FACT CHECK: Does The US Pay Over 20 Percent Of The UN Budget?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Former White House advisor Sebastian Gorka claimed the U.S. pays over 20 percent of the U.N. budget on “Fox & Friends” Saturday.

“We are paying more than 20 percent of the U.N.’s budget. If you look at the peacekeeping activities, the military side of the house, we are paying almost a third, 28 percent,” said Gorka.

Verdict: True

The U.S. must pay 22 percent of the U.N. budget for 2016 to 2018. The U.S. contributes an even higher share for some agencies within the U.N.

Fact Check:

The U.N. determines required contribution levels for each member state based on factors like gross national income and debt. Based on this calculation, the U.S. paid 22 percent of the U.N.’s $5.4 billion budget for 2016 and 2017, the maximum contribution allowed. State Department documents confirm the U.S. allocated $1.2 billion toward the budget during these years.

U.S. funding of U.N. operations is under scrutiny after 128 member states voted to condemn President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Thursday. Trump threatened to cut U.S. funding to countries that voted for the resolution.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the resolution disrespectful, particularly because the U.S. pays more than any other country to the U.N. “When we make generous contributions to the U.N., we also have a legitimate expectation that our good will is recognized and respected,” she said in remarks before the U.N. General Assembly Thursday.

Then Haley announced Sunday that the U.S. had negotiated a $285 million cut for the U.N.’s 2018-2019 budget. The new budget “reduced the UN’s bloated management and support functions, bolstered support for key U.S. priorities throughout the world, and instilled more discipline and accountability throughout the U.N system,” according to a statement from Haley’s office.

Some argue the U.S. contribution share is reasonable since the U.S. accounts for about a quarter of the world’s income. The next-highest contributors to the U.N. budget are Japan at 9.7 percent and China at 7.9 percent, although China holds the second-largest share of world income at 14 percent.

Gorka also correctly stated the U.S. pays for 28 percent of the U.N.’s peacekeeping budget, which costs the U.S. about $2.4 billion per year. The U.N. agreed in June to cut its peacekeeping budget by $570 million to $7.3 billion after pressure from the U.S. The U.S. wanted to cut the peacekeeping budget to under $7 billion.

“Just five months into our time here, we’ve already been able to cut over half a billion dollars from the UN peacekeeping budget and we’re only getting started,” Haley said in June when she announced the cuts.

In addition to the U.N. regular and peacekeeping budgets, the U.S. contributes to U.N. agencies like the World Health Organization, World Food Program and UNICEF. The U.S. contributed $1.5 billion to the U.N. Refugee Agency in 2016, 38 percent of the agency’s total revenue. This is the largest proportion of U.N. agency revenue funded by the U.S.

The U.S. contributed more than $10 billion in total to U.N. agencies in 2016, of which $6 billion was voluntary, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. U.N. contributions account for about 20 percent of U.S. foreign aid spending each year.

Critics of U.S.-led budget cuts worry they will harm U.N. programs and threaten agreed-upon contribution levels. But the U.S. has shown no signs it will reverse course.

“We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked,” Haley said in a statement Sunday.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter