UN Better World Campaign

CLS Strategies’ work with the UN Foundation and Better World Campaign began when U.S. opinion toward the United Nations reached an all-time low. The UN, which relies on U.S. dues to support a significant portion of its global work, found the U.S. had accrued nearly $1 billion in back dues.  Congress at the time was debating whether or not to remain a member of the UN General Assembly. Opinion leaders questioned the efficacy of UN peacekeeping and other agencies within the world body. In the eyes of critics, the UN was irrelevant, sluggish, bloated and bureaucratic. Why, they asked, should the U.S. hurry to pay? 

Winning this campaign meant finding the right message – one that could persuade even steadfast critics of the importance of paying the U.S.’s back dues. Through intensive research and message testing, CLS Strategies crafted a new, winning narrative that transcended the details of the debate. We discovered that, despite the skepticism felt by many toward the UN as a body, Congress and opinion leaders were invested in the idea of America as a nation that honors its commitment. Thus, CLS Strategies crafted a campaign around the message that America had promised to pay its dues to the UN – and all great powers keep their promises. After dozens of editorials, letters by former Secretaries of State, columns by influential surrogates, and an ad campaign promoting the message that “great nations pay their bills,” Congress agreed to pay its debt to the UN.

CLS Strategies went on to advise the UN Foundation and Better World Campaign on positioning the work of UN peacekeeping missions more favorably to U.S. opinion leaders, to convince the administration to rejoin UNESCO, and counseled the office of Secretary General Kofi Annan during the scandal surrounding the UN’s Oil for Food Program.