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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2009

United Nations General Assembly: Fifth Committee: Item 136: Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations

Statement by Canada on behalf of CANZ, October 5th, 2009

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to speak today on behalf of Australia, New Zealand and Canada on the scale of assessments.  

First, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman on your election as Chairman of the Fifth Committee. The experience and the knowledge you bring to this Committee, we are confident, will ensure a successful completion of the session.

I would also like to thank the Chairman of the Committee on Contributions, Mr Bernando Greiver, for presenting the Committee’s report of its sixty-ninth (69 th) session. In its past session and the preceding one, the Committee on Contributions has raised many important issues that inform the discussion which begins today.

With regard to the application of Article nine-teen (19) of the Charter, CANZ endorses the recommendation by the Committee on Contributions that a number of countries could not make their payments due to circumstances beyond their control. Therefore, we firmly endorse the recommendation that the Central African Republic, the Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia be permitted to vote in the General Assembly until the end of the sixty-fourth session of the Assembly.

Mr Chairman

The item of the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations is an important and complex item that concerns all member states. In apportioning responsibility for financing, the scale is the practical means for implementing our shared responsibility for the functioning of this organization. The principles underlying the scale say a great deal about the values of the organization and the character of the partnership of member states at the United Nations.

This is why the CANZ delegations have consistently been committed to the capacity to pay as the key principle governing the scale. Colleagues will remember when the scale was last negotiated, three years ago, CANZ resisted proposals that could have brought Canada, Australia and New Zealand short term financial gain because they weakened the application of the capacity to pay principle. It is in this spirit that we also believe in the importance of determining if the governing principle is properly applied to contemporary circumstances.

In CANZ’ judgement, the current methodology does not adequately reflect the capacity to pay.

Mr Chairman,

Over the years, the scale of assessment methodology has undergone many changes in order to ensure that it accurately reflects the principle of capacity to pay. We firmly believe that another adjustment to the methodology is now required for a fairer, more balanced and representative scale of assessment that more accurately reflects member states’ capacity to pay.

The United Nations was created on the basis of accessibility and fairness, including the right of every country to be represented by contributing what it is capable of contributing. However, the current methodology does not reflect the recent rapid growth in a number of emerging economies, thereby distorting these principles.

This is reflected most sharply in the Low Per Capita Income Adjustment, which CANZ will be looking at carefully in the forthcoming negotiations.

Mr Chairman,

The Low Per Capita Income Adjustment (LPCIA) does not take into account differences in capacities among countries falling under the threshold, applying instead the same discount rate to all. The result is that much of the benefit is directed to a small number of large developing economies. While CANZ supports the concept and continued application of the LPCIA, we feel that this adjustment should provide more benefit to smaller, developing countries, which only receive marginal benefits from the LPCIA as it now stands. CANZ also believes the question of how to define the threshold of eligibility for the LPCIA also merits greater attention.

Mr Chairman,

In addition, the debt-burden adjustment, first introduced in nineteen-eighty-six (1986), has little, if any, demonstrable link to member states’ capacity to pay, as the effects of debt servicing costs are already incorporated into the current income measure of Gross National Income (GNI). If the debt-burden adjustment is to be retained, then it should at least reflect the more accurate data on public debt which is currently available. We note that the Committee on Contributions indicated that the use of public debt better reflects the capacity of the government to pay.

Mr Chairman,

The CANZ delegates are confident that all Member States recognize the importance of a sound methodology to the efficient functioning of the organization. To achieve this change, CANZ will engage constructively with other member states in the hopes of developing a methodology that will respect the founding principles of the United Nations. 
Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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