UN peacekeeping budget to be cut by $600 million


United Nations states struck a deal on a $7.3 billion annual peacekeeping budget, diplomats said, cutting $600 million from current costs and slicing 7.5% off the US bill following calls by President Donald Trump to slash funding.

Washington initially proposed a peacekeeping budget of $6.99 billion for the year from July 1, 2017, which would have reduced its share of the bill by more than 10% to $1.99 billion.

In the early hours of Wednesday, the 193-member UN budget committee agreed on $7.3 billion to fund 13 peacekeeping missions and a logistics support office. The budget is due to be adopted by the UN General Assembly on Friday, diplomats said.

The US initial peacekeeping budget proposal was the lowest made of all states and regional blocs and nearly a billion less than UN chief Antonio Guterres’ suggestion.

While Trump has described US funding for the UN as “peanuts” compared to its “important work,” he complains its share of the peacekeeping bill, currently 28.5%, is “unfair.” In his 2018 budget proposal he requested Congress approve only $1.2 billion for UN peacekeeping.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told US lawmakers in Washington Trump’s proposed US federal budget was “making a point that he wanted to strengthen the military and it was putting the United Nations on notice.”
“I used that as leverage … now we’re seeing a lot of other countries come forward and say ‘yes we should do reform,'” Haley said. “I think the message was effective.”

The United States is also reviewing each of the UN peacekeeping missions as annual mandates come up for renewal by the Security Council in a bid to cut costs. The United States is a veto-wielding member of the council, along with Britain, France, Russia and China.
“There’s a lot of fat around the edges and some abuses at the UN, but I think it is important we make the most of it,” Haley said.

Washington also pays 22% of the $5.4 billion biennial UN core budget.

Ultimately the US Congress sets the federal government budget and will decide how much money is available for UN funding. Republicans, who control both houses and Democrats said they do not support drastic cuts proposed by Trump.

Trump wants to enforce a 25% cap on the US contribution to UN peacekeeping. The UN General Assembly is due to negotiate new levels of contributions by countries for 2019, 2020 and 2021 next year.

Guterres pledged to make UN peacekeeping more efficient but has noted the current budget to fund it is less than half a percent of global military spending.