Eight years ago this month, Senator Jesse Helms made international history as the first legislator ever to speak before the United Nations Security Council. His speech that day marked an agreement between the United States Congress and the Secretary General of the United Nations to get serious about fiscal restraint and accountability in its operations. That agreement, codified in the Helms-Biden Act was signed into law by President Clinton at the end of 1999. It was welcomed by Kofi Annan as a response to his plans to reduce the U.N. budget bloat. Unfortunately, this historic visit now stands as one more example of the U.N.’s total disinterest in meaningful reform.
This year with new leader Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. budget will be 25% larger than the last two-year budget cycle. That is 25%, not 2.5%. Why? What could possibly explain that kind of expansion? The one-word answer is: BUREAUCRACY. The U.N.’s preliminary budget projects a 15% increase. According to The Wall Street Journal, this increase combined with the estimates provided by our government (which includes all of the “add ons” in the U.N.’s real spending plans) totals a planned expenditure of $5.2 billion.
You may be thinking, “That’s not a bad deal for humanitarian aid and peace keeping.” And that might be true, but this $5.2 billion budget is for a totally different set of expenditures than the separate estimated $5-7 billion budget that the U.N. will use for peacekeeping. The $5.2 billion in the Ban Ki-Moon budget is for every day operations, including staff salaries that account for nearly $4 billion of the expenditures.
How could they spend that much? The better question might be, “Where do I apply for a U.N. job?” Current pay and benefits for PS2 (junior level) hires without dependants are between $42,818 and $54,844 net of income tax plus post adjustments which in, New York City, account for $27,344 and $35,226 more per year. Pay is increased by another $3,000 if the applicant has a dependant, and each extra child adds $1,780 per year.
There is much more, including a generous pension contribution in excess of 15% of the annual salary, a rental subsidy of up to 40%, a potential of 30 days of paid vacation, and 16 weeks of paid maternity, paternity, family, adoption, sickness or sabbatical leave. I’m sure you get the picture of an entry level salary package that reflects the U.N.’s enthusiasm for spending its member nations’ money.