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Washington urged to pay its UN bills

By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-10-22 07:01

A United Nations logo is seen on a glass door in the Assembly Building at the United Nations headquarters in New York. [Photo/VCG]

Leaders, diplomats and leading scholars have urged Washington to halt its political manipulations and pay overdue contributions it owes to the United Nations as a range of the organization's global missions are grinding to a halt over financial problems.

Observers also said that many countries, including China, the second-largest financial contributor to UN, have paid despite the financial difficulties amid the COVID-19 pandemic this year to ensure the multilateral group stays afloat financially and is capable of fulfilling its mandates and program tasks.

Fifteen of 41 major UN humanitarian programs in hard-hit Yemen have already been curtailed or closed and more will be affected in coming weeks unless additional funding is received, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on its website on Oct 7.

In a letter to member states early this year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the UN is facing serious financial difficulties and the arrears amount to $1.52 billion. He called on member states to pay their dues in full and on time.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Sept 4, "As the country with the largest cumulative arrears, the United States owes more than two-thirds of the total arrears, which is the main cause of the UN's financial difficulties."

Dai Bing, ambassador and deputy representative of China to the UN, criticized the US without naming it on Friday by saying that one member state, with full capacity to pay, "still withholds its assessed contributions and leverages them to serve its political agenda, pressing the UN and shifting financial burdens to other member states".

Despite economic pressure, China has fully paid its assessed contributions this year, Dai said.

Xu Yicong, a researcher at the China Foundation for International Studies and a former Chinese ambassador to Cuba, said China has a record of honoring its commitments, including those to the UN, yet some countries have used lame excuses for their failure to make payments and have even made threats and attempted blackmail.

"The US failed to make its payments not only to the UN but also to some other international bodies, and it even threatened to quit the UN. …Such actions-owing money and using blackmail-shows the US pursuit of hegemony and unilateralism and poses serious threats to the world. But that shall never be allowed," Xu said.

He said that many people in the US oppose their government not paying its UN dues, expect changes to take place and hope that the world will return to normal.

UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock warned on Oct 15, "Just last week, the Food and Agriculture Organization was forced to close a livestock vaccination program that was serving 3 million rural families."

Huang Rihan, assistant dean of Huaqiao University's College of International Relations, said that failures to pay UN dues have been going on for decades. The UN's role has been weakened in recent years largely because the enthusiasm for global governance of some major countries "is waning" and they are downsizing their contributions to the UN in different areas.

"In particular, the US administration puts America first while losing its interest in global governance. It believes that quite a number of restraints imposed by the UN's architecture fail to meet the US' needs," Huang said, adding that reforming the UN is needed to address the issue.

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