Elpida Bograkou, S.A.F.I.A Research Team – United States
One month after the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump on January 2017, the international community was caught by surprise when alarming facts of a possible executive order that “would reduce voluntary contributions to international bodies such as the United Nations by 40%” (Borger, 2017). Trump administration has been complaining about a “burdensome commitment to the UN” (Borger, 2017) for a while now and President Trump expressed antipathy toward the United Nations during the campaign (Fisher, 2017).
Many were those that thought, or hoped, that this possibility is some kind of a joke. However, there were undisputed facts. On the official website of the American Congress (www.congress.gov) lie the information for the period of the 115th Congress (2017-2018) session during which the H.R.193 – American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017. A bill introduced by Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers earlier this January calls on the US to «terminate» its membership in the United Nations and effectively sever all ties with the organization (Bertrand, 2017). The new bill will be introduced on March 1st, 2017. The bill’s language is strong, and it’s an extreme long shot to gather the necessary support and votes in order tobe passed over to the House and move on to the Senate. Rogers tried, unsuccessfully, to pass a similar bill in 2015.The subjects, according to the congress press release of the bill, will be the following:
- The bill repeals the United Nations Participation Act of 1945 and other specified related laws
- the bill requires: (1) the President to terminate U.S. membership in the United Nations (U.N.), including any organ, specialized agency, commission, or other formally affiliated body; and (2) closure of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations
- the bill prohibits: (1) the authorization of funds for the U.S. assessed or voluntary contribution to the U.N., (2) the authorization of funds for any U.S. contribution to any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation, (3) the expenditure of funds to support the participation of U.S. Armed Forces as part of any U.N. military or peacekeeping operation, (4) U.S. Armed Forces from serving under U.N. command, and (5) diplomatic immunity for U.N. officers or employees.
What is even more alarming than the reduction of the funds to the United Nations is that the United States are looking to retract support from an organization in which they have played an important role when it comes to worldwide financial, political and social stability. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations (USUN) is the department that serves as the United States’ delegation to the United Nations. USUN is responsible for carrying out the nation’s participation in the world body. In 1947 the United States Mission was created by an act of Congress to assist the President and the Department of State, the same Act that is going to be disputed soon, in conducting United States policy at the United Nations. Since that time, USUN has served a vital role as the Department of State’s UN branch. Today, USUN has approximately 150 people on staff who serve to represent the United States’ political, economic and social, legal, military, public diplomacy and management interests at the United Nations. It is quite easy for one to understand that the United States mission is a vital part of the US Foreign Policy structure.
Stephen Biddle, an adjunct senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University stated the following on the issue “This proposal doesn’t strike me as something that’s likely to rise above the noise, but it does play into the administration’s narrative about opposing multilateral institutions and withdrawing from global leadership roles.» Such a decision of the current administration will be in complete disagreement with the role of the United States the past decades. The United States have never given up their role in global leadership in all major matters and organizations. Such a policy will isolate the United States from the global political frontstage and have a negative effect and open the road for retreat from many others multilateral agreements.
Another issue that should be of great significance is the effect that such a bill could have on social and humanitarian causes initiated and supported by the United Nations. Natalie Samarasinghe, the executive director of the United Nations Association UK, warned of the potential impact on programs that were already seriously underfunded “including many humanitarian initiatives that successive US administrations, and the American public, support” (Borger, 2017).In these cases, the help and support of the United States have proven to be the game changers since the United States funded peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations in fragile regions of the world.
To sum up, despite the fact that the Republican administration opts to create an America that will be responsible only for itself and willing to lose its role in global leadership we must not overlook the fact that such a bill is another way for Trump administration to create havoc and is not representative of the real motives of the current administration. Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said: “It is not clear exactly how seriously to take this. It looks like Trump is aiming to make the maximum possible amount of political noise about the UN, but the executive order seems to park discussions about financial cuts in a special committee” (Borger, 2017).
Anon, Available at: https://usun.state.gov/about [Accessed February 28, 2017].
Bertrand, N., 2017. A bill has already been introduced in Congress to remove the US from the United Nations. Business Insider. Available at: http://www.businessinsider.com/american-sovereignty-restoration-act-us-withdraw-un-2017-1 [Accessed February 27, 2017].
Borger, J., 2017. UN funding: alarm at reports Trump will order sweeping cuts. The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/26/un-funding-alarm-at-reports-trump-will-order-sweeping-cuts [Accessed February 27, 2017].
Fisher, M., 2017. Trump Administration Holds Off on Issuing U.N. Funding Order. The New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/28/world/americas/trump-un-funding-order.html?_r=0 [Accessed February 27, 2017].
Rogers, M., 2017. H.R.193 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017. Congress.gov. Available at: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/193 [Accessed February 27, 2017].