The 193 UN member countries agreed on Saturday to cut the global body’s budget for only the second time in the past 50 years following a long night of negotiations.
An accord struck at dawn on Saturday saw the 2012-2013 budget set at US$5.15 billion, down from US$5.41 billion in 2010-2011.
The US and crisis-stricken European countries had fought for 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 said, welcoming the accord and vowing more cuts in the coming months. “Governments and people everywhere are struggling.”
US negotiator Joseph Torsella called the budget a “historic agreement,” though he acknowledged it had taken “difficult negotiations.”
Nearly every day last week talks have finished at about 5am.
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,” Torsella said.
He 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 US has taken a tough line on UN spending, with Torsella this year railing at increased salary allowances for UN staff.
Ban acknowledged that the global body has to “cut fat.”
It has already cut posts and contracted out services in many departments at the New York headquarters.
“One year from now, I will return to you with greater cost savings,” the UN chief vowed in a speech to the delegates who struck the accord.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has appeared in the past few days with a bandage about the size of a few postage stamps on the back of his head, in the latest episode to stoke speculation about his health. The bandage was visible in state media images when Kim appeared at a Korean People’s Army event from July 24 to Tuesday last week, the NK News Web site and Chosun Ilbo newspaper said. There were also images at events late last month in which the bandage was gone and a greenish spot was visible, they said, citing a review of North
CAUSE FOR ALARM: The virus has spread through 14 provinces in just a few days despite high vaccination rates, as authorities ramp up containment measures China is confronting its broadest COVID-19 outbreak since the pathogen emerged in late 2019 after the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant broke through the country’s defenses, with cases now in 14 provinces. While the overall number of infections — more than 300 so far — is much lower than outbreaks elsewhere, the wide spread indicates that the variant has been on the loose for some time and is alarming officials who wield the strictest containment measures in the world. It is the biggest challenge for the world’s second-largest economy since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December
MISINFORMATION: The digital giant said there were ‘numerous’ offending videos that were removed from the channel, which has 1.85 million subscribers Sky News Australia has been banned from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after contravening its medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos that denied the existence of COVID-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin. The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday afternoon, the day after the UK’s Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’ regular column amid controversy about his COVID-19 commentary, which included calling the New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program. YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from, but said there
CLAMPDOWN: Sydney’s lockdown has been extended three times, and more than 1,300 police were patrolling the city on Saturday to deter any would-be demonstrators Sydney reported a record-matching number of new local cases of COVID-19, while infections also rose in the state of Queensland, a day after its most-populous region went into lockdown. There were 239 cases in Sydney in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, equal to the tally set three days earlier and the most since the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 began sweeping through the nation’s largest city in June. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were some signs that the virus is mostly being contained to parts of Sydney’s southwest, where the strictest curbs are in place. While most residents have