UNITED NATIONS, Nov 05 (IPS) – When the United Nations was struggling to deal with a money disaster again in April 1996, one of many many drastic measures it undertook was to chop down on its employees.
So, it took the trail of company America, and paradoxically, for a cash-strapped establishment, it provided a “golden handshake”—a severance pay of about $80,000 every — to those that would voluntarily go away the near-bankrupt Group.
And as immortalized in Woody Allen’s 1969 Hollywood comedy hit: about 400 staffers determined to “take the cash and run”.
Quick ahead to October 2020.
In at this time’s context, says one Asian diplomat, the UN isn’t ready to supply such hefty golden handshakes even to a few of the highest-ranking officers –in the event that they do volunteer to give up.
A “liquidity disaster” triggered by late or non-payment of assessed contributions by 61 member states—amounting to a staggering $5.1 billion shortfall — is now threatening to undermine each the mandate and world-wide operations of the Group.
As of two November 2020, solely 132 Member States (out of 193), have paid their common price range assessments in full, in line with the most recent UN figures.
The warnings concerning the present money disaster have come from three instructions: from Secretary-Normal Antonio Guterres; from the President of the Normal Meeting Volkan Bozkir; and from the 134-member Group of 77, the biggest single coalition of creating nations on the earth physique.
When he launched a proposed programme price range for 2021 in mid-October, Guterres warned that “the liquidity disaster has not abated and severely hampers the Group’s skill to fulfil its obligations to the folks we serve”.
“At this important time for our work, it bears repeating that the Group can solely ship on its mandates if Member States meet their monetary obligations in full and on time”, he declared.
The duty for day-to-day operations, at the moment underneath risk, falls squarely on the shoulders of an estimated international employees of about 32,417, in line with the most recent figures from the Chief Executives Board for Coordination, whereas the Secretariat employees in New York is estimated at over three,000.
Prisca Chaoui, Government Secretary of the three,500-strong Employees Coordinating Council on the UN Workplace at Geneva (UNOG), advised IPS: “Certainly administration knowledgeable us they will not permit extensions of contracts for greater than two years, whereas the present guidelines permit for an extension as much as 5 years.”
They’ve clearly indicated they needed to cut back the legal responsibility of the group, she stated, mentioning there’s a present “recruitment freeze which implies no one might be recruited and no one might be promoted due to the liquidity disaster.”
“What we all know is that there’s an acute liquidity disaster however no one has spoken but a couple of monetary disaster however we really feel it’s coming,” she added.
All this is because of the truth that member states are going through financial turmoil, and it goes with out saying that paying the UN will not be their precedence, she argued.
She additionally complained: “We remorse that the price range cycle has moved from two years to at least one 12 months making the group negotiate the price range on a yearly foundation. Earlier than, we had two-year price range cycles, and this was safer than the present state of affairs, whereby the price range needs to be negotiated yearly”.
“Whereas we perceive the difficulties the Group is going through, we do not agree on the makes an attempt to make UN employees turn out to be like company workers. This goes towards the rules of how unbiased civil servants perform”, declared Chaoui.
Man Candusso, a former First Vice-President of the New York UN Employees Union, advised IPS “with all of the uncertainty on the earth now, I’m not optimistic within the close to time period.”
In the long run, he stated, the monetary disaster will almost certainly work itself out. “Within the meantime, I imagine all employees will undergo and bear the burden of the cuts when the cash runs out,” he famous.
When he launched the “buy-out” early retirement programme again in 1996, Joseph Connor, Below-Secretary-Normal for Administration and Administration, stated “there are too many individuals on this Group doing the identical job for 20 years.”
Connors advised reporters the United Nations had put aside about 15 million for the buyout programme, underneath which the Secretariat had stated goodbye to 400 workers. With extra staffers anticipated to depart, he stated, one other 15 million could be sought by way of financial savings within the price range to permit for “early separation.”
The severance pay, averaging about 80,000 every, was based mostly totally on the variety of years put in by staffers.
Requested whether or not he was involved that a few of the finest staffers could be those accepting voluntary severance, Connor stated that in such circumstances, then Secretary-Normal Boutros Boutros-Ghali would use his discretion and reject requests, as he has achieved previously.
Talking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Megayla Austin of Guyana advised the UN’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee (also referred to as the Fifth Committee) final month, the G-77 notes the efforts of Member States in fulfilling their monetary obligations whereas overcoming the financial and monetary difficulties throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, “the Group additionally notes that the entire quantity of excellent contributions and peacekeeping assessments exceeds 5.1 billion US , as of September 30, with the bulk from one single Member State”.
That single member state has been recognized as the USA, the most important single contributor to the UN price range.
Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th Session of the Normal Meeting stated October 28: “I couldn’t deal with you at this time with out relating the vital concern of the UN’s monetary state of affairs”.
The Secretary-Normal has, “on a number of events, expressed to me concern concerning the monetary state of affairs of the UN and its skill to fulfill its ongoing monetary obligations. I share these issues and urge all Member States to pay their dues in full and on time”.
Throughout the high-level fortnight, he identified, the message from world leaders was clear: “Worldwide cooperation and efficient multilateral motion is important to confront the pandemic. So, the United Nations wants a predictable monetary foundation to do this.”
Moreover day-to-day operations, the UN may lack funds for the implementation of its mandates.
When Guterres introduced the proposed 2021 price range, he stated: “to completely implement the mandates entrusted to us, the UN would require a complete of $2.99 billion, which represents a web discount of two.eight per cent in comparison with final 12 months, regardless of further initiatives and mandated actions”. This features a web lower of 25 posts.
Richard Ponzio, Senior Fellow and Director of the Stimson Heart’s Simply Safety 2020 Program, advised IPS Member States have a obligation to pay their mutually agreed, assessed dues on time and in full annually.
“The world physique’s extreme monetary disaster of current years hampers its pressing, life-saving work, which has solely intensified with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic”.
America and different nations that fail of their worldwide treaty tasks are additionally failing to display management past their borders at a time of acute worldwide want, he added.
Barbara Adams, chair of the board of International Coverage Discussion board, advised IPS: “As you realize this isn’t the primary time the UN has been held hostage to over-dependence on one contributor.”
She stated sustainable funding is important if the opposite propositions and system-wide reform proposals are to have any success. Nevertheless, the present patterns of funding are inadequate each in amount and in high quality.
“Sustainable funding is essential for the power of the UN to do what it was set as much as do, however extra pertinently, it’s essential to disconnect and break the present patterns which are dominated by just a few massive donors, and the way in which by which they’re influencing decision-making, agenda setting and shaping priorities and skewing implementation throughout the system,” stated Adams, a former Affiliate Director of the Quaker United Nations Workplace in New York (1981–1988).
In the meantime, 4 member states have requested– and granted– exemptions underneath Article 19 of the Constitution for the shortcoming to pay their dues due to monetary constraints.
The Normal Meeting agreed to the exempt Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia from paying the total minimal quantity essential to keep away from the appliance of Article 19 of the Constitution due to “situations past their management”.
In consequence, all 4 nations won’t be penalized, and permitted to vote within the Normal Meeting, till the top of its 75th session subsequent 12 months.
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© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service