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Iran, Venezuela, Sudan among 8 countries losing right to vote at UN over unpaid dues

Antigua and Barbuda, Congo, Guinea and Papua New Guinea also affected; their arrears equal or exceed sum they should have paid in past two years

Iran's UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi speaks to reporters following a meeting with members of the UN Security Council, August 20, 2020, at the United Nations. (Mike Segar/Pool via AP)
Iran's UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi speaks to reporters following a meeting with members of the UN Security Council, August 20, 2020, at the United Nations. (Mike Segar/Pool via AP)

UNITED NATIONS, United States — 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 and Papua New Guinea, 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.

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.

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