Fifth Committee Takes up Scale of Assessments for Determining Member State Contributions to 2010-2012 Peacekeeping Budget
Fifth Committee Takes up Scale of Assessments for Determining Member State Contributions to 2010-2012 Peacekeeping Budget
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
3rd Meeting (AM)
FIFTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP SCALE OF ASSESSMENTS FOR DETERMINING MEMBER STATE
CONTRIBUTIONS TO 2010-2012 PEACEKEEPING BUDGET
Following the conclusion of its discussion on the scale of assessments for the regular budget, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the scale of assessments for determining Member States’ contributions in 2010-2012 for the peacekeeping operations budget, the first such review in nine years. Delegates expressed concern at an anomaly in the determination process that caused a number of developing countries to be assessed at the same level as developed economies.
Summing up the discussion on the scale for the regular budget, the Chairman of the Committee on Contributions, Bernardo Greiver, thanked delegates for the ideas they had contributed, which he said he would take back to the Committee. He was encouraged that so many of the speakers had backed the Committee’s work, especially since it had not had guidelines from the General Assembly on how to proceed.
Jun Yamazaki, Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, then introduced the report on the scale of assessments for peacekeeping operations. The current scale had been established by General Assembly resolution 55/235 nine years ago. It was based on a comparison of the average per capita gross national income of each Member State during the six-year base period used for preparing the regular scale of assessments, with the corresponding average for all Member States. These criteria were then used to place each Member State in one of 10 levels, from A, which applied to the permanent Members of the Security Council, to J, which applied to countries that would receive the lowest rate of assessment.
The representative of the United States said that the peacekeeping scale started with the regular budget scale, to which a framework of discounts and premiums was applied to obtain the final apportionment of expenses. Therefore, as Mr. Yamazaki stated, it would not be possible to determine the rates of assessment for peacekeeping for the period from 2010-2012 until a new regular budget scale was adopted. However, for illustrative purposes, the report presented peacekeeping rates of assessment based on the regular scale of assessments for the period included in the report of the Committee on Contributions.
The delegate from Saint Kitts and Nevis, who was speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), pointed out that, by maintaining the current methodology for the peacekeeping scale, the majority of developing countries would see substantial increases in their contribution rates for 2010-2012. Those huge increases would be taking place against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis, which had undermined the developing countries’ capacity to pay. With small populations and limited resources, CARICOM countries had deceptively high per capita incomes that did not reflect their economic realities, yet they were forced to undertake the responsibilities of developed countries. In other words, they had to assume the same rate of assessment as the regular budget scale, without any discounts.
Furthering that concept, the representative of the Bahamas said that the current methodology had placed her small island developing country, an archipelago of 22 inhabited islands, with all the concomitant vulnerabilities, and a population of a mere 300,000 people, in category B, the same category as the most highly developed States. The Bahamas had particular considerations that had not been taken into account in making that determination, such as the extra expenditures required for duplicating infrastructure to bring services to 22 inhabited islands, or the serious challenges the country faced due to an economic crisis it had not caused.
Along with many of today’s speakers, she said that placement in the level B category was unacceptable. It did not reflect a fair and balanced treatment of the economic realities, or the vulnerabilities and concerns of the Bahamas. For developing countries, such as her own, level C would be more appropriate.
Also speaking were representatives of Senegal, Iran, Iceland, Belarus, Botswana, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kuwait, Eritrea, Chad, Sudan (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), Angola (on behalf of the African Group), Oman (on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council), Japan and Singapore.
The Committee will next convene on Wednesday, 7 October, at 10:00 am to consider financial reports and reports of the Board of Auditors and on Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) activities, as well as the Independent Audit Advisory Committee.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to continue its consideration of the regular budget scale of assessments and take up the scale by which Member States’ contributions to the peacekeeping budget of the United Nations are set.
On the latter, the Committee had before it a report on the scale of assessments for the peacekeeping budget (document A/64/220), which was last set by the terms of resolution 55/235 nine years ago. By that text, the Assembly adopted a new system of adjustments of the regular budget scale, to be used in fixing the rates of assessment for peacekeeping operations. The system assigned each Member State to one of 10 levels, based on its average per capita gross national product during the period 1993-1998 and several other criteria, with permanent members of the Security Council and least developed countries forming separate levels. The Secretary-General was requested to update the composition of the levels on a triennial basis, in conjunction with reviews of the regular budget scale. Such reports were presented to the Assembly in 2003 and 2006.
With the review of the structure of levels of contribution for peacekeeping operations scheduled for this session, the report before the Committee provides information on updating the composition of levels of contribution for peacekeeping operations for the period from 2010 to 2012, as well as changes in the peacekeeping levels of Member States, based on average per capita gross national income during the period from 2002 to 2007.
The report points out, however, that it will be impossible to determine new peacekeeping rates of assessment until the Assembly has adopted a new scale. Further, any adjustments to the structure of contribution levels for peacekeeping operations, as may be decided during the current session, would also need to be taken into account in determining the rates of assessment for peacekeeping. For illustrative purposes, however, on the basis of the existing structure of contribution levels, the peacekeeping rates of assessment corresponding to the scale of assessments for the period from 2010 to 2012 are shown, as included for information in the report of the Committee on Contributions.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) expressed strong support for the statement of the Group of 77 and China and furthered enumerated several principles of importance. The Organization’s expenses must be divided among States according to their capacity to pay. The methodology for calculating the scale of assessments for the regular budget must be maintained, particularly with regard to the longest possible use of a single base period; reductions relating to indebtedness; reductions for low income countries; and the rate of conversion.
In addition, he stressed the importance of maintaining a “floor” rate for the least developed countries that would take the fragility of their economies into account, and would not put an undue burden on them. Also, while recognizing that the current financial and economic crisis affected both rich and poor countries, he said that it should not be used as a pretext to put the principle of capacity to pay in question, or to change the methodology for calculating the scale of assessments.
Senegal, as a country that had made huge investments in infrastructure, education, health and the fight against poverty in an effort to spur achievement towards the Millennium Development Goals, would not be part of any compromise that would substantially raise the assessed contributions of the least developed countries, thus placing them in a situation that would make it even more difficult to honour their obligations to the Organization.
JAVAD SAFAEI (Iran) aligned himself with the position of the Group of 77 and supported the recommendations of the Committee on Contributions to permit six countries to vote in the General Assembly through the end of the sixty-fourth session to avoid sanctions under Article 19 of the Charter. In connection with the regular budget scale, he welcomed the opportunity to discuss all pertinent issues leading to the realization of the principle of capacity to pay. The Committee on Contributions was the sole body mandated to advise the Assembly on the scale, and its report should provide a comprehensive platform for discussions. In that regard, he reiterated that the recommendations of the Committee on Contributions should be based on the most current, comprehensive and comparable data on gross national income, and all other elements of the scale methodology. All efforts should be made to reach the most accurate information on national economies.
The rationale for establishing a reduced ceiling had been to improve the financial situation of the Organization, he continued. The General Assembly should have reverted to that matter, to see the effectiveness of the measures introduced in that regard. The Secretariat should have provided the Fifth Committee with information on the application of the methodology without the application of a 22 per cent ceiling. That option was missing now, in the report of the Committee on Contributions.
He went on to express concern regarding abrupt and sharp increases in assessments experienced by developing countries following the introduction of the new scale. Many developing countries had seen increase in assessments, while their economies were undergoing numerous difficulties. The report of the Committee on Contributions should have contained concrete proposals and measures to avoid substantial increases in the assessments of those countries. The special difficulties of developing countries should be taken into account, and the decision on the scale must be responsive to such difficulties. Transparent and open dialogue was needed to reach the most suitable scale, parallel to exploring measures to improve the financial situation of the Organization.
MARÍA MJÖLL JÓNSDÓTTIR (Iceland) concurred with the Committee on Contributions that the best way to capture the principle of capacity to pay was to use the most current and comprehensive data on gross national income available as a basis and to reflect, in that way, each country’s share in the world economy. The current scale was at odds with present economic realities. Over the past years, there had been sweeping changes in the world economy, bringing about a realignment of economic and financial power. Recent world financial turmoil had served to underline those changes and might affect the world’s financial and economic architecture in years to come. Those developments called for some adjustments in the scale to ensure that it remained fair and equitable.
Based on the current methodology, her country would contribute to the United Nations in 2010-2012 over 27 per cent more than its share in the world economy, she said. As noted by the European Union,such discrepancies were clearly not in line with the principle of capacity to pay. He fully accepted that capacity to pay could not, and should not, guide the scale of assessments to the exclusion of all other considerations, including important adjustments that provided relief to the most vulnerable countries. Yet, the time was ripe for some countries that had been experiencing buoyant economic growth over the past years to assume a share of the regular budget that was more in line with their relative size in the world economy. That would be fair and consistent with the collective nature of the United Nations and it would reinforce the membership’s commitment to the fundamental principle of capacity to pay.
YURY G. YAROSHEVICH (Belarus) said that many Member States would have to demonstrate political will, leadership and a willingness to assume an adequate burden of obligation in the face of an economic and financial crisis, unprecedented in recent history, during discussion of the Organization’s budget and scale of assessments.
He questioned the basis for the decision by the Committee on Contributions not to recommend the use of the formula for market rate currency conversion in determining the scale of assessments with regard to 11 States, in violation of long-standing practice. Such a formula had been confirmed for Member States whose per capita gross domestic product exceeded the average world gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.5 times, and had been recommended by the Secretariat at the Committee on Contributions’ recent session in June.
The 11 States whose growth in per capita gross domestic product had met that criterion for the period 2005-2007 were: Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russian Federation and Ukraine, he said. He expressed the hope that, in the spirit of partnership and cooperation, Member States would reinstate use of the formula for those countries.
NTESANG MOLEMELE (Botswana) associated herself with the statements of the Group of 77 and China and of the African Group, and agreed that the requests of those countries requesting exemption under Article 19 should be approved. She further commended Liberia for exceeding the payments it had agreed to under its multi-year payment plan, noting that it demonstrated that country’s political will to eradicate its arrears.
ZULFIQUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) aligned himself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China and noted further that, in its consideration of the scale of assessments for the triennium 2010-2012, the Committee on Contributions, while reaffirming its recommendations for income measurements, conversion rates, floor rate and ceilings, had decided to consider further the questions of base period, debt burden adjustment and low per capita income adjustment.
Those elements were crucial to the true picture of Member States’ capacity to pay, he said. The scale of assessments must be based on the principle of capacity to pay, to be determined on the basis of recent data on gross national income and market exchange rates as conversion criteria, with some exceptions where that rate led to excessive fluctuations and distortion in measuring the actual income of some Member States.
The current methodology must be used to determine the updated scale of assessments for the triennium 2010-2012, he said, and strongly supported maintaining the floor rate at 0.001 per cent and maximum contribution rate for least developed countries at 0.01 per cent. He further said that purchasing power parity was neither reliable, nor appropriate for determining the scale of assessments. He also expressed strong support for approving the requests of those countries requesting exemptions under Article 19 and for permitting them to vote in the General Assembly until the end of the sixty-fourth session.
He expressed concern at the use of statistical information gathered from websites and said it was critical to gather reliable, verifiable and comparable data from authentic Government sources. Website information was not always updated in a timely manner and using information from a variety of bodies -- such as central banks and ministries -- could result in incoherent assessments of contributions.
EAT SEYLA (Cambodia) said that capacity to pay had been the guiding principle of the scale methodology since the beginning of the United Nations. It reflected the general consensus worked out by Member States and had been reaffirmed by the Assembly several times. Cambodia was of the view that the existing methodology for preparing the scales reflected the fundamental and inviolable principle of capacity to pay. Therefore, her Government was in favour of adopting the methodology used in 2007-2009 to prepare the scale for the next triennium. It was his clear understanding that it was the view of the overwhelming majority of Member States. The existing methodology was the result of long and hard negotiations and full consultations among Member States. The Committee should not further complicate the issues by introducing new, disputable elements that caused more concern to most Member States, including Cambodia.
Mr. AL-DHBIRI (Kuwait) supported the position of the Group of 77 and said that the vital role of the United Nations required a constant flow of financial resources to implement its mandate. The principle of capacity to pay remained a vital one. Any increases in assessments for developing countries, while assessments of developed countries went down, were inadmissible in the new scale. He supported multi-year payment plans, which demonstrated Member States’ commitment to their financial duties under the Charter. He also supported the recommendations of the Committee on Contributions on requests under Article 19 of the Charter from six countries who were undergoing difficulties beyond their control and should be allowed to vote in the General Assembly through the end of its sixty-fourth session.
The existence of Member States’ political will to fulfil their financial obligations in full, on time and without conditions was one of the top priorities for the Organization, he continued. His country continued to fulfil all its financial obligations in full and on time. He hoped the Committee on Contributions would continue to develop elements of the methodology and that no increases in developing countries’ assessments would be approved. That would help to avoid distortions that would impede fulfilment of their financial obligations to the Organization. Due regard should be given to the existing resolutions, which urged Member States to help the Committee on Contributions to draft the new scale in a more transparent and just manner.
TESFA ALEM SEYOUM (Eritrea) said that the Fifth Committee was more than the “show me the money” committee, but was rather the “eyes and ears of the United Nations”. As the Committee monitoring the effectiveness and efficiency of the Organization for the common good, it shouldered an immense responsibility. He expressed concern at the politicization of the Committee’s work and said that, “At the end of the day… the United Nations is about people. Therefore, let us tune in and turn on to what we can do together, in one accord, to make a difference for the better in the lives of the peoples that we are sent to serve.”
On the scale of assessments, he quoted the saying in the United States, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” in reference to the current methodology. That methodology, stemming from the capacity to pay, had done good service and should not be changed, even though it would increase the assessed contributions of some developing countries. He also hoped that the requests of those countries that had requested exemptions under Article 19 would be approved unanimously.
DAVID KOUMATO KIBGUE (Chad) said that he wanted to address misconceptions that had resulted from yesterday’s statements in connection with the Committee on Contributions report, according to which Chad was the only country not to have met its commitments under Article 19 of the Charter and had no right to vote in the Assembly. Indeed, the Committee on Contributions report covered the period up to June 2009, at which time his country had not made payments to the United Nations budget, due to administrative constraints. Since August, however, Chad had met all its commitments with regard to its assessments and no longer fell under Article 19.
BERNARDO GREIEVER, Chairman of the Committee on Contributions, summed up the discussion of the scale of assessments for the regular budget, and noted that more than 20 countries had addressed the Committee on the matter. All comments would be transmitted to the Committee on Contributions, he said. All of the ideas were important.
The Committee on Contributions’ work this year has been difficult, as there had been no clear instructions to guide it. He was, therefore, especially encouraged that many Members’ statements had backed the Committee on Contributions’ work. Its report provided the General Assembly with many ideas for consideration. Without a resolution or clear guidelines, the Committee on Contributions had decided to sit down and produce, rather than discuss how to discuss the issue.
As Chair, he congratulated Chad for its contributions. The report reflected the situation, regarding that country, as it had been in June when the Committee had met. The representative of Chad was correct in noting the resolution of that situation.
Introduction of report
Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the scale of assessments for peacekeeping operations, Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, JUN YAMAZAKI, said that, in accordance with General Assembly decisions, the structure of contribution levels for peacekeeping was now being reviewed, after nine years, at the Assembly’s sixty-fourth session. By its resolution 55/235, the Assembly had established a new system of assessments for peacekeeping operations based on a comparison of the average per capita gross national income of each Member State during the six-year base period used for preparing the scale of assessments, with the corresponding average for all Member States. These criteria were then used to place each Member State in one of 10 levels, from A to J.
The Assembly welcomed the voluntary commitment of a number of Member States to contribute to peacekeeping operations at a higher rate than that required by their per capita income, he said. On the basis of the provisions of resolution 55/235 and the practice adopted by the General Assembly for the composition of levels for the period 2001-2003, the Secretariat subsequently updated the composition of levels for subsequent periods, using the average data on gross national income for the six-year base period used by the Committee on Contributions in considering the scale of assessments for those periods. Given that the structure of levels was now under review, updated levels of contributions for peacekeeping operations were presented in the current report solely for illustrative purposes.
In updating the composition of levels of contributions for peacekeeping operations for the period 2010-2012, the data for the six-year period 2002-2007 was used, he said, in accordance with the guidelines in resolutions 55/235 and 55/236. The composition of levels was updated based on the provisions of resolution 55/235 and each Member State’s average per capita gross national income for 2002-2007, in relation to the membership average of $6,707.92. The updated composition of levels presented in the report also took into account a request from Hungary relating to its voluntarily established level.
The updated composition of levels, subject to adjustments arising from the General Assembly’s review of the structure of contribution levels, would be used, together with the scale of assessments for 2010-2012, to establish each Member State’s peacekeeping rate of assessment. Until a new regular budget scale was adopted, it would not be possible to determine the corresponding rates of assessment for peacekeeping for the period from 2010-2012. However, in order to facilitate the General Assembly’s review of the structure of contribution levels for peacekeeping operations, document A/64/220 presented the peacekeeping rates of assessment corresponding to the scale of assessments for the period from 2010 to 2012 included for information in the report.
MAGID YOUSIF (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, emphasized that all peacekeeping operations should be provided with all the necessary resources, in order to carry out their activities. In that context, he informed the Committee about the decision adopted at the Group of 77 Ministerial Declaration of 25 September 2009, in which the ministers had affirmed that the current principles and guidelines for the apportionment of expenses of peacekeeping operations approved by the General Assembly should constitute a basis for any discussion on the peacekeeping scale. The scale must clearly reflect the special responsibilities of the permanent members of the Security Council for the maintenance of peace and security. The ministers had also recalled that economically less-developed countries had a limited capacity to contribute towards peacekeeping budgets, and emphasized that any discussion on the system of discounts should take into account the conditions of developing countries, whose current positions must not be negatively affected. The Group, therefore, considered it of the utmost importance to reaffirm the principles that underlay peacekeeping financing, as contained in relevant Assembly resolutions.
Special responsibilities of the permanent members of the Council should be borne in mind in the decisions regarding peacekeeping financing, he continued. It also could not be overstated that there was a clear difference between developed and developing countries in connection with their respective capacities, when it came to contributing to the peacekeeping operational budgets. Further, special consideration should be given to least developed countries and the situation of those Member States -– most of them from the Group -– that were at the epicentre of peacekeeping operations.
The Group recalled that the current system of discounts had been created in order to facilitate evaluation of individual capacities of Member States to contribute to the budgets of peacekeeping operations, he said. He was deeply concerned, however, that automatic applications of the current system of discounts had resulted in a situation, whereby developing countries could be artificially classified in the developed world category, Level B, and forced to relinquish the totality of their discounts. That was the case of two small island developing States. That was a violation of the principle that developing countries had limited capacities to contribute to the already heavy expenditures of peacekeeping operations. Those anomalies needed to be corrected, in order to have a fair and just distribution of the levels of discounts. No developing country should be classified above Level C. The necessary corrective actions to the system of discounts should be adopted now, so that it could be applied to future peacekeeping scales.
Reaffirming that full and timely payments of peacekeeping dues were a collective responsibility of all, the Group stood ready to assume its obligations emanating from a fair and just system of discounts, one that took fully into account all the principles that governed the apportionment of peacekeeping expenses. Any negotiations on the item must be conducted in an open, inclusive and transparent manner, upholding the legitimacy and competency of the Fifth Committee. He also reiterated the Group’s opposition to decision-making in small group configurations, as well as imposition of any conditionalities in the negotiations.
PER ÖRNÉUS (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, stressed the importance of ensuring that both scales reflected a fair and balanced distribution of the financial responsibilities among Member States. The European Union was currently contributing at a rate far in excess of its share of world wealth, with the methodology of the regular scale also resulting in an excessive rate for the Union’s collective peacekeeping contributions. Maintaining international peace and security was a collective responsibility and core activity of the United Nations. The European Union and its Member States had actively participated in peacekeeping throughout the decades and, as a chief contributor to peacekeeping budgets, the Union remained committed to providing adequate and efficient financial backing for United Nations peacekeeping.
The reform of the peacekeeping scale in 2000 had aimed at providing an equitable and, therefore, stable and sustainable financial basis for that essential task, he continued. The peacekeeping scale should reflect capacity to pay and the special responsibility of the permanent members of the Security Council. It should also be organized in such a way that all Member States had incentives to take responsibility for effective management and responsible budgeting of missions. The Union stood ready to review the structure of contributing levels, as reflected in resolution 55/235, in the light of those principles. The Union recognized that the permanent members of the Council had assumed special responsibility with regard to peacekeeping financing. Further, countries with less developed economies had a relatively lower capacity to contribute. The reduction granted to countries with a relatively lower income had been a solidarity measure, to complement the mechanisms already in place in the regular scale. Yet, finding the resources to provide financial backing for United Nations’ mandates, including peacekeeping, was a collective responsibility of members represented in the Assembly.
The scale should be based on objective and comparable criteria, he said. The Union reaffirmed the principles underlying the current methodology; yet, a fresh and pertinent analysis could prove beneficial in ensuring the scale better reflected the principle of capacity to pay.
ELSA DE JESUS PATACA (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group, aligned herself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China and stressed the importance of United Nations peacekeeping operations in the pursuit of lasting peace and security. She hoped that there would be no further attempts to affect arbitrary cuts to peacekeeping budgets, as had occurred at the recent second resumed session.
Citing the 25 September Ministerial Declaration of the Group, she said that economically less developed countries had limited capacity to contribute towards the budgets of peacekeeping operations and any discussion of the system of discounts applied to the peacekeeping scale should take into account the conditions of developing countries, whose current positions must not be negatively affected. There should be a clear distinction between developed and developing countries in relation to their respective capacity to contribute.
Noting that the current system of discounts as applied to the peacekeeping scale was created in order to facilitate evaluation of the individual capacities of Member States to contribute, she expressed concern that the automatic application of the system had resulted in an artificial classification of developing countries in the category for developed countries, Level B, with the consequent loss of their discounts. She called for an immediate correction of this anomaly.
In closing, she said that all Member States were responsible for the full and timely payments of their assessed contributions for peacekeeping operations, and noted with appreciation that the application of Article 19 to six Member States would be waived by the end of this week.
DELANO FRANK BART (Saint Kitts and Nevis), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and said that by maintaining the current methodology for the peacekeeping scale, the majority of developing countries would see substantial increases in the contribution rates for 2010-2012. Those huge increases would be taking place against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis, which had undermined the developing countries’ capacity to pay. With small populations and limited resources, CARICOM countries had deceptively high per capita incomes that did not reflect their economic realities. Thus, they had always argued that per capita gross national income should not be given undue weight in determining a country’s capacity to pay, as it often led to distortion. He was especially concerned about the situation of small and vulnerable economies, which had to bear greater burdens for peacekeeping financing as a result of the application of the current system of discounts.
CARICOM considered it of the utmost importance to reaffirm the principles that underlay peacekeeping financing, he continued. In that context, the special responsibilities of the permanent members of the Security Council should be borne in mind in the decisions regarding peacekeeping financing. As stakeholders of the United Nations, CARICOM countries would continue to meet their legal obligations towards the Organization. Nonetheless, they were very concerned about the application of the current system of discounts, in which the mechanism of automatic graduation placed developing countries in the developed countries’ category, Level B, where they were forced to undertake developed country responsibilities. In other words, they had to assume the same rate of assessment as the regular budget scale, without any discounts.
When the Assembly adopted resolution 55/235, which established the current system of discounts for the peacekeeping scale, that had not been Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) understanding of how the system would function. CARICOM, therefore, called for a correction to that anomaly. That was necessary to reflect the principle that had been agreed to in resolution 55/235, when Level C had been created, intended to provide for a clear and explicit separation of burden-sharing for peacekeeping financing between developed and developing countries. Bahamas, a CARICOM member and a small island developing State, currently placed in Level B, should be reassigned to Level C, consistent with the position enunciated by the Group.
He said no developing country should be classified above Level C, unless that country made an explicit sovereign decision to voluntarily assume developed country responsibilities in Level B. The principle that had been agreed to in 2000 had been violated. That was not a matter of technical considerations, but rather a corrective political measure for a particular case on the grounds of justice, fairness and consistency with the underlying principles of the peacekeeping scale.
He added that CARICOM affirmed the unity and solidarity of all its members on that issue and stood ready to engage in a constructive dialogue with all groups and delegations during the session.
MOHAMMED AQEEL BA-OMAR (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, aligned himself with the statement of the Group of 77 and China. He placed great importance of the stipulation in Chapter VIII of the Charter calling for cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations. While the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as others, were facing the consequences of the current economic and financial crisis, they remained committed to meeting their responsibilities in support of peacekeeping operations.
He said that there must be a clear distinction between developed and developing countries with regard to their contributions to the budget of peacekeeping operations. Recalling that the current system of discounts, as applied to the peacekeeping scale, was created in order to facilitate evaluation of the individual capacities of Member States to contribute to the budget of peacekeeping operations, he expressed concern that the automatic application of the current system had resulted in the classification of one Gulf Cooperation Council country in the same category as developed countries. Any discussion on reviewing the current scale should correct the status of that country, allowing it the discount enjoyed by developing countries. He stressed that no developing country should be classified above level C.
BRUCE C. RASHKOW ( United States) said that his delegation, like others, attached great importance to the subject and looked forward to working constructively with other delegations on the matter. United Nations peacekeeping was of critical importance to the entire world, and thus its financing was a serious and important matter. The peacekeeping scale started with the regular budget scale, to which it applied a framework of discounts and premiums to obtain the final apportionment of expenses. That framework was a carefully crafted agreement worked out on the basis of extensive negotiations seeking to accommodate a wide variety of sometimes conflicting interests. As Member States were aware, this was the first time in nine years that the Fifth Committee would be considering the peacekeeping scale, discussing both the regular and peacekeeping scales simultaneously. That would require careful consideration and deliberation by all Member States.
MASATOSHI SUGIURA (Japan) said that, as the second largest financial contributor to the United Nations, his country attached great importance to the peacekeeping scale, as well as the scale for the regular budget of the Organization. Japan paid its dues faithfully, despite its difficult economic and financial situation, which had been seriously affected by the world economic downturn. Since the peacekeeping scale was based on the regular budget scale, the discussion on the latter should be reflected appropriately in the discussion on the former. As his delegation had stated yesterday, it was necessary to adhere to the basic principle that each Member State should pay its assessments according to its capacity to pay. When discussing the peacekeeping scale, there was one more element to be considered, the principle of responsibility. Based on those two principles, his delegation would constructively participate in the negotiations to ensure a comprehensive review of the scale of assessments for United Nations peacekeeping operations.
PAULETTE A. BETHEL (Bahamas) concurred with the statements made by the Group of 77 and China and CARICOM. She expressed concern at the Bahamas having been assessed at the level B category for peacekeeping operations, the same level as developed countries.
The Commonwealth of the Bahamas was a small, archipelagic, island developing State with a population of just over 300,000 people. As such, it shared the vulnerabilities of all small states to natural hazards and disasters and to exogenous economic and financial shocks. In addition, it had limited human and financial resources and institutional capacity. It also was heavily dependent on imports, including for energy, and had a limited ability to reap the benefits of economies of scale. Further, she said, as an archipelagic State, the Bahamas had to duplicate the infrastructure for the delivery of services to its 22 inhabited islands, which required an extra outlay of resources.
She said that per capita gross national income should not be given undue weight in determining capacity to pay, as it sometimes led to distortions, as evidenced by the placement of the Bahamas in a category with the world’s most developed economies, excluding the permanent Members of the Security Council. The Bahamas was indirectly disadvantaged by the gross national income criterion, as it did not adequately reflect the economy’s vulnerability or the extraordinary costs of infrastructure duplication.
There was an irony, she said, in the fact that, while the Bahamas was being called upon to share an increased financial burden for peacekeeping operations, its economy, particularly its main industry, tourism, faced serious challenges due to an economic crisis that it had not caused. The Bahamas had never shirked its responsibilities as a member of the international community, but the proposed level of assessment for peacekeeping operations was unfairly burdensome to States such as her own. Placement in the level B category was unacceptable. It did not reflect a fair and balanced treatment of the economic realities, or the vulnerabilities and concerns of the Bahamas. She said that, for developing countries such as her own, level C would be more appropriate.
LOY HUI CHIEN ( Singapore) supported the position of the Group of 77 and said that his country had always taken peacekeeping as a crucial function of the Organization. As a small country with a limited population and fewer resources, Singapore faced constraints in making substantial military and financial contributions to peacekeeping. However, it had sought to make modest contributions over the years and would continue to do so, on the solemn understanding that peacekeeping financing was a collective responsibility of all Member States. Singapore had honoured its assessments in full, on time and without conditions. It had also consistently argued for a peacekeeping scale that was fair and just, and would put United Nations peacekeeping activities on a sound and predictable footing.
The special responsibilities of the permanent members of the Security Council must be foremost in any discussion on the peacekeeping scale, he continued. The permanent five wielded disproportionate power and influence, by virtue of their permanent status and the right of veto. Perhaps it was in human nature that such inequalities would persist, but those who made unequal decisions on behalf of others and held power, privilege and influence far beyond the rest, had to accept attendant responsibilities that came with it. Hence, there must always be a Level A in the peacekeeping scale, as long as the Organization retained the concept of permanent members of the Council.
The present 10-level structure had been arrived at after painstaking negotiations in the Fifth Committee in 2000, he said. While Singapore’s discount had been significantly reduced following that review, his country had not shrunk from its obligations and continued to do its part with respect to peacekeeping financing. While Singapore intended to keep an open mind in the coming review and did not want to prejudge its outcome, he wished to put on record his firm opposition to any proposals to change the current system that would result in countries being assigned to higher levels against their will, or which would force countries to stomach further reductions in the amount of discounts.
The peacekeeping scale should try to mirror actual political and economic realities and not be overly influenced by artificial constructs, he said. Some developing countries might not be well-endowed, but because they were small countries with small populations, their per capita incomes might look deceptively high. It was neither equitable, nor just for developing countries to be assigned automatically to the developed world category, Level B, on the sole basis of their nominally high per-capita incomes. While it was the aspiration of any developing country to fuel development and uplift its own standard of living, was it fair to ignore their unique economic challenges? In that connection, he shared the concerns expressed by the Group of 77, CARICOM, the Gulf Council and the delegation of the Bahamas. The requests of developing countries on the issue were modest and deserved due consideration by the Committee.
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