Magazine article UN Chronicle

General Assembly Approves $1.6 Billion Budget for 1986-1987; Real Growth Rate 0.1 per Cent

Magazine article UN Chronicle

General Assembly Approves $1.6 Billion Budget for 1986-1987; Real Growth Rate 0.1 per Cent

Article excerpt

General Assembly approves $1.6 billion budget for 1986-1987; real growth rate 0.1 per cent

Moments after the General Assembly on 18 December 1985 adopted a $1.6 billion United Nations budget for 1986-1987, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar warned delegates that he might reconvene the Assembly and its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) early in 1986 to deal with problems arising from possible "unilateral" curtailment of contributions by a Member State.

Although the 1986-1987 budget provides for a real growth rate of only 0.1 per cent, the fact that Member States who contribute 80 per cent of the Organization's budget either cast negative votes or abstained on budgetary matters was "disturbing evidence of a growing division in the membership on financial matters", the Secretary-General stated.

Unilateral withholding of assessed contributions by any Member State was "destructive to the orderly implementation of the Organization's mandated programmes", and would place the financial viability of the United Nations under enormous strain, the Secretary-General warned.

(The United States has approved legislation that would limit that country's contribution to 20 per cent unless weighted voting was adopted with regard to United Nations budgetary matters. Currently its assessment is 25 per cent of the regular budget, more than twice that of any other Member State.)

For two successive bienniums, Mr. Perez de Cuellar noted he had put forward budgets "in a spirit of maximum restraint". The Secretariat continued to search for ways to attain further savings. The Assembly could also take measures to keep costs down, he said, noting that the addition of supplementary expenditures to programme budget proposals tended "to weaken the effect of careful and disciplined budgetary planning".

Ten vote against: In adopting resolution 40/253 A, the Assembly approved a United Nations regular budget of $1,663,341,600 for the 1986-1987 biennium by a vote of 127 in favour to 10 against, with 11 abstentions. (The Fifth Committee vote had been 83 in favour to 11 against, with 10 abstentions.)

The 10 voting against in the Assembly were: Bulgaria, Byelorussian SSR, Czechoslovakia, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Israel, Poland, Ukrainin SSR, USSR and United States.

The 11 abstaining were: Belgium, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, United Kingdom.

In explanation of vote, the USSR said the contributions of Member States continued to be spent uneconomically and ineffectively and frequently on purposes for which they were not intended and not on tasks which the United Nations was called upon to perform. Given the unwarranted and superfluous activities included in the budget, and the fact that it still contained measures contrary to the provisions of the United Nations Charter, the Soviet Union had voted against it.

The United States did not accept that real growth had been held down to one tenth of 1 per cent. Resource growth was excessive at a time when many national budgets were declining. There had been no real attempt to compensate for the falling United States dollar. Many of the Organization's programmes were inappropriate. It objected to budget add-ons and the over-turning of Advisory Committee recommendations which had led to revised estimates totalling $60 million.

Israel said it would be absurd for it to agree to funding "vicious anti-Israel activities"; such programmes were a waste of national and international resources, which should instead be allocated to improve the health and well-being of developing countries, combating hunger and promoting education. The Organization should not allow itself to be manipulated by malevolent self-serving interests.

In abstaining, the United Kingdom, while welcoming evidence that restraint was being exercised in holding the rate of real growth to 0. …

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