UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – Eight countries that include Iran, Venezuela and Sudan have lost their right to vote at the United Nations because of unpaid dues.
A total of 11 countries are behind in their payments, Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday in a letter to the General Assembly. AFP obtained it on Wednesday.
Under the UN charter, a member country s right to vote is suspended when its arrears equal or exceed the amount of dues it should have paid over the preceding two years.
If the outstanding debt is deemed to be “due to conditions beyond the control of the member,” the assembly may let that country continue to vote.
For 2022 this is the case of the Comoro Islands, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia, Guterres said.
The eight countries that have lost their right to vote for now are Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Congo, Guinea, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu, he said.
He spelled out the minimum amount each must pay to recover their vote. For Iran, for instance, it is just over $18 million while Sudan needs to come up with nearly $300,000 and Venezuela around $40 million.
Last year Iran also lost its vote over unpaid dues. It said it could not pay even the minimum amount because of US economic sanctions.
After months of negotiations Iran was granted an exemption — it was allowed to access money blocked by the US Treasury — and got back its vote in June in time for the election of new members of the Security Council.
Iran s Foreign Ministry said the country is committed to “full and timely payment of membership dues,” but has been unable to pay up “due to the oppressive and illegal US sanctions.”
“The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Secretariat should take into account the special circumstances of countries facing illegal sanctions and should not hesitate to assist those countries in paying their dues,” the statement said.
The UN s operating budget approved in December is around $3 billion. Its budget for peacekeeping operations, which is separate and was passed in June, is around $6.5 billion.