62nd Session of the General Assembly
5th Committee, 2nd Meeting
Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations
Statement by Ms. Clotilde Mesquita, Advisor
Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, 8th October 2007
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
At the outset, the European Union wishes to thank Mr. Bernardo Greiver, Chairman of the Committee on Contributions (CoC), for presenting the Committee’s report of its 67th session contained in document A/62/11 as well as Mr. Warren Sach, Comptroller of the United Nations for the presentation of the Secretary-General´s report on multi-year payment plans.
Let me start by addressing the issue of the requests for exemption from Art. 19 of the UN Charter. The EU has consistently held the firm opinion that the payment of assessed contributions in full, on time, and without conditions is a primary duty of the Member States of this Organization. This applies to all member States irrespective of whether or not they fall or risk falling under Art. 19. Substantive arrears from several major contributors continue to hamper the financial situation of the United Nations. Nevertheless, we recognize that some Member States may have genuine difficulties in punctually paying their contributions, due to constraints beyond their control, and must therefore be afforded the allowance for which the Charter makes full provision.
In this regard, multi-year payment plans have, in recent years, made a very positive contribution in encouraging and assisting Member States in reducing their unpaid assessed contributions. They have provided a way for them to demonstrate their commitment to meeting their financial obligations to the United Nations. They are an undisputed success story and the EU will continue to support them and to encourage Member States that find themselves in difficult situations to present them. The EU recognizes the considerable efforts made by those Member States to honour their commitments as well as the new payment plan submitted by Liberia. We also commend Georgia and the Niger for making full payments under their plans.
The EU notes with concern the Central African Republic’s failure to make a single contribution since 1998. The EU also agrees with the statement in paragraph 92 of the Report of the CoC to the effect that the problems of the Comoros are systemic in nature and do not constitute exceptional circumstances. The EU stresses that these member States should make an effort to make at least sufficient payments to avoid further increases in their unpaid assessments.
Despite these concerns, the EU stands ready to endorse the recommendations of the CoC that the following Member States be permitted to vote in the General Assembly until the end of the sixty-second session of the General Assembly: the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, São Tomé and Principe, Somalia and Tajikistan.
Turning now to the methodology of the scale of assessments, there is a number of issues in this year´s report of the CoC which have caught our attention. Namely:
- On income measure, we agree that universal adoption of the 1993 SNA (System of National Accounts) would provide for a more equitable and comparable measure of member States´ capacity to pay (para. 12). We encourage members States which have not yet adopted the 1993 SNA to do so.
- On conversion rates, there is a novel suggestion to study the feasibility of using IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) instead of the US Dollar as a single conversion base (para. 23.). We look forward to the CoC´s analysis of this proposal at its next session.
- On the debt-burden adjustment, we read with interest that new data available have shown that the repayment period of total debt had declined from 9.9 years in 1999 to 6.9 years in 2005 (para.36). Also, it is interesting to know that data for public debt is now available, from the OECD, for 135 countries (para.37). These two elements show promise in fine tuning the current format of the debt-burden adjustment.
- Finally, on the low per capita income adjustment, the EU would welcome more detailed information on possible alternatives for the establishment of the threshold, to which reference is made in para. 49 of the report.
The EU will pursue these issues in the course of informal consultations. We will keep an open mind regarding the interests and proposals of other delegations. We are aware that this is not a scale year and that we have more pressing business on our hands. Nevertheless, we feel there should be scope for consensus and room for improvement in some of the issues we mentioned. The Committee on Contributions under the excellent leadership of Mr Griever has asked for some guidance from the General assembly and we should respond to that request. Let us make productive use of the time of informals allotted to us and usefully steer the CoC in assisting us in continuing to improve the UN´s scale of assessments.
Thank you Mr. Chairman
* The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to be part of the Stabilization and Association Process