NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 8, 2010

Since 2000 about 95 percent of member states in the United Nations that receive U.S. assistance have voted against the United States most of the time in the U.N. General Assembly on non-consensus votes.  The United States should inform aid recipients that their support -- or lack of support -- for U.S. priorities in the United Nations and other international organizations will directly affect future decisions on allocating U.S. assistance, says the Heritage Foundation. 

In order to strengthen and broaden support for America's policies in the United Nations, the United States should also seek to build coalitions of like-minded nations that are firmly committed to political and economic freedom.  Over the long term, U.S. aid could facilitate the expansion of these coalitions by encouraging more countries to become freer, both politically and economically, says Heritage. 

The United Nations is a profoundly political body, says Heritage:  

  • Its 192 member nations seek to advance their various, often competing interests, leading many nations to oppose U.S. diplomatic initiatives and efforts to advance U.S. interests.
  • This makes countries' voting practices in the U.N. General Assembly a useful metric both for gauging their ability and willingness to support U.S. priorities and for evaluating the United State's effectiveness in using the available foreign policy tools to gain support for its policy positions. 

U.N. member countries' voting patterns in the General Assembly reveal that: 

  • U.S. assistance to U.N. member countries has not led them to support U.S. diplomatic initiatives in the United Nations reliably.
  • On the contrary, most recipients of U.S. assistance vote against the United States more often than they vote with us.
  • Economically free countries are more likely than less free countries to vote for U.S. positions.
  • Politically free governments are also more likely than less free countries to vote for U.S. positions.  

It is time to rethink U.S. engagement with the United Nations and reshape U.S. policy to better serve American interests, protect U.S. sovereignty, and increase the U.N.'s ability to fulfill its stated purposes of promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms and maintaining international peace and security, says Heritage. 

Source: Brett Schaefer and Anthony Kim, "U.S. Foreign Aid Recipients and Voting at the United Nations," Heritage Foundation, April 7, 2010. 

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