Zimbabwe settles United Nations dues

FILE - Jan. 13, 2018 file photo, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres talks to the media during a join declaration with the Colombian president, in Bogota, Colombia. Saying humanity is waging war with the planet, the head of the United Nations isn’t planning to let just any world leader speak about climate change in Monday’s special “action summit.” Guterres says only those with new specific and bold plans can command the podium and the ever-warming world’s attention. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara, File)

THE United Nations (UN) is in the red and risks failing to pay its workers next month as a significant number of members have not paid their annual subscriptions.

Zimbabwe  is among 129 of the UN’s 193-member states that had paid their 2019 dues as of October 7.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised the red flag recently and implored member states to pay up.

Mr Guterres admitted that the body might not be able to pay staff salaries next month and urged defaulters to pay urgently and in full.

“This is the only way to avoid a default that could risk disrupting operations globally,” he said.

“This is probably the worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade. The organisation runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors.”

Meanwhile, the UN chief has put in place cost-cutting measures to sustain the operations of the global body.

“To date, we have averted major disruptions to operations,” he said.

“These measures are no longer enough. We are now driven to prioritise our work on the basis of the availability of cash, thus undermining the implementation of mandates decided by inter-governmental bodies.”

In addition, Mr Guterres said he had to enforce large spending cuts at its affiliates worldwide, beginning January, as the UN would have been unable to organise the 74th General Assembly debate and high-level meetings last month.

“Short on cash, big on aesthetics,” he said.

Interestingly, Mr Guterres said of the opening set of five speakers at the UN General Debate this year, only Turkey and Egypt had paid up.

According to the Financial Regulation 3.5 of the UN, member states ought to pay their contributions to its budget within a 30-day period at the beginning of every year.

By January 31 this year, only 34 countries had followed through with their financial commitments.

The amount allocated to each country is decided by the General Assembly on the advice of the Committee on Contributions which takes into consideration the gross national income, population and debt burden.