Trump wants UN funds cut more than 50 percent: report
During his campaign, President Trump made it clear that the United States was being taken advantage of at the UN.
The push for the drastic reductions comes as the White House is scheduled to release its 2018 topline budget proposal Thursday, which is expected to include a 37 percent cut to the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budgets.
It’s not clear if Trump’s budget plan, from the Office of Management and Budget, would reflect the full extent of Trump’s proposed cuts to the U.N.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested phasing in the major reductions over the coming three years.
One official close the administration told Foreign Policy that Tillerson has flexibility about how best to implement the reduction.
The U.S. spends roughly $10 billion annually on the U.N., and the cuts could have the greatest impact on peacekeeping, the U.N. development program and UNICEF, which are funded by State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs.
The fate of other popular programs, like the World Food Programme and U.N. refugee operations, are less clear. The World Food Programme’s funding comes from the Department of Agriculture.
The magazine said it confirmed the potential cuts with three sources; one said the administration is considering cutting humanitarian aid programs by 36 percent.
Richard Gowan, a U.N. expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the alterations would spark “chaos” if true.
“[It would] leave a gaping hole that other big donors would struggle to fill,” he told FP, pointing to how the U.S. provided $1.5 billion of the U.N. refugee agency’s $4 billion budget last year.
“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.”
Foreign Policy added U.S. diplomats warned key U.N. members to “expect a big financial restraint” on American spending at the U.N. during a March 9 meeting in New York City.
“There are rumors of big cuts to the State Department budget, but again, on our side, no figures,” one diplomat purportedly told donors from Europe, Japan and South Korea.
Administration officials said last month that Trump’s budget would contain$54 billion in domestic non-discretionary spending cuts to pay for an equal increase in defense spending.
Trump has repeatedly vowed to strengthen the military before the release of the 2018 budget, which is the first such proposal of his presidency.
The Trump administration previously planned to introduce an executive order asking for a 40 percent decrease in U.N. funding, according to The New York Times. That order was delayed over legal concerns.
The outlet notes the U.S. spends $10 billion annually on the U.N. About $4 billion of that comes from the State Department, according to the agency’s most recent $50 billion budget request.
One expert told Foreign Policy that if funding is cut for humanitarian agencies, like the U.N.’s refugee and food programs, it could “leave a gaping hole that other big donors would struggle to fill. … You are basically talking about the breakdown of the international humanitarian system as we know it.”
But Trump has already committed to a $54 billion raise for the U.S. military, which leaves less room for funding diplomacy and foreign aid.
All of Trump’s budget requests will have to pass through Congress in order to take effect.
Sources: The Hill and Truthfeed