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UN chief heads to Washington to plug peacekeeping budget hole

AFP  |  United Nations 

UN Antonio heads to on Wednesday for talks on the UN budget after the drilled a hole in the world body's finances by capping its share.

The US, which is the number one financial contributor to the UN, said in December that it would cover no more than 25 per cent of the UN's multi-billion-dollar budget, down from 28.47 per cent.

will be meeting US and for talks that are also expected to touch on and

On Thursday, the UN to for meetings on the budget, hoping to make allies in his campaign to keep the world's operations afloat.

The US cost-cutting has created a hole of about USD 220 million in this year's USD 6.7 billion budget, but the shortfall has been compounded by arrears that have pushed peacekeeping finances further into the red.

In January, unpaid contributions to the peacekeeping budget totalled nearly USD 2 billion, with the failing to pay a large chunk of that amount.

To make up for the revenue loss, the has withheld payments to countries that contribute troops including Ethiopia, and -- which are each owed hefty amounts.

At the end of January, was owed USD 41.6 million for its blue helmets, USD 40.5 million and USD 35.7 million, according to the UN peacekeeping department.

Peacekeeping financing is determined by a complicated formula that takes into account a country's wealth, whether or not it is a permanent member and other factors.

The permanent Council members, which have veto power, generally pay more than others.

has been trying to convince several countries to reduce the special discounts allocated to them under this formula in order to cover the USD 220 million annually which it no longer wants to pay.

It has knocked on the doors of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Brunei, Brazil, and India, but to no avail.

is hoping to discuss other ways to address the budget shortfall such as allowing transfers of funds from one peace mission to another, an idea opposed by some countries which insist their funding should go to specific operations, diplomats said.

Another proposal would be to create a fund with revenue left over from a mission's budget instead of reimbursing member-states as is currently the case.

UN diplomats argue that blue helmet operations are in Washington's interest and that the cost of US military engagement in many trouble spots would be much higher without the UN.

To cave in to US demands and "give more would be to tell them they're right," said a UN diplomat, who asked not to be named.

More than 100,000 peacekeepers are deployed in 14 missions worldwide including major operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and that cost more than USD 1 billion annually to run.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 13 2019. 13:30 IST