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Perez de Cuellar Warns That U.N. Is Near Bankruptcy; U.S. Blamed

November 29, 1986|From Times Wire Services

UNITED NATIONS — The United States' failure to pay more than half of its assessed share of the U.N. budget has forced the world body to the brink of bankruptcy, Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar said Friday.

The United Nations will begin 1987 with only $10 million in hand, substantially less than a week's needs, he added.

The amount of unpaid assessments is larger than ever before, Perez de Cuellar said in a report to the General Assembly, in which he noted that full payment is a clear obligation under the U.N. Charter.

Perez de Cuellar did not mention the United States by name, but spoke of the "principal contributor," whose national legislature restricted its payment to the United Nations. Under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, Congress has limited the amount the Reagan Administration may contribute to the United Nations.

The United States' assessed contribution is 25% of the budget. This year, its contribution has been $148.8 million and the secretary general said that unless there are new developments, the American payment next year is likely to be about the same.

Offering a revised estimate of a $735-million budget for 1987, he said the shortfall thus would be about $85 million, if other members pay all their dues.

"Even with the extensive economy measures undertaken, . . . the U.N. has operated during the past months on the brink of bankruptcy. It has been barely possible to meet our obligations, including salaries, on time," Perez de Cuellar said.

"This situation defeats rational forward planning and carries with it the strong possibility of a sudden interruption of programs and secretariat services."

He ordered all austerity measures adopted in 1986 to remain through next year but warned that even that move will not cover the expected shortfall. The measures include a freeze on salaries and hiring, reductions of travel and overtime, postponement of construction projects and cuts in meetings and conferences.

The U.N. General Assembly is currently wrestling with proposals to streamline the organization, but a number of member countries have resisted recommendations offered by an expert panel.

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