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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam and my own country, the Philippines, on Agenda Item 130: “Improving the financial situation of the United Nations.”
Let me begin by congratulating you in the midst of your successful chairmanship of the Fifth Committee even at this early stages of your stewardship. We are confident that the dynamic, effective, efficient and transparent manner by which you and your bureau have been conducting the work of the Committee and performing its duties would lead to an exceptionally productive conclusion of your term.
ASEAN also wishes to thank the distinguished Comptroller, Mr. Warren Sach, for his usual candid briefing on the financial situation of the United Nations.
ASEAN expresses its solidarity with the statement delivered by the distinguished representative of Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
There can be no doubt at all, and there cannot exist any reason for a contrary view, that a fiscally healthy and soundly managed United Nations is sine qua non to the effective pursuit and implementation of the programs and activities designed to promote and accomplish the three main pillars of the United Nations: peace and security, human rights and, most importantly, development. Taken in this light, the Comptroller’s assessment takes on greater significance.
ASEAN notes the mixed picture of the U.N’s fiscal health as described by Mr. Sach and would like to stress the following:
First, ASEAN reaffirms the need for the faithful compliance with the legal obligation of Member States to bear the expenses of the Organization. At the same time, due consideration should also be given to Member States that are temporarily unable to meet their financial obligations in a timely manner due to valid and justifiable reasons, such as genuine economic difficulties.
Second, ASEAN welcomes the information that the number of Member States that had paid their regular budget assessments in full by 31 October 2007 was 126, four higher than on the same date last year. ASEAN is, however, concerned with the disproportionate increase in unpaid assessments, the amount of which is highly concentrated to a certain few Member States. It is hoped that positive action be taken by them so that the general membership would be able to see a clear and positive picture of the U.N.’s financial situation by the end of the year.
Third, ASEAN reiterates its continuing unease over the unacceptable practice of cross-borrowing from closed peacekeeping missions and notes the larger amount available for cross-borrowing this year at US$ 190 million as compared to US $ 41 million last year. ASEAN commends the Secretariat for its creative cash-flow management. The U.N. should, however, undertake other efforts to minimize, if not eradicate, the practice of resorting to cross-borrowing.
Fourth, ASEAN notes with concern the unresolved problem of timely payment by the Organization of its debts to Member States providing troops and equipment for peacekeeping operations. The information that the amount outstanding by the end of the year is reportedly higher than the earlier projection and that there is a possibility that the Secretariat would not be able to make the next quarterly payment to troop contributors until early next year, is not at all encouraging. It is common knowledge that Member States that responded to the call to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security, often under difficult domestic circumstances and economic strain, are mostly developing countries. Logically, delays in reimbursement place additional burdens on these countries. ASEAN hopes to receive positive news on this matter as soon as possible.
In conclusion, ASEAN supports a concerted effort by the U.N. Secretariat and Member States to continue to find ways and means for the U.N. to rise above its perennial systemic financial difficulties for the efficient and effective discharge of its programs, projects and activities.
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