Iowans on Capitol Hill making case to fully fund the United Nations

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A group of Iowans is on Capitol Hill battling to keep the United Nations fully funded. Members of the Iowa United Nations Association visited lawmakers urging them to vote in favor of funding the organization. They say the U.N. needs the U.S. just as much as the U.S. needs the U.N.

Andrea Cohen, executive director of the Iowa United Nations Association for the United States of America, says if the U.S. fails to fully fund the U.N., they lose an important place on the international stage.

Andrea Cohen’s message to her elected representatives: “Fund international peace.” Cohen is the executive director of the Iowa United Nations Association. She says she is fearful Congress is going to vote to significantly cut funding for the U.N.

“Defunding the U.N. has far reaching consequences as far as multilateral relationships goes, security goes, trade goes,” said Cohen.

The Trump administration suggested widespread cuts to the U.N. in its proposed budget. Cohen says having a role in the U.N. gives the U.S. an important voice on the international stage.

“If we move away from the table and lose our seat, we lose our ability to influence,” said Cohen.

John Fraser is president of the Iowa United Nations Association. He says the U.N. is not perfect, but it can improve.

“It’s better than anything that we have right now to resolve really tough issues: refugee issues, climate change issues, food issues,” said Fraser.

Some say they cannot look past the imperfect elements of the U.N. Hannah Thoburn from the conservative Hudson Institute says the U.S. can leverage change in the organization.

“We are one of the five members of the U.N. Security Council and we do give a large amount of money. At a certain point some of those reforms are going to have to take place,” said Thoburn

She says cutting off funding altogether is dangerous. But, Thoburn says, continuing to fund an organization that doesn’t always have US interests in mind doesn’t make sense.

“It may be easier to target what we actually want done and target the monies that are going to that particular area and program rather than keeping it all back,” said Thoburn.

Funding decisions for the U.N. will be made when Congress puts together its final budget later in the year. According to the U.N. website, the U.S. currently contributes about 29 percent of total U.N. funding. The second largest contribution comes from China at about 10 percent