Dáil Éireann - Volume 516 - 23 March, 2000
Written Answers. - UN Peacekeeping Operations.
Mr. Rabbitte Mr. Rabbitte
14. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of money owed to Ireland by the United Nations arising from involvement in UN peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations; the steps, if any, Ireland is taking to exert pressure on other countries to discharge their debts to the UN in order that its financial position will be strengthened; the counties which are in default or in arrears in regard to payments to the UN; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8474/00]
Mr. Kenny Mr. Kenny
85. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount Ireland is owed by the United Nations; and when Ireland will receive payment. [8315/00]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 85 together.
As of 29 February 2000, Ireland was owed IR£9.87 million for the cost of providing Irish personnel to United Nations peacekeeping missions abroad. The only missions for which Ireland is currently entitled to reimbursement of troop costs by the UN are the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, UNFICYP, and the United Nations Transitional Authority in  East Timor, UNTAET. During 1999, the UN repaid arrears of approximately £5.5 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 moneys owed. The Department, through the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the United Nations, makes ongoing representations to the United Nations headquarters in this regard.
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. We discussed this issue at a meeting in Washington on St. Patrick's Day with the US Secretary of State, Mrs. Albright. She underlined the commitment of the United States Administration, on the basis of a plan agreed with Congress, to deal with the arrears problem. The plan also contains proposals for reform of the UN financing system. Detailed negotiations on these matters are under way at the United Nations and Ireland, together with our EU partners, will participate constructively in the process.
A successful outcome to the UN financial crisis will lead to a reduction and eventual clearance of debts owing to Ireland and other troop-contributing countries. In the meantime, I can assure the House that Ireland's Permanent Mission to the UN in New York will continue to actively pursue the outstanding amounts of arrears.
Dáil Éireann 516 Written Answers. UN Peacekeeping Operations.