Trump May Cut US Funding to UN’s Peacekeeping, Refugee, and Women’s Programs
Two potential new executive orders could cripple the UN’s work abroad.
The contentious first week of Donald Trump’s presidency isn’t over yet.
Amid a wave of executive orders representing a sea-change in United States policy, Trump is reportedly preparing two more executive orders that could devastate the United Nations work around the world and could change the US role in international treaties.
The US plays an enormous role in funding UN activities: it accounts for 22% of the overall UN budget — and 25% of its peacekeeping operations budget — and spends billions of dollars a year supporting health, education, and refugee programs, among others, around the world.
The executive order now being considered by Trump could change all of that.
The first proposal, a draft of which was obtained by the New York Times, outlines criteria for eliminating funding to any international group — including the UN — that meets certain political criteria, and then cutting at least 40% more in funding across the board to all international groups.
The criteria that would be used to cut funding include organizations that fund abortion, that circumvent US sanctions against Iran and North Korea, that allow the Palestinian Liberation Organization or Palestinian Authority to have full membership, and groups that are controlled or influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism or is accused of persecuting marginalized individuals.
The order even suggests where the cuts could be made: US funding for peacekeeping operations, the International Criminal Court, development aid to countries that “oppose important United States policies,” and the United Nations Population Fund, which implements maternal and reproductive health programs around the world.
Some of these criteria and suggestions are redundant. The US doesn’t fund the International Criminal Court or any group that allows full Palestinian membership, the Times points out. Former President Barack Obama cut funding to the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization when it accepted Palestinians as full members.
The second executive order the president might sign this week would trigger a review of all international treaties that fall outside of national security, extradition, or trade. Two of the treaties mentioned as examples are the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
These treaties have been around for decades, and are among the most popular treaties on human rights in the world. The first one binds nations to recognizing discrimination against women and promising to take action to change it. The second one, which guarantees certain rights like education to children, is the most widely accepted human rights treaty in the world, though the United States is not a party to it.
The White House hasn’t announced if or when these executive orders might be signed, but during this week’s flurry of new orders, laws, and rules that will shape US policy under Trump, they are worth paying attention to now.