U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley touched on several important issues when she spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations on March 29 in New York.
She discussed the situation in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Donald Trump’s travel ban, and the U.N. budget.
Haley said there’s the possibility of the United States and Russia working together to find a solution to end Syria’s six-year conflict, but Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is a “big hindrance in trying to move forward.”
“I have to tell you, when you have a leader who will go so far as use chemical weapons on their own people, you have to wonder if that’s somebody you can even work with,” said Haley.
However, she said a stable Syria must be achieved soon.
“If we don’t have a stable Syria, we don’t have a stable region. And it’s only going to get worse. It really is an international threat right now, and we’ve got to find a solution to it.”
With Russian and Iranian military support, Assad has the upper hand in a war with rebels who have been trying to topple him. The rebels have backing from states including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. A U.S.-led coalition has also been targeting ISIS terrorists in Syria.
Haley also clarified and supported President Donald Trump’s travel ban. She said the countries affected by the ban are the places where the United States cannot gather enough information to vet the people who are coming in.
“What the president has done has said, ‘Let’s take a step back. Everybody that you can’t vet, tell me.’ And these are the areas where they said if we bring people in, we don’t have enough information to properly vet them. So what he has said is, ‘Okay, prove to me that you can vet these people properly, and we’ll open it back up.’ So, for now, what he’s trying to do is make sure that no danger comes into the country. And then, once the proper policies are in place that you can vet, then you allow those countries to start coming back in. So this is not about not wanting people in. This is about keeping the terrorists out,” she said.
“We will never close our doors in the United States. We won’t. But what we did do was take a pause. What we did do was say, ‘Okay, how are we going to make sure that we’re keeping people safe?’ I think that the number one goal of any administration is to keep the people safe.”
In addition, Haley commented on the U.N.’s budget for peacekeeping missions. It currently costs $7.87 billion to fund 16 peacekeeping missions around the world. She said the U.S. contribution to the peacekeeping budget will be capped at 25 percent, lowered from the current 28 percent. Haley has previously promised to review each mission and cut down excess spending.
She singled out the mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The [Congo] government is corrupt and preys on its citizens. At the same time, the U.N. peacekeeping mission is mandated to partner with the government to consolidate peace and security. In other words, the U.N. is aiding a government that is inflicting predatory behavior against its own people. We should have the decency and common sense to end this,” she said.
Haley’s comments came two days before the expiration of the mandate for the $1.2 billion mission in the central African state, known as MONUSCO. The confidential Security Council negotiations on its renewal are taking place amid U.N. warnings that violence is spreading across Congo ahead of planned elections before the end of 2017.