a volatile region.’…The region is roiled by Islamic extremism …The Obama administration has heightened tensions in the region with its embrace of Iran. …For an Arab, the West Bank is one of the safest (not to mention freest) places to live in the Middle East….This failure to veto… encourages the Palestinians’ …despicable tactics. These have lately included stabbings, shootings and driving cars into random pedestrians.

The world is aflame with threats and instability, yet Kerry and Obama…could not resist this last kick in the teeth to the region’s sole democracy. They knew it would harm Israel’s moral standing — now the delegitimizers can claim that Israel is in violation of ‘Security Council’ resolutions — and give an unmerited win to the Palestinians. [Emphasis added.]

Last week, the House of Representatives, in a bi-partisan vote, overwhelmingly [342 – 80] repudiated the UN resolution and criticized the Administration for causing the US abstention:
The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 undermined the longstanding position of the United States to oppose and veto United Nations Security Council resolutions that seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel, reversing decades of bipartisan agreement…
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/house-rebukes-obama-un-over-israel-vote/article/2611037 342-80
The Obama/Kerry move put the US on the side of the biased UN. I consider it an outlier and am confident that our President-Elect and his Administration will not repeat their treachery.  The remainder of this post will be as it was originally intended – an exposition of how the US has been abused by the UN.
United Nations Start-up
In November, 1920, the League of Nations First Assembly commenced operations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1936, the League constructed the Palais des Nations for its headquarters.
The United Nations Organization began officially in October, 1945.
In April, 1946, the League dissolved and transferred properties and assets, including the Palais des Nationsto the United Nations. Thereafter, the UN headquarters was located in New York. But the UN European Office was established in Geneva at the Palais des Nations.
United States Financial Support
There are 193 member states in the UN.  The General Assembly sets the budget. The Charter provides for expenses to be apportioned “broadly according to capacity to pay.” For 70 years now, US contributions far exceed those of any other any other country. Without the generous support of American taxpayers,  the UN would be bankrupt.
The UN has expanded from the original 51 to 193 members but the US gets but gets 1 vote. The US picks up the biggest share of the cost, yet other states choose the agenda, determine the budgets and decide how the money is spent. One budget vote was 142-1, the one being the US.
The popular belief is that the United States contributes 22% of the United Nations general budget and 28.5% of its peacekeeping budget, for an overall total of $3,000,000,000 annually. That is, to put it mildly, misleading. It does not take into account contributions to various United Nations agencies and bodies, from an array of United States government agencies including  State, Health and Human Services [HHS], Commerce, Energy, Labor, Defense and Agriculture.
The last time the Office of Management and Budget [OMB], charged with keeping account of all amounts, reported was for the 4 years 2007 through 2010 during which the United States contributed $24,280,000,000!
The OMB’s duty to keep those accounts lapsed in 2011.  However,  December legislation requires the OMB to bring up to date all US contributions to UN agencies.  Other provisions of the legislation focus on the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC). The Administration is required to report  on steps taken to remove permanent agenda items targeting a specific country. Israel is currently the only one. This means that every regular session of the council zeroes in on Israel and usually ends with condemning  resolution. The Administration is also required to include a list of all HRC members that are: subject to U.N. Security Council sanctions; under U.N. investigation for human rights abuses; are terror-sponsors; or are blacklisted under U.S. law for religious freedom abuses.
The US contributes more than 180 countries combined! In return,  the UN routinely votes against the US  on a range of high-priority resolutions. http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/trumps-omb-must-report-billions-us-taxpayer-dollars-un
In contested General Assembly votes 1982-2012, the United States was on the losing side 67.3% of the time. uthttp://townhall.com/columnists/jeffcrouere/2016/12/31/bid-united-nations-goodbye-and-good-riddance-n2265437?
The brilliant Michael Ramirez nailed it 16 years ago:
Not Good Faith Differences
The argument might be made  that maybe the US should have lost those votes; there can be good faith differences. There is no good faith involved.
Prime example is the above-mentioned  UN’s Human Rights Council [HRC].
Raif Badawi was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union’s most prestigious human rights award.  Badawi, a Saudi who criticized his country’s religious authorities, had been publicly flogged and imprisoned By Saudi Arabia. Yet, a Saudi was appointed to head a panel that oversees the HRC. And that is not an anomaly. The HRC includes countries whose governments routinely violate human rights.
There are no standards of conduct for membership on HRC; the seats are filled by General Assembly secret ballot. Current members include China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia. In 2017, the HRC  will have 11 countries graded as “not free” by Freedom House– Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
…some of the world’s worst human rights violators run the UN’s top human rights organization thereby making the UN Charter’s commitment to ‘reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights’ an Orwellian joke.
Fanatical Persecution of Israel
In its annual meeting in March,  2016, the U.N. Commissionon the Status of Women (CSW) condemned only one country for violating women’s rights- Israel…Palestinian women are murdered and subjugated for the sake of male honor, Saudi women can’t drive, Iranian women are stoned to death for so-called “adultery,” Egyptian women have their genitals mutilated and Sudanese women give birth in prison with their legs shackled for being Christian.

That same day, the HRC condemned [Israel] five times more than any other of the 193 UN member states. The Obama Administration has been HRC’s most important supporter.

There are also Non Government Organizations [NGOs], to which the UN offers free facilities and daily advertisement of “side-events…

the UN permitted handouts that claimed Israel “saw ethnic cleansing as a necessary precondition for its existence.”  A film accused Israel of sexual violence against children and “trying to exterminate an entire Palestinian generation…On the ground, Israelis are being hacked to death on the streets, stabbed in buses, slaughtered in synagogues, mowed down with automobiles, and shot in front of their children.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/03/29/can-t-make-it-up-un-names-democratic-israel-as-world-s-top-human-rights-violator.html?

The day the most recent resolution condemning Israel passed with the United States abstaining, the General Assembly approved

…$138,700 to fund …  a first-ever U.N. blacklist of private companies doing business in territories disputed between Israel and the Palestinians….the blacklist will cover companies of any nationality that do business in Israeli ‘settlements’ located in areas claimed by the Palestinians, including Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter…The move…mandated by the HRC…is expected to benefit the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. [Emphasis added.]

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/un-approves-funding-first-anti-israeli-settlement-blacklist?

Meanwhile, since his death, the UN and the HRC have observed minutes of silence to honor Fidel Castro, hailed as a “paradigm of the fight for social justice.”  Since it took power in 1959, the Castro regime has been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths by firing squad, extrajudicial killings, deaths in custody, and deaths at sea while trying to flee the regime. Freedom House, which gives countries annual scores for political rights and civil liberties, has ranked Cuba as ‘not free’ every year since 1973. Yet Cuba has held a seat on the HRC for the last 10 years and has been re-elected for another 3 year term.  During that time, Cuba has not been the subject of a single critical HRC resolution.
What the does UN not acknowledge? The fact that non-Jewish citizens of Israel constitute about 25% of the population, with 20% being Arabs. Arab Israelis have equal voting rights and their own political parties, serve on the Israeli Knesset, Cabinet, and Supreme Court; hold diplomatic positions; are involved in Israeli music, arts and sports.
They are granted all fundamental civil liberties, including freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly, and in fact enjoy more civil rights than Arabs living in any other Middle Eastern country. [Emphasis added.]
UNITED NATIONS’ CORRUPTION AND WASTE
One of most infamous scandals was the 1996 Iraqi Oil for Food program, instituted to allow Iraq, which was under UN sanctions, to sell enough oil to pay for food and other necessities for its population. UN mismanagement allowed Saddam to reap personal profit of some $1.7 billion through kickbacks and surcharges, and $10.9 billion through illegal oil smuggling.  Kojo Annan, son of the then UN Secretary General, received $400,000 from a UN contractor and continued to receive monthly payments from the firm until 2004. Investigation also found that UN mismanagement resulted in $5 million of contractor over-payments, and concluded there were even higher losses not discovered by the limited UN audits.
U.N. peacekeeping operations, mandated to protect civilians, were unresponsive in 80% of incidents where civilians were attacked  and U.N. personnel have been accused of sexual exploitation and abuse in a dozen countries.

Yet, UN employees enjoy benefits and salaries 32 percent higher than U.S. civil servants of equivalent rank; and enjoy immunities. They cannot be sued, arrested, or prosecuted for actions related to their duties but there is little oversight of their activities.

In July 2010, a Swedish auditor who served as Undersecretary-General of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) for 5 years, accused then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his associates of undermining efforts to combat corruption.

One watchdog agency was the Procurement Task Force (PTF), charged in 2006 with preventing corruption:

It uncovered fraud, waste, and mismanagement involving contracts valued at more than $630 million. It led to misconduct findings and convictions of U.N. officials….the PTF was eliminated in 2008—at the behest of countries angry about PTF actions against their nationals holding U.N. staff positions. The U.N. has not completed any major corruption cases since the PTF was eliminated….  nine staffers from various U.N. organizations sent a letter to the Secretary-General asserting that the U.N. affords ‘little to no measure of real or meaningful protection for whistleblowers.‘ [Emphasis added.]

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/06/16/america-pay-way-too-much-for-united-nations.html

As for the numerous UN agencies charged with giving aid, an independent academic study assessing best and worst practices among various aid agencies found:
The biggest difference is between the UN agencies, who mostly rank in the bottom half of donors, and everyone else.
A prime example is United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA].  As, usual,  the US is the largest single contributor.
UNRWA was established as a temporary relief agency for the original refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. The intent was to provide jobs on public works projects, and for 652,000 Arab Palestinians who fled or were expelled.  It has become a never-ending money source for several succeeding generations, now approximately 5 million Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. In 2011, UNRWA’s total budget was $1.2 billion, of which the US contributed 25% of the total and all Muslim countries combined only 15%.
UNRWA’s alleged “screening” program to eliminate terrorist ties does not include Hamas, Hezbollah, or most other militant groups that operate in UNRWA’s surroundings. In an interview, a former UNRWA Commissioner-General remarked:
Oh I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don’t see that as a crime.
A Hamas affiliate, the Islamic Bloc, controls the teachers’ section of the UNRWA union.In Gaza UNRWA schools, it runs indoctrination programs which glorify terrorists, and display maps on which Israel is erased.
Then, there is the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO]. The US left the organization in the 1980s due to its corruption and anti-American policies. In 2003, the United States returned. In 2011, UNESCO was the first UN agency to grant full membership to the Palestinians. This was a violation of the Oslo Accords in which the Palestinians agreed not to claim statehood via UN resolutions. Under US law, the US had to cut off funding to UNESCO. Since then, UNESCO, in tandem with the Obama Administration itself, has been campaigning for the US Congress to change the law in order to resume the flow of money to UNESCO, which routinely joins in condemning Israel.
And the petty games of greed of UN members – 49 nations are eligible for subsidies to travel to the UN. Those who take full advantage of this program pay a net contribution to the UN of of approximately $538 to $1,055.  Reported in 2011: the President of Sierra Leone took two entire floors of the Hyatt and the Rwanda President occupied a $16,000 a night presidential suite at the Mandarin Oriental. A travel allowance, but they can afford luxury accommodations?
Going forward
Some have suggested that the US should evict the UN from the New York property.  Unfortunately, that cannot be done. Neither the US nor New York owns the property . It was donated to the UN by John D. Rockefeller Jr.  and is under the sole administration of the United Nations.
There is a treaty governing the rights of the parties. It provides that the seat of the United Nations shall not be removed from the headquarters district unless the United Nations should so decide; the UN may not dispose of  any part of the land owned by it without the consent of the United States; if the seat of the United Nations is removed from the New York,  on request of either the United Nations or the United States,  the title will be assigned and conveyed to the United States or, if the US refuses, to New York; the price to be paid, absent agreement of the parties, shall be the then fair value of the land, buildings and installations.
It appears that the fair market value of the UN headquarters property is $698 million;  if other UN New York properties are included, the total is $1.68 billion,  a sum far less than the current annual US contributions.
Perhaps the UN might be persuaded to move.  President Trump might say something along these lines:
I am sorry to say to say that  the United States can no longer support the enormous amounts it has contributed to the UN for the past 70 years.  In the last Administration, our debt almost doubled what all prior Administrations had incurred over more than 200 years. It is  anticipated that the debt will exceed $20 trillion by February.
We believe our Office of Management and Budget soon will have the amounts of our recent contributions to the UN and its agencies. To give the UN time to transition, rather than make the necessary reduction all at once,  we will reduce the amount by 30% each year for three years. Thereafter, our annual contribution  will be capped at 10%.
Financial considerations then might prompt the UN to sell the New  York property to the US. The UN has three additional headquarter districts: Geneva, Vienna, and Nairobi (Kenya). The last named was constructed in 1996, and is a 150-acre office complex. It has room for the UN agencies. And Nairobi apparently is eager to be the host city. http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/new-york-united-nations-time-divorce-article-1.1465170
Conclusion
It is long past time the United States end its abuse by the United Nations.
This body was to speak with the voice of moral authority. That was to be its greatest power. … What has happened to the spirit which created the United Nations? The answer is clear: Governments got in the way of the dreams of the people. Dreams became issues of East versus West. Hopes became political rhetoric. Progress became a search for power and domination. …The emergence of blocks and the polarization of the United Nations undermine all that this organization initially valued…The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.
– Ronald Reagan

 

Dick Coleman

Richard M. Coleman served as National Co-Chair, Lawyers for Reagan-Bush ’84 and really does miss RR. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Dick is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the National Caucus of Metropolitan Bar Leaders. A professor on the faculty of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution for 17 years, he received Pepperdine’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has hosted TV forums on legal and financial topics and written and spoken extensively on political issues.

© Richard M. Coleman 2018