Published December 1971 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd U.N.-Rights and Responsibilities When the United Nations was founded in San Francisco a quarter-of-a-century ago, it was hailed as the beginning of a new era in international understanding and the instrument through which mankind would discover a formula for permanent peace in the world. Those high hopes have been less than fulfilled and it behooves us to look with a dispassionate eye on the organization- housed on United States soil and supported to a significant extent by U.S. taxpayers' money-that set out to provide a forum for negotiation as the alternative to conflict. Article 1 of the U.N. Charter includes the words ". . . to develop friendly relations, between nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights .... " The principle of equal rights is most meritorious. But nowhere in the Charter can we find language delineating the principle of equal responsibilities. It seems to be an inescapable fact of modern life that everybody demands rights but almost nobody wants responsibilities. To deserve the one, a man, or a nation, must accept the other; and the fact, for example, that some U.N. member nations are constantly in arrears with their dues and voluntary payments shows their disregard for their responsibilities. But when it all of them comes time to cast a vote, the delinquents are among the first to raise their hands.
Of the total U.N. budget, the U.S. contributes 31.5%. Next highest-at 14%-is the Soviet Union. while France, in third place, drops all the way down to 6%. In terms of dollars and cents, our overall contribution to the U.N.-general budget plus voluntary funding activities such as UNICEF, FAO, UNESCO etc.,-•is $276 million annually. The U.S.S.R. France, United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada contribute a combined total of only $171 million a year. Moreover, the U.S., with just one vote in the General 1 Assembly, is assessed annually at $56% million for regular dues, whereas sixty-three nations, each with one vote, are assessed at an aggregate of only $4% million among all of them. Furthermore there are 131 member nations in the U.N. with a combined population of 3 ½ billion people. Sixty-six of these nations (enough to carry a majority vote at any time) comprise only 43% of that total population. It is not suggested that because the United States pays the lion's share of the expenses, we should expect to dominate the organization, but when we accept our responsibilities, it seems only reasonable that the other member nations should accept theirs. DEC 29 1971