26 July 1998
A deadbeat (ded bi:t/adjective and noun) according to the Oxford Concise dictionary
is an American slang for a person who is constantly in debt.
Nations, like individuals, have a face to guard and as a friend of the United States,
I feel Washington should not have the reputation of being a tardy deadbeat.
The pejorative word "deadbeat" has of late, so often infuriated Congressional
critics of the United Nations (a group of people sensitive to the core) who do not
like (no matter how justified) the United States to be criticised by anybody, especially
by the third world.
It is quite simple really. If they are thin-skinned they should work hard to make
their nation pay its mega debts of US$1.5 billion (RM6.15 billion) to the United
Nations as soon as possible.
By their own (American) definition, individuals or nations which run up mega debts
that they consistently fail to settle are regarded routinely as deadbeats. No double
standard, please. If Uncle Sam refuses to pay his debts then he is a delinquent!
Be forewarned: the mighty moral setter, United States, could lose its vote in the
185-member United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unless it comes up with at least
US$211 million (RM865.1 million) to US$244 million (RM1.4 billion) more it expects
to pay the United Nations as dues and assessments this year before the year ends,
according to a new United States government estimate, and officials at the UN Secretariat.
The warning appears in a new study by the General Accounting Office (GAO) on the
United Nations' financial problems and arrears owed by Washington. The study was
ironically requested by members of Congress some of whom have repeatedly expressed
skepticism about how much their nation owes the United Nations.
The study and analysis indicates that " ... the United States could be sufficiently
in arrears to lose its General Assembly vote in January 1999 if it (Congress) does
not legislate or pay an additional amount between US$211 million and US$244 million
by Dec 31, 1998".
The Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, Joseph Connor, an American citizen
and chief of the United Nations Department and Management, said in late June: "I
wish them (Washington) good luck" adding "since the money is being held
back for political reasons, the United States has first to legislate the payment
of its dues and after Congressional approval, make sure the cheque reaches the United
Nations Secretariat by the end of the year."
"This would be a stunning embarrassment for the United States and would lead
to further pressures to reduce our influence in the Security Council, and all other
fora," said Princeton Lyman, Assistant Secretary of States for International
Organization Affairs in a letter to the GAO.
In any event, I was told, the Congressional study gratified,United Nations officials
for what the study says. "It is "important in that sense," said
an official. The study now recognizes that the financial problems at the United Nations
were created by the United States and other nations which were late in paying their
The American monies meant for the United Nations are being unreasonably held up by
right-wing conservative Republican members of Congress who want (mainly for domestic
politics) to drastically reduce spending and slash its staff by 50 %. Says the powerful
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms of Georgia, an ultra
conservative, " ... funding the United Nations is like pouring money into