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20 September 2017
UNA-NCA President Statement on 2018 Budget

By UNA-NCA President, Stephen F. Moseley

September 19th, the 2017 UN General Assembly opens for a month of careful analysis and debate to improve the world, in the face of a world fraught with dramatic and dangerous challenges from the threat of nuclear war or miscalculations, the acts of genocide in Myanmar, the wars ongoing in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, a still burgeoning refugee crisis, attendant famine threats from war and climate change, and more threats to democratic processes by military dictatorships, such as Venezuela. There are more growing terrorist threats than ever, now internal to many countries, including in London, Barcelona, and elsewhere this past month. The importance of the mission and roles of the United Nations is more evident than ever. Yet only six months ago, the new Trump Administration presented its first budget for 2018 proposing to slash the US support to the UN on average by more than 30%, including 50% cuts to humanitarian and refugee assistance, 25% cuts to peacekeeping, and the reduction to zero of the funds for many of the UN's program agency for development, women rights, food supply, children's health, disease prevention, and many more. Five months ago, President Trump also pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Change accords, which only two years ago was hailed by nearly all world leaders and billions of world citizens for being the greatest modern international agreement for the well being of the world's future. With these agreements, 17 additional countries agreed upon Sustainable Development Goals for all countries to achieve together from 2015 to 2030.
Yesterday, President Trump and the American Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, joined by UN Secretary General Guterres, led a public meeting of some 15 key nations to declare their commitment to support the Secretary General's promises and actions underway to reform the UN's operations and management. While President Trump did not back away from the proposed drastic budget cuts by the US, in this forum he offered a tone of support to the Secretary General, which and may well have begun an opening for more constructive dialogue between the Trump Administration and the UN. This meeting also comes just weeks after, the US Senate committees on foreign affairs appropriations, rejected and rolled back with significant levels of  bipartisan votes in the committee, to restore many of the funding levels for UN operations. While this is not a long term definitive budget plan, since there is only a short term continuing omnibus funding bill through December 2017, these Senate actions support, and the rejection of even more cuts proposed then by the US House of Representatives, may well pave the way to a a significant but partial new level of cooperation by the US with the UN and its members.
This morning, the second Head of State speaker will be President Trump, who is expected to  present strong demands to the General Assembly to back the sanctions against N. Korea, to challenge again the behavior of Iran  under the Iran nuclear agreement, and to reinforce the US views on protection of borders from foreign refugees, and emphasize the management efficiency expected of the UN operations and lowering the costs of peacekeeping, and a range of other development spending around the world. The audience there in the UN General Assembly hall, and all of us who want the UN to be even more successful, will be holding our breath to hear and see if the US President will approach his agenda for change  at the UN with any new reflection of good will, interest in collaboration with other nations, and with a commitment and interest to the well being of the millions of people now at total risk from war, starvation, terrorism, the recognition of their human rights, and their human decency and individual dignity. These indeed are the essential rights of people spelled out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the mission of the UN, modeled of course after our own US constitution and Declaration of Human rights.
UNA-NCA has been active in the past few months since our annual meeting in June, participating with other chapters of the UNA-USA and with the Better World Campaign, to educate policy leaders in Congress, and some in the new administration, about the critical roles and work of the UN. We have also clarified to them that the overall US cost, even as we are the biggest financial supporter, is still a tremendous bargain to pay for all of what is expected of us and needed in the UN, at a total cost of less than 1/4 of of one percent from the Federal Budget.
In the months and year ahead following this General Assembly, our UNA-NCA programs in peace and security, human rights, global classrooms, women's rights, sustainable development, International law, public policy advocacy, and career support for young professionals, will be ever more important to support our community citizens'understanding of the UN, and to couple this support to our commitment of these same needs for human rights and fair opportunity in our own communities. Our work together must address these issues and needs  both locally and globally.