President Trump will make his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Will he bring the world together or sow division? Will he embrace an institution that he has previously called weak and incompetent?
His relationship with the New York-based global organization is long and complicated.
Trump, the candidate, says UN “not a friend of freedom”
During his March 23016 speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference, then-candidate Trump issued some of his toughest commentary, speaking of the “utter weakness and incompetence of the United Nations.”
“The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It’s not a friend to freedom,” Trump said. “It’s not a friend even to the United States of America, where, as you know, it has its home. And it surely is not a friend to Israel.”
Though a 2016 Global Attitudes Survey by Pew Research Center showed that 64 percent of Americans had a favorable view of the United Nations, Trump’s campaign promises for a protectionist economic policy and an aggressive approach to China come into conflict with the goals of multilateralism and the UN charter. His promotion of interrogation techniques “worse than waterboarding,” his push for a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the U.S. and his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accords have also put Trump at odds with UN allies.
Last December, Trump continued his assault on the institution, tweeting: “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!”
Trump, the real estate magnate: “I’m a big fan” of the UN
In 2005, Trump testified before a subcommittee looking at UN spending, calling himself a “big fan of the United Nations and all it stands for.” He told lawmakers the institution was one of the reasons he chose to build Trump World Tower, one of his luxury residential properties, where he did in 1998.
“If the United Nations weren’t there, perhaps I wouldn’t have built it in that location,” said Trump. “So it means quite a bit to me.” When Trump was planning the building, many UN officials, including Secretary General Kofi Annan, expressed disapproval of the massive construction project.
Trump’s renovation hopes
At a 2005 hearing, a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee was looking at renovations at the UN New York headquarters and estimated…