According to the latest data from the United Nations, as of Sept 30, the outstanding dues of its member states totaled $1.5 billion, of which the United States accounted for $1.09 billion, or 73 percent of the total.
Besides that, the unpaid bill for UN peacekeeping missions is $2.56 billion in total, of which the US owes $1.39 billion.
That the US has failed to honor its debts to the largest inter-governmental organization in the world is ironic, since the organization has historically been the best means of furthering its agenda while getting others to share the burden.
To be sure, the US is not without money. Congress approved $738 billion in defense spending for the 2020 fiscal year, an increase of $20 billion on the year before.
The US has money to keep its aircraft carriers stationed around the world, send unmanned aerial vehicles to spy on other countries, and create a new force aimed at militarizing space. However, when it comes to paying its contributions to the organization charged with overseeing the 75-year-old rules-based international order that was devised in its favor, the US is reluctant to part with its money, believing that as the largest stakeholder, it is not getting what it is paying for.
US lawmakers have for a long time been calling for the US to cut or even end its payments to the UN, unless the organization reforms to better serve US interests.
But according to the UN Charter, to which the US is a signatory, the organization is based on the principle of sovereign equality of all its members, whose duty is to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained.
The current US administration is seeking to reshape the international system into one more to its pleasing. But that will not change the trends and challenges that have made it so uncomfortable in the system that it was so instrumental in establishing.
Speaking on Saturday, the United Nations Day, which marks the birthday of the charter, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged global solidarity in the face of colossal challenges.
"That's what the United Nations is all about," he said, stressing that the founding mission of the UN — to promote human dignity, protect human rights, respect international law, and save humanity from war — is more critical than ever.
He asked for the engagement of people everywhere to uphold the values of the UN Charter, build on advances across the decades, and realize the shared vision of a better world for all.
China on its part has reportedly affirmed its support for the UN's work and its central role in the international system, with President Xi Jinping saying recently, "The UN Charter remains an important guarantee for world peace and development."
China will continue to work as a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order. It hopes that the US will do the same.