Reduce U.S. Share of Budget, U.N. Secretary General Urges
Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar proposed Monday that the United States’ share of the world organization’s budget be reduced and that the four other major powers’ share be increased to resolve a financial crisis facing the United Nations.
Talking to reporters at a luncheon marking the opening of a two-week special session of the General Assembly called at his request to deal with an impending cash shortage, Perez de Cuellar said: “No single country should be in position to threaten to blackmail the United Nations. The United States’ contribution should be reduced to 20% or even 15% and some of the other countries should increase their payment.”
The U.S. share of the annual general budget at present is 25%.
Urges Equal Payments
Answering questions, the secretary general said he believes the five permanent members of the Security Council “should pay more or less the same amount because they are privileged persons in this house.”
The United States, Britain, France, the Soviet Union and China, as permanent members of the Security Council, hold veto power over its actions, although their contributions range from the United States’ 25% downward to 0.79% paid by China.
A proposal by Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.) voted into law last year requires a cut to 20% in the U.S. share unless “progress is achieved” toward giving major contributors weighted votes in the General Assembly. Any such a change would require a charter revision, a move that could open the way for a curb on the veto power. The Soviet Union, France and Britain have repeatedly opposed charter revision.
Perez de Cuellar said that he accepts as valid the U.S. bid to cut its share of the budget expense.
Negotiate Any Cuts
“The only thing which I think is wrong with the U.S. position is that if they want a reduction they should negotiate,” he said. “I was (Peruvian) ambassador here when Vice President (George) Bush, then the U.S. ambassador, got a reduction from 30% to 25%, but he did it by negotiation.”
Bush won a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly’s finance committee in December, 1972, accepting a cut of five percentage points in Washington’s budget share. Only the late Soviet Ambassador Jacob Malik protested, condemning the “unfortunate departure” from the principle that member states should be assessed by their ability to pay.
Malik’s words were echoed Monday by East German deputy representative Dietmar Hucke when the assembly opened debate on the financial crisis. Hucke denounced the policy of “financial diktat and blackmail” by the United States and charged that Washington is paying far less than its ability.
“Economic reasons have obviously not been decisive at all,” the East German said of the U.S. request to lower its dues.
Perez de Cuellar warned the assembly that the United Nations will run more than $106 million short this year because of withholding by the United States and arrearages by many other members. He said he hopes to save $60 million with a hiring freeze and cuts in meetings and paper work. He thanked the Soviet Union for pledging $10 million as a voluntary contribution and repeated his appeal to all members for payment of back dues and early payment of current ones.
The United States was assessed $210.3 million for calendar 1986 and owed $85.5 million in past dues. Payment of $42.3 million this year cut the overdue amount to $43.2 million, but nothing has been applied to current dues.
The Soviet Union, second largest contributor of the five permanent powers, was assessed 11.82% for its dues in 1986 and those of the Ukraine and the Byelorussian Republic, each of which has a separate seat in the assembly. None of the new assessment has yet been paid. The Soviet Union’s unpaid back dues totaled $11.5 million as of April 25.