United Nations Catastrophic Financial Crisis
The United Nations Organization is the most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. After the end of Second World War, the UN was established to prevent future wars on the 25th of April 1945. However, the UN has failed to prevent numerous wars and ongoing wars around the world in the last 74 years. The UN has currently become the most ineffective organization to maintain its own financial security.
It was the lowest period / state of the UN, when the Secretary General Antonio Guterres revealed in front of the world in his 8th October 2019 speech that the organization’s finances are in severe critical state. He goes on to reveal that the UN has exhausted UN Peacekeeping Forces’ cash reserves and would not be able to pay some staff’s November 2019 salary. It was really shameful for the most powerful intergovernmental organization to create such a dire and pitiable situation for self.
The ineffectiveness of the UN in the recent times has revealed its inefficacy to control the world at large. It would not be wrong to say that the UN has failed in its endeavour to not only prevent wars around the world, but also failed to take care of its organizational control and security. Having been headquartered in New York, the UN has failed to demand outstanding contributions of nearly $1 billion from the US President Donald Trump. It was really shameful to see the President tweeting on the 9th of October 2019 – ‘So make all Member Countries to pay, not just the United States!’
Antonio Guterres called all Member States to pay their outstanding contributions, because without enough cash to cover payrolls, UN’s work and reforms are at risk. Staff salaries are at high risk of not being paid next month onwards because of the severe financial crisis. One wonders, how the UN has put the organization in such a precarious position to suffer its worst deficit in a decade. What went wrong and why?
The Secretary General had addressed the UN General Assembly to introduce a proposed budget for the 2020. It is indeed interesting to note that the United Nations Organization will complete its 75th year of existence on the 25th April 2020. The world order is total chaos with ongoing wars in Yemen, Syria and African nations; Turkey openly capturing 100 of miles of Syrian territory; the Iran conflict with US; Rohingya Crisis; anti-government protests continuing for years and months in France, Hong Kong, Sudan, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Iraq, Bolivia and Chile to name just a few are multiple serious challenges that the UN has failed miserably to control in its capacity.
The UN’s financial crisis was intensified by a push from the US President, who has cut America’s contribution to the UN budget drastically. The US owes the UN nearly $1 billion in outstanding contributions along with 64 countries. The main prominent culprits are the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, South Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and Saudi Arabia. As many as 129 nations have paid their contributions / dues for the year 2019.
One really wonders as to how and why the UN had not raised their concern at the last juncture of going financial kaput. How the UN ended up with $230 million in the red? Why the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been unable to get $1 billion outstanding dues from the Trump administration all these times? The catastrophic financial crisis of the UN has made the organization redundant in humanitarian work across the critical zones of the world. It is indeed pathetic to see the most powerful intergovernmental organization in such a state.
The Secretary General Guterres also revealed in his speech that sincere efforts were made since January 2019 to check spending. One can imagine, if the UN had not checked the spending, it would not have had sufficient funds to open the 2019 General Assembly in September. It is shameful that the UN has fallen to such a condescending state, when the reality is otherwise. The UN is unable to fill in much-required job vacancies. Staff’s essential travels have been limited to check spending.
Out of 193 nations in the United Nations, 129 have paid their contributions in full, which has made it possible for the organization to pay 70% of the total amount needed for the budget operations by the end of September 2019. If the 64 defaulters will not come forward to pay their dues, the Secretariat could face a default on salaries and payments by the end of November 2019. Trump has played the significant role in pushing the UN towards severe financial crisis with his interference and pressure to cut spending.
As per the UN records, the United States of America is committed to contributed $674 to the UN regular budget for the financial year 2018–19. Under President Trump, the US now owes the UN a total of $1.055 billion, which has been accumulating from the previous years. The US has been scaling back various international commitments along with reconsidering a number of UN treaties. In the month of August 2019, Trump announced that US is withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.
US President Donald trump has been vocal in stating that Washington is shouldering an unfair burden of the cost of the United Nations. Trump has pushed for various reforms of the UN to cut functional cost. Many experts feel, the US under Trump has pushed the UN’s efforts back to the wall by not paying its outstanding dues. As per the UN records, the United States’ responsibility is to contribute 28% of the peacekeeping budget. The US has paid only 25% of the amount and owes another $2.4 billion for peacekeeping missions around the world.
United Nations’ peacekeeping soldier is paid $1428 a month. As on 30th of June 2019, a total number of 100,411 people are serving as the UN Peacekeeping Force. 86,145 are uniformed soldiers, 12,932 are civilian and 1,334 work as volunteers. UN’s peacekeeping operations around the world cost less than half of 1% of World’s military expenditures.
The Secretary General Antonio Guterres has raised concerns for the world leaders, when he stated that the UN may have to postpone conferences and meetings, limit officials’ travels, reduce services and stop hiring of essential staff because of financial crisis. He also reiterated that the UN operations in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi and at regional commissions will be drastically affected.
As per AFP’s 12th of October 2019 report, the United Nations Headquarter in Geneva has cut water supply to all the water coolers, have cut power of all escalators and cut all flights or AC for staff members to cut cost in order to survive the catastrophic financial crisis.
The world is really shocked at the present state of affairs of the United Nations. The UN is facing a shortfall of $1.4 billion in the UN operations’ budget this year. Interestingly, the under-developed countries like Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia, Nepal and Rwanda are the top contributors, who pay the UN in full and timely.