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The United Nations must come to the rescue – also in Geneva – News

The United Nations must come to the rescue – also in Geneva – News


Many countries do not pay their contributions – or do not pay them on time. Now the financial situation is getting worse.

The United Nations has never been able to live on a large scale. The $3.6 billion that will be used to fund the Secretariat in 2024 is a remarkably small amount for a global organization with countless areas of activity and 193 member states.

But the real problem is that many countries do not pay their contributions – or do not pay them on time. UN Secretary-General António Guterres complains about this repeatedly.

Liquidity crisis in the United Nations

In 2023, only 152 countries paid their mandatory contributions in full. So far this year, only 98 countries have done so, including Switzerland.

Therefore, the United Nations is suffering from a serious liquidity crisis, forcing Guterres to take extraordinary measures. They have gone so far as to see the work as well as the reform of the United Nations in danger.

The United Nations headquarters in New York, Vienna, Nairobi, and last but not least the United Nations headquarters in Geneva were affected in terms of the number of employees. UN subsidiary organizations, which have their own budgets, are not affected.

We have already been given a preview of what austerity measures will mean in Geneva over Christmas and New Year. At that time, the Palace of Nations was completely closed. However, this was during a three-week period in which not much was happening on the international scene anyway.

Sweater in the office – for cold days

But from the second half of April onwards, the restrictions will affect full operations. Entire buildings are temporarily closed, and employees have to get closer to each other in other buildings, explains Kira Kruglikova. She is the Administrative Director of the United Nations in Geneva.


UN Secretary-General António Guterres (on screen) has long complained about the lack of payment practices in many countries. Now we have to save money on heating and lighting in Geneva.

Keystone/Salvatore De Nolfi

Opening times will also be restricted. Offices and meeting rooms will only be open from 8am to 7pm for an indefinite period.

Exterior lighting of the historic buildings is reduced to a minimum, escalators operate only during major events, and heating and cooling are turned off. Kruglikova recommends that UN employees bring jackets on cold days.

This aims to save 42 percent of Geneva's infrastructure costs – or 15 million francs. This affects energy costs, security, cleaning and material procurement. Vacancies will be postponed.

At least Kruglikova maintains that the wages of today's employees are guaranteed. “At least for now.”

US Republicans block payments

The UN does not have many tools to increase payment discipline in member countries. There are no plans to exclude countries from the global organization.

On the other hand, Article 19 of the United Nations Charter stipulates that countries that do not pay their contributions for at least two years lose the right to vote in the General Assembly. This is currently the case in Venezuela, Ecuador and Afghanistan.

But what is more serious is that some of the most important contributors are seriously behind on their contributions, such as the United States of America. Under former presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, they directed fundamental criticism of the United Nations. Under current US President Joe Biden, who supports the United Nations, Parliament is blocking the funds.

This is now forcing the United Nations to take strict austerity measures.