Saturday, February 4, 2017

How Nikki Haley's Ambassador Appointment Threatens the Spirit and Intent of the UN

Rewire (Feb. 3, 2017): How Nikki Haley's Ambassador Appointment Threatens the Spirit and Intent of the UN, by Gillian Kane:

When Nikki Haley was appointed UN Ambassador, it was clear that she would seek to export her anti-choice ideology to other countries.  What was less clear was the broader threat that she and the Trump administration would be to the UN and its human rights infrastructure.

Presenting her credentials to the UN last week in New York, Haley issued brief introductory remarks—or, more accurately, she issued a general’s salvo of war: “For those who don’t have our back, we’re taking names, we will make points to respond to that accordingly.” This swagger, we now know, is a hallmark of the Trump administration. But a bullish entry into the halls of the United Nations is cause for alarm, especially for nations and advocates concerned with women’s rights.

In addition to reinstating and expanding the global gag rule, the Trump administration has signaled plans to significantly reduce the U.S.'s contribution to the UN.  In 2015, the U.S. was the UN's largest contributor and provided 22% of its budget.  It's funding decisions appear to be driven by ideology, with threats to defunding tied to agencies that "oppose important U.S. policies."  Not only is it problematic to tie funding to political goals, many of the Trump administration's goals may be to rollback important human rights protections. 

To be clear, the work of the UN on human rights is fragile and constantly under threat. Defending and promoting women’s rights and LGBTQ rights with 193 member states is always a fraught process. Still, under President Barack Obama, the United States, often in coalition with other progressive countries, was a forceful voice to counter conservative nations who would argue that female genital cutting, or discrimination against gay people, was their cultural prerogative. Haley’s positions on women’s rights, and her hostile attitude toward the UN, are a disturbing break from her immediate predecessor, Samantha Power. Power, who while notably silent on abortion, was outspoken on LGBTQ and women’s rights, and a strong advocate of the United States’ active engagement in the UN.

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