15 countries in arrears to UN lose voting rights

United Nations, January 23

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the General Assembly that 15 countries including oil producer Venezuela 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 Monday and circulated on Friday also included Iran, another major oil producer, which was under UN sanctions over its nuclear programme until last Saturday, when they were lifted. But Assembly Spokesman Daniel Thomas 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.