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Fifth Committee commends creation of new Department of Field Support as it approves key overhaul of UN Peacekeeping

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GA/AB/3807
Sixty-first General Assembly
Fifth Committee

58th Meeting (PM)

Text Call for Offices of Military Affairs, Rule of Law As Organization Moves to Strengthen Capacity, Meet Surging Demand

Agreeing to a major structural overhaul of the world body’s peacekeeping department, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon paved the way for the General Assembly’s establishment of a new Department of Field Support, approving also some $5.25 billion for the 13 active peacekeeping operations it would manage, as it concluded its second resumed session.

By approving the 67-paragraph draft resolution, the Committee recommended that the Assembly establish the post of Under-Secretary-General for Field Support until 30 June 2008 and two posts at the Assistant Secretary-General level in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations -- one to head the newly established Office of Military Affairs and the other lead the new Office of Rule of Law and Security. According to the draft, the Assembly would also create the post of Chief of the Procurement Service in the Office of Central Support Services. In addition, the Assembly would approve some $230.51 million in Support Account requirements for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including 819 continuing and 284 new temporary posts.

The Committee was acting on proposals put forward by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the beginning of the year to strengthen the Organization’s capacity to “mount and sustain” peacekeeping operations in light of the surge in the demand and the increasing complexity of those operations.

The Committee customarily devotes its mid-year session to assessing the budgetary and administrative needs of peacekeeping for the coming financial year, which this year falls within the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008. Most of the 24 draft resolutions and 2 draft decisions approved today address various aspects of peacekeeping, including individual mission budgets, the financing of the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, and the Peacekeeping Support Account.

Acting on the individual mission budgets for 2007-2008, the Committee approved the following amounts:

MINURSO ( Western Sahara) $46,471,700
MINUSTAH ( Haiti) $561,344,900
MONUC ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) $1,166,721,000
UNDOF (Israel-Syria Disengagement) $41,586,600
UNFICYP ( Cyprus) $48,847,500
UNIFIL ( Lebanon) $748,204,600
UNMEE ( Ethiopia and Eritrea) $118,988,700
UNMIK (Kosovo) $220,897,200
UNMIL ( Liberia) $721,723,000
UNMIS ( Sudan) $887,332,000
UNMIT (Timor-Leste) $160,589,900
UNOCI ( Côte d’Ivoire) $493,698,400
UNOMIG (Georgia) $36,708,200
Total $5,253,113,700

The appropriation for each mission includes a prorated shared for the Support Account and the Logistics Base. The total requirements for the Support Account amount to some $209.04 million, and those for the Logistics Base to $34.01 million.

All but one of the peacekeeping draft resolutions -– on financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) -– were approved without a vote. That text was approved by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States) with 1 abstention ( Australia). (See annex II.)

A separate vote was held on several paragraphs of the text referring to earlier Assembly resolutions that called on Israel to pay for damages resulting from an assault on the UNIFIL base at Qana in southern Lebanon on 18 April 1996. The Committee approved those paragraphs by a recorded vote of 84 in favour to 5 against ( Australia, Canada, Israel, Palau, United States) with 47 abstentions. (See annex I.)

All the texts on specific peacekeeping mission included provisions by which the Assembly would express, among other things, concern at the delay experienced by the Secretary-General in deploying and providing adequate resources to some recent peacekeeping missions, particularly those in Africa. The Assembly would emphasize that all future and existing peacekeeping missions would be given equal and non-discriminatory treatment in respect of financial and administrative arrangements, and that all operations would be provided with adequate resources for the effective and efficient discharge of their respective mandates.

By those texts, the Assembly would emphasize that no peacekeeping mission would be financed by borrowing funds from other active operations and encourage the Secretary-General to continue to take additional measures to ensure the safety and security of all personnel.

In other action, the Committee approved a text on cross-cutting issues, intended to provide policy guidance at Headquarters and in the field. The 23-part text addresses all aspects of peacekeeping, ranging from budget presentation, planning and staff structure, through training, military, air operations, ground transport, fuel management, conduct and discipline, to quick-impact projects, procurement and regional coordination.

On budgeting and budget presentation, the Assembly would reaffirm that budget submissions should reflect management improvements and efficiency gains to be achieved and present future strategies in that regard. Recognizing that mandate and operational changes may lead to variances in budget implementation, it would request the Secretary-General to take further steps towards improving budget assumptions and forecasts.

Regarding internal controls and conflicts of interest, the Assembly would stress that the Secretariat management structure for peacekeeping operations must ensure the full integration of operational and management processes with a strong internal control framework, supported by effective accountability mechanisms.

Turning to the Organization’s governance and oversight system, the Committee also approved a text on the terms of reference for the Independent Audit Advisory Committee and strengthening of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). Emphasizing the importance of establishing real, effective and efficient mechanisms for responsibility and accountability in the United Nations, the Assembly would decide to approve the terms of reference of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee, as well as criteria for its membership, and appropriate some $327.8 million.

Regarding funding arrangements for OIOS, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to establish a robust and effective control framework, including an enterprise risk management mechanism, and request him to submit to the Assembly revised funding arrangements for the Office.

The Committee also approved a draft resolution on the reports of the Board of Auditors, and a text on incentives to retain staff of the International Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia. It also approved a three-part text covering special subjects related to the programme budget for 2006-2007, including the review of logical frameworks for special political missions for the period 1 January to 31 December 2007.

In a closing statement, Committee Chairman Youcef Yousfi of Algeria said it had reached many landmark decisions, from the final adoption of the new Capital Master Plan to the adoption of a new scale of assessment and the decision regarding after-service health insurance. Reform-wise, it had adopted the long overdue terms of reference for the Independent Audit Advisory Committee. It had also set in motion reform of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations through the formal creation of the Department of Field Support and the position of the Under-Secretary-General to lead it, while adopting one of the most important budgets ever to finance peacekeeping operations.

In other business, United Nations Controller Warren Sach provided an oral update on the status of the Capital Master Plan.

At the outset of the meeting, the Committee Chairman expressed condolences on the passing of the son of the Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) Andrzej Abraszewski. The Advisory Committee’s Chairman, Rajat Saha, also took the floor in that regard.

Others making statements today were the representatives of Syria, Japan, Lebanon, Israel, Chile, Germany (on behalf of the European Union), United States, Australia (on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Egypt, Cuba, Jamaica, Pakistan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Portugal, Canada and Malaysia.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Syria and Lebanon.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at a date and time to be announced.

Action of Draft Resolutions

The Committee took up a draft resolution on financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/C.5/61/L.48), by which the General Assembly would accept the audited financial statements of the United Nations peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006. It would also reiterate that the issue of outstanding assessed contributions is a policy-matter of the Assembly and urge all Member States to make every possible effort to ensure their payment in full.

The Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to ensure full and timely implementation of the Board of Auditor’s recommendations and those of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), and to indicate an expected time frame and priorities in that regard, including the office-holders to be held accountable. The Assembly would further request him to provide a full explanation for the delays in the implementation of the Board’s recommendations for the period ended 30 June 2006 or the prior periods.

The Committee approved the text without a vote.

Part I of a three-part draft resolution on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007 (document A/C.5/61/L.54) would have the Assembly endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of ACABQ on the matter.

[In its report (document A/61/917), ACABQ recommends that the Assembly take note that the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 4/8 would give rise to additional requirements in the amount of $360,300 under the 2006-2007 budget, which would be accommodated, to the extent possible, within the existing appropriation. As recommended by ACABQ; that the Secretary-General intends to report in the context of the second performance report of the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007 on any additional requirements; and that the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 4/4 would give rise to additional requirements in the amount of $74,300 under sections 2, 23 and 28E of the proposed budget for 2008-2009, which would be considered when the Assembly takes up the proposed 2008-2009 programme budget and the related Contingency Fund.]

Part II of the text, on the financial situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) would have the Assembly decide, on an exceptional basis, to authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in an amount up to $367,800 under the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007, subject to full reimbursement, pending receipt of voluntary contributions for the Institute’s financing. It would also call on the Secretary-General to offer solutions for placing the Institute’s financial situation on a more stable basis without recourse to regular budget funding. The Assembly would reaffirm that regular budget resources shall not be used to finance the Institute’s activities, and reiterate its appeal to Member States to urgently contribute voluntary funds in support of INSTRAW, and to honour existing pledges. It would call upon INSTRAW to formulate its budget in a manner aligning it more closely with the volume of available voluntary resources.

By the terms of part III, on review of the logical framework for special political missions for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2007, the Assembly would endorse the proposals contained in paragraph 7 of the Secretary-General’s report.

[In the report, the Secretary-General requests the General Assembly to approve the proposed revisions to the logical framework for the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic and the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau.]

The representative of Syria, noting that Israel still occupied parts of southern Lebanon and continued to violate Lebanese airspace while threatening United Nations forces in that country, said such actions violated Security Council resolution 1559 (2004). They had been documented by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and in Lebanese correspondence with the United Nations. The Secretariat had confirmed that it would refer to those violations in the logical framework of the next budget of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General in charge of implementing resolution 1559 (2004), yet the second report on that subject failed to include a reference to those concerns. For that reason, Syria would have nothing to do with the consensus on the text.

He said he wished to include document A/61/894 among the documents to be considered at the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, at which time the Fifth Committee was expected to consider the item on estimates of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly or the Security Council.

The representative of Japan, speaking in explanation of position before action, said the draft provided a basis for the establishment of a mechanism to bridge cash flow on the condition that the amounts disbursed should be fully reimbursed. In that regard, the draft should be the last before the Committee on the financing of INSTRAW and members should be in a position to take action on that basis.

The representative of Lebanon said his delegation had taken note of the Secretary-General’s report and his determination that the logical framework needed minor adjustments, including in terms of the Special Envoy for the implementation of resolution 1559 (2004). That report had been revised on 30 May in a new document with a similar symbol, and the Lebanese delegation had serious reservations about the manner in which the matter had been handled. Violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty were within the mandate of Council resolution 1559 (2004), and were included in Terje Roed-Larsen’s report to the Council. They should be within the indicators of future reports on resolution 1559 (2004).

The representative of Israel said resolution 1559 (2004) reiterated the Security Council’s strong support for Lebanon’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence and, had it been fully implemented, that might actually have happened. Instead, the terrorist organization Hizbullah had grown as a “State within a State” in southern Lebanon. Last summer’s conflict between Hizbullah and Israel had resulted from 1559 (2004) remaining unfulfilled. The resolution called for Hizbullah to be disarmed and disbanded, yet, throughout its violations of the Blue Line, the Lebanese Army and Government had stood by and watched, never stopping the terrorists from attacking Israel and harming Lebanon’s national interests.

He said it was deeply troubling that major components of resolution 1559 (2004) remained unimplemented: Syria’s failure to establish normal diplomatic relations with Lebanon; the failure to demarcate a border between the two countries; and the failure to dismantle and disarm all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias still operating freely in Lebanon. Mr. Roed-Larsen had recently raised those exact concerns with the Security Council.

In addition, Syria had tried, in its letter to the Secretary-General, to reinterpret the logical framework of the special political mission in Lebanon and conclude that the expansion of mandates was a duplication of work, he said. Resolution 1559 (2004) was clearly a Syrian-Lebanese issue not involving Israel. Syria was trying to divert the Organization’s attention from its own failure to respond to the international community’s will.

He said Syria had also tried to add indicators of achievement connecting resolution 1559 (2004) with the Blue Line, which was a clear distortion of the resolution. It was micromanaging the Committee in the interest of averting condemnation and attention for having neglected its obligations under Security Council resolutions. In 2000, Israel had completely removed itself from Lebanon, fulfilling its obligations as outlined by Security Council resolution 425 (1978). The issue at hand did not pertain to Israel or the Blue Line, but to Syrian interference in Lebanon. The Committee must ensure the clarity of the political mission’s logical framework without engage in reinterpreting Council resolutions.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on a comprehensive proposal on appropriate incentives to retain staff of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia (document A/C.5/61/L.50), which it approved it without a vote.

Noting with concern that there may be difficulties in retaining and recruiting key staff as the Tribunals complete their mandates, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General, without prejudging any decision on measures for staff retention, to submit a report, which would include cost implications and provide clarifications on the matter, as well as a clear justification for possible payment of an incentive and all legal aspects related to the implementation of a retention scheme.

The Assembly would request that the report include alternative approaches to the calculation of the amount of a retention incentive, including focusing the proposals on core positions, required years of service, possible cap mechanisms, timing of their payment and conditions attached to such retention schemes. Recognizing that the payment of an incentive is not provided for by the United Nations common system, it would request the International Civil Service Commission to advise it on the proposal contained in the Secretary-General’s report no later than the main part of its sixty-second session.

Taking up a text on terms of reference for the Independent Audit Advisory Committee and strengthening the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) (document A/C.5/61/L.70), the Committee approved it without a vote. By Part I of the draft, the Assembly would reaffirm its oversight role and that of the Fifth Committee on administrative and budgetary matters, and emphasize the importance of establishing real, effective and efficient mechanisms for responsibility and accountability in the United Nations.

Further by the text, the Assembly would emphasize also that the recruitment and promotion of OIOS staff shall be carried out in accordance with the United Nations Charter, relevant Assembly resolutions and decisions, and the Staff Rules and Regulations of the Organization; emphasize also that the approval, change and discontinuation of legislative mandates are the exclusive prerogative of intergovernmental bodies; and stress that OIOS shall not propose to the Assembly any change in the legislative decisions and mandates approved by those bodies.

Also by the draft, the Assembly would decide to approve the terms of reference for the newly established Independent Audit Advisory Committee and the criteria for its membership. It would also decide to review, at its sixty-fifth session, that body’s terms of reference.

With respect to revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007 for OIOS, the Assembly would endorse ACABQ’s recommendation to convert to established posts, 9 posts for the Audit Division of OIOS and 16 posts in its Investigations Division, and request the Secretary-General to report on the functions, structure and work processes of the Investigations Division with a view to strengthening its investigation function in the context of the programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009. It would also approve the transfer of management consulting posts, noting that the incumbents carrying out those functions should not be disadvantaged by virtue of the transfer.

Regarding funding arrangements for OIOS, the Assembly would note that the level of resources needed to strengthen the Office is related to the strength of the Organization’s internal control, and request the Secretary-General to establish a robust and effective internal control framework, including a mechanism of enterprise risk management, and to include in his related report proposals to strengthen OIOS. It would also request that the Secretary-General submit to the Assembly revised funding arrangements for OIOS, bearing in mind the recommendation of ACABQ. The Assembly would urge United Nations governing bodies, funds and programmes receiving OIOS services to address its funding arrangements in light of the views of that Office and of the funds and programmes.

Prior to the Committee’s approval of the text, the Chairman read out a statement on behalf of KARL VAN DEN BOSSCHE (Belgium), coordinator of the draft resolution, in which he said each regional group would be entitled to one seat in the Independent Audit Advisory Committee. Election to that body would require a simple majority of the Member States present and voting. A new sub-item, on the appointment of members to that Committee, would be added under the agenda item “appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments”. The regional groups were encouraged to present at least two candidates each for election to the Audit Committee.

The Committee then turned to text on administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations; cross-cutting issues (document A/C.5/61/L.49), which addresses budgeting and budget presentation; results-based budgeting; mission planning and staffing structure; best practices; use of consultants; staffing, recruitment and vacancy rates; use of 300-series and 100-series appointments; training; death and disability claims; military personnel; internal controls and conflict of interest; air operations; ground transportation and utilization of vehicles; fuel management; conduct and discipline; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration issues; quick-impact projects; procurement; regional coordination; partnerships, country team coordination and integrated missions; and liabilities and reimbursements.

The Assembly would, among other things, note that the policy on capturing best practices was still evolving, and request a comprehensive report on that issue at the second part of its resumed session next year. It would also request a review of the standards for recruitment of national professional officers, requesting the Secretary-General to consider, when formulating budget submissions, greater utilization of national staff, commensurate with the requirements of the mission and its mandate. Also on staffing, the Assembly would reaffirm that local mission staff may be recruited as international staff in another mission only through the normal recruitment process, in which they would compete alongside other external candidates.

Reiterating its concern over high vacancy and turnover rates for civilian staff in some peacekeeping missions, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to ensure that vacant posts are filled expeditiously and to review the staffing structure of missions on an ongoing basis, bearing in mind the mission’s mandate and concept of operations. The Secretary-General would also be requested to ensure that any delegation of authority to mission officials with regard to recruitment is accompanied by appropriate steps to ensure accountability. In view of the importance of interaction between United Nations personnel with local population, the Assembly would affirm that good command of the official languages spoken in the country of residence should be taken into account as an additional asset during selection and training processes.

Underlining the great importance of eliminating misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, the Assembly would call for full implementation of the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy. It would stress the importance of having a dedicated capacity in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at Headquarters and in field missions to address conduct and discipline issues. In that connection, it would decide to convert 7 temporary positions at Headquarters and 41 temporary positions in the field into posts and authorize that the remaining field positions be funded from general temporary assistance. A comprehensive report on the issue should be presented during the Assembly’s next session, with full justification of all posts, with staffing levels, functions and their impact on conduct and discipline.

Also by the draft, the Assembly would affirm that quick-impact projects play a critical role in strengthening the link between missions and local populations, and welcome their inclusion in mission budgets. It would stress that quick-impact projects are an integral part of mission planning, development and implementation, and emphasize that they should be implemented with minimal or no overhead charges in order to ensure that the maximum amount is spent for the direct benefit of the local population. The Assembly would also emphasize the importance of coordination with humanitarian and development partners and stress that mission budgets allocated for quick-impact projects should not finance humanitarian and development activities by agencies or other international organizations.

On procurement, the Assembly would recognize that procurement reform is an ongoing process that should focus on ensuring efficiency, transparency and cost-effectiveness, and strengthening internal controls, greater accountability to Member States and full implementation of resolutions on procurement reform. It would request the Secretary-General to identify obstacles preventing the participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in United Nations procurement contracts and recognize efforts by the Procurement Division to increase the number of business seminars in developing countries.

WARREN SACH, United Nations Controller, said, with respect to the conversion of positions, that the Committee could decide to convert 7 temporary positions at Headquarters and 41 in the field into posts, and to authorize the funding of remaining field positions from general temporary assistance to address conduct and discipline issues. The Secretariat would understand that those provisions were to be implemented in all missions, consistent with individual draft resolutions and other provisions of the draft, as applicable.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of Chile, noting that he had joined the consensus, said new conditions had been added to the text regarding the selection and training of peacekeeping staff.

Taking up a draft resolution on financing of the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy (document A/C.5/61/L.55), the Committee approved that text without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would decide to create the following posts in the Strategic Air Operations Centre: one Chief, Strategic Air Operations Centre (P-4); two Aviation Operations Officers (P-3); and two temporary positions established under general temporary assistance. It would also decide to approve the creation of a post of Chief, Administrative Services, at the P-5 level. It would further decide to approve the establishment of the following posts as temporary positions to be funded from general temporary assistance: one Chief, Engineering Design Unit (P-4), one Design Engineer (P-3) and two national General Service positions within the Engineering Design Unit.

By other terms, the Assembly would decide to approve the creation of the post of Chief, Geographic Information System Centre, at the P-4 level, and the establishment of the following temporary positions to be funded from general temporary assistance: one Geographic Information System Officer (P-3), one Geographic Information System Administrator (Field Service) and five national General Service positions within the Geographic Information System Centre. It would also decide to establish the general temporary assistance positions under the pilot project of an off-site recruitment and outreach unit and revert to the issue in the context of the 2008-2009 budget, pending the outcome of the human resources management reform.

The Assembly would also, by further terms, request the Secretary-General, in the context of the budget proposal for 2009-2010, to report on the longer-term perspective on the role and future development of the United Nations Logistics Base, addressing, among other things, the basis for placing certain functions at the Base, taking into account the support provided by the host country.

The Committee then approved, also without a vote, a draft resolution on consolidation of peacekeeping accounts (document A/C.5/61/L.56), by which the Assembly would decide to revert consideration of that question to the first part of its resumed sixty-second session, and request the Secretary-General to provide an updated comprehensive report on the issue. The report would include a simulation of the options proposed, taking into account the views expressed, questions raised and information requested by Member States, at is sixty-first session.

The Committee then approved a draft decision, as orally amended, on closed peacekeeping missions, by which the Assembly would decide to return two thirds of the credit available in the account of the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission to the Government of Kuwait, amounting to $3.7 million. It would also decide to consider the updated financial position of closed peacekeeping missions during its sixty-second session.

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed regret that consideration of part of the decision on closed peacekeeping missions had been deferred, especially since a compromise had seemed within reach. The European Union stood ready to discuss the issue at the main part of the sixty-second session.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to manage and sustain peacekeeping operations (document A/C.5/61/L.71), by which the Assembly, recognizing the need to strengthen the Organization’s Headquarters capacity to mount and sustain peacekeeping operations in light of the surge in demand, and the complex and multidimensional nature of peacekeeping operations, would decide to establish the Department of Field Support.

By other terms, the Assembly would stress that the overall responsibility for the Organization’s management rests with the Secretary-General as the Chief Administrative Officer, and affirm the need for the Secretary-General to ensure that the delegation of authority to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and to field missions is in strict compliance with relevant resolutions and decisions, and the Assembly’s relevant rules and procedures.

Further by the text, the Assembly would reiterate the importance of strengthened accountability in the Organization and of ensuring greater accountability by the Secretary-General to Member States. The Assembly would recall its request to the Secretary-General specifically to define accountability and propose clear mechanisms for its application and instruments for its rigorous enforcement, without exception, at all levels, to ensure the Organization’s effective and efficient operations and management of resources.

The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure a clear chain of command, accountability, coordination and to define explicitly the role and duties of the Deputy Secretary-General in the reform set out in the draft resolution, including in relation to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support, the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Management. It would also request him to ensure the proper representation of troop-contributing countries in the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, taking into account their contribution to United Nations peacekeeping.

The Assembly would also decide to establish the post of Assistant Secretary-General to head the newly established Office of Military Affairs in the Peacekeeping Department, Assistant Secretary-General to head the newly established Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Peacekeeping Department and Chief of the Procurement Service (D-1) in the Procurement Division of the Office of Central Support Services. It would further decide to approve the redeployment of a post at the P-5 level from the Military Division to the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions to perform the functions of Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary-General, and an existing Military Adviser post at the D-2 level from the Military Division to the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions to head the Police Division.

Also by the text, the Assembly would stress that heads of departments report to and are accountable to the Secretary-General, and note the unique nature of the reporting line from the head of the Department of Field Support to the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. It would decide that having one head of department (Department of Field Support) report to and take direction from another departmental head (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) shall not set a precedent in the Secretariat. The Assembly would stress that structural change is no substitute for managerial improvement.

Urging the Secretary-General to identify measures to increase the Support Account’s productivity and efficiency, the Assembly would decide to maintain, for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, the funding mechanism for the Support Account used in the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. It would also decide to approve 1 D-1, 13 P-5 and 12 P-4 posts for the integrated operational teams, to be located in their functional areas. It would further decide to locate the Partnerships Section in the Office of the Director for Policy, Evaluation and Training in the Peacekeeping Department, and to approve two Evaluation Officer posts (one P-5 and one P-4) and one Administrative Assistant post in that Department’s Best Practices Section.

The Assembly would, by further terms, decide not to establish one P-4 post or a legal service in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support. It would further decide not to establish a P-5 post for a Senior Legal Officer in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs. It would, however, decide to establish one P-4 post in the Europe and Latin America Division of the Peacekeeping Department, one P-4 post in lieu of using general temporary assistance in that Department’s Field Budget and Finance Division, and one P-5, two P-4 and one P-3 post in the Office of the Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Peacekeeping Department.

By further provisions, the Assembly would decide to retain the 63 posts referred to in the ACABQ report under general temporary assistance, and request the Secretary-General to review the level of resources of OIOS for backstopping peacekeeping operations, as well as its functions and interaction with peacekeeping operations and troop-contributing countries.

On budget estimates, the Assembly would approve the support requirements in the amount of $230.51 million for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including 819 continuing and 284 new temporary posts and their related post and non-post requirements. In terms of financing of the budget estimates, the Assembly would decide that support account requirements for the same period would be financed as follows: the unencumbered balance of $10.95 million and other income of $3.43 million in respect of the financial period ending 30 June 2006 to be applied to the resources required for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008; the amount of $7.1 million in excess of the authorized level of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund in respect of the financial period ended 30 June 2006 to be applied to the resources required for the financial period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008; and the balance of $209.03 million to be prorated among the budgets of the active peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008. The net estimated staff assessment income of $21.3 million, comprising some $23.43 million for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 and the decrease of $2.15 million in respect of the period ending 30 June 2006, would be offset by the balance of $209.03 million and prorated among the budgets of the individual active peacekeeping operations.

Regarding the programme budget for 2006-2007, the Assembly would decide to establish the post of Under-Secretary-General for Field Support until 30 June 2008, under the assumption of its continuation, subject to a preliminary review at the second part of its resumed sixty-second session and a comprehensive review at the second part of the resumed sixty-third session that will address, among other things, the post’s continuation, its level, functions, interaction with other heads of department, relevance, operational efficiency and effectiveness and, taking into account the functions of the Department of Field Support, the necessity to ensure the unity of command, integration of efforts and strengthening of operational capacity at Headquarters and in the field.

Mr. SACH noted that paragraph 6 of the draft would permit the continuation of the current arrangements whereby Headquarters backstopping was provided from resources of the Support Account. The Secretary-General would also understand paragraph 58 as providing sufficient basis for him to proceed to grant a two-year appointment at the Under-Secretary-General level for the leadership of the new Department. The Assembly’s establishment of the post was understood as leading to a situation where it could only be discontinued by express Assembly action. Taking effect 1 July, the arrangements would be subject to review by the new Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, once appointed, and in due course by the General Assembly in the context of the Support Account for 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.

The Committee approved the text without a vote.

The representative of the United States said he appreciated the manner in which Committee Members had dealt with that difficult task, under the Coordinator’s able guidance. He had joined the consensus and noted that, while the Committee did not agree on all the details of the Secretary-General’s proposals, they endorsed his vision, in general, and would provide the necessary resources to implement his proposals.

The representative of Australia, also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand (CANZ group), noted that the Fifth Committee had worked cooperatively and effectively on the topic at hand. The surge in peacekeeping over recent years had resulted in a need to reform the Secretariat to better support those operations. The Secretary-General was to be congratulated for prioritizing the matter. The CANZ group was pleased that the General Assembly was willing to support the Secretary-General. The resolution before the Committee provided for the strengthening of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, by installing an Under-Secretary-General to head the new Department of Field Support. Hopefully, the appointment would be made in a timely fashion. More work remained to be done by the Committee regarding the status of resources for procurement, integrated joint operations, standing police capacity, legal affairs, information and communications technology, and regular funding for temporary OIOS posts.

The representative of Japan commended the Coordinator for his able guidance and said her country would follow closely the implementation of the resolution just approved, together with the implementation of other related resolutions. Hopefully, they would enhance the Secretariat’s efficiency and accountability to States.

The representative of Germany, on behalf of the European Union, thanked the Coordinator and the Chairman for their efforts during the negotiations on the text.

The Committee then turned to a note by the Secretary-General on the financing of the support account for peacekeeping operations and the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy (document A/C.5/61/23). The note had been issued in accordance with the prorating procedures approved by the Assembly in its resolution 50/221 B. The annex attached to the note reflected the resources to be approved by the General Assembly in respect of each peacekeeping mission, including the prorated shares of the Support Account and of the Logistics Base.

According to the document, a note would be issued on the approved level of resources for all peacekeeping operations once the Assembly had taken action. The Fifth Committee was requested to take note of those accounts.

MR. SACH said the current copy before the Committee had technical errors, and so it would be reissued during the course of the meeting. The figures in relation to the prorated share of each mission would be included in the final reports of the Fifth Committee.

The Committee next took up a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.57) on the financing of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), by which the Assembly would decide that, for Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Operation, they shall be credited their respective share of the unspent balance and other income totalling some $69.01 million in respect of the financial period ending 30 June 2006. For Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations, there shall be set off against their outstanding obligations their respective share of the unspent balance and other income in the total amount of $69.01 million in respect of the financial period ending 30 June 2006.

Also by the draft, the Assembly would decide that the decrease of $2.30 million in the estimated staff assessment income in respect of the financial period ended 30 June 2006 shall be set off against the credits from the amount of $69.01 million. It would take note of the status of contributions to ONUB as of 31 March 2007, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of $18.9 million, representing some 2 per cent of the total assessed contributions, also noting with concern that only 33 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.

The text was approved without a vote.

The Committee next took up a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.52) on financing of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), by which the Assembly would decide to appropriate some $493.7 million to the Special Account for the Operation, including some $470.86 million for its maintenance.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft as orally corrected by its Secretary.

The Committee took up a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.58) on the financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), by which the Assembly would decide to appropriate to the Special Account for the Force the amount of $48.85 million for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $46.59 million for the Force’s maintenance, $1.94 million for the peacekeeping Support Account and $316,300 for the United Nations Logistics Base.

Also by the text, the Assembly would decide, taking into account its voluntary contribution for the financial period ended 30 June 2006, that one third of the net unspent balance and other income in the amount of $679,433 in respect of the financial period ended 30 June 2006 shall be returned to the Government of Cyprus. Taking into account its voluntary contribution for the period ended 30 June 2006, it would decide that the prorated share of the net unencumbered balance and other income in the amount of $300,541 in respect of the financial period ended 30 June 2006 shall be returned to the Government of Greece.

The Assembly would, by further terms, take note of the status of contributions to UNFICYP as of 31 March 2007, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of $17.9 million, representing some 6 per cent of the total assessed contributions. It would note with concern that only 32 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.

That text was approved without a vote.

The Committee then approved a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.51) on financing of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), by which the Assembly would decide to appropriate to the Special Account for the Mission the amount of some $1.17 billion for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $1.11 billion for the Mission’s maintenance, $46.43 million for the Support Account for peacekeeping operations and $7.55 million for the Logistics Base.

By that text, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions as of 31 March, including outstanding contributions of $243.4 million (some 6 per cent of total assessments), noting with concern that only 36 Member States have paid their contributions in full. It would welcome the expansion of the logistics base for the Mission at Entebbe, Uganda, that provides support to peacekeeping operations in the region, which has resulted in savings for the United Nations.

Further, the Assembly would decide to establish the posts of Fire Chief (Field Service) in the Security and Safety Section; Human Resources Officer (P-3) in the Human Resources Section; Human Resources Officer (Field Service) in the Aviation Section; and Warehouse Supervisor (Field Service) in the Property Management Section. It would request that the Secretary-General report to the Assembly on the progress made in developing a collaboration framework and an integrated work plan as part of his budget submission at the sixty-second session.

Another draft (document A/C.5/61/L.59) on the financing of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) would have the Assembly decide to credit Member States that have fulfilled their financial obligations to the Mission with their share of the unencumbered balance and other income, amounting to $31.84 million, in respect of the financial period ended 30 June 2006. For those States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations, their share of the unencumbered balance and other income would be set off against their outstanding obligations. The Assembly would also decide that the $4,800 increase in estimated staff assessment income in the financial period ending on 30 June 2006 be added to the credits from the $31.84 million.

The Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor and the UNMISET as at 31 March, including outstanding contributions amounting to $25.4 million (some 1 per cent of total assessments), noting with concern that only 123 Member States have paid their contributions in full.

The Committee approved that text without a vote.

A draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.60) on the financing of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) would have the Assembly decide to appropriate $118.98 million to the Mission’s Special Account for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, which would include $113.48 million for its maintenance, $4.73 million for the Support Account for peacekeeping operations and $770,400 million for the United Nations Logistics Base.

That draft would also have the Assembly take note of the status of contributions to UNMEE as at 31 March, including outstanding contributions of $47.6 million or 3.9 per cent of total assessed contributions, while noting with concern that only 22 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.

The text was approved, again without a vote.

The Committee also approved, without a vote, a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.61) on financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG), by which the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to the Mission as of 31 March 2007, including outstanding contributions of some $11.0 million, representing about 4 per cent of the total assessed contributions. It would note with concern that only 26 Member State have paid their assessed contributions in full.

The Assembly would, by further terms, decide to appropriate to the Special Account for UNOMIG the amount of $36.71 million for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $35.01 million for the Mission’s maintenance, $1.46 million for the Support Account and $237,700 for the Logistics Base.

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.62) on financing of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), by which the Assembly would decide to appropriate $561.34 million to the Mission’s Special Account, including $535.37 million for its maintenance, $22.34 million for the Support Account for peacekeeping operations and $3.63 million for the Logistics Base.

Further by that text, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions as at 31 March, including outstanding contributions of $203.1 million (some 16 per cent of total assessments), noting with concern that only 30 Member States have met their obligations in full. It would decide to establish the post of Coordinator of the Working Group on the Rule of Law, as proposed by the Secretary-General, and two posts for Security Officer (one P-4 and one P-2). In addition, the Secretary-General would be requested to conduct a comprehensive review of the Mission’s staffing structure and to report on it at the next budget submission.

That text was approved without a vote.

A draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.63) on financing of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) would have the Assembly decide to appropriate to the Mission’s Special Account the amount of $220.89 million for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $210.68 million for the Mission’s maintenance, $8.79 million for the Support Account for peacekeeping operations and $1.43 million for the Logistics Base.

Also by the text, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions as of 31 March, including $92.8 million outstanding (some 4 per cent of the total assessed contributions), noting with concern that only 33 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.

Mr. SACH said it was the Secretariat’s understanding regarding paragraph 10 of the draft that the Secretary-General would continue, in the exercise of his authorities under the Charter, to take all measures provided for in existing staff rules and the United Nations common system of salaries and conditions of service to encourage the retention of staff until the completion of UNMIK and its mandate. Such financial implications would normally have been reported in the context of the budget performance report. The Secretariat understood that the introduction of retention measures above and beyond what was provided for in existing staff regulations and rules would need to be presented to the Assembly for approval.

The Committee then adopted the text without a vote.

The Committee next took up a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.64) on financing of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), by which the Assembly would decide to appropriate some $721.72 million to the Special Account for the Mission for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $688.33 million for the Mission’s maintenance, $28.72 million for the Support Account and $4.67 million for the Logistics Base.

According to that text, which the Committee approved without a vote, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions as of 31 March 2007, including $70.9 million outstanding, which represented some 3 per cent of the total assessed contributions. It would note with concern that only 27 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.

Acting again without a vote, the Committee then approved a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.66) on financing of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), by which the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone as of 31 March 2007, including credits in the amount of $43.5 million.

The Assembly would also decide that Member States having fulfilled their financial obligations to UNAMSIL shall be credited with their respective share of the unencumbered balance and other income in the amount of $14.52 million in respect of the financial period ending 30 June 2006. It would also decide that for Member States that have not fulfilled their financial obligations, their share of the unspent balance and other income in the amount of $141.2 million in respect of the financial period ending 30 June 2006 shall be set off against their outstanding obligations. It would further decide that the decrease of $378,900 in the estimated staff assessment income in respect of the financial period ending 30 June 2006 shall be set off against the credits from the amount of the $141.52 million.

The Committee took up a draft resolution (document A/C/5/61/L.67) on financing of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), approving that text without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a revised budget for UNMIS to reflect financial requirements for the heavy support package for the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS). It would also request the Secretary-General to review and reflect the progress of the implementation of the Mission’s activities relating to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in the context of the Mission’s revised budget for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008.

Also by the text, the Assembly would decide to appropriate to the Special Account for UNMIS the amount of $887.33 million for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $846.28 million for the Mission’s maintenance, $35.31 million for the Support Account and $5.75 million for the Logistics Base.

The Assembly would also take note of the status of contributions as of 31 March 2007, including $56.5 million outstanding, representing some 2.7 per cent of the total assessed contributions. It would note with concern that only 63 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.

Acting without a vote, the Committee also approved a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.68) on financing of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), by which it would decide to appropriate to the Special Account for the Mission the amount of $46.47 million for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $44.32 million for the Mission’s maintenance, $1.85 million for the Support Account and $300,900 for the Logistics Base. It would also take note of the status of contributions as of 31 March 2007, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of $49.2 million, representing some 7.8 per cent of the total assessed contributions. It would note with concern that only 34 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.

The Committee next took up a draft (document A/C.5/61/L.69) on financing of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), also approving it without a vote. By its terms, the Assembly would decide to retain the levels of Chief of Staff and Deputy Police Commissioner responsible for administration and development.

By other terms, it would decide to appropriate to the Special Account for UNMIT the amount of $160.59 million for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $153.16 million for the Mission’s maintenance, $6.39 million for the Support Account for peacekeeping operations and $1.04 million for the Logistics Base.

Acting without a vote, the Committee next approved a draft resolution (document A/C.5/61/L.65) on financing of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), by which the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to the Force as of 31 March 2007, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of $20.8 million, representing some 1.3 per cent of the total assessed contributions. It would note with concern that only 35 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full. The Assembly would decide to maintain a dedicated capacity within UNDOF for the geographic information system mapping project, and request the Secretary-General to report on it in the performance report for 2007-2008.

The Assembly would also decide to appropriate to the Special Account for the Force the amount of some $41.59 million for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including some $39.66 million for the Force’s maintenance, $1.65 million for the Peacekeeping Support Account and $269,300 for the Logistics Base.

Turning to a draft (document A/C.5/61/L.53) on financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the Committee decided to hold a recorded vote on its fourth preambular paragraph, as well as operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 20.

By that draft, the Assembly would appropriate to the Force’s Special Account the amount of $748.2 million for the period 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, including $713.59 million for the maintenance of UNIFIL, $29.77 million for the Support Account for Peacekeeping Operations and $4.84 million for the Logistics Base.

Also by that draft, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s preliminary report on the Strategic Military Cell and request him to report at its second resumed sixty-second session on the results of the comprehensive review of the Cell, including its recommended life cycle, a rationale for current staffing levels, its modalities of coordination with the Peacekeeping Department’s Military Division, its impact on efforts to achieve unity of command in the Department, the cost-effectiveness of its functioning, its interaction with other parts of the Secretariat and the possibility of applying the same approach to other missions.

Further by that text, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to the Force at 31 March, including outstanding contributions of $141.6 million, noting with concern that only 31 Member States have paid their contributions in full.

Expressing deep concern at Israel’s lack of compliance with other Assembly resolutions, the first being 51/233 and the last 61/250 A and B, the Assembly would, stress once again that Israel should strictly abide by them. [Those paragraphs concern a demand that Israel shall pay some $1.12 million resulting from a shooting incident at Qana on 18 April 1996.]

The Committee approved preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 20 by a recorded vote of 85 in favour to 5 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Palau, United States), with 47 abstentions. (See Annex I.)

Holding a recorded vote on the draft as a whole, the Committee approved it by 136 votes in favour to 2 against ( Israel, United States), with 1 abstention ( Australia). (See Annex II.)

The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, paid tribute to the six UNIFIL members killed on Sunday and extended condolences to their respective families and friends, as well as to those severely injured in the weekend explosion.

He said the European Union had abstained on the vote on the fourth preambular paragraph and operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 20 because it considered the text inappropriate in the context of a resolution on financing. The broader political aspects of UNIFIL’s work had been debated in the General Assembly in 1996, and the European Union had made its position clear in its plenary statement at that time and in its vote on that resolution. As in the past, the European Union would have wished that resolutions of the Fifth Committee remain confined to budgetary matters.

The representative of the United States joined the European Union in offering condolences to the families and friends of the peacekeepers killed or injured at the weekend. The United States strongly supported UNIFIL’s important mandate, but felt the use of a General Assembly funding resolution to pursue claims against a Member State was not procedurally correct. As such, the United States would oppose the resolution as in previous years.

He recalled that, shortly after the inception of the United Nations, procedures had been put in place by which settlement of the Organization’s claims against a State or States were to be pursued by the Secretary-General. Using funding resolutions to legislate settlement was not appropriate and politicized the Committee’s work. Such actions should be avoided now and in the future.

The representative of Israel joined the other speakers in offering condolences to the friends and families of the deceased peacekeepers, and expressed hope for the full recovery of the injured soldiers. Israel had called a vote on the resolution, despite its support for UNIFIL, because it had been singled out as the sole bearer of damages. The cost of damages was often absorbed within the budget of peacekeeping operations, and UNIFIL should be no different.

He said some Member States had chosen to pin the blame for Qana on his country, while Hizbullah, the actual instigator, was allowed to continue threatening regional security. Sunday’s attack by operatives in southern Lebanon had further endangered Israeli civilians and was a breach of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). Hizbullah members had a habit of hiding among United Nations and civilian infrastructure as had been the case at Qana.

The Committee had been subjected to negotiations that had resulted in a resolution containing politicized language, where Israel was called “the enemy”, he said. That language was inappropriate and unprecedented in the context of peacekeeping financing. Some States had introduced language that undermined the implementation of the resolution to protect their own interests. Members should remove such politicized language from future resolutions.

The representative of Canada said his delegation continued to regret the inclusion of inappropriate paragraphs in the resolution, which prevented consensus and undermined the long-held understanding that political matters did not have a place in a funding resolution, which should be neutral and procedural. Keeping in mind the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), it was inappropriate to target one party for criticism and non-compliance with United Nations resolutions. Canada reiterated its strong support for UNIFIL and the full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006).

The representative of Lebanon said his country complied with the principle of collective responsibility. That principle, however, did not contradict the general principle under international law for the responsibility of States for its wrongful acts, including compensation for material damage, a principle safeguarded by the United Nations Charter. It was on the basis of the principle of State responsibility that 14 previous Assembly resolutions had asked for compensation for damages incurred as a result of the 1996 attack. The request was being reiterated today in the draft just adopted.

He added that Lebanon was more than ever in need of the Force’s support. In the aftermath of Sunday’s terrorist attack, Lebanon had expressed its solidarity with UNIFIL, denounced the attack and expressed its commitment to bringing the perpetrators to justice. UNIFIL, which had long been the partner of the Lebanese people, had lost 250 of its personnel since its establishment. The latest attack underscored the importance of a stable environment in Lebanon.

Having expressed reservations on the manner in which the report on the framework had been handled, he said he hoped future reports on UNIFIL financing would take into account his delegation’s views. He appreciated the important role played by UNIFIL. Israel’s intimidation of UNIFIL was clear, including low altitude flights. Lebanon expressed appreciation for all States who had voted in favour of the text.

The representative of Australia joined delegations in paying tribute to the UNIFIL peacekeepers. Australia had been a longstanding supporter of UNIFIL. As in the past, her delegation had abstained on the resolution as it should focus on budgetary issues. Politicising the resolution and singling out Israel made no contribution to peace in the Middle East, nor did it lead to fulfilling UNIFIL’s important work.

At the Chairman’s invitation, the representative of Syria took the floor to exercise his right of reply to an earlier comment by Israel regarding diplomatic relations between Lebanon and Syria, which he said could only take place through agreement between the States concerned. Resolution 1559 (2004) did not touch on the issue of diplomatic relations at all, however, resolution 1680 (2006) did.

He noted that the war between Israel and Lebanon last summer had not been instigated by Hizbullah. The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, had himself confirmed that the decision to go to war with Lebanon had been taken three months before the start of that war, while Ariel Sharon was still Prime Minister. Hizbullah had had nothing to do with it.

He said that, this very morning, Israel had attacked the Gaza Strip, mercilessly destroying homes. Israel was a terrorist State that encouraged terrorist action against Arabs. As for the contention that Syria smuggled weapons into Lebanon, there were reports that Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Envoy for the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, had obtained information on that subject from the Lebanese Government and Army. However, the Lebanese Defence Ministry had declared recently that that was not the case, indicating that Larsen’s report was baseless.

Regarding the supposed non-implementation by Syria of the terms of resolution 1559 (2004), he said the Secretary-General had confirmed in his report that Syria had indeed withdrawn its intelligence units from Lebanon. It was Israel that had not implemented United Nations resolutions, such as resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 425 (1978), in which it was asked to end its occupation of Arab territories. Nor did Israel abide by principles of land for peace, adopted at the Madrid Conference. Had Israel implemented those resolutions, there would have been no need for resolution 1559 (2004). While the Israeli delegate had raised issues that had taken place in the past year, it neglected to discuss what it had done in the 50 years that came before, especially against the Palestinians.

He said it was true that a stable environment was needed in Lebanon, but Israel had seemed to suggest that appeals for non-intervention in Lebanon had been directed at Syria. That suggestion amounted to “empty talk”. UNIFIL had been established after Israel’s aggression against Lebanon in 1978. Accusations that Syria had politicized the work of the Fifth Committee were not true and, in fact, Syria was “clarifying to Member States what Israel was doing in terms of terrorist actions against Arab people”.

Also exercising his right of reply, the representative of Lebanon said Hizbullah had not existed in 1978, when Israel had first invaded Lebanon, nor had it existed at the time of the 1982 invasion. It was a popular resistance movement in response to occupation. Israel’s occupation was the cause of all problems in the region. Lebanon had implemented up to 70 per cent of resolution 1559 (2004), in a span of less than two years. Attempts at establishing a Lebanese dialogue had been stymied by the Israeli war. For its part, Israel had only partially implemented resolution 425, in the years from 1978 to 2000. Even then, it had been due to Lebanese resistance, which had had the effect of pushing the Israelis out of Lebanese land. The Israeli delegate was advised not to interfere in issues concerning Lebanon and Syria. The two countries had pending issues, which needed resolving. “We want embassies and to demarcate the borders. We want relations to be strong between us.”

Providing an oral update on the status of the capital master plan, Mr. SACH noted that, in terms of financing, the Assembly had approved a separate working capital fund for the Plan and had specified assessment for the Capital Master Plan activities for 2008. The working capital fund for the Capital Master Plan had been approved at $45 million. Some $32.6 million had been contributed so far. With regard to assessments for 2008, $217.2 million had been received, with some $157.5 million outstanding. 11 Member States had exercised the option for a one-time payment. Four had paid their Capital Master Plan dues for the year, while 20 Member States had not yet made any contribution to the Plan. There were, however, no cash flow problems arising from the current situation.

Regarding the construction manager, he noted that the contract for part A was in final negotiations at the moment. There was also a negotiation for part B of the construction services. Both would be resolved simultaneously. He expected the signature of the construction manager in July. Due diligence had been undertaken, including an integrity review of the process by KPMG.

On the issue of swing space, he said the bulk of the space had been acquired. A building on 46th Street would be occupied, representing some 70 per cent of the space. Lease negotiations had been completed, which would be signed this week. Some space would also be acquired in Long Island City. One more site was needed to complete the overall requirement for swing space.

Regarding a temporary conference building, he said the schematic design had been completed. On the key element of the appointment of an Executive Director at the level of Assistant Secretary-General to replace Fritz Reuter, he noted that a selection process had been undertaken. An announcement in that regard would take place this week, and the new Executive Director was expected to take up duties at the end of July.

Regarding the schedule, integrating security options into the main renovation design was a real challenge, he said. Several items had delayed matters, including identifying the departments to occupy swing space, competing surveys, finding and keeping lease sites and completing lease negotiations in connection with swing space. The items had delayed the start of swing space construction. There would also be some delay in the start of renovation of the main building.

Concluding, he said the project’s parameters had been under some project pressure. Once a construction manager was in place, the highest priority would be to find ways to bring the project back to its overall schedule and within budget. The anticipated construction manager would be able to provide a rough general schedule one month after signing the contract. Real progress, however, had been made since last December.

The representative of Egypt noted that discussions on the status of payments were irrelevant, since there were no payments that impeded the project’s implementation. Concerning construction management, Mr. Sach had indicated that the Organization was at the contract-signing stage. But why had it taken six months, longer than anticipated, to sign the contract? Which firm had won the bid?

Regarding swing space, he recalled that the original schedule had specifically required completion of that phase by mid-2007, yet the Organization only hoped to lease 70 per cent of that space by next week. On the appointment of an Executive Director, the post had been vacant for a while. Why had it been vacant for so long? Egypt also sought clarification as to how delays would impact the budget, since the Secretary-General had asked that budget increases be avoided.

The representative of Cuba noted that a report by the General Accounting Office of the United States Government appeared on the front page of the Capital Master Plan website. Was that study being carried out in conjunction with the United Nations Secretariat?

The representative of Jamaica asked whether consultations had taken place with the host country, particularly regarding letters of credit.

Mr. SACH agreed that the liquidity of the Capital Master Plan account was not a problem. Regarding why bidding had taken longer than expected, a full technical evaluation of the bids for construction manager had turned out to be more complicated than expected, but it had been time properly spent. The bidding process had contained many new elements and was a new format for the United Nations. In the meantime, the constructing manager also sought to protect his own best interests, which had also contributed to prolonging the process. For its part, the Ethics Office had been studying possible conflicts of interest and other potential problems.

On swing space, he said the United Nations was operating in a difficult market. One of the buildings it had hoped to take over had been taken up by competing bids and was no longer available.

As for the Executive Director vacancy, he said the process had yielded a person who “would be a fit successor” to the post’s present holder. The delay was due to the fact that many other senior appointments had been due to be implemented in the last six months.

Turning to pricing escalation, he explained that it could only be prevented if the work was conducted on schedule. If it took place later than planned, there would be no way to avoid escalating costs. The incoming construction manager must address scheduling issues in such a manner that engineering needs would meet parameters approved by the General Assembly.

Regarding the General Accounting Office report, he said the United States had asked -- as any Government could -– for information regarding Capital Master Plan activities, and the Secretariat and various officials had, in sharing information, assisted in preparing that report.

As for consultations with the host country, he said a future resolution would deal with arrangements regarding letters of credit. As things stood, it was not an urgent matter and there were no liquidity needs in the present year. Neither were they expected to be a problem in the following year.

The representative of Egypt noted that there had been “zero progress” since the adoption of the resolution on the Capital Master Plan. What was the Advisory Board doing? Was the Secretariat comfortable with the winning construction manager bid, or with the swing space it would soon be leasing in the coming weeks? Was it comfortable with the appointment of the Executive Director to be announced next week? Was the Secretariat comfortable that the schedule was proceeding in a way that did not entail any escalation of costs?

Mr. SACH said progress, or lack of it, was a value judgement. Although there was no physical construction to speak of, the recent decisions on the leasing of swing space and the appointment of an Executive Director and construction manager, all constituted forward movement. The Secretariat was comfortable with the construction manager who had won the bid and, in fact, it would have been comfortable with any of the top three bidders. The winning bidder’s identity could not revealed until the construction management contract was signed, but the announcement was only weeks away.

He said all the space being leased was within walking distance, and the Secretariat was happy with the 70 per cent that had been lined up. As for the Executive Director appointment, the name of the candidate selected had been put forward unanimously by the panel responsible for conducting the interview and was that of a distinguished architect. Regarding delays, ways must be sought to get the project back on schedule, and that would be addressed in the forthcoming report. The construction manager would be better able to advise on that subject.

Finally, the Committee adopted a draft decision on questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/61/L.72).

By the terms of the decision, the Assembly would defer to its sixty-second session consideration of the following items: human resources management, including the Secretary-General’s reports on investing in people and reforming the Field Service category; reports on the activities of OIOS, including the OIOS report on the inspection of the programme and administrative management of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and the Secretary-General’s notes on those reports; administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations, including reports of the Secretary-General and ACABQ on the financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as at 30 June 2005, and the financial position of closed peacekeeping missions as at 30 June 2006; review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations; theprogramme budget for the biennium 2006-2007; and reports of the Secretary-General and ACABQ on investing in information and communications technology.

In a closing statement, the Committee’s Chair said that the task before the Committee had not been easy. Indeed, it had overcome many hurdles. From the final adoption of the new Capital Master Plan to the adoption of a new scale of assessment and contributions to the decision regarding after-service health insurance, the Committee had reached landmark decisions. In terms of reform, it had adopted the long overdue terms of reference for the Independent Audit Advisory Committee. In the same spirit, the Committee had put in motion the reform of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations through the formal creation of the Department of Field Support and the position of the Under-Secretary-General to “drive” it, while adopting one of the most important budgets ever to finance peacekeeping operations. In that regard, he thanked the leaders of the various groups that had lifted themselves to the level of responsibility entrusted to them.

The representatives of Pakistan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Germany (on behalf of the European Union), Australia, Portugal and Malaysia also made closing statements.

ANNEX I

Vote on UNIFIL Paragraphs

Preambular paragraph 4 and operative parapraphs 4, 5 and 20 of the draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/C.5/61/L.53) was approved by a recorded vote of 84 in favour to 5 against, with 47 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Australia, Canada, Israel, Palau, United States.

Abstain: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Absent: Angola, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Iran, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Montenegro, Mozambique, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia.

ANNEX II

Vote on UNIFIL

The draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/C.5/61/L.53) was approved by a recorded vote of 136 in favour to 2 against, with 1 abstention, as follows:

In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel, United States.

Abstain: Australia.

Absent: Angola, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Dominica, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Montenegro, Mozambique, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia.

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For information media • not an official record