The Trump administration is preparing executive orders that would clear the way to drastically reduce the United States’ role in the United Nations and other international organizations, as well as begin a process to review and potentially abrogate certain forms of multilateral treaties.
The first of the two draft orders, titled “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations” and obtained by The New York Times, calls for terminating funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that meets any one of several criteria
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.
The order calls for then enacting “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in remaining United States funding toward international organizations.
The order establishes a committee to recommend where those funding cuts should be made. It asks the committee to look specifically at United States funding for peacekeeping operations; the International Criminal Court; development aid to countries that “oppose important United States policies”; and the United Nations Population Fund, which oversees maternal and reproductive health programs.
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 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.
For example, the Paris climate agreement or other environmental treaties deal with trade issues but could potentially fall under this order.
An explanatory statement that accompanies the draft order mentions two United Nations treaties for review: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
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.
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The orders call for reviewing any funding that could go toward the International Criminal Court, though the United States currently provides no funding to that body. They also call for terminating funding to United Nations bodies that include full Palestinian membership, though this is already United States law. Under former President Barack Obama, the United States cut funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization when it accepted Palestinians as full members.
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.
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