This report is submitted pursuant to the “United Nations Participation Act of 1945” (Public Law 79-264). Section 4 of this law provides in part that:
“The President shall from time to time as occasion may require, but not less than once each year, make reports to the Congress of the activities of the United Nations and of the participation of the United States therein.”
This report summarizes the activities of the U.S. government in the United Nations and its agencies. It seeks briefly to assess UN achievements during 2010, the effectiveness of U.S. participation in the United Nations, and whether U.S. goals were advanced.
Please note that expanded and complementary information related to U.S. engagement with the United Nations for 2010 and previous years is available online at http://www.state.gov/p/io/rls/rpt/index.htm .
In 2010, the United States continued to exercise its leadership at the United Nations and in a host of international organizations in support of U.S. national interests. That effort was evident in a host of multilateral fora, many of which are discussed in the following report and/or in the complementary information noted above.
As in prior years, the United States reinforced the need for an effective, efficient, transparent, and credible UN system. U.S. leadership was instrumental across the spectrum of UN and international organizations, and perhaps most evident on issues related to peace and security, including enhanced UN Security Council (UNSC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) scrutiny of Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities. The United States also further invigorated its leadership on human rights issues, including through strengthened engagement at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on country situations and crucial global challenges including discrimination against women.
Initiatives to advance U.S. interests in the UN system are summarized as follows:
- Political and Security Affairs;
- Economic and Social Affairs;
- Specialized Agencies;
- Legal Developments; and
- Budget and Administration
Political and Security Affairs
The United States is actively engaged on political and security issues across the UN system. That engagement is often most apparent in the context of U.S. leadership at the UNSC, but also includes important U.S. actions and initiatives in the UN General Assembly (UNGA), and in specialized agencies such as the IAEA, the HRC, and other international organizations.
The UNSC again was heavily engaged in efforts to resolve conflicts and to give direction to UN peacekeeping missions. Much of its attention was focused on Africa and the Middle East.
The United States led the UNSC effort to respond decisively to the grave threat to international peace and security posed by Iran’s failure to live up to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As President Obama said, “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.” UNSCR 1929 expanded the arms embargo on Iran and further tightened existing restrictions on financial and shipping enterprises related to proliferation-sensitive activities. The resolution increased the cost to Iran's leadership of its continued defiance of the international community, and aimed to persuade Iran of its own interest in peacefully resolving concerns about its nuclear program. Sanctions were carefully designed to target individuals and entities most responsible for its nuclear program, not the Iranian citizenry.
The resolution highlighted the potential linkage between Iran's energy-sector revenues and procurement and its nuclear activities and proliferation. It further stressed the need to exercise vigilance over all Iranian banks to prevent proliferation-related transactions. The resolution also reaffirmed the international community's willingness to resolve concerns over Iran's nuclear program through negotiations, while specifying steps that Iran must take to restore confidence in its nuclear program, thus allowing sanctions to be suspended or terminated.
The United States also continued to maintain international focus on North Korea. UNSCR 1928 extended the mandate of the panel of experts that oversees arms embargoes and economic and travel sanctions until mid-year 2011. UNGA resolution 65/225 again deplored North Korea’s human rights record, with a majority voting in favor and only 10 percent against.
Another important achievement during 2010 was the U.S. effort to draft and pass UNSCR 1960 on women, peace, and security. That resolution demanded all parties in armed conflicts to cease all acts of sexual violence, and make and implement specific, timely commitments, both to stop sexual violence and investigate alleged abuses.
The UNSC agreed that sexual violence in armed conflicts is an urgent and immense challenge that cries out to the world’s conscience, and whose human cost is all too real. Resolution 1960 sent a clear message that rape and sexual violence in armed conflicts are unacceptable and that perpetrators will face consequences.
Concerning Israel and its Arab neighbors, the UNSC used the extension of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to respond to the armed clash of Israeli and Lebanese forces on August 3, 2010. Resolution 1937, among other things, deplored the incident, called strongly for respecting the cessation of hostilities, and emphasized allowing UNIFIL to fulfill its mandate.
When the UNSC debated Israel’s use of force on May 31 in turning back a flotilla attempting to reach Gaza, the United States succeeded in limiting the Council’s action to a presidential statement that condemned the actions which resulted in deaths and injuries, and deeply regretted the losses.
The United States spearheaded a large and multi-pronged response to the cataclysmic January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Along with the immense damage and numbers of dead and injured, the earthquake destroyed the headquarters of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and killed 102 UN staff. The United States was actively engaged in supporting MINUSTAH politically and materially, in addition to providing direct support to Haiti. MINUSTAH continued to provide stability and security while working with other UN agencies, governments, and non-governmental organizations to provide humanitarian assistance and support relief efforts. UNSCR 1908 authorized additional military and police forces, while resolution 1927 authorized hundreds more UN police to accelerate capacity-building for the Haitian National Police, to expand protection of vulnerable groups, and to combat sexual and gender-based violence in displaced persons camps. The U.S. Southern Command and MINUSTAH established a joint center that focused particularly on joint exercises and disaster preparedness. UNSCR 1944 extended MINUSTAH’s mandate until October, and provided additional direction for supporting presidential and legislative elections.
Economic and Social Affairs
The United States continued to press forward with its commitment to the promotion and defense of universal human rights in the HRC. In addition to leading the effort to censure Iran’s human rights violations, U.S. efforts were crucial in renewing the mandates of special rapporteurs for Burma and North Korea, as well as for independent human rights monitors for Sudan and Darfur. U.S. support was also vital in creating an HRC working group to examine and prevent discrimination against women.
U.S. support for the World Food Program (WFP) continued at an unparalleled level. The world’s largest emergency food assistance agency, the WFP provided food aid to 108 million people in 75 countries, including 89 million women and children, plus 2.5 million people affected by HIV/AIDS. For the calendar year, the WFP provided $3.8 billion worth of assistance to the needy and vulnerable in crisis. In FY 2010, the United States again was the largest donor to the WFP, contributing $1.665 billion. Close to $1.5 billion came from USAID, $151 million from the Department of Agriculture, and $35 million from the Department of State.
The United States continued its active engagement with the full panoply of UN specialized and technical agencies. The work of these organizations, while seldom gathering headlines, is crucially important to a smoothly operating international system. For example, in the fields of health, maritime commerce and safety, postal cooperation, electronic communications, intellectual property, and civil aviation, U.S. participation in UN agencies was ongoing and important.
In UN entities whose work is often more visible, including the IAEA and the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), U.S. leadership and contributions were essential. The United States kept the IAEA focused on Iran’s longstanding non-compliance with the IAEA requirements concerning its continuing nuclear enrichment program, while also shining a strong and steady light on Syria’s previous efforts to develop military nuclear capacity. The UNHCR assisted over 34.4 million refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons, and others, and the United States again was its largest donor, contributing over $700 million.
U.S. support continued to be particularly important for successful fulfillment of the missions of the international criminal tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the Cambodia Khmer Rouge tribunal, the special tribunal for Lebanon, and the special court for Sierra Leone.
Budget and Administration
UNGA approved a revised biennial budget of $5.37 billion, an increase of $208.3 million (4 percent).
U.S. calendar year payments totaled $3.35 billion. Most of the U.S. payments, approximately $2.67 billion, related to peacekeeping assessments. The United States paid $532.5 million toward the UN regular budget.
The United States continued to play a leading role in efforts to strengthen accountability. With strong leadership from the United States, UNGA resolution 64/259 defined, for the first time, accountability of UN officials to hold them responsible for safeguarding resou