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Amid trade war, U.S. and China quietly propose budget cuts to U.N.

June 28, 2019

Amid the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, both nations have quietly come to an agreement on cutting their contributions to the United Nations.

According to two diplomats familiar with the matter, the U.S. and China (backed by Russia) are proposing almost identical cuts to the United Nation’s peacekeeping budget.

The U.S. and China are the two largest contributors to the United Nations. And as China’s economy grows, so does its financial responsibility to the organization. President Donald Trump has made it a priority to keep U.N. costs low.

Richard Gowan, the U.N. director at the International Crisis Group, said, “As the two leading financiers of UN operations, China and the U.S. were bound to realize they have a common interest in keeping costs under control. This may irritate the Europeans, and especially the French, who have national interests in places like Mali and Lebanon. It will also be of concern to African countries who are major troop contributors to UN operations.”

According to the diplomats, the U.S. and China are seeking an $80 million cut from the peacekeeping budget on top of a $50 million cut recommended by an independent panel. Peacekeeping has been a pressure point for the U.N. financially, and in July, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres requested $6.64 billion for the budget.

The group of African nations, which holds much influence in the organization, have opposed the proposed cuts, as most peacekeeping missions are based in their region. They have asked for a more modest reduction, and negotiators have until the end of the weekend to settle their talks.

Earlier this month, Guterres warned that the U.N. is facing a combined shortfall of almost $2 billion in peacekeeping operations and its regular budget due to some member states being unable to pay their dues and budget rules that hinder the U.N.’s ability to efficiently move around its funds.

– MK. II

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