Press Conference on Financial Situation of United Nations by Under-Secretary-General for Management

19 October 2012

Press Conference on Financial Situation of United Nations by Under-Secretary-General for Management

19 October 2012
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on Financial Situation of United Nations


by Under-Secretary-General for Management


The financial indicators for the United Nations for 2012 were generally “positive and sound”, but the regular budget’s cash level would face pressure in the next three months as $855 million of the $2.4 billion budget remained unpaid, the Organization’s top management official said during a Headquarters news conference this afternoon.

“We’re hoping that outstanding payment by the end of year will decrease from what it is now,” Yukio Takasu, Under-Secretary-General for Management, said, stressing that “the financial health of the United Nations depends entirely upon Member States meeting their financial obligations in full and on time”.

He laid out four main financial indicators — assessments levied on Member States, unpaid assessments, cash on hand, and the Organization’s debt to Member States — to present a snapshot of the Organization’s financial picture.  His presentation included information on the regular budget, United Nations peacekeeping operations, the international criminal tribunals and the Capital Master Plan account, created to manage the ongoing renovations of the world body’s landmark New York Headquarters.

He projected positive cash balances for peacekeeping, the tribunals and the Capital Master Plan, and that the level of debt to Member States contributing troops, formed police units and contingent-owned equipment to peacekeeping operations was expected to fall to $512 million at year end, down from $529 millionat the end of 2011The Secretary-General was committed to reimbursing troop and equipment contributors as soon as possible.  In the last 10 days, the Organization had paid more than $600 million, sharply reducing the $1.06 billion owed as of 1 October.

Mr. Takasu presented charts that showed assessments for the regular budget tallied $2.412 billion for 2012, slightly lower that the $2.415 billion in assessments for 2011.  Unpaid assessed contributions totalled $855 million as of 5 October, $12 million less than the $867 million outstanding at the same point last year.  Unpaid assessment at the end of 2011 totalled $454 million for the regular budget.

He said it was remarkable that, despite domestic financial constraints, 32 Member States had fully paid all assessments due as of 11 October 2012, up from 18 in 2011.  As of 5 October, unpaid assessments stood at $63 million for the international tribunals and just $5 million for the Capital Master Plan, he added.

As for the Organization’s peacekeeping activities — which run on a 1 July to 30 June fiscal year — he said that that, and the fact that each peacekeeping operation had a separate account, complicated a comparison between peacekeeping and the regular budget, he said.  Additionally, the unpredictable amount and timing of peacekeeping assessments throughout the year made it more difficult for Member States to keep current with their payments.

As of 5 October, outstanding dues for peacekeeping stood at $1.85 billion, down $775 million from the end of 2011.  Mr. Takasu said the current level of unpaid assessments was due partially to the lower level of peacekeeping assessments for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, pending approval of a new scale of assessments for 2013.

Asked what countries owed the most money, he said the United States was responsible for $744 million of the $855 million in outstanding payments to the regular budget; followed by Mexico at $42 million; and Saudi Arabia at $20 million.  Of the $1.8 billion owed to peacekeeping operations, Japan was responsible for $356 million, followed by United States, which owed $347 million, and Italy, which owed $137 million.

Asked about associated costs for the Capital Master Plan, he said such costs were not included in the original $1.86 billion project approved five years ago.  The Secretary-General had asked the Assembly to discuss and decide how to finance them.  Asked why he had not provided a breakdown of unpaid assessments by country for the Plan, he said it was not deemed necessary since almost 99 per cent of the dues had been received already.

As to whether there was a way to prioritize reimbursements to troop-contributing countries, particularly low-income nations, he said the principle of universality was important and that the Organization did not give preference to any contributor or peacekeeping operation.  A contributor for a peacekeeping operation was reimbursed as soon as the funds were available in the operation’s account.  As of August/September 2012, payments were current for all operations except the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

To a query about the reimbursement rate to troop and equipment contributors, he noted a “remarkable improvement”.  The Secretariat had paid more than $600 million earlier this week, reducing the debt owed to Member States to its lowest percentage ever.

Regarding steps to help Syria and other Member States facing difficulties in setting up a local bank account, Maria Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, said a large commercial bank in the area stood ready to open an account for the Syrian Government.  The United Nations supported that move and hoped for a “good outcome” following its meetings this afternoon with the host country and banking officials on that matter.

As to whether the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU) could provide Member States with accounts, Ms. Casar said it could, pending authorization from United States banking regulators.

On other matters, a reporter asked about the recent trial of a United Nations staff member on sexual abuse charges.  Mr. Takasu said he did not want to publicly discuss individual personnel cases.  But as head of the Department of Management, he would be “very tough” in enforcing the Organization’s “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual abuse and in holding staff to the Charter-mandated qualifications of competence, integrity and efficiency.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.