Press Release

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

26th Meeting (AM)



Delegates Express Unease at Some Departmental Responses

On the recommendation of the representatives of Syria and Algeria, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning decided to defer its further consideration of the narratives of the human resources and legal affairs sections of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003, which had been reformulated on the request of the Committee on Programme and Coordination (CPC).  (For previous coverage, see Press Release GA/AB/3475 of 5 November.)

The revised reformulated narrative of sections 8 (Legal Affairs) and 27C (Office of Human Resources Management) -- documents A/C.5/56/10/Rev.1 and A/C.5/56/11/Rev.1 -- were introduced by Warren Sach, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division.  He said the new texts reflected the concerns expressed by Member States.  The narratives no longer contained any reference to the specifics of subprogrammes 1 and 2 as they were discussed in the CPC, for it had been pointed out that their inclusion was not appropriate.  He hoped the text would be useful for the work of the Committee in informal consultations. 

Regarding the narrative of section 27C on Office of Human Resources Management, he said that changes had been made in several paragraphs of that text, to reflect the discussion regarding resolution 55/258 on the matter.  Revised references to that text reflected the concerns of Member States expressed at a previous meeting. 

The representatives of Syria and Algeria expressed regret that the revised texts had not been presented by the representatives of the Departments concerned and insisted on their presence during the discussion of the sections related to them.  Noting that the Office of Human Resources Management was represented at today’s meeting, both speakers expressed serious concern over the way the Office of Legal Affairs responded to the questions of Member States.

The representative of Syria also insisted that he could not accept the reformulation of the budget section on Legal Affairs, because it did not reflect the recommendations of the CPC, which had called for the reformulation of all expected accomplishments and indicators of achievement there.  The documents before the Committee, however, only took up subprogrammes 1 and 2 of that section.  In its current form, the document was invalid, for it violated the recommendations

of the CPC.  In that connection, he called for a new reformulation of the narrative of the Legal Affairs section. 

He said that while he was prepared to accept the reformulation of the narrative on human resources management as a basis for further work, he noted that it did not state the Secretariat’s understanding on human resources affairs as defined by General Assembly resolution 55/258.

Responding to those concerns, Mr. Sach said there was an intention to have representatives of the Departments in question present when the substance of the section was considered.  The revised narrative of section 8 (Legal Affairs) addressed three subprogrammes out of six.  The discussions that had led to the formulation of the CPC recommendations had referred to the substance of the section.  Particular reference had been made to subprogrammes 1 and 2.  Regarding other subprogrammes, he said that they might require further work, but the matter could be discussed in informal consultations.  The representatives of the Office of Legal Affairs would be available to provide responses to any questions that might arise. 

Canada’s representative said that the recommendations of the CPC had no legal authority for the Fifth Committee until it endorsed them.  At this point, it was up to the Committee to decide whether to deal with the original narrative of the sections in question, or the recommendations of the CPC.  The budget narrative did not in any way change the original mandates established by the substantive Committees.  The final decision should be taken within the framework of the budget draft resolution that the Committee was working on. 

The representative of Portugal said that the two documents could be taken up in informal consultations this afternoon.  It would be the quickest way of dealing with the matter. 

The Committee is to continue its consideration of the United Nations common system at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 9 November.

* *** *