United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres told the UN General Assembly’s budget committee on Tuesday that the organisation risks “entering November without enough cash to cover payrolls” unless member states pay their fees.
In October, the UN will reach its worst deficit in a decade, Guterres told the committee’s 193 members. The organisation’s “work and reforms are at risk,” he said.
The secretary-general has spent the year taking drastic steps to save money and cut spending in order to fill budgetary gaps. He said the UN “would not have had the liquidity to support” the annual gathering of world leaders it hosted in New York City in September without those measures.
The current circumstances have left job vacancies unfilled and scaled employee travel back to only the most essential trips.
Who owes what
129 of the 193 countries have already paid their 2019 fees, a UN spokesperson reported. This amounts to just under $2 billion (€1.8 billion) of the $3.3 billion (€3 billion) set for 2019.
The UN regular budget pays for political, humanitarian, disarmament, economic and communication projects. The UN peacekeeping budget, which includes the UN’s military personnel, is funded separately.
Among those who have yet to pay in full is the US, which is responsible for 22% of the annual budget. A US mission to the UN confirmed that the US currently owes $674 million (€615 million) toward the 2019 budget and a further $381 million (€347 million) toward past budgetary obligations.
US President Donald Trump has complained that Washington bears too great a responsibility to the UN budget and has called for reforms.
Guterres has called on member states to pay all outstanding fees. Along with missing payments to employees, the lack of cash could result in conferences and meetings being rescheduled or cancelled.
This article was first published on DW.