MS Risk Blog

UN Agrees Peacekeeping Budget

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Late last month, the United Nations states struck a deal on a US $7.3 billion annual peacekeeping budget. According to diplomats, US $600 million has been cut from current costs while the US’ share has been cut by 7.5 percent, following calls by President Donald Trump to slash funding.

In the early hours of Wednesday 28 June, the 193-member UN budget committee agreed on US $7.3 billion to fund thirteen peacekeeping missions and a logistics support office. The US initial peacekeeping budget proposal was the lowest made of all states and regional blocs and was nearly US $1 billion less than UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ suggestion. Washington initially proposed a peacekeeping budget of US $6.99 billion for the year from 1 July 2017, which would have reduced its share of the bill by more than 10 percent to US $1.99 billion. While President Trump has described US funding for the UN as “peanuts” compared to its “important work,” he has complained that its share of the peacekeeping bill, which is currently 28.5 percent, is “unfair.” In his 2018 budget proposal he requested that Congress approve only US $1.2 billion for UN peacekeeping. On Wednesday, US Ambassador Nikki Haley told US lawmakers in Washington that president Trump’s proposed US federal budget was “making a point that he wanted to strengthen the military and it was putting the United Nations on notice.” Haley further stated, “I have used that as leverage…now we’re seeing a lot of the other countries come forward and say ‘yes we should reform,’” adding “I really do think the message was effective.”

In a bid to cut costs, the US is also reviewing each of the UN peacekeeping missions as annual mandates come up for renewal by the UN Security Council. The US is a veto-wielding member of the Council, along with Britain, France, China and Russia.

Washington also pays 22 percent of the US $5.4 billion biennial UN core budget. Ultimately, the US Congress sets the federal government budget and will decide how much money is available for UN funding. However Republicans, who control both houses, and Democrats have both stated that they do not support drastic cuts proposed by President Trump. President Trump wants to enforce a 25 percent cap on the US contribution to UN peacekeeping. The UN General Assembly is due to negotiate next year new levels of contributions by countries for 2019, 2020 and 2021.   Secretary General Guterres has pledged to make UN peacekeeping more efficient, noting however that the current budget to fund it is less than one half of 1 percent of global military spending.