January 4, 2017 – Donald Trump will have the opportunity to chair a UN Security Council meeting as early as April this year when Washington takes the reins of the 15-nation body.
The Council’s presidency rotates alphabetically among its 15 members and the U.S. did not preside over the Council at all during 2016, having last held the gavel in Dec. 2015.
During each country’s presidency, a high-level meeting is held which is typically chaired by the country’s foreign minister or president.
Barack Obama twice presided over the Security Council, in Sept. 2009 when he chaired a meeting on nuclear disarmament, becoming the first U.S. president to chair a Council meeting, and in Sept. 2014, when the Council passed a resolution on foreign terrorist fighters.
Trump berated the UN last week, calling it “just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.”
“There is such tremendous potential, but it is not living up,” Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. “When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don’t. They cause problems.”
“So, if it lives up to the potential, it’s a great thing,” Trump added. “And if it doesn’t, it’s a waste of time and money.”
Of course, Trump may decide to send a signal to the UN by either not attending the high-level meeting in April or by not sending his secretary of state – Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson is the nominee.
During George W. Bush’s presidency, Bush himself never presided over a Council meeting when the US was chair, nor did he ever send his secretary of state. The only time a secretary of state attended during Bush’s presidency was when Colin Powell addressed the 15-nation body in Feb. 2003 to deliver what turned out to be faulty evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq.
Trump’s nominee for UN ambassador, NIkki Haley, is expected to be confirmed in the next few weeks and will assume duties after Jan. 20.
– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz