Diaz-Balart Remarks at Oversight Hearing for the United Nations (As Prepared)
Good morning, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. Welcome to the Subcommittee’s first hearing of the 118th Congress on oversight of the United Nations.
While the President’s Budget has been delayed, this Subcommittee has important oversight work that must be done to prepare for our next appropriations bill. This includes a review of our engagement at the United Nations where the United States is the largest donor providing over $12 billion annually.
This significant investment from the American taxpayer is not exempt from the expectation that we see U.S. interests being advanced.
The American people want to see a United Nations that supports, not undermines, our security and that of our allies and partners around the world. Unfortunately, the UN too often fails to deliver.
Recent events have once again demonstrated that the ingrained and institutionalized anti-Israel bias at the United Nations is a corrosive distraction at best.
The question before us is whether this Administration has the political will to leverage our contributions and position to advance our interests and reform the UN to be more effective in achieving peace and security – a central tenant of the UN Charter.
That starts with the UN’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As we were reminded last week on the one-year anniversary of that dark day and every day since, the Security Council remains paralyzed by Russia and China while too many UN Member States are either looking away or – like South Africa – are actually embracing Moscow despite its flagrant violation of the UN Charter. The UN can and must do better.
Ambassador, over the past two years, I believe the Administration has dismantled the leverage we had at the UN on the premise that by merely showing up and providing U.S. funding without preconditions, we can advance U.S. priorities. This has resulted in a UN comfortable with its own brokenness and a continuation of the status quo.
Let’s take the Human Rights Council, for example. This Administration justified rejoining and re-engaging on the Council by promising the U.S. would bring change.
Last year, when you testified before this subcommittee, we discussed my concerns about the Council, of which there are many. Those concerns remain – the myopic fixation on Israel and the Membership that includes some of the world’s worst human rights offenders. I hope you can report on progress since that hearing, but from this perspective, it does not look good.
Instead of successfully steering the Human Rights Council to focus on serial human rights abusers like Cuba, this Administration laid out the welcome mat last month for a Special Rapporteur from the Council to examine “U.S. counterterrorism practices” with a particular focus on the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
This person is now writing a report that will be published by the Council. Does anyone here have any doubt what that report will say?
The U.S. taxpayers just footed the bill, and the Biden administration opened the door for a flawed, one-sided view of history.
Further, the UN and its agencies have yet to take successful action to address China’s deliberate cover-up of the origins of COVID. China continues to withhold critical information and refuses to comply with the World Health Organization’s investigation, and we have seen no action in the Security Council to hold the Chinese Communist Party responsible.
In stark contrast to China, Madam Ambassador, I’m sure you agree Taiwan’s exclusion from the UN and its related bodies is a tremendous loss. Democratic Taiwan has so much to contribute to the world. I hope you can speak to Administration efforts to support Taiwan’s robust, meaningful participation in the UN system and in the wider international community.
Madam Ambassador, these are just a few of the many areas in need of significant reform to begin the conversation today. You’ve heard a tough assessment from me this morning, but I really believe these questions and concerns are on the minds of many Americans and this Subcommittee is going to have to justify how every dollar we appropriate is in our national interest.
I know you have an exceedingly difficult job and I want to thank you for the hard work you do every day in the service of our country. I look forward to your testimony and engaging further on these important topics.