Trump Wants To Cut Funding For Crucial UN Programs

by Seth Millstein
Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images

According to a report in Foreign Policy, President Trump will slash funding for several crucial United Nations programs, including those focusing on providing vaccines, stopping nuclear proliferation, and promoting peace talks. Although these changes haven't yet been implemented, staffers in the State Department have been instructed to find ways to cut U.S. funding for U.N. programs by as much as 60 percent, Foreign Policy reported on Monday. The White House didn't return Bustle's request for comment on this story.

While a lot is still unknown about Trump's plan, it will reportedly take the form of cuts to the International Organization Affairs Bureau, the State Department agency that manages funding for voluntary and discretionary U.N. programs.

For example, the U.S. currently spends around $2.5 billion on U.N. peacekeeping efforts, but Trump wants to cut $1 billion from that budget, one source told Foreign Policy. Another source said that Trump may cut humanitarian aid programs by as much as 36 percent. UNICEF, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the U.N. Development Program could also see drastic decreases in funding.

Things that remain unclear include the specific programs Trump intends to slash funding for, as well as the timetable for those cuts. It's possible that the White House could include all of these cuts in its 2018 budget proposal, which is expected to be released on Thursday; alternatively, it could seek to wind down the funding over the course of the next several years.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which provides humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees, might also be targeted for cuts. But it might not. Although Republicans have long opposed that program on the grounds that it's insufficiently pro-Israel, a diplomat told Foreign Policy that it nonetheless may survive, as it insulates the Israeli government from the responsibility of providing relief to Palestinians.

The programs liable to be cut in this effort are all voluntary and discretionary; in other words, they're separate from the America's overall funding commitments to the U.N. budget. It's unclear whether Trump intends to slash those funds as well, but if he does, the U.S. could lose voting rights in the U.N. General Assembly.

Bathsheba Crocker, a former State Department official under President Obama, said that Trump's reported budget cuts might hit North Africa and the Middle East especially hard, as they could imperil funding for famine relief efforts in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Somalia.