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President Donald Trump reacts to laughter from diplomats during his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters.
Bebeto Matthews/AP
Citizenship

5 Key Issues Trump Spoke About in His UN Speech

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US President Donald Trump criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council and said that the country will be reviewing its foreign aid commitments while speaking at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

The president also discussed his hope for peace in North Korea, plans to escalate sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, the ongoing trade war with China, and the civil wars in Yemen and Syria.

Take Action: Call on G20 Leaders to Commit to a Fairer Future

The main theme running throughout his speech was the importance of sovereignty and how, according to Trump, other countries take advantage of the US.

“America will always choose independence and cooperation over global dominance,” Trump said during his speech. “The US will not tell you how to live or work or worship, we only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.”

Here are five of the most significant issues Trump covered in his speech.


1. Foreign Aid

Trump said the US will be looking to reduce foreign aid by removing funding from various programs, including UN peacekeeping efforts, and countries that don’t sufficiently support US values.

“We are taking a hard look at US foreign assistance,” he said. “We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and protection also have our interests at heart.”

“Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and are our friends,” he added.

The Trump administration has repeatedly sought to slash foreign aid in the past, and Congress has been able to block the majority of cuts. Global Citizen campaigns on the issue of foreign aid as crucial to world peace, reducing the spread of disease, creating economic returns, and other benefits.

Read More: Richer, Safer, Healthier: 4 Ways Robust Foreign Aid Is Good for Americans


2. Refugees

Trump applauded countries like Jordan that have taken in millions of refugees in recent years and pledged to support them. He also said that the best way to help refugees is to work on returning them to their home countries.

“The most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible, to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process,” he said. “This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.“

The world has more refugees than at any point in recorded history and millions of refugees live in under-resourced camps for years at a time. Refugee organizations have repeatedly called on the US to take in more refugees because, by definition, it’s untenable for refugees to return home.

Read More: Trump Administration Slashes Refugee Cap to Lowest Level Ever


3. Human Rights

Trump saved some of his harshest criticism for the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. The US withdrew from the UN body earlier in the year because of “chronic bias against Israel.”

“The UN Human Rights Council has become a grave embarrassment,” Trump said.” [It’s] shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and many of its friends.”

The ICC, meanwhile, earned the ire of the Trump administration earlier in the month after it said it would be investigating war crimes in Afghanistan.

“As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority,” he said. “We reject the ideology of globalism and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.”


4. Immigration

Trump also reiterated his commitment to reducing immigration into the US. He said the US wouldn’t join the Global Compact on Migration, signed by nearly every country in the world, and said that “illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of drugs” and “hurts hard working citizens and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty.”

The Trump administration has been heavily criticized for its approach to immigration, especially regarding its travel bans on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries and its policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the US-Mexico border.

Read More: US Abandons UN Refugee and Migrant Pact on Eve of Talks


5. Energy

As the UN tries to guide countries to transition away from fossil fuel economies, Trump announced his intention to increase oil exports and maintain energy independence.

“In America we believe strongly in energy security for ourselves and our allies,” he said. “We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on face of the Earth.”

The Trump administration has so far weakened regulations on coal power plants, stopped restrictions on methane emissions, dismantled car efficiency rules, opened up protected waters and public lands to oil drilling, and withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement.