Trump vows to press for more 'efficient, effective' UN

US President-elect Donald Trump will press for reforms and change at the United Nations to ensure it is more "efficient and effective" in responding to global problems, his spokesman has said.

After taking office on 20 January, Trump will work with his foreign-policy team "to make sure the United States, which [supplies] a large portion of the UN budget, demands some reform and change so that our tax dollars are used ... efficiently and effectively," Sean Spicer said on Wednesday.

The United States is the largest contributor to the UN, paying 22 per cent of its $5.4 billion core budget and 28 per cent of the $7.9 billion UN peacekeeping budget.

At various times in the past when disputes arose within the UN over controversial issues like Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Republican presidents have threatened to cut US funding for the global organisation.

Trump has already taken the UN Security Council to task for passing a resolution on 23 December calling on Israel to stop settlement activities on the West Bank, vowing that "things will be different" after he takes office.

But Trump has also repeatedly criticised the UN's overall effectiveness, saying it has done little to solve global problems.

"The UN had such tremendous potential. [It is] not living up to its potential," Trump told reporters in Florida last week. "When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don't. They cause problems."

Trump later tweeted that the UN "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!"

New UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded to Trump's tweet on Snapchat on 3 January, noting that the Republican president-elect believed "the UN has an enormous potential. That's exactly what I feel. My job is to make sure that potential becomes a reality".

Guterres called Trump on his second day in office to introduce himself and discuss their plans for the global body, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said on 4 January.
 
"They had a very positive discussion on UN-US relations" and discussed "a number of avenues for participation and cooperation between the United States and the United Nations," Haq said.

Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, told UN staff and diplomats on 3 January that the world body faced "very challenging times" and asked them to support an overhaul to make it better able to respond.

"We need to be able to recognise our shortcomings, our failures," he said.

He said his call for change, reform, and improvement of the international body included getting "rid of the straightjacket of bureaucracy".