According to this year’s UNGA president-elect, María Espinosa, the theme of the 73rd annual assembly will be:
‘Making the United Nations Relevant to All People: Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies.’
The word “equitable” seems to carry more weight than perhaps in years past.
The UN Security Council is tasked with maintaining international peace and security. The presidency of the council rotates on a monthly basis between the 15 member countries, and this September, it's America's turn.
This means that the US determines the agenda for the Security Council's September meetings. Earlier in September, Reuters reported that US Ambassador Nikki Haley noted that the Security Council's UNGA session would:
'...address Iran’s violations of international law and the general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region.'
This announcement comes just four months after Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal–a move which a number of Security Council members vehemently objected to, including the U.K., France, and Russia. According to France24, the United States' withdrawal threatens the fabric of the deal itself, thus endangering the rest of the world. France24 reports that British Prime Minister Theresa May's office commented:
'We urge the US to ensure that the structures of the JCPOA can remain intact, and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal.'
Germany, which is not a Council member, also commented via Foreign Minister Heiko Maas:
'We will try to keep alive this important agreement, which ensures the Middle East and the world as a whole are safer.'
The U.S. withdrawal from the deal marks further international isolation. For the Council's UNGA session, Trump's actions will translate to high tension and likely a lack of progress, much to the detriment of the rest of the world.
Trump's "America First" policy counters the precedent put into place by President Harry Truman after World War II. By challenging long-held alliances and treaties like NATO, Trump puts America's financial interests, and thus its future, ahead of keeping to such precedent.
Trump is approaching the world with an open mind, unburdened by tradition and ready to spark new deals and partnerships, perhaps setting the stage for new traditions the country will hold close for years to come.
President Trump recently released his 2018 National Security Strategy, which provides the strategic vision necessary to protect the American people, preserving our way of life, promoting our prosperity, maintaining peace through strength, and advancing American influence in the world.
The Administration recognizes that economic security is national security.
America is leading again, proving that America First does not mean America alone by revitalizing relationships with countries that share our goals and interests while combating radicalism and extremism.
Trump’s actions, whether taking the U.S. out of partnerships or scaling back financial contributions, are in the interest of the American people, as is his principal duty as the president of the United States.
Trump's approach, whether groundbreaking or reckless, undoubtedly threatens U.S. relations with many of its long-standing allies, and by extension, puts the citizens of those ally countries, and beyond, in danger.
CBS's Pamela Falk breaks down the results of the America First policy from the last year:
The U.S. has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord, the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council, the Iran nuclear agreement, and the U.N. Educational and Cultural agency (UNESCO) and refused to sign the Global Compact on Migration. The Trump administration has made cutbacks in voluntary funding for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), the Palestinian relief agency (UNRWA) and limited some peacekeeping funds. U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton recently sought to undermine the functioning of the International Criminal Court.
Actions that seem to alienate the rest of the world from the U.S. are, in reality, holding other countries to a higher standard. For example, when the U.S. elected to leave the UN Human Rights Council, its motivations lay reforming the body itself. CNN reported on UN Ambassador Haley's comments:
'Human rights abusers continue to serve on, and be elected to, the council. The world's most inhumane regimes continue to escape its scrutiny, and the council continues politicizing scapegoating of countries with positive human rights records in an attempt to distract from the abusers in its ranks.'
Although the move certainly does not bring the U.S. any closer to the UN, it is one that reflects the unwavering standards of U.S. foreign policy. Remaining in a corrupt body does not prevent further corruption, while taking a stand is more likely to enact change. Vice President Mike Pence added his perspective on Twitter, saying:
'Today the US took a stand against some of the world's worst human rights violators by withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. By elevating and protecting human rights violators and engaging in smear campaigns against democratic nations, the UNHRC makes a mockery of itself, its members, and the mission it was founded on. For years, the UNHRC has engaged in ever more virulent anti-American, and anti-Israel invective and the days of U.S. participation are over.'