United Nations (UN) chief António Guterres has warned staff and member states that it is running out of cash. In a letter, he urged countries to pay what they owe as soon as possible, according to Reuters.
The letter sent to members stated that, as of June 30, the core UN budget had a deficit of $139 million and the United Nations had “never faced such a difficult cash flow situation this early in the calendar year.”
Guterres wrote, “An organization such as ours should not have to suffer repeated brushes with bankruptcy. But surely, the greater pain is felt by those we serve when we cannot, for want of modest funds, answer their call for help.”
The UN General Assembly budget committee agreed on a $5.4 billion core UN budget for 2018 to 2019. UN peacekeeping is funded separately.
So far, 112 out of 193 member states have paid their share of the core budget. The United States, which is responsible for 22 percent of the budget, usually pays later because of its budget year. By July 2017, 116 countries had paid, compared with 98 in 2016. China, France, Russia and Britain — the permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with the United States — have paid in full for 2018.
Under UN rules, a country in arrears in an amount that equals or exceeds its contributions due for the previous two years can lose its General Assembly vote. There are exceptions when a country can show that its inability to pay is beyond its control.
Currently Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia are in arrears, but have still retained their vote. Only Libya is unable to vote.
Another fact that worries Guterres is the fact that “we are running out of cash sooner and staying in the red longer.” He added that the UN would work to reduce expenses with a focus on non-staff costs.