United Nations

United Nations to cut staff for first time since 1945 amid belt-tightening

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 5:21am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 December, 2013, 7:47am

The United Nations authorised a staff cut for the first time since the international body was created in 1945, yielding to pressure from member states to reduce spending as governments suffer from financial strains.

The UN General Assembly on Friday approved a net reduction of 219 positions, or 2 per cent of all UN posts. It also approved a one-year freeze in compensation and a two-year freeze on benefits allowance.

Major contributors to the UN budget such as the United States, the largest donor, in 2010 began pressuring the New York-based UN to reduce its spending as they endured austerity measures to recover from the global financial crisis. Negotiations pitted major developed countries that pay most of the bills against developing nations that seek to increase UN development spending.

The UN's staff cut was "crucial" and would "eliminate unnecessary, duplicative or outdated posts", Joe Torsella, the US ambassador to the UN for management and reform, told the General Assembly.

"At a time when the budgets, crucial services of many common system organisations have been squeezed, these measures will hold compensation costs in place, until we can act in the next session," Torsella said.

The staff cut is part of the 2014-2015 UN budget and a settling of accounts for this year's extra-budgetary spending. The UN's 193-member states approved US$5.53 billion for the next two years, a 1 per cent decrease from the previous two-year period.