A financial crisis caused by late contributions by member states will leave the United Nations unable to pay wages next month, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, has warned.
Speaking in front of the UN’s fifth committee, which oversees the organisation’s finances, Mr Guterres said money was so tight that last month’s annual UN General Assembly debate was only possible because of emergency spending cuts made earlier in the year.
"The organisation is facing a severe financial crisis," Mr Guterres said on Tuesday.
"Budget implementation is no longer being driven by programme planning, but by the availability of cash at end… we risk exhausting peacekeeping cash reserves and entering November without enough cash to meet payroll."
He called on those who have not yet paid their 2019 contributions to do so quickly.
The United Nations relies on annual contributions by member states to meet its operating costs, and late payments often cause accountants in New York concern towards the end of the year.
However, officials say the annual budget hole is getting deeper and longer to get out of each year.
In June, Mr Guterres warned the organisation will face "catastrophic" long term consequences if action is not taken to arrest the trend.
On Monday, Mr Guterres said in a message to the Secretariat’s 30,000 staff that the UN is running a $230 million deficit and instructing them to cancel non-essential travel and postpone meetings and conferences in a bid to save cash.
Contributions to the United Nations are calculated annually using a formula based on each member state’s gross national income, debt burden, and per-capita income.
As of October 3, 128 of the UN’s 193 member states had paid their contributions for 2019 in full.
They include the United Kingdom, China, France and Russia, four permanent members of the Security Council.
The largest late payer is the United States, the fifth permanent member of the UNSC.
It usually does so in October because of US fiscal year.
Last year it contributed about 22 percent of the UN’s annual budget.
The United Nations’ operating budget in 2018-2019, not including peacekeeping operations, was around US$5.4 billion.