Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

27 June 2002

Fifty-sixth General Assembly
105th Meeting (AM)

Figure Includes $141.55 Million for Strategic Deployment Stocks
Acting on the recommendations of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning, the General Assembly adopted a budget of some $2.6 billion for the functioning of 12 active United Nations peacekeeping missions for the period from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003, including some $100.9 million for the maintenance of the peacekeeping support account and $12.09 million for the United Nations Logistics Base (UNLB) in Brindisi, Italy.
The financial year of peacekeeping operations runs from 1 July to 30 June, and their costs are assessed among Member States on the basis of a special peacekeeping scale.  Unlike the regular budget, the budgets of peacekeeping missions are less amenable to forward planning, because they are subject to decisions of the Security Council that may be taken in response to world events in the course of the year.  For the same reason, the total cost of United Nations peacekeeping is subject to considerable fluctuations. 


The draft resolution on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was approved following two votes.  The text as a whole was adopted by a vote of 121 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions (see
Annex II).
Prior to that, the Assembly decided to retain in the text preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13 of the draft, by a vote of 74 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 46 abstentions (see Annex I).  [Those paragraphs refer to several previous General Assembly resolutions, by the terms of which Israel should pay some $1.28 million for the damage resulting from the 1996 incident at Qana, Lebanon.]
Representatives of Malta, Israel, Lebanon and Syria spoke in explanation of their votes on the draft.  A statement was also made by the representative of the United States.  Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Iran and Israel.
All other drafts were approved without a vote.  For the 2002/2003 budget cycle, the Assembly approved the following amounts for various individual missions:

(in millions)
$2.49 billion
$2.6 million

The 12 missions are:  United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG); United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH); United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK); United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP); United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF); United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL); United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM); United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET); United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO); United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL); United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC); and United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).

By another text adopted this morning, the Assembly noted with concern the negative impact of recently announced cutbacks in services, and reaffirmed its request that adequate conference services be provided to regional group meetings.  To finance such services, the resolution proposes several options, including absorption of the additional workload within the capacity of the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services and the Department of Management; use of savings resulting from the implementation of the calendar of conferences and meetings; and delay in the implementation of certain non-substantive activities within the two Departments.
Acting on another draft, the Assembly decided that provision of conference and support services to the Counter-Terrorism Committee should not adversely affect other conference services.  Further conference and support servicing requirements of the Counter-Terrorism Committee would be considered in the context of the first performance report on the current budget.

Action on Drafts before General Assembly

The Assembly then took up the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) (document A/56/973).  By the terms of the text, concerned that the surplus balances in the Force’s special account have been used to meet expenses of the Force in order to compensate for non-payment and late payment of contributions by Member States, the Assembly took note of the status as of 30 April, including the outstanding amount of $15.7 million, and noted with concern that only 51 countries had made their payments in full.  The Secretary-General was requested to continue his productive and fruitful dialogue with local staff on report on its results.
Further by the text, the Assembly took note of the financial performance report of UNDOF for the 2000/2001 budget cycle, and decided to appropriate some $38.99 million for the maintenance of the Force for the period from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003, exclusive of the amounts needed for the support account and the UNLB.  It also decided that for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to UNDOF, their respective shares of the unencumbered balance of $575,100 and income of $2.26 million for 2000/2001 would be set off against their apportionment for 2002/2003.  The shares of Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the mission would be set off against their outstanding dues.
The text was adopted without a vote.
The Assembly next considered the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/56/722/Add.1).  By the terms of the text, the Assembly decided that Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Force should receive their respective shares of the unencumbered balance of some $23.34 million and other income of over $12.48 million for the period ended on 30 June 2001.  The share of the Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations to the mission shall be set off against their outstanding obligations.  The decrease in the staff assessment income of $420,200 shall be set off against the credits from the unencumbered balance.
Emphasizing that no peacekeeping mission shall be financed by borrowing funds from other active missions, the Assembly also encouraged the Secretary-General to continue to take additional measures to ensure the safety and security of all personnel under the auspices of the United Nations participating in the Force.
By other terms of the text, expressing its deep concern that Israel did not comply with several previous resolutions on the matter, the latest of which is resolution 56/214 of 21 December 2001, the Assembly stressed that that country should strictly abide by them.
The representative of Malta referred to the vote taken at the sixtieth meeting of the Fifth Committee, held on 17 June 2002, on the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13 of draft resolution A/C.5/56/L.70.  In expressing its vote, his delegation had inadvertently voted in favour of the paragraphs referred to when, in fact, it had wished to abstain.  He requested that the Assembly take note of his statement and to reflect his delegation’s intentions in the official records.  Malta aligned itself with the explanation of position expressed at the vote by the representative of Spain on behalf of the European Union and associated States.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Israel said the introduction of four politically motivated paragraphs and the discussion in the Fifth Committee had forced Israel to extend the vote in the General Assembly.  Delegates knew Israel’s position regarding the 1996 Qana incident, in which Hezbollah terrorists launched terrorist attacks at Israel from a position less than 300 metres from a United Nations camp.  Hezbollah had launched the attack knowing that its actions had engaged civilian and international personnel.  Israel had warned the United Nations of the dangers of the situation, but no action had been taken by the United Nations or by Lebanon to end those illegal practices.  The ensuing tragedy that occurred at Qana was the direct result of the fact that Hezbollah terrorists had launched attacks on Israel from close proximity to a United Nations installation, in disregard for the dangers their actions posed for civilians there. 
He said there was no precedent for a Member State’s bearing sole financial responsibility for damage sustained by United Nations forces in the context of peacekeeping operations.  In every other case, Israel had acted in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility and absorbed such costs within the general budget for peacekeeping operations.  Despite the selective treatment of Israel, year after year, the same initiatives were introduced in the Fifth Committee with the same political motives, pinning the blame and the costs for Qana squarely on Israel.  The dangerous circumstances continued to threaten regional peace and security.  More than six years later, Hezbollah continued to launch attacks across the Blue Line.  On 12 March, terrorist killed six Israeli motorists on a northern Israeli highway.  On 30 March, they fired dozens of mortar rounds and anti-tank missiles across the Blue Line.  Several other attacks followed.  The list of attacks went on and on. 
So long as Hezbollah's attacks persisted, Israel had no choice but to take certain necessary measures in exercise of its legitimate right to self-defence, he said.  The measures were not only to defend Israel, but also to deter further escalation in the region.  There was no comparison between the measures Israel took in self-defence and the aggressive use of armed force by Hezbollah with Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian support in violation of Security Council resolutions.  The Government of Lebanon remained steadfast in its refusal to fulfil its obligation to reassert its authority in southern Lebanon and to prevent its territory from being used as a terrorist base.  Hezbollah enjoyed unhindered freedom of movement and were granted safe harbour, a situation which affected both Israeli and Lebanese citizens.  Those truly concerned with protecting civilians and United Nations personnel and with contributing to a settlement of the Middle East conflict would stop politicizing the deliberations of the Fifth Committee, and instead bring pressure to bear on the relevant authorities to end their support for acts of violence aimed at civilians.
Israel called on the Governments of Syria and Lebanon to comply with the will of the Security Council and the principles of international law to allow the deployment of Lebanese armed forces up to the Blue Line, to ensure the return of the effective authority of the Government of Lebanon in the area and to prevent the launching of terrorist attacks from Lebanese territory.  He would vote against the one-sided, politically motivated paragraphs and the resolution as a whole.  Israel had no reservations regarding figures of both personnel and budget allocations to UNIFIL.  It did have reservations, however, regarding the way UNIFIL fulfilled its mandate.  Israel paid its full assessment to UNIFIL as it did for all other peacekeeping operations.
The representative of Lebanon said that, according to the Israeli logic, it was necessary to kill civilians in occupied territories and dislodge their inhabitants to extend the Jewish diaspora there.  However, according to the principles of justice and international legality, that was not logical at all.  Among the rights recognized by the United Nations Charter was the right to resist occupation.  Several Security Council resolutions referred to the fact that occupation by a foreign force was an illegal act and a threat to international peace and security. 
The representative of Israel had tried on every occasion to involve the Assembly in a political dialogue when dealing with financial and legal matters, he continued.  The delegation of Lebanon would like to clarify the basis on which it had voted for the resolution now before the Assembly, along with the “Group of 77” developing countries and others.  Following an attack on Qana, Lebanon, in April 1996, the Assembly had adopted a resolution on the Israeli attack and its consequences.  In its preamble, it had expressed extreme concern over the acts and steps that threatened UNIFIL and prevented it from discharging its mandate.
The representative of Israel sought to justify an attack that had killed civilians in the UNIFIL area, he said, but several Assembly resolutions had decreed that the United Nations should be compensated by Israel for the damages incurred.  The criminal responsibility of Israel for attacking Qana should be made quite clear.  It was a premeditated act, confirmed by the Secretary-General’s 1996 report and by the fact that 100 Lebanese civilians had been killed at the UNIFIL camp at Qana.  According to that document, it was highly unlikely that the bombing against Qana could have been caused by error.  In his report, the Secretary-General had said he was extremely disquieted by the incident.
He went on to say that Israel’s financial responsibility stemmed from its actions.  Israel was criminally responsible and should be held financially responsible, as well.  Lebanon would continue to demand compensation and criminal and financial reparations for crimes perpetrated by Israel against it.  As for the damages suffered by the United Nations, they should be paid for by Israel, as confirmed by General Assembly resolutions on the matter.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Syria said the General Assembly once again was reaffirming its position vis-à-vis the responsibility of those who attacked the United Nations to shoulder the responsibility for their attacks.  He supported the statement of the representative of Lebanon.  Bombarding the Qana United Nations complex had been a premeditated act.  The occupying Power, therefore, should be responsible for compensating the United Nations for its actions.  By the same token, regarding incursions on the Blue Line, it was strange that Israel talked about others while forgetting that its own troops crossed the Blue Line every day.  The Secretary-General’s report indicated that the breakthroughs constituted provocation by Israel.  Whoever followed the matter would notice the continuous contradictions in the statements made by Israel. 
He urged delegations to vote in favour of the paragraphs and the resolution as a whole, so that a clear signal could be sent to the occupation forces of Israel to respect the United Nations.  The operation did not stop at the Qana bombing.  United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) personnel were subject to arrest, torture, persecution and separation while working in their international capacities as United Nations personnel.  Israel did not display divine respect at all.  Qana was the place where Jesus Christ had demonstrated the first of His miracles.  That had not been respected by Israel.  Israel’s claim to be a seeker of peace ran counter to various Security Council documents.  He found it strange that the representative of Israel talked about respecting Security Council resolutions when Israel had not respected such resolutions, including the recent resolution on the Jenin investigation.  Israel violated all international resolutions. 
The Assembly PRESIDENT informed members that a single recorded vote had been requested on the fourth preambular paragraph of the text, as well as on operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13.
The Assembly then voted to retain those paragraphs by a vote of 74 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 46 abstentions (see Annex I).
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution as a whole by a vote of 121 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions (Annex II).
Speaking in right of reply, the representative of Iran said that having listened to Israel he was amazed.  He recalled that 102 Lebanese civilians, including children and elderly, had been killed during the Qana attack.  Such violations of international law had been perpetuated continually by Israeli forces against people who were living under occupation and who were exercising their right of liberation from foreign occupation.  Misleading allegations by Israel were aimed at weakening the legitimate struggle in Lebanon by painting it as terrorism.  They were not new allegations.  Lebanese people, characterized by Israel as terrorists, had compelled Israel to withdraw from their territory.  They had been defending their national soil against an occupying Power.
Speaking in right of reply, the representative of Israel said he was amazed to hear the representative of Iran speak about terror.  If he were Iranian, he would not have taken the floor on the issue.  Iran was the most dangerous force in the Middle East.  "Read my lips", he said.  Iran posed the biggest threat to the world. 
Speaking also in right of reply, the representative of Iran said the result of today’s vote showed who was the biggest threat to peace and security in the world.
The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said the United States strongly supported the work of UNIFIL in fulfilling its mandate.  However, the use of General Assembly funding resolutions to pursue claims against a Member State was not procedurally correct.  His delegation had opposed resolutions containing sections that required a Member State to pay for peacekeeping expenses.  They were not consensus resolutions.  There was a procedure governing the Secretary-General’s pursuit of the settlement of claims against a State.  The procedure had been pursued in other instances, including the Middle East and the Balkans.  Politicizing the work of the General Assembly should be avoided both now and in the future. 



 Vote on Preambular Paragraph 4 and Operative Paragraphs 3, 4, and 13 of the
Draft Resolution on the Financing of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

      The relevant paragraphs of the draft (document A/56/722/Add.1) were adopted by a recorded vote of 74 in favour to 2 against, with 46 abstentions, as follows:
Against:  Israel, United States.

Vote on Draft Resolution on Financing of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

      The draft resolution as a whole (document A/56/722/Add.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 2 against, with no abstentions, as follows:
Against:  Israel, United States.
Abstaining:  None.
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For information media - not an official record