The US to slash UN funding by more than a quarter of a million dollars
The Trump administration is preparing executive orders that will reduce the US’s role in the United Nations in 2018.
US Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, Permanent Representative to the UN, has officially announced the quarter of a million-dollar cut to the UN’s annual budget. The negotiated $285 million reduction for the 2018-2019 period is $85 million more than the $200 million cut, which had first been announced in a UN news article back in October.
Under the UN charter the US is supposedly responsible for 22% of the body’s annual operating budget. As one of the biggest contributors last year, the US contributed approximately $610,836,578 to the UN’s regular budget for 2017.
The UN budget for 2018-2019 is approximately 5.4 million dollars—4% below the appropriation from the 2016-2017 budget, and $10 million above the General Assembly’s previous outline in 2016.
The United Nations is a significant international body that promotes peace, security, and cooperation among nations. The UN plays a significant role in international crises, by intervening in civil wars, responding to refugee emergency crisis, as well as supplying vaccines to a high percentage of the world’s children — so why is the US making this cut?
The move to cut the UN’s budget comes from the recent vote condemning the Trump Administration’s decision to move the US Embassy from Israel to Jerusalem. In the UN General Assembly’s vote to denounce Trump’s decision, 128 countries voted against and only 9 voted for; 35 countries abstained from voting.
As stated by Ambassador Haley, the US is by far the largest contributor to the UN and its agencies. This contribution has been thought of as a representation of the values and interests of Americans.
Before the vote, U.S. President Donald Trump had threatened to cut off funding to whatever countries voted against his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and a tweet by Haley herself clearly indicates that opposing nations are at risk of losing their funding support from the US government. The new cuts to the UN’s funding are therefore very likely in response to the results of the recent vote. But is the cut reflective of American interests? The tendency to threaten seems more like the rash actions of a leader than of a nation, and the cutbacks in international politics and peacekeeping seem more like an alienation from many of America’s foundational values.
Haley has stated that she agrees with Trump’s view that the US contribution to the UN is disproportionate, making her feelings clear in the statement, “we will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked." Her comment indicates that the interests of the American people are to be protected and prioritized above international politics.
So what will be cut?
The UN Association of the United States has released a document outlining the proposed budget cut. It states that such a proposal would “severely jeopardize American national security and foreign policy objectives.”
The proposed White House Budget (embedded hyperlink: http://www.unfoundation.org/features/impact-doc-unvalue.pdf ) calls for:
“Reducing or ending in direct funding for international organizations”
“Mandates the reduction of U.S. contributions to UN peacekeeping from 28 percent to 25 percent”
“Ends U.S. funding for UN climate change programs, including the Green Climate Fund”
According to Foreign Policy (embedded hyperlink: https://www.cgdev.org/blog/cutting-un-funding-will-cost-the-us?platform=hootsuite) , peacekeeping operations will be the most significant cut in the 2018 budget. UN peacekeeping operations have historically helped end civil wars and return involved countries to a state of peace.
The US has been the top contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget since 2016 at approximately 28%.
The UN is currently involved in 15 different peacekeeping operations. Taking place in Haiti, Western Sahara, Central African Republic, Mali, D.R. of the Congo, Darfur, Golan, Cyprus, Lebanon, Abyei, Kosovo, Liberia, South Sudan, India and Pakistan and other parts of the Middle East. A study by Virginia Fortna of Columbia University articulates that when UN peacekeepers are deployed, the risk of civil war rekindling is reduced by 70%.
With such significant cuts to UN peacekeeping, there will be less resources available to settle disputes. Cutting funding to one of the most effective elements of the international body is a loss of security, value, and tranquility that will be felt by every nation, and is sadly reflective of the self-interested direction of contemporary American leadership.