UN to cut peacekeeping spending by 600 million for coming year

GERMAN PRESS AGENCY - DPA
NEW YORK
Published 29.06.2017 01:36
emAP Photo/em
AP Photo

The UN will reduce its peacekeeping budget by around 600 million dollars as the organization fights looming cuts to its US funding, diplomats said Wednesday.

Confirmation that the budget will fall from 7.9 to 7.3 billion dollars came as UN chief Antonio Guterres spent a second day lobbying lawmakers in Washington as part of his bid to stem US cuts to peacekeeping efforts.

Guterres was due to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday to discuss UN reform and US-UN relations, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

He also met key Republicans and Democrats including House Speaker Paul Ryan during the trip to lobby lawmakers before they decide how much the US will contribute to the UN budget in 2018, Dujarric said.

Guterres is an advocate of reforming and streamlining the UN, but said the proposal from President Donald Trump's budget office to slash around 1 billion dollars from the US contribution to peacekeeping would make the UN's work "simply impossible."

Lawmakers from the US Congress are in the process of unpicking and reworking the budget outline provided to them, and it is unlikely the cuts will remain so severe.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was also in Washington and briefed lawmakers on her mission to "find value" and "trim around the edges" at the UN.

The US currently foots 28 per cent of the UN's 7.9-billion-dollar peacekeeping bill for 2016-2017.

Trump has said the absolute maximum the US should pay is 25 per cent. Haley advised that a US contribution of 25 per cent of total peacekeeping costs would be "sustainable" for the UN.

Trump's proposed cuts were an effective negotiating tool in that they "did send shockwaves through the UN and put everyone on notice," Haley told lawmakers at a budget hearing at the US House of Representatives Tuesday.

"What we saw in return is that they all saw we won't be taken for granted anymore - they understand we need to find value."

The UN's 193-member General Assembly is expected to approve the budget of 7.3 billion dollars for the coming year on Friday, the same day the 7.9-billion-dollar budget for the year 2016-2017 expires.

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