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|Wednesday, January 17, 2001, updated at 17:32(GMT+8)|
It's Time for US to Pay Debts"It's right and proper to pay off the money one owes". However, what is inconceivable is that for more than a decade, the United States has all along been in arrears with the UN membership due, with the result that the United Nations has been in financial straits and has had to borrow all around in order to keep it running.
In the past two years, the UN fiscal budget has experienced a zero growth of about US$2.5 billion. Meanwhile, according to statistics, the United States has so far been in arrears with US$1.5 billion worth of UN membership due.
On the Christmas Eve last year, the plenary session of the 55th UN General Assembly passed, by the method of reaching unanimity through consultation, a new program on UN regular budget and the ratio of share of expenditures. This was a similar resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly for the first time since 1973.
According to the resolution, the rate of assessment on the regular budget for the United States is to be reduced from the original 25 percent to 22 percent, its share for peace-keeping expenditure will also be cut from the original 30 percent to 27 percent. The resolution says, if the United States fails to clear off all the membership due it owes by 2003, the ratio of its share of membership due will be restored to the previous level.
The establishment of the United Nations was one of the major events that affected the process of human history in the 20th century. At present, its activities have covered many fields of human life, in particular, it is playing an irreplaceable role in safeguarding world peace and promoting common development. The final resolution passed by the United Nations at the end of the century was a resolution concerning the rate of the share of membership due, an issue that concerns its own subsistence.
People cannot help asking: Many poor developing countries can pay membership due in time, why then the United States, the richest country in the world, cannot fulfill its bounden duty as set in the "ability to pay" principle and thus becomes the country owing the most debts to the United Nations? Could it be that it is really so poor as to be unable to pay the membership due?
The answer is definitely negative. At present, the US economy is in a stage of unprecedented growth with its annual GNP reaching as high as nearly US$10,000 billion, representing about 30 percent of the world total. Compared with the huge sum of US$10,000 billion, the petty amount of US$1.5 billion is just like "a hair from nine cows' back-the least amount".
In sharp contrast to this, the United States, in its bid to maintain its strategic superiority, consolidate and strengthen its position as a superpower, stints no money in increasing its military expenditures.
According to the Americans' own estimation, from 1940 to 1996, the money the US spent on the development and production of nuclear weapons alone had reached as high as US$5,000 billion. After the conclusion of the Cold War, the United States had twice substantially increased its defense expenditures. Last year, the 2001 defense budget passed by the US Congress stands at US$288 billion, a sharp rise of US$18 billion over that of the previous fiscal year.
If only the United States can use less than one-tenth of its newly increased military spending to repay its overdue membership fee, it can readily remove the label "a country which repudiates a debt". Regrettably, the United States simply does not want to do so.
The US defaults of UN membership due is not an "economic issue", but rather, it does so out of "political consideration". As everybody knows, the United States has special relationship with the United Nations. The United Nations was the cornerstone for post-war international cooperation designed by former US President Roosevelt. The United States held the dominant right over the whole process from the proposal and formulation of the UN Charter to deciding on the founding members. The United States not only provided the United Nations with a seat for its headquarters, but had all along been the biggest financial supporter of the United Nations.
However, the United States has also gained inestimable benefits from the United Nations. Leaving aside the fact that the establishment of the UN headquarters in New York has brought considerable economic benefits for the United States, from the political point of view alone, the United States has long been flaunting the banner of the United Nations to pursue its global strategy, therefore, in the eyes of many Americans, the United Nations is only "an extremely effective tool" in the hands of the United States.
However, along with the participation of numerous developing countries, the combination of forces of the United Nations has undergone tremendous change and its role has experienced qualitative change, it is no longer a "voting machine" to be willfully controlled by the United States, in the view of some US Congressmen, the "membership due paid by the United States is incommensurate to its right to speak in the United Nations".
That is one of the main reasons why the United States has "turned hostile" to the United Nations. On the other hand, US defaults of membership due have put the UN finance in a straitened circumstance. This can further "prove" the colossal expenditures of the United Nations and its poor management, it also serves as a foil to the necessity for the United States to tighten its control over the United Nations so as to incorporate the reform of UN agencies into the American concept.
In addition, although globalism after Cold War continues to sway US diplomatic policy, US domestic politics tend to be conservative, the trend of new isolationism has raised its head, the United States is unwilling to participate too many UN actions which bring not much repayment to it. This pragmatic attitude characterized by "utilizing it when necessary; throwing it away when unnecessary" naturally also dampens its enthusiasm in paying membership due.
The American long-term defaults of huge sum of membership due are very unpopular, it is not only widely reproached within the United Nations and thus seriously harms the image of the United States, but domestically also goes against the popular will. Seven US former Secretaries of State once sent letters to US Congress, earnestly urging the latter to approve allocations to repay its UN membership due in arrears as soon as possible. At the turn of the century, acceptance of the UN's new program on the ratio of share of membership due by various UN member states demonstrates the determination and political will of various countries to strengthen the role of the United Nations.
The United States has long been complaining that the proportion of its share of membership due is too big and demanding a reduction. Now, this demand of the United States has largely been satisfied. As the saying goes, "Credit is weightier than gold", if the United States still fails to pay its overdue membership fee timely, fully and unconditionally, what else can it have to say.
The article is carried on the seventh page of the People's Daily Tuesday, January 16.
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