United Nations Peacekeeping

August 19, 1964

Report Outline
Crisis Over Paying for Peacekeeping
Creation and Financing of U.N. Forces
Search for New Peacekeeping Formula
Special Focus

Crisis Over Paying for Peacekeeping

Approaching Showdown on Russia's U.N. Vote

The General Assembly of the United Nations, scheduled to convene for its 19th regular session on Nov. 10, may have to deal with a constitutional crisis brought on by refusal of the Russians to pay their share of the costs of U.N. military operations in the Congo and the Middle East. Unless the Soviet Union remits about $9 million to the world organization between now and November—out of the total of around $55 million which it owes—it will be liable to the penalty prescribed by Article 19 of the U.N. Charter. Article 19 provides that a member state “in arrears in the payment of its financial contributions to the organization shall have no vote in the General Assembly if the amount of its arrears equals or exceeds the amount of the contributions due from it for the preceding two full years.”

The wording of Article 19 seems to indicate that loss of voting rights in the General Assembly is automatic, but Moscow disputes this interpretation. It contends that imposition of the penalty must be approved by two-thirds of all Assembly members present and voting. The closest thing to a test of the question came during the special Assembly session which began last May 14. Haiti was then more than two years in arrears, but its representative stayed away from all meetings until enough of the debt had been paid off to avoid incurring the penalty prescribed by Article 19. Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, president of the Assembly, said that if the representative had not been absent in the interval, he would have announced that Haiti had lost its vote.

The United States, which has paid almost one-half of the cost of the Congo and Middle East peacekeeping forces, is not disposed to let the Russians continue to defy the United Nations. Adlai E. Stevenson, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, said last Dec. 18 that “Rigid adherence to the law, to the Charter, is essential to the Charter's preservation.” He added: “Once you begin to contaminate or erode or interpret the Charter too flexibly, you very soon will have no sustaining body of legal structure to support the United Nations.” The State Department takes the position that refusal to pay for peacekeeping operations amounts to exercise of a financial veto.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
United Nations
Jun. 24, 2016  Reforming the U.N.
Sep. 04, 2012  Millennium Development Goals
Mar. 20, 2012  Assessing the United Nations
Apr. 2007  World Peacekeeping
Feb. 27, 2004  The United Nations and Global Security
Aug. 18, 1995  United Nations At 50
Jul. 27, 1990  A Revitalized United Nations in the 1990s
Oct. 04, 1985  United Nations at Forty
Aug. 29, 1975  United Nations at Thirty
Oct. 05, 1966  Future of the United Nations
Aug. 19, 1964  United Nations Peacekeeping
Sep. 18, 1963  Afro-Asians in United Nations
Mar. 07, 1962  United Nations Financing
Sep. 12, 1961  United Nations Reorganization
Jun. 20, 1960  United Nations: 1945–1960
Jan. 09, 1957  Policing by United Nations
Mar. 28, 1952  Treaties and Domestic Law
May 28, 1948  Revision of the United Nations
Sep. 18, 1946  Veto Power in United Nations
Jun. 12, 1945  National Sovereignty
Apr. 05, 1945  San Francisco, Yalta, and Dumbarton Oaks
Diplomacy and Diplomats
United Nations