CUTTING EXPENSES AT THE UNITED NATIONS
(House of Representatives - April 21, 1998)

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[Pages H2060-H2061]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                 CUTTING EXPENSES AT THE UNITED NATIONS

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 21, 1997, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Stearns) is 
recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.
  Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call the House's attention 
to a very interesting article that appeared in the current issue of the 
National Review. The article is entitled ``Unreformed United Nations,'' 
and it is written by Stephen Halper, who is a former White House and 
State Department official. He writes a syndicated column and anchors 
Radio America's ``This Week From Washington.''
  Many of the comments he had in this article, I think, are appropriate 
to bring to the attention of my colleagues. Many of us here in Congress 
believe we need major reform in the United Nations, and the time is 
now.
  Boutros-Ghali, who was the former head of the United Nations, once 
told the Washington Post ``perhaps half the U.N. Staff does nothing 
useful.'' That is a staggering statement. Mr. Halper's argument is that 
Mr. Annan, who is the present head of the United Nations, is more tied 
to the U.N. bureaucracy, is a defender of the faith of the United 
Nations, and appears to be not committed to real reform. I hope this is 
not true.
  Mr. Speaker, Congress has demanded reductions in the United Nations' 
worldwide staff of 53,000 people. Now, this does not include 10,000 
consultants or the peacekeeping forces which reached 80,000 people in 
1993 and reductions in the most generous salary and benefit package in 
public life. These are sort of simple things that I think most Members 
would agree with.
  Mr. Annan, who is the leader of the United Nations, has put forward 
his own reform plan, and let me quote from his plan. ``Consolidate 12 
secretarial departments into five, but without

[[Page H2061]]

cutting any of the 9,000 strong secretarial staff.''

                              {time}  1245

  Now, if you cut 10 percent, that would be 900. If you cut 1 percent, 
that would be 90. So, really, not even being able to cut 1 percent is 
surprising.
  I go on with what he suggests his reform plan includes: ``Three 
economic development departments, representing $122 million of the 
Secretary's budget and employing 700 people, are reduced to one.'' That 
sounds like an efficient approach but, again, without reduction in any 
personnel, without reduction in any expenditures.
  Also, he has two human rights offices in Geneva that are going to be 
merged into one; again, without any reduction in personnel or 
expenditures.
  Anan's reform plan does not address salary issues or the lack of an 
independent Inspector General. Last year, a mid-level U.N. accountant 
made $84,000 a year, as opposed to an average of $41,962 for his 
private sector counterpart. An assistant secretary general made 
$190,250. Now, this is an assistant secretary general. Do we know what 
the mayor of New York City makes? He makes $130,000.
  Most U.N. salaries are tax-free. Many employees have rent subsidies 
of up to $3,800. To put that in perspective, we, as Members of 
Congress, have no rent subsidies. They also have annual educational 
grants of $12,675 per child. Again, Mr. Anan does not propose any 
changes in any of these salary arrangements.
  So I agree with some of the conclusions from Mr. Halper's article. He 
sets forth certain conditions that must be met before anybody in this 
Congress agrees to vote for payment of back U.N. dues: First, payment 
of past dues should hinge on a tangible reform in four clear, distinct 
categories. Again, Mr. Speaker, we are going to be voting on past dues 
this week, so it is appropriate that I talk about it.
  We need to reduce bureaucracy, reduce salaries and perks for those 
who remain. We need the creation, once and for all, of an Inspector 
General, independent of the Secretary General; and, fourthly, a shift 
in priorities to humanitarian assistance programs and not to military 
intervention.
  Mr. Speaker, I am beginning to draft a concurrent resolution that I 
will introduce shortly to the House that would state that the Congress 
will not approve any back dues until there is veritable proof that the 
United Nations has achieved the previously mentioned four simple 
conditions. I believe the United States and Congress must draw the line 
to force real and substantive reform at the U.N. before the U.N. 
receives one past dime of any financial obligation.

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