Nikki Haley, governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Haley Claims Credit for Cuts to UN Budget, Already in Decline

(Bloomberg) -- Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, took credit for a five percent cut in the world body’s two-year operating budget, saying she wouldn’t let the generosity of American taxpayers go “unchecked.”

But she didn’t mention one thing: the UN’s budget had already been on a decline.

Haley, in a statement sent on Christmas Eve, said the U.S. negotiated $285 million of cuts to the UN’s $5.4 billion general budget for 2017-2018. That compares to a $5.61 billion budget approved for 2016-2017, which was down from $5.8 billion for the previous two-year period.

“In addition to these significant cost savings, we reduced the UN’s bloated management and support functions, bolstered support for key U.S. priorities throughout the world and instilled more discipline and accountability throughout the UN system,” the statement said.

The budget cuts were not related to last week’s rebuke by the General Assembly of President Donald Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But after that 128-9 vote, Trump and Haley appeared to threaten funding to the global body.

Diplomats have been negotiating the UN’s 2018-19 budget for months. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had spoken of the need for greater efficiency as part of his reform agenda since taking office about a year ago.

Whether the UN budget goes up or down, the organization’s charter, written at the end of World War II, says the U.S. is responsible for 22 percent of the body’s annual operating budget, or about $1.2 billion in 2017-2018.

Haley did signal that more cuts could be coming in the future, adding in her statement that "We’ll continue to look at ways to increase the UN’s efficiency while protecting our interests.”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.