Hopeful about New Colombia Operation, Speakers Seek Clarity on Nature of Support to Burundi as Fifth Committee Examines Budgets for Special Political Missions

GA/AB/4223
15 December 2016
Seventy-first Session, 22nd Meeting (AM)

Hopeful about New Colombia Operation, Speakers Seek Clarity on Nature of Support to Burundi as Fifth Committee Examines Budgets for Special Political Missions

Delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today examined the 2016-2017 programme budget for special political missions, with many expressing high hopes for the new mission in Colombia charged with implementing the November peace accord, and others requesting more clarity on support provided by the Office of Special Adviser for Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi.

Johannes Huisman, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division of the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, presented the Secretary-General’s 2016-2017 estimates for the Organization’s 31 special political missions, which totalled $578 million for 2017.  He noted that, subsequent to that report’s preparation, the mandate of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar had not been renewed, leaving the requirements for the remaining 30 missions in the report at $577 million.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that entity’s related reports, and recommended that the General Assembly approve the Secretary-General’s requested resources for the missions in 2017, subject to the Advisory Committee’s observations and recommendations.

In the ensuing dialogue, Colombia’s delegate thanked the United Nations for its support for the peace agreement and creation of the special political mission.  Indeed, it was an historic time, following the signing of a peace agreement between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP).  It was essential to monitor and verify the decommissioning of weapons, the ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities. 

The representative of the Dominican Republic, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), welcomed the Fifth Committee’s commitment to ensuring the Mission had the means to implement its mandate.  CELAC had contributed to the Mission’s team of international observers charged with monitoring and verifying the laying down of arms.  Bringing about peace in Colombia had shown that the most long-lived conflicts could be solved, added Mexico’s delegate.  Brazil’s representative expressed his Government’s unequivocal support.

Towards those ends, the European Union would provide €600 million to support Colombia in the post-conflict stage, as well as peacebuilding efforts in the short- and medium-term in the form of technical assistance, aid and loans, said the bloc’s representative.  

Turning to the Office of the Special Advisor concerning Burundi, Chad’s representative, on behalf of the African Group, welcomed progress made by the African Union and the East African Community in leading the inter-Burundian dialogue, which aimed at finding durable solutions for that country’s political challenges. 

“We are heading in the right direction,” stressed Burundi’s representative, who said political, economic and social issues should always be resolved through dialogue among Burundians.  The Secretary-General’s “absurd” suggestion about a precarious security situation in her country was a thinly veiled attempt to justify posts that were not needed.  The report should be clear on the nature of the support provided by the Office of the Special Advisor for Conflict Prevention. 

Also today, delegates outlined their views on the $26.4 million in revised estimates resulting from Human Rights Council resolutions and decisions in 2016, with Israel’s delegate calling resolution 31/36 an “outrageous and unprecedented” political tool that advocated a boycott of his country.  He objected to the approval of the funding request for a company database and called on others to do so as well.

A representative of the State of Palestine reminded delegates that the list comprised companies operating on occupied territory.  It should be drawn up and disseminated to help stop transactions with those companies.  International law rejected settlements and considered them an obstacle to the two-State solution.

Those issues were two of five topics covered today, with delegates also considering:  the programme budget implications of draft resolutions titled “New Urban Agenda” and “Oceans and the law of the Sea”; the contingency fund; and the Secretary-General’s first performance report on the 2016-2017 programme budget.  Mr. Huisman introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on those agenda items; Chair Mr. Ruiz introduced the Advisory Committee’s related reports.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Thailand (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) and the United States.

The President of the General Assembly also addressed the Committee.

The Fifth Committee will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.

Introduction of Report

2016-2017 Programme Budget: Special Political Missions

JOHANNES HUISMAN, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, introduced the Secretary-General’s report titled “Estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council” (document A/71/365), and related estimates for the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi (document A/71/365/Add.6) and the United Nations Mission in Colombia (document A/71/365/Add.7 and Corr.1).

The budget proposals for 31 such missions for 2017 totalled $578 million, and included the share of the budget of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 70/289, he said.  Subsequent to the preparation of the report, the mandate of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar was not renewed, and the requirements of the remaining 30 missions in the report would be $577 million.  The proposed number of civilian positions for 2017 for the 30 missions totalled 3,704, which reflected an increase of 86 positions.  The General Assembly was asked to approve $576.6 million for the 30 missions, including the Regional Service Centre, and approve a charge of $548.5 million (net of staff assessment) against the provision for those missions for 2016-2017, under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2016-2017 programme budget.

In addition, the General Assembly was requested to appropriate another $28.3 million, also under section 3, which took into account the estimated over-expenditures for those 30 missions of $20,000 for 2016, and to appropriate $1.7 million under section 36, staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income in section 1, income from staff assessment.

For the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi, the requirements for 2017 totalled $15.5 million, which reflected an increase of $8.8 million from 2016 as well as 74 additional positions, he said.  That reflected Security Council resolution 2216 (2015), which sought to intensify the Secretary-General’s good offices role to assist a peaceful, Yemeni-led transition process.  Regarding the United Nations Mission in Columbia, the proposed requirements for 2017 amounted to $64.2 million for the implementation of Security Council resolutions 2261 (2016) and 2307 (2016).

2016-2017 Programme Budget Implications

He then introduced the Secretary-General’s statements on the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/71/L.23 titled “New Urban Agenda” (document A/C.5/71/15) and draft resolution A/71/L.26 titled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea (document A/C.5/71/16).  The Assembly’s adoption of the resolution on the New Urban Agenda would give rise to additional resources of $770,500 to implement the requests that called for an evidence-based independent assessment of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), as well as a related report and high-level meeting of the General Assembly.  Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution on the Oceans and the Law of the Sea, an extra $748,100 would be needed to carry out the 2017 programme of work related to the second cycle of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment.

Revised Estimates Resulting from Human Rights Council Resolutions/Decisions

He then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates resulting from recent resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its thirty-first, thirty-second and thirty-third sessions (document A/71/623), held in 2016, and twenty-fourth special session held in 2015.  He said 73 resolutions and decisions adopted during the four Council sessions had financial implications, with estimated new requirements totalling $26.4 million, including $20.9 million for 2016-2017 and $5.5 million for 2018-2019.

Contingency Fund: Consolidated Statement

Turning to the Secretary-General’s report titled “Contingency fund: consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates” (document A/C.5/71/17), also known as the contingency fund report, he said that the General Assembly, in its resolutions 70/248 B and C and 70/249, approved charges totalling $24.1 million, which left a balance of $17.6 million in the fund.  At the time of completion of the report, potential charges of $43.3 million had been included, which exceeded the remaining balance by $25.7 million.  Subsequent to the Secretary-General’s report, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) issued its reports and, after taking into account ACABQ’s recommendations, the potential charges against the contingency fund amounted to $42.9 million, which exceeded the remaining balance of the fund by $25.3 million.

First Performance Report on 2016-2017 Programme Budget

Introducing the Secretary-General’s first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017 (document A/71/576), he noted that under the expenditure sections, the revised estimate reflected an increase of $51.9 million, comprising $20.9 million for commitment authorities approved by the General Assembly for unforeseen and extraordinary expenses approved by the Advisory Committee and the Secretary-General, and $31 million related to recosting.  The revised estimates for the combined income sections for the biennium 2016-2017 totalled $533.1 million, which represented an increase of $1.2 million.

Reports of Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introducing that entity’s related reports on the overall resource estimates of the 31 special political missions (document A/71/595), recommended that the General Assembly approve the Secretary-General’s requested resources for the missions in 2017, subject to ACABQ’s observations and recommendations set out in reports A/71/595/Add.1 to 8.

Outlining ACABQ’s observations, he said the Assembly had approved a $1.12 million biennial provision for the missions under section 3, political affairs, of the 2016-2017 programme budget.  Against that, it had approved a $575.8 million charge for 36 missions in 2016, leaving a $548.5 million undistributed balance.  When considering requirements in addenda 6, 7 and 8, the overall requirements for all missions for 2017 were now estimated at $671.8 million, an increase of $97.6 million — or 17 per cent — over 2016.  He said the Secretariat had adjusted downward the projected 2016 expenditure by $5.7 million, reflecting low resource use in the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), and that the budget proposal for the Special Adviser on Myanmar would no longer be considered by the Assembly.  Updated estimates should be provided to the Assembly.

For the 31 special political missions, he said the Secretary-General had proposed a total of 3,709 positions for 2017 under civilian personnel, 91 more than in 2016.  Changes in civilian positions proposed included the creation of 119 UNSMIL positions, 52 positions for the Office of the Special Envoy for Syria, 18 for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and a reduction of 57 positions for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and 15 positions for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The Secretary-General’s main report offered no information on vacancy rates nor did it indicate vacancies that had existed for two years or longer, he said.  On the latter issue, justification for their retention or abolishment should be provided to the Assembly.  The main report should provide detailed information on major budgetary assumptions used in preparing the cost estimates.  On consultants, the United Nations should build and use in-house capacity to perform core activities that were recurrent in the long-term.  On travel, he expected that the use of improved communication meant bringing about larger reductions in related resource requirements.  Umoja should provide comparative information on trips planned and taken during a given year, he said, expressing dissatisfaction about the compliance rate of the 16-day advance booking policy.

On the Kuwait Joint Support Office, he recalled the Secretary-General’s indications on the implementation of Umoja Extension 1 and centralization of payroll services, stressing that any changes to the existing and future service delivery model must be approved by the Assembly.  Information on backstopping support to special political missions at Headquarters was fragmented and lacked detail on the number of staff providing such support.

Introducing the Advisory Committee’s related report on the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen and the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi (document A/71/595/Add.6), he said that for the Special Envoy’s Office the Advisory Committee recommended that a vacancy factor of 60 per cent be applied for all new professional positions to be established in 2017.  It also recommended adjustments to the proposed staffing in the Security Sector Section, in the residual capacity located in New York, and within the Mission Support component, including the proposed backstopping capacity for Headquarters, with a small adjustment to the proposed resource requirements for official travel. 

For the Office of the Special Adviser, the Advisory Committee recommended that a vacancy factor of 70 per cent be applied for all new professional positions, and against the establishment of the four additional positions proposed for the Office in New York, he said.  Adjustments were recommended for new positions proposed in the Dialogue Support Unit, the Security and Rule of Law Unit and the Head of Office’s immediate staff in Burundi.  It also recommended a 20 per cent reduction to resources proposed for travel for training purposes, and a 50 per cent reduction to those requested for external consultants.

For both missions, he said the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly appropriate $27 million for 2016-2017, taking into account the estimated $971,300 in overspending in 2016.

Introducing the Advisory Committee’s related report on the United Nations Mission in Colombia (document A/71/595/Add.7), he said it considered the justifications for the proposed creation of 280 positions and recommended against four positions, including two backstopping positions at United Nations Headquarters.  The Advisory Committee recommended a 10 per cent reduction under consultants and official travel, and approval of the other $63.6 million in resources proposed for 2017.  Noting that the Advisory Committee’s report contained information on the $14.4 million commitment authorities approved in relation to expenditures for 2016, he said it recommended that amount for appropriation, together with the recommended resources related to the 2017 budget.

Introducing the ACABQ related report on the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/71/L.23 titled “New Urban Agenda” (document A/71/687), he said one General Service staff position was sufficient to provide the required administrative support, and that the scope, nature and requirement for two consultants had not been adequately explained.  Thus, ACABQ recommended against the approval of the requested resources for one General Service staff position and a reduction of 15 per cent in the amount of $60,300 to be applied to the remaining proposed resource requirements under Section 15.

Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution, an additional $254,300 appropriation would be required under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, and $390,800 under section 15, human settlements; and $8,000 under section 29D, Office of Central Support Services of the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017, representing a charge against the contingency fund.

Turning to the ACABQ report on the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/71/L.26 titled “Oceans and the law of the sea” (document A/71/686), he recommended approval of Programme Assistant post.  However, given that two Professional-level posts had been approved in 2015 to help manage the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, and that two staff members from the Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea were providing assistance for that purpose, ACABQ recommended against the post of Programme Officer.  Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution, an additional $604,600 appropriation would arise for the 2016-2017 programme budget, with $97,900 under section 2; $461,500 under section 8, Legal affairs; and $45,200 under section 29D.

Regarding ACABQ’s revised estimates resulting from Human Rights Council resolutions and decisions (document A/71/688), he recommended approval of the 10 new posts proposed by the Secretary-General.  For the P-3 post requested under resolution 33/30, support could be provided by staff funded from general temporary assistance, rather than through the establishment of a post.  ACABQ recommendations for 2016 staffing requirements should apply to the related resources for 2017, where relevant.

Introducing ACABQ’s report on the contingency fund (document A/71/691), he said the total potential charges presented by the Secretary-General did not yet take into account the Advisory Committee’s recommendations a number of issues.  He trusted that an update would be presented to the Assembly before the current session closed.

Finally, he said ACABQ’s report (document A/71/680) on the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017 noted that the revised requirements under the “expenditure” sections would be set at $5.46 million, a 0.1 per cent increase over the appropriation approved by the Assembly.  Revised estimates for the “income” sections amounted to $533 million, a 0.2 per cent increase from initial estimates. 

Overall, ACABQ recommended that the Assembly approve the revised estimates, he said, subject to such adjustments as might be necessary resulting from matters still under the Assembly’s consideration.  It might be beneficial for the Secretary-General to establish clear criteria and procedures to determine the most appropriate date to enter into forward contracts.  The Advisory Committee would keep under review the matter of income estimates arising from services to the public that had been revised downward over the last four biennia.

Statement by President of General Assembly

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, noted that in 17 days the new Secretary-General, António Guterres, would face a set of global challenges that would require his full attention.  Given the scale of those challenges, the work of the Fifth Committee in helping to facilitate a smooth transition could not be overstated.  The Committee had been burdened by a heavy agenda and by the late availability of documents.  His Office had been communicating with relevant parties and had urged them to expedite their work.  Despite the limited days left, he was confident there was sufficient time to conclude the work, noting that he spoke from experience when he said that the prospect of spending Christmas in committee rooms away from loved ones was a bleak one.  He said that the delegates were diplomats and that deal-making was in their blood, and that his Office supported the Committee’s work in the days ahead.

Statements by Delegates on Agenda Items

SIRITHON WAIRATPANIJ (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, first spoke on the 2016-2017 programme budget and the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council.  She reiterated the long-standing position of the Group that the level of resources to be approved by the General Assembly should be commensurate with all mandated programmes and activities to ensure their full and effective implementation. 

She noted that the additional requirements related to the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Council were estimated at $49.39 million, of which $23.02 million related to activities of a perennial and recurrent nature and were therefore already included in the 2016-2017 budget, while $26.37 million was new for 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.  She also noted the $14.91 million in additional appropriations to be charged against the contingency fund for 2016-2017, the Secretary-General’s proposal to create 11 new posts at the P-3, P-4 and P-5 levels to support the activities mandated by the Council and the Advisory Committee’s related recommendations.  The Group believed the mandates approved by the Human Rights Council should be provided with sufficient resources.

Turning to the first performance report on the 2016-2017 programme budget, she said the performance reports were an important benchmark of the proper implementation of the budget process.  It was important to respect the budgetary process and therefore the Group did not support any attempt that may infringe on such a process by way of passing a resolution on the performance report and budget outline to that effect.  The Group objected to any attempts at piecemeal budget reform and did not support any action that could be detrimental to the current budget process.  Member States must provide the Organization with adequate resources to implement mandated activities efficiently.  It was the collective responsibility of the Committee to demand the full respect of the budgetary process as set out in resolutions 41/213, 42/211 and 48/228 and that no changes to the budget methodology, established procedures and practices, or to the financial regulations be made without the Assembly’s prior review and approval.  She also called for all mandates approved by the intergovernmental bodies of the Organization to be provided with adequate resources from the regular budget for their implementation.

OLIVIO FERMIN (Dominican Republic), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that the Peace Agreement for Colombia represented the end of the last armed conflict in his region and was the beginning of a stable and durable peace.  The United Nations Mission in Colombia was a priority for CELAC, and it had contributed to the team of unarmed international observers charged with monitoring and verifying the laying down of arms as part of the tripartite mechanism that would monitor and verify the ceasefire and cessation of hostilities.  He also reiterated his support for the Fifth Committee’s discussions on the administrative and budgetary aspects of financing peacekeeping operations.  He welcomed and counted on the Committee’s support to ensure that the Mission in Colombia would have the necessary resources to effectively implement its mandate.

BACHAR BONG ABDALLAH (Chad), speaking on behalf of the African Group, on the topic of special political missions, welcomed the progress made by the African Union and the East African Community-led Inter-Burundian dialogue which aimed at finding durable solutions for that country’s political challenges.  The Group was interested in examining how the resources requested by the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention, including in Burundi, would enable it to carry out its mandate.  The positive developments in Burundi should have been factored into the current proposal and the Group looked forward to presenting staff and non-staff adjustments that would ensure the allocation of scarce resources in the most efficient manner.

Recalling the relevant General Assembly resolution, which requested the Secretary-General to continue efforts to bring about synergies between the multiple United Nations entities involved in addressing conflict in the region, he added that the Group was interested in learning about the measures taken so far, including the existing arrangement and division of labour with regional actors, in particular the African Union and the East African Community.  Expressing concern about continued unjustified increase of official travel, consultants and information technology costs, he called on the international community to continue to support the ownership of the East African Community-led process.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union, welcomed the signing of the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), underscoring the importance of the “open spirit” that had led to that accord.  Challenges in implementing the agreement should be achieved as a matter of priority.  The United Nations Mission in Colombia, created by Council resolution 2261 (2016), would play an essential role in the tripartite mechanism to monitor and verify the cessation of hostilities, ceasefire and disarmament efforts.  That body’s success would depend on national, regional and local coordination.

Through the trust fund created on 12 December, the European Union would provide €600 million to support Colombia in the post-conflict stage, as well as its peacebuilding efforts in the short- and medium-term, in the form of technical assistance, aid and loans, she said.  The most difficult challenge to bringing about peace was reconciliation, an issue the bloc wished to support.  Colombia was among the Union’s closest partners and it was committed to that association, including through cooperation with the United Nations.

YARON WAX (Israel), noting the budgetary implications of Human Rights Council resolution 31/36, said that “this outrageous and unprecedented resolution serves no purpose” except as a political tool to single out the state of Israel.  The resolution de facto called for the boycott of Israel and the creation of a database of companies and enterprises by the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  That request fell outside the purview of the Human Rights Council.  Israel condemned such efforts and therefore strongly objected to the approval of the budgetary request in paragraph 87 of the Secretary-General’s report for the allocation of funds for the resolution’s implementation.  He called on Member States to also reject the funding request for the database.

ANÉSIE NDAYISHIMIYE (Burundi), associating herself with the African Group, said the claim made in paragraph 46 of the Secretary-General’s report about a precarious security situation in her country was absurd.  There was a high degree of security across the territory.  Statements by the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, among others, had confirmed that point.  Such an alarmist tendency was a thinly veiled attempt to justify posts that were not needed.  Turning to paragraphs 48 and 64, on the inter-Burundian dialogue, she said the Government was aware that political, economic and social issues should always be resolved through dialogue among Burundians, whether they were in the country or the diaspora.  “We are heading in the right direction,” she stressed.

Further, the report should not be vague in how it qualified the key stakeholders participating in the dialogues, she said, stressing the importance of a clear designation.  She hoped the report was not referring to the “Putschists” of 13 May 2015.  The report should be clear on the nature of technical and functional support provided by the Office of the Special Adviser for Conflict Prevention.  Yet it had made no mention about the nature of support provided by the Office or about its participation in the internal dialogue, which could mean it was only focused on the dialogue facilitated by Benjamin Mkapa, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania and Facilitator of the Inter-Burundi Dialogue.  The internal and external dialogues formed a whole.

On the requests for posts, she drew attention to an 18 August letter from Burundi’s Minister for Foreign Relations and International Cooperation to the Secretary-General, outlining the Government’s opposition to an increase in posts without prior consent.  That was in line with respect for national sovereignty. She reiterated that request.  Burundi would oppose any interference in its internal affairs or efforts to “force our hand” on issues that were not in Burundians’ interests.  Attempts to implement resolution 2303 (2016) on those terms would not receive support.

LUIZ FELDMAN (Brazil) welcomed Security Council resolution 2261 (2016), approving the creation of a United Nations special political mission as an international component of the tripartite monitoring and verification mechanism of the ceasefire.  Brazil was committed to peace and regional stability, having expressed unequivocal support for Colombia’s efforts to fully implement the agreement.  The new Mission must be provided with all the necessary resources.  Brazil expected it could contribute to the peace process in Colombia through participation in the Mission.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) thanked the United Nations for its support of the peace agreement and creation of special political mission in her country.  Indeed, it was an historic time to build stable and lasting peace, following the November signing of a peace agreement between the Government and the FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People's Army), making it possible to begin a new stage with hope for a better future.  Reconciliation was among the challenges ahead.  To bring about peace, it was essential to monitor and verify the decommissioning of weapons, the ceasefire and the cessation of hostilities.  To implement its mandate, the Mission must be allocated the necessary human and financial resources and the Fifth Committee’s support would be essential in that regard.

RAFAEL HÉCTOR DALO (Argentina), associating himself with the positions of CELAC, Colombia and Brazil, said his country had supported the peace process in Colombia from the beginning.  Parties had conferred a fundamental role on the United Nations, with the creation of a mission and a monitoring and verification mechanism.  Noting that the Mission would be tasked with bringing about peace, he said that, in line with that responsibility, the Fifth Committee should provide the necessary funding.  Argentina supported the some $64 million in resources requested by the Secretary-General for 2017, and appropriation of expenditure commitments authorized for 2016.

LEYLA VASQUEZ ISLAME (Chile), associating herself with the statements by CELAC, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina, said that Chile would work to consolidate the peace process in Colombia.  The Mission in Colombia was a priority, she said, noting that the monitoring of the decommissioning of weapons and the ceasefire were fundamental to peace.  The Fifth Committee had the responsibility to grant resources that were efficient and flexible so that the Mission could fully implement its mandate.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), associating himself with CELAC, said that bringing about peace in Colombia filled the international community with hope and also showed that the most long-lived conflicts could have a solution.  Mexico had expressed its support to the people of Colombia, and was contributing to the Mission in its deployment phase.  The Fifth Committee should provide funding so that the Mission could meet its ambitious mandate to monitor and verify the ceasefire and end hostilities.  Colombia deserved sustainable peace and the Organization should support the country’s efforts.  Mexico would participate in the deliberations on the funding of the Mission, and sought success in that regard before Christmas.

HELENA YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), noting that her country shared a border with Colombia and associating herself with CELAC, congratulated the people and Government of Colombia on the new peace accord.  All necessary resources must be made available.  Ecuador had seen the conflict first-hand, which made the peace announcement a source for hope.  Borders marked a limit, as well as an open space “for building things together”.  Peace in Colombia would continue to increase the rich relationship between the two nations and among others in the region.  She recalled CELAC Declaration 15, adopted in January 2016, which had welcomed Colombia’s commitment to continue the negotiations that had led to the final agreement.  It also had welcomed Security Council resolution 2261 (2016), outlining that CELAC would contribute to the Mission.  Ecuador was eager to participate in all forms that were necessary to bring about lasting peace in Colombia.

JAKE HARRISON SHERMAN (United States) expressed concern about the recosting issue described in the first performance report and looked forward to finding a comprehensive solution to that matter.

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, referred to the representative of Israel’s protest on the implementation of a decision by the Human Rights Council, which he said showed that Israel considered itself to be above international law.  Resolution 31/36 was about the compilation of a list of companies that operated in the settlements on the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  He noted that the representative of Israel believed those settlements were part of Israel.  According to the rules of the Fifth Committee, a debate on decisions made on the basis of ACABQ reports on other bodies could not be reopened.  With regard to the settlements, the Human Rights Council resolution was a sincere attempt to apply international law.  He said that a list of companies operating on occupied territory should be drawn up and disseminated, to help stop transactions with those companies.  International law rejected those settlements and considered them to be an obstacle to the two-State solution.

For information media. Not an official record.