13/12/2001
Press Release
GA/AB/3488



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

36th Meeting (PM)


FINANCING OF FIVE UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS APPROVED

BY BUDGET COMMITTEE, DESPITE LACK OF SPECIFIC DOLLAR AMOUNTS


Figures to Be Available to General Assembly; Action on Lebanon

Force (UNIFIL) Subjected to Votes, after Questions on Israeli Liability


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon made recommendations to the General Assembly on the budgets of the United Nations peacekeeping missions in East Timor, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Lebanon for the period of 1 July 2001 to

30 June 2002. The Committee was acting on draft resolutions which did not contain the dollar amounts for any of the five missions.


Explaining the situation, the Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division expressed regret that the dollar amounts to be appropriated for the missions remained blank due to the fact that the Fifth Committee had yet to take a final decision on additional support account requirements.  The printed versions of the drafts to be prepared for submission to the plenary as Fifth Committee reports later this month would contain all the figures.


[Including the amounts already appropriated, the Secretary-General had requested some $722 million for the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL); $208.9 million for the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE); $490 million for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET); and $136.6 million for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  In addition to the $200 million allocated last June, an amount of $337 million had also been requested for the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).]


Two votes were taken on one of the draft resolutions.  Acting by a vote of 110 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions (see

Annex II), the Committee approved a text on the budget of UNIFIL.  Among other provisions of the draft, there are several paragraphs, by which the Assembly would stress that Israel must pay some $1.28 million resulting from an incident a Qana, Lebanon, on 18 April 1996, and request the Secretary-General to report on this matter at its resumed fifty-sixth session.


Prior to the vote on the text as a whole, the Committee voted to retain the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13 of the draft -– which refer to the Qana incident and the Assembly’s past decisions in that

respect –- by a vote of 69 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with

40 abstentions (see Annex I).

The representative of the United States spoke on the text.  Representatives of Lebanon, Israel, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Japan, Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Libya and Syria spoke in explanation of the vote.


       The drafts on the United Nations Missions in Ethiopia and Eritrea; Sierra Leone; East Timor and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were approved without a vote.


The texts were introduced by the Committee’s Vice-Chairman, Durga Bhattarai (Nepal), its Rapporteurs, Santiago Wins (Uruguay) and Guillermo Kendall (Argentina), who conducted informal consultations on the drafts.


In other business, the representative of the Russian Federation informed the Committee that his country had paid its arrears to the United Nations in full a year sooner than anticipated, having transferred the last $39.9 million it owed today.


The Committee is scheduled to hold its next formal meeting at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 14 December.


Action on Texts before Committee


United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET)


The Committee first took up the draft resolution on UNTAET, introduced by DURGA BHATTARAI (Nepal).


The Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, BOCK CHENG YEO, regretted that, at the time of approval of the drafts, the dollar amounts remained blank due to the fact that the Fifth Committee had yet to take a final decision on additional support account requirements.  By the time the Fifth Committee reports were prepared for submission to the plenary, the printed versions would contain all figures.  An information note on how the pro-rating was carried out would also be available.


Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft resolution.


United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE)


Turning to the draft resolution on UNMEE, GUILLERMO KENDALL (Argentina) introduced the text.


The Committee approved the draft resolution, also without a vote.


United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL)


The Committee turned next to the draft text on the financing of UNAMSIL.  SANTIAGO WINS (Uruguay) introduced the text.


The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.


The representative of Syria inquired about the missing figures in the three draft resolutions just approved.


Mr. YEO repeated his explanation that the missing figures were due to the fact that the Committee had yet to take a final decision on additional support account requirements.


United Nations Organization Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC)


The Committee then turned its attention to the draft resolution on MONUC.  Mr. WINS (Uruguay) introduced the text.


Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the text.


United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)


The Committee then took up the draft resolution on UNIFIL, which had been previously introduced on 10 December by the representative of Iran, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.


Speaking before the vote, CHRISTOPHER WITTMAN (United States) regretted that the Committee had been unable to reach consensus on the draft, which had interfered with the Committee’s ability to achieve consensus for some five years.  There was text in the resolution which was not appropriate for a funding resolution.  The United States did not believe that the use of a funding resolution to pursue claims against a Member State was appropriate.  He requested that a formal vote be taken on preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13.


Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Lebanon stressed that he would vote in favour of the fourth preambular paragraph, as well as operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13 of the draft.  Israel had bombed the UNIFIL site in southern Lebanon in a premeditated fashion leading to a large number of wounded among the Fijian Battalion and the complete destruction of the Force’s site.  Safety, security and protection of international elements in all parts of the world were continuously demanded by the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council.  Paragraph 20 of the draft encouraged the Secretary-General to continue to take additional measures to ensure the safety of personnel.


He said the Committee had recently taken up a report by the Secretary-General on the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, in which the Secretary-General stated that it was important to send a clear message that attacking humanitarian personnel could not remain without sanction, he continued.  If attacks against humanitarian personnel must not remain unpunished, how could an attack against international forces remain unpunished?


Placing responsibility on Israel would deter it from further such acts, as well as all other States from committing such heinous acts, he said.  Sanctioning Israel for attacking the headquarters of an international force was fully in line with the principles of international law and the rules on international responsibility, which committed every State having committed an act against another State or organisation to compensate for the consequences of those acts.  From the perspective of that principle, he appealed to States that traditionally abstained from voting on the paragraphs to vote in favour of those paragraphs.


The Committee then decided to retain the paragraphs in question by a vote of 69 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 40 abstentions.  (See Annex I.)


The representative of the United States said that his country supported the important work of UNIFIL.  He regretted the inclusion of paragraphs that changed the nature of the resolution.  It was now fundamentally different from all other financing resolutions.


The draft resolution as a whole was then approved by a vote of 110 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States) with no abstentions.  (See Annex II.)


Speaking in explanation of position after the vote, the representative of Israel said the events surrounding the Qana incident were well known to the Committee.  The Hezbollah terrorist organization used a site in close proximity to the United Nations camp with full knowledge that Israel would be forced to retaliate.  The Hezbollah had launched hundreds of rockets.  Israel maintained that the full responsibility lay with the Hezbollah who had no scruples about conducting a terrorist campaign close to a civilian area.  It had established cells around the world and was on the United States State Department list of terrorist organizations.  He said the attempts in the Committee to place full financial burden on Israel was a violation of the principle of collective responsibility, which dictated that the costs were to be shared by all Member States.  When peacekeepers were deployed, they did so with the full understanding of the potential dangers they faced.  Beyond the issue of financial compensation, a greater issue was at stake, namely, the politicization of the Fifth Committee.  The insertion of politically motivated elements was preventing the Committee from adopting the resolution by consensus.  The manipulation of the Committee was having a debilitating long-term effect on its ability to conduct its business in a productive manner.  Israel was fully cooperating with UNIFIL and supported the approval of its budget.  Israel hoped to see full resumption of peace on the Israeli-Lebanese border in the coming months.


The representative of Belgium, speaking for the European Union and associated States in explanation of position after the vote, recalled that its position regarding the financial aspects of the costs related to Qana was based on a number of elements.  Costs resulting from the incident were of a specific nature.  They should be kept in the budget, and the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations should be a collective responsibility.  The European Union members had abstained on preambular paragraph 4 and the operative paragraphs in question because they considered the text inappropriate in context of a resolution dealing with the financing of UNIFIL.


The representative of Japan, also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said his delegation had joined in the adoption of the draft resolution, deciding to vote in favour of the draft from the viewpoint of discharging its responsibility to finance peacekeeping operations.  He expressed deep regret that the Committee had not adopted the draft resolution by consensus.


The representative of Lebanon reaffirmed that his previous statement was in explanation of vote.  He wanted to assure the representative of Israel that a day would come when UNIFIL’s mandate would end.  As for the collective responsibility referred to by Israel, the United Nations Charter stated that peacekeeping expenditures must be distributed among the Members of the Organization.  Did the principle of collective responsibility mean that one State could deliberately bomb a headquarters or an office of the United Nations and then invoke collective responsibility in the apportionment of costs?  He invited the representative of Israel to read the report of the Military Adviser in which he stated that during the bombardment there was significant change in the firing aimed at the United Nations.  Israel had targeted the premises to the left of the United Nations and then had changed its target.


He added that his purpose was not to politicize the Committee.  The Secretary-General had indicated that attacks against United Nations staff and observers must not go unpunished.  The bombardment and wounding of soldiers were acts that should not remain unpunished.  Israel had to pay the compensation.  As for the compensation for the fallen Lebanese civilians, that was another matter.


The representative of Australia, speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, in explanation of vote, said he was pleased that the resolution provided for the necessary financing of UNIFIL.  He regretted that consensus had not been possible.  He was concerned that it contained inappropriate political elements for a financing resolution.  He regretted that the paragraphs voted on violated the long-standing principle of collective responsibility.  He urged all Member States to pay their outstanding contributions without delay.


The representative of Libya, speaking in explanation of position, said he considered that all activities of aggression and occupation which infringed upon the sovereignty of a State and affected international staff were the responsibility of the aggressor State.  He had taken note of the policy of double standards and the extreme disparity applied to various States.  Some were obliged to pay compensation while others were given exemptions.


The representative of Syria, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said his country had a position of principle on the subject and was of the view that compensation must be paid for damage deliberately caused to the United Nations premises, staff and personnel.  The State responsible must pay the compensation.  The United Nations itself had been attacked and targeted.  The damage had been deliberate.  There was no reason to begin a procedural debate.  The report referred to by the representative of Lebanon spoke for itself.  He was convinced that the resistance in Lebanon, including the Hezbollah, had through its heroic efforts succeeded in causing Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon.  He was certain that Israel would not have voluntarily withdrawn.  It was shameful to say that Hezbollah or any other resistance organization was a terrorist force.  All they were doing was defending themselves against the occupying Power.


The representative of Israel said he would respond to all comments in the plenary.


The representative of Lebanon said he hoped the representative of Israel would be kind enough to indicate the specific paragraphs of the report he intended to refer to.  On his part, he had been referring to the paragraphs of the report,

which stated that Israel had deliberately attacked Qana –- the report was very specific in that regard.


Israel’s representative said that since his delegation objected to the use of the Fifth Committee as a political tool, he would deal with the matter in the General Assembly plenary.


Other Matters


SERGEI LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that in November of 1995 his Government had decided to make full payments of its arrears to the regular budget of the United Nations and its peacekeeping operations within seven years.  Russia had consistently implemented that decision, despite the serious economic difficulties it was experiencing.  Only this year, he said, the Russian Federation had paid more than $100 million to the United Nations.  Today, his country had transferred to the United Nations $39.9 million, of which almost $37 million were earmarked for its debt on the operation in Somalia.


As a result, Russia had made full payments on its arrears a year earlier than it had undertaken.  Gratified that now his country’s record was clean, he wanted to confirm its position of principle that all States, without exception, should consistently fulfil their Charter obligations towards the United Nations.  That was the main condition for ensuring the financial stability and health of the Organization.


(annexes follow)

ANNEX I


Vote on Retention of Paragraphs in UNIFIL Financing Text


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved the retention of the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13 in the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim force in Lebanon (document A/C.5/56/L.17) by a recorded vote of 69 in favour to 2 against, with

40 abstentions:


In favour:  Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia.


Against:  Israel, United States.


Abstentions:  Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica,

El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Gambia, Grenada, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia,

Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.


(END OF ANNEX I)


ANNEX II


Vote on Financing United Nations Force in Lebanon


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim force in Lebanon (document A/C.5/56/L.17) by a recorded vote of 110 in favour to 2 against, with no abstentions:


In favour:  Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia.


Against:  Israel, United States.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Gambia, Grenada, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Rwanda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and Grenadines , Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Suriname, Swaziland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.


* *** *