- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 28, 2007

Peacekeeping dues

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, last week introduced legislation to pay Washington’s peacekeeping dues in full by lifting the 1994 cap limiting payments to 25 percent of the department’s budget.

The United Nations has been assessing the United States 27 percent since 1994. The difference of two percentage points will begin to add up to significant arrears if allowed to accrue, a fact that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made plain during his trip to Capitol Hill and the White House two weeks ago.

The shortfall “will result in a $150 million or $200 million annual shortage of American contributions, which will, if it is accumulated, create very difficult constraints in smoothly carrying out peacekeeping operations,” Mr. Ban said when he returned from the two-day visit.

“I have raised this issue in my meetings with President Bush and all the congressional leaders. I strongly appealed and requested that the U.S. Congress lift this spending cap, this peacekeeping-operations cap of 25 percent.”

The United States is now about $80 million behind in its obligations for 2006 to the department of peacekeeping, but that amount will grow as peacekeeping operations increase. New or expanded missions are planned for Sudan’s Darfur region, Lebanon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among other hot spots.

“At a time when our government continues to seek important reforms at the United Nations, it is a mistake for us to continue to fall short on our dues at the U.N.,” Mr. Biden said. He sought similar legislation last year, but the bill did not make it out of the Republican-controlled Senate.

Holocaust resolution

The U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution Friday to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and take aim at those who deny the magnitude of the World War II tragedy, in which Nazi Germany tried to exterminate the Jews.

The text, drafted by the United States and co-sponsored by 102 nations, “condemns without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust” and “urges all member states unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end.”

It was passed by acclamation rather than a vote, and Iran — widely seen as the target of the resolution, after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated denial of the Holocaust and the legitimacy of the state of Israel — disassociated itself from the consensus.

“If the thrust of the draft resolution is to condemn the crime of genocide, the assembly, through a great number of resolutions, has already addressed this concern of grave nature,” said Iranian diplomat Hossein Gharibi, adding that the sponsors were perverting the U.N. General Assembly for political purposes.

“We, like many other countries, have condemned genocide against any race, ethnic or religious group as a crime against humanity,” Mr. Gharibi added. “In our view, there is no justification for genocide of any kind, nor can there be any justification for the attempts made by some, particularly by the Israeli regime, to exploit the past crimes as a pretext to commit new genocides and crimes.”

Mr. Ban’s modest life

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appears to have been living a modest life, according to the nine-page disclosure form his office issued Friday.

Mr. Ban earned between $50,000 and $100,000 last year as South Korea’s foreign minister, his sole source of 2006 income.

However, he has acquired a home in Seoul worth between $500,000 and $1 million, and owns a plot of land in the capital worth a little less than $1 million.

The secretary-general has two savings accounts — one in New York and one in Seoul — both with less than $100,000.

His wife, Yoo Soon-taek, has no reported income or investments, but she owns a nonresidential building in Kyonggi province and keeps less than $10,000 in a Korean checking account. The couple’s daughter and son-in-law work for UNICEF in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mr. Ban’s statement was vetted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, and his staff said it was made public to inspire other U.N. officials to voluntarily do the same.

Betsy Pisik can be reached at bpisik @washingtontimes.com.

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