UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has 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.
Ban’s letter dated on Monday and circulated on Friday initially also included Iran, which was under UN sanctions over its nuclear program until last Saturday, but an Assembly spokesman said on Friday that Iran “just paid,” so it can now vote.
The loss of voting rights in the General Assembly is perhaps most embarrassing for Venezuela, which is currently a member of the Security Council and will hold its rotating presidency next month. Being in arrears does not affect its voting right in the council, but being on the list can be seen as a loss of status at the UN.
The secretary-general’s letter notes that the General Assembly can permit member states to vote “if it is satisfied that the failure to pay is due to conditions beyond the control of the member”.
The assembly did pass a resolution giving five poor and conflict-torn countries on the list the right to vote during the current session which ends in September – Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Somalia and Yemen.
The letter gives the minimum payment that the nine other countries must make to have their voting right restored.
The amounts range from about $US3 million ($A4.30 million) for Venezuela and $US2.1 million for the Dominican Republic to $US2155 for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and $1360 for Burundi.
The five other countries that have lost their voting rights are Bahrain, Libya, Mali, the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu.