The European Union rejected on Wednesday a proposal by U.S. Ambassador John Bolton to delay adoption of a two-year U.N. budget until key reforms are approved by the 191-member General Assembly.
In a rare public disagreement with the United States, British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry told reporters the 25 EU members did not believe in linking the budget to reform issues and thereby jeopardizing U.N. operations.
\"We are not in favor of holding any individual items or the budget hostage to other issues but we do say very clearly that by the end of this year we need clarity and a determination to tackle a better management for the United Nations,\" said Jones Parry, whose country holds the current EU presidency.
Diplomats fear a possible train wreck on the US$3.6 billion 2006-2007 administrative budget, which is to be adopted by the end of the year and could involve New Year\'s Eve sessions. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said a delay in approving the budget would create a \"serious financial crisis.\"
In an effort to prod states into action, Bolton on Tuesday proposed delaying the passage of the budget until key management reforms have been approved. To make his point he has organized a meeting among the organization\'s largest contributors, the so-called Geneva group.
Bolton told reporters the General Assembly could pass a temporary budget to finance U.N. operations through the first three or four months of 2006, a proposal U.N. officials say would leave them strapped for cash.
Western nations are encountering stiff resistance from developing countries who fear the United States wants to cut jobs and programs in the name of efficiency.
Group of 77 criticism
The largest coalition of some 132 developing nations, called the Group of 77, earlier this month issued a letter criticizing plans by Annan to establish an ethics office and to review General Assembly programs and mandates that should be shut down, among other proposals.
While Jones Parry made clear the EU was allied with the United States on the reform package, he disagreed with Bolton\'s tactics. He said the European Union had been working \"very actively on the management dossier and putting forward proposals and driving it.\"
He said he expected a peace-building commission and a new body to replace the discredited Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Commission to be approved by the end of the year, along with several management proposals.
These include an ethics committee, a whistle-blower policy and some strengthening of a U.N. oversight body. But some of the proposals, such as an external oversight body, will not be enacted until next year, if ever.
U.S. officials fear the General Assembly, which controls management and budget, is ignoring findings of an investigation into the scandal-tainted U.N. oil-for-food program in Iraq that recommended a number of management changes.
The assembly\'s decisions on budgets are taken by consensus and allow the United States, which pays 22 percent of the budget, to block them. Privately, EU members, who collectively pay some 35 percent of the budget, fear the Bolton plan might backfire, with developing nations rejecting all reform plans.