The UN’s Parking Ticket Problem

Brett Schaefer /

It was revealed this week that U.N. member states owe $18 million in parking tickets to the City of New York. According to the news story, the top three debtor missions are Egypt (over 17,000 tickets for $1.9 million), Kuwait (over 11,000 tickets for $1.3 million) and Nigeria (over 8,000 tickets for $1 million). Nigeria has also been accused of “failing to pay real estate taxes on commercial parts of its ‘Nigeria House’ building on 44th Street and Second Avenue.” The rest of the top 10 parking deadbeats are (in order of debt) Indonesia, Brazil, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal, Sudan and Angola. Each of the top 10 owes more than $400,000.

Hiding behind their diplomatic immunity, there is little New York can do about these scofflaw diplomats. So, in 2001, Congress empowered the State Department to “withhold aid to countries in the same dollar amount that they owe.” This is a potentially effective lever, considering that 85 percent of the 180 countries whose missions or diplomats have outstanding tickets receive aid, but there are reasons for doubt. (more…)