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International Organizations


Since World War II, U.S. leadership in international organizations has played an important role in advancing our security and interests. Following its creation in 1945, the United Nations became the world’s preeminent multilateral organization confronting global issues of peace and security. As one of the organization’s 193 members, the U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council, the host of the U.N. headquarters, the largest economic and military power in the world, and has historically been the organization’s most influential member state.

However, during the Trump administration, U.S. leadership at the U.N. and within other international organizations was deeply undermined. Under President Trump, the U.S. withheld and delayed funds to pay our U.N. regular budget assessments, cut off funding for UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) and UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), and withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council. The $300 million cut to the UNRWA in 2018 led to an emergency appeal to donor partners to overcome “an unprecedented shortfall and existential crisis” following the U.S.’ decision. On top of these actions, the U.S. also moved to pull out of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of a global pandemic, turning inward and abandoning allied nations in the fight against COVID-19.


of Americans have a positive view of the United Nations, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center survey.

Alarmingly, the U.S. still owes more than $1 billion to the U.N. peacekeeping budget. As a result of this massive debt and the budget cuts made during the Trump administration, the U.S.’ status as the U.N.’s most influential actor has been diminished, while China’s influence has grown. Today, China contributes significantly more personnel to U.N. peacekeeping than any other permanent member of the U.N. Security Council as the 10th highest contributor. Behind the U.S., China is also the second-largest contributor to U.N. peacekeeping dues, increasing its funding nearly three times over since 2013. Chinese nationals also hold four key U.N. leadership positions. China’s rising influence in the U.N. in recent years not only increases its leverage to pursue its own goals and challenge U.S. security interests and the traditional rules-based liberal international order, but the “Chinese-Russian tactical alignment” in the Security Council has emboldened the Chinese to move beyond its traditional focus on U.N. development work to undermine and obstruct humanitarian access and human rights.

Despite the Trump administration’s condemnation and disregard of international organizations, the U.N.’s role in combating terrorism, promoting nonproliferation, providing humanitarian assistance, and fighting climate change is indispensable. Strong and consistent U.S. engagement with such organizations is needed not only to ensure American national security, but also to support the U.N.’s role as a “force-multiplier” for the U.S. as an essential multilateral forum to manage conflicts, advance global economic prosperity, and address critical collective action challenges from humanitarian crises, to climate change, and pandemics. Following the actions of the Trump administration, the bridge between the U.S. and the rest of the world must be “built back better.”

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“When America shows up … the United Nations can be an indispensable institution for advancing peace, security, and our collective well-being.”

— Linda Thomas-Greenfield Hear this quote in context U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Following four years of “America First” rhetoric under the Trump administration, President Biden campaigned on the promise to renew historical partnerships and once again reengage with the world. On his first day in office, President Biden signed orders to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and halt the U.S. withdrawal from the WHO. In addition to rejoining WHO, the Biden-Harris administration also joined COVAX, a WHO-led initiative aimed at improving access to and distributing COVID-19 vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, and has committed to sharing over 1.2 billion vaccine doses with countries worldwide before 2023, and has delivered over 565 million thus far – more than any other country.

The administration also reinstated funding for UNFPA in fiscal year 2021, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken issuing a statement affirming that “the empowerment and protection of women and girls, including promoting their sexual and reproductive health and rights, is a central part of U.S. foreign policy and national security.” This commitment to advancing  reproductive rights globally was also reaffirmed by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Biden-Harris administration has also demonstrated its recommitment to working multilaterally with other nations and organizations to address major human rights and humanitarian challenges. In February 2021, the U.S returned to the U.N. Human Rights Council – the world’s most powerful human rights body – as an observer nation. On April 7, 2021, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the restoration of assistance for the Palestinian people, including by restoring funding for UNRWA. In a press statement, Blinken emphasized, “The United States is deeply committed to ensuring that our partnership with UNRWA promotes neutrality, accountability, and transparency.” In another act of reengagement, in December 2021, the Biden administration reversed Trump’s boycott of the U.N. Global Compact for Migration by issuing a statement of support for the landmark agreement to promote safe, orderly, and regular migration.

President Biden has also sought to prioritize U.N.-wide and peacekeeping funding in its fiscal year 2023 budget proposal, including by requesting an increase in voluntary U.N. contributions from 2022 levels, and funding to pay U.S. peacekeeping dues in their entirety, including by requesting $730 million to repay arrears accumulated since fiscal year 2017 due to a cap on contributions.

What You Can Do

The Biden-Harris administration has taken many steps to restore U.S. credibility on the global stage and modernize international cooperation. But, far more is needed to fully rebuild U.S. leadership and influence at the U.N. and other international organizations. We ask Congress to support paying U.S. dues to the U.N. on-time and in-full, appropriate funds necessary to pay our arrears, and increase voluntary contributions including renewing U.S. support for UNFPA and UNRWA.

Call your congressional representatives at (202) 224-3121 and ask them to support full U.S. financial support of the United Nations and their critical missions. Here are a couple key things to say: