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Key Republican calls UN Human Rights Council ‘a waste of taxpayer dollars’

By Sahil Kapur
Monday, January 24, 2011 8:39 EDT
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WASHINGTON – As part of their efforts to cut the federal budget, numerous House Republicans have made moves to slash US funding for the United Nations.

House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL.) has called for hearings to slash US funding for the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (HRC), which she describes as “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“I’d like to make sure that we once and for all kill all US funding for that beast,” Ros-Lehtinen told The Hill. “Because I don’t think that it advances US interests, I don’t think that that’s a pro-democracy group, it’s a rogue’s gallery, pariah states, they belong there because they don’t want to be sanctioned.”

The first briefing, titled “The United Nations: Urgent Problems that Need Congressional Action,” would be on Monday, wherein UN critics would testify in favor of de-funding the HRC.

Several other Republicans have introduced legislation to cut funding for the UN.

One measure by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) forbids the use of federal funds for “design, renovation, construction, or rental of any headquarters for the United Nations in any location in the United States,” unless the White House certifies that the UN “has adopted internationally recognized best practices in contracting and procurement.”

Another bill by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, called “The Cut Unsustainable and Top-Heavy Spending Act of 2011,” would slash US contributions to the UN by 10 percent for the fiscal year 2011.

In the fiscal year 2010, the US contributed more than $3 billion to the UN, according to the Better World Campaign, a small sliver of the multi-trillion dollar federal budget.

The moves raise questions as to whether the new Republican majority in the House may envision a more isolationist United States — at least diplomatically, if not in matters of war — hearkening back to a core GOP stance in the 1930s.

The United States has a complicated relationship with the UN, invoking it on issues such as sanctioning Iran but bypassing it on matters such as the invasion of Iraq and punishing Israel for alleged human rights violations.

The Bush administration boycotted the Human Rights Council, opting not to seek a US seat when it was formed in 2006. The policy was initially reversed in the second month of the Obama administration, but effectively re-implemented in April of 2009 after Obama officials objected to HRC’s criticisms of Israel.

The HRC has also come under fire for granting seats to human rights violators such as Libya, Malaysia and Angola.

 
 
 
 
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