• U.S.

The World: Money Matters

2 minute read

The U.S. is trying to make U.N. membership a bit cheaper. Of the total annual assessment, the U.S. now pays 31.5% but wants its share cut to 25%.

In a mild revival of cold war rhetoric last week, Soviet Delegate Vasily Safronchuk ridiculed the U.S. decision, arguing among other things that New York City makes a lot of money from the U.N. Outraged, U.S. Delegate George Bush replied that the U.S. leads all nations in both its assessed and its far larger voluntary contributions to the U.N., bearing 40% of the total, while the Soviet Union trails badly with only 7%. “When the U.S.S.R. lectures my country on who does what to help,” declared Bush, wagging a finger at Safronchuk, “please keep these figures in mind.”

Money matters are very much on the U.N.’s mind this fall. Last month the organization had to remind 23 defaulting members to pay their 1972 assessments. U.N. deficits have ranged between $53 million and $70 million in recent years, not counting a tab of $16.6 million that Taiwan left behind when it was expelled last year.

What to do? Suggestions range from operating a lottery to cutting top-level salaries. Some delegates have suggested controlling a blizzard of documents and cutting down on overseas junkets; some money could also be saved by avoiding symbolic nationalist gestures like last week’s decision to locate the new U.N. environmental agency in Kenya rather than in Geneva where similar agencies are already established.

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