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Worldwide vigil to protest United Nations' financial crisis


Ottawa, 23 October, 1997 - Canadians in Ottawa, Montreal, Victoria and
Guelph are participating today in the Worldwide Vigil to Protest the
United Nations' Financial Crisis.

Candlelight vigils have been organized for October 23 - the eve of
United Nations Day - in 50 cities around the world. The vigils are in
response to the continuing financial crisis at the UN, and to demand
that all UN member states pay their dues on time, in full and without

For over two years the UN has been on the verge of financial collapse.
As of August 31, 1997, the UN was owed a total for $2.64 billion. (This
refers to monies owed to the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets, i.e.
not including the specialized agencies' budgets or UN voluntary funds
and programmes). The U.S. owed $1.55 billion, while all other delinquent
or late payers owed the remaining $1.09 billion.

The Call for a Worldwide Vigil on the Financial Crisis at the United
Nations was issued by the World Federation of United Nations
Associations (WFUNA), the World Federalist Movement (WFM) and the New
York-based Global Policy Institute. This is the second worldwide vigil.
Last year, vigils and other events were organized in 32 cities. In
Canada the vigil has been organized by members of the United Nations
Association  and World Federalists.

"Ted Turner's billion dollar donation to UN causes has highlighted the
UN's ongoing financial predicament," says UNAC Executive Director, Harry
Qualman. "We can't all donate large sums to the UN. But this vigil
demonstrates that many of the world's citizens have strong objections to
the continued under-funding and under-utilization of the UN."

Canada pays its UN dues on time and in full. Yet, according to Fergus
Watt, Executive Director of the World Federalists of Canada, "Canada can
and should do more than occasionally encouraging others to pay up. Those
states, like Canada, which genuinely want the UN to work, should support
development of alternative sources of funds for the UN, funding which
would be generated automatically, independent of and supplementary to
contributions from governments." The World Federalists have proposed
that, to help build support for the idea, Canada would call for a UN
Group of Experts to study alternative financing mechanisms for the UN,
or sponsor such a study in Canada which would then be tabled for
consideration at the UN General Assembly.

In Ottawa, participants in the vigil will meet at 7:30 p.m. at the
InfoCentre (Corner of Metcalfe and Wellington), then march past the War
Memorial, back to Parliament Hill, and on to the U.S. Embassy, where
they will gather to hear brief statements from representatives of
participating organizations.

Al Banner                                 banner@freenet.carleton.ca
United Nations Association in Canada, National Capital Region Branch
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