United Nations' Budget Cut - More Cuts to Come

For only the second time in 50 years, the United Nations had its budget cut. More cuts to come, Secretary General vows.

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Gabe Kahn.,

Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Official Photo/UN

The United Nations will cut its budget for only the second time in 50 years - by some $260 million dollars.

An accord struck at dawn on Saturday by the 193-member body saw the 2012-13 budget set at $5.15 billion, down from $5.41 billion in 2010-11. The United States and European countries grappling with a sovereign debt crisis insisted on cuts while developing countries had demanded spending be maintained.

"All budget years are tough. But this year was especially difficult," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. "Governments and people everywhere are struggling. One year from now, I will return to you with greater cost savings," the UN chief vowed, adding the world body needed to "cut the fat."

US negotiator Joseph Torsella called the budget a "historic agreement," reached through "difficult negotiations."

This accord "is the first time since 1998 -- and only the second time in the last 50 years -- that the UN regular budget has declined in comparison to the previous budget's actual expenses," he said.

Torsella called it a "budget for a strengthened, more efficient, and more effective United Nations that saves the American taxpayers millions of dollars and sets the United Nations on the path of real fiscal discipline and continued reform."

The United States, which underwrites 22 percent of the UN budget and 27 percent of the world body's peacekeeping costs, has taken a tough line on UN spending - especially increased salary allowances for UN staff.

The UN peacekeeping department has a separate budget of about $8 billion a year. Funding for the Ivory Coast mission, where UN peacekeepers fought followers of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo after he refused to stand down, was cut during the negotiations.

Several UN foreign political missions also saw their budgets cut as part of the deal.