Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Remember the OAS?

As if the precarious state of UN financing were not reason enough to concentrate the minds of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her closest advisors on wrestling Congress to the mat to get full funding for UN dues, peacekeeping assessments, and contributions to international agencies.

Earlier this month at the 36th meeting of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), the OAS Secretary-General told the delegates that the organization’s finances were falling into disarray. The problem arose because assessments have been frozen at the same level for years, capping revenue, while new operational mandates and financial obligations (e.g., staff salaries) have increased budget outlays. In fact, some special projects rely on OAS observer nations for financing. For example, at this year’s OAS meeting, Italy pledged a further $355,000 for mine clearance action in Central America, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. Italy’s multi-year commitment stands at $1.4 million.)

Twenty-two Foreign Ministers attended out of a possible 34 countries in the OAS. Secretary of State Rice did not attend; Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick went instead. As I understand it, he is leaving the State Department for private life. Did the rest of the OAS representatives know?

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