The US Budget Compromise Looks Pretty Good for the UN and Global Health

The just-agreed upon FY 2016 omnibus funding measure in the US Congress avoids a government shut down. That’s always a good thing. But there’s more! Advocates of US global engagement through the United Nations and beyond are genuinely pleased with what a bi-partisan coalition in the House and Senate have put forward as a compromise to keep the lights on and America’s bills paid.

As proposed, the FY 16 spending bill fully funds American dues to the United Nations and UN Peacekeeping. It appropriates $2.62 billion for UN Peacekeeping missions around the world–17 in all. That figure reflects the full share of American dues to UN peacekeeping, which amounts to 27% of UN peacekeeping’s entire budget.

At $1.45 billion for the Contributions to International Organizations (CIO) account, the FY 2016 bill also includes adequate funding for the regular UN budget, which is assessed separately from UN Peacekeeping.  This includes everything from salaries for UN employees in New York to support for the UN’s key political missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, this is the full amount of what the USA owes in dues payments to the UN

Finally, the budget agreement actually increases from the White House budget request American contributions to the UN Development Program, UNICEF, and UN Women to the tune of $334 million. That is particularly significant as these agencies are an important part of the global constellation of development and humanitarian organizations that are grappling with an unprecedented global refugee crisis. Alas, because it perennially (and unnecessarily)  gets caught up in domestic abortion politics, the UN Population Fund was not not funded at all in this measure.

“While tough decisions must be made in this challenging fiscal climate, working with the UN is a resoundingly good bargain for us,” says Peter Yeo, director of the Better World Campaign* in an emailed statement. “Congress has led the way to robust UN funding for seven years now, and we are confident that this bill’s enactment will again enable the U.S. to fulfill its multilateral commitments.”

The FY 2016 budget agreement also provides funding levels for global health and international development priorities at which the advocacy community is generally pleased.  As the budget was released, Erin Hohlfelder, global health policy director at the ONE Campaign tweeted this out.

It is always hard to predict how these budget negotiations will shake out when they go down to the wire. So, it should be some measure of consolation for the globally-minded set that the UN and global health made it through this process more or less unscathed. Deeper still, the fact that this was a bi-partisan compromise shows that both sides of the aisle agree that these these are priorities for US global engagement worthy of sufficient funding.


*As regular readers know, the UN Foundation’s Better World Campaign supports UN Dispatch