Granting Exemption for Comoros, Somalia, Sao Tome and Principe, Speakers Stress Venezuela’s Inability to Pay Also Due to Conditions Beyond Its Control

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today approved a draft resolution that would let three of the four Member States now behind in their contributions to the United Nations budget keep voting in the General Assembly until the end of its seventy-fifth session.

If approved by the Assembly, the draft resolution (document A/C.5/75/L.2) would affirm that the failure of Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia to pay a minimum amount, needed to prevent the invocation of Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, derives from conditions beyond their control.  Speaking after the vote, several delegations voiced their concerns that the resolution did not include Venezuela, the fourth Member State behind in its contributions, as conditions beyond the Government’s control has prevented its payments to the United Nations budget.

Under Article 19, a Member State behind in the payment of its dues — in a sum that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years — can lose its ability to vote in the Assembly.  An exception is allowed if the Member State can show that conditions beyond its control contributed to this inability to pay.

Speaking after the resolution was approved, the representative of Venezuela said his Government has been denied its full rights and privileges despite having the financial capacity to meet its obligations to the United Nations.  The economic and commercial blockades against his country since 2015 flagrantly violate the Charter and have devastated the Venezuelan people.  The country lacks regular access to international financial institutions, which has made it impossible to transfer necessary funds to fulfil its financial obligations to the Organization.  Venezuela joined the consensus to approve the resolution as the three Member States urgently need to keep voting during the Assembly’s seventy-fifth session, he said, adding, however, that Venezuela’s action is not an endorsement of the report of the Committee on Contributions.

He thanked the Secretary-General for his help on this issue, which was brought to his attention last year.  The country is not asking for debt forgiveness and has the necessary economic resources and full political will to pay its debt to United Nations, he said.  Rather, it is appealing for an immediate removal of all coercive measures imposed on the country.  He reaffirmed Venezuela’s commitment to take any necessary action and asked the Fifth Committee Chair to set up a financial roadmap that would let the country pay its financial obligations and not have its financial resources confiscated in any way.  This protection is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic when financial resources are necessary to help the Venezuelan people.

Endorsing the statement by Venezuela’s representative, Cuba’s representative said his delegation approved the resolution to give its sister countries the ability to vote.  However, Venezuela should have been considered within the report of the Committee on Contributions without political considerations.  Venezuela’s inability to pay is beyond its control and is connected to actions by the same country that chronically withholds its own payments to the United Nations, he said, emphasizing that the host country is keeping one country from paying and violating this country’s rights.  Any other Member State could be impacted by the same situation.

The speaker for the Russian Federation said that conditions beyond Venezuela’s control have prevented its Government from paying its assessed contributions to the United Nations budget, referring to illegal unilateral sanctions that contradict the Charter.  The Russian Federation is encouraged by recent information provided by the United Nations Secretariat concerning the prompt settlement of Venezuela’s payment arrears and looks forward to the Secretariat’s active participation in helping Venezuela overcomes its existing difficulties.

The delegate for Syria said the exemption under Article 19 is an equal right given to all Member States when they face financial difficulties.  The policy of unilateral measures imposed on Venezuela by the host country undermines Venezuela’s sovereign rights and privileges granted by the Charter.  Syria supports Venezuela’s efforts to settle this issue in a fair manner, he said, noting that the conditions preventing its payment of United Nations assessments is beyond its control and linked to the imposed sanctions and blockade.

The representative of China supported the resolution’s adoption but rejected any unilateral coercive sanctions against Venezuela, which have impacted its ability to pay the United Nations.

Speaking after the resolution was approved, the representative of Venezuela said his Government has been denied its full rights and privileges in the United Nations.

This issue, faced generally by the United Nations, creates a bad precedent, he said, expressing hope that the United Nations can alleviate the situation through the Host Country Committee so Venezuela can exercise its right as a Member State.

The speaker for Iran said the Committee on Contributions is just a technical body and it should not accept political decisions.  The unilateral decision by another county, impacting Venezuela’s ability to pay its obligation to the United Nations, is another virus, he said, stressing that a common solution by all is needed.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 12 October, to discuss the proposed programme plan and budget for 2021, and the Independent Audit Advisory Committee report on the Office of Internal Oversight Services.

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