STATEMENT BY SENATOR JESSE HELMS
HEARING ON UN WORLD CONFERENCES
JUNE 4, 1996
MR. HELMS. Today's hearing will focus on the costs, the goals, and the policies
promoted by U.S. delegations at four United Nations World Conferences -- specifically
the 1993 Vienna Conference on human rights, the 1994 Cairo Conference on population
control, the 1995 Copenhagen Conference on social development and the 1995 Beijing
Conference on women's rights.
As we meet today, the U.N. is at it again with a conference on "habitat" in
Istanbul. Frankly, I doubt that many Americans have even the vaguest notion as to what
role, if any, these conferences play in promoting U.S. interests overseas. I suspect that
relatively few Americans are aware that millions of their tax-dollars are spent each year
supporting U.S. participation in such conferences. In fact, it is extremely difficult for
Congress to learn precisely how much money the Administration is spending on these
For example, the Clinton Administration's FY97 request for "International
Conferences & Contingencies" is $5.8 million. According to Administration testimony,
that amount will enable U.S. participation in 650 conferences. However, that $5.8
million in no way is even close to the total amount that will be spent to support U.S.
participation at all of those conferences. For example, as we recently learned from a
GAO report, this Administration spent more money on one U.N. conference last year
than had been appropriated for the entire "International Conferences & Contingencies"
So as we learn from the GAO, the so-called "International Conferences &
Contingencies" account is merely the tip of the iceberg. Millions of taxpayers dollars are
being funneled from other Federal agencies and the White House to support these
conferences. The net result is that it is virtually impossible for this Committee and other
oversight Committees of Congress to discover how much is in fact being spent. But, one
way or another, we intend to find out, beginning right now.
In addition to the exorbitant cost, the American people are entitled to know what
is going on at these Conferences. For example, I have here a 200-page document listing
all of the seminars and other activities organized by the non-government organization
forum on women at the Beijing Conference. That forum, by the way, received $800,000
from American taxpayers. I do not believe that a school board in America would endorse
many of the so-called seminars listed in the program (i.e. Lesbian Flirtation Techniques
Workshop; Registered Partnership for Lesbians and Gay Men; Lesbian and Mother:
Talking About Being Sperm Donors.)
Before we hear from the Administration, the Committee is pleased to welcome
Congressman Chris Smith. Congressman Smith is Chairman of the Subcommittee on
International Operations and Human Rights of the International Relations Committee,
and Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Chris has
participated in a number of United Nations conferences, including the Beijing
Conference on women's rights and the Cairo Conference on population control.
Congressman Smith has constantly fought for the values American families cherish,
whether on the floor of the House of Representatives or at U.N. conferences, and we are
delighted to hear his testimony.