Delicate but Critical Dance for New U.N. Leader and New U.S. Envoy


Ms. Haley has brought a notable personal style to the job.

She has rebranded the United States Mission as #TeamHaley on Twitter. She has gushed about how much she loves “The Americans,” the spy drama about Russian espionage. She has drawn criticism from rights groups for inviting the Center for Family & Human Rights, a group that opposes gay rights and is listed as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, to be part of the United States delegation to an annual women’s rights meeting at the United Nations.

She has criticized the United Nations Human Rights Council for welcoming countries like Cuba and China, though she has made no moves to withdraw the United States from the council.

Repeatedly, she has homed in on a purely domestic audience. She said in her confirmation hearing that she did not favor a “slash and burn” approach to cutting funding for the United Nations, but she then questioned whether the United States gets what it pays for.

The United States is by far the largest donor to the United Nations in a number of ways.

First, it pays dues, like every other country, based on its wealth, which means that the United States pays 22 percent of the organization’s operating budget. Second, because it is a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, it pays a higher share of the peacekeeping budget — 28 percent currently, which Mr. Trump wants to reduce to 25 percent. And third, it pays voluntarily for perennially underfunded aid agencies like the World Food Program.

Steep cuts, warned diplomats and humanitarian aid groups, would devastate not only the United Nations, but also the United States’ standing in the world — along with Ms. Haley’s.

On Instagram, A Better World Campaign, an advocate of United States funding for the United Nations, posted a graphic showing that the world body provides food to 80 million people. Ms. Haley clicked “like.”

Photo

António Guterres, the new secretary general, greeting Nikki R. Haley, the new United States ambassador to the United Nations, in January.

Credit
Stephanie Keith/Reuters

Ms. Haley has said little about where she favors cuts, except that she will go through each of the peacekeeping missions with a fine-tooth comb.

That poses a test for Mr. Guterres, most immediately at the end of the month, when the mandate for his largest and most expensive operation, the $1.2 billion peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, comes up for renewal. It remains to be seen whether Ms. Haley will push him to sharply reduce its size, or worse, shut it down entirely.

Ms. Haley’s toughest remarks have been on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

She has excoriated the Security Council for discussing the conflict on a monthly basis and forced Mr. Guterres to withdraw the nomination of a United Nations envoy who is a Palestinian. It was seen as an unprecedented act of deference to the United States by a secretary general.

And she has repeatedly criticized the Security Council for a resolution, adopted in December, that condemns Israeli settlement building and asks the secretary general to provide quarterly briefings on the subject.

In an effort to placate Washington, Mr. Guterres has opted not to present a written report at all. He is leaving it to his Middle East envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, to make an oral presentation — playing down the significance of a resolution that the Americans deplore.

Suzanne Nossel, a former senior official at the United States mission who is currently the executive director of the Pen American Center, said the challenge for Mr. Guterres now is to show the world, and principally the Americans, what kind of secretary general he will be: one who tries to keep powerful countries happy, like his predecessor, Ban Ki-moon, or one whose tussles with the powerful cost him his job, like Boutros Boutros-Ghali in the 1990s. Will he be a “vessel” for member states, she asked, or a moral counterweight?

“If he takes that shot now and takes on as antagonists all the populists and authoritarians around the world,” Ms. Nossel said, “it could be a long five years.”

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