The White House wants to cut an estimated $1 billion in United Nations funding, according to an article published yesterday in Foreign Policy magazine. This will affect life-saving programs such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme, and UN peacekeeping missions around the world.
These proposed cuts come as certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from famine affecting more than 20 million people.
“We’re absolutely reducing funding to the UN and to the various foreign aid programs, including those run by the UN and other agencies,” director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters last week.
Under the budget proposal, the White House said that UN peacekeeping funding could be reduced by 40%. The UN currently operates 16 peacekeeping missions around the world, including nine in Africa and several others in the Middle East, including Syria and Lebanon.
Funding to UNICEF, which provides humanitarian assistance to children around the world, would be reduced by $130 million. The report did not clarify what specific programs would be cut.
“Beyond this, more details won’t be available until the president’s full FY 2018 budget is rolled out later in the spring,” a state department official is quoted as saying.
UNICEF, which receives about $500 million in funding from the US overall, provides humanitarian assistance to children in emergency situations. For example, UNICEF has an on-the-ground presence in Syria, providing education, water, health care and immunizations, physical protection, psychological support and clothing to displaced children.
Under the new budget proposal this funding could be jeopardized.
Overall, the United States contributed $10.5 billion to the UN in 2016, so Trump is essentially proposing a 10% cut in UN funding for the 2018 fiscal year.
According to the Foreign Policy report, “it is by no means sure that these cuts will be implemented,” as several senators, including Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, have said there is no way the Trump administration’s proposed budget would pass the Senate.
But the authors of the report also noted that UN funding may have fewer supporters in Congress than State Department does.
A House Bill introduced in January by Rep. Mike Rogers proposed that the US back out of the United Nations completely.
Whether the proposed UN cuts are indicative of a shift toward this broader strategy is still to be determined. But if the US were to make such a drastic move, it could spell have enormous ramifications.