Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump

US looking to close UN money tap

The Trump administration's State Department are looking into possible deep cuts in US funding for UN programs.

Published: March 14, 2017, 11:50 am

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    US disentanglement from international operations is expected to include cuts of up to 37 percent for spending on the State Department, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign assistance programs, including the UN on which the United States spends about $10 billion a year.

    The White House on Thursday will release its 2018 budget proposal, and rumours are that the cuts could be phased in over the coming three years as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has proposed.

    On March 9 in New York, US diplomats warned key UN members, in a closed-door meeting that money would be drying up. Wealthy donors from Europe, Japan, and South Korea, were told to “expect a big financial constraint” on US spending at the UN, but no figures were given.

    The cuts would impact on so-called “peacekeeping”, UNICEF, the UN Development Programme, and perhaps the World Food Programme and UN refugee operations with one source saying that the Trump administration is considering cuts of up to 36 percent on humanitarian aid programs, CNN reported.

    Richard Gowan, from the European Council on Foreign Relations, said cuts would create “chaos” for liberal interventionists. “Multiply that across other humanitarian agencies, like the World Food Programme, and you are basically talking about the breakdown of the international humanitarian system as we know it,” he said.

    Late last month, the Trump administration said the cuts would help offset a projected $54 billion increase in defense spending, disproportionately affecting spending on the United Nations.

    Less money would make Nikki Haley’s task as US. ambassador to the United Nations, much more difficult. Haley repeatedly cautioned against “slash-and-burn cuts” during her Senate confirmation hearing.

    The United States pays 22 percent of the UN’s administrative budget. Additionally, Washington pays billions of dollars for peacekeeping as well as other programs in addressing hunger, refugees, and climate change.

    If Washington fails to honor its funding commitments to the UN budget, which is obligatory, it could lose its voting rights in the General Assembly.

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