US President Donald Trump made his debut at the UN, holding a meeting on reforming the world body. His statements, however, did not make any mention of expanding the 15-member UN Security Council.
United States President Donald Trump on Monday, making his debut at the United Nations, pitched for “truly bold” reforms at the 193-nation world body. It is an issue that India has back and, in fact, Trump’s comments came at a meeting attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
“In recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement, while the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000,” Trump said at the meeting in New York.
Some 128 countries were invited to attend Monday’s reform meeting after signing on to a US-drafted 10-point political declaration backing efforts by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “to initiate effective, meaningful reform.” UN Security Council veto powers Russia and China did not sign the declaration.
“I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world,” Trump said. “The United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process.”
Trump’s comments, however, did not mention an expansion of the UN Security Council. New Delhi has long supported the idea of a larger Security Council with more permanent members.
Currently, the ‘Big 5′ – the US, the United Kingdon, France, China and Russia – are the only ones that weild veto power, thanks to their permanent seats on the 15-member Security Council.
In the lead up to this year’s United Nations General Assembly, which kicks off today, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin indicated as much, without expressly raising the issue of expanding the Security Council.
Akbaruddin had said that while India supports the reform efforts of the UN Secretary General, they need to be “broad- based and all-encompassing”. The changes should not be restricted only to the Secretariat, Akbaruddin had said.
ALL EYES ON TRUMP
US President Trump will later today address the UN General Assembly, his first such address since entering the White House. It will be the first time world leaders will be in the same room and able to take the measure of Trump.
While running for office, Trump had labeled the UN as weak and incompetent, and not a friend of either the US or Israel. But he has softened his tone since taking office, telling ambassadors from UN Security Council member countries at a White House meeting that the UN has “tremendous potential.”
The comparatively measured tone was visible on Monday itself, when Trump, while criticising the the UN for bloated bureaucracy and mismanagement, did not make any threats to withdraw the US from the world body.
He did, however, reiterate his stand that the US was paying a disproportionate amount of money to the United Nations. “We must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden and that’s militarily or financially,” Trump said.