UN Adopts Controversial Anti-US Resolution

US Ambassador Nikki Haley says "We will remember it"
December 21, 2017 Last Updated: January 7, 2018

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that the United States will remember countries who voted against it in a controversial UN resolution.

In total 128 countries voted in favor of the resolution that condemned America’s decision to move its embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Nine voted against the resolution, and 35 countries abstained.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley said ahead of the vote.

“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations.”

Haley said that the United States as a sovereign nation has the right to decide where it locates its own embassy.

“The president’s decision reflects the will of the American people and our right as a nation to choose the location of our embassy,” Haley said.

The United States has been required under law to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since 1995 after Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act.

The 1995 act has widespread bipartisan support in Congress. The act was reaffirmed by a unanimous vote in the Senate six months ago.

While Trump is not the first U.S. president to have promised to make the move—similar promises were made by Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—Trump is the first to have acted.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the countries who had voted against the resolution or abstained from voting.

President Donald Trump listens while Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement for the press before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 18, 2017. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

“Israel completely rejects this preposterous resolution. Jerusalem is our capital, always was, always will be. But I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refuse to participate in this theatre of the absurd,” Netanyahu said in a video message.

“I want to again express my thanks to President Trump and Ambassador Haley for their stalwart defense of Israel and their stalwart defense of the truth,” he said.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said: “We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

The United States contributes by far the most to the annual UN budget, having provided $594 million in 2016, or 22 percent.

In total, the United States contributes around $3 billion to the UN each year, including the annual budget and other items, such as funding peacekeeping missions.

In September, Trump praised the United Nations for its noble goals but urged the 71-year-old institution to focus more on results, rather than process.

Speaking at a UN meeting in New York focused on reform, Trump said that while the organization’s staff has doubled since 2000, and its budget increased significantly, it had not produced a significant increase in results.

“I think the main message is ‘make the United Nations Great.’ Not ‘again make the United Nations great.’ Such tremendous potential, and I think we’ll be able to do this,” Trump said following his speech.

In 2016, the total expenditure of the UN was nearly $49 billion, up $10 billion from just six years earlier. Most of its funding is spent on humanitarian assistance, at $16 billion, followed by development assistance at nearly $12 billion, and peacekeeping operations at just over $9 billion.

(L-R) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (L), President Donald Trump, and Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 18, 2017. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

“The United Nations was founded on truly noble goals. These include affirming the dignity and worth of the human person and striving for international peace. The United Nations has helped advance toward these goals in so many ways: feeding the hungry, providing disaster relief, and empowering women and girls in many societies all across the world,” Trump said in his speech.

Trump blamed bureaucracy and mismanagement for the organization not reaching its full potential.

“We seek a United Nations that regains the trust of the people around the world. In order to achieve this, the United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistle-blowers, and focus on results rather than on process,” he said.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal who replaced Ban Ki-Moon as UN Secretary earlier this year, seems to share Trump’s vision of a reformed UN. In a May 2017 letter, he said, “Our efforts to implement this ambitious reform agenda rest on ensuring that we simplify procedures, decentralize decision-making and move towards ever greater transparency and accountability.”