FIFTH COMMITTEE CONTINUES DEBATE ON PEACEKEEPING SCALE OF ASSESSMENTS, AS FOUR STATES ANNOUNCE VOLUNTARY INCREASE IN SHARE OF COSTS20000517
Four Member States -- Estonia, Hungary, Israel and the Philippines -- announced they would voluntarily increase their financial responsibility for peacekeeping missions, at a meeting of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning. A fifth, Cyprus, made a similar announcement yesterday.
The announcements came amidst an extended debate in the Committee over calls for a review of the peacekeeping scale of assessments -- the method used to apportion peacekeeping costs among Member States.
Hungary's representative explained that his country currently enjoyed a discount on its proportion of peacekeeping budgets, as a result of its classification as a less economically developed State. It would forego that discount, with effect at an appropriate time in the discussions on a new scale. He added, however, that such a change an 80 per cent increase in peacekeeping responsibilities -- must be gradual and incremental.
The representative of Panama said he did not oppose a review of peacekeeping finance, but he had doubts about calls for urgent change. While sound funding and administration of United Nations peacekeeping missions was a necessity, such a review would require time. Any review should also examine the way the United Nations interpreted its responsibilities for international peace and security. Compliance by all Member States with their current obligations was also needed and permanent Security Council members must assume special responsibility for financing peacekeeping, with no concession or conditions.
The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said that timely deployment of peacekeeping missions saved lives and assisted in rebuilding States infrastructure. Thus, financial support for peacekeeping should not be based on an ad hoc system. The mechanisms should be brought up to date. At the same time, United Nations peacekeeping failures in Bosnia and Rwanda had not been the result of a lack of resources. Rather, it had been due to the lack of will by the most powerful Member States.
Argentina's representative acknowledged that some arguments in favour of changing the peacekeeping scale were valid, but he called for caution, given the serious implications for some countries. Major financial responsibility for peacekeeping should rest with the five permanent members of the Security Council -- China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States -- and they should assume most of the costs of any change.Fifth Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/AB/3372 66th Meeting (AM) 17 May 2000
The Czech Republic's representative said the current formula for financing peacekeeping -- created under completely different political circumstances and for a much smaller peacekeeping budget -- had become obsolete. It did not reflect States' capacity to pay, nor adapt with changing economic circumstances. His concern was that negotiations were not bringing change quickly enough.
The representatives of Norway, Russian Federation, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Republic of Korea, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Turkey, Poland, the former Yugolsav Republic of Macedonia, Algeria, Cuba, Ukraine, Nicaragua, Fiji, Albania, Rwanda, and Iran also spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Thursday, 18 May, to continue its discussion of administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping, and to take up the issue of gratis personnel.
Fifth Committee - 3 - Press Release GA/AB/3372 66th Meeting (AM) 17 May 2000
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to continue consideration of aspects of the administration and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping, including the support account used to fund Headquarters support activities for peacekeeping operations, reimbursement of Member States for troops and equipment used in United Nations missions and the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, where goods for missions are stored, repaired and supplied. It also planned to continue its discussion of a proposed change to the category to which South Africa belongs for the purposes of determining responsibility for peacekeeping funding.
(For background on the reports under consideration, see Press Release GA/AB/3371 of 16 May.)
VLADIMIR GALUSKA (Czech Republic) associated his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the European Union. He shared the opinion that peacekeeping was one of the crucial functions of the Organization, and noted his countrys involvement in many peacekeeping operations. He was, thus, deeply concerned about the constant high level of unpaid dues for peacekeeping operations, as well as about the growing debt of the Organization to Member States providing troops and equipment. The debt to his own country was approaching $9 million.
He said the current assessment formula for financing peacekeeping -- which had been created under completely different political circumstances and for a much smaller peacekeeping budget -- had become obsolete. It had little in common with capacity to pay and did not adapt to the changing economic performance of Member States. He cited his own countrys placement in group (b), which meant that for years it had been contributing much more than Member States with comparable economic data. His Government had repeatedly stressed its support for European Union proposals for the comprehensive reform of the scale and was concerned that the current stage of negotiations did not seem to be bringing change quickly enough.
He said he supported the idea of a more transparent and equitable scale and was prepared to discuss any changes based on clear economic criteria. The group system needed to be thoroughly reviewed to take into account objective criteria, in particular the level of economic development of Member States. He could imagine the establishment of more groups, the composition of which would be based on national per capita income and some additional rules.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that, given the recent upsurge of peacekeeping operations, Member States should commit themselves to making sure that the Organization had the capability and capacity to carry out the increasingly complex tasks of maintaining peace and security. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations should be adequately structured and staffed to make it fully capable of planning, deploying and managing future multi-functional missions. That called for a strengthening of the Department and securing adequate resources, both from the regular budget and from the support account.
He also stressed the need for enhanced rapid deployment capacity within the Department and the need for adequate resources to carry out the task. The Secretary-Generals proposal to establish a Rapid Deployment Management Unit should be reviewed by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. He added that the new contingent-owned equipment system was a major improvement with respect to the Standby Arrangements System. He encouraged the Secretariat to speed up the work of applying a cut-off date, from which all existing missions would convert to the new procedures.
He said his delegation had given its support to the European Unions proposal for a comprehensive reform of the financial system. The package comprised payment of arrears, revision of the regular budget and peacekeeping scales, a set of incentives and disincentives and measures to increase the efficiency of the United Nations. As maintaining peace and security continued to be the Organizations most crucial task, it was of the utmost importance, and a collective responsibility, that adequate financial resources were provided to peacekeeping operations. The current system for apportioning peacekeeping expenses had been negotiated in 1973, and Norway looked forward to constructive informal discussions on the scale.
MERLE PAJULA (Estonia) said that the European Union had been asking for a review of the outdated peacekeeping scale. The willingness of nations to give aid to countries in need was one of the most important functions of the Organization. Peacekeeping was a collective responsibility. It was clear that the current scale was outdated. Serious discussions would provide the best way to find solutions for an updated scale. Estonia was prepared to give up the 80 per cent discount it currently received as a group (c) country and would pay its contribution in full.
FELIPE H. MABILANGAN (Philippines) offered condolences to Japan on the recent death of its former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. Continuing, he said, peacekeeping remained a key and indispensable instrument for maintaining international peace and security and the United Nations was key in that regard. Peacekeeping was growing in size and complexity, even as resources available for it were declining. The cost of missions was expected to exceed $2 billion this year, and it was, therefore, disheartening to learn that Member States already owed the United Nations more than $2 billion for peacekeeping missions. Resultant delays in reimbursement caused problems for troop contributors, especially developing countries, whose further participation might be put at risk. All Member States must pay on time, in full and without conditions.
There were reasons for anxiety at the moment regarding peacekeeping, he said. The Philippines would like, as would others, to see peacekeeping take place on a solid financial basis. Any change to the scale must be fair and equitable and must reflect current economic circumstances. It should also continue to respect existing principles, notably that of capacity to pay, and also the special responsibility of permanent members of the Security Council. Those principles had stood the test of time and remained valid. The Philippines attached priority to the need to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping capacity was strengthened, not weakened. It, therefore, participated in such missions, like Kosovo and East Timor. It was also seriously monitoring events in Sierra Leone, which might raise doubts about peacekeeping's future.
The Philippines called for a fair and equitable peacekeeping scale, he said. It was essential that Member States supported improvement of the United Nations capacity to undertake peacekeeping. To that end, the Philippines was prepared to give up the 80 per cent discount that it presently enjoyed under the current peacekeeping financing arrangements, as a gesture for global peace.
NIKOLAI V. LOZINSKI (Russian Federation) said that the adoption of constructive and balanced decisions should promote a clearer organization of the work in of carrying out peacekeeping. The issues before the Committee -- the support account, reimbursement for contingent-owned equipment and review of the rates of reimbursement -- were important. The most urgent aspect of the discussion, however, was the apportionment of the United Nations expenditures.
He said that as the United Nations experienced unprecedented growth in peacekeeping operations, the problem of expenditures was not as much a financial problem as it was a political one. It was time for adoption of specific measures for peacekeeping operations. A number of delegations had considered looking at proposals that were the subject of consultations before the 1973 ad hoc agreement to finance United Nations special operations. That had become the basis for the financing of peacekeeping operations. The work of their predecessors could become an excellent basis for the consultations of the Committee, as well.
The principle of the special financial responsibility of the permanent five members of the Security Council was incontrovertible, he said. The special responsibility of the permanent five arose exclusively in the exercise of their Charter functions in the maintenance of peace and security. Russia would continue to bear additional financial responsibility with respect to the peacekeeping budget. Reform of the scale should be undertaken in accordance with existing procedures on the basis of consensus and strict compliance of all Member States. Russia fully paid its contributions and the Government would contribute $16 million to peacekeeping operations in the near future. Russia was prepared to cooperate constructively on reform of the scale, which should be the subject of extensive, multilateral consultations.
DAVID ALLEN PRENDERGAST (Jamaica) said peacekeeping assisted in fulfilling countries collective responsibility and helped maintained international peace and security. It was imperative that missions were adequately equipped to carry out their tasks. The United Nations was faced with a lack of resources for peacekeeping missions and, at the same time, was undertaking new missions with large, expensive mandates. The provision of personnel and financial requirements for new missions was becoming problematic.
Jamaica concurred that financing peacekeeping was a collective responsibility of all States, he said. Withholding of contributions by Member States was the source of the present lack of funds. All Member States must pay in full, on time and without conditions. Relying solely, or even in part, on voluntary funding to finance peacekeeping resulted in discriminatory or unfair treatment of some missions that did not find favour with donors. It undermined the collective responsibility for peace. Assessment financing ensured equity among peacekeeping operations.
He remained concerned about the financing of missions that had moved from peacekeeping to post-conflict roles, he said. Their importance could not be underestimated. Peace-building initiatives sometimes prevented a return to conflict, and they helped ensure long-term stability at far less cost than peacekeeping missions. Thus, Jamaica supported the financing of the Haiti civilian mission, and believed that missions like that one must be adequately financed. Finally, he paid tribute to those who had died in the cause of peace.
MISHECK MUCHETWA (Zimbabwe) said he supported South Africas overdue movement to a lower assessed group for peacekeeping financing.
Africa was the location of more failed United Nations missions than anywhere else, he said. Many Africans were tortured by the memory of occasions when the United Nations walked away, rather than establishing missions that could have saved Africans. It had dragged its feet while conflicts flared, and even where local African organizations had stepped in, awaiting United Nations missions, the United Nations was aloof.
Repeated pleas by Africa for a robust Chapter VII mandate in Sierra Leone were ignored, and half-hearted efforts brought into question the United Nations commitment to peacekeeping, particularly in Africa, he said. Lack of will led to inadequate mandates or none at all. In some circumstances, financial problems forced the United Nations to deploy ill-equipped missions, not a good sign in an Organization uniquely mandated to protect international peace and security. Member States must pay what they owe, as a first step to improving peacekeeping financing.
Should the Assembly decide to discuss the peacekeeping assessment, he said, the scale must continue to account for the special responsibility of the permanent Security Council members. It must continue to accept that economically developed countries could make larger contributions. Any significant modification must consider the economic conditions of low per capita income countries and not adversely affect their position. In addition, the mechanisms for financing peacekeeping was not the place for trial and error. Adequate time should be given to the matter, to allow articulation of all Member States positions and to ensure that all national interests were considered. The United Nations could not afford to render the basis of financing of peacekeeping any more unstable than at present.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said he shared in the concern for reform of the United Nations system, including in the scale of assessments and in the budget for peacekeeping operations. Recent events had made the need for reform more urgent and more clear to the world at large. Gaps in the distribution of wealth and resources had only grown, and the burden for closing them had fallen unevenly. Israel supported a comprehensive reform in the financing of the United Nations system, including the scale of assessments, both for the regular budget and for the peacekeeping budget.
His Government wanted to announce that it was prepared to undertake an upgrade from group (c) status to group (b), thereby foregoing the 80 per cent discount that it had been granted, he said. It was a critical time for peacekeeping operations.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) expressed condolences on behalf of his country to the people of Japan on the death of former Prime Minister Obuchi. He was a highly esteemed statesman who had contributed to the establishment of forward-looking, cooperative relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan.
Continuing, he said, the United Nations was increasingly called upon to assume greater responsibilities. Peacekeeping was one of the most visible and significant activities the United Nations was mandated to carry out. The current system of apportioning peacekeeping expenses, adopted in 1973, had served to finance peacekeeping missions on an ad hoc basis. Given the vastly changed realities since 1973, it was now time to review both the strengths and shortcomings of the current ad hoc system. He supported the review of the peacekeeping scale of assessments during the current session and the next. Peacekeeping assessments were expected to reach $2.6 billion next year, far exceeding regular budget assessments. It was all the more necessary to appropriately assess the efficiency and efficacy of peacekeeping operations.
LUIS RAUL ESTEVEZ-LOPEZ (Guatemala) said that as a country that had benefited directly from a United Nations mission in the area of peace-building, his country recognized the enormous importance of the Organizations peace operations. The United Nations was perhaps the only organization with the credibility and the moral authority for such an operation. As far as peace activities were concerned, there was no room for the idea that a modest presence was better than no presence at all. The United Nations had suffered serious setbacks due to the systematic underfunding of the peacekeeping activities, given the reluctance of the major contributors to the budget to assume their responsibility.
On the financing of peacekeeping operations, the question of distributing cost was valid for any type of activity and for any intergovernmental organization, he continued. When faced with a situation in which the cost of an operation must be calculated, certain criteria usually applied. Often those criteria were weighed with other considerations. The United Nations faced a situation in which there was no consensus on the scale of assessments. There was no doubt that it would be difficult to change historical practice in that area, but it would be good for the Organization to address the matter and not ignore it. It was reasonable to re-examine the scale, irrespective of the manner in which the re-examination was initiated. There were two overwhelmingly important criteria for an assessment formula: capacity to pay; and the disproportionate responsibility of some members of the Organization in maintaining peace in the world.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the financing of peacekeeping was extremely important, and all its dimensions should be addressed comprehensively to ensure enhanced efficiency and effectiveness. Peacekeeping had become more complex, as had been clear to him during the Security Council mission he had recently led to Kosovo. The various concerns of Member States, in particular the largest contributor, must be heard.
He had been very interested in the statement from the representative of the United States yesterday, who laid out a forward-looking plan for review of the peacekeeping scale, he said. The United Nations must revisit and review arrangements for financing peacekeeping. The ad hoc 1973 scale was not, and could not be, relevant now, and Bangladesh called for the urgent engagement of Member States to address the issue.
Peacekeeping operations were a collective responsibility, he said. Bangladeshs commitment to peacekeeping and its participation in peacekeeping missions was well known. The financial and operational aspects of peacekeeping must be reviewed. He suggested the Fifth Committee might like to start the review by scheduling informal consultations on the scale, to chart the course for deliberations.
SAFAK GOKTURK (Turkey) said that the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security remained the most delicate objective of the United Nations. The Secretary-Generals budget estimate and the appraisal of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) of the peacekeeping requirements indicated the growing trend in United Nations activities in that field. Turkey noted the improvements in the preparation of the proposed budgets for peacekeeping and in the coordination between Headquarters and missions in the field on budgetary and administrative matters.
The timely deployment of civilian police personnel at required levels, however, should be given higher consideration. Military personnel and civilian police deployment could be made possible only if and when Member States contributed contingents, accordingly. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, as the prime coordinator of the United Nations peacekeeping activities, should be made more effective in carrying out those tasks. The restructuring of the Department should be realized in a manner that would match its expanding duties.
He said that the increasing emphasis given by the United Nations to the training programmes in peacekeeping operations was a welcome sign. It would be through the application of concerted training activities that the United Nations would be able to act uniformly as well as effectively. What was still lacking was the ability to react rapidly. The past decade had witnessed unparalleled growth in both the size and the scope of peacekeeping missions. The present scale of assessment needed a comprehensive revision, bringing the system in line with the ever-expanding requirements of peacekeeping and updated economic data.
JANUSZ STANCZYK (Poland) said that his country had been involved for many years in peacekeeping as a contributor of numerous troops. Polands experience had resulted in an understanding of how important it was to have a secure financial mechanism in place. It was a fundamental precondition for a successful peacekeeping operation. Member States had a collective responsibility to enable the United Nations to fulfil its mandates, including peacekeeping operations. The financial mechanism for covering the expenses of the United Nations would only work efficiently when based on an equitable system and actual capacity to pay. Poland supported the proposal of the United States that discussion on the reform of the scale of assessments should start now. He saw shortcomings and limitations in the present system and agreed that it needed revision.
NASTE CALOVSKI (the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) said he supported peacekeeping -- a core activity of the United Nations in the past and in the future. Both the credibility for the Organization and the more important safety and security of people in conflicts were at risk. South-Eastern Europe had benefited greatly from the deployment of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP). The mission was assessed as a success story. Regretfully, the Security Council decided not to extend its mandate, just prior to the eruption of conflict in Kosovo, and that negatively affected the situation in Kosovo. At present, the interest of his country was affected by the functioning of the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK).
It should not be difficult to define the mandates for future preventive forces or peace-enforcement forces, he said. What was needed was the political will and determination of Member States, and particularly of the Security Council, to act quickly, forcefully and without much hesitation.
The question of peacekeeping financing was paramount at present, he said. Yesterdays discussion was a good illustration of that. No Member State, big or small, should feel its contribution for peacekeeping was unfairly appropriated. It was in the interest of all that a fairer and more satisfactory agreement be reached. That would require open-minded consultations on all aspects of the peacekeeping budget, without prejudging the outcome. The new arrangement should be based on arguments.
He supported the United States proposal for a review of the peacekeeping scale, he said. That was an important element in the process of reforming the United Nations -- reform aimed at strengthening its relevance and efficiency. The Fifth Committee should start considering the peacekeeping scale and its shortcomings and strengths. He hoped questions on the scale would be successfully resolved, for the future of peacekeeping and of the Organization.
ABDELMALEK BOUHEDDOU (Algeria) said Algeria supported discussion of the peacekeeping scale, because each Member State had the right to raise its concerns for discussion. He also believed that peacekeeping must have the necessary resources to achieve their mandates. Such missions had, following the end of the cold war, grown rapidly in number and in the scale of their mandates. Algerias major concern was how to ensure regular and appropriate financing of operations, when the United Nations owed troop contributors some $800 million, and those States awaiting payment were mostly developing countries. In such circumstances, any increase in assessments for peacekeeping might simply exacerbate the problem of United Nations indebtedness, and thus jeopardize the mandate of peacekeeping operations.
Despite difficulties, Algeria had always paid its assessments in full and on time, he said. It was vital for all Member States to do this, and to comply with all their financial obligations. That was the best way for Member States to demonstrate their attachment to the principles of the United Nations.
Algeria was prepared to participate in negotiations and consultations on the peacekeeping scale, he said, aimed at sanctioning an acceptable formula that would institutionalize and reform peacekeeping assessments. The context in which the current ad hoc scale was established in 1973 had certainly changed. Certain countries, like Algeria, had experienced economic improvement since 1973, but were currently suffering economically. Other States were economically better off now than then. Any revision should take into account the special responsibility of permanent Security Council members, the capacity of each Member State to pay and the relatively limited capacity of less economically developed countries.
ARNOLDO M. LISTRE (Argentina) said that peacekeeping was one of the central activities of the Organization and a collective responsibility for all Member States. Argentina had provided ample proof of the importance it placed on those operations. In the course of the current debate, some delegations expressed a desire to review the special scale. Argentina acknowledged that some of the arguments in favour of change were valid. However, the matter should be considered cautiously, taking into account the serious implications that could arise for some countries.
Argentina was in group (c), he continued. If it were to move to group (b), it would have to pay five times more than it did today. In 2001, with a peacekeeping budget of some $2 billion, if Argentina were in category (b) it would have to pay some $25 million, or $22 million more. That increase was unacceptable and Argentina would oppose such radical criteria. It was not realistic that his country and others in similar situations with severe budgetary restrictions, could automatically pay five times more.
He said that his delegation associated itself with view of other delegations, especially the delegation of Mexico, that major budget responsibility should reside with the permanent five members of the Security Council. Those members should assume the major costs of any possible change that would be made to the current scale.
DULCE MARIA BUERGO-RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said that her delegation wished to highlight the importance of the inclusion of precise and detailed information on training activities at the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi. Information on the way in which those courses were adopted should also be included. With respect to estimates for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, Cuba took note that the budget aspects represented an increase of new posts for the Training Unit and for the Rapid Deployment Management Unit. Taking into account the increase in peacekeeping operations in recent times, she wanted confirmation that the level of human and financial resources would match new situations.
On the suggestion to create a Rapid Deployment Management Unit, Cuba was concerned with the fact that the new concept exceeded the limits of management, she said. Cuba felt that the Committee should maintain the procedures of the Assembly in that area. The Committee could address the financial means for that unit once other intergovernmental bodies legislated on it. On the two P-4 posts that had been approved for the rapidly deployable mission headquarters, those posts should be removed from the staffing budget and the budget for that period should reflect that decrease. She was concerned that the ACABQ had provided substantive comments on the proposal of the Secretary-General without it having been analysed by competent intergovernmental mechanisms. Also, given the obvious overlapping of functions of some activities carried out by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs, it was crucial to maintain ongoing supervision of that matter.
She said she fully supported the reclassification of South Africa to the group with lower peacekeeping financial responsibilities, since the reasons given by South Africa to the President of the General Assembly fully justified the reclassification. Also, she endorsed the statement made by the Group of 77 developing countries and China, as well as the position of the Non-Aligned Movement on the scale of assessments. Cuba supported the proposals made by the Group on aspects linked to the special scale. She took note of the interest of some delegations for a review of the scale, and felt that discussion on that issue should follow the proper course.
RAMON A. MORALES (Panama) said he could not oppose the call for a review of the mechanisms for financing peacekeeping, but had doubts about the demands for urgency in reviewing it. Such a review would require time. Of the main arguments for a review of the scale continually advanced by the United States, there were two that warranted attention. First, the United States said that peacekeeping missions had been deployed over broader areas and with broader mandates, and that those changes meant the system must be upgraded to adjust to those changes. Second, it said that, after Sierra Leone, Member States must renew their commitment to peacekeeping.
On the first point, that position assumed the United Nations should continue to intervene in civil wars, he said. The United Nations must differentiate more clearly between domestic conflicts and those that posed a threat to peace in their regions. In domestic or internal conflicts, peaceful settlement efforts from bodies like the Commission on Human Rights and from regional organizations, aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, should be a priority. On the second point, while he agreed that efforts must be made to improve activities for the maintenance of international peace and security, the situation in Sierra Leone could not be a benchmark for change, and was not a reason to review the peacekeeping scale.
The United Nations needed compliance with current obligations from all Member States, he said, and the permanent Security Council members must assume special responsibility for financing peacekeeping, with no concessions or conditions. The world needed firm and sound funding and administration of United Nations peacekeeping missions. The United Nations must be economically solvent and, thus, able to improve the world. Any analysis of peacekeeping financing must also examine what was actually required to comply with the United Nations mandate to maintain peace in the world.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said the methodology for financing peacekeeping had long been before the Fifth Committee, and had also been the subject of extensive debate in the high-level open-ended working group on peacekeeping. A review was, therefore, timely. Proper financing was more crucial than ever for the success of the United Nations. The Organization deserved stable, transparent financing mechanisms, based on objective criteria. The 1973 ad hoc peacekeeping arrangements had not been touched since their establishment, although the world, United Nations peacekeeping and even the membership of the Organization had changed. The scale could not lag behind modern realities. Existing irregularities would only be amplified, as peacekeeping expenditures increased.
His Government believed that capacity to pay should be the basis of any equitable financing arrangement, he said. Financing peacekeeping missions should be a collective responsibility. Capacity to pay should be based on gross national product per capita, and allowance should be made in any new scale for the special responsibility of Council members, as well as the fact that economically less- developed States had less capacity to contribute. The fundamental change should be the establishment of standard economic criteria for determining the assessment and membership of the payment groups, thus ensuring both equity and a scale with the capacity for adjustment. The time had come to embark on a comprehensive review of the scale, as the number and depth of statements made on the issue in the Fifth Committee clearly indicated. Such a review was critical to the Organization's future. He called on the Fifth Committee to hold informal consultations on the peacekeeping scale in its current resumed session.
ANDRÉ ERDOS (Hungary) said peacekeeping was the most important and visible aspect of United Nations activities. Recent increases in the number and scope of missions made it imperative that sufficient resources be provided for them. He was aware that the scale, as currently applied, created anomalies. Arrangements made in the 1970s were outdated. Thus, the scale should be the subject of thorough discussion in the Fifth Committee, as part of a focus on ways to remedy the problem of peacekeeping financing. He noted that many other Member States were calling for a review of the peacekeeping scale. He supported efforts to find a viable solution to problems and create a sound system based on capacity to pay.
His country currently enjoyed a discount on its proportion of peacekeeping budgets, through its membership in group (c) for financing purposes, he said. It had decided to review that and voluntarily renounce its discount. That change would take place at an appropriate time in the discussion of a new scale by the Fifth Committee. Due account would have to be taken of Hungarys need to readjust to the considerable additional expenses it would, therefore, have to carry. Changes that would lead to certain States bearing increased expenses must be gradual and incremental.
It was important, at present, to preserve United Nations credibility and to demonstrate determination by acting without undue delay in peacekeeping, he said. If past experience provided one clear lesson for peacekeeping, as he could account from his own experience, it was that the United Nations needed to move peacekeepers in at the right time, with the right means and with the right mandates.
MARIO H. CASTELLON DUARTE (Nicaragua) said that peace was an essential element in the development and enhancement of societies. He was aware that funding for peacekeeping should be reviewed, to establish a fair and equitable scale. Capacity to pay should remain the dominant principle in any reapportioning of obligations, and those with limited resources should not be affected.
Any discussion on the establishment of a new scale for peacekeeping expenses should be far reaching and involve the participation of all Member States, he said. The scale should be reviewed, regardless of the way the calls for a review had been made. He believed that the Fifth Committee could overcome the financial obstacles that endangered peacekeeping and he hoped it could provide a means to guarantee the continuity of peacekeeping missions, for the benefit of all.
AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) said that the subject of a review of the peacekeeping scale of assessments appeared unpalatable to most. It was inevitable, however, that the scale of assessments would have to be discussed by the United Nations sooner or later, without prejudice to the outcome. If peace and security for all peoples of the Member States remained the core functions of the United Nations, then it was imperative that the subject be discussed with an open mind. The amount of financial commitment in peacekeeping operations was escalating in geometrical proportions. Given the conflicts in various regions of the world and the legitimate expectation that the United Nations would mediate peace, there was no hope of containing the level of expenditures for peacekeeping operations.
Most of the least developed countries and developing countries could hardly cushion the financial burden of paying more in United Nations dues, he said. Those Member States were already stretched to the limit with meagre resource capabilities to meet the basic needs of their people. Most were not in the position to make additional contributions to the United Nations budget. Troop- contributing countries, however, should not be penalized in the current impasse by not getting the timely reimbursement for their troops serving in missions. Member States should pay their dues in full and on time.
ADRIAN SPIROLLARI (Albania) said that the United Nations played a very important role in resolving political and social problems and conflicts and in maintaining international peace and security. Albania was grateful to the peacekeeping forces that were present in the Balkan region, both in Kosovo and Bosnia. Those interventions not only prevented humanitarian catastrophes, they also helped to stop the spread of the conflict to the southern Balkan region. However, the problems that faced Kosovo, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bosnia, and also the grave situation in Sierra Leone, had demonstrated the need to review peacekeeping operations.
Albania fully supported the concerns and proposals raised by the United States delegate, he said. Consensus in achieving an acceptable solution would serve to strengthen the role of the United Nations. On the collective nature of peacekeeping, Member States needed to contribute more. Such increased participation would increase both the role of Member States and the United Nations, and would create more active peacekeeping forces.
JOSEPH W. MUTABOBA (Rwanda) said history showed that the United Nations peacemaking and peacekeeping had gone through hard times. Many tests had been failed, for many different reasons. Those failures, however, should not be seen as a reason to give up, but rather to examine what led to the failures. Deep reform was required in the United Nations, starting with its first priority -- peacekeeping. The scale for peacekeeping assessments should be seen in that perspective.
Africa was the location of most recent United Nations failures, he said, and it could not be left to suffer. Reform was needed now, more than ever. Africa had suffered from all sorts of injustices, some even self-imposed. While others spoke of the peacekeeping scale of assessments, he would speak of reforms needed to give Africa the peace and security it had been long denied by those with the means to provide it. He hoped the Fifth Committee would give Africa a share in the future and an incentive to sustain hope for a better future. Wrong and unfair premises, however, could not lead to better outcomes. Any outcome must be both realistic and fair.
MORTEZA MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran) said he noted that the Secretariat had undertaken a review of the concept of a rapidly deployable mission headquarters, and that the Secretary-General's proposals following that review had not yet been submitted to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Resource proposals for the Unit he was proposing could only be considered by the Fifth Committee after that body had reviewed the new proposals. In addition, since the Assembly had already provided a budget for rapidly deployable mission headquarters' posts, he sought information on the current situation regarding those posts. He said that discussion of the peacekeeping scale of assessments should follow the proper course in accordance with Assembly procedures.
LIDIJA TOPIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said discussions of the peacekeeping scale were essential to the United Nations core function. Two thirds of all peacekeeping operations had taken place in the past decade. Clearly, peacekeeping
was the United Nations tool of choice for conflict containment. Timely deployment of peacekeeping missions saved lives and assisted in rebuilding States infrastructure, thereby saving people and resources. Thus, financial support for peacekeeping should not be based on an ad hoc system or affected by conditionality, but rather the result of a mechanism that would be applicable today and tomorrow. It should be brought up to date.
The steady decline in the proportion of peacekeeping resources provided by the permanent Security Council members triggered a number of issues, she said. Those included their role in peacekeeping decision-making, and that of the rest of the Organizations Member States, who paid more than 50 per cent of the peacekeeping bills. She supported the need for all to pay their fair share and that declining economic circumstances should lead to declines in obligations.
There was another crisis brewing in Africa, she noted, and she expressed hope that the Secretary-General could be given adequate means to address it. United Nations peacekeeping failures in Bosnia and Rwanda should not be seen as the result of a lack of resources, but rather as the result of a lack of will by the most powerful, who were far more culpable than the United Nations Secretariat. The scale of assessments, for both peacekeeping and the regular budget, should only concern and apply to Member States. She, therefore, reminded Member States that the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia ceased to exist some time ago, and that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had not yet applied for United Nations membership. Finally, Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the Secretary-Generals initiative in establishing a high-level panel on peacekeeping and his proposal to establish a rapid deployment management unit.
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