President Donald Trump’s plan for deep cuts to U.S. funding to the United Nations would make it “impossible” for the world body to continue its work to advance peace, development and human rights, the U.N. spokesman said on Wednesday.
The U.S. State Department has laid out plans to slash Washington’s budget for diplomacy and foreign aid by more than 30 percent, including a dramatic cut of 60 percent of U.S. funding for peacekeeping missions. “The budget as it’s proposed now would make it simply impossible for the U.N. to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance around the world,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
The United States is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget. Last month, the U.S. administration cut funding to the U.N. Population Fund, which provides reproductive health and birth control services in more than 150 countries.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had criticized the U.S. move, saying that the funding cut of $32.5 million could be devastating for the health of women and girls worldwide. Guterres, who took over from Ban Ki-moon five months ago, has vowed to trim the U.N. bureaucracy and make the world body more effective in its responses to world crises.
The U.N. chief is “very conscious of cost-cutting” and has instructed all departments to look for ways to “spend money more wisely,” said Dujarric. But he added: “We will need resources to deliver on our mandates.”
U.N. officials cautioned that the budget proposal could undergo changes in the U.S. Congress. “I think we would want to see the conclusion of the budgetary process before we make any comment,” said Atul Khare, an under-secretary-general for peacekeeping.
Last month, Trump urged U.N. Security Council ambassadors during a working lunch in Washington to take a close look at the U.N. budget, saying expenditures had “absolutely gone out of control.” But Trump added that if the United Nations showed results, he would back away from budget cuts “because you’re talking peanuts compared to the important work you’re doing.”
The U.S. president’s budget proposal was released this week as the U.N.’s budget committee began work in New York to approve expenditures for the 16 peacekeeping missions. The council has agreed to shut down peacekeeping missions in Ivory Coast, Liberia and Haiti, and is expected to significantly draw down the joint operation with the African Union in Sudan’s Darfur region.