Envoy blames clerical error for UN voting rights problem

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador to the United Nations, I. Rhonda King, says a clerical error has led to her country’s inability to vote in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

“It was merely an error,” King told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) as she responded to last weekend’s decision by the General Assembly to suspend the Caribbean island’s voting rights due to what it said were arrears in paying dues.

“I am unclear about how the error came about, but I do know it was an error,” the envoy said, noting that when the e “error” was discovered, her Mission immediately notified the UN and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nathaniel Williams, also “immediately set about” to address the issue.

The UN General Assembly identified St. Vincent and the Grenadines among nine countries that are not allowed to vote because of what it claimed were arrears in paying their dues.

“Under Article 19 of the Charter, a Member State in arrears in the payment of its dues in an amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years can lose its vote in the General Assembly,” said the UN General Assembly in a statement.

“An exception is allowed if the Member State can show that conditions beyond its control contributed to this inability to pay,” it added.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week informed the General Assembly that 15 countries, including oil producer Venezuela, were in arrears in paying their annual contribution to the UN regular budget.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was reported to be in arrears of US$2,155 and King said that the island had paid US39, 313.00, instead of the US$41,557.00 owed to the UN.

She said the balance of US$2, 287.00 will be paid shortly.

“Once paid, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ voting rights will be restored. And I expect that to be done within 48 hours, but certainly before the end of this week,” she said, adding that the entire issue was “much ado about nothing”.