Russia and China Notably Absent at UN Reform Powwow
By Ben Evansky
Russia, China and several other large United Nations member states are among a small but powerful group of countries that look to be dodging Monday’s U.N. reform summit hosted by the President and Secretary-General António Guterres, according to a list of countries to be in attendance, as seen by Fox News.
Fox News obtained a brief outline of a United States drafted 10-point plan for U.N. reform known as a “Political Declaration for U.N. Reform High Level Event,” which gives U.S. support to Guterres’s reform efforts at the world body.
On Friday, the United States U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters at the White House that the U.N. reform event being chaired by the president was “very, very important.”
“We asked other countries to sign on to their support of reform, and 120 countries have signed on and will be in attendance. That's a miraculous number,” she said.
All those 120 countries had to first sign the declaration before being allowed to attend the event. There are 193 member states of the United Nations.
Among those not attending are Russia and China — the two most powerful members of the BRICS group of nations, which has been working actively to counterbalance U.S. influence on the world monetary system. BRICS is the acronym for a group of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The group is estimated to make up some 41 percent of the world population.
India is the only BRICS member that shall attend.
While Russia and Chinese hold significant influence at the world body, their contributions to the U.N. budget is but a small fraction of what the U.S. doles out each year in contributions.
“It’s not surprising that some countries, especially those who have taken on geopolitically competitive positions to the United States, would shun this initiative,” said Jonathan Wachtel, a former spokesman for Ambassador Haley and director of communications at the U.S Mission to the U.N.
“In pushing back they would probably argue that any reform agenda taken up at the U.N. shouldn’t be driven by one country but rather by all member states of the U.N.,” Wachtel said.
Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador, Sergey Kononuchenko, railed against the Secretary-General’s report on advancing the U.N.’s development system, all part of Guterres’s U.N. reforms.
In a speech earlier this summer at the U.N., obtained by Fox News, the ambassador said the Secretary-General’s reform was an attempt to weaken control by member states.
“We have carefully studied the report, which, unfortunately, raises not hopes, but rather serious concerns for the future of the United Nations development system,” Kononuchenko said in response to the Secretary-General’s earlier presentation to member states.
The United States is by far the biggest contributor to the United Nations paying 22 percent of its regular budget, 28 percent of its peacekeeping budget and hundreds of millions in voluntary contributions to U.N. bodies such as UNICEF.
Wachtel told Fox News that while the Russian and Chinese governments likely agree with some of the proposed reforms, the U.S. still plays a bigger role.
“The United States, the largest single contributor to the United Nations, has every right to demand that U.S. taxpayer money is not wasted,” he said.
Questions sent to both the Chinese and Russian U.N. missions went unanswered.