|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixtieth General Assembly
79th Meeting (PM)
ACTING ON BUDGET COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS, GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS
TEXT ON MANAGEMENT REFORM PROPOSALS BY VOTE OF 121 - 50 - 2
Capital Master Plan, Ethics Office, Among Other Issues Addressed;
Decides on Seats for Peacebuilding Commission’s Organizational Committee
The General Assembly this afternoon adopted resolutions recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on a number of major issues, including the Secretary-General’s management reform proposals, the Capital Master Plan and the ethics and peacebuilding support offices, and decided on the distribution of Assembly seats on the Organizational Committee for the new Peacebuilding Commission.
By a vote of 121 in favour to 50 against, with 2 abstentions ( Norway, Uganda), the Assembly adopted a draft resolution on the Secretary-General’s wide-ranging proposals to reinvigorate the United Nations management structure. On 28 April, a similar vote broke the tradition of consensus decision-making in the Budget Committee. (For details of the vote, see Annex.)
While welcoming the Secretary-General’s commitment to strengthening the Organization and taking note of his report Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger Organization worldwide, the Assembly reaffirmed its oversight role and that of the Fifth Committee in administrative and budgetary matters. It stressed that setting the United Nations priorities was the prerogative of Member States, and reaffirmed the Assembly’s role in carrying out a thorough analysis and approval of the human and financial resources and policies.
The Assembly also highlighted the importance of strengthened accountability in the Organization and of ensuring greater accountability of the Secretary-General to Member States. It requested the Secretary-General to specifically define accountability, as well as clear accountability mechanisms, in the context of a series of reports requested in the resolution, and to propose clear parameters for its applications and instruments for its rigorous enforcement -– without exception -– at all levels.
While several speakers expressed disappointment over the breach of the 20-year old tradition of consensus decision-making in the Budget Committee, the representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, which had initially sponsored the draft, said that today’s resolution did not in any way delay or prevent United Nations reform. A large part of the text captured areas in which there was general agreement among Member States. The exceptions were those proposals that would have amended the oversight role of Member States through the Assembly. In addition to governance issues, the elements in the text that the Group had differed on were on the enforcement of gender targets in the Secretariat, ensuring equitable geographical representation in recruitment, in particular at senior levels, and increasing procurement opportunities for developing countries.
He added that the Group supported the Secretary-General as chief administrative officer of the United Nations. He was elected by Member States and was accountable to the Assembly. For that reason, the Group did not accept that, in order for the Secretary-General to carry out his duties, the majority of Member States should be denied the right to pronounce themselves on the administration of the United Nations. For a “small, but representative group of Member States” to replace the role of all Member States in carrying out the oversight responsibilities of the General Assembly, was an attempt to deny every Member State the role due them.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, expressed preference for a more detailed elaboration of the reform proposals and urged the Secretary-General to take action in the areas where no legislative mandate was needed. The Union could not agree to the adoption of the resolution, as it did not reflect crucial concerns of the Union and other countries. At this early stage, pending more detailed information and without a request for action, proposals should not be selectively rejected, amended or convoluted with conditions.
The Assembly’s President, Jan Eliasson, expressed regret that the Assembly had been unable to reach consensus on the resolution, but also cautioned against inaction and “a pointless discussion of why we failed to agree or what went wrong”. Instead, he urged Member States to look forward and join forces in fulfilling the tasks the world leaders had entrusted them with at the 2005 World Summit.
During the next few weeks, the Secretary-General would prepare detailed reports on various issues in pursuance of the resolution just adopted, he said. The first ones, due in a few days, would address accountability, information and communication technology, reporting mechanisms, and budgetary and financial management. In June, the Secretary-General would report on procurement, monitoring and evaluation issues. The third phase, in September, would focus on reforms in human resources management. Those reports would first be taken up by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and then by the Fifth Committee. He urged all delegations to constructively engage in the work of the Fifth Committee on those issues, as well as several important administrative, financial and human resources management issues that body would be taking up this year.
In other action, the Assembly adopted a resolution on the election of the members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission that had been set in motion by concurrent action by the General Assembly and the Security Council on 20 December 2005. Identical texts adopted by those two bodies prescribed that the Commission’s Organizational Committee would consist of seven Security Council members, including permanent members, selected by the Council; seven members of the Economic and Social Council, elected from regional groups; five top contributors to United Nations budgets, funds, programmes and agencies; and five top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United Nations missions. The General Assembly would elect seven additional members, with special consideration for States that have experienced post-conflict recovery.
By the terms of today’s resolution, the Assembly decided that its seven seats for this year would be distributed among the five regional groups, as follows: two seats for African States; one seat for Asian States; one seat for Eastern European States; three seats for Latin American and Caribbean States; and no seats for Western European and other States. The text also specifies that this year’s elections would set no precedent for the future, and that the distribution of seats would be reviewed annually, on the basis of changes in the membership in other categories of members, in order to give due consideration to the representation of all regional groups.
The representative of Colombia, on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that, as it stood today, the Commission would be an organ composed mainly of troop and financial donors. The principle of equitable geographic distribution had been ignored, in this case, and members of the Group asked themselves if that would be the future trend within the Organization. It would be positive for the Organization to review the composition, as the experience and contributions of all regions were valuable to the work of the Commission. Experience must be taken into account in post-conflict situations.
The representative of the United States supported the aspiration of Latin American and Caribbean neighbours to gain enhanced representation in future years, as well as adjustments that could be made to affect the composition of the Commission, to make it as effective as possible. He also emphasized the potential contribution of countries that had experienced post-conflict situations. It was important to move ahead swiftly and to get the Commission -– a promising outcome of United Nations reform -- up and running. The quality of members, and the diversity of experience and influence they brought to the table, would be critical to the mutual goal of building stability in countries.
The representative of Zambia, who spoke on behalf of the African Group, said he would like to see, in the future, more equitable geographical representation, which would give Africa no less than seven seats. It was no exaggeration to state that the African continent had an unenviable share of conflicts -- indeed, a lion share. It was, therefore, natural, in his view, that Africa should be given special consideration.
Another Budget Committee text on the review of efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations, similar to the management reform resolution, contained a request to clearly define the lines of authority and responsibility, as well as respective roles of individual elements of the accountability framework. The text also addresses performance evaluation measures, oversight bodies, fraud and corruption, procurement, measures to enhance transparency, management practices and reporting requirements. Also included are provisions on the functioning of the Ethics Office, which was recently launched in the Secretariat, along with changes to financial disclosure rules and the policy on whistle-blower protection.
Acting on the rest of the Fifth Committee reports, the Assembly appropriated $23.5 million for financing the design and preconstruction phases of the Capital Master Plan, including swing space requirements for relocating staff for the time of the refurbishing. For the whole biennium, the Secretary-General was authorized to enter into commitments of up to $77 million to provide for a conference swing space building on the North Lawn of the complex, and for the leasing, design, preconstruction services and related requirements of library and office swing space. Like all other remaining texts, the draft was adopted without a vote.
As part of a draft resolution on special subjects relating to the 2006-2007 biennium, the Assembly -- stressing the exceptional nature of its action -- authorized the use of up to $1.6 million from the provision for special political missions to make the Peacebuilding Support Office operational. The text also contains estimates for the Organization’s 29 special political missions, and addresses after-service health insurance benefits for staff and the harmonization of travel conditions within the United Nations system.
By two other resolutions, the Assembly addressed the work of two of the Organization’s oversight bodies -- the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU). Action was also taken on the resolution on programme planning and a five-part draft on the pattern of conferences, which addresses the issues of utilization of conference-servicing resources; reform of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management; documentation and publication-related matters; translation and interpretation; and information technology.
And, finally, the Assembly decided to defer to its next session a series of documents under agenda items on the 2006-2007 programme budget, including the scale of assessment for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations, the United Nations common system, and the administration of justice at the United Nations.
Action on Texts
The Assembly first took up the review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations (document A/60/609/Add.1), by which it would request the Secretary-General to further strengthen the current accountability framework by establishing an effective system that clearly defines the lines of authority and responsibility, as well as respective roles of individual elements of the framework and efforts to improve coordination among them to avoid duplication.
Further by the text, the Assembly would decide that staff performance assessment should be further enhanced, calling upon the Secretary-General to improve performance management measures, including: a system that recognizes competence as an integral element of performance management and eventual career advancement; measures to address underperformance, as well as incentives to encourage outstanding performance; and direct links from performance to career advancement.
The Assembly, recalling that there would be a separate report on the independent external evaluation of auditing and oversight systems within the United Nations, as well as on a comprehensive governance review, would note that the focus of the comprehensive governance review should be to clarify the roles and responsibilities of management, with respect to supporting Member States, and would emphasize the intergovernmental nature of the Organization and its international character. Also, reaffirming the importance of respecting the independent nature of the internal and external oversight structures of the United Nations as key governance partners, the Assembly would stress the importance of full implementation of their recommendations, and request the Secretary-General to hold managers accountable for the delay or non-implementation of oversight recommendations.
The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to continue the efforts to make procurement policies and practices of the system more transparent, efficient and effective. Welcoming the establishment of the Ethics Office, the Assembly would endorse the main responsibilities of that Office, and urge the Secretary-General to finalize a system-wide code of ethics for all personnel at an early date. It would request the Secretary-General to administer and monitor more extensive disclosure of financial and other interests by United Nations officials, and to ensure enhanced protection for those who reveal wrongdoing within the Organization. Among other reporting requests to the Secretary-General is one on staff perception of the impact of the Ethics Office on improving ethics and integrity in the Organization.
Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution.
On the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007, the Assembly had before it two reports of the Fifth Committee, contained in documents A/60/608/Addenda 1 and 2.
Addendum 1 recommends that the Assembly adopt a draft resolution on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007 that addresses the issues of: estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the Assembly and/or the Security Council; the Peacebuilding Support Office; liabilities and proposed funding for after-service health insurance benefits; and harmonization of the conditions of travel.
By the provisions of the draft, the Assembly would approve an additional charge of some $20.2 million against the provision for special political missions already approved under the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007, and establish a P-4 level position for a Political Affairs Officer in the Office of the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for Lebanon.
By the same text, the Assembly, noting the lack of information analysing the growth and decrease in resources proposed, would request the Secretary-General to formulate and present future budgets of special political missions on the basis of an analysis of actual expenditure patterns, including the latest vacancy situation and variances between appropriations and expenditures, and to provide full justification when requesting resources for experts and consultants. It would further request a management review by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).
The Assembly would also decide to authorize the Secretary-General to utilize an amount of up to $1.6 million from the approved initial provision for special political missions to operationalize a Peacebuilding Support Office. Stressing the provisional and exceptional nature of that measure, the Assembly would also decide that the Peacebuilding Support Office shall be financed from the programme budget commencing with the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009. It would consider issues regarding level, staffing and functions of the Office in the context of its consideration of the 2008-2009 proposed programme budget. The Secretary-General would be requested to ensure that the Office “has the necessary gender competence” to implement the Peacebuilding Commission’s mandate to integrate a gender perspective into all of its work.
Regarding liabilities and proposed funding for after-service health insurance benefits, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a report to the sixty-first Assembly session, providing updated information on the status of liabilities, clarifications regarding the assumptions used to determine liabilities and alternative strategies to fund the liabilities.
By the same text, the Assembly would also revert consideration of harmonization of the conditions of travel to the sixty-first session, and request the Secretary-General to initiate a review of the standards of travel and entitlements for staff members, members of organs and subsidiary bodies of the United Nations and organizations of the United Nations system, with a view to adopting a common policy at the system level.
Addendum 2, on the Capital Master Plan, would have the Assembly appropriate $23.5 million for financing the design and preconstruction phases, including swing space requirements for relocating staff for the time of the refurbishing. The Assembly would also decide that the appropriation of that amount be financed through assessment of Member States on the basis of the regular budget scale of assessments for this year.
Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, MARK WALLACE ( United States) said that his country supported the Capital Master Plan and the badly needed renovations to make the United Nations facilities safe and secure. He looked forward to continuing to work with other Member States to reach a final decision on a project strategy. It was an urgent project to ensure all United Nations employees worked in a safe and secure environment, and a General Assembly decision on strategy was critical. To ensure continued progress on the project, he endorsed a $23.5 million appropriation for the continuation of preconstruction activities, and he expected, based on the firm assurances of the Secretariat, that the United Nations would not need to utilize the $77 million in commitment authority before the second resumed session of the Fifth Committee. He hoped that, by the second resumed session, Member States would be prepared to reach a final decision on the Capital Master Plan strategy. His delegation pledged to work constructively and cooperatively to resolve all outstanding issues. At this time, without a decision on the project strategy, the United States disassociated from consensus on the resolution.
The Assembly then adopted addendum 1 of the draft without a vote.
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Mr. AL NUQARI ( Syria) said his delegation had joined consensus on the text, particularly regarding the financing of special political missions. Syria’s joining the consensus went hand in hand with the flexibility shown by his delegation and spoke of his country’s respect for the Organization. When his country had objected to the mandate regarding Syria, it had been based on need to respect the Charter, as well the fact that budget proposals had to be in line with resolution 55/231. Syria had implemented everything regarding resolution 1559 (2004), as recognized by the Security Council.
The report of the Special Rapporteur was wrong and in contradiction with the Charter, as the establishment of diplomatic relations and borders was a matter for sovereign States, he said. The establishment of diplomatic relations and the drawing of the border were matters for the sovereign Member States involved. No provision of the Charter authorized a United Nations body to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State. He also stressed the need to respect paragraphs 9 and 10 of the first part of the resolution when studying the mandate of the special envoy.
Also acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted addendum 2 of the text.
The Assembly next took up a report of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on programme planning (document A/60/747), by the terms of which it would reaffirm the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) as the main subsidiary organ for planning, programming and coordination, and re-emphasize the role of the plenary and the Main Committees in reviewing and taking action on CPC’s recommendations relevant to their work. It would also endorse the Committee’s recommendations as contained in paragraphs 36 to 39, 135 to 139, 151 to 158, 165, 175 to 178, 186, 201 to 212, 227 to 237 and 248 of its report (document A/60/16), as well as the recommendations of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concerning the evaluation of linkages between Headquarters and field activities: a review of best practices for poverty eradication in the framework of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and on the in-depth evaluation of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
In connection with programme questions, the Assembly would stress that setting the priorities of the United Nations is the prerogative of Member States, which also need to participate fully in the budget preparation process, from its early stages. As an exceptional measure, and without prejudice to relevant resolutions or future scheduling of the CPC’s sessions, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to reschedule its forty-sixth session to no later than September 2006, so that it could consider the proposed strategic framework for 2008-2009 and other items of its provisional agenda.
In the “evaluation” section of the text, the Assembly would take note of the report of the OIOS on the matter (document A/60/73) and advocate the use of the findings of the programme performance report of the Secretary-General, and evaluation reports for planning and policymaking. As per the proposals in the OIOS report, the Secretary-General would be requested to report on the measures to strengthen monitoring and evaluation in the Organization, and on measures and resources needed to strengthen the use of information technology as a management and monitoring tool.
The Assembly would further welcome enhanced coordination between the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) and the OIOS, and encourage such coordination in the future. It would request the Secretary-General to respond to ad hoc evaluation requests by programme managers, to ensure that intergovernmental bodies are provided with high-quality professional and objective reports on the performance of programmes and activities. The Secretary-General would also be requested to entrust the OIOS with reporting on the efforts to strengthen its in-depth and thematic evaluation function, and to report on measures to strengthen self-evaluation by programme managers and ensure more extensive use of self-evaluation at the programme and subprogramme levels. Also addressed in the text was the need to develop common professional standards and methodologies for self-evaluation throughout the United Nations system.
On the CPC’s other recommendations, the Assembly would welcome the high priority attached to the United Nations system support for Africa’s development and the implementation of the priorities and programmes of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). It would request a report on further efforts made to ensure that support for NEPAD remains a priority and that organizations represented on the Chief Executives Board increase their efforts in support of the New Partnership. It would also ask the Secretary-General to continue to enhance and monitor coordination of system-wide efforts against hunger and poverty.
And finally, noting with concern that, during the CPC’s forty-fifth session, no conclusions were agreed to on the Committee’s own working methods and procedures, the Assembly would emphasize the need for the Committee, within the framework of its mandate, to improve its working methods and procedures, without having a negative impact on the effective consideration of other agenda items, in particular the proposed strategic framework for the period 2008-2009, as matters of priority, during its next session. Recognizing the importance of ensuring the highest level of expertise for the CPC, the Assembly would also invite the Committee to consider how best to achieve this objective.
Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft.
Turning to another text, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a five-part draft resolution on the pattern of conferences (document A/60/601/Add.1), addressing issues of: utilization of conference-servicing resources; reform of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management; documentation and publication-related matters; translation and interpretation matters; and information technology.
On utilization of conference-servicing resources, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to ensure, when preparing related budget proposals, that the level of resources for temporary assistance is commensurate with the full demand of services. It urged that intergovernmental bodies spare no effort at the planning stage to take into account meetings of regional and other major groups of States, and to make provisions for such meetings in their programmes of work. The Assembly also strongly discouraged any invitation to host meetings that would violate the headquarters rule at the United Nations Office at Nairobi and other centres with low utilization. It invited the Secretary-General to explore means to increase the utilization of the conference centre of the Economic Commission for Africa, bearing in mind minimum operating security standards.
On the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the Assembly welcomed, among other things, the progress achieved in the implementation of the Electronic Meeting Planning and Resource Allocation System (e-Meets) and the electronic documentation management concept (e-Doc), and requested the Secretary-General, while reviewing the workload standards dating from 1976, and performance measurement tools in the context of information technology, to take fully into account the unique nature of the functions of the language services. It would also stress the importance of retaining the official records editing function and ensuring equally valid texts of resolutions in all six official languages.
Noting with concern the continued high level of late submissions of documents by author departments, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report on impediments to achieving full compliance with the 10-week and 6-week rules for the issuance of pre-session documents, including proposals to address them. It also reiterated its request to ensure simultaneous distribution of documents in all official languages, and requested the Secretary-General to ensure communication of adopted resolutions within 15 days after the closure of the session. Among other measures to address the problem of late issuance of documentation, the Assembly welcomed the efforts of the interdepartmental task force on the matter, and requested the Secretary-General to develop a clear accountability mechanism for the submission, processing and issuance of documentation.
To ensure the highest quality of interpretation and translation in all official languages, the Assembly emphasized the need to use the latest linguistic norms and terminology; improve the accuracy of translation of documents, giving particular significance to their quality; and ensure that all language services are given equal treatment and are provided with equally favourable working conditions and resources when recruiting temporary assistance.
It also requested a report on the appropriate level of self-revision that is consistent with quality in all official languages, and noted with concern the disparities in interpretation and translation vacancy rates between the Nairobi Office and other duty stations. Expressing deep concern over the situation in Nairobi, especially the chronic difficulty in staffing the Arabic Interpretation Unit, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to address this through, inter alia, assistance from Member States in advertising and facilitating the conduct of competitive examinations to fill these language vacancies. Also by the text, the Secretary-General was requested to continue exploring new technologies, such as computer-assisted translation, remote and off-site translation, and speech recognition, in the six official languages, in order to further enhance the quality and productivity of the conference services.
In the text’s information technology section, the Assembly noted with appreciation the progress in integrating such technology into meetings management and processing of documentation, and the global approach to sharing standards, good practices and technological achievements at all duty stations. It requested the Secretary-General to ensure the compatibility of technologies at all duty stations, making them user-friendly in all official languages. He was also asked to complete the task of uploading all important older United Nations documents onto the website in all six languages, on a priority basis.
The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution on the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) (document A/60/748), by which it reaffirmed the unique role of the JIU as the only system-wide external oversight body and urged all host countries to facilitate prompt access for inspectors to all offices of participating organizations. The Assembly requested the Unit to include in future annual reports more information on the impact of full implementation of recommendations, including any cost savings, productivity and efficiency gains achieved. The Assembly also decided to revert to the consideration of the procedures for the appointment of the Unit’s inspectors (as proposed in document A/60/659) to its sixty-first session.
Also before the Assembly was a draft resolution on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) (document A/60/604/Add.1), by the terms of which it would reaffirm the independence and separate and distinct roles of the internal and external oversight mechanisms, and look forward to the results of the independent external evaluation of the audit and oversight system of the United Nations. In connection with the latter, it would stress that the evaluation should include proposals on: ensuring full operational independence of OIOS; strengthening its evaluation capacity at the programme and subprogramme levels; and ensuring adequate funding for timely reimbursement by funds and programmes for the services of OIOS.
Taking note of the annual report of OIOS (document A/60/346), the Assembly would stress the importance of full implementation of legislative decisions, and request the Secretary-General to ensure that programme managers provide information to OIOS, to be reflected in the report on the rate of implementation of legislative mandates and decisions. Where full implementation had not been achieved, the reasons should be provided.
Noting that not all programme managers have reported the results of investigations to OIOS, as required in paragraph 11 of its resolution 59/287, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure that programme managers comply with this requirement as a measure of accountability. He would also be requested to entrust OIOS with submitting a report on the use of the best-value concept in the evaluation and awarding of procurement contracts, in order to identify any possible misuse. Noting with concern paragraph 25 of the OIOS report concerning the investigation of fuel theft in peacekeeping missions, the Assembly would welcome the intention of OIOS to report on the oversight of fuel management in peacekeeping. [In its report, OIOS states that “investigations of criminal activity have identified thefts of large amounts of fuel by staff in collusion with local nationals. Recently, the involvement of troop contingents in fuel theft has been identified along with breakdowns in the application of systems of control.”]
Also by the text, the Assembly would welcome the comprehensive tsunami risk assessments undertaken by OIOS, jointly with United Nations funds and programmes and specialized agencies, and request the Secretary-General to ensure that those funds, programmes and specialized agencies cooperate with OIOS in the preparation of a consolidated report on audits and investigative reviews of the tsunami relief operation. The OIOS would be entrusted with presenting such a report during the Assembly’s sixty-first session.
The Assembly would welcome the intention of OIOS to conduct a risk assessment of the activities of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, and invite the Pension Board to request OIOS, in this context, to conduct an audit of the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of services provided to its beneficiaries. Noting with concern numerous allegations of fraud and irregularities in the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Assembly would request OIOS to submit an overview report on its investigations and follow-up at its resumed sixtieth session.
Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the text.
The Assembly then took up a draft resolution entitled, “Investing the United Nations: for a stronger Organization worldwide” (document A/60/831). By the terms of the text, the Assembly, stressing the need for Member States to participate in the budget preparation process at all stages, would welcome the Secretary-General’s commitment to strengthening the United Nations and take note of his report Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger Organization worldwide, and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). It would also reaffirm its oversight role and that of the Fifth Committee in administrative and budgetary matters.
By the other terms, stressing that setting the priorities of the United Nations is the prerogative of Member States, as reflected in legislative decisions, the Assembly would reaffirm its role in carrying out a thorough analysis and approval of the human and financial resources and policies, with a view to ensuring full, effective and efficient implementation of all mandated programmes and activities, and the implementation of policies in that regard. It would also stress the importance of strengthened accountability in the Organization and of ensuring greater accountability of the Secretary-General to Member States, including for the effective and efficient implementation of legislative mandates and the use of human and financial resources.
The Assembly would, by further terms, request the Secretary-General to specifically define accountability, as well as clear accountability mechanisms, in the context of the reports requested in the resolution, and to propose clear parameters for its application and the instruments for its rigorous enforcement, without exception, at all levels. By further terms, the Assembly would emphasize the need for strengthening oversight in the Organization, and look forward to taking action on the report on strengthening of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).
Addressing proposals 1 to 4 and 7 of the Secretary-General’s report, on recruitment, mobility, career development and contractual arrangements, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a report on, among other things, an assessment of the impact of previous and ongoing reforms as they relate to the proposals, specific costs and administrative implications, and proposals to increase the representation of developing countries in the Secretariat, in particular at senior levels, with due regard to the principle of equitable geographical distribution of posts.
On proposals 5 and 6, on the role of the Deputy Secretary-General and the regrouping of departments into organizational clusters, the Assembly would recall its resolutions 52/12B and 52/220, which established the post of the Deputy Secretary-General as an integral part of the Office of the Secretary-General, without prejudice to the mandate of the Secretary-General as provided for by the Charter, and that the Secretary-General would appoint the Deputy Secretary-General following consultations with Member States. Recalling that the Assembly in resolution 52/12B identified the functions of that post, the Assembly would decide that the functions of the post should be in accordance with that resolution and should not diminish the role or responsibilities of the Secretary-General as the Organization’s chief administrative officer, including in management policies and overall operational matters.
By further terms, the Assembly would stress that the overall responsibilities for the Organization’s management rests with the Secretary-General as chief administrative officer. Regarding the structure of the Secretariat, it would stress that any proposals that amend the overall departmental structure are subject to the Assembly’s review.
On proposals 8 to 12, 17 and 18, which include investing in information and communication technology, new sourcing options, financial management practices and performance evaluation and reporting, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a detailed report that would respond to several elements, including specific costs and administrative implications, detailed explanation of how the proposals were envisaged to enhance the effectiveness of the Organization’s work, and clear definition of the terminologies and rationale for the proposals.
The Assembly would, by other terms, request the Secretary-General to submit a detailed report on proposals 14 and 15, which address, among other things, a comprehensive review of procurement rules, regulations and policies. The report would respond to several elements, including specific costs and administrative implications, an assessment of the impact of previous and ongoing reforms as they relate to the proposals, and proposals on how to increase the use of open source software in the Secretariat.
Regarding proposal 16, on strategic budgetary planning and implementation, the Assembly would, among other things, stress that the Assembly would review the planning and budgetary reform experiment at its sixty-second session, with a view to making a final decision. On proposal 19 -- reporting mechanisms -- the Assembly would emphasize the importance of providing information necessary to enable Member States to make well-informed decisions.
Concerning proposals 20 and 21, in which the Secretary-General proposes three new principles for interaction between the Secretariat and the key General Assembly budget committees, and urges the General Assembly to consider ways to reform its structures for interacting with the Secretariat on management and budgetary issues, the Assembly would reaffirm that the Fifth Committee was the appropriate Main Committee of the Assembly entrusted with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters. It would further reaffirm that no changes to the budget methodology, to established budgetary procedures or to the financial regulations may be implemented without prior review and approval by the Assembly.
By further provisions of the text, the Assembly, in addressing proposals 22 and 23, would take note of the idea of a dedicated capacity within the Secretariat with the aim of facilitating the management reform effort, and request the Secretary-General to take into account existing expertise in formulating future proposals. It would also stress that the implementation of reform measures approved by the Assembly was the Secretary-General’s responsibility as chief administrative officer, and should be undertaken in full transparency with the Organization’s entire membership, through established reporting lines to the Assembly.
Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, KENZO OSHIMA ( Japan) said his delegation supported the Secretary-General’s commitment to reform the Organization, so that it could better respond to current needs. His delegation had participated in the discussion on the report and would continue to be actively engaged. The Secretary-General could implement some measures without legislative action, and he urged him to do so. In the Fifth Committee on 17 April, Japan had requested that the sponsors of the draft not seek action, so as not to breach the Committee’s long standing consensus practice and to continue negotiating in good faith. The Secretary-General had made a sincere effort to preserve the consensus practice. He appreciated that effort. He also appreciated the last minute effort of the “Group of 77” and the European Union, and was disappointed at the failure to reach agreement. It would have been preferable for the Fifth Committee to report back to the Assembly areas of agreement and disagreement, so that it could consider the way forward. He regretted that, despite the efforts made, a vote had been taken.
Continuing, he noted that, in the last few days, the Assembly President had made efforts to avoid voting. He regretted that those efforts had failed to bear fruit. He regretted that the plenary would also vote. His delegation would have no choice, but to cast a negative vote. The outcome of the vote would send a strong message, one that was more negative than positive.
The text was adopted by a vote of 121 in favour to 50 against, with 2 abstentions ( Norway, Uganda). (See Annex.)
Speaking after the vote, DUMISANI KUMALO ( South Africa), on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said he was making a general statement on behalf of the Group. There were many issues that awaited the Assembly’s collective decision and it was time that it focused on the future and helped strengthen the Organization. The Group had been supportive of a number of major reforms. It had supported the approval of resources for the Human Rights Council. It was the Group that had fought to have the Peacebuilding Support Office funded from predictable and new resources, and not from within existing budget levels, or through establishing temporary posts. It was the Group that wanted to ensure that the Organization dealt with development challenges in a more concrete and tangible ways. As it was, the Group was still awaiting its negotiating partners to join in a consensus that would build on the global partnership that was confirmed by the September Summit.
The Group had been instrumental in approving some $100 million that the Secretary-General urgently needed to proceed with the Capital Master Plan, he said. The developing countries had always insisted that the Secretary-General receive adequate and predictable resources to undertake the Organization’s numerous tasks. The Group had also supported the budget level requested by the Secretary-General in 2005, and had opposed the spending cap. Since the adoption last September of the Summit Outcome, the Group had supported the creation of an Ethics Office, the finalization of the whistle-blower policy and increasing the investigation and auditing capacity of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). Clearly, the suggestion that the Group was somehow blocking or delaying reform was at best misleading, or at worst absolutely untrue.
The resolution just adopted did not in any way delay or prevent United Nations reform, he said. In fact, a careful reading of the text would show that many of the proposals in it were meant to make the Organization better. A large part of the resolution captured areas, in which there was general agreement among Member States. The exceptions were those proposals that would have amended the oversight role of Member States, through the Assembly. In addition to governance issues, the elements in the text that the Group had differed on were on the enforcement of gender targets in the Secretariat, ensuring equitable geographical representation in the recruitment of the Secretariat, in particular at senior levels, and increasing procurement opportunities for developing countries. Those elements were important to developing countries and to suggest that fighting for them would detract from the Secretary-General’s reform initiatives was misleading.
Everyone in the Assembly knew that the Organization did not reflect the international character of its membership, particularly at senior levels, which seemed to be monopolized by nationals from a few countries, he said. That was true, despite repeated calls by the Assembly. The suggestion that nationals from developing countries were somehow less qualified and not able to meet the standards set for international civil servants in the United Nations Charter was untrue. The Secretariat must stop paying more than just lip service to the calls to ensure a greater gender balance and equitable geographical representation in the recruitment and promotion of its staff. The resolution was merely asking for proposals on gender targets and geographical distribution to be included in the September 2006 report. To suggest that those requests would delay the Secretary-General’s proposal, or halt the reform exercise, was false.
The June report on procurement, among other things, would elaborate on the Secretary-General’s proposal to move forward a lead agency concept, where provisions of the General Assembly resolutions may not apply, he said. The resolution simply requested that an assessment of the internal controls of those organizations be undertaken, to ensure effective oversight. The Group was, therefore, not delaying reform by asking that Member States receive assurances that the provisions of Assembly resolutions would be respected and effective internal controls would be in place.
He said the Group supported the Secretary-General as chief administrative officer of the United Nations. The Secretary-General was elected by the Member States and the Group believed that he was accountable to the Assembly. For that reason, the Group did not understand -- or even accept -- that, in order for the Secretary-General to carry out his duties, it should be accompanied by denying the majority of Member States the right to pronounce on the administration of the United Nations. The Group had continued to maintain that, for a “small, but representative, group of Member States” to replace the role of all Member States in carrying out the oversight responsibilities of the General Assembly, was an attempt to deny every Member State the role due them.
GERHARD PFANZELTER ( Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, stressed the importance of management reform, which was vital for strengthening the United Nations. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s report, and encouraged him to continue his reform efforts. The Union would like to see a more detailed elaboration of those proposals, and urged the Secretary-General to take action in the areas where no legislative mandate was needed. The Union could not agree to the adoption of the present resolution, as it did not reflect crucial concerns of the Union and other countries. He was of the firm belief that, at this early stage, pending more detailed information and without a request for action, proposals should not be selectively rejected, amended or convoluted with conditions. The Union had made all possible efforts to reach a consensus on the resolution, but those efforts had failed, resulting in a vote. That was regrettable. Decisions on sensitive political matters needed support from all Member States. The collapse of the consensus principle in the Fifth Committee should be a matter of serious concern to all. It was necessary to restore the long-standing working methods of the Committee. Now, a forward-looking approach was needed. It was important to re-establish a climate of trust and cooperation. It was necessary to engage in consensus-based decision-making and work together to make the United Nations stronger.
ROSEMARY BANKS ( New Zealand), also on behalf of Australia and Canada (CANZ), said CANZ had set out concerns both over procedure and substance in the Fifth Committee. Her objections remained the same, and she hoped the Secretary-General would proceed with the mandates he already had. CANZ was deeply disappointed that the draft had gone ahead. The practice of consensus decision-making should be restored and the climate of trust renewed. It was heartening that, over the past few days, so many had spoken of the need to look forward. To renew efforts was the challenge for all. CANZ would work with the Secretary-General and all Member States on management reform.
JOHN BOLTON ( United States) said that his delegation had given a statement in the Fifth Committee explaining its vote on the item. That position still stood. Since others had taken the floor on the occasion of today’s vote, he would like to make several additional points, as well.
The United States strongly supported a United Nations that was sharply focused on addressing the challenges of today’s world, in efficient and effective ways. The Fifth Committee’s consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on United Nations management reforms was supposed to have been an important part of the process leading to a more efficient and effective Organization -- a process that world leaders had started last year, with their historic consensus agreement on the Summit Outcome Document. Unfortunately, the vote on management reforms in the Fifth Committee, as well as the vote called for today in the Assembly, raised deep concerns about the breach of the consensus decision-making principle that had been the practice of the Fifth Committee for nearly two decades.
Recalling the history of consensus practice, he said that from his country’s perspective, it had developed, because, in the mid-1980s, the United States had been repeatedly and overwhelmingly outvoted in the Fifth Committee on important budget questions. And the consequence was that the United States Congress withheld substantial appropriations from the United States assessed contribution. So, the practice of consensus-based decision-making in the Organization on budgetary matters was intended to reflect clearly the opinions of all United Nations members.
During the past 20 years, and indeed as early as the late 1980s and early 1990s, there had been doubts whether the consensus budgeting approach was working to fulfil the intentions that had led to its creation in the first place, he continued. And, in fact, the current situation, as reflected in today’s vote, raised that question again. The result of consensus-based decision-making in the Fifth Committee was often the same, in fact, as today’s vote. “So that, when we are asked, whether in Congress or elsewhere, what is the real distribution of opinion in the UN on budget questions, we can fairly say that it is reflected in today’s vote and so, one might well then ask ‘what is gained by the consensus process’?,” he asked.
He believed that many comfortable elements of the governance of the Organization now needed to come under scrutiny, as the Secretary-General and others had suggested. His delegation maintained its view on consensus decision-making on budget matters, but it was carefully evaluating how it actually worked, as was appropriate after 20 years.
FRANCISCO JAVIER ARIAS CÁRDENAS ( Venezuela) said his delegation wanted to make a general statement. His country believed in constructive dialogue, which was an essential instrument for agreement, and indispensable for a more efficient Organization. He recognized consensus practice as the best way to arrive at agreements, as the search for the collective good over individual interests was necessary. The Secretariat should channel its efforts to guaranteeing the competencies of Member States. The draft reflected the greatest degree of agreement available. Agreement had not been reached via consensus, but through a vote, which was also a democratic method. The process of reform should be transparent, participatory and not play to the particular interests of certain groups of Member States. Venezuela could not accept negotiating mechanisms that excluded any Member State. Those practices, as seen in the 2005 World Summit, had weakened the outcome of negotiations. In that respect, Venezuela committed to continuing participating, in a constructive manner, in future negotiations to ensure that the reform took into account the opinions of all Member States.
ARMEN MARTIROSYAN ( Armenia) said his delegation had missed the vote due to a technical matter. Had he been present, he would have abstained.
Also before the Assembly was a draft decision on questions deferred for future consideration (document A/60/609/Add.2), by which it would decide to defer, to its sixty-first session, a series of documents under agenda items on the 2006-2007 programme budget, the scale of assessment for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations, the United Nations common system, and the administration of justice at the United Nations.
Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft decision.
General Assembly President JAN ELIASSON ( Sweden) said that, while a vote could be viewed as a normal procedure of the Assembly, everybody knew that draft resolutions recommended by vote were not the normal practice of the Fifth Committee. Action today should, therefore, be regarded as a deviation from a long-standing practice of the Fifth Committee. For nearly two decades, resolutions emanating from that Committee had been adopted without a vote, and the consensus mechanism was the hallmark of its work. Such tradition of consensus served to safeguard the long-term interest of the United Nations, as well as that of Member States -- large or small, rich or poor. Against that background, like the Secretary-General, he regretted that it had not been possible for the General Assembly to reach consensus on the resolution just adopted, in spite of all the efforts to reach a negotiated agreement in the Fifth Committee.
“However, we must not let this lead us to inaction and a pointless discussion of why we failed to agree, or what went wrong,” he continued. “Instead, we must look forward and join forces in fulfilling the tasks our leaders entrusted us with at the 2005 World Summit.” It was essential to restore the consensus mode of decision-making in the Fifth Committee. It was necessary to work for the broadest possible agreement on all the reform issues before the Assembly.
So far, Member States could be proud of their achievements, he said. Through open, transparent and inclusive negotiations, the sixtieth session had established the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. Later this afternoon, the Assembly was expected to take a decision on the election of seven members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission. That would be a further step forward to making peacebuilding a reality in the field. Tomorrow, the Assembly would proceed to a historic first election of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council. Negotiations on Economic and Social Council reform and development follow-up were hopefully in their concluding stages. Consultations on the environment and the revitalization of the work of the Assembly had also been initiated, and, later this week, informal consultations on the elaboration of a counter-terrorism strategy would start. Thus, the reform process was continuing, in all its aspects.
The world leaders at the World Summit had recognized the need for an efficient, effective and accountable Secretariat. In the coming months, the efforts of Member States would increasingly focus on those issues. It was important to address Secretariat and management reform in a positive spirit. It was imperative to do that in an open, transparent and inclusive manner. It was also important that all Member States were involved and fully engaged in the work. Genuine progress could be achieved on several tracks. During the next few weeks, the Secretary-General would prepare detailed reports on various issues in pursuance of the resolution just adopted.
The first phase, due in a few days, would address accountability, information and communication technology, reporting mechanisms, budgetary and financial management, he said. In the second phase, in June, the Secretary-General would report on procurement, monitoring, and evaluation issues. The third phase, in September, would focus on reforms in human resources management. Those reports would first be taken up by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and then by the Fifth Committee. He urged all delegations to actively and constructively engage in the work of the Fifth Committee on those issues, as well as several important administrative, financial and human resources management issues that body would be taking up this year.
Informal consultations on the Secretary-General’s report on the review of mandates were proceeding well and according to schedule, he added. The Presidents of the Security Council and Economic and Social Council had already initiated procedures to conduct the review of mandates in their respective areas. He had requested that, to the extent possible, they harmonize their respective programmes of work with the plenary.
The ongoing review on governance and oversight structures in the United Nations aimed to enhance the ability of the Organization to function well and live up to the high expectations of Member States, he continued. The review would build on progress made in strengthening the oversight functions, including the development of the independent Audit Advisory Committee to assist the Assembly in discharging its oversight responsibility. In addition, the Secretary-General had already undertaken a number of reforms under his own authority, such as protection of staff against retaliation for reporting misconduct.
“I have said it many times, we are facing a test of multilateralism,” he concluded. “We need to make the United Nations stronger and better equipped to deal with the urgent problems and needs in the world around us. To achieve this, we must work together.” It was also necessary to deepen the dialogue between delegations and different groups at the United Nations. It was necessary to listen to each other, gain a better understanding for each other’s positions and move from polarization to cooperation. A climate of trust and confidence must be established and guide Member States endeavours. It was in the countries’ common interest and in the interest of the United Nations. He hoped to see constructive results in Secretariat and management reform during the coming months.
The Assembly then took up a draft resolution on the election of seven members of the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission (document A/60/L.52), by the terms of which it would note that the elections and/or selections for that body have resulted in the following distribution of seats for this year among the five regional groups: five members from African States; seven members from Asian States; two members from Eastern European States; one member from Latin American and Caribbean States; and nine members from Western European and other States.
[When the Peacebuilding was established by concurrent action by the General Assembly and Security Council on 20 December, it was decided that its Organizational Committee would consist of seven Security Council members, including permanent members, selected by the Council; seven members of the Economic and Social Council, elected from regional groups; five top contributors to United Nations budgets, funds, programmes and agencies; and five top providers of military personnel and civilian police to United Nations missions. The General Assembly would elect seven additional members, with special consideration for States that have experienced post-conflict recovery.]
By the terms of the draft before it, the Assembly would decide that the seven seats for election by the Assembly for this year would be distributed among the five regional groups as follows: two seats for African States; one seat for Asian States; one seat for Eastern European States; three seats for Latin American and Caribbean States; and no seats for Western European and other States.
Further by the text, it would be decided that the Assembly’s rules of procedure and established practice for the election of members of its subsidiary bodies shall apply to the election of members of the Committee, who would serve for renewable terms of two years. The term of membership would be staggered, and two members from different regional groups, to be drawn by lots in the first election, would serve for an initial period of one year. Each of the five regional groups would have no less than three seats in the overall composition of the Committee.
The draft also specifies that that the elections to be held by the Assembly this year should set no precedent for future elections, and that the distribution of seats would be reviewed annually, on the basis of changes in the membership in other categories of members, in order to give due consideration to the representation of all regional groups in the overall composition of the Committee.
Mr. ELIASSON, General Assembly President, said that, on 20 December, the Assembly had made history. By creating the Peacebuilding Commission, the Assembly had decided to take an important step to strengthen the United Nations capacity in maintaining sustainable peace and security. The Peacebuilding Commission was an innovative body, which was to assist countries on the arduous road from violent conflict to recovery, reconstruction and development. The composition of the Commission’s Organizational Committee was clearly spelled out in resolution 60/180. In the Outcome Document, leaders had already decided on the different categories of members of the Organizational Committee. Some had voiced strong concern that the Committee lacked in legitimacy, as many would not have the possibility of being elected or selected.
The Assembly had taken that argument seriously and had made a very difficult decision to open up the agreed text of the World Summit Outcome, he continued. A category had been created to allow the Assembly to elect seven additional members from regions not sufficiently represented in the other categories of the Organizational Committee, giving particular consideration to those countries that had experienced post-conflict recovery.
More than four months had passed since 20 December, he said. The decision to allow the Peacebuilding Commission to become operational was long overdue. The World Summit Outcome had requested that the Peacebuilding Commission should begin its work no later than 31 December 2005. He acknowledged the difficulties members had been facing during discussions, as the Commission’s composition was innovative. One of the main purposes of the Commission, according to its mandate, was to bring together actors to marshal resources and to advise on and propose integrated strategies for post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery. He was gratified that the Assembly had shown flexibility, in spite of strongly held views.
He said he understood that the Economic and Social Council would conduct their elections on 12 May. He proposed that elections in the Assembly take place on 16 May, in the afternoon. Member States were invited to inform of or confirm their candidatures to the Secretariat before 16 May. He understood that the Secretariat would prepare a list of candidates for information. The draft set out that the rules of procedure and established practices of the Assembly for the election of members of its subsidiary bodies should apply to the elections to the Organizational Committee. The elected members would serve for renewable terms of two years, beginning the day of the Committee’s first meeting. A new element introduced in the draft was that the term of membership should be staggered, and that two members from different regional groups, to be drawn by lot in the first election, should serve for an initial period of one year. That would allow for continuity and not having all members from the General Assembly category change at the same time. Those members serving for one year only were eligible for subsequent periods of two years.
It would also allow the Assembly to have an annual review of its distribution of seats, based on changes in the membership in other categories in the Organizational Committee, he added. After all, the General Assembly category had been created, in order to have a balanced representation from all regional groups and, thus, ensure legitimacy.
Representation from all regional groups in the Committee’s overall composition was not the only criterion for the Assembly category, he said. Countries that had gone through difficult periods of post-conflict recovery would be a special asset for the Commission’s work. It was now important to prepare for the Committee’s first meeting and, more importantly, the first country-specific meeting. Work at the United Nations always had to go through a “field test”. He strongly hoped that the Commission would go through that field test before the end of the sixtieth session.
Speaking before the vote, MARIA ANGELA HOLGUIN CUELLAR ( Colombia), on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the Group had actively participated in the consultation process that had resulted in the establishment of the Commission. She reiterated the Group’s commitment to that initiative, and the need for its prompt implementation. She regretted that the basic proposal presented by the Latin American and Caribbean Group had not been reflected in the draft presented to the Assembly today. The Group was deeply concerned that such a noble initiative had been eroded, and that every Member State’s right to participate under equal footing had been dismissed.
After many months of discussions, today, one could see that the Commission would not respond to the principle of equitable geographical distribution. As it was today, it would be an organ composed mainly of troop and financial donors. The principle of equitable geographic distribution reflected in other bodies, had been ignored in this case, and members of the Group asked themselves if that would be the future trend within the Organization. The important thing was not to create false expectations that resulted in discussions that did not lead to a greater understanding within the Organization. It would be positive for the Organization to review the composition, as the experience and contributions of all regions were valuable to the work of the Commission. The Group reiterated that experience must be taken into account in post-conflict situations.
For the Latin American and Caribbean States, the principle of equitable geographical representation was fundamental for the consolidation of universal multilateralism, she said. She stressed the Group’s concern with the prospect of reducing the space given to the Group in United Nations bodies, seen not only in this case, but in other areas of the reform, as well. The principles that should guide the reform were those of inclusion and equitable geographical representation. Those principles were a requirement for the legitimacy and efficiency of the work of those bodies. In that context, she stressed that the General Assembly category had been created to ensure a more balanced representation of the regional groups, in order to guarantee an equitable distribution and a sense of belonging to the Organizational Committee. Therefore, the situation of underrepresented regional groups in the general composition must be considered in the election of the members of the Organizational Committee by the Assembly. That was her interpretation of preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 2 and 8.
The text was then adopted without a vote
Mr. MILLER ( United States) was pleased to join consensus to support hallmark measures in the Economic and Social Council, and now in the Assembly, to establish procedures for representation to the Peacebuilding Commission. Getting to the current point had required careful diplomacy, and give and take, in which representatives of all regions had worked together. The United States had been an active participant. The process had been prolonged and the results reflected compromise. He noted the aspiration of Latin American and Caribbean neighbours to gain enhanced representation in future years. He supported that aspiration and adjustments that could be made to effect the composition of the Commission, to make it as effective as possible. He also emphasized the potential contribution of countries that had experienced post-conflict. It was important to move ahead swiftly and to get the Commission up and running. The body was a promising outcome of United Nations reform. The quality of the members, and the diversity of experience and influence they brought to the table, would be critical to the mutual goal of building stability in countries. The rules of procedure must be designed to hasten the achievement of results, avoid duplicative efforts and focus on the work of country-specific committees and their recommendations.
TENS KAPOMA (Zambia), on behalf of the African Group, following the adoption of the resolution, recalled that, in the World Summit Outcome, the leaders had decided to establish a Peacebuilding Commission and that it should begin its work no later than 31 December 2005. Consequently, the Assembly had adopted resolution 60/180 on the matter, on 20 December. It had taken a little more than four months for the Assembly to adopt the enabling resolution, which would have the effect of operationalizing the Commission. The African Group, as others, was pleased with the adoption of the text. However, he wanted to make some observations on some of the provisions of the draft.
In the future, the Group would like to see more equitable geographical representation, which would give Africa no less than seven seats. It should be noted that, in the Security Council category, the African representation would be only for one year, in view of the departure from the Council of the United Republic of Tanzania, at the end of this year. It was his sincere hope that both the Security Council and the General Assembly would favourably consider electing another African Member State to replace the United Republic of Tanzania in the Security Council category, or find an alternative in other categories.
The African Group was making that earnest appeal, as the Peacebuilding Commission had been established to deal with global post-conflict situations. In that regard, it was no exaggeration to state that the African continent had an unenviable share of conflicts, indeed, a lion share. It was, therefore, natural, in his view, that Africa should be given special consideration. In terms of operative paragraph 2, the African Group observed that, if a region submitted the exact number of candidates that had been agreed upon, there should be no need for elections, but rather that such Member States should be deemed as having been duly selected.
He was making those observations mindful of the many concessions and compromises that had made it possible for the Assembly to adopt the framework resolution, he said. During the protracted consultations, the African Group had adequately demonstrated its commitment to the adoption of that resolution. He looked forward, with equal commitment and zeal, to the operationalization of the Commission. He hoped that, indeed, the Commission would make a difference for the countries in need of support from the international community in addressing post-conflict situations.
MICHEL DUCLOS ( France) said he was delighted at the fact that the resolution had been adopted by consensus. The text would pave the way to establishing the Commission’s Organizational Committee. His delegation expressed thanks to the President for the role he had played in the success of the process. Several months and efforts by all had been needed, as the Assembly had had to reconcile numerous expressions of interest on the part of members who wished to serve on the Commission. Those expressions were all legitimate. The Assembly had reached the best possible result. It was important to keep in mind the overarching need to preserve the Commission’s original nature. One of its strong points rested in its unique composition, based on the participation of Member States who were in a position to make some kind of concrete contribution.
He said he also wished to reply to some of the concerns voiced. All regional groups were entitled to be fairly represented in the Organizational Committee. That was true, particularly for countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, many of whom had been through post-conflict situations. Many were providing recognized assistance in that area. The Group of Latin American and Caribbean States had an important contribution to make to the Commission. France intended to vote in favour of a member from that region the next time the two seats for non-permanent members were filled afresh in the Organizational Committee. The seat to be vacated by the United Republic of Tanzania should also go to a country representing Africa. The immediate priority must be to launch the Peacebuilding Commission. It was important that the Organizational Committee, once all its members were chosen, expeditiously settle the initial procedural matters. It should be in a position to identify the initial situations to be placed on the Commissions’ agenda.
Mr. ELIASSON said the road to reaching consensus in the discussion on the resolution had also been arduous. Institutional decisions were always painful, and the Assembly’s most complicated negotiations had been on the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. That was natural when setting up new institutions. At the end of the resolution, the Assembly stated that the distribution of seats would be renewed annually. He pleaded to members to look forward, focus on setting up the Organizational Committee and take quick decisions on the country-specific matters, as it was there that the Assembly would be tested. The Organization had paid a heavy price for leaving those countries, when CNN’s cameras disappeared. The United Nations had to be there for reconstruction, development and setting up of institutions, so that conflicts did not arise again. Today’s action was a qualitative step forward for the United Nations and would mean that the Security Council might have less to do in the future. Now was the time to prove that the Commission could make a difference for those who had suffered through conflict.
Vote on Investing in the United Nations
The draft resolution entitled “Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger Organization worldwide” (document A/60/831) was adopted by a recorded vote of 121 in favour to 50 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:
In favour: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Against: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
Abstain: Norway, Uganda.
Absent: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Federated States of Micronesia, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Sao Tome and Principe, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
* *** *For information media • not an official record