Donald Trump budget cut plan would make it 'impossible' for UN, spokesman says

Donald Trump budget cut plan would make it 'impossible' for UN, spokesman says

Donald Trump budget cut plan would make it 'impossible' for UN, spokesman says

Updated 25 May 2017, 7:00 AEST

US President Donald Trump's bid to slash funding for the United Nations would make it "impossible" for it to continue its essential work, a UN spokesman says.

Key points:

  • Donald Trump is proposing to cut $1.3 billion from UN peacekeeping
  • US is biggest contributor to key UN agencies such as UNICEF
  • UN says it is committed to reform

Mr Trump's proposal cuts about a third from US diplomacy and aid budgets, or nearly $US19 billion ($25 billion).

This includes cutting some $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) from UN peacekeeping funding and a steep cut to funding for international organisations.

The United States is the biggest UN contributor, paying 22 per cent of the $US5.4 billion ($7.2 billion) core budget and 28.5 per cent of the $US7.9 billion ($10.6 billion) peacekeeping budget.

These assessed contributions are agreed by the 193-member UN General Assembly.

"The figures presented would simply make it impossible for the UN to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement.

Congress sets the federal government budget, and Republicans who control both houses and Democrats have said they do not support such drastic cuts.

Mr Trump has said the US share of the UN budgets was "unfair".

The General Assembly is currently negotiating the UN regular budget for both 2018 and 2019 and the peacekeeping budget from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

Mr Trump wants to cap the US peacekeeping contribution at 25 per cent.

The United States is reviewing each of the 16 UN peacekeeping missions as the annual mandates come up for renewal by the Security Council in a bid to cut costs.

UN committed to reform

During a lunch with UN Security Council ambassadors at the White House last month, Mr Trump described the US contributions to the United Nations as "peanuts compared to the important work" as he pushed the world body to reform.

"The Secretary-General is totally committed to reforming the United Nations," Mr Dujarric said.

"We stand ready to discuss with the United States and any other member state how best we can create a more cost-effective organisation to pursue our shared goals and values."

Mr Trump's budget proposal included a 44 per cent cut to funding for international organisations, but does not specify the cuts, other than "funding for organisations that work against US foreign policy interests".

The State Department said last month it was ending funding for the UN Population Fund, an agency focused on family planning, maternal and child health in more than 150 countries.

Mr Guterres warned the cut could have "devastating effects".

UN agencies such as the UN Development Program (UNDP), the children's agency UNICEF, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), are funded by governments voluntarily.

In 2016, the United States was the top contributor to the UNDP and UNICEF core budgets and the fourth-largest donor to the UNFPA.

Reuters