October 20, 2017

Statement by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus Ambassador Sotos Zackheos to the 5th Committee – Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations

Mr. Chairman,

We have aligned with the European Union statement, but given the significance of this item, and the fact that since 1964 we have been hosting a U N Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus, I would like to make some additional comments.

At the outset, I would like to refer to my intervention during the special session last May, where we expressed the view that this item deserves the highest attention by member states. We also underlined our willingness to work in earnest in order to reach a consensus decision.

Peace-keeping is a major instrument of the international community in the pursuit of the objectives of the UN Charter. As the demand for Peace-Keeping Operations keeps rising, the number of troops, civilian police and military observers has been steadily increasing. The dispatch of new Peace-keeping missions is inevitable in view of emerging conflicts.

It is an indisputable fact that Peace-keeping operations have changed over the years. Their scope and objectives have now moved beyond the traditional functions of Peace-keeping. In Kosovo and East Timor the peacekeepers’ tasks include the running of civilian administrations, maintaining law and order, helping organize elections, among others.

The Department of Peace-keeping Operations is faced with a great challenge in fulfilling its responsibilities with its limited human resources and funding. That’s why we support the strengthening of the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations, including its planning capacity, because it would enable the timely deployment of troops and the smooth operation of the mission. In most cases, time is of essence. Delays in the deployment of troops only tarnish the image of the United Nations and complicate efforts to reach just and viable solutions to conflicts.

Another point I would like to make is the need of greater interaction and fine-tuning between DPKO and the Department of Political Affairs, in order to foresee possible outbreaks of violence so that preventive action is taken.

It is obvious that there is a need for a revamped personnel policy that focuses on continuing training. This applies also to Secretariat personnel dealing with substantive and logistical support. In addition, there is a need to rotate personnel between posts and headquarters.

It is no doubt difficult to anticipate the kind of skills required by personnel in order to meet the challenges emanating from new, different missions – skills that are necessary to cope with new tasks such as post-conflict peace-building and the creation from scratch of political structures. It is the responsibility of Governments to ensure that the Secretariat can access on short notice the special expertise warranted to respond adequately to the emerging needs. In this connection, we must safely argue that use of UN volunteers has proven to be cost effective and sufficiently efficient.

A revitalized Department of Peace-keeping Operations will also enhance the safety and security of U.N. Peace-keepers in the field. In this connection, we reiterate our grave concern at the recent and growing numbers of attacks, taking of hostages and other acts of violence against U.N. personnel.

My Government is also concerned with the unwillingness of the international community to respond to peace-keeping demands in Africa with the same zeal and urgency exhibited in other regions of the world. We attribute great importance to the provision of the necessary military and financial resources for effective peace-keeping operations in Africa.

Mr. Chairman,

For all the aforementioned reasons, Cyprus supports the review of the methodology of the Peace-keeping scale of assessments, even though my Government, like others, will bear a substantial increase in its contributions. I should mention that, despite the tremendous economic costs and social consequences — such as the refugee problem — resulting from the invasion, small Cyprus has set an example by agreeing to bear voluntarily one-third of the budget of UNFICYP. In addition, Cyprus agreed to contribute voluntarily an additional one-third, over and above its assessed contribution to all U.N. Peace-keeping Operations.

Today, I would like to reiterate my Government’s decision to give up voluntarily the discount entitled under the present system, as our contribution to peace-keeping. We agree with the European Union that the system on the financing of peace-keeping operations must be based on the capacity to pay and the special responsibility of the Permanent Members of the Security Council. It should be reviewed periodically to take stock of the changes in the economic capability of individual states. In this regard, we would like to emphasize the important contribution of the European Union in the Peace-keeping budget, in addition to the Union’s invaluable contribution for development and humanitarian assistance. Needless to say that the system should take due consideration of the special needs of small states as well as those of the least developed countries.

I would like to conclude by reiterating our commitment to continue working closely with all members of the Committee to reach consensus on the basis of a just and equitable system of the PKO scale of assessments. As in the past, my country will continue to meet its responsibilities in full and on time.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.