12/25/2011 11:55 EST | Updated 02/24/2012 05:12 EST

UN Chops Budget By $250M


For only the second time in the last 50 years, the United Nations is cutting its budget, this time by $250 million US.

In an agreement struck Saturday morning, the two-year budget will be slashed from $5.41 billion US to $5.15 billion.

The 193 members of the UN negotiated around the clock for several days, with the United States and European countries, all suffering a major economic crisis, battling for the spending cuts.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pledged more cuts in the coming months, noting that “governments and people everywhere are struggling.”

U.S. negotiator Joseph Torsella told Reuters that it was a "budget for a strengthened, more efficient and more effective United Nations,” putting the organization on “the path of real fiscal discipline and continued reform."

Over the past two decades, the UN's biennial budgets have had an average boost of five per cent — except for 1998 when the General Assembly made a cut. After adjusting for inflation, the world body spends more than twice what it did in 1971.

Torsella said he took a hardline when it came to increased salaries for UN staff. The United States, the organization’s largest financial funder, accounts for 22 per cent of the UN budget.

In his address after the deal was approved, Ban acknowledged the organization needed to “cut fat.”

The slimmer budget means cuts to various missions around the world. However, it does not affect peacekeeping, which is in a separate budget.

America Votes
The latest polls, breaking news and analysis on the U.S. election from HuffPost’s Washington, D.C. bureau