US & Canada

Trump's budget cuts would make UN peacekeeping 'impossible'

A picture taken in Bouake on January 6, 2017 shows an UN Blue Helmet peacekeepers convoy parked at the entrance of the city where soldiers demanding more pay and housing rose up earlier in the day. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The blue-helmeted peacekeeping forces are currently running 16 missions worldwide

The United Nations has warned that President Donald Trump's plans to cut contributions to peacekeeping will make such work "impossible".

The US administration signalled heavy cuts to UN operations, in its budget proposals released on Tuesday.

The US foots more than a quarter of the UN's $7.9bn (£6.1bn) peacekeeping bill.

A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the organisation was willing to discuss how peacekeeping could be made more cost-effective.

Mr Trump's budget proposal declares new "attention on the appropriate US share of international spending at the United Nations".

The document does not provide a detailed breakdown, but Reuters news agency reports the drop in funding for the operations could amount to $1bn.

The spokesman said the UN was studying Mr Trump's plan. "The figures presented would simply make it impossible for the UN to continue all of its essential work advancing peace, development, human rights and humanitarian assistance," he said.

The BBC's Nick Bryant at the UN says such a warning from the organisation is unusually blunt.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The international peacekeeping force receives half its funding from just five countries

The US president does not set the budget, but makes recommendations to Congress. It is understood that the UN secretary general has been lobbying Congress members on the importance of international peacekeeping.

The US provides 28.5% of the United Nations peacekeeping budget - almost three times as much as the next-highest contributor, China.

While Mr Trump's plan does not include details, the US is known to want to cap its contributions to a maximum of 25%.

There are currently 16 active peacekeeping operations, including Syria, South Sudan, and on the border of India and Pakistan.

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