Sen. Lee Introduces The DEFUND Act

December 7, 2023

Mr. President, 

In the lyrics of a Simon and Garfunkel song, they sing of a dream where "the world had all agreed to end war," through a simple act of signing a piece of paper. 

This dream echoes the stated aspirations that led to the creation of the United Nations. But as history unfolded, the stark reality has not lived up to these lofty aspirations.

We have witnessed failure upon failure, and yet, the 20th-century notion of a collective world peace still lingers in the minds of the American foreign policy establishment.

It's a notion that believes U.S. participation and leadership within the United Nations is a foundational component of our security and strength.

A glance at the world today, however, reveals the harsh truth: enduring global peace remains a dream. While the corridors of the United Nations were designed for diplomacy, it now serves as a place where America’s adversaries–who trample upon diplomatic principles and human dignity– sponsor initiatives that fly in the face of our values.

Just last November, we saw Iran—known for its support of terrorist groups and systemic targeting of Jewish people—chairing a UN human rights event. 

Russia and China, nations that challenge our interests and undermine our values at every turn, hold permanent seats on the UN Security Council. China, furthermore, continues to enjoy the benefits of "developing nation" status, exploiting UN programs and other monetary benefits for questionable gain.

The United States, as the UN's largest funder, inadvertently supports these travesties. The Biden administration continues to fund, indirectly, groups like Hamas, through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency—known for its antisemitic indoctrination. Similarly, the previous administration halted funding for the United Nations Population Fund due to its support for coercive abortion practices in China.

The bloated bureaucracy of the UN epitomizes the very foreign entanglements our Founding Fathers warned against. The global security environment today underscores the urgency of reasserting American sovereignty. The DEFUND Act seeks to end U.S. participation in the United Nations system, ensuring that any future attempts to rejoin would require Senate approval.

Detractors argue that U.S. involvement is essential for our security and that absence from the UN would diminish our soft power, forcing us to rely solely on military might. These are misleading distractions: the current UN system itself erodes American soft power and compels us to conform our national interest to the whims of the so-called "rules-based international order." This fearmongering overlooks the proven value of bilateral relationships, which are the true bedrock of international diplomacy.

At the UN's inception in 1945, President Truman presented a choice between "international chaos" and the establishment of a world organization for peace. Yet, despite the UN's existence, chaos abounds, adversaries leverage their UN positions, and the goal of peace is overshadowed by the ambition for supranational governance. The true hope for a peaceful world lies not in such global institutions but in the strength of our national sovereignty.

Since 1945, the U.S. has slowly surrendered sovereignty to the UN under the guise of "customary international law." We finance a significant portion of the UN, much of it voluntarily, with no obligation to do so. Our generosity has been misused to empower terrorists, facilitate coercive practices abroad, and undermine our values.

The DEFUND Act aims to restore American independence from the UN's bureaucracy. It will repeal the foundational UN Participation Act of 1945, terminate our contributions, end participation in peacekeeping operations, and strip UN personnel of diplomatic immunity within our borders. It will also remove the U.S. from the World Health Organization and prohibit reentry into the UN system without the Senate's advice and consent.

It's time we face the reality: the UN  has long since ceased to be an effective or responsible steward of our resources. It is time for America to lead through strength and sovereignty, not through subservience to an organization that no longer serves our interests, nor the interests of a realizable peace.