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After Jerusalem decision, US moves to slash UN budget

27 December 2017,Wednesday, 14:14

After the recent announcement by US President Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the plan to shift the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the US administration is now moving to drastically slash US contributions to the United Nations budget, Bernama reports.

This, Washington said, is aimed at making the world body more efficient, keeping US interests uppermost in mind.

The UN budget is now in “sharp focus” for the US administration, as one UN official told Bernama on condition of anonymity.

Washington’s resolve became clear when the US permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Nikki Haley, issued a statement that the US had succeeded in achieving cuts exceeding US$285 million, culminating in an agreement that would peg the UN budget for 2018-19 to US$5.4 billion.

“We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked,” Haley said, hinting that in future negotiations “you can be sure we’ll continue to look at ways to increase the UN’s efficiency while protecting our interests”.

Money will in fact be the key to achieving US objectives at the world body. This was made clear when Haley took over office as US ambassador in early 2017 and had put the world body on notice by saying that there would be a “change in the way we do business”.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has himself acknowledged that some parts of the organisation must become more efficient.

Haley’s remarks about the UN also resonate well with Trump’s supporters, many of whom see the world body as a mere “social club” which is there, generally, to vent anti-American rhetoric and take decisions inimical to US interests.

American scholars and other experts have been cautioning the US administration that such coercive tactics could harm US long-term interests.

Thanks to its sheer economic power and the yardsticks applied to determine its contributions, as defined under the UN Charter, Washington provides for the largest contribution of some 22 per cent of the UN budget.

The US paid some US$1.2 billion of the US$5.4 billion UN operating budget for the last fiscal year. Furthermore, the US also provided the largest share of 28.5 per cent to a separate UN peacekeeping budget of US$6.8 billion between 2017 and 2018.

Noting that the “inefficiency and overspending of the United Nations are well known”, Haley described the cuts achieved in the UN budget as a “big step in the right direction”.

The US is furthermore seeking a US$250 million cut to the UN budget for 2018 to 2019, on top of the US$200 million in savings already proposed by UN Secretary-General Guterres.



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