UN dealing with 'worst money disaster' in practically a decade, warns employees may go unpaid in November


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters on September 24, 2019 in New York City.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The United Nations (UN) is facing its “worst cash crisis” in nearly a decade because almost one-third of its member states have not paid their annual dues, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Speaking in front of the UN’s budget-setting Fifth Committee on Tuesday, Guterres said the situation was so desperate that last month’s General Assembly in New York was only possible because of emergency spending cuts made earlier in the year.

“The organization is facing a severe financial crisis,” Guterres said.

“To be more specific, a severe liquidity crisis. The equation is simple: without cash, the budget cannot be properly implemented.”

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement published Tuesday that, by the end of September, member states had paid only 70% of the total assessment for the regular budget.

That compares with 78% at the same time of year in 2018.

The UN said that while 129 member states had paid their dues for the organization’s 2019 budget by Tuesday — the most recent being war-torn Syria — 64 others were still required to pay “urgently and in full.”

It said there is an outstanding amount of $1.3 billion for the year.

‘Record-level shortage of cash’

Guterres said the organization was so cash-strapped that it had been forced to borrow reserves set aside for UN Peacekeeping Operations in order to meet expenditure needs in recent months.

In doing so, Guterres said the UN risks “exhausting the closed peacekeeping cash reserves and entering November without enough cash to cover payrolls.”

The U.S., which is the largest contributor to the UN, still owes $381 million for prior regular budgets and as much as $674 million for the 2019 regular budget, Reuters reported, citing confirmation from the U.S. mission to the UN.

Washington typically pays its dues in the fall.

President Donald Trump has previously said the world’s largest economy is shouldering too much of the burden when it comes to the cost of the world body. The U.S. president has also called for reforms of the UN.

Some of the other countries that have reportedly failed to pay their annual dues to the UN include, Brazil, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Uruguay.

The secretary-general said Tuesday that last week he had been “forced to introduce extraordinary measures to cope with the record-level shortage of cash.”

“Vacant posts cannot be filled, travel will be limited to essential travel only, meetings may have to be canceled or deferred.”

Guterres also warned that the situation would not only impact operations in the main hubs of New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, but also regional commissions.



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