US pays off much of UN arrears, now owes US$736 million


The United States has paid off more than a third of the nearly US$1.2 billion in payments it owed the United Nations at the end of last year, a UN spokesman said.

As of the end of November 2010, the United States owed US$1.182 billion, accounting for just over a quarter of all the money due the world body. Washington paid nearly half a billion dollars of what it owed for peacekeeping, the regular UN budget and other items.
“The updated situation at the end of 2010 reflects significant payments made by the US at the end of calendar year 2010,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.
“That leaves total outstanding assessed (mandatory) contributions of US$736.2 million,” he said.

As the United Nations’ single biggest contributor, Washington is responsible for roughly one-quarter of the UN peacekeeping budget and slightly less than a quarter of the separate UN regular budget, Reuters reports.

The United States has had a history of being reluctant to pay its UN dues, with critics of the world body charging it has a bloated and sometimes corrupt bureaucracy. UN supporters say the dues are cheap at the price.

The administration of President Barack Obama repaid all the money the United States owed the United Nations in 2009 and has vowed to pay Washington’s UN dues “in full and on time.”

The announcement about the reduction in US arrears at the United Nations comes as US Republicans threatened on Tuesday to use their new power as the majority in the House of Representatives to withhold funding for the world body, which they accused of waste and bias.

The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said she would reintroduce legislation that would condition US contributions to the UN on “real, sweeping reform.”

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that the world body and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared US goals of a stronger, more efficient, effective and accountable United Nations.