UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday passed a record-breaking $3.2 billion peacekeeping budget for the next 12 months that may rise to $5 billion.
The $3.2 billion was for 14 peacekeeping missions, with the largest operations in Africa, to cover estimated costs from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006.
But U.N. budget figures show the sum does not include an increase in troops for the Democratic Republic of Congo and other missions or a new operation in southern Sudan, authorized at some 10,000 soldiers, to monitor an agreement between the Khartoum government and southern rebels. Those missions could cost an additional $1.8 billion.
Other ongoing operations are in Liberia, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Cyprus, Lebanon, Georgia, the Golan Heights, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Kosovo, East Timor and Western Sahara.
The current ventures, excluding Sudan, at the end of April comprised some 66,546 military personnel and international police as well as 4,530 international civilians staff and 8,468 local staff.
The assembly's resolution also asked the U.N. watchdog, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, "as a matter of priority" to exert budgetary discipline and identify any "risks of duplication, fraud and abuse of authority."
Peacekeeping costs are divided among the U.N. members, according to their national wealth and with the five permanent Security Council nations, who authorize the operations, charged an extra percentage. They are the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China.
The United States is assessed for some 27 percent of the cost but as of April 30 was $584 million in arrears in addition to payments due in 2005, according to U.N. figures.