As Australia prepares to take its seat on the UN Human Rights Council in 2018, the Trump administration's approach to the United Nations and global engagement will play a key role in the success of Australia's multilateral agenda.

A new brief produced by the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney looks at the role of UN Ambassador Nikki R. Haley in helping shape President Trump's views on the usefulness of the United Nations and the need for its reform, as well as the implications for Australia before it begins its important new role.

The brief is written by Adjunct Associate Professor Elsina Wainwright, a Non-Resident Senior Fellow of the Centre's Alliance 21 Program and Visiting Fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation.

"Nikki Haley was a surprise choice for UN Ambassador, but she is politically dextrous, has developed a high public profile, and might be able to slightly moderate President Trump's disdain for the United Nations and multilateralism," Wainwright said.

Key points​

  • America's UN policy could evolve under Nikki Haley's stewardship to focus on parts of the organisation that the Trump administration finds useful to advancing US interests.
  • Once Australia joins the Human Rights Council, a sharper divergence with the Trump administration on UN engagement could potentially open up. The challenge for Canberra will be to manage any possible divergences on policy while maintaining a robust Australia-US alliance.

Washington should also be reminded that it is not in US or allied interests for the White House to cede influence to powers such as China or Russia by pulling back from the UN or other multilateral institutions.

Read the brief

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