By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Member States U.N. they owe about $ 2 billion (£ 1.54 billion) in peace-keeping funds, warned UN head Antonio Guterres, with the United States responsible for over a third of that.
"Early peacekeeping missions are expected to face liquidity gaps due to late payments and arrears increases," wrote Guterres in a letter from January 11 to the 193 member states. "The arrears are close to 2 billion dollars and will probably continue to grow".
Guterres also said that while 152 members had paid in full for their normal U.N budget in 2018 – a record – over $ 528 million were still pending.
The United States is responsible for 22% of the regular budget of $ 5.4 billion for 2018 and 2019 and more than 28% of the peacekeeping budget of $ 6.7 billion for the year to 30 June.
The US owed $ 381 million to the ordinary budget from January 1 and about $ 776 million to the peacekeeping budget, U.N. officials said, confirmed the US mission to the United Kingdom.
President Donald Trump states that Washington is taking an unjustified burden on the cost of the United Nations and urges the world body to reform operations.
In December, the U.N. General Assembly has agreed what percentage of the regular and peacekeeping budgets each country would pay for the next three years.
The US contribution to the ordinary budget is already limited to 22% and Washington has unsuccessfully pushed to limit its contribution to 25% peacekeeping – as required by US law – instead of over 28%.
"The lack of a 25% ceiling agreement will ensure that the organization continues to face a three percent deficit in its peacekeeping budget," said Cherith Norman Chalet, the United States for UN management and reform
This is equivalent to about $ 200 million, the diplomats say. The United Nations has 14 peacekeeping operations, half of them in Africa.
"Current cash balances cover less than two months of operations, compared to the four months of last year," Guterres said on the finances of peacekeeping in his letter. Last year he wrote twice to warn states about the "disturbing financial situation".
The British Ambassador U.N. Syed Akbaruddin said the $ 2 billion deficit is "unsustainable".
Some countries that contribute to troops "have amounts equivalent to their annual contributions assessed for 100 years, others still", he tweeted on Wednesday.
The main contributing countries are Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Rwanda. They pay their troops according to their national salary scales and are reimbursed by the United Kingdom. As of July 2018, the United Kingdom paid $ 1,428 a month for each soldier.
The UN says its peacekeeping operations cost less than half of the 1% of world military spending.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by James Dalgleish)