The Trump administration is proposing a 40 percent reduction in voluntary U.S. support for the United Nations and other global bodies, and an end to “wasteful and counterproductive” spending that does not serve U.S. interests, according to a draft of a forthcoming order.
If adopted, the proposed directive would represent a broad attack on the value and priorities of the United Nations, which Trump has recently called an ineffectual talk shop. A separate order would limit U.S. participation in some treaties.
Trump’s new U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, has pledged to put U.S. interests first and use the leverage of disproportionate U.S. funding of the body. But the draft order would go much further, and with an apparent goal of slashing U.S. participation across a swath of U.N. agencies and activities to which the Trump administration objects on fiscal or ideological grounds.
Haley, who was confirmed this week by a vote of 96 to 4, told senators at her confirmation hearing that the Trump administration would question whether the U.S. “gets what it pays for” from the United Nations.
The draft order could reverse or roll back funding for priorities championed by former president Barack Obama, including international peacekeeping missions and U.S. support for development work under the U.N. umbrella.
A White House spokesman declined to comment Wednesday.
The White House directive would launch a one-year review of U.S. support for international organizations including the United Nations and its related agencies, describe how U.S. money is used and offer recommendations for ways to reduce mandated U.S. contributions.
The review panel would include the State Department, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Office of Management and Budget and the White House national security adviser.
U.S. agencies would be directed to identify the “compelling national interest” for continued funding. Separately, the draft order obtained by The Washington Post directs the review committee to “recommend at least 40 percent overall decrease in the amount of overall funding of voluntary contributions,” in addition to other cuts.
“The United States is in fact the United Nations’ largest supporter, providing nearly a quarter of its total revenues, and the American contribution continues to grow annually,” an introduction to the order reads.
“This financial commitment is particularly burdensome given the current fiscal crisis and ballooning national deficits and national debt. And while the United States’ financial support for the United Nations is enormous, the United Nations often pursues an agenda that is contrary to American interests.”
The draft order, titled “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations,” has not been released, and it was not clear whether changes were planned before its release.
The order was first reported by the New York Times.
In addition to the reduction in voluntary U.S. donations, the order would set up criteria that could be used later to cut U.S. funding for international organizations, including whether they accord full membership to the Palestine Liberation Organization or are “controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism.”
The PLO has sought to use membership in U.N. bodies as a form of international recognition short of formal statehood. U.S. administrations of both parties have opposed that route, insisting that Palestinian statehood should result from negotiations with Israel over borders, security, refugees and other issues.
While U.S. opposition to the tactic has prompted it to withhold paying its dues to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 2011, this more sweeping policy would appear to threaten U.S. funding for U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The PLO joined the UNFCCC, the main forum for global climate negotiations, in December 2015.
The review panel is also told to examine whether or how U.S. funding is used in support of U.N. resolutions that “single out” Israel. That would apparently include the U.N. Security Council’s December condemnation of Israel over West Bank settlements. The Obama administration abstained rather than veto that action, which Israel and Trump have called unfair.