WASHINGTON – With some members of Congress calling for the U.S. to withdraw from the United Nations and President Trump calling for “major” cuts in funding, someone is out of step with the program – new U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
At her confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate, Haley suggested she wanted to make a major dent in spending on peacekeeping operations. She suggested re-evaluating all 16 current missions around the world that cost about $8 billion a year.
She even suggested using the threat of pulling out if the U.N. doesn’t grasp the urgency of the U.S. position.
“Do we need to shift and do things differently or do we need to pull out?” she asked.
Apparently that was a rhetorical question.
While critical of the U.N.’s mission in South Sudan, which she has called “terrible” – noting the government is non-cooperative with the operations that involve 14,000 soldiers and cost more than $1 billion a year – her focus has set as her priority a mission-by-mission review. She has also talked about winding up the U.N.’s Haiti assignment.
There are more than 100,000 U.N. peacekeeping soldiers currently deployed around the world in 16 operations – nine of them in Africa.
Haley has noted that many U.N. peacekeeping missions have deteriorated into scandals involving bribery, corruption and even widespread sexual exploitation.
The current budget for the year ending June 30 for peacekeeping operations is $7.87 billion. The U.S. currently pays 28.57 percent of that budget, nearly three times as much as any other country. Congress has enacted legislation requiring that the U.S. pay no more than 25 percent – an amount Haley says the U.S. should be paying.
“We have to start encouraging other countries to have skin in the game,” she said.