US Funding to UN Humanitarian Agencies

November 15, 2018
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Policy Overview and Asks

After World War II, the United Nations played a crucial role in rebuilding the global order by utilizing international cooperation to bring global peace, security, and prosperity. Amidst the chaos, the U.S. has arisen as a champion in the body and played crucial roles in fostering international communication and shaping the foundations of the postwar world.

 

Nearly 75 years later, we worry that the U.S. leadership and commitment to the UN and multilateral solutions to global challenges are faltering. In 2018, the Trump Administration issued plans to reduce both peacekeeping and voluntary payments for the UN. The White House also requested to defund the International Organizations and Programs Account that funds many important programs such as the UN Environment Program, UN Women, the UN Development Program, and UNICEF. Similarly,

on March 2018, the US Department of State invoked the Kemp-Kasten Amendment to withhold funding from UNFPA based on an unsubstantiated accusation that the agency supports coercive abortions or involuntary sterilizations in China. 

With our partner organizations - Penn for UNICEF, Seneca International, and Penn Society for International Development, PPC presented research that expresses concerns for the Trump Administration’s repeated attempts to cut U.S. funding to UNICEF and the UNFPA. The two UN agencies provide invaluable work to populations that become the most vulnerable in humanitarian settings – youth, children, and women. UNICEF helped save the lives of 122 million children between 1990 and 2016 and provided 12.5 million children with learning materials in 2017 alone. As the UN’s chief authority in maternal health, UNFPA prevented 125,000 maternal deaths and provided sexual and reproductive health services to 12.9 million adolescents from 2014 to 2017.

 

PPC Action

The PPC team traveled to Washington, D.C. on October 23rd, where we had numerous meetings with multiple Senators’ offices to discuss the topic of UN Funding, specifically for the UNFPA and UNICEF. The day began well with a short Q and A session with Sarah Craven, the Washington Office director of the UN Population Fund. She provided some excellent insights into the legislative process of appropriations and how Washington, D.C. has changed while she has been working in the city. Prior to the meeting, PPC worked closely to interview and receive feedback from staff members from UNICEF and UNICEF-USA to build a strong policy case as well.

 

Next the PPC team divided into two groups to go to our twelve meetings with different Senators and Representatives’ offices. The first two meetings of the day were with Senator Casey and Senator Schumer’s offices, both PPC teams had productive first meetings. After that Senator Van Hollen and Coons’ offices were the next stop, again, productive meeting were had with the offices understanding the necessity of UN funding. After that Senators Murray and Feinstein’s offices were next, followed by Congressman Lieu and Congresswoman Lowey’s offices, then Congressman Boyle and Senator Harris’ offices, with the day ending at Senators Markey and Booker’s offices. 

 

Each meeting went well, with every office being very receptive to defending UN funding. All in all, it was an excellent outing for the PPC team. Another Capitol Hill visit completed, with our newest members gaining valuable experience and insights into the legislative process.