Engel Remarks on U.S. Interests at the United Nations
- As Delivered –
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following remarks at the full Committee hearing with the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on United States’ interests at the United Nations.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Madam Ambassador: Welcome to the Foreign Affairs Committee. I’ve watched you in the short months that you’ve been Ambassador.
“I hope you’re enjoying my home town of New York, best place in the world, and I’ve watched you with admiration in terms of how you’ve been conducting yourself.
“As I said to you in the room before we started, we pride ourselves on this Committee of being the most bipartisan Committee in the Congress. The Chairman and I have worked very hard to do that. When there are disagreements, there are disagreements, but we all share the same goal.
“And of course the United States is the world’s biggest superpower. We believe that we have a lot to offer the world and want to continue to work with all the countries of the world.
“I was disappointed in the budget. I said this to Secretary Tillerson as well.
“It cuts our support for peacekeeping efforts in the United Nations by nearing 40%. Peacekeeping missions help people who have been driven from their homes by atrocities.
“In South Sudan, UN peacekeepers are now protecting nearly a quarter million civilians. In places like Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, missions are scheduled to close soon because they’ve been so effective in building stability and security.
“We are traditionally invested a little more than the minimum required in peacekeeping. And that’s what—I think—an indispensable power should do which is what we have done. That’s to show the world we’re a big-hearted country that wants to see people all around the world live healthy, prosperous lives.
“American personnel are not deployed by these efforts. Our men and women aren’t put in harm’s way. These initiatives help prevent and resolve crises so that we don’t have to intervene militarily—and they do it for eight times less than it would cost to send an American soldier.
“So burden-sharing—I know there has been talk about burden-sharing—I believe these efforts are the definitions of burden-sharing.
“The Administration is also seeking to completely eliminate American support for the UN Development Program, for disaster relief coordination, for UN Women, for the UN Population Fund, for UNICEF—support for children living in the most desperate circumstances. A 100 percent reduction. I think that needs to be changed.
“The UN has its problems. No one disputes that. We talked a little while about some of them. I personally think the way Israel is blamed and bullied by UN members is terrible.
“As I told you before, the so-called Human Rights Council has the worst human rights abusers on that Council and it is the epitome of gall or chutzpah, as we say in New York, to think that they can sit and look at anybody and judge anybody given the fact that they have the most abysmal human rights records in the world. It almost makes it a little bit like Alice in Wonderland.
“But, I do think American leadership is urgently needed to help shape Security Council resolutions and initiatives at other UN bodies, and when appropriate, use our veto to counter this imbalance.
“But walking away from our commitments isn’t the right way to affect the reform that we all want to see.
“I believe these cuts would send a deeply troubling message to UN members: that the United States no longer wants to be a global leader on a whole range of issues and that we’re willing to cede that ground to whomever steps into our place.
“And I can’t imagine a more harmful course. If we want our values and our priorities to be the values and priorities of other countries, then withdrawing from multilateral engagement is a grave miscalculation. And make no mistake, Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and plenty of others would be more than happy to see us back away.
“So I am glad that Congress will have the last word on the budget issues. I remain deeply concerned about the number of other areas where American foreign policy is going off course, and how that affects our ability to work with other governments through the UN. I hope your testimony will address some of these problems.
“And let me say as I told you before, I look forward to working with you. You have approached this job with a zest and a verve. It has been very refreshing.
“We will from time to time have policy differences, but I think we all stand for the same thing obviously, and that’s what we try to do in the Foreign Relations Committee.
“So welcome, I look forward to your testimony and I look forward to your tenure as UN Ambassador. I yield back.”