Skip to main content

House votes to withhold U.N. dues


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House of Representatives voted Thursday to retaliate against the United Nations for its vote last week stripping the United States of its long-held seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

In a measure opposed by the Bush administration because of concerns it might damage relations with the world body, the House voted 252-165 to withhold back dues the United States recently agreed to pay.

Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, said the House voted on the measure despite White House concerns because "there's an injustice there that needs to be addressed. The House and the Congress has a right to work its will."

CNN's Kate Snow reports on why the U.S. House voted to withhold dues owed to the U.N. (May 10)

Play video
(QuickTime, Real or Windows Media)

The amendment -- co-sponsored by Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Illinois, chairman of the International Relations Committee, and Rep. Tom Lantos, D-California, the ranking Democrat on the panel -- is attached to a bill that authorizes spending by the State Department. The bill authorizes a $582 million payment to the United Nations in 2002 but puts a hold on the following year's third and final back payment of $244 million unless the United States regains its seat on the commission.

Both Hastert and Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri, said they support the bill.

Despite the angry tone of debate over the situation, two senior congressional aides told CNN the bill is more about symbolism than substance.

"Members need an opportunity to express their outrage over what happened last week," one said, "The Hyde-Lantos amendment allows that."

U.S. House holds U.N. dues

Diplomats and analysts say possible reasons for last week's U.N. votes include:

  • A reaction against unilateral U.S. moves on issues such as missile defense and global climate change;

  • U.S. refusal to join agreements establishing a permanent war crimes tribunal and banning anti-personnel mines;

  • Continued back dues owed to the United Nations by the U.S.

Those who support witholding dues say nations with poor human-rights records -- such as Sudan, where slavery is still practiced -- remain on the panel. The U.S. also cites the membership of communist states Cuba and China.

The second aide explained that the State Department authorization bill, which is usually filled with controversial amendments, has not even been signed into law since 1993.

The aide said the bill speaks to the natural tensions between the executive branch, which wants a free hand to run international policy, and the legislative branch, which wants to load up the authorization bill with various mandates on how U.S. international policy should be conducted.

Annan urges Congress not to punish U.N. for rights vote
May 9, 2001
House will vote to punish U.N. over Human Rights seat
May 8, 2001
Rumsfeld: Ungrateful world kicks U.S. off rights panel
May 6, 2001
U.S. loses U.N. rights seat; China cheers
May 4, 2001
U.S. ousted from U.N. Human Rights Commission
May 3, 2001
U.S. China resolution shelved by U.N.
April 18, 2001
U.S. criticizes Israel, Russia, China on human rights
February 26, 2001

United Nations
United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights
Committee on International Relations

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.


4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top