United Nations, or simply U.N., has been mocked and laughed as a toothless tiger for as long as one can remember. On paper, U.N. appears to be a powerful power broker. In reality, however, U.N. does not play any other key role in solving essential world problems. Its Security Council is like a playground for five spoilt members – China, France, Russia, UK and US.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, who possess the “veto power”, represent the five great powers considered to be the victors of World War II. That’s why two great nations – Germany and Japan – didn’t get the permanent seats despite being world economic powers because both were considered the villains who lost the World War II.
Although there’re 193 member nations, nothing can go through if any of the Security Council’s permanent members vetoes a resolution. Without an agreement from all the five permanent members, the most one can do is to cry, whine, criticise and bitch until foam at the mouth. U.N. is just a club for people to “have good time” – according to Donald Trump.
And if President Trump is to get his way, United Nations’ facilities will get a major downgrade. As a world body, the U.N. depends heavily on funding from rich nations, especially the United States. Every year, American taxpayers are picking the tab amounting to US$10 billion where US$4 billion comes from the State Department.
Besides being insulted as a club for people to get together and have nice food and drink, Trump could be on the right track as the most hostile American president United Nations has ever faced. Trump has just told the State Department to cut more than 50% of U.S. funding to United Nations programs, sending the world body into panic mode.
As the White House is scheduled on Thursday to release its 2018 budget proposal, Trump administration wants to cut unnecessary spending. This includes 37% for spending on the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign assistance programs in next year’s budget.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been given flexibility to decide how the cuts would be distributed, or whether it would be staggered in phases over the next 3 years. Nonetheless, there will certainly be cuts from the Office of Management and Budget. The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) received US$1.5 billion of its US$4 billion budget from the United States last year alone.
U.N. programs to be seriously affected are peacekeeping, UNICEF, and the U.N. Development Programme as both get their funding directly from the U.S. State Department. The U.S. provides about US$2.5 billion per year to fund peacekeepers. There’re 16 peacekeeping missions that Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, can identify for the cut.
Among peacekeeping missions currently active are those long-standing operations in Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Haiti, not to mention problematic missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Darfur, Sudan. But sub-Saharan Africa has plenty of crises that could only get worse if the United States continues pouring financial support.
Other programs such as World Food Programme and U.N. refugee operations, which derive their budget from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could be affected too. U.N. diplomats believe they expect Trump administration to eliminate funding for some agencies unpopular with conservatives – U.N. Population Fund and U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The funding cut is necessary as Trump administration is shifting the country’s policy – from U.S. support for diplomacy and foreign assistance to increased financial support for the U.S. military. To fund an increase of US$54 billion in defence spending, President Trump wants to divert money from the State Department, USAID, and other foreign assistance programs.
However, it would not be a smooth sail for President Trump as some U.N. programs, such as the World Food Programme and UNICEF are particularly popular among Democrats and Republicans. Still, U.N. is one huge monster which sucks up lots of US dollars every year. The U.S. has to pay over 22% of the U.N.’s US$2.5 billion administrative budget.
Fortunately to Trump administration, such “major cutback” is broadly popular among Republican voters who hate United Nations. According to a national telephone and online survey done by Rasmussen, a whopping 68% of Republicans and 49% of plurality voters not affiliated with either Republican or Democrats actually favour major cuts in U.N. funding.
For decades, the U.S. has been acting like one giant piggie bank for the U.N., sponsoring almost all programs without tangible benefits to the country. Now that businessman Donald Trump is the U.S. president, he wants to pay only what is mandatory and throws away those nice to have programs. He is cool if others – Russia, Germany, and China – want to take over and burn their own money.
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