US denounces wealthy-nation discounts for UN peacekeeping

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Published: December 23, 2018 4:47:11 PM

The comments came a day after UN member states failed to reach a deal to make up for a USD 220 million budget black hole left by Washington's downsising of its peacekeeping contributions.

“Nearly half of member states receive an 80 percent discount to their assessments on the peacekeeping scale.”

The United States on Saturday denounced at the United Nations a system of discounts for the peacekeeping assessments of wealthy nations, and confirmed Washington will pay no more than 25 percent. The comments came a day after UN member states failed to reach a deal to make up for a USD 220 million budget black hole left by Washington’s downsising of its peacekeeping contributions.

The discounts demonstrate an “urgent need to reform,” said Cherith Norman Chalet, the US Ambassador for UN Management and Reform, referring to countries whose “per capita income is more than twice the average of the organization’s membership.” She did not identify those countries. Her comments came during the adoption of a resolution renewing until 2021 contributions to the UN operating budget, which is USD 5.4 billion for 2018-19, and to the peacekeeping budget of USD 6.6 billion annually.

The United States is the largest contributor, whose share is 22 percent of the operating budget and 28 percent for peacekeeping. President Donald Trump announced in September, however, that Washington would pay no more than 25 percent for Blue Helmet operations. Washington has been trying to convince several countries to reduce their discounts in order to cover the $220 million annually which Washington no longer wants to pay. Peacekeeping financing is determined by a complicated formula that takes into account a country’s wealth, its standing as a permanent Security Council member and other factors. “These discounts are without justification and have no basis in any methodology and should be eliminated,” Chalet said. “Nearly half of member states receive an 80 percent discount to their assessments on the peacekeeping scale.”

Diplomats said that, in their quest for a better sharing of the financial burden, the US had approached Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Brunei, Brazil, Mexico and India. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who leaves her post on December 31, could have been involved in the battle but surprisingly abandoned it, a diplomat said. Overnight Thursday-Friday Washington finally joined a consensus to maintain the status quo on key budget issues for another three years, diplomats said, meaning the UN’s financial shortfall will continue to grow. On Saturday the 193 member states formally confirmed the consensus. But the financial dispute is not going away.

“The United States is going to attack mission after mission” to eliminate them or reduce the costs, the diplomat predicted. A second diplomat said that even “without legal basis” Washington “will pay only 25 percent and accumulate the arrears.” Chalet assured that “the United States takes its obligations to the United Nations seriously and its partnership with the organization and with other member states.” However, she added that “lack of agreement on a 25 percent ceiling will cause the organization to continue to face a three percent shortfall in its peacekeeping budget as the United States will pay no more than 25 percent of peacekeeping expenses.”

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