Guterres warns against abrupt funding cuts by US to UN

UNITED NATIONS-- United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday warned against an abrupt cut in US funding to the UN, saying the reduction by the world body's biggest contributor will affect its long-term reform efforts.

Guterres' comments came after US President Donald Trump proposed a budget cut for diplomacy and foreign aid.

Guterres' spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters here that the UN chief has seen the blueprint of the 2018 budget released by the White House and stands ready to discuss with the US and any other member state how best to create a more cost-effective organization to pursue shared goals and values.

"Abrupt funding cuts can force the adoption of ad hoc measures that will undermine the impact of longer-term reform efforts," Dujarric said.

Trump unveiled a USD1.1 trillion budget that proposes cutting foreign aid by 28 percent. Military spending would increase by USD54 billion, a 10 percent rise, in 2018, in addition to a USD30 billion increase in the current year.

Guterres also added that increasing military spending alone will not be enough to combat terrorism and countries will have to address the underlying reasons behind terrorism by investing in conflict resolution and countering violent extremism.

"The Secretary General fully subscribes to the necessity to effectively combat terrorism, but believes that it requires more than military spending," Dujarric said.

"There is also a need to address the underlying drivers of terrorism through continuing investments in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, countering violent extremism, peacekeeping, peace building, sustainable and inclusive development, enhancement and respect for human rights, and timely responses to humanitarian crises."

The United States is the biggest contributor to the UN, paying 22 percent of the USD5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 percent of the USD7.9 billion peacekeeping budget.

Last year, Undersecretary General for Management Yukio Takasu had said the US owes the UN USD1.3 billion for peacekeeping and USD917 million towards the regular budget.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in a statement that in many areas, the UN spends "more money than it should" and in many ways, it places a much larger financial burden on the US than on other countries.

She said she will work with members of the US Congress to craft a budget that advances US interests at the UN while working with her UN colleagues to make the organization more effective and efficient.

Rights group Human Rights Watch however expressed concern over the US government's proposed reduction in funding for UN peacekeeping and unspecified cuts for the rest of the UN, saying it sends a "disturbing message" about the Trump administration's commitment to human rights at a global level.

Source: Philippines News Agency