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The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.m.
Agenda item 134
Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East
(b) United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
Report of the Fifth Committee (A/56/722)
The President : I request the Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee, Mr. Santiago Wins of Uruguay, to introduce the report of the Fifth Committee on this sub-item.
Mr. Wins (Uruguay), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee (spoke in Spanish): During the main part of the fifty-sixth session, the Fifth Committee considered the financing of five peacekeeping operations. The report before the Assembly (A/56/722) relates to the financing of United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East, in this instance the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
The Committee adopted a draft resolution on this sub-item by a recorded vote of 110 votes in favour to 2 against. In paragraph 11 of its report, the Fifth Committee recommends to the General Assembly the adoption of that draft resolution.
Before concluding, I should like to draw the General Assembly’s attention to the fact that, in accordance with established practice, expenses incurred in support of peacekeeping activities at Headquarters — which are financed through the support account for peacekeeping operations — are paid through the apportionment of the support account’s expenses in financing each individual peacekeeping operation.
At present, the Fifth Committee is still considering additional requirements for the support account, derived from a broad examination of all of the issues involved in peacekeeping operations in all their aspects. Until the Fifth Committee takes a decision on additional resources for the savings account, the amount needed for those additional requirements will not be able to be drawn from the support account for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
For that reason, there are blanks in the draft resolution where the requisite references to the amounts to be allocated or assessed are to be filled in. Those references will be inserted once the portion pertaining to the UNIFIL support account has been determined.
The President : If there is no proposal under rule 66 of the rules of procedure, I shall take it that the General Assembly decides not to discuss the report of the Fifth Committee which is before the Assembly today.
It was so decided.
The President : Statements will therefore be limited to explanations of vote or position.
The positions of delegations regarding the recommendations of the Fifth Committee have been made clear in the Committee and are reflected in the relevant official records. May I remind members that, under paragraph 7 of decision 34/401, the General Assembly agreed that
Before we begin to take action on the recommendations contained in the report of the Fifth Committee, I should like to advise representatives that we are going to proceed to take a decision in the same manner as was done in the Fifth Committee.
I give the floor to the representative of Israel, who wishes to make a statement in explanation of vote before the voting.
Mr. Adam (Israel): I should like to refer to four paragraphs of this draft.
My delegation’s position with regard to the incident at Qana is well known and has been articulated before the Assembly and the Fifth Committee on several occasions.
Allow me to reiterate several essential points.
The draft resolution before the Assembly today blatantly violates the principle of collective responsibility, which dictates that costs resulting from peacekeeping operations are to be shared equally among Member States. This is the only time in history that one Member has been singled out to bear the sole financial burden of costs resulting from peacekeeping operations.
The reason behind this principle is fairly obvious. When peacekeepers are deployed in areas of conflict, it is with a full understanding of the dangers inherent in such a task. As such, any damage that is incurred should be absorbed by the general budget for peacekeeping operations, in accordance with the principle of collective responsibility and accepted practice.
I should like to point out that, since the first United Nations peacekeeping operation, there have been several incidents in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere in which damage occurred to the property of a peacekeeping operation. In these incidents, no one has sought to place sole financial responsibility on the shoulders of one Member State. Our case should not be treated any differently.
The representative of Lebanon referred, during the debate in the Fifth Committee, to a report (S/1996/337) dated 7 May 1996 prepared by Franklin Van Kappen, a military adviser for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. He did so by selectively quoting from the text in a manner that served his purposes, while ignoring other paragraphs to which I should like to draw the attention of the Assembly.
In paragraph 9 of that report, the following sequence of events is detailed:
“(a) Between 1200 and 1400 hours on 18 April, Hezbollah fighters fired two or three rockets from a location 350 metres south-east of the United Nations compound.”
The rockets were targeted at cities and villages in northern Israel.
“(b) Between 1230 and 1300 hours, they fired four or five rockets from a location 600 metres south-east of the compound. The location was identified on the ground.
“(c) About 15 minutes before the shelling, the Hezbollah fired between five and eight rounds of 120-millimetre mortar from a location 220 metres south-west of the centre of the compound. The location was identified on the ground. According to witnesses, the mortar was installed there between 1100 and 1200 hours that day, but no action was taken by [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] personnel to remove it. On 15 April, a Fijian had been shot in the chest as he tried to prevent Hezbollah fighters from firing rockets.
Needless to say, my country — like any other sovereign State in the world — cannot and will not tolerate rockets falling on its territory and will not stand by while people are being killed. Every country in this situation would exercise its sovereign right of self-defence, in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
I should like to remind delegations that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization included on the list of the United States Department of State. Hezbollah operates in the Beka’a valley in Lebanon and has established cells in Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia. This terrorist organization deliberately positioned itself in close proximity to the compound, knowing full well that civilians, including children, had taken refuge there and that their operations would imperil their safety, in blatant violation of the principles of international humanitarian law.
Israel regrets that United Nations peacekeeping operations were caught in this crossfire. This, unfortunately, occurs in instances when peacekeeping operations are deployed in areas of conflict, especially in a situation such as this one, in which a guerrilla force deliberately attempts to draw fire towards the peacekeeping operation.
But beyond this issue of financing compensation, there is an even greater issue at stake: the politicization of the work of the Fifth Committee. The insertion of politically motivated elements into this draft resolution will prevent us from adopting it by consensus.
Finally, I wish to reiterate that, although we will be voting against this draft resolution, Israel has fully cooperated with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and supports the approval of its budget. We are hopeful that the coming months will see UNIFIL fulfil all aspects of its mandate and the Government of Lebanon assume its responsibility in the southern region up to the blue line, so that we will all benefit from the return of peace and security along the Israeli-Lebanese border.
The President : The Assembly will now take a decision on the draft resolution recommended by the Fifth Committee in paragraph 11 of its report. The draft resolution is entitled “Financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon”.
A single separate vote has been requested on the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13 of the draft resolution. As there is no objection to that request, I shall put to the vote the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13.
A recorded vote has been requested.
A recorded vote was taken.
Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia.
Israel, United States of America.
Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uruguay.
The fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 3, 4 and 13 were retained by 68 votes to 2, with 54 abstentions.
[Subsequently, the delegation of Guyana informed the Secretariat that it had intended to vote in favour.]
The President : I shall now put to the vote the draft resolution as a whole.
A recorded vote was taken.
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia.
Israel, United States of America.
Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu.
The draft resolution was adopted by 123 votes to 2, with 2 abstentions (resolution 56/214).
[Subsequently, the delegation of Guyana informed the Secretariat that it had intended to vote in favour.]
The President : I call on the representative of the United States for an explanation of vote.
Mrs. Marcus (United States): The United States strongly supports the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon as it continues efforts to implement a difficult and important mandate. Because this resolution is procedurally flawed and politicizes the work of the Fifth Committee, we were forced to vote against it.
We opposed General Assembly resolutions 55/180 B, 55/180 A, 54/267, 53/227, 52/237 and 51/233 because they similarly contained sections which require a Member State to pay for costs stemming from the Qana incident several years. These resolutions were not consensus resolutions.
The use of General Assembly funding resolutions to pursue claims against a Member State is not procedurally correct. Since shortly after the United Nations inception, the procedure which has been followed is that the Secretary-General presents and pursues the settlement of claims against a State or States. This procedure has been applied before in the Middle East and continues for peacekeeping-related damage claims in the Balkans.
Using a funding resolution to legislate a settlement is thus inappropriate. We hope that, in the future, such politicization can be avoided.
The President : I shall now call on those representatives who wish to speak in exercise of the right of reply.
Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) ( spoke in Arabic ): I wish to respond to the falsehoods contained in the statement made earlier by the representative of Israel.
The representative of Israel referred at the outset of her statement to the principle of collective responsibility. We are in full agreement with that principle, under which the costs of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations throughout the world should be collectively shared. This principle is enshrined in the United Nations Charter and no one can deny it. We are fully in compliance with it.
We would pose the following question: Is it possible, on the basis of the principle of collective responsibility, to conclude that a State, regardless of its status, may deliberately — and I insist on the word “ deliberately” — bombard a United Nations compound and then ask other States, on the basis of that principle, to pay for the damage that it intentionally caused?
The principle of collective responsibility does not contradict the principle of international responsibility, by which any State that may damage or harm another State or an international organization, such as the United Nations, must pay reparations. The desired result of holding Israel internationally responsible is to deter it from launching a similar action in the future. This is fully in accord with all the reports of the Secretary-General, which insist on the need to ensure the security and stability of all peacekeeping operations throughout the world. Paragraph 20 of the resolution just adopted encourages the Secretary-General to ensure the safety and security of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
How can peacekeeping operations be protected when a State is not held responsible for launching 36 artillery shells at an international compound? In the report that was before the Fifth Committee a few days ago, the Secretary-General says that we must send a clear message to the effect that attacks on humanitarian personnel cannot be made with impunity. The Group of 77 is ensuring this by calling on Israel to pay reparations not to Lebanon, but to this Organization, which it attacked and of which it is a Member.
As for what the representative of Israel said regarding the military consultant’s statement, I would like to say that for the first time, Israel is recognizing the military consultant’s report. For the past five years, Israel refused to acknowledge the existence of this report. Now the representative of Israel is using it against my country.
In this connection, Israel should not be selective by acknowledging certain paragraphs of the report while ignoring others. We accept the whole report — we are unashamed of our resistance for the liberation of our land. The representative of Israel is not in a position to instruct others. Israel has no right to occupy territory belonging to others and then attempt to dictate what they should and should not do. Before dictating to others, Israel must first desist from forcefully occupying their territory and must respect the rules of international legitimacy.
With regard to the description of terrorism by the representative of Israel, we refer him to the General Assembly resolutions that give all peoples the right to self-determination and to liberation of their land. The concepts of resistance and terrorism should not be confused. Had it not been for the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, there would have been no resistance. Resistance came as the result of occupation.
As for politicization, we are of the view that the paragraphs of the resolution do not contain political language and that the requested compensation is not owed to my country but to the United Nations. Had we asked for compensation for our martyrs, it could have been said that we were politicizing the issue, but since the compensation is owed to the United Nations, it cannot be said that we are doing so.
Finally, with regard to the statement of the Israeli delegate about achieving peace in the region, we all wish for that. All of us, including the representative of Israel, know that in order for peace to be achieved, the resolutions of international legitimacy must be applied and Israel must withdraw from all occupied Arab territories. This is the cause for which 244 United Nations troops have died in southern Lebanon.
The President : I now give the floor to the representative of Israel, who wishes to speak in exercise of the right of reply.
Mr. Adam (Israel): First of all, we welcome and fully respect the message of peace by the delegate of Lebanon. However, to say that Hizbullah, Al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization is a resistance organization is, of course, not proper. I would like to raise three points to remind the delegate of Lebanon in this regard.
In the aftermath of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, in full and confirmed compliance with Security Council resolution 425 (1978), any remaining responsibilities under the resolution fell on the Government of Lebanon to reassert its effective authority in the south and to restore international peace and security along the Blue Line. We withdrew totally from Lebanese territory. Neither of these obligations has been met, despite repeated calls by the Security Council and the Secretary-General for Lebanon to conform to the will of the international community.
As a result, southern Lebanon remains one of the world’s most vigorous bastions of terrorist activity. Hizbullah terrorists occupied posts immediately after they had been vacated by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and before that by Israeli forces, thereby gaining free rein to carry out attacks against Israel at will. Hizbullah’s actions are destabilizing the area along the Blue Line, endangering the lives of United Nations personnel in the area, and they constitute a threat to international peace and security.
The attack just levelled against my country by the Lebanese representative is a thinly veiled attempt to divert attention from Lebanon’s failure to live up to its international responsibilities and the danger to lives and property resulting from that failure. It is further meant to distract from the fact that as the world unites to combat the threat of terrorism, Lebanon has yielded large portions of its territory to a recognized terrorist organization responsible for the death of civilians on several continents.
Mr. Assaf (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): What the representative of Israel has said forces us to reply to the distortions and errors in his statement.
The representative of Israel tries to represent its withdrawal from southern Lebanon as if it were a favour or service that it did for the world. Everyone knows, however, that Israel would never have withdrawn its forces from Lebanon had it not been for Lebanon’s valiant resistance against Israel. If Israel withdrew from Lebanon in conformity with resolution 425 (1978), why did it wait 22 years to do so instead of withdrawing immediately after the resolution was adopted? If Israel had respected and complied with the provisions of that resolution, there would have been no need for resistance to dislodge its forces from that part of my country. Moreover, if Israel was keen on applying United Nations resolutions, then we would present it with a bundle of international resolutions that are waiting to be applied. There are such resolutions as 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 194 (III) of 1948 and many more.
Regarding what the representative of Israel said concerning violations of the Blue Line drawn by the United Nations, I would like to make available to the Assembly dozens of documents that were issued, not by my Mission but by the United Nations and the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in southern Lebanon. The most recent of these is dated Beirut, 20 December. I would like to provide the Assembly with these documents so that the representative of Israel can take note of them. Permit me to read a part of one such document:
(spoke in English)
“In this connection, the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for southern Lebanon, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, again calls upon the Israeli authorities to cease such air violations and to fully respect the Blue Line.”
The Blue Line has not been respected. There are dozens of documents that I would like to make available to the Assembly so that the representative of Israel can study them.
The President : I give the floor to the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, who wishes to speak in exercise of the right of reply.
Mr. Nakkari (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic ): Every year we hear the same misleading statements from the representative of the occupying Israeli forces. However, bearing in mind that brevity is the soul of wit, I would like to say merely that I agree entirely with the comments made by the representative of Lebanon in both his first and second statements in exercise of the right of reply. His response was eloquent, and served as a frank rebuttal of all the allegations and slanderous comments made.
In this connection, I would like to reaffirm the right of peoples to self-determination and to take action to remove the occupying force from their territory. It seems that an attempt is now being made to distort facts and to say that the opposite is true, and that people who are defending their territory are occupiers and aggressors. That is a slanderous claim. I agree with the representative of Lebanon that if it had not been for the valiant national resistance of the Lebanese people, Israel would never have withdrawn from Lebanese territory. Israel was forced to withdraw.
The truth of my comments is borne out by the many resolutions adopted by this Organization that have not yet been implemented by Israel. Those resolutions have not been implemented because of the attitude taken by Israel, which is completely at odds with international law.
The President : We have thus concluded this stage of our consideration of sub-item (b) of agenda item 134.
The meeting rose at 6.35 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-178. Corrections will be issued after the end of the session in a consolidated corrigendum.