6 December 2002


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fifth Committee

30th Meeting (AM)



Financing of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for the period from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003 and the Organization’s first performance report for the current biennium were among the key items addressed by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning.

On UNAMSIL, Nigeria’s representative supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to appropriate the amount of some $100.8 million, subject to a decision of the Security Council to extend the Mission’s mandate beyond 31 March 2003 (document A/57/619).  Stressing the fact that UNAMSIL was a success story, she said that its achievements deserved concrete support to ensure a successful completion of its excellent work.

In that connection, she wanted to know the implications and consequences of authorizing the sum of $90 million, instead of $100.8 million, as requested by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  As the downsizing of the Mission was to be based on the attainment of certain benchmarks, which could not be currently foreseen, it might be more prudent to approve the budget as proposed by the Mission in order to avert any security threats.

The Advisory Committee in its report (document A/57/633) points out that the information provided by the Secretary-General is not sufficient to justify an assessment of more than $100 million and stresses that future submissions must be accompanied with full supporting detail and justification.  Under the circumstances, the ACABQ recommends an assessment of $90 million.

The representative of South Africa said that, whatever financing decisions were made, they should not prevent UNAMSIL from successfully implementing its mandate.  While it was regrettable that the Committee had not received complete information in relation to UNAMSIL, it was still important to take a decision on that matter.

As the Committee turned to the first performance report for the current biennium (document A/57/616; see Press release GA/AB/3543 of 3 December), China’s representative advocated rational use of resources, expressing concern over the big increase in the expenditures of the Organization in comparison with the regular budget approved last December.  While it was impossible to foresee the fluctuations in currency and exchange rates, once the budget had been adopted, additional mandates and fine-tuning of vacancy rates had to be implemented with the budgetary requirements in mind.  He was also concerned over a decrease in the United Nations’ income, saying that the Secretariat should seriously look into the reasons for that situation.  As for additional resources requested for the

International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), he agreed with the ACABQ that actual requirements would be known only after a decision had been made by the Assembly on the matter.

Cuba’s representative stressed the importance of the first performance report for 2002-2003, given recent budget cuts and the negative impact they had had on the implementation of various programmes in the Organization.  Regarding the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, she agreed with the ACABQ that it was necessary to revise its estimated requirements for 2002-2003.  She also noted that the rate of effective vacancies within the Organization was greater than the level set by the Assembly, and hoped that in the future more detailed information would be provided in this regard.

Also this morning, the representative of Venezuela, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft resolution (document A/C.5/57/L.38), by the terms of which the Assembly would decide, among other things, to provide the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) with office space free of rent and maintenance charges, amending the status of the Institute accordingly.

In an ensuing procedural discussion, the representative of the United States suggested that the draft be withdrawn, as its presentation went counter to the procedure normally followed by the Committee.  Also, since the draft entailed financial consequences for the current budget, it should be treated as a statement of programme budget implications.  As such, it should have been presented to the Committee prior to 1 December.

The representative of Denmark, on behalf of the European Union, reiterated his concern over the fact that both the Second and Fifth Committees were considering UNITAR.  In that connection, the Committee’s Chairman, Murari Raj Sharma (Nepal), said that the Second Committee was not taking up financial questions under the prerogative of the Fifth Committee.  It was only concerned with the substance of UNITAR’s work.

Canada’s representative said that even the delegations that were sympathetic to UNITAR had no basis for supporting the proposal, as under the Institute’s statute administrative costs were to be covered from voluntary contributions.  In contravention to its financial obligations, although in a position to pay, UNITAR was now delinquent in its payments to the United Nations.

The representative of Venezuela explained that in submitting the text, his delegation had intended to speed up the Committee’s work and alleviate the burden on the contingency fund, providing for UNITAR’s needs from the regular budget.  The Institute was providing valuable services to Member States, and it was unjust that the funds, which should be used for training and research, were being used for maintenance and rent.  That was particularly true when other institutions were receiving office space free of charge.

Also participating in the discussion were the United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs; Secretary of the Fifth Committee, Joseph Acakpo-Satchivi, as well as representatives of Nigeria, Cuba, Mexico, Iran and Pakistan.  Documents before the Committee were introduced by the Director of Peacekeeping Financing Division, Catherine Pollard, and the Chairman of the ACABQ, Conrad S.M. Mselle.  Ms. Pollard also responded to questions and comments from the floor.

The Committee will continue its work at a date to be announced.

For information media. Not an official record.