By Todd Steven Burroughs
UNITED NATIONS—As Donald Trump is determined to turn away from the world, Amina J. Mohammed, who started her first day Tuesday as the United Nations’ Deputy Secretary General, is determined to keep the planet’s governments working together. She is only the second African woman to hold this post.
In her first press conference in the new post, hours before President Trump’s first joint session of Congress speech Tuesday night, she said the usual: humbled and honored by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ faith in her, the weight and expectation of the agenda, etc.
But she added the obvious because it needed to be added: the United Nations will continue to fight to be just that because of the “anxiety increasingly mounting across the world.”
Mohammed, who is bi-racial (white British mother, Black Nigerian father) left her post as Nigeria’s Minister of Environment to re-join the U.N. Prior to Nigeria, she was as special advisor to former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
The press conference comes in the wake of the Trump administration’s proposed budget, which would slash the State Department by 37 percent. If implemented, that would mean significant cuts to the United Nations’ budget. America pays about 20 percent of the U.N.’s budget, approximately $1.2 billon in dues. The Trump administration has been holding back an executive order that would cut that amount by 40 percent.
As U.N. officials tend to do, she gently dodged questions about Trump’s proposed budget (“I am. of course, concerned”), instead emphasizing partnership and collaboration among all members.
She said she wanted to make sure that the U.N.’s work matches those on the ground, as she had to handle when, as Nigeria’s Environmental Minister, she had to grapple with the nation’s very serious famine. “We need to be ahead of the curve, and not behind it,” she said.
The first African woman to become U.N. Deputy Secretary General was Asha-Rose Migiro of Tanzania, who served between 2007 and 2012 under the previous SG Ban Ki-moon.