Written Answers. - UN Peacekeeping Operations.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Question:

17 Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of money owed to this country by the United Nations arising from involvement in UN peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations; the steps, if any, he is taking to exert pressure on other countries to discharge their debts to the United Nations in order that its financial position will be strengthened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25509/99]

Ireland is owed approximately IR£8.3 million for the cost of providing Irish personnel to United Nations peacekeeping missions abroad. The only missions for which Ireland is entitled to reimbursement of troop costs by the UN are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. Since 1 January 1999, the UN has repaid arrears of approximately £5.4 million to Ireland, almost entirely in respect of UNIFIL.

Continuous efforts are made by the Department of Foreign Affairs to recover from the United Nations the monies owed. The Department, through the permanent mission of Ireland to the United Nations, makes ongoing representations to the United Nations headquarters in this regard. During the UN Secretary General's visit to Ireland last January, I raised the issue of UN arrears in respect of our participation in UN peacekeeping operations.
The financial crisis which hinders the UN from paying outstanding moneys is a direct result of the failure by many member states, in particular the US, to pay their assessed contributions to the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets in full and on time. This situation has resulted in a serious day to day UN cash flow problem. Ireland and its EU partners have strenuously argued that all UN member states must honour their financial obligations.
The US is the major debtor and any improvement in its arrears situation would ease the situation considerably. During my visit to the UN General Assembly in September, I joined my EU colleagues in raising the matter with Secretary of State Albright. The United States administration has very recently put forward a plan agreed with Congress to deal with the arrears problem. While the repayment amount proposed in the plan is substantially less than the total arrears owed by the US, negotiations on the matter are under way at the United Nations.
We hope that efforts to resolve the UN financial crisis will lead to a reduction and eventual clearance of debts owing to Ireland and other troop-contributing countries. Ireland's permanent mission to the UN in New York will continue to pursue this issue actively.