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The Rosett Report

Grand Riddle of the UN’s Swelling Salaries

July 8th, 2014 - 11:18 pm
united_nations_accountant_7-9-14-2

The U.N. has top men calculating its budgets. Top. Men.

 

Winston Churchill famously described the Soviet Union as a “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Much the same can be said of the ever-expanding finances of the United Nations, subject of a July 2 article by Fox News Editor-at-Large George Russell, headlined “UN Pay and Perks: After two years of US study, still a mystery.”  Russell highlights a study of UN overall pay packages, released last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. As the GAO describes it, the UN General Assembly has “expressed concerns about the relatively large and growing portion of the UN budget spent on total compensation.”

The GAO tried to figure out exactly what’s going on with UN salaries and perquisites. The signal finding is that the UN itself may not be sure, and apparently is less than committed to finding out. The GAO, in its “highlight” summary of the study, reports that “the UN has begun to address concerns about the sustainability of its rising total compensation costs, including initiating a review of total compensation” — but it seems that the compensation under study is actually well short of the real total. Or, as the GAO summary puts it, the UN “total” review “does not include key elements” (such as the almost $4 billion unfunded liability of the UN’s health insurance plan for retirees).

But how can such things be matters of mystery? After all, we know that the U.S. funds 22% of the UN’s regular budget. Surely with a bit of basic arithmetic the figures will fall into place?

Not a chance. That UN regular budget — meaning the budget of the General Assembly — is by now just a small fraction of the overall UN system, which includes a great many additional billions for peacekeeping operations, assorted funds, programs, commissions, subsidiary bodies, “other entities,” etc. etc. (brace yourself, here’s the organizational chart). Just to give you the general idea: the regular budget currently totals roughly $2.75 billion per year. But when I went looking earlier this year for a figure on the UN’s total, system-wide budget (while writing an article on “The Twisted Conundrum of Funding the United Nations,”)  the information I finally dredged up from the depths of the UN web site was that for 2012 the UN system had reported revenues of $41.5 billion. How the UN got to that number is yet another enigma, wrapped in indecipherable and in some instances inaccessible bookkeeping. But it’s an intriguing sum, for an institution prone to pleading endless funding shortfalls. Where is all that money going?

For that matter, where is all that money coming from? The biggest contributor to this entire UN system is clearly the U.S., which tends to contribute 22% or more not only to the regular UN budget, but to most UN operations.  But exactly how much, altogether, does the U.S. chip in these days?

Top Rated Comments   
If it's a money laundry, the money's clean now, right?
Invaluable, Rosett. You are one of a kind.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look at the weekly "Executive Focus" in The Economist Magazine--the UN budget is a cash cow, funded primarily by the USA.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The UN is where dictators send the kids of their favored lackeys so that they can use what little talent they have to exploit the UN for graft and corruption.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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my roomate's mom makes $68 every hour on the laptop . She has been laid off for seven months but last month her pay was $19303 just working on the laptop for a few hours. pop over here
========>>>>>> http://www.job-wiki.com/
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
No matter what 'total' you come up with, it will never include kickbacks, payoffs, money under the table, speaking fees, book deals, university jobs, cushy jobs, or invites to really swell events.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was around six years old, I heard about Timbuktu. I didn't know much about it, except that it was very, very far away.
Once I was angry with my older sister. I asked my dad if we could send her to Timbuk-12. He asked, "Timbuk-12 . . . where is that?" I replied, "I dont' know, but it must be further away than Timbuktu!"
Perhaps we could relocate the UN headquarters to, say, Timbuk-95.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was a kid the John Birch Society was pounding on getting out of the UN.

Was told by my parents (proud Eisenhower voters) they were kooks and pointed out their view that fluoridation of water was a Communist plot. Made sense to me then that my parents were right.

Now, notwithstanding the flouride thing they seem to have been quite prescient.

Cut them off, send them to Brussels to tandem with the EU where they can do their best to advance their OWG agenda (21, BTW...).
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
If it's a money laundry, the money's clean now, right?
Invaluable, Rosett. You are one of a kind.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
My "tax dollars at work." At *work*? Really?
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Look at the weekly "Executive Focus" in The Economist Magazine--the UN budget is a cash cow, funded primarily by the USA.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't think this is nearly as complicated as some want to make it. We don't need the GAO and teams of accountants to figure it out.

We really only need to take two actions to straighten all of this out:

1. Stop funding them.
2. Kick them out.

Done.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why does America pay such a disproportionate share of the costs? It is already hosting the UN, which seems like a very generous thing all by itself. I'm guessing the funding formula goes way back to the earliest days of the UN, a time when the world was just coming out of a brutal global war and America was virtually the only strong economy on the planet. If that is the case, it seems to me the funding formula needs to be revisited so that America pays no more than its fair share and the other member nations do the same.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
The UN is where dictators send the kids of their favored lackeys so that they can use what little talent they have to exploit the UN for graft and corruption.
9 weeks ago
9 weeks ago Link To Comment
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