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Trump Said to Be Preparing Possible Cuts in UN Funding

  • VOA News

FILE - The United Nations headquarters building is pictured though a window, with the U.N. logo in the foreground.

The United Nations could face severe financial cuts if the Trump administration follows through with action envisioned by the White House, according to media reports late Wednesday.

The New York Times on Wednesday said it had obtained two draft orders relating to potential action by President Donald Trump. One of the drafts would terminate U.S. funding of any U.N.-affiliated agency that allows full membership for the Palestinian Authority, funds abortions, or circumvents economic sanctions against Iran or North Korea.

The newspaper reported the draft also calls for "at least a 40 percent overall decrease" in remaining U.S. funding toward international organizations.

A second draft order calls for a review of multilateral treaties, which could include the multinational agreement with Iran to end its nuclear-weapons development activities, which Trump has denounced in the past as a "terrible" arrangement. The second draft presidential order also could refer to the Paris accord on measures to control climate change, which the president also has criticized.

Vice President Mike Pence administers the oath of office to U.S. Ambassador to the UN, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Jan. 25, 2017, in the Vice Presidential Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office building.
Vice President Mike Pence administers the oath of office to U.S. Ambassador to the UN, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Jan. 25, 2017, in the Vice Presidential Ceremonial Office in the Eisenhower Executive Office building.

Nikki Haley, the newly confirmed American ambassador to the United Nations, said during her confirmation hearings that she believes the United States has been making "disproportionate" — or excessive — contributions to support U.N. activities and programs. Haley asked whether the U.S. is "getting what we pay for."

The Fox Business news website also reported Wednesday that the U.N. might be the Trump administration's next target. Six Republican congressmen in early January sponsored a bill that would end U.S. membership in the United Nations altogether, the website reported, but that bill is not expected to win approval.

The United States pays 22 percent of the U.N.'s regular budget and an additional 28 percent toward peacekeeping missions. The U.N. general budget for 2016-2017 is roughly $5.5 billion; for peacekeeping missions, about $8 billion.

Other presidential orders

White House officials announced several new presidential orders Wednesday, including a directive to federal agencies to prepare to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and another strengthening restrictions against illegal immigration. There also are expectations that the president will soon announce a temporary ban on allowing refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen to enter the United States.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it was aware of the U.S.-Mexican border issue and would "closely follow the impact" of any wall-building program on people seeking refuge in the United States.

"At a time of enormous needs for the protection of refugees," a UNHCR statement said, "we hope that the U.S. will continue its strong leadership role and long tradition of protecting those who are fleeing conflict and persecution."

Trump signed an order Tuesday prohibiting the U.S. government from providing funds to any American groups that provide abortions abroad or distribute information about abortions to foreign audiences.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) provides access to reproductive health care in developing countries and could be affected by this order.

Dujarric said UNFPA did not currently think it would be directly affected by the order. It could impact some work done by international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), Dujarric added, "But obviously they are still going through the possible impact."

Margaret Besheer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

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