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        General Assembly
12 May 1997



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







66. Mr. NAJEM (Lebanon), speaking on behalf of the Group of Arab States, noted that in its resolution 50/89 B of 7 June 1996, the General Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and to include in it a full evaluation of the damage resulting from the Israeli attack on the headquarters of the Force at Qana on 18 April 1996. That report was now before the Committee (A/51/535/Add.1). He was astonished to note that the report concluded that it was for Member States, and not Israel, to bear the costs arising out of the Israeli aggression. The Group of Arab States could not accept that Member States should bear any of those costs. Member States already contributed significantly to peacekeeping missions, and it was inconceivable that any further costs should be added to those contributions. The States on whose behalf he spoke appealed to all Member States to refrain from accepting responsibility for any costs related to the Israeli aggression and demanded that Israel, the aggressor, should bear all the costs without exception. He also requested the Chairman to postpone the informal consultations on the agenda item for several days.

67. The CHAIRMAN said that the Bureau would consider all requests for adjustments to the programme of work.

68. Mr. MOKTEFI (Algeria) said that he supported the statement made by the representative of Lebanon; there could be no question of asking Member States to make financial contributions to pay for damage caused deliberately by the aggressor. His delegation refused to be involved in defraying the costs of an incident for which it was not responsible.

69. Mr. FATTAH (Egypt) said that he, too, fully endorsed the statement made by the Lebanese representative, and hoped that the latter's request would be reflected in the draft resolution on the agenda item. With regard to the report of the Advisory Committee (A/51/684/Add.1), he requested clarification of the statement in paragraph 38 that the total costs involved were approximately $1,773,618, excluding about $200,000 in hospital costs for three soldiers.

70. Ms. ACHOURI (Tunisia) said that she supported the Lebanese representative's request for the postponement of informal consultations on the item, and likewise urged Member States not to comply with the request that they should defray the costs relating to the Israeli aggression in Lebanon, as such a request had no legal or political basis.

71. Mr. SULAIMAN (Syrian Arab Republic) said that he, too, fully supported the Lebanese statement, and failed to see the logic of asking Member States to pay for the damage resulting from the Israeli aggression.

72. Mr. ELMONTASER (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that he endorsed the views expressed by the representative of Lebanon and other speakers. He attached great importance to the decision to be adopted and hoped that it would meet the concerns of Member States.

73. Mr. YUSSUF (United Republic of Tanzania), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that there had not been time for the Group of 77 and China to adopt a position on the issue. He requested the Bureau to postpone consideration of the matter until later in the week.

74. Mr. SALEEM (United Arab Emirates) said that he, too, agreed that it was inconceivable that Israel should commit aggression against the headquarters of the Force and then ask the United Nations to pay for the damage. He supported the request for postponement of the informal consultations.

75. Ms. SHENWICK (United States of America) said that she had no objection to postponing the informal consultations on the matter, although she doubted whether the issues could be resolved in a few days' time. It was her understanding, however, that it was the role of the Fifth Committee to analyse the budget submitted by the Secretary-General and determine whether the amounts requested were sufficient, whether the resources would be put to purposes consistent with the mandate given by the General Assembly and whether all expenses should be included under the assessed component of the budget. It was not the role of the Fifth Committee to single out certain expenses in an assessed budget proposed by the Secretary-General and attempt to charge them to specific Member States.

76. The CHAIRMAN said that there were several instances on record in which the Committee had taken such decisions on proposed expenditures, such as those relating to the international human rights tribunals.

77. Mr. MIRMOHAMMAD (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that the intention of the Fifth Committee, as reflected in paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 50/89 B, had been to obtain an assessment of the damage caused by the party responsible. The Committee was now in the process of realizing its intention. He agreed that the costs arising from the damage to the UNIFIL headquarters should be borne solely by the party responsible.

78. Ms. SHENWICK (United States of America) said that she would be grateful if the Chairman could provide specific examples of situations in which the Committee had determined that a component of the Secretary-General's budget should not be funded through the means proposed, and had simultaneously determined that the amounts involved should be assessed against a particular Member State, rather than being regarded as a collective responsibility. In the case of the international tribunals, Member States had disagreed with the scale of assessments proposed by the Secretary-General and had decided to use an alternative method of financing.

79. Mr. MSELLE (Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions) said, with regard to the clarification sought by the representative of Egypt, that in paragraph 38 of its report the Advisory Committee provided information obtained from the report of the Secretary-General and from the Secretariat. The report indicated that the total costs was $1.7 million, excluding an amount of $200,000. He would leave it to the Secretariat to inform the Fifth Committee as to which entity would be responsible for that amount.

80. Ms. SHENWICK (United States of America) asked whether the expense in question might have been borne, not by the United Nations, but by a Member State, pursuant to an agreement to provide medical expenses to officers of a peacekeeping mission who were injured in the line of duty. If not, she wished to know whether the Fifth Committee was now going to discuss any possible expense that might be associated with the incident in question. It was her understanding that paragraph 38 of the report of the Advisory Committee referred to expenses borne by the United Nations that were associated directly or indirectly with the incident at Qana. She requested clarification of what the amount of $200,000 represented.

81. MR. MSELLE (Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions) said that the Secretariat had provided information to the Advisory Committee regarding the treatment of the amount of $200,000, and it was for the Secretariat to provide that information to the Fifth Committee.

82. Mr. HOSANG (Director, Peacekeeping Financing Division) said that he would reply to the questions raised at the next meeting.

83. Mr. FATTAH (Egypt) said it was surprising that the Secretariat was not ready to answer questions on a report that had been studied in detail in the Advisory Committee. He awaited the reply by the representative of the Secretariat.


The meeting rose at 5.50 p.m.

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