International flags are seen at United Nations headquarters in New York City. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Staffers at United Nations headquarters in New York City could go the entire month of November without pay because nearly a third of member nations have not paid annual dues, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
The U.N. chief said Tuesday the world body faces a cash crisis because only 70 percent of the total annual dues -- from 129 of 193 member states -- have been paid. A spokesperson said the unpaid dues need to be paid "urgently" and "in full."
"This is the only way to avoid a default that could risk disrupting operations globally," said U.N. spokeswoman Stephane Dujarric. "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."
The situation is so dire that putting on last month's U.N. General Assembly required emergency spending cuts.
"The organization is facing a severe financial crisis," Guterres said. "To be more specific, a severe liquidity crisis. The equation is simple: without cash, the budget cannot be properly implemented."
A year ago, 78 percent of U.N. dues were paid. The most recent government to pay their dues was war-torn Syria. Sixty-four other nations have outstanding balances that total $1.3 billion.
The United States government typically pays its U.N. dues in the fall.
President Donald Trump has criticized other nations for failing to pay their dues, saying the United States is shouldering too much of the U.N. and NATO burden. Some that have failed to pay include Brazil, Iran, Israel, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Uruguay.
Guterres said the body has cut back on travel costs and delayed filling positions. The cuts affect U.N. operations in New York, Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi, Kenya. Guterres said the crisis is "undermining the implementation of mandates decided by inter-governmental bodies."