Precinct 333

Thursday, December 02, 2004

US Out Of UN? UN Out Of US?

I'm not sure that Edd Hendee ever got answers to his UN questions this morning on KSEV (AM 700), since I arrived at work in the middle of his discussion of the matter. I thought I would contribute what I know, on the chance that he didn't.

The US signed the UN Charter on June 26, 1945, in San Francisco. It was ratified as a treaty on July 28 of the same year. On October 24, 1945, the Charter became effective with its ratification by all five permanent members of the Security Council (US, UK, France, China, USSR) and a majority of the other 48 original signatories.

The House and Senate passed Public Law 80-357 on August 4, 1947. It wrote into law the special status of the UN Headquarters in new York, and authorized the building of the present structure. It also authorized a loan to the UN for construction purposes.

Could the latter agreement be revoked? Yes, but it would only do away with the special diplomatic status of the property, not UN ownership. The loss of that status might be sufficient to make the leadership at the UN decide to leave.

Can we quit the UN? That is a bit harder. The Charter contains no "exit mechanism" that I've found. As a general principle of international law, a treaty with no expiration date is usually aboe to be repudiated with sufficient notice -- generally a year. On the other hand, it might be advantageous to stay, given that our veto power would be lost if we quit and that has often been the only means of protecting the US and Israel from action by the Seciurity Council. Our presence reduces the UN to the status of an infant, impotently thrashing its limbs and loudly squawking, but incapable of effective action.

The US currently pays 22% of the UN budget. Other contributors include Japan (19.63%), Germany (9.82%), France (6.50%), the U.K. (5.57%), Italy (5.09%), Canada (2.57%) and Spain (2.53%). The remaining quarter of the budget is paid by the remaining 190 or so member nations. Interestingly enough, permanent members of the Security Council (with veto power) China and Russia are not major donor nations.


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