USA – A short history of the US rejection of many UN agencies, not just WHO

Along with many others, the Campaign wishes to denounce the decision of Donald Trump to withdraw US funding from the World Health Organization with no justification. Others have spelled out the many negative consequences that will follow. We would like to place his announcement in an historical context. Trump has systematically withdrawn US government support from other United Nations agencies, begun by others before him. But he clearly has a policy of doing so agency by agency, both to signal his personal disapproval of their activities and what he sees as their failings, often totally erroneously, and to show his contempt for the entire United Nations system, which is well known. Here is the history:

  • In 1988, the US temporarily stopped paying the United Nations “on the ground that the organization is inefficient, wasteful and often contrary to American interests,” according to the New York Times
  • In 2011, the US froze its funding to UNESCOafter the organization granted the Palestinian territories full membership. 
  • On 4 April 2017, Reuters reported that the US State Department said it was ending US funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and this has continued for three consecutive years.
  • In October 2017, the Washington Post reported the US wouldwithdraw from UNESCO altogether at the end of 2018.
  • In June 2018, National Public Radio reported that after more than a year of complaints and warnings, the Trump administration announced that the United States was withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council because it was “a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights”, unlike the US of course.
  • The US (and Israel) officially quit UNESCO at midnight on 31 December 2018.

Hence, WHO can perhaps be congratulated for surviving with US funding this long.Trump may not have told the American people that the US currently owes WHO a lot of back money – over US $200 million apparently – according toQuartz.

SOURCE: Press briefing, by Marge Berer, 16 April 2020