Biggest US Foreign Aid Beneficiaries Voted With US at the UN 30.4% of the Time in 2020

By Patrick Goodenough | October 28, 2021 | 4:29am EDT
The U.N. General Assembly meets in New York. (Photo by Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images)
The U.N. General Assembly meets in New York. (Photo by Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – The 12 biggest beneficiaries of U.S. foreign assistance in 2020 – most of them Islamic nations – voted in line with positions taken by the United States in the U.N. General Assembly an average of just 30.4 percent of the time last year.

If Israel is excluded from the calculation, the average voting coincidence with the U.S. drops to 24.9 percent, according to data in the State Department’s annual report to Congress on voting practices at the U.N., released on Tuesday.

The congressionally-mandated annual report finds that of all resolutions that were brought to a final plenary vote in the General Assembly (UNGA) in 2020, the other 192 U.N. member-states votes coincided with those of the U.S. an average of 33 percent of the time.

Voting coincidence means that the U.S. and the other country both voted “yes,” both voted “no,” or both abstained.

The State Department has compiled and provided Congress with a report on U.N. voting practices since 1984.

Over the past 30 years, average voting coincidence with the U.S. at the UNGA has ranged from a high of 45 percent in 1996 to a low of 23 percent in 2007.

(Graph: CNSNews.com/Data: State Department)
(Graph: CNSNews.com/Data: State Department)

U.S. taxpayers account for 22 percent of the regular U.N. budget.

In 2020, the countries whose votes coincided with the U.S. most often were Israel (which voted 91 percent of the time in alignment with the U.S.), Micronesia (69 percent), Canada (64 percent), Australia (63 percent), Britain (61 percent), Marshall Islands (60 percent), Hungary (59 percent), France (58 percent), and the Czech Republic (57 percent).

At the other end of the scale, the countries whose votes coincided with the U.S. least often were all autocratic regimes antagonistic towards the United States:  Syria’s Assad regime (15 percent), Iran (16 percent), Venezuela’s Maduro regime (16 percent), Cuba (17 percent), Nicaragua (17 percent), China (19 percent), Cambodia (19 percent), Burundi (19 percent), and Zimbabwe (19 percent).

The 12 top recipients of U.S. assistance in 2020 were Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, Ethiopia, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Lebanon, South Sudan, and Somalia. (Israel has not received U.S. economic aid since fiscal year 2007, but it is the number one recipient of military aid.)

The State Department is required by the authorizing legislation to provide a breakdown of countries’ positions on all UNGA resolutions that come up for a recorded vote; on a specific list of resolutions of particular importance to the U.S., and on measures that condemn Israel (“Israel-related resolutions.”)

In the case of all UNGA recorded vote resolutions (there were 100 in 2020), the voting coincidence with the U.S. among the top aid recipients – apart from Israel at 91 percent – all fell below 50 percent, in some cases far below that:

Jordan (23 percent), Egypt (23 percent), Afghanistan (21 percent), Iraq (23 percent), Ethiopia (22 percent), Nigeria (24 percent), DRC (32 percent), Syria (15 percent), Lebanon (20 percent), South Sudan (29 percent), and Somalia (42 percent).

In the case of the UNGA resolutions identified by the State Department as of particular importance to the U.S. (there were 31 in 2020), the voting coincidence with the U.S. among the top aid recipients was as follows:

Israel (90 percent), Jordan (39 percent), Egypt (34 percent), Afghanistan (33 percent), Iraq (35 percent), Ethiopia (34 percent), Nigeria (37 percent), DRC (40 percent), Syria (16 percent), Lebanon (32 percent), South Sudan (25 percent), and Somalia (25 percent).

(The 31 key resolutions in 2020 identified in the report dealt with issues including the coronavirus pandemic, human rights in countries like Iran, Burma, Syria, and Russian-occupied Crimea, U.N. budget and reform issues, and arms control.)

In the case of the anti-Israel resolutions (15 were identified in 2020), the voting coincidence with the U.S. among the top aid recipients was low in every case except Israel, whose votes coincided with those of the U.S. 100 percent of the time.

South Sudan was an outlier, voting with the U.S. 31 percent of the time in the Israel-focused resolutions. Of the remaining biggest recipients of U.S. assistance, most voted the opposite of the U.S. position every time: Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon all recorded a 0 percent voting coincidence with the U.S.

In the case of Ethiopia and Nigeria, voting coincidence in the Israel-related resolutions was measured at 3 percent (derived from the fact each abstained in one of the 15 votes), while the DRC and Somalia were absent for the votes.

Taken across the U.N. membership as a whole, the U.S. was largely isolated in its opposition to the anti-Israel resolutions. It was joined in voting against the measures in all 15 cases by just one other country, Israel itself.

Other member-states that joined the U.S. and Israel in voting against the resolutions in four or more cases were: Marshall Islands (voted “no” 13 times) Canada (12), Nauru (11), Australia (8), Micronesia (8), Hungary (6), Brazil (4), Guatemala (4), Liberia (4), and Papua New Guinea (4).

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