ESWATINI COULD LOSE US FUNDING OVER UN VOTES
The United States (US) has threatened to cut funding to countries which do not vote alongside it at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly – countries that include Eswatini.
In a report titled ‘Voting practices in the United Nations in 2017’‚ Swaziland was named as one of the countries that voted with the US at the UN General Assembly the least.
The country is a recipient of funding from the US, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS through US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and USAID‚ to mention but a few.
In December General Assemby last year‚ US Ambassador Nikki Haley warned that the US would be taking the names of states which did not vote alongside it.
The result appears to have been a significant drop in votes that are aligned with the US – before the threat 37 per cent of the UN would vote along US lines‚but as of 2017 it is 31 percent.
According to FP‚ a blog dedicated to foreign policy‚ this is the lowest degree of cooperation America has had since 2008‚ when only 25 per cent of nations voted alongside George W Bush’s administration.
In her first day on the job, Nikki Haley issued a stern warning to her UN colleagues from the lobby of UN headquarters: back American initiatives at Turtle Bay or face unspecified consequences. There was a new sheriff in town, Haley made clear, and she “would be taking names” of those who crossed the United States.
The combative phrase, which Haley has used time and again to underscore Washington’s expectation of loyalty, reflects a deeply held view by President Donald Trump and his UN envoy that the United States is not shown the respect it deserves as the organisation’s biggest financial backer.
But Haley’s strategy has failed to broaden support for American positions at the UN. In her first year as US ambassador, the US has lost support in the United Nations, with only 31 per cent of States voting alongside the United States on controversial resolutions before the UN General Assembly, the lowest number since 2008, when states voted 25 per cent of the time alongside President George W. Bush’s administration. During the final year of the Obama administration’s states voted with the United States 41 per cent of the time, according to a recently published State Department report on UN voting practices.
The voting outcome raises questions about the effectiveness of Washington’s use of threats to secure international backing for its policies. But Haley has not chosen to hide from that record. On the contrary, Haley has embraced it, highlighting the gap to justify the need for more punishment.
“We care more about being right than popular,” Haley said in a statement issued last week. “President Trump wants to ensure that our foreign assistance dollars – the most generous in the world – always serve American interests, and we look forward to helping him see that the American people are no longer taken for granted.”
As part of that effort, Haley’s office recently produced an internal paper, made public by Foreign Policy, proposing a sweeping reassessment of US foreign assistance with a view to punishing dozens of poor countries that vote against US policies at the UN.
The move followed a US decision, actively championed by Haley, to cut tens of millions of dollars in assistance to Palestinian refugees in retaliation for their government’s opposition to President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Some conservatives have advocated conditioning foreign economic assistance to countries’ voting records at the United Nations since the early 1980s, when the idea was first championed by the then US ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Their argument was that US development assistance had a “dubious” impact on improving conditions in poor countries, so withholding such assistance would have little impact on a country’s well-being. The get-tough approach obscures a reality that Haley and the State Department have actively minimised. The vast majority of UN member states act overwhelming alongside the United States on most resolutions adopted by the 193-member UN. General Assembly. Last year, 230 of the 323 resolutions adopted in the General Assembly were adopted by consensus, meaning the US joined forces with the entire membership. The remaining 93 resolutions — typically more controversial measures dealing with issue from the Cuban embargo to a raft of resolutions denouncing Israeli practices — were forced to a vote.
If you combine all resolutions adopted by consensus with those out to a vote you would see the US acting in line with the rest of the membership about 80 per cent of the time. In 2015, the US acted alongside the rest of the UN membership 84.1 per cent of the time.
“The stark numbers contained in the report don’t reflect the fact that countries agree with the United States the vast majority of times,” says Peter Yeo, president of the Better World Campaign, a UN-advocacy group.
But Haley, who didn’t mention consensus-based resolutions in her statement on voting practices, and the State Department, have highlighted the differences rather than similarities. In its annual report on voting records, Trump’s State Department introduced a new voting methodology that widened the gap between the US voting record.