On June 30 the U.N. General Assembly voted to cut $600 million from the organization’s nearly $8 billion annual peacekeeping budget.
The move comes amid pressure from the Trump administration, which contributes more than a quarter of the department’s annual budget. But UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who took office Jan. 1, has also called for major UN reforms, including in peacekeeping.
US Ambassador to the UN in New York, Nikki Haley, proudly tweeted “Just 5 months into our time here, we’ve cut over half a billion $$$ from the UN peacekeeping budget & we’re only getting started.”
The dramatic cut, which slashed $600 million from the budget, was less than the $1 billion reduction the U.S. initially sought. That would have reduced the U.S. contribution to the peacekeeping fund by 10 percent. Instead, it drops by about 7.5 percent. The US provides 28.5 percent of the peacekeeping budget, far more than any other country and more than double China, which pays second most at just over 10 percent.
The UN peacekeeping budget currently funds 16 peacekeeping missions around the world. But missions in Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Haiti are winding down and Haley has pledged to continue reviewing each mission as it comes up for renewal, all with an eye toward saving the U.S. a few extra dollars.
The United States is the UN’s largest donor, contributing about $611 million this year to the regular budget of more than $2.5 billion. Washington also contributes more than $2 billion annually to peacekeeping, and hundreds of millions more to programs, including the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program.
Friday’s vote was focused only on the peacekeeping budget, meaning the U.S. will save around $150 million next year, as it pays about a quarter of the peacekeeping budget.
Washington had hoped to slash $1 billion from the department’s budget, but lengthy negotiations among member states ended with a European Union-proposed compromise of $7.3 billion for the annual peacekeeping budget. Ambassador Haley proclaimed it a victory.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters the world body will make every effort to ensure mandates are implemented, despite the sizable budget cut.
“We cannot overstate the value of peacekeeping to achieve peace and stability,” Dujarric said. “It remains the most cost-effective instrument at the disposal of the international community to prevent conflicts and foster conditions for lasting peace.”
Sources: New York Magazine and Voice of America.