President Trump on his first visit to the United Nations on Monday called for “bold reforms” to the outdated post-World War II institution so that it could be a greater force for world peace, saying it should not be beholden to “ways of the past which were not working.”
Addressing the 193-member states diplomats in New York in his first appearance at the U.N. headquarters in New York as The President of the United States, he said, “The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals,” also noting that, “In recent years, the institution has failed to reach “its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.”
He criticized the bloated bureaucracy and mismanagement, urging a cut to wasteful spending. Without mincing words, he pointed out how, despite a “budget increase of 140%” and a doubling of staff since 2000, “We are not seeing the results in line with this investment.
“We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world,” said the President, stressing the important of institutional reform to ensure that the institution will “better serve the people it represents” as well as “focus more on people and less on bureaucracy.”
The President made his remarks at a reform panel ahead of his highly anticipated first Speech and address to the U.N; General Assembly on Tuesday.
“The United Nationals must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process.
“I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world.”
During the election campaign, then candidate Trump complained of disproportionate payments by member states, with the U.S. shouldering more financial and military responsibility than most. He reiterated that point on Monday, advocating for a system that would see each member state contribute its share equitably.
“We must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden and that’s militarily or financially.”
The U.S. is the biggest contributor to the U.N. paying $1.2 billion or 22% of the U.N.’s regular budget and $2.2 billion or 28% of the peacekeeping budget. In addition, the country also pays for a dozen other U.N. agencies and operations with peacekeeping accounting for most of the costs.
With the North Korean crisis, President Trump then brought up the issue peacekeeping missions saying the U.N. must “have clearly defined goals” for its members. “They deserve to see the value of the United Nations and it is our job to show it to them,” he said.
“We encourage the Secretary General to fully use his authority to cut through the bureaucracy, reform outdated systems and make firm decisions to advance the UN’s core mission.”
While President Trump may have criticized the institutional structure of the global institution, he did praise the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for his reform agenda.
“I know that under the Secretary General that’s changing and it’s changing fast…That’s why we commend the Secretary General and his call for the United Nations to focus on people and les on bureaucracy,” he said.
“We encourage the secretary general to fully use his authority to cut through the bureaucracy, reform outdated systems and make firm decisions to advance the UN’s core mission. Further, we encourage all member states to look at ways to take bold stands at the United Nations with an eye toward changing business as usual and not being beholden to ways of the past, which were not working,” he said of Guterres.
During the 2016 Presidential Election campaign, then candidate Donald Trump had labeled the U.N. as weak and incompetent, and “not a friend” of either the United States or democracy. His position seems to have softened since assuming office of the Presidency.
But he has softened his tone since taking office, telling ambassadors from U.N. Security Council member countries at a White House meeting this year that the U.N. has ‘tremendous potential.’
128 countries were invited to Monday’s Reform Meeting after signing on to a U.S-drafted 10-point political declaration backing efforts by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “to initiate effective, meaningful reform.” All other countries signed the Declaration with the exception of Russia and China.
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