South Africa will not be intimidated by the US’s recent threats to cut aid to countries that vote against them at the United Nations, said International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers.
Towards the end of April, the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said they would cut their foreign aid to countries who rarely voted with the US, after the US State Department compiled a report of voting practices at the UN.
South Africa – which according to USAid received about $258m (R3.2bn) in the 2017/18 year – is one of these countries, having voted with the US on nine occasions and against it 68 times.
Delivering his speech on the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s budget vote on Tuesday, Landers said that, while South Africa remained committed to strengthening its trade relations with the US, “we will not be intimidated by the recent threats of the US to cut their aid to countries who vote against them at multi-lateral institutions”.
Every year, the US State Department compiles a report on voting practices at the UN. The report is then given to the US Congress. This report includes a comparison between the voting records of the US and other countries on UN General Assembly records.
The report found that, of the 93 resolutions that were voted on in 2017, on average other countries only voted with the US 31% of the time.
According to a statement from the US State Department, this is a 10 percentage point drop from 2016, “but at a rate that is historically near average”.
“The American people pay 22% of the UN budget – more than the next three highest donor countries combined. In spite of this generosity, the rest of the UN voted with us only 31% of the time, a lower rate than in 2016,” said Haley.
“That’s because we care more about being right than popular and are once again standing up for our interests and values. Either way, this is not an acceptable return on our investment.
“When we arrived at the UN last year, we said we would be taking names, and this list of voting records speaks for itself. President Trump wants to ensure that our foreign assistance dollars – the most generous in the world – always serve American interests, and we look forward to helping him see that the American people are no longer taken for granted,” said Haley.
According to the report, the country that voted the most often with the US was Israel, while Zimbabwe was the country that voted with the US the least.