31 May 2019
39th Meeting (AM)

Worried about Cash Deficits in Several Closed Peacekeeping Missions, Delegations in Fifth Committee Urge Prompt Reimbursement for Police, Troop Contributors

Concerned about the cash deficits of several closed United Nations peacekeeping missions, delegations today called for the speedy reimbursement of expenses to countries that supply personnel and equipment, as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) reviewed the financial position of those operations.

“Member States that are in arrears in their payments of assessed contributions to closed peacekeeping missions ought to pay those contributions expeditiously,” the observer for the State of Palestine said, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.

“This has caused a prolonged and unacceptable situation of non-payment of amounts that are due to other Member States, in particular to troop- and police-contributing countries, which render the greatest service in maintaining international peace and security,” she said, expressing regret that the Secretariat has placed these reimbursements as the last among its priorities, after staff salaries and settlements of vendors, when funds are available.

She said that the decision of one Member State to not pay 3 per cent of its peacekeeping assessment might lead to all closed missions facing a deficit in the future and will cause more troop- and police-contributors to join the list of those not being reimbursed.

The Group also observed that borrowing from closed missions to mitigate the operational cash shortages of active peacekeeping operations amounted to $41 million as of 30 June 2013, $31 million as of 30 June 2014, $23.5 million as of 30 June 2015, $40 million as of 30 June 2016, $32.1 million as of June 2017, and $35.1 million as of 30 June 2018.  The Group intends to pursue proactive steps to stem this worrying trend, she said. 

Chandramouli Ramanathan, Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, introducing the Secretary-General’s reports on the updated financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as of 30 June 2018 (document A/73/604), said that 24 of the 29 closed missions had net cash surpluses of $93.1 million and the remaining five had net cash deficits totalling $85.6 million.  Pending the receipt of outstanding assessed contributions, $62.9 million is owed to troop-contributing countries in missions with cash deficits.

Mr. Ramanathan said that during the sixty-sixth, sixty-seventh and sixty-eighth sessions of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General made proposals to address the issue of outstanding dues to Member States in respect of contingent-owned equipment and letters of assist for closed missions with cash deficits.  The Secretary-General also made proposals to address cash issues in active missions by authorizing temporary cross-borrowing between active missions.  As an alternative, he also proposed the establishment of a working capital fund for peacekeeping operations.  The Assembly has deferred consideration of these proposals, and accordingly, the present report provides a factual update of the financial information presented in previous reports, the Controller explained.

Cash surpluses in closed missions are used to alleviate occasional shortfalls in active peacekeeping operations, he explained, adding that this has been mainly the case for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in the year ending 30 June 2018.  During the 2017/2018 period, such borrowings peaked at $35.1 million in July and August 2017 and June 2018.  The balance of cross-borrowings at the end of April 2019 was $34.7 million.

The Assembly is requested to consider the proposals of the Secretary-General to address the cash requirement of active peacekeeping operations.  If no new mechanism is approved, the Assembly is requested to allow the retention of the net cash balance of $93.1 million available in 24 closed missions as of 30 June 2018, he said.

Cihan Terzi, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented its related report (document A/73/888), recommending that, as the highest level of borrowing over the past three calendar years was $40.0 million, the net cash balance proposed for retention to cover temporary borrowing needs of active missions be reduced to $40.0 million and that the remaining available balances be returned to Member States.

If there is no decision taken in the current session, the Assembly may request the Secretary-General to review his previous proposals regarding the settlement of outstanding liabilities in closed missions, including to troop- and police-contributing countries, with a view to providing an updated proposal in his next report, Mr. Terzi said.

On unpaid assessments, he said that the Advisory Committee notes the repeated calls by the Assembly for all Member States to pay their assessed contributions on time, in full and without conditions, reiterating the importance of settling claims by troop- and police-contributing countries of closed missions in a timely manner. 

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

For information media. Not an official record.