Posted tagged ‘Trump and UN’

How to Defund the U.N.

December 27, 2017

How to Defund the U.N., Gatestone InstituteJohn R. Bolton, December 27, 2017

(Back in June of 1950, when North Korea with Stalin’s help and encouragement invaded South Korea, The UN General Secretary telephoned President Truman to say that he regarded the North Korean invasion an assault on the UN. Fortunately, Russia was boycotting the UN to protest its refusal to seat China. Various UN members provided troops to support the UN Command. It was a very different UN back then, the likes of which we are unlikely ever to see again. — DM)

Turtle Bay has been impervious to reform largely because most U.N. budgets are financed through effectively mandatory contributions. Under this system, calculated by a “capacity to pay” formula, each U.N. member is assigned a fixed percentage of each agency’s budget to contribute. The highest assessment is 22%, paid by the U.S. This far exceeds other major economies, whose contribution levels are based on prevailing exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity. China’s assessment is just under 8%.

Why does the U.S. tolerate this? It is either consistently outvoted when setting the budgets that determine contributions or has joined the “consensus” to avoid the appearance of losing. Yet dodging embarrassing votes means acquiescing to increasingly high expenditures.

The U.S. should reject this international taxation regime and move instead to voluntary contributions. This means paying only for what the country wants — and expecting to get what it pays for. Agencies failing to deliver will see their budgets cut, modestly or substantially. Perhaps America will depart some organizations entirely. This is a performance incentive the current assessment-taxation system simply does not provide.

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As an assistant secretary of state in the George H.W. Bush administration, I worked vigorously to repeal a hateful United Nations General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. Foreign diplomats frequently told me the effort was unnecessary. My Soviet counterpart, for example, said Resolution 3379 was only a piece of paper gathering dust on a shelf. Why stir up old controversies years after its 1975 adoption?

We ignored the foreign objections and persisted because that abominable resolution cast a stain of illegitimacy and anti-Semitism on the U.N. It paid off. On Dec. 16, 1991, the General Assembly rescinded the offensive language.

Now, a quarter-century later, the U.N. has come close to repeating Resolution 3379’s original sin. Last week the U.N. showed its true colors with a 128-9 vote condemning President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

This seemingly lopsided outcome obscured a significant victory and major opportunity for the president. Thirty-five countries abstained, and 21 didn’t vote at all. Days earlier the Security Council had endorsed similar language, 14-1, defeated only by the U.S. veto. The margin narrowed significantly once Mr. Trump threatened to penalize countries that voted against the U.S. This demonstrated once again that America is heard much more clearly at the U.N. when it puts its money where its mouth is. (In related news, Guatemala announced Sunday it will move its embassy to Jerusalem, a good example for others.)

While imposing financial repercussions on individual governments is entirely legitimate, the White House should also reconsider how Washington funds the U.N. more broadly. Should the U.S. forthrightly withdraw from some U.N. bodies (as we have from UNESCO and as Israel announced its intention to do on Friday)? Should others be partially or totally defunded? What should the government do with surplus money if it does withhold funds?

Despite decades of U.N. “reform” efforts, little or nothing in its culture or effectiveness has changed. Instead, despite providing the body with a disproportionate share of its funding, the U.S. is subjected to autos-da-fé on a regular basis. The only consolation, at least to date, is that this global virtue-signaling has not yet included burning the U.S. ambassador at the stake.

Turtle Bay has been impervious to reform largely because most U.N. budgets are financed through effectively mandatory contributions. Under this system, calculated by a “capacity to pay” formula, each U.N. member is assigned a fixed percentage of each agency’s budget to contribute. The highest assessment is 22%, paid by the U.S. This far exceeds other major economies, whose contribution levels are based on prevailing exchange rates rather than purchasing power parity. China’s assessment is just under 8%.

Why does the U.S. tolerate this? It is either consistently outvoted when setting the budgets that determine contributions or has joined the “consensus” to avoid the appearance of losing. Yet dodging embarrassing votes means acquiescing to increasingly high expenditures.

The U.S. should reject this international taxation regime and move instead to voluntary contributions. This means paying only for what the country wants — and expecting to get what it pays for. Agencies failing to deliver will see their budgets cut, modestly or substantially. Perhaps America will depart some organizations entirely. This is a performance incentive the current assessment-taxation system simply does not provide.

Start with the U.N. Human Rights Council. Though notorious for its anti-Israel bias, the organization has never hesitated to abuse America. How many know that earlier this year the U.N. dispatched a special rapporteur to investigate poverty in the U.S.? American taxpayers effectively paid a progressive professor to lecture them about how evil their country is.

The U.N.’s five regional economic and social councils, which have no concrete accomplishments, don’t deserve American funding either. If nations believe these regional organizations are worthwhile — a distinctly dubious proposition — they are entirely free to fund them. Why America is assessed to support them is incomprehensible.

Next come vast swaths of U.N. bureaucracy. Most of these budgets could be slashed with little or no real-world impact. Start with the Office for Disarmament Affairs. The U.N. Development Program is another example. Significant savings could be realized by reducing other U.N. offices that are little more than self-licking ice cream cones, including many dealing with “Palestinian” questions. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) could be consolidated into the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Many U.N. specialized and technical agencies do important work, adhere to their mandates and abjure international politics. A few examples: the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. They shouldn’t be shuttered, but they also deserve closer scrutiny.

Some will argue incorrectly that unilaterally moving to voluntary contributions violates the U.N. Charter. In construing treaties, like contracts, parties are absolved from performance when others violate their commitments. Defenders of the assessed-contribution model would doubtless not enjoy estimating how often the charter has been violated since 1945.

If the U.S. moved first, Japan and some European Union countries might well follow America’s lead. Elites love the U.N., but they would have a tough time explaining to voters why they are not insisting their contributions be used effectively, as America has. Apart from risking the loss of a meaningless General Assembly vote — the Security Council vote and veto being written into the Charter itself — the U.S. has nothing substantial to lose.

Thus could Mr. Trump revolutionize the U.N. system. The swamp in Turtle Bay might be drained much more quickly than the one in Washington.

Pictured: John Bolton, then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council on October 14, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.

This article first appeared in The Wall Street Journal and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

The Trump-Haley Effect at the United Nations

June 1, 2017

The Trump-Haley Effect at the United Nations, Front Page MagazineAri Lieberman, June 1, 2017

Judging by this past week’s swift action by the UN Secretary General and Norway, it appears that the Trump-Haley, one-two combo is having the desired effect. Haley’s continued pressure at the UN is all but certain to produce more positive outcomes but it is still an uphill battle given the level of long-standing and embedded vitriol which still prevails in that cesspool of depravity. 

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It has become routine for Palestinians to name public places, including streets, schools, parks and public squares after hard core terrorists convicted of the most heinous offenses. Over the years, Israel has vigorously protested these outrages to the European Union, the United Nations, and the United States. The latter, particularly under the Obama administration, offered faux sympathy and little else, while the UN and EU were routinely dismissive of Israel’s objections. In the eyes of the UN and EU, the Palestinians could do no wrong and the Obama administration, by its deafening silence, gravitated toward this obscene position. This shocking inaction further encouraged the Palestinians to engage in what can only be described as depraved and aberrant behavior.

But on May 28, something strange but surprisingly decent happened at the UN. UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a stinging rebuke to the Palestinian Authority for naming a women’s center after Dalal Mughrabi, a notorious terrorist. In 1978, Mughrabi along with seven other Arab terrorists commandeered a bus packed with civilians and mercilessly murdered 37 people, including 12 children.

For the Palestinians, this act of debauchery warranted praise and Mughrabi was elevated to the status of heroine and martyr. On May 26, the watchdog group, Palestinian Media Watch revealed that a women’s center named after Mughrabi in the Arab town of Burqa was constructed with funds provided by the UN and Norway. A prominent sign posted on the building bore the logos of the Palestinian Authority, the UN and Norway. Worse yet, PMW quoted a village council member who stated that “the center will focus especially on the history of the struggle of Martyr Dalal Mughrabi and on presenting it to the youth groups, and…constitutes the beginning of the launch of enrichment activities regarding the history of the Palestinian struggle.”

Upon learning of the outrage, a spokesperson for Guterres released a statement that termed the naming “offensive” and “unacceptable” and described it as a “glorification of terrorism” and an “obstacle to peace.” Guterres also demanded the immediate removal of the UN’s logo. Just two days prior, Norway issued a similar rebuke to the Palestinian Authority demanding not only the removal of the Norwegian logo but the return of all Norwegian funds earmarked for the project.

A statement released by Borge Brende, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, was unusually harsh in tone and content. It called the Palestinian “glorification of terrorist attacks…completely unacceptable” and noted that “Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way [and] will not accept the use of Norwegian aid funding for such purposes.”

So what led to this sudden, drastic change in attitude? There are likely three causes.

Unlike his predecessor Ban Ki-moon, Guterres has made statements and taken actions demonstrating a more balanced, nuanced approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example in March, he rejected a UN report authored by an Israel-hating conspiracy theorist that peddled the banal and false claim that Israel practices apartheid and had the report removed from the UN’s website. Shortly thereafter, a top official that headed the commission which issued the report resigned. That same month, he publicly reiterated recognition of ancient historical and religious Jewish ties to Jerusalem. This was seen as a rebuke to UN bodies like UNESCO, which had sought to sever that nexus. In an address to the World Jewish Congress in April, Guterres stated that “Israel needs to be treated like any other UN member state,” and tellingly noted that, “the modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the existence of the State of Israel.”

In addition, the relentless surge of radical Islamic terrorism in Europe has likely produced an increased level of empathy with Israel. Moreover, nations affected by terrorism have reached out to Israel and sought its expertise. Only the most radical and anti-Semitic of Europe’s leaders, like Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Margot Wallström and British Labor Party head, Jeremy Corbyn, still differentiate between Israeli blood and blood spilled in Western Europe.

But perhaps the single most influential factor for the positive change in attitude lies with President Donald Trump and America’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley. From the moment he was elected, Trump made clear that he would no longer tolerate the UN’s inequitable practices and shoddy treatment of Israel. He could not have picked a better emissary than Nikki Haley to carry out America’s new and robust approach toward rectifying a long-standing, systemic UN problem.

At every opportunity and in every forum and venue, Haley has made clear that the United States will not sit idly by while one of its most important allies and only Mideast democracy is mercilessly attacked and vilified by assorted despots and dictators, while other nations with abysmal human rights records are allowed to go unchallenged. Haley has made clear to UN member states that “there’s a new sheriff in town” and that sheriff is “taking names.”

Judging by this past week’s swift action by the UN Secretary General and Norway, it appears that the Trump-Haley, one-two combo is having the desired effect. Haley’s continued pressure at the UN is all but certain to produce more positive outcomes but it is still an uphill battle given the level of long-standing and embedded vitriol which still prevails in that cesspool of depravity.

Trump Admin, Congress Seek to Slash U.N. Funding in Wake of New Anti-Israel Action

March 3, 2017

Trump Admin, Congress Seek to Slash U.N. Funding in Wake of New Anti-Israel Action, Washington Free Beacon, March 2, 2017

“In a region where the use of civilians, including children, as human shields is routine, singling out Israel for condemnation is, in a word, ridiculous,” the White House official said. “If the United Nations’ Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict has nothing better to do with the United States taxpayer dollars that fund it than engage in a vendetta against our ally Israel, perhaps we should rethink that support.”

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The White House and Congress are considering slashing U.S. funding to the United Nations in light of its most recent effort to declare the Jewish state’s fighting forces a chief violator of children’s rights, according to multiple conversations with U.S. officials.

The U.N. is working to add the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, to a list of entities such as terror groups that are responsible for inhumane acts against children.

The move would be just the latest anti-Israel salvo by the U.N., which caused controversy late last year when, with the backing of the Obama administration, it moved to condemn Israel for building homes for Jewish people in Jerusalem.

The latest action against Israel would add the IDF to the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflicts, which would designate the Jewish state’s fighting forces as one of the worst offenders of children’s human rights in the world. Other groups and entities on the list include terrorist entities and forces that kill children en masse.

The move has prompted outrage in the White House and on Capitol Hill, where multiple U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon that they will no longer stand by as the U.N. singles out Israel for criticism. The effort to counter what they described as the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias is likely to include cutting a large portion of U.S. funding to the organization.

One senior White House official familiar with the Trump administration’s thinking on the matter told the Free Beacon that the president and his senior-most advisers are sick of seeing Israel treated as a pariah by the U.N.

“The Israeli Defense Forces are among the most humane, professional armed forces on the planet,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record. “Israel has been aggressively refining its protocols to minimize civilian casualties—so much so that after the 2014 conflict in Gaza the United States sent a delegation to study their best practices.”

The White House official signaled that the Trump administration would pursue a vastly different approach to the U.N. than its predecessor.

The Obama administration came under criticism from the pro-Israel community on numerous occasions for failing to defend Israel adequately in the face of international criticism. This culminated in a flurry of anger late last year when the Obama administration, in one of its final official acts, permitted the U.N. to officially chastise Israel in a break with decades of U.S. policy.

“In a region where the use of civilians, including children, as human shields is routine, singling out Israel for condemnation is, in a word, ridiculous,” the White House official said. “If the United Nations’ Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict has nothing better to do with the United States taxpayer dollars that fund it than engage in a vendetta against our ally Israel, perhaps we should rethink that support.”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), a vocal defender of Israel, expressed disappointment in the U.N.’s latest action. He told the Free Beacon that Congress is prepared to reduce U.S. financial support for the U.N., which comprises a significant share of the organization’s operational budget.

“The United States Congress is already taking a serious look at United Nations funding levels in light of a number of recent actions unfairly targeting Israel,” Roskam said. “Classifying the IDF, one of the most professional and responsible military forces in the world, alongside terrorist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram is an absurdity.”

“If the U.N. goes through with this,” Roskam said, “the calls for reduced funding will grow even louder.”

Other sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter said that the effort to single out the IDF is part of a broader strategy by anti-Israel organizations to mainstream hatred of the Jewish state in Turtle Bay.

“It’s a scam,” said one senior congressional adviser who is working with multiple offices on Capitol Hill to reform the U.N. “The U.N. wants excuses for its anti-Israel diplomacy, so it facilitates anti-Israel NGOs. Then those NGOs circle back and call on the U.N. to take anti-Israel actions, which provides the excuse that the U.N. wanted. It’s time for Congress to put a stop to this stupid game.”