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Guterres urges US not to slash UN funding

The United Nations (UN)’s chief Antonio Guterres has warned against a decrease in the United States’ funding for the organization under his watch, saying that that funding would serve the interests of the American people, too.

“We are doing our best in dialog with the [US] administration and Congress to make the US understand that funding development aid, funding foreign policy in general, funding organizations like the UN, is also in the interests of the American people,” Guterres said in  a Tuesday speech at New York University.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has proposed slashing the government’s diplomacy and foreign aid budgets by nearly one-third or almost $19 billion, which would include cutting about a billion dollars from UN peacekeeping funding and sharply slashing the funding of international organizations.

In an apparent bid to convince US policy makers not to cut contributions to the UN, Guterres further said that in case a power such as the United States retreated from what he said was its global leadership role, other countries would step forward to fill the gap.

“It’s not only the Russias and the Chinas that are occupying the ground; if you look at Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the regional powers in many parts of the world… when the big powers leave some space they will occupy it,” the UN chief added.

“Sometimes this then has consequences and especially when everything is linked,” he said, saying, “If you leave a void to others to occupy, you might be creating a problem (for) your own internal security.”

Bur Guterres, seaming overly eager for the US funding, did not explain how a greater role of other nations at the world body would somehow create “problems” for the “internal security” of the United States.

The US Congress is responsible for setting the federal government budget, and both Republican lawmakers — who control both the Senate and the House of Representatives — and the Democrats are reportedly opposed to such drastic cuts of the UN funding.

The United States remains the largest financial contributor of the UN, paying 22 percent of the body’s $5.4-billion core budget and 28.5 percent of the $7.9-billion peacekeeping budget.

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