Congress Seeks to Regain Influence in United Nations
WASHINGTON — A top State Department official continued the Biden administration’s theme of “We’re back” during a congressional hearing Thursday on the United States’ role in the United Nations.
The State Department is trying to regain leadership positions that suffered setbacks during the go-it-alone international policies of the Trump administration, said Erica Barks-Ruggles, a State Department senior bureau official.
“We are back to make sure the U.N. advances the interests of the United States and the American people,” Barks-Ruggles told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international development.
The U.S. is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying for nearly one-quarter of its budget.
Nevertheless, delegates from adversaries like Russia and China have won elections and appointments to policy-making positions in recent years, Barks-Ruggles said.
In one example, it included a top post in 2019 to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which went to a Chinese candidate after the U.S. State Department and Agriculture Department could not agree on which American candidate to support for the job.
Winners of U.N. elections often use their positions to push policies that do not reflect U.S. interests, according to lawmakers.
In one example, China has been able to exclude Taiwan from many international programs. Taiwan claims independence as a nation but China says Taiwan is a renegade part of its own country.
China’s huge military buildup of recent years is suspected to have control of Taiwan in its crosshairs.
Lawmakers held the hearing Thursday partly because they want to ensure the American loss of influence does not continue in upcoming U.N. elections. They include campaigns to lead the International Labor Organization, the World Health Organization and Interpol.
Interpol refers to the International Criminal Police Organization, a U.N. organization that coordinates worldwide police cooperation and crime control.
“The candidate pool has to be better in order to get folks elected,” Barks-Ruggles said.
One strategy she described was a database the State Department is developing to identify issues the United States seeks to influence and matching personnel who are best qualified to lead U.S. policies.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, described U.S. action toward leadership in the United Nations as “uneven” in an apparent reference to Trump administration policies.
He endorsed a bigger U.S. role to avoid the conflicts and coercion that can accompany international disagreement.
“It is essential that the United States stays deeply engaged with the U.N.,” said Castro, who chairs the subcommittee on international development.
Many of his comments reflected his contributions to the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act, which the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved in July. It is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.
Key provisions would elevate the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to a presidential cabinet position, require prompt payment of dues by the United States to international organizations it joins and transfer qualified federal employees from other agencies to serve in international organizations.
Another provision seeks to counter China’s transfer of ballistic missiles and nuclear technology to Middle Eastern countries.
Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., expressed concern that the U.S. influence on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council has eroded, thereby allowing authoritarian regimes to gloss over their own human rights violations.
The Human Rights Council is one of the United Nations’ most politically influential organizations. Its mission is to promote and protect human rights worldwide.
Malliotakis called the Geneva-based Human Rights Council “a fundamentally corrupt organization” that is known for “covering up the crimes of the world’s worst human rights abusers.”
She added, “This administration has done nothing to drive real reforms at the Council.”
Tom can be reached at email@example.com
In The News
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials have determined a Russian effort is underway to create a pretext for its troops... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials have determined a Russian effort is underway to create a pretext for its troops to further invade Ukraine, and Moscow has already prepositioned operatives to conduct "a false-flag operation" in eastern Ukraine, according to the White House. White House press... Read More
WASHINGTON — The rapidly evolving turmoil and political leadership shift in Kazakhstan drew reactions from Washington, with special concern over... Read More
WASHINGTON — The rapidly evolving turmoil and political leadership shift in Kazakhstan drew reactions from Washington, with special concern over the involvement of Russian-led security forces. But former U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan George Krol (2015-2018) says that despite all that is going on between Russia and... Read More
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are set to discuss the Russian troop buildup near Ukraine during their... Read More
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin are set to discuss the Russian troop buildup near Ukraine during their second call in recent weeks amid little progress toward ending the smoldering crisis. Ahead of Thursday's call, the White House indicated that Biden would make clear... Read More
WASHINGTON — A well-known Harvard University nanotechnology professor is scheduled for trial Tuesday in Boston, Massachusetts, in a case that... Read More
WASHINGTON — A well-known Harvard University nanotechnology professor is scheduled for trial Tuesday in Boston, Massachusetts, in a case that also tests the Justice Department’s initiative to crack down on spying for China. Charles Lieber claims he was merely collaborating as a scholar with scientists at... Read More
WASHINGTON — The get-tough attitude toward China’s trade practices was on full display Thursday during a congressional hearing as international... Read More
WASHINGTON — The get-tough attitude toward China’s trade practices was on full display Thursday during a congressional hearing as international tensions heat up. Trade experts and lawmakers accused China of unfairly subsidizing its industries to beat out American competitors, stealing intellectual property and exploiting loopholes in... Read More
GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Trade Organization has postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years, citing concerns over the... Read More
GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Trade Organization has postponed its first ministerial meeting in four years, citing concerns over the new coronavirus variant. The move will effectively delay a vote on a waiver sought by several developing countries on the intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines... Read More