Photo: United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. - Photo: 2017

Proposed Cuts in UN Budget Worry Civil Society and NGOs

By J Nastranis

NEW YORK (IDN) – Civil society and non-governmental organizations have expressed “deep concern” over the proposals for substantial cuts to the United Nations (UN) biennial budget for 2018-2019.

Known for their longstanding support for the UN, the organizers of NGO dialogues and international cooperation met in New York and Geneva to discuss the financing of the UN and “the perils and challenges of a shrinking UN budget”.

In a letter to the Chair of the General Assembly’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee, known as the Fifth Committee, they have urged Member States to resist the anticipated cuts and to affirm the importance of a budget that can adequately support the UN and its vital work for peace, development, climate, human rights and social justice.

Chair of the Committee is Cameroon’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Tommo Monthe. “This is not the first time that wealthy Member States have sought to reduce the UN budget,” says the letter signed by the General Board of Church and Society-the United Methodist Church (UMC-GBCSW), International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN), NGO Development Committee-Geneva, and CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation.

The organizations came close to collapse in 1996 due to the accumulation of large arrears, assessment withholdings, late payments and other failures of Members to meet their Charter obligations.

“Though the worst was then averted, the pressures have resumed to bring the UN’s budget downward which is undermining international cooperation and multilateralism by denying the UN its vital resources,” adds the letter.

The letter is endorsed by the International Service for Human Rights, Regions Refocus, International Alliance of Women (IAW), Global Action on Aging, World Against Racism Network (WARN), Geneva International Centre for Justice, and the Union of Arab Jurists.

“We note that the UN budget assessment for the wealthiest member states is in every case a very small part of their national budget, so that such dues definitely do not place a burden on state finance,” says the letter. While the global GNP (Gross National Product) has noted a significant rise, the UN budget share has steadily declined in relative terms. “This trend is unconscionable and must be reversed!”

In 2015, global GNP – the accumulated value of all finished goods and services produced in a country, often measured annually – amounted to about 74.2 trillion U.S. dollars.

“It is an unquestionable fact that the cuts in the regular budget implemented during the recent budget periods have caused serious strain in the overall performance of the United Nations and undermined efficiency in many parts of its activities,” maintains the letter.

The organizations consider it essential that the indicative budget outline for 2018-2019 that was adopted as a guideline for the budget work in December 2016 should be considered “as a floor and not a ceiling preventing the adoption of a realistic budget for the implementation of agreed programmes.”

The letter argues: “In a world of increasing interdependence, where the most important challenges can only be met by joint action, the United Nations can and must be on the front line. Only the UN has the universality and legitimacy to act in the name of all humanity. It must, therefore, have the budgetary capacity to fulfill its many vital functions. Paradoxically, however, as UN member states have increased the organization’s mandates, the UN’s budget has not risen accordingly.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 24 December 2017]

Photo: United Nations General Assembly hall in New York City. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

IDN is the flagship of International Press Syndicate. –

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