UN peacekeeping missions at risk over USD2B budget gap

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) – The United Nations is struggling with close to USD2 billion in unpaid contributions to its peacekeeping budget, with current cash balances covering less than two months of operations, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned.

Guterres told UN member-states in a letter sent last week that the world body was forced to tap into a capital fund and special account to cover expenses from the regular UN budget at the end of last year.

“Active peacekeeping missions are soon expected to face liquidity gaps due to late payments and increasing arrears,” Guterres wrote in the letter seen by AFP on Tuesday.

“As of today, arrears are nearing USD2 billion and are likely to keep growing. Current cash balances cover less than two months of operations, compared to four months last year,” he added.

The UN peacekeeping budget that runs from July 2018 to June 2019 totals USD6.7 billion, with the United States, China and Japan paying the bulk of that amount.

More than 100,000 peacekeepers are deployed in 14 missions worldwide including major operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and South Sudan that cost more than USD1 billion annually to run. Guterres said he would be making proposals in the coming months to prevent the global organisation from sliding into repeated financial crises. Last year, the UN chief wrote twice to member-states to raise alarm over the world body’s finances.

At the end of last year, unpaid contributions to the UN budget totalled USD528.7 million.