New York – At his debut appearance at the UN, US President Donald Trump criticised the bureaucracy and the financial burden that UN membership imposes on the US, and said it needs to be “better” at development, management, peace and security.
Trump adopted the 10-point political declaration backing efforts by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to initiate effective meaningful reform.
“In recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential due to bureaucracy and mismanagement,” Trump said, adding “we are not seeing the results in line with this investment.”
He stressed that the organization should be more focused on people, less on process.
US asked member nations to sign the declaration and more than 120 have done so.
Later, US ambassador to UN Nikki Haley said Trump’s criticisms were accurate at the time, but that it is now a “new day” at the UN.
She added that an organization that talked a lot but didn’t have a lot of action has given way to a “United Nations that’s action-oriented.”
Haley said the UN is “totally moving toward reform” especially after Sec-Gen Guterres proposed a massive package of changes.
Speaking before representative and top officials at a panel discussion on UN reform, Trump noted a personal history with the New York-based institution.
The president stated that US would “pledge to be partners in your work,” helping to advance the cause of peace around the world.
“In recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement, while the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 per cent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000,” Trump stated.
Trump commended the Secretary General’s call for the UN and emphasized the need for greater accountability, equal distribution of military and financial burdens, and clearly-defined goals for peacekeeping missions.
He encouraged member States to participate in UN proceedings with “an eye toward changing business as usual and not being beholden to ways of the past which were not working.”
Guterres also spoke at the reform meeting and said he shared Trump’s vision for a less wasteful UN to “live up to its full potential.”
US asked all the state-members to sign the reform declaration, however France hesitated till the last minute before signing the declaration.
In August, US convinced 15 states including Germany and UK, however Paris and Rome didn’t approve.
Other signatories of the deal include the European Union, China, and Russia.
During his election campaign, Trump used to criticize UN bureaucracy and the amount of money the US is expected to contribute to it.
“To honor the people of our nations we must ensure no nation shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily and financially… The United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle-blowers and focus on results rather than on process,” Trump said.
US is the biggest UN contributor, providing 22% of its $5.4bn biennial core budget and 28.5% of its $7.3bn peacekeeping budget.
Some diplomats believe that decreasing UN Refugees Agency’s (UNHCR) budget will hinder its operations especially that it depends on US’ contribution.
Notably, US declaration avoided stating any numbers and only mentioned the general principles.
A diplomat speaking to AFP noted that Trump’s declaration and statements are an advancement especially that he previously strongly criticized the organization.
The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declared that every state has its own agenda but they adopt joint principles.
Earlier in June, Ambassador Haley managed to decrease the peacekeeping process’ budget $600 million.
Guterres hopes UN’s marine budget could be decreased 15% during 2017-2018.
On Tuesday, UN General Assembly will begin with several keynote speakers including US and French presidents.
International crisis, especially that of North Korea and climate change, are expected to be discussed during the leader’s speeches.
Trump will give his first address at the UN on Tuesday and he is expected to emphasize the need for international cooperation, particularly when it comes to addressing issues like terrorism and the nuclear capacities of North Korea and Iran, both of which are expected to factor prominently into the speech.