President Trump will address the United Nations General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday, speaking with world leaders about, among other things, the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear program.
It will be, perhaps, uncomfortable turf for the president. Trump has long been a frequent critic of intergovernmental organizations, global pacts —like the Paris climate agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal —and the UN specifically, calling the organization everything from incompetent to inefficient to a foe of democracy.
Called the UN an Enemy of Freedom
Speaking at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in February 2016, Trump said the UN is antithetical to freedom. He specifically criticized the body for not being fair to Israel and passing a weak Iran nuclear agreement, which he said did not put enough pressure on the country to stop its ballistic missile program. “The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It's not a friend to freedom,” he said. “It's not a friend even to the United States of America, whereas all know, it has its home. And it surely isn’t a friend to Israel.”
Wants to Defund the UN
In September 2011, when the UN considered the Palestinian bid for full membership, Trump frequently tweeted that the U.S. should defund the organization. In one tweet he said that the U.S. “must stand firm against the UN’s ploy to sabotage Israel,” and that “if the UN grants [Palestinian] statehood, then we must immediately defund it.” A few days later he tweeted that he was becoming “increasingly concerned with the UN’s ploy against Israel” and that he would “monitor all events closely.”
Thinks the UN is an Enemy of Israel
Trump has frequently criticized the UN’s treatment of Israel, calling the UN inefficient after it passed a December 2016 resolution condemning Israeli settlement in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Despite pressure from Trump, then the president-elect, the Obama administration abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to pass. Days later Trump tweeted, “The United Nations has such great potential but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time. So sad!” Tweeting earlier that “things will be different” after his inauguration.
Believes The UN is Incompetent
Trump first began criticizing the UN over a zoning controversy surrounding his construction of the Trump World Tower at the United Nations Plaza in the early 2000s. Though he was ultimately allowed to build the tower, the UN later rejected his offer to remodel its main New York headquarters. He dedicated a section of his 2004 book, Think Like a Billionaire, to bashing the UN. “It does not take a genius to recognize the enormous difference in these proposals—several years and $1.5 billion, or $1.1 billion more than I would spend for a job that would not be as good as mine,” he wrote. “It makes me wonder: Who is in charge at the United Nations? Could they be as incompetent in world affairs as they are at simple numbers?” He also wrote that, “while the fundamental premise of the United Nations is wonderful, perhaps we need to reevaluate its current function. It started out so well. What has happened? With these enormous oversights in the area of finance, perhaps we need to start worrying.”
Trump appeared to still be bothered by the rejection of his remodelling proposal in October 2012, tweeting that “the cheap 12 inch sq. marble tiles behind speaker at UN always bothered me. I will replace with beautiful large marble slabs if they ask me.”