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UNITED NATIONS
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York



Resumed Fifty-fifth General Assembly
Plenary
103rd Meeting (PM)
GA/9879
14 June 2001


ASSEMBLY, ACTING ON FIFTH COMMITTEE REPORTS, ADOPTS 34 DRAFTS
ON FINANCING OF PEACEKEEPING, HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT

Draft on Financing of UNIFIL Is Only Text Put to Recorded Vote


Acting on the reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), following the conclusion of its three-week second resumed session, the General Assembly this afternoon adopted 25 draft resolutions and 9 draft decisions, most on the financing of peacekeeping activities and human resources management.

On 18 items on the financing of peacekeeping operations, the Assembly provided nearly $1.8 billion for United Nations missions worldwide, including those in Angola, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Croatia, Central African Republic, East Timor, Western Sahara, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Middle East, Tajikistan, Georgia, Haiti, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia and Eritrea. All the drafts approved today would have the Assembly express concern about the financial situation of the Organization’s peacekeeping operations, in particular, regarding the reimbursement to troop contributors who bore an additional burden owing to overdue payments by Member Sates of their assessments.

All but one of the drafts – that on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) – were approved without a vote.

That text was approved following two recorded votes. The Assembly first decided to retain preambular paragraphs 4 and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 15 of the draft by a vote of 70 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 42 abstentions (Annex I). [Those paragraphs mention several previous Assembly resolutions, by the terms of which Israel should pay the costs resulting from the 1996 incident at UNIFIL headquarters in Qana, Lebanon.]

The Assembly then adopted the resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with no abstentions (Annex II). By the text, the Assembly again called on Israel to pay some $1.28 million resulting from the incident at Qana on 18 April 1996. In addition to authorizing the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in the amount of some $99.55 million gross for the maintenance of the Force from 1 July to 31 December 2001, it appropriated some $6.02 million gross for the support account and $629,045 gross for the United Nations Logistics Base for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.

By approving a draft resolution on the reformed procedures for determining reimbursement to Member States for contingent-owned equipment and troop costs, the Assembly increased the standard rate of reimbursement for troop-contributing countries by 2 per cent, effective 1 July 2001. An additional 2 per cent increase would be effective as of 1 January 2002, bringing the total increase of the current rate of reimbursement for troop costs to 4 per cent.

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Drafts before Assembly

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The Assembly also had before it a report of the Fifth Committee containing a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) (document A/55/681/Add.1). By its terms, the Assembly -- concerned that surplus balances in the Special Account for the Force have been used to meet expenses to compensate for lack of income resulting from Member States' non-payment and late payment, and bearing in mind reported hardships incurred by local staff upon relocation of the Force's headquarters from Damascus to Camp Faouar, and welcoming efforts made to address them -- would note that some of the concerns regarding the improvement of local staff working conditions in the Force have been addressed.

The Assembly would reaffirm its request that the Secretary-General continue to improve the working conditions of the local staff, including by making allowance for difficulties resulting from the relocation of the headquarters of the Force from Damascus to Camp Faouar, through mutual and fruitful dialogue. According to the draft, the Assembly would endorse the recommendations contained in paragraphs 8 and 26 of the ACABQ's report, and request the Secretary-General to ensure their full implementation.

It would decide to appropriate to the Special Account for the Force some $35.68 million gross (some $34.79 million net) for the maintenance of the Force for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Force.

The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/55/681/Add.1). By the terms of that text, the Assembly, expressing its deep concern that Israel had not complied with its resolutions 51/233, 52/237, 53/227, 54/267 and 55/180, would once again stress that Israel should strictly abide by them. It would also reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to ensure full implementation of relevant resolutions, stressing once again that Israel must pay some $1.28 million resulting from the incident at Qana on 18 April 1996, and request the Secretary-General to report on the matter to the Assembly at the main part of its fifty-sixth session.

The Assembly would also decide to reduce the appropriation provided by its resolutions 54/267 and 55/180 from some $233.6 million gross (about $228.2 million net) -- inclusive of some $6.97 million gross ($5.9 million net) for the support account for peacekeeping operations and the amount of about $1.1 million gross ($969,161 net) for the Logistics Base -- for the maintenance and expansion of the Force for 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, to some $207.15 million gross ($201.98 million net), inclusive of the amount of $6.97 million gross ($5.89 million net) for the support account and the amount of $1.1 million gross ($969,161 net) for the Logistics Base.

Further according to the text, the Assembly would decide to reduce the apportionment provided for the period 1 February to 30 June 2001 from some $97.3 million gross (about $95.1 million net) to $70.89 million gross ($68.87 million net), taking into account some $194.66 million gross ($190.16 million net) already apportioned for the period 1 July 2000 to 30 April 2001. The Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in the amount of $99.55 million gross ($97.56 net) for the maintenance of the Force for 1 July to 31 December 2001. It would also decide to appropriate the amount of some $6.02 million gross (some $5.28 million net) for the support account and $629,045 gross ($564,879 net) for the Logistics Base, representing the prorated share of the Force in the support account and the Base requirements for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.

The Assembly would also take note of additional requirements in the amount of $571,000 gross ($1.27 million net) for the operation of the Force for the period ending 30 June 2000. It would authorize the Secretary-General to utilize credits in an equal amount arising from the cancellation of obligations pertaining to the same period to meet the additional requirements.

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Further Action on Drafts

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It next took up two of the Committee’s reports on financing the Organization’s peace operations in the Middle East. Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the resolution contained in the first report, document A/55/975, on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).

Next, it took up the report (document A/55/681/Add.1) on the resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

That draft was adopted following two recorded votes. The Committee decided to retain preambular paragraphs 4 and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 15 of the draft by a vote of 70 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 42 abstentions (Annex I). It then adopted the resolution as a whole by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 3 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with no abstentions (Annex II).

In explanation of vote, the representative of Israel said that in April 1996, Hezbollah had used the safety of the United Nations base at Qana to launch bombs at his country. He reminded delegations that there was no precedent for holding a single State responsible for actions in the manner the present resolution proposed. Indeed, the general principle of the Organization had been one of collective responsibility. He added that Israel had warned the United Nations of the dangerous actions taking place at Qana. His nation, like any other sovereign State, could not stand idle while its towns and cities were bombed for days at a time.

Even today, Lebanon and others continued to flout international law, up to and including the holding of Israeli prisoners. Still, Israel sought a quiet and peaceful border and would act to bring about the return of international peace and security within the region and beyond. Israel called upon the Governments of Lebanon and Syria to heed the call of the international community and obey the provisions of the relevant Security Council resolutions in this regard. Those Governments should act quickly to restore order at the “Blue Line”, and particularly ensure that organizations not under their control ceased their activities. That would go a long way to restoring peace in the Middle East.

He was distressed by the political manipulation of the Committee by certain States. He hoped that the four paragraphs voted on today -- and every year -- would be dropped next year so the resolution could be adopted by consensus. Indeed, the principle of adopting resolutions by consensus was generally reaffirmed by every member of the Committee on most other occasions.

Rights of Reply

The representative of Syria drew the Assembly’s attention to the fact that Israel had spoken on this issue during the Fifth Committee’s consideration of this resolution. Commenting on a number of allegations in the statement made by Israel, he said that his delegation found the use of the phrase “political manipulation of the Committee” quite “bizarre”. He also found it strange that the representative would call on the international community to express its political will. The will of the international community had, indeed, been expressed with the vote and subsequent adoption of the resolution today, as well as the adoption of the relevant Security Council resolutions. The international community further agreed that a criminal act had been carried out against the international symbol of peace within the region.

He recalled that the Secretary-General, as well as reporters in the mass media, had agreed that the bombing of the base had been deliberate. His delegation shared that view. Israel’s actions should not be considered to fall under the Organization's standard of “collective responsibility”. Israel must, indeed, pay for its deliberate violation of international law. He added that the most audacious statement was Israel’s call to Syria and Lebanon to control or stop what he considered heroic acts of resistance by those fighting for liberation in the region.

Also in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Lebanon said that the representative of Israel had accused his country of politicizing the matter, while deeply delving into political matters himself. He was trying to escape by running forward. He wanted to stress that all the paragraphs of the resolution in question that the “Group of 77” developing countries had called for, were purely financial and administrative, with no political content whatsoever.

Instead of going into the political issues, Israel should pay for the damage caused to the United Nations peacekeeping force, he continued. If Lebanon had wanted to politicize the matter, it would have demanded payment for the deaths of 102 Lebanese civilians, including women and children, who had perished in the attack that Israel had launched at Qana. Instead, his country was insisting on the payment of the amount assessed by the United Nations. The figure should not be paid to Lebanon, but to the United Nations. The General Assembly should not be accused of politicizing the matter when it called for payment for the damage caused to a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

His country was one of the first to have signed the Charter, which called for the principle of collective responsibility for payment of the budget of the Organization, he said. Did that mean that the international community should conclude that a certain State -- be it Israel or any other -- could deliberately bomb the United Nations premises and then demand that others should pay for it? That was not what the principle of collective responsibility implied. The country that carried out an attack against another State or an international organization should pay for the damages it inflicted.

As for the use of the camp by Hezbollah, he referred the representative of Israel to the Secretary-General’s 1996 report on the matter, according to which, during the bombing, there had been a marked shift of fire from the artillery position to the United Nations camp. That implied a deliberate attack. Turning to the statement about three Israeli soldiers held in southern Lebanon, he said that it was true. But did the representative of Israel know why the Lebanese resistance held them? There were 13 Lebanese prisoners of war held without trial -- some of them for almost a quarter of a century -- in Israel.

Also in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Saudi Arabia said he had been amazed to hear a representative of the Zionist entity say the cause of the bombing was the presence of an ammunition depot of Hezbollah
300 metres away from the United Nations camp. He had heard the same Israeli representative say in the Fifth Committee that the reason for the bombing had been the occupation of the camp in Qana by Hezbollah for three days prior to the attack. He had said that the attacks had come from inside the camp. Which of the two statements was he supposed to believe? Resorting to lies was a role the Israeli representative excelled in. If it respected international legality, instead of lying, the Zionist entity must recognize the damage it had inflicted and pay for that damages.

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ANNEX I


Vote on financing of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

Preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 2, 3 and 15 of the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/55/681/Add.1) were adopted by a recorded vote of 70 in favour to 3 against, with 42 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tonga, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Costa Rica, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Federated States of Micronesia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe.


ANNEX II


Vote on financing of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

The draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/55/681/Add.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 115 in favour to 3 against, with no abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia.

Against: Israel, Marshall Islands, United States.

Abstaining: None.

Absent: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Costa Rica, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Federated States of Micronesia, Gambia, Georgia, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia, Zimbabwe.


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For information media - not an official record