The White House has told the State Department to significantly cut UN funding in excess of 50 percent, according to Foreign Policy magazine – who said the information came from three unnamed sources.
The reductions are being reported shortly before the White House is set to release it’s 2018 budget proposal on Thursday, which is expected to include cuts of up to 37 percent spending cut to the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – however there is no word on whether or not the reported cuts to the UN budget will be included.
The timeline for the proposed budget is also unclear, however after several reportedly “tough exchanges” with Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been given free range to implement the reductions however he sees fit, according to one of the three mystery sources.
The U.S. spends around $10 billion / year on the UN, or approximately 28 percent of the UN’s peacekeeping budget, while the cuts are expected to have the greatest impact on peacekeeping, the World Food Program, and UNICEF . The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides aid to Palestinian refugees is expected to be spared, a program which Israel sees as ultimately promoting stability. This comes on the heels of the UN Security Council adopting a resolution in December demanding Israel halt settlement building and expansion in Palestinian territories, which was passed 14-0 after the United States abstained.
Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said cuts of this magnitude would create “chaos.”
The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) received $1.5 billion of its $4 billion budget from the United States last year, he said. Cutting the U.S. contribution would “leave a gaping hole that other big donors would struggle to fill.” –Foreign Policy
These rumored cuts aren’t completely out of the blue; U.S. diplomats warned key U.N. members during a March 9 meeting in New York to “expect a big financial restraint” on American spending – which is not surprising following President Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and after his election:
The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2016
Trump also promised big changes after his inauguration:
As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2016
The U.N. has also come under fire in recent months over several controversial topics. Last November, Saudi Arabia was given a seat on the Human Rights council, despite well documented human rights abuses. The UN has also been accused of being complicit in “odious war crimes as it continues to entertain and orchestrate Saudi Arabia’s humanitarian blockade on Yemen.” (TasnimNews). There have also been widespread allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse by UN personnel in at least 10 peacekeeping missions.
Most of the allegations involved peacekeepers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, seven in all, serving in CAR. There were also allegations against several European countries and Canada. –France24.com
While the reported cut of around $5 Billion/ year is a drop in the bucket for the United States – it appears that the highly politicized UN, rife with controversy and sharing a close relationship with the increasingly chaotic European Union, is in for a rough ride ahead.Comments »