General Debate of the UN General Assembly scheduled to begin

High-level debates will begin today at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, featuring speeches from 82 heads

UNGA

Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

High-level debates will begin today at the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, featuring speeches from 82 heads of state, including US President Donald Trump.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all speeches throughout the General Assembly will be prerecorded, with many addressing this year’s theme of reaffirming a global commitment to multilateralism in confronting COVID-19. However, given Trump’s America-first approach to foreign policy, seasoned UN observers are still unsure what theme he will address in his speech.

The US is the largest single financial supporter of the UN. In 2018, US contributions made up around one-fifth of the overall UN budget, funded through three accounts. In the proposed budget for 2021, the administration plans to cut these three accounts by one-third and eliminate the voluntary contributions fund, a cut that had been proposed in previous budgets. These cuts are consistent with Trump’s transactional approach to funding the UN.

If re-elected, expect the current administration to further its transactional relationship with the UN by cutting funding for programs perceived to have no value to US foreign policy. In the medium term, these funding cuts would force other member states to increase their contributions to these agencies to avoid job losses and reduced provision of aid and services.

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