For a country that is the third largest contributor of troops to the United Nations' peacekeeping missions, the UN has run roughshod over India, holding back reimbursements running into millions of dollars.
Notwithstanding its impeccable track record in UN missions, India is struggling to recover $180.55 million from the UN, which has to compensate it for troop costs, contingent-owned equipment leases and specific services.
Concerned about the delay in the reimbursement of costs, the Ministry of Defence has asked the Permanent Mission of India in New York to take up the matter with the UN.
Army sources told the Hindustan Times that payments for contingent-owned equipment constituted bulk of the amount the UN owes India, which currently accounts for 8,797 troops serving in 10 peace missions.
There are concerns in India that inordinate delay on UN's part in clearing the dues could adversely affect the country's capacity to participate in future peacekeeping operations.
Interestingly, the amount due to India is more than the approved budget of some of the smaller peace missions like UN Interim Force in Lebanon ($ 97.58 million), UN Operation in Burundi ($ 82.39 million), UN Disengagement Observer Force in Golan Heights ($ 41.59 million) and UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus ($ 46.77 million).
The UN's financial crisis has been caused by the accumulation of unpaid assessments by a large number of member states, especially the US that contributes a fourth of the peacekeeping dues. Also, the world body's regular budget cash deficits have led to prolonged periods of borrowing from its peacekeeping accounts to maintain its operations. These funds are reimbursed to the peacekeeping accounts as member states pay regular budget assessments.
The UN owed over $600 million, as of June 2006, to countries contibuting troops for peace missions. Member states, legally obliged to pay their share of peacekeeping costs, owed approximately $2.66 billion in current and previous peacekeeping dues as of January 31, 2006.
The United Nations General Assembly approved $3.2 billion peacekeeping budget for the UN's 16 ongoing missions. The budget is financed through assessments of all member states, but the five permanent members of the Security Council pay a surcharge on top of their regular assessments.