President Donald J. Trump opened the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York with comments on the need for international cooperation on UN reform. Developed by Trump administration, the Declaration on reform of the United Nations has already been signed by 128 out of 193 countries.
“The declaration of support for United Nations reform began as a way to get momentum to Secretary-General Guterres’ efforts to bring greater efficiency, accountability, and transparency to the UN … We thought that having the Member States put their names on a document would help ensure that these goals don’t remain just words, but become a part of the culture of the UN,” said the US permanent representative to the UN, Nicky Haley at the United Nations General Assembly on September 18.
The US President spoke further on the three main goals of UN reform. “The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals. These include affirming the dignity and worth of the human person and striving for international peace,” the President said. “Yet in recent years, the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.”
President Trump commended the Secretary General’s call for the United Nations to focus “more on people and less on bureaucracy.” The President emphasized the need for greater accountability, equal distribution of military and financial burdens, and clearly-defined goals for peacekeeping missions. He encouraged the 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.”
The Declaration contains 10 points. The American side calls on it to change the structure of the UN in order to improve the coordination of work between different units. It is also possible to do this because of the reduction in the number of personnel.
“We do not see results consistent with our investments,” US President said, “We need a UN that will restore the trust of people around the world … The UN should not be held hostage to past methods that do not work.”
The script of the whole Trump 4-min speech may be seen here.
Trump has repeatedly noted earlier that Washington annually spends about $10 billion on UN programs – this amount is several times greater than other members of the Organization are investing.
“Although the regular budget of the United Nations has increased by 140 percent, and the number of employees has more than doubled since 2000, we do not see the results of such investments,” Trump said.
Also, he said, all member countries of the UN should make an equal contribution both in the military and in the financial plan. “We also ask that every peacekeeping mission has clearly defined goals and benchmarks for assessing how well it is being carried out … If we work together and implement reforms, the UN will be reborn as a more effective force in strengthening peace and harmony on the planet.”
The draft US federal budget for the 2018 fiscal year implies a reduction in the funding of UN peacekeeping missions by $1B. In addition, contributions to the budgets of various international organizations, including UN structures, can be cut.
Meanwhile, the Washington-developed declaration was not supported by 70 countries, among them three permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, and France.
“I’m not sure that we will sign this declaration, many of the ideas outlined are of course important and follow the proposals put forward by the Secretary-General, but you will not spend reform on the declaration,” TASS [RF News Agency] quotes the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya. Russian wisecrackers already labeled Trump;s proposal as “UN perestroika” – a reference to the Gorbachev lead actions caused fallout of the Soviet Union in 1991.
According to the Russian ambassador, “it is possible to increase the effectiveness of the UN only through intergovernmental negotiations … The proposed US document is a declaration of countries that share similar views on this issue, but this is not instructions to the secretary general how to rebuild the organization.”