Tuesday, October 11, 2005

UN: Reform or Die

Japan is one of four countries that applied for membership on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as part of the latest round of proposed reforms. While the chances of expanding the UNSC were small, the proposition was basically doomed when the four countries vowed to support each other’s membership bids. (Hat Tip: Peking Duck)

Japan does not plan to take its rejection sitting down—or not sitting down since it lacks a seat. Earlier this week the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that Japan plans to cut its UN due payments by five percent. This is most likely just an attempt to draw attention to its UNSC bid, but the effects would be real all the same.

Case for Japan
Japan is currently the second biggest donor (dues are basically option, so the word donor seems appropriate here) to the UN paying almost twenty percent of its operating budget. Japan points out that the other four members of the UNSC behind the United States--France, Britain, Russia, and China--combined pay less than it does (they total 15%). Some have responded that the UNSC is
not a board of directors whose importance is decided according to financial contributions from its members. [source]
While that may be true, Japan also has a better claim than many of those members in other realms. What measure of national strength/influence would give France a right to be on the United Nations but not Japan, or India for that matter? The UNSC is an old-boys club and should be reformed.

Effect on UN
If Japan enacts the proposed funding change, that would reduce the UN’s funding from dues by almost one percent. To quote Martin of Peking Duck:
it leaves quite a sizeable hole to be filled.

Since the UN recently lost its funding from the Oil for Food pillaging program with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, the UN has lost out on its windfall from that (the UN got a 2.2% cut for ‘administrative costs).
How is the UN going to make up for the budget cuts? Turning to America wouldn’t be a good idea. Representative Henry Hyde has introduce legislation which has already passed the House that would reduce America’s contribution unless the UN reforms. It seems that the UN has a choice ahead of it: Reform or whither and possibly follow the path of the League of Nations.

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