STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. TOSHIRO OZAWA
AMBASSADOR OF JAPAN ON
IMPROVING THE FINANCIAL SITUATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE SECOND PART OF THE RESUMED FIFTY-NINTH SESSION OF
THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
23 MAY 2005
The comprehensive statement made by Mr. Sach on 12th underlined the fact that the financial situation of the United Nations remains fragile. In his conclusion, Mr. Sach emphasized the importance of Member States meeting their financial obligations in a full and timely manner. Indeed, the fragile financial situation of our Organization is the accumulative result of increased expenditures arising from additional mandates, as well as Member States’ failure to pay their dues. At the same time, my delegation believes that there are some other elements we should keep in mind when we consider how we should address the new challenges facing us. With full recognition of the importance of implementing Member States’ obligations, we would yet wish to pose three questions to what Mr. Sach said: First, when additional expenditures are proposed, are they explained thoroughly? Second, are sufficient efforts being made to utilize existing resources efficiently and effectively? And third, are we striking the right balance between assessed and voluntary contributions?
With regard to the first question, the answer is clear: the draft budget should be explained comprehensively and thoroughly, and particularly so whenever it entails additional expenditures. As outlined by Mr. Sach, the level of assessments for peacekeeping operations in 2004 rose to over five billion dollars, more than twice what it had been the previous year. As for the regular budget, it has been expanding significantly in recent years, due to among other items additional expenditures for safety and also for special political missions. Nonetheless, Japan has been paying its assessed contributions in full, with no conditions. This is by no means an easy feat, as our taxpayers are demanding scrutiny of all items of expenditure growth with increasing rigor.
Regrettably, we find that some budget proposals for peacekeeping operations have been sub-standard with respect to accountability. We understand that the Secretariat faces constraints of time and other factors, but such lapses may prevent us from responding effectively. My delegation hopes that the Secretariat will not consider its accountability to the Member States lightly, and take it as seriously as our governments do towards our taxpayers. In this context, my delegation would like to share the concern expressed by the ACABQ with regard to the tendency of the Secretariat to try to introduce policy changes without full explanation in the context of the budget.
On the second question about effective and efficient use of existing resources, we believe that all Member States can agree that existing resources should be used as efficiently as possible. The Secretariat was requested to submit at the current resumed session a report on the review of the management structure of all peacekeeping operations. We await the submission of this report. If we had this report, we could have considered how each mission could operate more effectively and efficiently. On another point, the United Nations has invested heavily in the area of communication and information technology in order to build up our capacity for PKOs, but we the Member States have rarely heard about any resulting reductions in posts. Furthermore, the ACABQ observes that there appears to be little if any Headquarters involvement in the monitoring of the evolution of structures in individual peacekeeping operations. My delegation cannot help but wonder if the Secretariat is striving for the optimum use of resources.
As to the regular budget, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to commence with the redeployment of up to 50 posts on an experimental basis during the course of the program budget for the biennium 2004-2005. Little has been achieved in this regard. It is regrettable that the Secretariat did not take advantage of this flexibility provided to it. Such flexibility would help the Secretariat address new needs in a more efficient and expeditious manner. My delegation requests the Secretary General, once again, to make additional efforts to utilize existing resources through more active redeployment.
The third question that we pose, regarding the balance between assessed and voluntary contributions, should be considered carefully. We point out that increasing assessed contributions would not by itself necessarily result in better outcomes, even from a technically financial point of view. Proposals to use assessed contributions to finance those activities which have been traditionally financed through voluntary contributions require careful and serious consideration as to their intended as well as unintended consequences. In our statement last year, we mentioned that the unintended consequences can be quite detrimental to the U.N. system as a whole. Assessed and voluntary contributions have different roles and characteristics, and the political support given is also different. We should all remember that assessed contributions are not subsidies.
Before concluding, my delegation would like to touch upon the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. My delegation welcomes the improvement of their financial situations. In this regard, we once again reiterate our understanding that the two tribunals will maintain an unwavering commitment to the completion of their work in accordance with their respective exit strategies.
In a national government, we control the level of our expenditures by paying close attention to the level of revenues, by eliminating duplication, and avoiding inefficiencies. This is the golden road to financial health. In the United Nations, however, revenue is based, in principle, on mandatory contributions, and there is therefore a reasonable expectation to regard revenue as a given. However, this expectation does not pass the reality test. My Government believes that there definitely is a need to make a very conscious effort to enhance budgetary discipline in the United Nations. We believe that if our Organization is to grapple effectively with the emerging and compelling challenges, the three questions we have raised today need to be given very serious consideration.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.