Nikki Haley confirmed as new US envoy to United Nations

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is sworn in as ambassador to the United Nations at a swearing-in ceremony with Vice-president Mike Pence.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaking during the 2016 National Lawyers Convention sponsored by the Federalist Society in Washington, DC.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaking during the 2016 National Lawyers Convention sponsored by the Federalist Society in Washington, DC.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - Ms Nikki Haley was confirmed on Tuesday (Jan 24) to become the next US ambassador to the United Nations, placing a rising Republican political star in charge of advancing President Donald Trump's agenda in an institution whose effectiveness he has questioned.

She will step down from her post in South Carolina to take one of the country's highest profile diplomatic jobs and one that would burnish her resume for higher office later.

Ms Haley, who has no formal diplomatic experience, won significant Democratic support. The vote of 96-4 reflected some Democrats' view that she would be a sensible diplomat and speak her mind in the new administration.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved her nomination by voice vote earlier Tuesday.

She won praise from Democrats during her confirmation hearing last week, where she freely aired disagreements with Mr Trump on some policy matters and said that the new president would welcome a range of views.

Ms Haley, who had been critical of Mr Trump as a candidate, voiced heavy skepticism about Russia and optimism about the military alliance Nato, both deviations from some of Mr Trump's statements. She unequivocally rejected the idea of a Muslim registry or ban, which Mr Trump has never fully disavowed.

She said she is comfortable with his "American first" approach and would reassert the traditional role of the United States in recent decades of protecting Israel from United Nations action it considers biased.

She also declared her support for moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a shift that Arab leaders have previously said could ignite violence in the Middle East.

At her Jan 18 hearing, Ms Haley questioned the priorities and effectiveness of the world body, which Mr Trump has called a toothless debating society, but said she intends to "fix" what doesn't work.

"I have no problem calling people out," she said.

The United Nations is "often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers," Ms Haley said, adding that she would use the "leverage" of potential cuts in US funding to demand reform.

"We contribute 22 per cent of the UN's budget, far more than any other country. We are a generous nation," she said. "But we must ask ourselves what good is being accomplished by this disproportionate contribution. Are we getting what we pay for?"

Ms Haley is best known nationally for her handling of the 2015 racially motivated killings of black worshipers at a historic Charleston church, for which she got generally high marks. She spoke at memorials and encouraged the removal of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds.n