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January 18, 2021 2:56 pm
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Iran Loses Voting Rights in UN General Assembly for Non-Payment of Dues

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

US President Donald Trump speaks during the 75th annual UN General Assembly, which was held mostly virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: United Nations / Handout via Reuters.

Iran has lost voting rights in the United Nations General Assembly for failing to meet its financial obligations to the organization.

The UN has released a list of seven countries that have lost their vote in the Assembly under Article 19 of the UN Charter, which states that “a Member State in arrears in the payment of its dues in an amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years can lose its vote in the General Assembly.”

Besides Iran, countries on the list include South Sudan, Libya, Zimbabwe and others. Three additional countries, including Somalia, are also in arrears but had their voting rights maintained by a special resolution in October.

A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Monday, appearing to claim that Iran has both paid its UN dues and has been prevented from doing so by US sanctions.

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Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, “Despite restrictions caused by the United States’ unilateral sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran has, in recent years, always paid its UN membership fee using the few financial transfer channels available to it.”

“This year too, as the US blocked channels available to transfer financial resources, Iran has been in talks with the UN Treasury since long ago in order for the world body to introduce a safe channel [for money transfer],” he claimed.

“Iran’s latest proposal in this regard was to pay this debt by having the UN use Iran’s seized assets in South Korea with the permission of the Central Bank, which is being discussed with the UN Secretariat and the necessary arrangements are being made,” he continued.

“Given that the United States has encroached upon Iran’s international assets before, the Islamic Republic of Iran insists that the UN not use an American intermediary bank to receive our country’s membership,” Khatibzadeh said.

The international organization has recently faced financial problems because of the failure of certain member states to pay their dues.

In April 2020, the Associated Press reported that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a letter to member states saying that the lack of dues amounted to $2.27 billion, with no indication of when it would be paid.

“This high level of arrears is now compounded by a sharp decline in the payment of assessments by member states, which currently stands at 42% compared to 50% by this time in earlier years,” the Secretary-General said in the letter.

“Unpredictable cash inflows, exacerbated by the global crisis posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, seriously threaten” UN operations, he warned.

Guterres said there would be an immediate hiring freeze and asked all member states to pay what they owe.

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