H.E. Ambassador Shin Kak-soo, Deputy Permanent Representative, at Fifth Committee of the General Assembly
1. I wish to join others in thanking Controller Warren Sach for his balanced and thorough presentation on the financial situation of the United Nations, as well as the Secretary-General for his detailed report (A/60/427).
2. When our leaders gathered here in September, they committed to an ambitious programme of reform for this Organization, reflecting the changed environment in which the United Nations operates at the beginning of the 21st century. Implicit in that commitment was the recognition that the United Nations remains indispensable, called upon to take on an increasingly wide and complex range of responsibilities in our increasingly interconnected world. As the Secretary-General pointed out in his report, the Organization needs a “strong and dependable financial base” if it is to meet these responsibilities.
3. While we hope that the reform process will help to put the UN on a more stable footing financially by making it more efficient, we also understand that reform is made more difficult when finances are uncertain. Furthermore, there is only so much that the Department of Management can do in terms of coping with the financial challenges facing the Organization. The primary responsibility for the financial health of the United Nations lies with its Member States.
4. We agree with the Secretary-General that the financial situation of the UN remains fragile, but there are some signs of improvement over previous years. While regular budget assessments grew by 23 percent over 2004, and peacekeeping assessments are greater than ever before, the latter have at least levelled off somewhat, breaking the pattern of spectacular growth in recent years, though they show no sign of shrinking significantly for the foreseeable future. Still, unpaid peacekeeping assessments are currently down from last year. Another bright spot is cash in hand. If the patterns of payment in past years are repeated for 2005, then the cash available at year-end for the regular budget will be substantially more than last year, when cash in hand jumped fourfold over 2003.
5. On the other hand, unpaid assessments for the regular budget, the tribunals and the capital master plan were higher than at the end of 2004. Areas of past concern also remain troubling. Of these, the most glaring is the situation of the two International Tribunals.
6. Recognizing the enormous importance of bringing to justice those who have committed heinous crimes, the Republic of Korea has always paid its Tribunal assessments on time and in full. Nevertheless, we remain concerned with the high costs of the two Tribunals, which absorb a substantial portion of the resources available to the United Nations while other priorities remain unfulfilled. In this regard, we welcome the recruitment freeze that was put in place this year, and we hope that the Tribunals will do their utmost to carry out their duties as efficiently as possible and complete their work by 2010 as mandated. However, for this to be possible, it will be necessary for Member States to pay their assessments to the Tribunals. My delegation was dismayed to learn that 112 Member States had assessed contributions outstanding at the time of the Secretary-General’s report, while 10 Member States had made no contributions at all since the Tribunals began.
7. The growth of debt to Member States is another area of concern. The increasing contribution of troops to Peacekeeping Operations from developing countries, particularly African States, is a welcome development that can only be sustained if these States are reimbursed for the costs they incur.
8. This brings us to the issue of assessments for Peacekeeping Operations. Though we have always paid our share of the regular budget on time and in full, payment of our peacekeeping dues remains difficult because of the unprecedented increases in both our share of the peacekeeping budget and the absolute cost of our assessment in recent years. Nevertheless, my Government is now working to develop a payment plan that will allow us to meet our obligations as soon as possible.
9. In this year of reform and renewal, Mr. Chairman, the Republic of Korea remains fully committed to meeting its responsibilities to the United Nations, financial and otherwise. We take our obligations seriously, and we pledge to do our utmost to meet them to the best of our abilities.