by Stanley Ho | October 15, 2019
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NEW YORK - Amidst its worst cash crisis in nearly a decade, the United Nations has ordered a slew of emergency measures that "will affect working conditions and operations" at all UN facilities and operations around the world.

The UN General Assembly's budget committee was told on Oct 11 by management chief Catherine Pollard that the organisation is owed US$1.386 billion for the 2019 operating budget by 65 countries. Out of its 193 member nations, 128 contributed a total of US$1.99 billion.

Of the arrears in contributions, the United States is responsible for more than US$1 billion.

"The regular budget has been facing severe liquidity issues in recent years, with a growing downward trend whereby, each year, the situation becomes more dire than the year before," said Ms Pollard during a news conference. "The cash deficits occur earlier in the year, linger longer and run deeper."

She added that, for the second straight financial year, the UN has exhausted "all regular budget liquidity reserves" despite several measures it has taken to reduce expenditures.

The cash flow crisis forced UN secretary general Antonio Guterres to introduce expenditure cuts with immediate effects across all its facilities and operations around the world.

It includes: Interpretation and UN services will be limited to only official UN meetings on he calendar, meaning the UN will no longer serve meetings of regional or other groups. The UN will not support meetings outside regular working hours, as well as cancelling all but essential travel. It will also no longer host receptions outside working hours.

"Everywhere we're looking to see how we can reduce non-salary-related costs," Ms Pollard said.

According to figures Ms Pollard presented on Friday, the United States owes US$1.055 billion to the UN's regular budget. The US also owes US$3.7 billion to the separate budget for the UN's 14 far-flung peacekeeping operations.

Brazil is second in line in unpaid dues for the regular budget, owing US$143 million, followed by Argentina which owes US$51.57 million, Mexico US$36 million, Iran US$26.96 million, Venezuela US$17.29 million and South Korea US$9.8 million.