DPA /New York
The United Nations is not delivering good enough results despite the extra money that has been put into it in recent years, US President Donald Trump said yesterday in his first address at the UN General Assembly. Trump chose UN reform as the theme of a US-hosted event that takes place every year before a week of speeches from world leaders, which will begin tomorrow.
He was joined by his UN ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary General Antonio Guterres as they announced 128 nations had signed on to a communique urging Guterres to plough ahead with plans for reform. Trump is “no stranger to change” and has a “businessman’s eye for seeing potential,” Haley said as she introduced the US president.
“I actually saw great potential right across the street,” Trump opened, crediting the organisation’s Midtown headquarters for the success of his business operations at Trump World Tower on United Nations Plaza, minutes away from the UN. The UN was founded with “truly noble goals” but must regain the trust of people around the world, Trump said. “In recent years the UN has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.”
There has been an increase in the costs of the organisation and “we are not seeing results in line with this investment,” Trump said.
He praised Guterres for “changing business as usual and not being beholden to the ways of the past which were not working.”
Guterres agreed that bureaucracy was undermining the UN’s work and said “endless red tape” keeps him up at night.
The US is the biggest contributor to the organisation, and pays 25% of the general budget and 28% towards peacekeeping funds. In Trump’s budget proposal earlier this year, he threatened to slash roughly $1bn from the peacekeeping fund, which Guterres said would make the UN’s work impossible. The US received so much support for their declaration that they had to switch to a bigger meeting room, Haley said – but said she would not be satisfied until all 193 member states of the UN were on board.
Among the signatories are Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Slovakia, Thailand, Britain and Uruguay.
But Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzya rejected the declaration, in comments carried by state news agency TASS. “We all support increasing the UN’s role in the international arena,” but the organization does not need dramatic reforms, Nebenzya said.
Guterres, who took over from Ban Ki-moon as head of the UN in January, campaigned for the role on a platform of reforming the organisation.
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are also joining Trump for the General Assembly at the UN’s New York headquarters. The US president has previously accused the UN of being a “club for people to get together, talk and have a good time” and said spending is “out of control.”
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