- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

In his March 26 Commentary piece, “Beneficial payment cap on peacekeeping,” Brett D. Schaefer says that although Congress is expected to approve payment of some $582 million in U.N. arrears, “U.N. officials claim we owe considerably more some $685 million.”

Actually, by the end of 2000, the United States owed $1.3 billion dollars a figure provided not by U.N. officials, but one that has been calculated on the basis of decisions made by the General Assembly, of which the United States is a member.

Mr. Schaefer also repeatedly refers to a “promise to lower the U.S. assessment.” In December, the General Assembly decided to adopt a new scale of assessments for 2001-2003, under which the United States is responsible for 22 percent of the regular U.N. budget, down from 25 percent. The General Assembly also agreed to revise, from July 1, 2001, the formula for peacekeeping assessment rates.

Because the formula for calculating peacekeeping assessments is based on countries´ regular budget assessments, the U.S. share of the peacekeeping budget also will decline, from more than 30 percent last year to a little more than 28 percent in the first half of this year. By the second half of 2003, as a result of the new formula, the U.S. share of the peacekeeping budget should be a little more than 27 percent.

With these adjustments, as many U.N. member states have noted, the United States will be in a unique position among high-income countries, having a U.N. assessment rate that is below its share of the member states´ combined gross national product. Any claim that “the United States will be overcharged for quite a while” ought to be evaluated in that context.


FRED ECKHARD

Spokesman for the Secretary-General

of the United Nations

New York


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