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[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
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Statement to the 5th Committee of the United Nations on Programme Budget for the Biennium 2004-2005: Capital Master Plan

Date of Speech : 17-03-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Karl Van Den Bossche

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Country Turkey, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.

We are grateful for this opportunity to comment on the state of play in a very important issue for the United Nations. While the UN-Reform exercise is accelerating, renovation of the UN-building is still dramatically lagging behind.

We re-iterate our strong feelings about the urgent necessity of the project. The EU stresses the importance of renovating the UN Headquarters, in particular for security and safety reasons. Furthermore, the Capital Master Plan has the same impact on the morale of the staff and their well-being, as other issues like "Administration of Justice" or "Safety & Security."

The EU has serious concerns about the sustained viability of a rapid implementation, and the serious consequences further delays might have. It is clear we need timely and transparent communication from the secretariat. This would cover all aspects of the project, including information from the host country and information about the swing space. Our concerns have been reinforced by recent media reporting and comments by host country political figures about this project.

Mr. Chairman,

We recognise that there is a need to pay architects in the coming months. The decision was already taken to allow the UN to start working on the plans; the question that remains is whether Member States are assessed now to allow final payments to be made… The question of the 18 million USD appropriations has thus become a short-term issue. The EU maintains a positive spirit and is open to discuss this appropriation in March or in May, depending on the necessity that the secretariat will need to prove. We keep in mind, however, the fact that this amount has already been committed and that the UN should not find itself in breach of contract.

We expect a thorough discussion in our May session based on comprehensive reports on all elements of the project, including on the status of UNDC5. This should include full details of financial aspects and the cost- and other implications of all options for swing space. Our decision in May must reflect all these elements. The EU therefore requests official written and detailed information at the latest by May on the overall state of the project – regardless of the format under which this is presented - in order to be able to respect timelines for this badly needed renovation.

The structures of the United Nations Headquarters are no longer conform to current safety, fire and building codes and the complex is deficient in terms of meeting modern-day security requirements. A renewed United Nations deserves more than the current building.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This page was last modified on : 18-03-2005

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