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Friday, July 23, 2010

The U.N. Population Fund: Background and the U.S. Funding Debate


Luisa Blanchfield
Specialist in International Relations

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), established in 1969, is the world's largest source of population and reproductive health programs and the principal unit within the United Nations for global population issues. In 2009, the organization provided services in 155 developing and transition countries, with funds totaling $783.1 million, drawn primarily from voluntary contributions made by nations and some foundations.

The United States, with strong support from Congress, was an important actor in the launch of UNFPA in 1969. During the mid-to-late 1960s, Congress began to express heightened concern over the impact of rapid population growth on development prospects in poor countries. In 1967, Congress earmarked funds for population assistance programs, urging the United States to channel family planning resources through the United Nations and other international organizations.

Since it was established, UNFPA has transitioned from an organization focused on statistical collection and analysis to an agency providing maternal and child health/family planning assistance. UNFPA played a large role in shaping the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, held in Cairo. The Cairo Conference marked a turning point in the international debate over the impact of population issues on global development, and established a policy framework called the Plan of Action that continues to guide current family planning and reproductive health policies, including the work of UNFPA. The Plan integrated population concerns into the broad context of development—concluding that education and health, including reproductive health, were prerequisites for sustainable development.

In the past three decades, there has been continuing and contentious debate within the United States, especially among Members of Congress, as to whether the United States should financially support UNFPA. This debate has centered on the extent to which, if any, UNFPA aids China's coercive family planning programs and policies. In 15 of the past 25 years, the United States did not contribute to the organization as a result of executive branch determinations that UNFPA's program in China violated the "Kemp-Kasten" amendment, which bans U.S. aid to organizations involved in the management of coercive family planning programs. From FY2002 through FY2008, the George W. Bush Administration found UNFPA ineligible for funding under the Kemp-Kasten amendment.

In March 2009, President Barack Obama expressed his support for UNFPA and announced that the United States would contribute $50 million to the organization as directed in the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8). On December 16, 2009, President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (P.L. 111-117). Division F of that bill, the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2010, directed that $55 million should be made available for UNFPA. For FY2011, the Obama Administration requested $50 million for U.S. contributions to UNFPA, which would be drawn from the International Organizations and Programs account (IO&P).

While UNFPA receives voluntary contributions from many countries and some private foundations, most of its income comes from a handful of donors. The Netherlands, Sweden, and Japan have consistently been the largest contributors. In 2009, the U.S. contribution to UNFPA was the fourth-largest donation, representing approximately 9.5% of UNFPA's annual regular budget.


Date of Report: June 15, 2010
Number of Pages: 34
Order Number: RL32703
Price: $29.95

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Friday, July 16, 2010

The European Union: Leadership Changes Resulting from the Lisbon Treaty


Derek E. Mix
Analyst in European Affairs

Changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union's (EU's) new reform treaty that took effect on December 1, 2009, have a significant impact on EU governance. The EU is an important partner or interlocutor of the United States in a large number of issues, but the complicated institutional dynamics of the EU can be difficult to navigate.

The Lisbon Treaty makes substantial modifications in the leadership of the EU, especially with regard to the European Council, the Council of Ministers, and the EU's rotating presidency. Every six months, the "EU Presidency" rotates among the 27 member states. Under the treaty, however, the leader of the presidency country no longer serves as the temporary chair and spokesman of the European Council, the grouping of the EU's 27 national leaders. This duty now belongs to the newly created President of the European Council, who serves a once-renewable two-and-a-halfyear term. In addition, the foreign minister of the presidency country no longer chairs the meetings of EU foreign ministers in the Council of the EU (commonly known as the Council of Ministers). This duty is now performed by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, another newly created position whose holder serves a five-year term and is both an agent of the Council of Ministers and a Vice President of the European Commission. Many of the day-to-day duties of the rotating presidency country, however, will continue under the Lisbon Treaty. Ministers of the presidency country will still chair all of the meetings of the Council of Ministers other than in the area of foreign policy. The presidency country is expected to continue preparing and arranging these activities, and playing a leading role in the Council of Ministers to forge agreement on legislative proposals. The presidency country is also expected to help formulate a few broad policy priorities for its tenure.

One such priority for 2010 is managing the transition phase in EU institutional affairs during which the Lisbon Treaty is being implemented. Spain held the rotating presidency for the first half of the year, and sought to provide support in the establishment of the new positions. During the Spanish presidency, however, some confusion arose about the EU's external representation. Some analysts assert that the EU's new institutional arrangements will only be worked out and defined in practice as the treaty is implemented. Belgium holds the rotating presidency for the second half of 2010. The Belgian presidency is expected to focus on continuing implementation of the treaty and activating the External Action Service, the EU's proposed new diplomatic corps. The Belgian presidency is also expected to manage the effects of the financial and debt crisis in Europe as new legislative measures are considered that could alter the EU's financial framework.

EU foreign policy decisions of a political or security-related nature require unanimous intergovernmental agreement among the 27 member states. In many other issues which may relate to external affairs, however, EU members have agreed to pool their decision-making sovereignty. A number of additional EU actors often have particular relevance in these matters. The President of the European Commission represents the EU externally on issues that are managed by the Commission, including many economic, trade, and environmental issues. Many of the issues in which the European Parliament acts as a "co-legislator," such as trade and data protection, relate to external affairs. Some observers also suggest that the Parliament has become an increasingly important forum for debating international issues. Changes in the structure of EU governance may be of interest to the second session of the 111th Congress. For more information, also see CRS Report RS21372, The European Union: Questions and Answers, by Kristin Archick and Derek E. Mix and CRS Report RS21618, The European Union's Reform Process: The Lisbon Treaty, by Kristin Archick and Derek E. Mix
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Date of Report: July 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R41088
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The United Kingdom: Issues for the United States


Derek E. Mix
Analyst in European Affairs

Many U.S. officials and Members of Congress view the United Kingdom (UK) as the United States' closest and most reliable ally. This perception stems from a combination of factors, including a sense of shared history, values, and culture; extensive and long-established bilateral cooperation on a wide range of foreign policy and security issues; and the UK's strong role in Iraq and Afghanistan. The United States and the UK also cooperate closely on counterterrorism efforts. The two countries share an extensive and mutually beneficial trade and economic relationship, and each is the other's largest foreign investor.

The term "special relationship" is often used to describe the deep level of U.S.-UK cooperation on diplomatic and political issues, as well as on security and defense matters such as intelligence sharing and nuclear weapons. British officials enjoy a unique level of access to U.S. decision makers, and British input is often cited as an element in shaping U.S. foreign policy debates. Few question that the two countries will remain close allies that choose to cooperate on many important global issues such as counterterrorism, the NATO mission in Afghanistan, and efforts to curb Iran's nuclear activities. At the same time, some observers have called for a reassessment of the "special relationship" concept. Some British analysts express concern that the UK tends to be overly deferential to the United States, sometimes at the possible expense of its own national interests. Others assert that British policymakers are in the process of adjusting to new geopolitical realities in which changing U.S. priorities may mean that the UK will not always be viewed as a centrally relevant actor on every issue.

The UK is one of the 27 member countries of the European Union (EU). While the UK's relations with the EU have historically involved a degree of ambivalence and a reluctance to pursue certain elements of integration, British policy and the UK's outlook on many global issues are often shaped in the context of its EU membership. For example, analysts note that some UK policy positions, such as its approach to climate change, are closer to those of its EU partners than to those of the United States.

The Conservative Party won the most seats in the UK election of May 6, 2010, although they fell short of winning an absolute majority. On May 11, 2010, the Conservatives agreed to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, who finished third in the election. Conservative leader David Cameron became the UK's new prime minister, and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was named deputy prime minister. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government is the UK's first coalition government since World War II. After losing a considerable number of seats in the election and finishing in second place, the Labour Party moved into opposition. Labour had led the UK government for 13 years, first under Tony Blair (1997-2007) and then under Gordon Brown.

U.S.-UK relations and the implications of the 2010 British election may be of interest in the second session of the 111th Congress. This report provides an overview of the election and discusses some of the key issues facing the new government. The report also examines the UK's relationship with the European Union and assesses some of the main dimensions of the U.S.-UK relationship. For broader analysis of transatlantic relations, see CRS Report RS22163, The United States and Europe: Current Issues, by Derek E. Mix.



Date of Report: June 29, 2010
Number of Pages: 19
Order Number: RL33105
Price: $29.95

Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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