Cablegate: Un Finances: United States Singled Out for Unpaid


DE RUCNDT #1075/01 3221757
O 171757Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. Summary: In formal session on November 6, UN Controller
Jun Yamazaki presented a financial update to the General
Assembly (UNGA) Fifth Committee (Administrative and
Budgetary). Despite intervening payments, the UN's financial
situation remains mixed, and may have to borrow from the
reserve fund in the next several weeks. In near unison,
delegations repeated criticism of the United States for not
paying "in full, on time, and without conditions." USDel's
statement (interrupted by Cuban histrionics) highlighted
recent payments and promised more on the way. End Summary.

2. Yamazaki reported on assessments, available cash
resources, and the UN's outstanding debt to Member States.
The financial position of the UN remains fragile. This
report, Improving the Financial Situation of the UN
(A/63/514), is the Secretariat's documentation of Under
Secretary-General Angela Kane's oral presentation on October
28 (reftel). Since Kane's report, the governments of Angola,
Jordan, Peru, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States
have made payments. End-of-year cash balances are projected
to be lower this year for the regular budget and peacekeeping
operations (PKOs), but higher for the international criminal
tribunals (ICTs) and the Capital Master Plan (CMP). The USG
owes 94 percent of the outstanding assessments. As a result,
the Secretariat may need to borrow USD 148 million from
reserve accounts to pay for regular budget activities.

3. The Committee heard 19 reactions from representatives of
France (on behalf of the EU), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf
of the G-77 and China), Mauritius (on behalf of the African
Group), Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), Australia (on
behalf of CANZ), the Philippines (on behalf of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Malaysia, Korea,
Singapore, Cuba, India, Syria, Japan, Venezuela, Nicaragua,
Pakistan, Russia, Argentina, and the United States. Of the
19 statements, 17 were critical of the United States.

4. The representative of Antigua and Barbuda called the
budget a "grim situation." Mexican and Singaporean delegates
emphasized that the financial situation has not changed much
from previous years. The Australian representative said it
was "not particularly positive," while the Filipinos and
Malaysians called it a "mixed picture."

5. The representative of Antigua and Barbuda praised the
Member States that have fully paid their assessments for the
CMP. The Mauritian delegate welcomed the USD 756 million
already contributed, and requested others to pay the
remaining USD 80 million. The Japanese representative
highlighted that his government made an early payment.

6. The representative of Antigua and Barbuda noted that
significant levels remain outstanding for PKOs. The
Mauritian delegate pointed out that two Member States owe 62
percent of unpaid peacekeeping assessments. The
representative of Australia expressed disappointment with the
grave PKO budget situation, with USD 2.9 billion outstanding
and only 31 countries paid in full. Delegations from the
Philippines and India also expressed concern, the latter
calling UN assessments moral obligations. Kane reported that
she anticipates that Secretariat debts to reimburse PKO
contributors to be lower than that in May, and USD 134
million less than last year.

7. The representative of Antigua and Barbuda highlighted
that 85 percent of ICT assessments are owed by one Member
State, but the Mauritian delegate expressed encouragement
that ICT financial positions remain stable. The
representative of India expressed concern that the cash
position of the regular budget is in a USD 66 million deficit
due to special political missions and a weak USD.

8. Several delegations spoke out on UN reform. The
Australian representative called reform "even more salient"
during an international financial crisis, and stressed the
importance of efforts to modernize the UN. The Japanese
delegate said the Secretariat should be accountable and
utilize resources efficiently. Expressing an entirely
different perspective, the Nicaraguan representative said "No
Member State should point the finger at management
inefficiencies if it has not made its payment on time. (The
United States) does not have the right to demand management
reforms." The Singaporean delegate said that withholding
contributions in the name of addressing the inefficiencies of
the UN is "not the right way to do things."

9. The most persistent theme throughout the meeting was
criticism of the USG for tardiness in making contributions.

In emphasizing the importance of making contributions, nearly
every delegation repeated the term "in full, on time, and
without conditions." Although most hesitated to mention the
United States by name, others dwelled on the 94 percent of
arrears owed by "one Member State," "one contributor," or
"the host country." Two speakers tried to invoke irony;
Singapore that less developed countries usually pay their
assessments on time, and Cuba that the United States provides
leadership in determining methodologies for assessments.
The Syrian representative speculated whether the USG is
deliberately withholding its contribution. The delegation
from Venezuela claimed that U.S. arrears show "a lack of
commitment" and "a sly instrument of pressure, as we have
seen on other occasions." The Argentine delegation was the
only to refrain from commenting on the United States. In our
defense, the South Korean representative expressed skepticism
that the UN would go into the red, assuring the others that
all Member States would make payments in time.

10. USDel emphasized American commitment to the UN on the
scale of hundreds or millions of USD, with a recent payment
exceeding USD 200 million. Interrupted by a dramatic
emotional display from the Cuban delegation (during which
First Secretary Jorge Cumberbatch broke Cuba's nameplate),
USDel explained the reason for the delay as a difference in
payment cycles between the USG and the UN. USDel indicated
additional payments were planned before the end of the year.

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