Uganda's International Organizations' Voting Revoked Over Unpaid fees

Uganda's standing in numerous international organizations has been jeopardized due to its failure to fulfill financial obligations outlined in various protocols, treaties, and conventions. According to the Auditor General’s report concluding in June 2023, Uganda's outstanding subscriptions and contributions to global organizations amounted to Shs41.867 billion. However, projections from the Foreign Affairs ministry for the Financial Year 2024/2025 suggest that this figure will escalate to Shs61.268 billion.

A recent report presented by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to Parliament highlighted a significant shortfall in funding. Despite a requirement of Shs25.54 billion for subscription fees in the upcoming Financial Year, only Shs6.139 billion has been allocated, leaving a substantial deficit of Shs19.401 billion. This deficit not only perpetuates existing arrears but also initiates a new cycle of financial delinquency with international organizations.

Parliament has advised the Finance ministry to allocate funds and assume direct responsibility for settling these dues, a recommendation that has yet to be implemented. Previously, during discussions on the Budget Framework Paper, there was a proposal to transfer the responsibility of clearing arrears from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development. However, this proposal was not reflected in the Ministerial Policy Statement, leaving critical financial gaps unaddressed.

The actual amount owed to international bodies remains a matter of debate, with previous estimates indicating figures as high as Shs49 billion. Consequently, Uganda has forfeited its voting rights in certain international organizations, a situation that brings significant embarrassment, particularly during key deliberations where defaulting countries are publicly acknowledged.

Mr. Harold Acemah, a retired foreign service officer, emphasized the humiliation associated with being singled out as a defaulter, especially during crucial voting sessions. Similarly, Mr. Milton Muwuma, a member of Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, echoed these sentiments, noting that Uganda's inability to settle dues has led to diplomatic challenges and undermined its credibility, even as it assumes leadership roles in international conferences.

Furthermore, Uganda's failure to budget for post-summit activities following its chairmanship of the NAM and G77 plus China summits adds to its financial woes. Despite being named chair of these bodies for the next three years, there is a glaring lack of provision for essential follow-up activities, as highlighted by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

While Uganda's indebtedness to international organizations, including the African Union, the United Nations, Igad, and Unesco, is well documented, the exact amounts owed remain unclear. Minister Mulimba provided some insight into the outstanding dues during a parliamentary session, revealing debts to organizations such as Igad, the AU, the World Food Programme, and the UN, among others.

Uganda's failure to meet its financial obligations to international organizations not only undermines its diplomatic standing but also hampers its ability to actively participate in global decision-making processes. Urgent action is needed to address these arrears and restore the country's credibility on the international stage.

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