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UN useful but marred by red tape, says Trump

Updated September 19, 2017


UNITED NATIONS: US Presi­dent Donald Trump conceded on Monday that the United Nations has helped advance “noble goals” in “so many ways” but regretted that it has not yet reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.

The speech — Mr Trump’s first to the world body — was a relief for UN officials who feared that the criticism could be harsher and accompany a threat to cut down US contributions to the United Nations.

President Trump, however, bemoaned that a 140 per cent increase in the UN budget and the doubling of its staff since 2000 has not produced “results in line with this investment.”

In December, President Trump called the UN “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time” and during the election campaign in 2016, he also suggested reducing US financial assistance to the United Nations.

The US media noted that on Mon­day, Mr Trump used his “most sta­tes­manlike tone” to outline how he wants the UN to reform, sounding more respectful of the organisation than anyone expected him to be.

The media also reported that US ambassador Nikki Haley and UN Secretary General António Guter­res played key roles in persuading Mr Trump to attend a conference on UN reform and present his agenda amicably.

The reform agenda that he outlined in the speech, and has already been signed by 128 countries, inclu­­de: Focus “on results rather than processes.” Ensuring that no member state “shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.”

Peacekeeping missions should have “clearly defined goals and metrics for evaluating success.” Reduce red-tape and undertake systemic reform.

Secretary General Guterres also addressed the meeting and pledged to overhaul the UN bureaucracy and to make it stronger and more responsive to the people it serves.

He also launched a pledge of support for reforms that has the backing of 128 countries.

Mr Guterres described the UN bureaucracy as “fragmented (by) Byzantine procedures and endless red tape,” which, he claimed, often kept him awake at night.

The 10-point Declaration for support for UN reforms aims to simplify procedures and decentralise decisions, with greater transparency, efficiency and accountability, according to he.

“We commend the Secretary General and his call for the United Nations to focus more on people and less on bureaucracy,” Mr Trump said. “We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle-blowers and focus on results rather than on process.”

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2017