2004.10.28: Improving the Financial Situation of the United Nations (Agenda Item 110)

H.E. Ambassador Chun Yung-woo, Deputy Permanent Representative, at Fifth Committee of the General Assembly

Mr. Chairman,

I join previous speakers in thanking Under-Secretary-General [Catherine] Bertini for her comprehensive presentation on the financial situation of the United Nations.

On the whole, Ms. Bertini’s presentation contains, in our view, more bad news than good news. The bad news is that the overall financial position of the UN has deteriorated over the past year. Although we see no financial crisis on the horizon, there is sufficient cause for concern about the sustainable financial health of the Organization. For one thing, the amount of unpaid assessments has more than doubled in the reporting period. The debt owed to Member States has also increased sharply. Given the surging demand for UN peacekeeping operations, unpaid assessments for peacekeeping and the debt to Member States is likely to increase further over the coming year. We are particularly concerned about the financial situation of the Tribunals. Apart from the negative cash balance, unpaid tribunal assessments still stand at an alarming level, which is an indicator of the declining collective political support by Member States that the Tribunals face today.

The good news is that cash on hand for the regular budget has jumped fourfold. We are also encouraged by the positive developments in debt payments to troop contributing countries.

On balance, our assessment is that the overall financial health of the UN remains fragile. The Organization will therefore benefit from greater financial discipline.

Mr. Chairman,

The Republic of Korea shares the view that Member States are primarily responsible for the financial health of the Organization. The Department of Management is not to blame for the mounting unpaid assessments. We appreciate the dedicated efforts of the Department of Management under the leadership of Ms. Bertini to put the Organization’s financial house in order. In this regard, we welcome the introduction of Result-Based Budgeting (RBB) and look forward to continued efforts to align expenditures with revenues.

We believe that greater efforts are required to match the operational costs of the two International Tribunals with the level of actual contributions received by freezing recruitment and scaling down operations. The Republic of Korea has always paid its assessed dues to the Tribunals in full and on time. Nevertheless, given that the available financial resources of Member States are limited, it must be kept in mind that more urgent peacekeeping priorities may suffer to the extent that a disproportionate amount of resources continues to be devoted to the operations of the International Tribunals. While the importance of justice can never be overemphasized, we believe that stopping ongoing conflicts and violence is equally important. We sincerely hope that the Tribunals will make every effort to complete their work by 2010 as mandated, despite the financial and other constraints they face.

Mr. Chairman,

The sharp increase in the peacekeeping budget this year has made it extremely difficult for many Member States to pay their shares in full and on time. Meeting the surging peacekeeping costs requires stronger domestic political support for peacekeeping operations. To this end, it is vital that the Security Council and the Secretariat consult with major financially contributing countries in the process of establishing new peacekeeping missions or extending existing ones. The perception of being sidelined from decisions with important financial implications will only undermine domestic political support for peacekeeping operations and thus compound the difficulties of securing the necessary appropriations to pay for peacekeeping operations. Troop contributing countries will also suffer from such a practice to the extent that troop debt payments are delayed.

The Republic of Korea has always paid its share of the regular budget in full and on time. However, we are experiencing unprecedented difficulties in paying our dues to the peacekeeping budget this year. This is primarily because of the unique and extraordinary arrangement for my country in the apportionment of peacekeeping costs. Our share of the peacekeeping budget has jumped eightfold over the past five years; with the increase in the overall cost of peacekeeping operations, the actual amount of our assessment in terms of US dollars has jumped eleven times since 2000. We do not know of any other country facing a similar situation.

The Republic of Korea regards its responsibilities to the United Nations with the utmost seriousness, including its financial obligations. Accordingly, we will make our best effort to fulfil our obligations in accordance with our domestic budgetary procedures.

Thank you.