U.N. chief wants endowment fund for peace efforts

November 25, 1991|By New York Times News Service

UNITED NATIONS — 3/8 TC UNITED NATIONS -- In an effort to resolve the latest financial crisis to grip the United Nations, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar will ask governments, private corporations and wealthy individuals today to set up a $1 billion Peace Endowment Fund to help pay for future U.N. peacekeeping operations.

In addition, Mr. Perez de Cuellar will ask the General Assembly to authorize him to start charging governments interest on unpaid contributions they owe the world organization as well as to more than double the U.N. reserve fund, and to allow him and his successors to take out loans from commercial banks to plug budget gaps.

The secretary-general will also ask members for advance payment of their 1992 dues so he can pay December staff salaries. The United Nations has enough cash on hand to pay its 5,000 or so employees through the end of this month. But the organization's deputy controller, Susan R. Mills, said last week that unless it could quickly find $100 million more, it would be unable to meet its December payroll.

Mr. Perez de Cuellar, in a report he will send to the General Assembly today, says: "It is a source of profound concern to me that the same membership which sees it appropriate to entrust the United Nations Secretariat with unprecedented new responsibilities has not taken the necessary action to insure that the minimum financial resources required to carry out those responsibilities are provided on a reliable and predictable basis."

The reason why the United Nations is once again on the brink of insolvency is that members, principally the United States, continue not to pay their dues fully and promptly at a time when the organization faces soaring new bills for peacekeeping operations.

The secretary-general says "this growth in peacekeeping and conflict-resolution activities is expected to continue," noting that he is also asking the General Assembly for an immediate $200 million advance to meet start-up costs for the Cambodia peacekeeping operation, which is likely to cost $1 billion or more over the next two years.

As of Nov. 1, U.N. members owed just short of $1 billion for the regular budget and for already assessed costs of peacekeeping operations, with the debt of the United States amounting to $485.3 million -- almost half the total.

In total, the regular budget is owed $524 million, with the United States responsible for $344.4 million of that. In addition, the United Nations is owed $463.5 million in peacekeeping contributions, with the United States owing $140.9 million.

Washington made a $180 million payment early last month toward its 1991 contribution of $272 million. But the Bush administration is withholding the balance, apparently to ensure that the General Assembly holds spending levels steady in the new two-year budget it is drawing up. An additional $45 million, the second of five annual payments intended to wipe out the United States' past debt, has also not been paid yet.

As of Thursday, officials here say, only 67 of the 159 countries assessed 1991 contributions had paid in full.

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