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The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda item 138: Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East
(a) United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (A/55/747, A/55/778, A/55/874 and Add.1)
(b) United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (A/55/757, A/55/874 and A/55/885)
74. Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) said that, since the Secretary-General’s report on the financing of UNIFIL had not yet been issued, he would like to know what arrangements would be made to fund that mission for the next financial period. He also asked whether the Committee would adopt a draft resolution on the financing of UNIFIL at the current part of the resumed session.
75. Mr. Yeo (Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts) said that, pursuant to the practice established by General Assembly resolution 49/233 A, commitment authority had been requested in respect of UNIFIL, UNAMSIL, UNTAET and UNMEE for resources equivalent to about half of the current approved levels for those missions to cover resource requirements for the last six months of 2001. That would give the Secretariat time to prepare detailed budget proposals for submission to the Assembly at the main part of its fifty-sixth session, and would enable the Secretariat to take prospective developments into account in preparing the proposals.
76. The Chairman said that, at the current part of the resumed session, the Committee would adopt a draft resolution on the financing of UNIFIL for the last six months of 2001.
77. Mr. Nakkari (Syrian Arab Republic) said that he shared the views expressed by the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, with respect to the organization of the Committee’s work. His delegation would make a statement on the financing of UNDOF at the Committee’s next meeting on the subject, and he hoped that a representative of the Advisory Committee would be present during the discussion on that item to help shed light on the points which the Syrian delegation intended to raise.
78. The Controller, in introducing the Secretary-General’s reports on the financing of a number of peacekeeping operations, had mentioned that the Secretariat was proposing the conversion of some General Service posts to local-level posts as a cost-cutting measure. His delegation would like further clarification of that proposal.
79. With respect to missions for which budgets had not been submitted because of recent and prospective developments that could affect their mandates, including UNIFIL, he would have preferred to receive a formal report on all relevant issues, such as vacancies and financial needs, instead of a request to approve temporary funding for an interim period of six months.
80. He reiterated the request, which his delegation had made repeatedly during the fifty-fifth session, for information on any tangible measures taken by Israel to provide compensation for the bombing of the refugee centre at Qana.
81. He noted the importance which the Advisory Committee attached to the need for greater mobility of peacekeeping personnel and to the consideration of the impact of mobility and mission loans (A/55/874, paras. 34 and 35). In that connection, the Committee should not take a definitive position on the use of United Nations Volunteers in peacekeeping operations until it had considered the issue in greater depth. With respect to the information concerning UNIFIL contained in paragraph 1 of the appendix to the Advisory Committee’s report (A/55/874), he noted that the Security Council had decided to consider any steps it deemed appropriate regarding UNIFIL and UNTSO on the basis of a detailed report to be submitted by the Secretary-General by 30 April 2001. He recalled that UNTSO, unlike peacekeeping operations, was financed on the basis of the budget resolution adopted by the General Assembly every two years.
86. The Chairman said that a discussion of those items would resume at the next meeting. He invited the Controller to reply to questions raised.
87. Mr. Halbwachs (Controller), replying to questions raised by the Syrian Arab Republic, said that, at the urging of the Administrative Committee on Coordination, the General Assembly had recommended that, wherever possible, posts should be converted to local status. The current budgets made that proposal in two instances in the case of eight General Service posts at UNIKOM, and 13 General Service posts at UNMIBH. He would be glad to elaborate during the informals. No such proposal had been made for UNDOF; although the establishment of two new local posts had been included in the budget of that mission; the details appeared in the report of UNDOF (A/55/778).
88. A full budget had not been provided for UNIFIL, because in January the Security Council had extended the mandate of that mission only through July 2001, and had decided to restore it to its previous strength by the same date. It had also decided to review and consider the future of the mission, and to discuss whether to extend the mandate through December 2001. In the light of the uncertainty, it had been considered best not to circulate a report on UNIFIL for the period in question. A formal decision would have to be made; at that time the Committee would consider related budgetary questions.
89. He took note of the question raised by the Russian Federation regarding UNMIK, and would address that matter as well during the informal discussions.
90. Mr. Nakkari (Syrian Arab Republic) said that his delegation had also inquired whether Israel had paid compensation for the bombing of the refugee centre in Qana.
91. Mr. Halbwachs (Controller) said that no money had been received from Israel in that regard.
92. Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) said that his delegation would like the next draft resolution on financing to include a paragraph regarding Israel’s failure to pay the costs arising from that incident.
The meeting rose at 6 p.m.