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U.S. pays $563 million, part of dues owed, to United Nations

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution at UN headquarters in Manhattan on Feb. 24, 2018.  Credit: AP/Craig Ruttle

UNITED NATIONS — The United States paid the UN $563 million in regular budget dues over the past few weeks, officials said Monday, adding that the payment settles the $381 million owed for 2018 and pares down by nearly a third the $674 million in dues owed for 2019.

“We’re very thankful for the partial payment,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, during a news conference at UN headquarters in Manhattan on Monday.

The announcement came as the UN said that 138 of the UN’s 193 member states had paid their 2019 dues in full, a list of nations that UN officials call an “honor roll.” Dujarric and other spokesmen and spokeswomen update journalists whenever a country pays up, adding the member’s name to the honor roll.

Papua New Guinea and St. Kitts and Nevis were the last two countries to join the list, paying $278,823 and $27,883, respectively in November, UN Committee on Contributions records show.

But the United States, — by far the UN’s largest contributor — still owes $492 million for 2019, the UN said.

U.S. officials could not be reached for comment.

With the world’s largest economy, the United States provides as much as 22% of the UN’s operating budget. It also contributes the largest amount of all nations to the UN’s peacekeeping budget, a separate consideration.

A country’s obligation for the operating budget is derived from the member state’s standing in the world economy.

China is the second-largest dues-payer, providing 12% of the operating budget.

In October, UN Controller Chandramouli Ramanathan and Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance Catherine Pollard said the UN was suffering from a "cash flow crisis" stemming directly from late dues payments.

At the time, they said, some $1.4 billion in dues was outstanding — with the United States owing about as much as all the other late dues-paying countries combined.

The crisis triggered a series of cost-cutting measures ranging from shutting down power to escalators at headquarters and reducing air travel to curbing translation services and late-night meetings.

Ramanathan said that seven countries — the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Iran, Israel and Venezuela — were responsible for 97 percent of the outstanding $1.4 billion. Of those seven countries, only Mexico has paid up, providing $36,023,885 on Nov. 12, according to UN records. 

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