UN chief set to lobby US Congress next week to save funding

Last month, the US State Department laid out plans to slash Washington's budget for diplomacy and foreign aid by more than 30 percent, including a dramatic cut of 60 percent of US funding for peacekeeping missions.

By: AFP | United Nations | Updated: June 21, 2017 12:41 am
Antonio Guterres , UN chief, UN Secretary-General, US lawmakers, United Nations UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (Reuters/File Photo)

Drastic cuts in US funding to the United Nations would create an “insolvable problem” for the world body, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said today as he announced plans to lobby US lawmakers to reject the cutbacks. Guterres will travel to Washington next week to make the case directly to US members of Congress who have the power to amend President Donald Trump’s budget proposals.

Last month, the US State Department laid out plans to slash Washington’s budget for diplomacy and foreign aid by more than 30 percent, including a dramatic cut of 60 percent of US funding for peacekeeping missions.

The United States is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 per cent of the USD 5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 per cent of the USD 7.9 billion peacekeeping budget. “The proposal of budget that was presented to the Congress would create an insolvable problem to the management of the UN,” Guterres told a news conference at UN headquarters. “The process is still in the Congress and I will soon be going to Washington,” he added.

Guterres has no plans to visit Trump at the White House during the June 27-29 visit, or hold talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The Trump administration has also announced the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the culmination of years of UN-led negotiations, and has taken aim at refugee resettlement.

Guterres warned that a US retreat from global affairs would create a void that would allow other powers to step in. “If the United States disengages in relation to many aspects of foreign policy… it will be unavoidable that other actors will occupy that space,” he said. “I don’t think that this is good for the United States and I don’t think this is good for the world.”

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