29 June 1999


29 June 1999

Press Release


19990629 The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) will receive approximately $52.5 million gross (some $51.3 million net) for the period from 5 May to 31 August, the General Assembly decided this afternoon.

Adopting, without a vote, a resolution on the question of East Timor recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Assembly invited voluntary contributions to be administered according to the Assembly's relevant financial regulations, rules, procedures and practices. It noted that contributions received so far for the Trust Fund for the Settlement of the Question of East Timor amounted to over $21.7 million and that further contributions might be received.

The amount that Member States will be assessed will be determined after review of the report that the Secretary-General will submit to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session, taking into account voluntary contributions received, according to the text. The Assembly reiterated that the expenses of the Organization shall be borne by the Members as apportioned by it.

Assessments are to be apportioned according to the method used to finance special United Nations activities, set out by resolution 43/232 and subsequently adjusted. [By that arrangement, Member States are classified in four groups. Those in Group D pay 10 per cent of the assessment rates established for the regular budget; those in Group C pay 20 per cent; those in Group B pay 100 per cent; and those in Group A pay the amounts not otherwise apportioned.]

The UNAMET was established by Security Council resolution 1246 (1999) of 11 June 1999 to organize and conduct a popular consultation on the future status of the territory. The Mission incorporates political, electoral and information components.

Statements were made this afternoon by the representatives of the United States, Costa Rica, Cuba and Australia (speaking also for Canada and New Zealand).


Speaking in explanation of position after the action, SUSAN M. SHEAROUSE (United States) said that her country had enthusiastically welcomed the establishment of UNAMET when it was founded last month. She commended all those who had brought the Mission to the point where, within the next few weeks, a vote would be taken that would allow the East Timorese to determine their future. In May, her country had strongly endorsed the General Assembly decision to authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments up to $35 million for the new operation. Today, it had similarly endorsed the funding resolution appropriating $52.5 million for the mission.

Her Government had pledged a voluntary contribution of $10 million, she continued. As her delegation had stated in May, it expected that the expenses for UNAMET could be met through voluntary contributions. However, her Government had supported today's resolution, which recognized that any outstanding balances would be assessed. She also expected that the mission would be carried out with the strongest management controls and in full compliance with applicable regulations and rules.

NAZARETH INCERA (Costa Rica) said her delegation supported UNAMET. It was an historical moment. She was concerned, however, that the resolution did not indicate that voluntary contributions should not be conditioned by donors. The Secretary-General should have flexibility in using resources and the current action should not become a negative precedent. During the negotiating process leading to the adoption of the text, some Member States had been unwilling to consider the proposals made by others. The debate had been hasty and not sufficiently flexible.

DULCE MARIA BUERGO RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said she had supported the text, in view of the great importance it attached to the political aspects of the matter. However, she had serious reservations about the negotiating process and the text of operative paragraph 3, which concerns contributions to the Trust Fund. East Timor was the only United Nations mission to be financed almost solely from voluntary contributions, an arrangement that might set an extremely negative precedent, and it could hold hostage developing countries in the Organization.

She said the text was deficient, because it failed to recognize that voluntary contributions should not be conditioned. Her delegation had proposed a paragraph recognizing that principle, without criticizing those States that were making such contributions. The proposal had not been adopted, as some States claimed the issue was too politically sensitive. Her delegation would return to the matter during the fifth-fourth General Assembly session. During the "informal informals", one delegation had referred to the Fifth Committee's decision-making process, she recalled. Her delegation

General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9569 103rd Meeting (PM) 29 June 1999

looked forward to receiving proposals from that delegation and would itself be recommending proposals to facilitate the negotiating process.

MILES ARMITAGE (Australia) speaking also on behalf of the delegations of Canada and New Zealand, welcomed today's resolution, which established reliable financing for the mission in East Timor. His country was strongly committed to supporting the 5 May agreements between Indonesia, Portugal and the United Nations. The establishment of UNAMET was the next step. UNAMET's responsibility for organizing the popular consultation to determine the future of East Timor gave it a historical role. Given its importance, the Fifth Committee was responsible for providing resources for the Mission and not straying into broader issues. Some delegations had had difficulty maintaining that focus during informal consultations. UNAMET was unique in many respects, including finances, and policy issues should not be tied to the financing of the Mission.

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For information media. Not an official record.