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Annan Disappointed in U.S. on U.N. Arrears

Funds: Washington cannot expect 'representation without taxation,' secretary-general says after spending bill for back payment fails.

October 23, 1998| From Reuters

TOKYO — U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Thursday said he was disappointed that the United States had not chosen to pay more than $1 billion in financial arrears to the world body, saying Washington should not expect "representation without taxation."

Annan told a news conference at the end of a three-day visit to Tokyo that he was disappointed that the United States failed this week to pass legislation concerning payment toward the $1.3 billion that the United Nations says the U.S. owes in back payments.

"This obviously is a disappointment to me," he said, adding that other member states were similarly "not pleased with the state of affairs."

Annan recalled former British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind's twist on American revolutionary hero Samuel Adams' cry against "taxation without representation," in which Rifkind said there likewise can be no "representation without taxation."

"I think most of the member states share this view," Annan said.

Annan said he regretted that a U.S. spending bill vetoed by President Clinton on Wednesday that would have provided $926 million in delinquent payments was linked to "an unrelated domestic issue of abortion."

Clinton, who has been pressing Congress for months to pay U.N. back dues, vetoed the legislation on grounds that it was improperly tied to a provision denying U.S. contributions to international family-planning organizations that advocate abortion rights.

The U.S., which accounts for two-thirds of outstanding U.N. arrears, was required to pay $347 million to the U.N. by January.

About $150 million previously had been paid, and a separate spending bill signed by Clinton on Wednesday approved the rest, allowing the United States to reach the minimum figure needed for it to preserve its vote in the 185-member General Assembly.

The U.N. Charter stipulates that if, at the beginning of the year, a country owes the same or more than its total gross assessments for the previous two years, it automatically loses its right to vote in the General Assembly.

The U.N. is so strapped for cash that in order to cover its regular budget expenses it has been periodically forced to borrow from a separate peacekeeping fund.

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