Donald Trump to host Sept 18 meeting of world leaders on UN reform

Trump (above) will seek to gather global support for reforming the world body. PHOTO: NYTIMES

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of the United Nations, will seek to gather global support for reforming the world body when he hosts an event at UN headquarters in New York on Sept 18, a day before he formally addresses the 193-member organisation.

Countries will be invited to attend Trump's function if they sign on to a US-drafted 10-point political declaration backing efforts by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "to initiate effective, meaningful reform," according to a draft of the political declaration seen by Reuters on Friday (Sept 1).

Trump has complained that the US share of the world body's budget is unfair, pushed to slash funding and described it as a "club for people to get together, talk and have a good time."

Trump, who took office in January, has since described US funding as "peanuts" compared to the important work of the organisation.

The United States is the biggest UN contributor, providing 22 per cent of its US$5.4 billion (S$7.3 billion) biennial core budget and 28.5 per cent of its US$7.3 billion peacekeeping budget. The contributions are agreed on by the 193-member General Assembly.

Trump, Guterres, who also took office in January, and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley are scheduled to speak at the Sept 18 event, diplomats said.

The draft political declaration states: "We support the secretary-general in making concrete changes in the United Nations system to better align its work on humanitarian response, development and sustaining peace initiatives."

"We commit to reducing mandate duplication, redundancy and overlap, including among the main organs of the United Nations,"the draft declaration reads.

The United States also is reviewing each of the UN peacekeeping missions as annual mandates come up for Security Council renewal in a bid to cut costs. The United States is a veto-wielding council member, along with Britain, France, Russia and China.

Haley has said there is "a lot of fat around the edges and some abuses that happen at the UN but I do think it is very important that we make the most of it."

Ethiopia, which is president of the 15-member Security Council for September, said on Friday it would hold a high-level council meeting on peacekeeping reform on Sept 20 that will be chaired by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

Ethiopian UN Ambassador Tekeda Alemu told reporters it was unclear if Trump would attend the meeting, which would be his first appearance in the Security Council, but that he expected about 10 heads of state or government to be present.

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