Venezuela Loses Voting Rights in United Nations as Dues Go Unpaid
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week informed the General Assembly that 15 countries are in arrears in paying their annual contribution to the UN regular budget, “which means they can’t vote in the 193-member world body unless there are exceptional circumstances."
The arrears are particularly embarrassing for Venezuela, which won a seat on the U.N. Security Council last year and is set to take-over the rotating monthly presidency of the Security Council next month. Former Finance Minister and state oil company PDVSA head Rafael Ramirez serves as Venezuela's Ambassador to the U.N. with the late President Hugo Chavez's daughter Maria Gabriela Chavez serving as Deputy Ambassador.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just released its latest economic figures on Venezuela, which clock the country's inflation at the highest in the world in 2015 at 275%. The IMF says that the beleaguered OPEC member's inflation will rise to 720% in 2016 and that GDP will fall 18% in 2015-2016.
Another OPEC nation, Bahrain also is on the arrears list. Last week, Bahrain's government raised gasoline prices for the first time in 33 years – from 27 cents per liter to 42.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as well as the Dominican Republic are the other Latin American and Caribbean bloc countries that are barred from voting.
The other blocked nations are Burundi, Libya, and Mali in Africa and the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu in the Pacific.
Ban’s letter, which was dated Monday and circulated on Friday, also included Iran, which was under U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program until a week ago, when they were lifted.
“An exception is allowed if the Member State can show that conditions beyond its control contributed to this inability to pay,” it added.
U.N. General Assembly spokesman Daniel Thomas said Friday that Iran “just paid,” which means that its voting rights have been restored.
The U.N. General Assembly said that, on October 12 last year, five countries in arrears to vote in the General Assembly were allowed to vote until the end of the current 70th session because they were excused from payment because of extraordinary domestic circumstances - Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Yemen.
Ban’s letter noted “the minimum payment” that the nine other countries must make in order to have their voting right restored.
Amounts range from just under US$3 million for Venezuela and US$2.1 million for the Dominican Republic to US$2,155 for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and US$1,360 for Burundi.
“Under Article 19 of the Charter, a Member State in arrears in the payment of its dues in an amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years can lose its vote in the General Assembly,” said the UN General Assembly in a statement.
Countries pay a percentage of the U.N.'s expenses as dues in proportion to their economy's percentage of world GDP, with no country being forced to pay more than 22% - down from a 25% cap -- of the U.N. budget. The U.S. is called upon to pay 22%, with Japan paying 10.8%, Germany paying 7.1%, France paying 5.6%, the UK paying 5.18%, China paying 5.15%, Italy paying 4.45%, Canada paying 2.99%, Spain paying 2.97%, and Russia 2.44% of the U.N. budget as of 2015. Venezuela is called on to pay 0.627% of the U.N. budget.