Lebanon has expressed its “regrets” over the United Nations’ decision to strip it of its voting privileges in the General Assembly, as a consequence of the country failing to pay its dues.
The UN’s decision on Friday targeted seven countries altogether – Lebanon, Yemen, Venezuela, Central African Republic, Gambia, Lesotho and Tonga – for not paying their financial contributions to the organisation in time, meaning they will be unable to participate in the 75th UN General Assembly to be held on 15 September 2020.
A statement released by the Lebanese Foreign Ministry said the move could “harm Lebanon’s interests, its prestige and reputation,” particularly at a time of increased tensions and political uncertainty within the country.
Over the weekend, the foreign ministry called for a solution to be found “as quickly as possible” so that the UN decision “could be corrected”. It then stated that the arrears would be paid today in order for the issue to be solved by tomorrow.
It was not immediately clear how much Beirut owed the United Nations.
However, a letter from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bandesaid on 7 January said that Lebanon would need to pay a minimum of $4.59 million and Yemen $3.19 million to retain voting rights.
Throughout the past few months, Lebanon has experienced a wave of protests and demonstrations over financial instability, government corruption and political overhaul.
As a result of the protests, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in late October, also declaring that he would not run for the position again. Following Hariri’s resignation, President Michel Aoun held formal consultations with members of parliament on who to select, eventually appointing university professor and former Education Minister Hassan Diab on 20 December 2019.
The expulsion of Lebanon and the other aforementioned countries falls under Article 19 of the UN Charter, which states that member states which fall behind in the payment of the annual dues in an amount that either equals or exceeds the contributions paid the two preceding years are liable to lose their vote.
Exceptions are given, however, to states which prove their inability to pay due to circumstances beyond their control.
Lebanon’s foreign ministry is attempting to redeem the lost vote by stating that it had “performed all of its duties and completed all transactions within the deadline,” making it uncertain why the funds may not have been transferred.
The finance ministry also responded to the UN’s decision by claiming that it did not receive any request to make the payment.