Trump to slash funding for UN, leaked draft orders suggest

26 Jan 17

Two executive orders drafted by Donald Trump contain plans to reduce the voluntary contributions of the US to international bodies by 40%, and also cut the nation’s “burdensome” commitment to the United Nations, it has been reported.


According to one of the draft orders, which were leaked to US media outlets, the aim is to reduce “wasteful and counterproductive” spending that does not directly serve US interests.

Aside from the UN, bodies that could potentially be hit are those that grant full membership to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation or Palestinian Authority, and those that support programmes that fund abortion.

The New York Times, which first reported leaked versions of the orders, indicated treaties that do not involve “national security, extradition or international trade” are in the crosshairs.

Also mentioned in the draft orders is a proposal to cut funding for any organisation that “is controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism” or is blamed for persecuting marginalised groups or conducting other systematic violations of human rights.

One order also calls for a review of certain international treaties, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The Washington Post has reported that a review of the funding is expected to take at least a year to complete and will be overseen by a panel of experts from the departments of defence, state, justice, and the office of management and budget, among others.

Nikki Haley, the new US ambassador to the UN, told the Senate foreign affairs select committee during her confirmation hearing that she believed the new administration should avoid “slash and burn” cuts to contributions to international bodies. However, she did raise the question as to whether the US “gets what it pays for” from the UN.

Haley was confirmed for the post earlier this week with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 96 to 4.

Although many of the executive orders signed by Trump in his first week in office still require Congressional approval over funding, little resistance is anticipated around reducing US’ contribution to international bodies. The feeling that the US is giving more than its fair share – 22% of the main UN budget and 29% of peacekeeping operational costs – has been a perennial sticking point with legislators.

The Whitehouse has not commented on the reports, and it is not clear whether the leaked draft versions of the orders will be amended before being made public officially.  

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