Sumario: EU Presidency Statement - Fifth Committee: Scale of Assessment (9 October 2006: New York)
Statement by H.E. Mr. Tom Grönberg, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the European Union, 61st Session of the UN General Assembly, Fifth Committee, Agenda Item 122, Scale of Assessment, New York
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
At the outset, the European Union wishes to thank Mr. Bernando Greiver, Chairman of the Committee on Contributions, for presenting the Committee's report of its 66th session contained in document A/61/11 as well as Mr. Warren Sach, Controller of the United Nations for the report on multi-year payment plans.
The EU has considered the report of the Committee on Contributions, A/61/11, and the report of the Secretary-General on multi-year payment plans, A/61/68. Let me start by commenting on the issue of Article 19. The payment of assessed contributions in full, on time, and without conditions is a pre-requisite for putting United Nations finances on a sound and sustainable long term footing.
The European Union attaches great importance to Article 19 of the Charter, which provides the sole mechanism to ensure payment of assessed contributions. Nevertheless, we recognize that Member States with genuine difficulties must be treated with the respect and sympathy, for which the Charter and the role of the Committee on Contributions make full provision.
Multi-year payment plans have brought about positive results with a view to reduce arrears. The EU recognises the considerable efforts made by those Member States to honour their commitments. As last year, we note again with appreciation the completion by Iraq of payments under its plan as well as the new payment plan submitted by Liberia. We also commend Georgia and the Niger for making the full payments under their plans in 2005 as well as Georgia in 2006.
We note that four out of eight of the Member States requesting exemption under Article 19 had submitted multi-year payment plans for the payment of their arrears. As the EU has stated before, we encourage Member States requesting an exemption to present such a plan. The EU stands therefore ready to endorse the recommendation of the CoC that the following Member States be permitted to vote in the General Assembly until the end of the sixty-first session of the Assembly: the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, the Niger, Somalia and Tajikistan.
With respect to the request for a waiver containing in A/C.5/61/3, we regret that Sao Tome and Principe did not present its case to the Committee on Contributions, as the financial rules and regulations require. The EU does not look favorably upon requests under Article 19 that are put directly to the Fifth Committee. In granting such requests, the Committee sends out a signal that Member States might bypass the Committee on Contribution on these matters.
We wish to stress our deep concern on the neglecting of the procedural rules for exemptions. Member States need to comply with the time limits set by GA resolution 54/237 C, in order to ensure a fair and complete review of their requests by the CoC. Given the circumstances Sao Tome and Principe has laid out, the EU will however reluctantly agree to the request for a waiver, on the understanding that Sao Tome and Principe will honour its commitments with regard to the payment schedule. For the future, we fully expect Sao Tome and Principe to abide by the proper procedures.
I wish to turn to the methodology of future scale of assessments for the period 2007-2009. Ensuring an effective funding is the collective responsibility of the membership and we need to ensure the scale of assessments we agree at the end of this year accurately and fairly reflects our collective ownership of the United Nations and our capacity to pay.
In our view the future scale of assessments should be stable, simple and transparent. As we have stated so many times before, the principal element for the methodology should continue to be the capacity to pay. We fully endorse the view of the CoC that the scale should be based on gross national income (GNI) data, as it is the most accurate reflection of capacity to pay. This has rightly been the basis of the scale since the UN's inception.
However, in the view of the European Union the current scale does not reflect the capacity to pay in the best possible way. The European Union's collective assessment is approximately 37% which far exceeds our collective GNI share of about 26 %. This is clearly not right.
The scale fails to take account of the power of emerging economies. Emerging economies now account for over 40% of world exports and they hold 70% of the world's foreign exchange reserves. Yet their contribution to the UN budget is modest when viewed against the size and strength of their economies. Turning to individual elements of the methodology:
The Low Per Capita Income Adjustment (LPCIA) is an important element designed to provide relief to developing countries. But the majority of the benefits of low per capita income adjustment as set up accrue to a handful of countries and the Least Developed Countries scarcely benefit from the adjustment. Thus the EU proposes modifying and improving the current application of low per capita income adjustment.
The European Union favours the six year base period, as it will promote greater predictability and stability in the scale compared to the current base period. A single statistical base period will minimise distortions due to repeated rounding.
As we have stated before, the EU will examine the exclusion of debt-burden adjustment in the scale methodology, as the gross national income data already adequately reflects the actual cost of debt servicing. Furthermore, as with the LPCIA, the LDCs scarcely benefit from this adjustment.
In our view any agreement to a ceiling for the largest contributor should take into account the capacity to pay and the circumstances under which it was agreed upon in 2000. When the General Assembly in 2000 decided to reduce the ceiling it also decided to review the issue later on.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, the EU wishes to stress the importance of resolving the issue of unpaid assessed contributions of the former Yugoslavia by the end of the main session.
I would like to assure you and other members of this Committee of our cooperation and engagement in a positive way in the scale negotiations that decide how the expenses of the United Nations are borne by members of the GA. We look forward to working towards an outcome from the negotiations on the scale of assessments, which better reflects the principle of capacity to pay. The EU remains fully committed to putting UN finances on a sound, sustainable and equitable basis.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.