The most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world – the United Nations is going through a financial crisis forcing the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to pass an order to all UN offices and operations to immediately cut down on their expenses and take emergency measures like a freeze on hiring, cancelling meetings, stopping use of escalators, limiting official travel, delaying UN documents, and reducing air conditioning and heating.
The United Nations has run out of cash because nearly one-third of its member states have failed to pay their dues. The US its main contributor, is the biggest defaulter and the UN says if things don’t improve, it will be unable to pay salaries from December. As of now, out of 193 member countries only 131 countries had made their full payments to the UN for the year 2019.
United Nations depends on funds received from its’ member states to run its operations. As per the UN Charter, Article 17 that says, “The expenses of the organisation shall be borne by the members as apportioned by the General Assembly,” so, each member state has an obligation to pay a certain amount every year to run its operations.
The amount to be paid by every member state of the UN is determined based on factors such as a country’s gross national income, its ability to pay, external debt etc. that is revised regularly. The five permanent members of the Security Council–the US, the UK, France, China and Russia–pay the maximum and have a rate higher than others.
The Unites States of America’s contribution is 22 per cent, Russia pays 2.40 per cent, the UK 4.5 per cent, France 4.42 per cent and China 12 per cent and India’s contribution is 0.834 per cent of the UN budget. But by October 2019, around 65 countries have failed to pay their share and that amount stands at a staggering $1.38 billion. The US owes nearly $674 million for the year 2019.
The United Nations has published an ‘honour’s list’ on its website with the names of countries who have paid their dues in full, as on October 10, 34 countries, including India, that has paid their share of $23,253,808 in full within the first 31-day due period i.e. by January 31. The list also mentions that 97 countries that did not pay their share in the first 30 days of 2019 have subsequently paid in full. Out of five permanent members states four countries have paid their share in full.
Who did not pay?
Leading the defaulters list is the United States of America, followed by Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea.
In a letter to the heads of the defaulting countries, UN Secretary General Guterres has urged them to “urgently” pay their dues in full, to avoid disrupting UN’s operations globally.