Due to financial constraints, Palau UN Permanent Missions office in New York City officially closed its doors on September 1, 2020, Ambassador Olai Uludong, Palau’ Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Climate Change confirmed yesterday.
“Yes, we informed everyone way ahead of time and closed the doors on September 1st,” Ambassador Uludong said during a phone interview with Island Times, citing COVID-19 and budget constrains as reasons for the closure.
Budget has always been a challenge, especially given the high cost of living in New York City. One such example is that during this COVID-19, the United States required that all diplomats have insurance. We are not insured,” stated Ambassador Uludong.
Furthermore, she was unable to renew the lease contract which expired in August due to outstanding balances. The budget for the Mission has been nearly at the same level since former Ambassador Caleb Otto’s time while rent has been increasing nearly every year.
Budget cycles and budget cuts here in Palau affect missions overseas and this she said was a major challenge for their office in New York.
When contacted, Minister of State Faustina Rehuher-Marugg said that funds for foreign missions are sent directly to those missions by the Ministry of Finance based on their budget quarterly allotments.
Minister of Finance Elbuchel Sadang said that funds for the UN Mission have already been sent upon approval of the Continuing Budget Resolution.
Budget for the UN Representation Office in FY 2020 was $389,000, with allotments sent on quarterly basis.
“It is what it is. I do my best for Palau with what we have,” expressed Ambassador Uludong.
Ambassador Uludong continues to work from Palau, coordinating virtually with grantors to Our Oceans Conference as well as managing her tasks as one of the vice presidents of the United Nations General Assembly.
Palau’s Permanent UN Mission through Ambassador Uludong achieved high visibility within the United Nations with her appointment as co-facilitator of 2020 UN Conference on SDG 14 with Ambassador of Denmark and also for her appointment as one of the 21 vice presidents of the United Nations General Assembly this year, coordinating year long meetings of the UNGA.