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Haley Has Found UN to Have 'Value,' 'Some Good' Agencies

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley greets lawmakers on Capitol Hill on June 27, 2017, before testifying at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON — UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told Congress today that she’s found the world body to have some “real value” and she’s been an advocate for building “on its good work.”

“Peacekeeping is one of the most important things the UN does,” she told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, And Related Programs during a hearing to review the budget for the United Nations and international organizations. “We are reviewing each peacekeeping mission with an eye toward ensuring that we have clear and achievable mandates.”

Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) commended Haley for her work at the UN, though “unfortunately the administration has taken every opportunity to contradict your statements.”

“There is no better example than the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which would minimize the U.S. role in humanitarian assistance, human rights, cut funding to the UN regular budget and eliminate all funding to critical UN agencies like UNICEF, UN Women and the UN Population Fund,” Lowey said. “…These reductions would take an especially severe toll on women and girls, who already bear the brunt of crises and face discrimination in too many corners of the world. Reducing our commitment to improving the lives of women and girls abroad is not American values as I know them.”

Lowey asked Haley if she has found value in those agencies.

“There are many good organizations that do good work for the UN and help people around the world,” the ambassador replied. “I think the best way to approach those organizations going forward is ask them the hard questions, because I think a lot of those organizations assume that you will always get them money. And in a lot of cases, they do great work, but we all have to trim around the edges, and we all have to say, are we spending in a smart way?”

“There’s value in some of those” UN organizations, Haley said, “obviously.”

“UNICEF — I went to Jordan and Turkey to look at the Syrian refugee situation and I can tell you the work that UNICEF is doing on the ground is fantastic. And they really are changing lives, there in Syria, for the better,” she said. “When it comes to the World Food Program, I’m proud to say that we do have an American leading the World Food Program now, and a former governor of South Carolina, David Beasley. And he also understands that our goal is to make sure that we are being effective in delivery and that we’re making sure that were getting access to those that really need it.”

“I think that the IAEA certainly — that’s an important one as we’re looking at the nuclear situations that we have and threats that are around the world. We need to keep that. OPCW is another one that I know we have seen value in, especially, with the chemical weapons usage and to be able to manage that appropriately,” she continued.

“So there are some good ones, but I do think that we need to always think about how we can spend smarter and what we can do to make sure it’s most effective.”

Haley vowed that “we are still as focused on women and children, we’re still as focused on family planning, and focused on all of those health and humanitarian issues that we need to be.”

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said of the UN Human Rights Council that “it’s difficult to take somebody seriously if they don’t take themselves seriously.”

“And when you have a Human Rights Council made up of the world’s worst human rights violators, and then, yet, we’re asked to help fund it, it’s clearly not an easy task,” Diaz-Balart said. “So, you know, you’ve been vocal about it, but any ideas as to potential for reforming, or for getting the UN to get serious about having a unit — a Human Rights Council that is actually not just bashing democracies like Israel and supporting dictatorships like Castro or Maduro?”

Haley said she believes the Human Rights Council “can be a very important body, if it functions properly.”

“The United States wants to stay with the Human Rights Council, but they have to make changes for us to do that. And, certainly, they need to have more competitive races so that we don’t have these bad actors sitting on the Human Rights Council,” she said.

“…We are always going to be strong on human rights, as we think that’s directly correlated to peace and security. But do we continue to be on the Human Rights Council to do that? And that is up to the Human Rights Council. We have made our intentions known, and we hope that they will respond and act accordingly.”