The United Nations has confirmed that the overall UN financial situation seems to have improved this year, despite the world economic downturn and despite non-payment by some of the UN’s biggest contributors, notably the United States.

Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Management, Angela Kane told the UN General Assembly’s Fifth Committee that “The financial indicators for 2011 show improvements in some areas even though the global financial climate has of course worsened. 

Kane listed the 18 States that had paid their dues: Australia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, St. Kitts and Nevis, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand. She noted however, that unpaid assessments have increased to $4.3 billion .

“To maintain financial health it remains as critical as ever for Member States to pay their financial obligations to the UN in full and on time [and] I urge all Member States to do that,” reiterated Kane, “despite the difficult economic climate.”

The US Ambassador for UN management and reform, Joseph Torsella, complained in a recent speech to the UN’s budgetary committee about the 2% rise in its 2012-2013 budget, stating that it was not “a break from business as usual but a continuation of it.” Earlier the US objected to the fact that average UN salaries have risen “dramatically,” and that too few of the organizations’ 10,000 salaried posts are being cut.

US Congress has already trimmed $200 million from its annual contribution to UN peacekeeping, reflecting its reluctance to being the UN’s single largest funder with 23% of the overall budget. The US has been in arrears in the past but the Obama administration paid $750 million in back UN dues in 2009.

 At a separate event in Geneva, UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss was asked whether the UN financial improvement means it may no longer be so dependent on the United States. “The UN needs the US. It is not a question of money,” he responded, adding that by the same token the US also realizes it cannot be effective in today’s interdependent world without the UN.