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Fifth Committee Takes Up Financing Of UNAMET

4 October 1999

Press Release
GA/AB/3309

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FIFTH COMMITTEE TAKES UP FINANCING OF UNITED NATIONS MISSION IN EAST TIMOR

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Future phases of the United Nations operation in East Timor should be paid for according to the standard General Assembly formula as laid down in Article 17 of the Charter, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was told this afternoon, as it commenced its consideration of the financing of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).

Australia had already made an in-kind contribution of some $2.7 million for phase II, said the representative of that country, speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand. In addition, it was important to be clear that the financing of UNAMET was distinct from the financing of the multinational force in East Timor, which was being paid for by its participants.

The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that after the recent painful events, it was now expected that East Timor’s independence would proceed without delay. The European Union agreed that the expenses of UNAMET were expenses of the Organization, and should be borne by all Member States.

The representative of Indonesia said his country had fully cooperated with the United Nations, and had made additional efforts beyond its 5 May commitments to assist in creating a conducive environment for the success of the Mission. However, he deeply regretted that the consultation follow-up had been marked by frustration, mistakes and disappointments due to the lack of sensitivity of United Nations personnel. If missions were to achieve their goal, it was crucial that their personnel place neutrality above all else.

In the course of their speeches, the representatives of Norway and Japan announced contributions to the United Nations East Timor activities. The representatives of France and Cuba also spoke.

Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) Chairman C.S.M. Mselle introduced that body’s report, and

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Fifth Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/AB 3309 4th Meeting (PM) 4 October 1999

Warren Sach, Director of the Budget Division, answered Member States’ questions.

The Fifth Committee is scheduled to meet again tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. to take up improving the Organization’s financial situation. Statements were expected to be made by the Secretary-General and the Under-Secretary-General for Management.

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Programme of Work
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this afternoon to take up the financing of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).

The Committee had before it the Secretary-General's report on financing UNAMET (document A/54/380). The report contains a revised budget proposal for phase I of UNAMET for the period from 5 May until 30 September 1999, amounting to some $54.4 million gross (some $52.9 million net), covering all components authorized by Security Council resolutions 1236(1999), 1246(1999) and 1257(1999), and a preliminary estimate of the requirements for phase II as authorized by Council resolution 1262 (1999) of some $38 million gross (about $37.1 million net). In the latter, account has been taken of the loss of UNAMET property, its corresponding replacement and the availability of local infrastructure.

The Secretary-General reports that to 21 September, contributions totalling some $43.9 million have been made to the trust fund for East Timor, and all pledges have been paid or confirmed in writing. In addition, in-kind contributions from Australia towards UNAMET's activities are estimated at some $3.4 million for phase I and about $2.8 million from phase II.

The report asks the Assembly to approve an assessment of some $7.1 million gross ($5.6 million net) for UNAMET from 5 May to 30 September, and grant authority for commitments up to some $28 million gross ($27.1 million net), which is the preliminary estimate for phase II of UNAMET.

It also advises that the Secretary-General will submit another report to the Assembly when a fuller assessment regarding UNAMET assets and equipment in East Timor is available. That report will cover appropriation and related assessments for phase II.

[Phase I of the UNAMET mission involved the holding of a popular consultation on the future of East Timor. Phase II was to be the period between the announcement of the result of that consultation and the implementation of that result.]

A related report by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/54/406) notes that, as a result of the unsettled situation in East Timor since 4 September, it has been assumed that 50 per cent of the phase I equipment would need replacement, including the fleet of vehicles, communication and workshop equipment, office furniture and equipment, data-processing equipment and various miscellaneous equipment.

The Advisory Committee does not recommend any change in the estimates for phase II of UNAMET. It notes that these estimates are preliminary and subject to amendment once the assessment of UNAMET's needs has been completed. It asks that the provision for 12 support staff to the Support Account be reported to the General Assembly. It recommends that the staffing requirements include provision for a resident auditor. The ACABQ recommends that the Assembly grant authority to enter into committments not exceeding some $28 million gross pending the full evaluation of assets and facilities, in addition to the $10 million authority previously granted by the ACABQ. It reports that it was informed that actual performance data of UNAMET, as at 31 December 1999, would not be available until March 2000, and that audited financial statements would be submitted to the Assembly in autumn 2001. Taking into account that UNAMET's activities are financed through a special account with a special scale of assessment, it recommends that the Secretary-General submit performance information no later than January 2000 for its consideration.

Statements

C.S.M. Mselle, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body's report on the Secretary-General's proposed budget. The ACABQ recommended that the Secretary-General's projection of requirements for phase II be approved by the Assembly; however, he noted that the Secretary-General was not requesting an assessment at present, but rather was granting a commitment authority.

JARVO SAREVA (Finland) spoke on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta. He said the European Union had been an early supporter of efforts to bring peace to East Timor. After the recent painful events, it was now expected that East Timor’s independence would proceed without delay.

He supported the Secretary-General’s requests for assessment and additional commitment authority, but noted that this request did not address phase III nor any financing matters relating to the establishment of a multinational force. The European Union also supported the ACABQ recommendation of not to reduce the estimates of phase II, which were preliminary. The present situation in the Mission did not allow for the establishment of fully detailed estimates. The European Union also felt that the expenses of UNAMET were expenses of the Organization and should be borne by Member States as apportioned by the General Assembly.

HENRY FOX (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said it was important to be clear that the financing of UNAMET was distinct from the financing of the multinational force in East Timor. The multinational force was being funded by its participants. The Secretary-General’s estimates were based on the need to replace 50 per cent of UNAMET’s equipment, but the figure might eventually prove higher.

Australia had already made an in-kind contribution of some $2.7 million for phase II, he said. However, it was important that Member States bore the costs of the activities of the Organization, as established in Chapter 17 of the Charter. He therefore expected funding for the subsequent phases to be through assessment. Australia, New Zealand and Canada strongly supported granting the Secretary-General’s requests as supported by ACABQ.

ANNE MERCHANT (Norway) said she wished to commend the sustained efforts of the Secretary-General to find a comprehensive and internationally acceptable solution to the question of East Timor. Her delegation had noted that during phase I of UNAMET’S operations until 30 September 1999, voluntary contributions paid and pledged had amounted to $47 million. Norway recommended approval of the request by the Secretary-General to assess that amount.

It was crucial for UNAMET to implement phase II for the period to 30 November, she said. Norway also supported the recommendation by the ACABQ that there should not be any reduction in the preliminary estimates of phase II, and that the Secretary-General should be granted the authority to enter into commitments in the amount of $28 million for that phase. She announced that Norway was also making a contribution of $500,000 to the trust fund for East Timor.

LAURENT GARNIER (France) said there were two important mistakes in the French version of the ACABQ report. The French version stated that the ACABQ recommended a reduction in the Secretary-General’s estimates - – which did not accord with the English version. There were also errors in the table belonging to that report. He asked that a revised version of the text to be issued.

DJAUHARI ORATMANGUN (Indonesia) said the actual signing of the 5 May Agreement had been the result of innovative initiatives by President B. J. Habibe on behalf of Indonesia. The result of the consultation had been the newly-expressed will of the East Timorese people to seek a destiny outside Indonesia. Indonesia would abide by that and ensure that the parting of ways was honest and amicable.

Indonesia had always cooperated with the United Nations, both in the negotiations leading up to the 5 May Agreement and also in fulfilling its commitments under it, he said. Indeed it had made additional efforts beyond its commitments in the Agreement to assist in creating an environment more conducive to the success of the Mission. Indonesia had also commended the work of the United Nations Mission.

Indonesia deeply regretted that the follow-up to the consultation was marked by frustration, mistakes and disappointments due to the lack of sensitivity of United Nations personnel on the ground, he said. Member States should expect the staff of the United Nations to represent the United Nations in an impartial fashion. Failure to do this would effect the trust of Member States. Indonesia had drawn the Secretariat’s attention to various difficulties.

He believed that if any United Nations mission was to achieve its goal, it was crucial that its personnel adhere to a code of conduct that placed neutrality above all else. Staff must maintain sensitivity to prevailing conditions of ground. United Nations missions must be comprised of personnel from a wide range of countries and regions.

Indonesia was fully aware of efficiency measures being undertaken by the Secretariat, he said, but would like further information regarding the $1 million mentioned as having been saved on premises, as the report failed to note how those savings had been achieved.

JUICHI TAKAHARA (Japan) stressed the need to restore security and improve the situation of refugees in East Timor. Among Japan’s contributions so far were $10 million to the trust fund, dispatch of personnel to UNAMET and emergency assistance to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme of $2 million.

Japan would contribute $100 million to the United Nations force in East Timor, he said. It hoped the situation there would be stabilized at the earliest possible date. Japan would make a further contribution for humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, he added. Japan attached great importance to the activities of UNAMET. It hoped the General Assembly would take the earliest possible decision on the financing of UNAMET to enable it to carry out its responsibilities.

DULCE BUERGO RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) reaffirmed that the East Timor operation should be financed by all members in accordance with Article 17 of the Charter.

In answer to questions from Member States, WARREN SACH, Director of the Budget Division, said the savings referred to by the representative of Indonesia in accommodation costs for the Mission, related to premises that were made available at no cost by the host government in Dili and in Bali.

Regarding the accuracy of data in annex 2 of the report of the ACABQ, he said the figures were inaccurate, as had been suggested by the representative of France, in both English and French and possibly in other languages, and a corrigendum would be made available. He noted that the total figure, however, was correct.

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