In the latest surprise to come from the Trump administration, the NYT reports that in the Trump administration is preparing a set of executive orders aimed at isolating the US and which would allow the United States to “drastically reduce” its role and involvement in the United Nations and other international organizations, “as well as begin a process to review and potentially abrogate certain forms of multilateral treaties, officials said.” The order calls for then enacting “at least a 40% overall decrease” in remaining United States funding toward international organizations.
The first of the two draft orders, titled “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations” calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that meets any one of several criteria. It was not immediately clear if NATO is also among the international organizations targeted.
Those criteria include organizations that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization, or support programs that fund abortion or any activity that circumvents sanctions against Iran or North Korea. The draft order also calls for terminating funding for any organization that “is controlled or substantially influenced by any state that sponsors terrorism” or is blamed for the persecution of marginalized groups or any other systematic violation of human rights.
According to the NYT, the agency most targeted at least initially is the UN:
If President Trump signs the order and its provisions are carried out, the cuts could severely curtail the work of United Nations agencies, which rely on billions of dollars in annual United States contributions for missions that include caring for refugees.
The United States provides about a quarter of all funding to United Nations peacekeeping operations, of which there are more than a dozen, in Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. At least one of these, the operation in southern Lebanon, directly serves Israeli interests by protecting the country’s northern border, though the draft order characterizes the funding cuts as serving Israeli interests.
The second executive order, “Moratorium on New Multilateral Treaties,” calls for a review of all current and pending treaties with more than one other nation. It asks for recommendations on which negotiations or treaties the United States should leave.
The order says this review applies only to multilateral treaties that are not “directly related to national security, extradition or international trade,” but it is unclear what falls outside these restrictions.
One treaty that could fall under the scope of the order is the Paris climate agreement or other environmental treaties deal with trade issues.
As the NYT adds, “taken together, the orders suggest that Mr. Trump intends to pursue his campaign promises of withdrawing the United States from international organizations. He has expressed heavy skepticism of multilateral agreements such as the Paris climate agreement and of the United Nations. The draft orders, which are only a few pages each, leave several unanswered questions. For example, it is unclear whether they call for cutting 40 percent of United States contributions to each international agency separately, or to the overall federal funding budget.”
While the details are still to be unveiled, it is certain that Europe, not to mention the UN, will be quite displeased.