clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

U.N. SHOULD DEPEND LESS ON U.S., BOUTROS-GHALI SAYS

The bankrupt United Nations should stop its "excessive dependence" on the United States for financial backing, U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said Sunday.

"A more even distribution of assessments among countries with the capacity to pay would be in the best interests of the organization and the international community as a whole," Boutros-Ghali said in a signed article in The Washington Post. "It should be undertaken without delay.""The United Nations is bankrupt," he added. "Cash resources do not meet either current needs or current obligations."

As of the end of May, U.N. members owed $2.75 billion in unpaid assessments, and "The United States - the largest debtor - owed the organization $1.179 billion," the secretary-general said.

"The organization's excessive dependence on the assessments from a single member state is unhealthy," he said. "Its deteriorating finances reflect the low priority given to the United Nations among the political and budgetary priorities of many member states."

Discussion of assessments is expected at the coming U.N. General Assembly. The United States has always paid the highest dues, based on population and ability to pay, with rates fixed by the assembly.

America's last major dues change came at the end of 1972. The maximum pay rate, applying only to the United States, was lowered, cutting the U.S. assessment from 31.5 percent to 25 percent of the U.N. general budget. The General Assembly acted in anticipation of new revenue from the impending entry of both Germanys and amid pressure from members of Congress angry at the U.N. ouster of the Chinese Nationalist government on Taiwan.

U.S. legislators are again pressing for lower U.N. dues and Congress has been limiting U.S. payments to current assessments without reducing debts.

Besides the 25 percent general assessment, the United States gets billed for 30 percent of fast-rising peacekeeping costs.

Other major dues payers are Russia, Japan, Germany, France, Britain and China.

In his article titled "We're Fixing the U.N." Boutros-Ghali also defended his efforts to trim operations in response to complaints about inefficiency, overlap and proliferating projects.

Notwithstanding "the lessons of Somalia and Bosnia," he said, most U.N. peacekeeping operations have been successful, and "all have been cost-effective in the sense of having prevented more costly wars."

Emphasizing differences between peacekeeping and peace-enforcement, the secretary general said he has already suggested that for peace-enforcement "a multinational force outside the United Nations was the best way."