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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/C.5/48/SR.54
18 May 1994

English
Original: Spanish

Fifth Committee
54th meeting


SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 54th MEETING

Chairman:
Mr. HADID
(Algeria)

Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and
Budgetary Questions: Mr. MSELLE


CONTENTS


AGENDA ITEM 130: FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPING FORCES IN THE MIDDLE EAST (continued)

(a) UNITED NATIONS DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE (continued)

(b) UNITED NATIONS INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON (continued)

AGENDA ITEM 133: FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS MISSION FOR THE REFERENDUM IN WESTERN SAHARA (continued)

AGENDA ITEM 160: FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPING FORCE IN CYPRUS (continued)

ORGANIZATION OF WORK
/...

The meeting was called to order at 10.30 a.m.


AGENDA ITEM 130: FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPING FORCES IN THE MIDDLE EAST: (continued)

(a) UNITED NATIONS DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE (continued) (A/48/700 and A/48/905)

(b) UNITED NATIONS INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON (continued) (A/48/841 and A/48/975)

AGENDA ITEM 133: FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS MISSION FOR THE REFERENDUM IN WESTERN SAHARA (continued) (A/48/848 and A/48/906)

AGENDA ITEM 160: FINANCING OF THE UNITED NATIONS PEACE-KEEPING FORCE IN CYPRUS (continued) (A/48/846 and Corr.1 and A/48/907)

/...


4. As for the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), contained in document A/48/700, the Advisory Committee had carefully considered that report and had presented the results of its review in document A/48/905, in which it had made important recommendations. In paragraph 6 of its report, the Advisory Committee saw no need to enter the surplus balance of $5,109,700 into the suspense account, as the Secretary-General had proposed. As the Committee would recall, in the case of UNDOF the General Assembly had in the past followed the procedure of transferring the surplus balance to the suspense account in order to facilitate operations, instead of crediting those amounts to Member States. In the above-mentioned paragraph of its report, the Advisory Committee stated two arguments in support of its opinion: the status of assessed contributions to UNDOF and the fact that full reimbursement had been made on a current basis to troop-contributing States. The Secretary-General had done everything possible to speed up the rate at which reimbursements were made to Member States, and, in the case of UNDOF, a good record of reimbursements had been maintained. That good record, however, should not be used as grounds for refusing to approve measures aimed at strengthening the financial base of the operations. That was a matter for the Fifth Committee to consider with a view to finding the most reasonable solution.

5. In paragraph 21 of its report on UNDOF, the Advisory Committee recommended that the General Assembly should approve the Secretary-General's estimate of $32,160,000 and that one half of that amount should be appropriated and assessed in respect of the period from 1 December 1993 to 31 May 1994, in other words, the current period. After that period, in other words after 1 June 1994, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Secretary-General should be given commitment authorization not exceeding $2,680,000 gross per month and that those amounts should be assessed on Member States. He welcomed that recommendation; that was the practice which had been followed on previous occasions by the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee. It would be extremely useful for the Secretariat to rationalize its budget procedures. He hoped that Member States and the Fifth Committee would keep the matter under review.

6. With regard to the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Secretary-General had submitted his report in document A/48/841, and the results of the Advisory Committee's consideration of that report were also contained in document A/48/905. The comments which he had just made on the Advisory Committee's recommendations in the case of UNDOF also applied to the recommendations which that Committee made on UNIFIL in paragraphs 39 and 40 of document A/48/905. The Secretary-General hoped that Member States would continue jointly examining ways of rationalizing the procedures for the financing of peace-keeping operations.

/...

8. Mr. SPAANS (Netherlands) said that, taking into account the considerable surplus in the budgets of UNDOF and UNIFIL, his Government believed that those sums should be credited to Member States. That view related not only to the amounts mentioned in the reports of the Secretary-General and of the Advisory Committee (namely, approximately $5.1 million in the case of UNDOF and some $5.7 million in the case of UNIFIL), but also to the amounts that had accumulated since the thirty-third session of the General Assembly, when the Assembly had decided to retain sums of that nature in the suspense account. In the view of his delegation, leaving those sums in the suspense account was a means of rewarding Member States that were in arrears in their contributions or paid them very late, and was in a sense a way of penalizing Member States that paid their contributions on time.

9. With regard to those two operations, UNDOF and UNIFIL, his delegation had two specific questions. First, it would like the Secretariat to provide more information on the "30-30-20-20" depreciation scale referred to in paragraph 17 of document A/48/905, concerning reimbursement for contingent-owned equipment. Moreover, it would welcome information from the Secretariat on the application of that depreciation scale with regard to UNDOF. Its understanding was that a different system was used for the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR).

10. Secondly, with regard to UNIFIL, there were apparently a considerable number of international staff in the General Service category and in the Field Service serving with that operation, which was quite stable. His delegation wondered whether those staff might be replaced by locally recruited staff.

11. Lastly, the Netherlands shared the concerns expressed by other delegations that the process of adopting decisions on resolutions involving peace-keeping operations which the Fifth Committee considered periodically, in particular those concerning UNDOF, UNIFIL and UNFICYP, which were basically quite stable operations that presented relatively few surprises with regard to budget and financing, should perhaps be accelerated. It proposed that in each case a draft resolution submitted by one delegation should be distributed, thus obviating the need to hold lengthy informal consultations, since in the case of those operations the Advisory Committee's recommendations on commitment authorizations and assessed contributions could simply be accepted.

/...

17. Mr. BOIN (France) agreed with the Netherlands representative that the surpluses in the accounts of peace-keeping operations should be credited to the countries that paid assessed contributions for the financing of such operations, making sure that such surpluses were credited to those countries that had actually paid their assessed contributions. He had already made proposals to that end at informal meetings concerning some peace-keeping operations. He hoped that those proposals would be considered carefully by the Secretariat and by delegations.

18. His country contributed substantial numbers of troops to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and was currently owed considerable sums that the Force was not in a position to reimburse due to its precarious financial situation. France had had to incur expenses amounting to several millions of dollars in respect of sickness, disability and death compensation for members of its contingent. As such expenditure involved not only delicate financial issues but also delicate political issues, his delegation wished to know how the appropriations approved for the financing of that peace-keeping operation had been calculated - had they been calculated net of debts owed to troop-contributing countries or according to another formula? Reimbursements must be made not only to the countries that had paid their assessed contributions but also, in particular, to troop-contributing countries.

19. The financing of stable peace-keeping operations such as UNIFIL, UNFICYP and UNDOF should be carried out on an annual basis. The decision to finance those forces on an annual basis could be taken right away, initially, for the current phase, on the basis of an authorization to enter into commitments for expenditures that would extend such financing until the end of March 1995. Later, that financing could be effected for normal yearly periods. Naturally, the adoption of such measures should not be construed as granting a permanent mandate to those peace-keeping operations; their extension should continue to be considered periodically.

/...

27. Mr. TAKASU (Controller) ...

/...

30. With regard to the establishment of surplus accounts, in the case of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the Secretariat had benefited in previous years from the General Assembly decision to suspend the application of the Financial Rules on transferring the surplus to the Special Account in order for peace-keeping operations to continue until such time as contributions were received from Member States. In general, that "reserve" had also been of enormous help in easing the cash-flow difficulties of peace-keeping operations. Although some operations were in a better state than others, the overall situation was serious. In the case of UNDOF, in particular, a question had been raised concerning the application of a certain reimbursement formula in respect of contingent-owned equipment. Traditionally, in established operations such as UNDOF, UNIFIL and the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), the evaluation of equipment provided by troop-contributing countries was relatively simple and the formula established for reimbursement was "30-30-20-20". Thus, budgetary estimates of costs were based on that formula and reimbursement was based on those estimates. In certain recent operations, particularly large-scale operations, the evaluation of contingent-owned equipment was more complicated. For example, the UNPROFOR budget included 10 per cent of the estimated value of contingent-owned equipment. That did not mean that there had been a change in Secretariat policy and that 10 per cent was now paid on all operations; the formula for reimbursement remained the same. The question of the formula for reimbursing contingent-owned equipment was one on which the Secretary-General was to submit a report.

/...

44. With regard to the concern expressed by the representative of France, he regretted the number of cases of disability and death recorded among the UNIFIL contingents. The United Nations was currently reimbursing an amount equivalent to the compensation which had been paid by the Member State in question to the families of the victims, in accordance with the national legislation in force. The United Nations was effecting the reimbursements as soon as possible following the receipt of a certified statement of the exact amount of the compensation.

/...


46. The CHAIRMAN suggested that the Vice-Chairman of the Committee should coordinate informal consultations on those peace-keeping operations to which reference had been made during the meeting.

47. It was so decided.

/...



The meeting rose at 12.50 p.m.


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