By Staff Writers
Maseru, Jan 13 (The Night’s Watch) – Lesotho is one of seven countries to lose their votes at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly because it has not paid its fees.
The seven are Lesotho, Tonga, Venezuela, Lebanon, Gambia, Central Africa Republic and Yemen.
The UN said three other countries – Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia – were also in arrears but the assembly decided they could retain their vote until September.
Under U.N. rules, a country can lose its General Assembly vote if is in arrears by any amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for the previous two years, unless it shows evidence of an inability to pay that is beyond its control.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Lesego Makgothi told local radio station, MoAfrika FM, this week that he was not aware that Lesotho has lost its vote because it had not paid its fees.
Makgothi explained that it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance to pay the country’s membership fees.
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is one of the six principal organs of the UN, the only one in which all member nations have equal representation, and the main deliberative, policy-making, and representative organ of the UN.
Its powers are to oversee the budget of the UN, appoint the non-permanent members to the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General of the United Nations, receive reports from other parts of the UN, and make recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions.
It has also established numerous subsidiary organs.
In September last year, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane led a big delegation to the 74th session of the UNGA in New York, at a cost of more than M5 million to the taxpayer.
A payment of less than M10 million would be enough for Lesotho to regain its voting privileges.
Thabane was accompanied by his wife ‘Maesaiah Thabane.
The Lesotho delegation included the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Lesego Makgothi, Minister of Development Planning Tlohelang Aumane and Minister of Health Nkaku Kabi.
It also included Government Secretary (GS) Moahloli Mphaka, Senior Private Secretary (SPS) to the Prime Minister Kabelo Lehora, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) ‘Mamonyane Bohloko, Ministry of Health PS Thebe Makoatle and other “Senior Government Officials”.
The UN is the foremost international organization with 193 member countries in its fold.
It is funded by its member countries and the contribution of each member country is determined based on an assessment done every three years.
The assessment takes into account the Gross National Product (GNP), per capita income and external debt of countries for fixing the quantum of contribution.
The General Assembly has directed that percentage shares range from a minimum of 0.001 percent to a maximum of 22 percent of the UN budget, and a maximum of 0.01 percent for those nations designated as “least developed countries.”
UN has been faced with a cash crisis due to a lack of payments by countries.
In a statement issue by his Spokesperson in October last year, the UN Secretary-General said he had written to Member States, “about the worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade”.
The statement indicated that the organization “runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month (October) and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors”.
Although 129 States out of 193 had paid their regular annual dues, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told correspondents at the regular briefing in New York, others needed to pay “urgently and in full”.
“This is the only way to avoid a default that could risk disrupting operations globally. The Secretary-General further asked governments to address the underlying reasons for the crisis and agree on measures to put the United Nations on a sound financial footing,” Dujarric said.
As of the end of September 2019, only 70 per cent of the total assessment for the year had been paid, versus 78 per cent in September 2018.
Up to October 8, Member States had paid $1.99 billion towards the regular budget assessment for 2019, which meant there was an outstanding amount of around $1.3 billion for the year, Mr. Dujarric told correspondents. NW