Awaiting US Commitment to the United Nations
Maria Ivanova gives a presentation on the United Nations for the Boston Civic Series on January 12, 2017
On April 25, 1945 the Allied Powers convened the UN Conference on International Organization (UNICO) in San Francisco which concluded on June 26th with the signing of the UN Charter and the United Nations was born. Governments convened at the first international organization, the United Nations, with the aim of preventing a third world war.
“We think of the organization as an “it”. But, the United Nations as an actor is split into various parts” Maria Ivanova explained in her Boston Civic Series presentation in January 2017. These various parts include the member states, which convene for negotiations at the United Nations, “the arena.” The various UN agencies and programs constitute the United Nations “the actor.” Member states fund these agencies through either assessed or voluntary contributions and voluntary contributions constitute the entirety of funds for some UN bodies.
Observers worry that the United States, the largest contributor to the United Nations’ overall budget at 22 percent, will withdraw from the organization (for comparison, the EU contributes 33 percent). The US administration’s first 100 days has not quelled these concerns especially with the President signing the Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth in March 2017. The Executive Order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency to revise the Clean Power Plan regulations that limit emissions from new and existing power plants, lifts a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, abolishes fracking restrictions on federal and tribal lands, promotes oil and gas development on Department of Interior lands, including national wildlife refuges, and revokes requirements that federal agencies incorporate climate change in environmental reviews and decision making. Most concerning, the executive order, by cancelling the Clean Power Plan, eliminates an important tool for the United States to attain its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. The Plan had aimed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity by 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The United States, a leader in the Paris Agreement negotiations, now debates whether it should remain a party to the Agreement and the world awaits anxiously.
The Civic Series is a non-partisan event series in the United States and Canada, with locations in Boston and Vermont, aimed at informing the public through presentations by expert speakers. You can find out more at http://civicseries.org/