Financial situation of the United Nations

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The Secretary-General reports on the financial situation of the United Nations twice a year under the agenda item "Improving the financial situation of the United Nations".

Reports and presentations

The Fifth Committee considers the regular reports of the Secretary-General and receives closed briefings from the Secretariat on the status of contributions under the regular budget and peacekeeping budgets and the cash flow situation of the Secretariat. This biannual briefing takes place early in the main and second resumed sessions. The briefing is followed one week later by general discussion during which delegations have the opportunity to make statements on the financial situation.

Secretary-General's report Briefing to the Fifth Committee
A/74/501/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DMSPC, 7 May 2020 Statement and presentation
A/74/501 Briefing by the USG DMSPC, 11 October 2019 Statement and presentation
A/73/443/Add.1[1] Briefing by the USG DMSPC, 7 May 2019 Statement and Presentation
A/73/443 Briefing by the USG DM, 16 October 2018: Statement Presentation
A/72/522/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 11 May 2018: Statement Presentation
A/72/522 Briefing by the USG DM, 9 October 2017: Statement Presentation Addendum
A/71/440/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 3 May 2017: Statement Presentation
A/71/440 Briefing by the Controller, 5 October 2016: Statement Presentation
A/70/443/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 4 May 2016: Statement Presentation
A/70/443 Briefing by the USG DM, 15 October 2015: Statement Presentation
A/69/520/Add.1 and Corr.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 6 May 2015: Statement Presentation
A/69/520 Briefing by the USG DM, 9 October 2014: Statement Presentation
A/68/524/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 6 May 2014: Statement Presentation
A/68/524 Briefing by the USG DM, 9 October 2013: Statement Presentation
A/67/522/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 10 May 2013: Statement Presentation
A/67/522 Briefing by the USG DM, 11 October 2012: Statement Presentation
A/66/521/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 14 May 2012: Statement Presentation
A/66/521 Briefing by the USG DM, 11 October 2011: Statement Presentation
A/65/519/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 12 May 2011: Statement Presentation
A/65/519 Briefing by the USG DM, 12 October 2010: Statement Presentation
A/65/497/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 7 May 2010: Statement Presentation
A/64/497 Briefing by the USG DM, 16 October 2009: Presentation
A/63/514/Add.1 Briefing by the USG DM, 15 May 2009: Presentation
A/63/514 Briefing by the USG DM, 27 October 2008: Presentation
A/62/539/Add.1 Briefing by the Controller, 9 May 2008: Presentation

History

In 1946, the General Assembly established a working capital fund as a mechanism to provide a cash reserve to tide the Organization over temporary periods of cash shortage pending the receipt of assessed contributions.

However, available mechanisms such as the working capital fund have not always been sufficient to meet liquidity requirements of the Secretariat. As such, exceptional measures have on a number of occasions had to be taken to address cash shortfalls resulting from unpaid assessments. Some of the most notable instances are described below.

1960s

Disagreements over the legal obligation to finance peacekeeping missions prompted the General Assembly take a number of measures, including:

1970s

By 1970, a dire cash liquidity situation prompted the General Assembly to take further measures, including:

  • Initiative of the President of the General Assembly for the 25th session to convene informal discussions with the four major contributors[5];
  • Establishment of a Special Committee on the Financial Situation of the United Nations[6], as proposed by the President of the General Assembly for the 26th session[7];
  • Adoption of resolution 3049A (XXVII) establishing a special account—to be merged with the special account previously established—to address, through voluntary contributions, past financial difficulties and the short-term deficit, on the basis ofthe report of the Special Committee[8]; and
  • Adoption of 3538(XXX) establishing the Negotiating Committee on the Financial Emergency of the United Nations[9], which was unable to reach agreement on any recommendations[10].

1980s

In the 1980s, the United States, under the Reagan Administration, began the practice of "deferred payment" in which the contributions for a particular calendar year would be met by funds requested for following fiscal year.[11] In addition, the adoption of U.S. legislation popularly known as the Kassebaum-Solomon Amendment in the mid-1980s required the reduction of the United States contribution to the regular budget to be reduced to 20 per cent unless major financial contributors such as the United States were afforded a greater say in the budget process. [12].

The Secretary-General adopted a number of measures to address the expected cash shortfall, including a hiring freeze[13]; In parallel, the General Assembly adopted resolution 40/237 of 18 December 1985 establishing the Group of High-Level Intergovernmental Experts (popularly known as the Group of 18), which issued a report (A/41/49) which led to the adoption of resolution 41/213[14], which in turn led to the introduction of consensus-based decision-making in the Fifth Committee[15].

1990s

In the mid-1990s, late payment of assessments and the peacekeeping budget process also contributed to a precarious financial situation, with $3.7 billion in unpaid assessments in 1994. This prompted the Secretary-General to take a number of unilateral measures, including another hiring freeze, suspension of new consultancies, and limitations to overtime and travel[16].

Following an appeal by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly[17], the General Assembly adopted resolution 49/143 establishing a High-level Open-ended Working Group on the Financial Situation of the United Nations[18]. The General Assembly also adopted resolution 49/233 on 23 December 1994 which, inter alia, changed the process for consideration of peacekeeping budgets and established the current 1 July-30 June peacekeeping financial period.

2010s

In the late 2010s, deepening liquidity problems and cash constraints prompted the Secretary-General to submit proposals to the General Assembly to address the challenges faced in both the regular and peacekeeping budgets in an additional report on the financial situation (A/73/809). The General Assembly adopted a number of the peacekeeping-related proposals in its resolution 73/307.

See also

References

  1. See also A/73/809
  2. A/5961 Second report of the Special Committee on Peace-keeping Operations; reached consensus "that the financial difficulties of the Organization should be resolved through voluntary contributions by Member States, with the highly-developed countries making substantial contributions".
  3. A/6343 Second report of the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts to Examine the Finances of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies
  4. A/PV.1331 General Assembly, 1331st meeting (19th Session), 1 September 1965, 3 PM
  5. A/8497 Letter dated 10 December 1971 from the Permanent Representative of Norway addressed to the Secretary-General
  6. A/PV/2031 General Assembly, 2031st meeting (26th Session), 22 December 1971, 10:30 AM
  7. A/8635 Note by the President of the General Assembly (18 December 1971)
  8. A/8729 Report of the Special Committee on the Financial Situation of the United Nations
  9. A/31/37 Report of the Negotiating Committee on the Financial Emergency of the United Nations; this Committee was established in response to the statement of the Secretary-General to the Fifth Committee on 25 September 1975 (A/C.5/1685) and it considered the report of the Secretary-General on financial problems of the United Nations (A/C.5/1730).
  10. General Assembly resolution 32/104
  11. U.S. Funding to the United Nations System: Overview and Selected Policy Issues (Congressional Research Service report)
  12. United Nations Reform: Background and Issues for Congress (Congressional Research Service report)
  13. ST/SGB/215, ST/SGB/217 and ST/SGB/222 The Financial Situation of the Organization; see also ST/IC/86/17
  14. A/40/PV.121 General Assembly, 40th session, 121st meeting, Wednesday 18 December 1986, 10 AM
  15. General Assembly resolution 49/143
  16. ST/SGB/278 The Financial Situation of the Organization
  17. A/49/PV.28 General Assembly, 49th Session, 28th Meeting: Wednesday, 12 October 1994, 10 AM
  18. A/50/43 and A/51/43 Report of the High-level Open-ended Working Group on the Financial Situation of the United Nations