US President Donald Trump is seeking to reduce his country’s contribution to UN programmes, as part of cuts to funding of US diplomacy and foreign aid in his administration’s budget proposal.
The spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres reacted fiercely to the plans on Thursday, saying “abrupt funding cuts can force the adoption of ad hoc measures that will undermine the impact of longer-term reform efforts”.
In its budget the Trump administration stated its intention to “reduce or end funding for international organisations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests”.
This includes slashing funding for the state department and USAID, its foreign aid agency, and shifting money towards the military with a $54bn increase in defence spending
“The secretary-general fully subscribes to the necessity to effectively combat terrorism but believes that it requires more than military spending,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
“There is also a need to address the underlying drivers of terrorism through continuing investments in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, countering violent extremism, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, sustainable and inclusive development, the enhancement and respect of human rights, and timely responses to humanitarian crises.”
The US spends about $10bn a year on the United Nations. That is about 22 percent of the world body’s total budget. It contributes 28 percent of the peacekeeping budget.
“The US government has looked at possibly cutting that $10bn in half,” said Al Jazeera’s UN correspondent, Rosiland Jordan.
Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has said she does not believe in a “slash and burn” approach, but she agrees with the president’s stance that the US contribution to the UN is outdated and disproportionate.
“The UN spends more money than it should, and in many ways it places a much larger financial burden on the United States than on other countries,” Haley said on Thursday.
The US contributes more funding to the UN budget than any other nation. However, if the US contribution would follow the normal formula for member states’ shares – based on the size of a country’s economy and its per capita income – the US would be paying more.
Member states make both mandatory and voluntary contributions.
Diplomats at the UN headquarters expressed worry over the proposed cuts and the impact the move would have.
“Diplomats are telling us that there’s no single other country or even group of countries that could make up for the shortfall in everything from emergency food and medical aid, housing aid, environmental programmes, political development programmes, the whole span of work that the United Nations does,” Jordan said.
Matthew Rycroft, the British ambassador to the UN, said the US already has “a good deal” when it comes to the UN.
“The US is the only country which contribution is reduced in order for it not to pay too much,” Rycroft told Al Jazeera.
He noted that the new secretary-general has already made reforming the UN one of his priorities. This process includes reviewing issues ranging from staffing to the scope of programmes and whether some of them should be scaled back.
United Nations: Time for reform?
Source: Al Jazeera News