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UN Bills Not Paid

Scoop's UN sources say only 43 of the 188 member states had paid their bills to the UN in full for 2000 by the 31 January deadline. 45 have lost their voting rights in the General Assembly. John Howard reports.

UN Charter Article 19 states that a country loses its vote in the General Assembly if the amount of outstanding debt equals or exceeds the amount is was billed in the preceding two years.

But this year, 52 countries fell victim to the deadline for payment, the highest number in recent years.

The UN, however, allowed seven of the 52 countries to keep their voting rights to June 30 because of financial hardship. Those countries are Bosnia, Comoros, Congo, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Nicaragua and Tajikistan.

Ukraine, a new member of the Security Council, lost its assembly vote because it owes $15 million. Gambia, whose two-year term on the Security Council ended at the end of December, also lost its vote with a debt of just $139,300.

Iraq, which owes the UN $11 million, has not had a vote in the assembly for years. But Iraq has been under severe UN sanctions since 1990.

The US, which currently owes over $1 billion, was threatened with losing its vote but scraped through with last-minute part payments in December last.

There are dozens of UN members who are considered "deadbeat" but have so far kept their assembly vote because they have not allowed the debt to exceed the two-year contribution level.

The majority of the 188 UN member states don't pay their dues on time.

However, delinquent nations are expected to pay-up before the General Assembly starts its session in September when votes will be held.

The future and significance of the UN in the 21st Century will then likely be hotly debated. Opponents are becoming outspoken about the meaning and relevance of the UN and nations who won't pay their bills adds unwanted fuel to their argument.

The assembly will also likely vote in September to implement a global tax on financial transactions or a global tax on fuel or carbon emissions to fund the work of the UN. Therefore guaranteeing the required level of funding for humanitarian work and meaning nations who use the most will pay the most.


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