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9 Former US Ambassadors Just Wrote a Letter to Congress Asking Them Not Cut UN Funding

This week, nine former United States Ambassadors to the United Nations — who worked under both Republican and Democratic administrations — wrote to Congressional leaders pleading to them to maintain US financial support to the UN and its agencies. That’s nearly all of the former US Ambassadors to the UN who are alive today.

The letter, released Tuesday, comes as a response to President Donald Trump’s proposed cut to foreign assistance, as part of the administration’s plan to reduce the State Department’s budget by about one-third.

“Our message is simple,” Madeleine Albright, UN Ambassador during the Clinton Administration, said in a conference call. “Cutting the UN budget, as Trump indicated, will only damage national security.”

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The ambassadors added that, "while the U.N. is imperfect, and many reforms are needed, the U.N. remains an indispensable instrument for advancing the global stability and prosperity on which U.S. interests and priorities depend."

During a lunch held on Monday in the White House with members of the Security Council, President Trump said that the UN has “tremendous potential” and plays an important role in the North Korean crisis.

“I like the president I heard. I don’t like the president that put forward the skinny budget,” said Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who served under former President George HW Bush.

The budget requests a 28% reduction in foreign spending for 2017 and 2018.

Read More: Melinda Gates Is Fighting Trump’s Proposed Foreign Aid Cuts

The US is the single largest contributor to the UN, contributing about 25% of its regular operating budget and 28% of its peacekeeping one. In all, the US spends about $10 billion on UN programs each year. To put things into perspective, that’s only 1% of the federal budget.

Programs like UNICEF, the World Food Program, and the UN Refugee Agency, which largely depend on US aid, would face detrimental consequences and be left scrambling for resources.

Some of the 20 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Nigeria on the brink of famine today could never get access to food, water, or aid.

US foreign investment has improved nutrition for 18 million young children around the world, reported USAID.

Trump’s new proposal would turn a blind eye on the world’s most vulnerable people, but Congress has until April 28 to finalize the 2017 budget.

Read More: US Must Step Up to Help Save 20 Million Facing Famine

The ambassadors aren’t the only ones who have weighed in with Congress calling for foreign assistance. Over 100 faith leaders and 120 retired generals and admirals have drafted letters in opposition to the cuts.

“In our experience, the U.S. is much more effective in pressing reforms when it stays engaged and pays its dues and bills,” the ambassadors wrote. “Withholding or slashing funding for the UN, by contrast, weakens our hand, alienates allies whose support is critical to our reform priorities, undermines essential UN activities that promote core American interests and values, and costs us more over the long term.”