22 December 2006
General Assembly
GA/AB/3787

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Fifth Committee

37th Meeting (Night)


FIFTH COMMITTEE APPROVES ASSESSMENT SCALE FOR REGULAR, PEACEKEEPING BUDGETS,


TEXTS ON COMMON SYSTEM, PENSION FUND, AS IT CONCLUDES SESSION


Other Drafts Concern 2008-2009 Budget Outline,

Financing Special Political Missions, 2006-2007 Revised Appropriations


By recommending to the Assembly the scales for determining Member States’ dues to the United Nations regular and peacekeeping budgets in 2007-2009, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this evening set the stage for the continuing functioning of the United Nations.  It approved eight other texts, as it concluded the first part of the sixty-first session, including on the United Nations common and pension systems, and the proposed budget outline for the biennium 2008-2009.


The current scale of assessments was adopted in 2000, when the Assembly based individual countries’ assessments on their gross national income (GNI), with adjustments for external debt and low per capita income.  There were also minimum and maximum rates -- so-called “floor” and “ceiling” –- of assessment.  One of the main features of the scale was a reduction of the ceiling from 25 to 22 per cent, which was then applied to the Organization’s main contributor -– the United States.


By approving, without a vote, the draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the regular budget for 2007-2009, the Committee recommended that the Assembly leave in place the main elements of the 2000 scale, basing individual countries’ assessments on their GNI, with adjustments for external debt and low per capita income, and keeping the “ceiling” at 22 per cent.  Likewise, the Committee approved a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for peacekeeping operations for the same time period.


The Committee also approved by consensus a draft resolution on the United Nations common system, which represented shared standards, methods and arrangements applied to salaries, allowances and benefits for the staff of the United Nations and its specialized agencies and organizations, and covers over 52,000 staff members at various duty stations.


By provisions of the draft, the Assembly would note the decisions of the International Civil Service Commission (ISCS) to establish the level of hazard pay for internationally recruited staff at $1,300 per month.  The current level of hazard pay for locally recruited staff would remain unchanged.  The Assembly would approve the ICSC’s definitions of hardship and mobility as outlined in its 2005 report, as well as arrangements for mobility, hardship, non-removal and assignment grants as set out by the Commission, with effect from 1 January 2007.


The Assembly would further approve, with effect from 1 January 2007, the ICSC recommendation to adjust the base/floor salary scale for the Professional and higher categories by 4.57 per cent through the standard consolidation procedure of reducing post adjustment and increasing base salary on a no loss/no gain basis.  Disappointment would be expressed over insufficient progress with regard to the representation of women in the United Nations common system, in particular at senior levels.


By another text, approved by consensus, on the United Nations pension system, the Assembly would take note of an actuarial surplus of 1.29 per cent of pensionable remuneration as at 31 December 2005 and of 4.3 per cent annualized real rate of return over the 46-year period ending 31 March in the Joint Staff Pension Fund.  That Fund currently consists of 21 member organizations and covers nearly 150,000 participants and beneficiaries worldwide.


By the unanimously approved text on the proposed budget outline for the next biennium, 2008-2009, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to prepare his budget proposal on the basis of an estimate of $4.19 billion at revised 2006-2007 rates.  In connection with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the level of the Contingency Fund be adjusted upward from 0.75 per cent to 1.35 per cent of the overall level of resources, the Assembly would keep the level of that Fund at 0.75 per cent of the preliminary estimate for 2008-2009, namely $31.46 million.


A revised budget appropriation for the 2006-2007 biennium, approved by consensus, would have the Assembly resolve that the amount of $3.83 billion appropriated in its budget resolutions be adjusted by some $343.98 million, and specify the increase of $51.51 million in the revised income estimates of $434.86 million.


The Committee also approved by consensus a 12-part draft resolution on the consideration of special subjects, including on identification of additional resources for the Development Account, which would appropriate from the 2006-2007 programme budget $2.5 million as an exceptional measure to address the Account’s lack of resources.  It also contained provisions on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives.  The text also noted that a balance of $637,300 remained in the Contingency Fund.


The Committee also agreed on a statement of programme budget implications on a Third Committee draft calling for the continuation of the Secretary-General’s good offices relating to the human rights situation in Myanmar.


Finally, the Committee approved a draft decision, by which the Assembly would defer to a later date consideration of reports on the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and on the Secretary-General’s report on the unpaid assessed contributions of the former Yugoslavia.


Closing remarks were made by the Committee’s Chairman Youcef Yousfi ( Algeria), and the representatives of South Africa (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Grenada (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group) and Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group).


The representatives of Japan, Estonia, Angola, United States, South Africa (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Ecuador, Argentina (also on behalf of Brazil and Venezuela), Finland (on behalf of the European Union), Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group) and Lebanon spoke in explanation of vote.


Background


Expected to conclude its session today, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met to act on the outstanding issues on its agenda.


Action


Reaffirming the obligation of all Member States to bear the expenses of the United Nations under the Charter and the fundamental principle that the expenses of the Organization are to be apportioned according to capacity to pay, the Assembly -- by the terms of a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the regular budget of the United Nations for 2007-2009 (document A/C.5/61/L.28) -- would leave in place the main elements of the scale that were initially adopted in 2000.


Similar to the previous scale, the Assembly would base individual countries’ assessments on their gross national income (GNI), with adjustments for external debt and low per capita income.  There are also minimum and maximum rates -- so-called “floor” and “ceiling” –- of assessment.  It would also keep the maximum rate, the “ceiling”, at 22 per cent.  In 2000, that ceiling was reduced from 25 per cent and applied to the Organization’s main contributor, the United States, with the points arising as a result of the change distributed pro rata among other States, except for those affected by the floor (0.001 per cent) and the least developed countries’ ceiling of 0.01 per cent.


Also by the draft, the Assembly would affirm that the determination of the scale shall remain its prerogative and request the Committee on Contributions, in accordance with its mandate and the rules of procedure, to review the elements of the methodology of the scale of assessments, in order to reflect Member States’ capacity to pay and report thereon to the Assembly by the main part of its sixty-third session.  Notwithstanding the terms of financial regulation 3.9, the Secretary-General would be empowered to accept, at his discretion and after consultation with the Chairman of the Committee on Contributions, a portion of the contributions of Member States for the calendar years 2007, 2008 and 2009 in currencies other than the United States dollar.


The Assembly would urge all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without imposing conditions.  It would also take note of the report of the Secretary-General on multi-year payment plans and related conclusions and recommendations of the Committee on Contributions, and encourage Member States in arrears to the United Nations to consider submitting multi-year payment plans.


The draft resolution was approved without a vote.


Speaking after the vote, the representative of Japan, paying tribute to the coordinator, Moreza Mirmohammad ( Iran), said the draft was a product of compromises and concessions.  For Japan, the decision to join consensus had not been easy.  However, all delegations joining consensus had done so in the interest of the Organization of a whole.  The resolution was far from perfect, but it was a fair and best possible compromise.  One of the fundamental questions that Japan had raised, and would continue to raise, concerned equity.  A fair judgment was necessary in a situation where the existing rules did not ensure equity.  The draft text had addressed, albeit modestly, the lopsided situation he had referred to.  Japan had, therefore, decided to join consensus, but reiterated continued interest in rectifying the unfair situation.


The representative of Estonia said he had joined consensus, but stipulated that Estonia stood ready to contribute based on a rate of 0.21 per cent, which currently reflected Estonia’s capacity to pay.  The scale for Estonia appeared lower than anticipated.  His country would, therefore, find additional means to support United Nations institutions.


The representative of Angola said the current result was a reflection of concerns expressed, in conformity with the principle that expenses should be apportioned keeping in mind the capacity to pay.


The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the United Nations common system (document A/C.5/61/L.27), by the terms of which the Assembly would take note of the reports of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) for 2005 and 2006, and invite the Secretary-General, in his capacity as Chairman of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination, to urge the heads of the organizations of the United Nations system to fully support the work of ICSC, including by providing it with timely information for its studies.


Some of the most important outstanding recommendations of ICSC related to changes in the hazard pay and the new arrangements for mobility and hardship allowances.  In that connection, the Assembly would note the decisions of ISCS contained in paragraph 147 and annex III of its 2005 report, for implementation as of 1 January 2007.  [In its 2005 report, ICSC reiterated its commitment to the principle of hazard pay for staff working in dangerous conditions, and decided to establish the level of hazard pay for internationally recruited staff at $1,300 per month.  The current level of hazard pay for locally recruited staff would remain unchanged, at 25 per cent of the midpoint of the local salary scale for General Service staff.]


Commending the ICSC working group for developing proposed changes in the mobility and hardship scheme, the Assembly would approve the definitions of hardship and mobility as outlined in the Commission’s 2005 report, as well as arrangements for mobility, hardship, non-removal and assignment grants as set out by ICSC, with effect from 1 January 2007.


By the draft, the Assembly would also express appreciation for the work of ICSC on the new framework for contractual arrangements –- continuing, fixed-term and temporary -- and note its decisions in that respect.


In connection with the ICSC review of the relationship between the net remuneration of the United Nations staff in the Professional and higher categories in New York and that of the comparator civil service (the United States) employees in comparable positions in Washington, D.C. (referred to as “the margin”), the Assembly would note that the margin between net remuneration of the United Nations staff in grades P-1 to D-2 and that of officials in comparable positions in the United States federal civil service, for the period 1 January to 31 December 2006 stood at 114.3.  It would also reaffirm that the range of 110 to 120 should continue to apply, on the understanding that the margin would be maintained at a level around the desirable midpoint of 115 over a period of time.


The Assembly would further approve, with effect from 1 January 2007, the ICSC recommendation to adjust the base/floor salary scale for the Professional and higher categories by 4.57 per cent through the standard consolidation procedure of reducing post adjustment and increasing base salary on a no loss/no gain basis.

Taking note of a document on the Senior Management Network, the Assembly would also endorse the decision of ICSC contained in paragraph 211 of its 2006 report, where it noted the information provided by the human resources network, which had afforded some clarity on the development and directions of the Senior Management Network and provided an opportunity to raise concerns and identify challenges inherent in implementing such a network.  On the basis of that information, the Commission decided to request similar updates at regular intervals from the human resources network/United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) secretariat.  The Assembly would also request the Commission to continue to monitor the project regarding the improvement of management capacity and performance among senior staff by CEB and to advise and the Assembly, as appropriate.


Expressing disappointment over insufficient progress with regard to the representation of women in the United Nations common system, in particular at senior levels, the Assembly would urge the Commission to continue to make recommendations on practical steps to improve the representation in that regard.


Also by the draft, the Assembly would approve revised amounts of children’s and secondary dependant’s allowances as outlined by ICSC, request it to ensure dedicated project leadership for successful completion of the pilot study of broad-banding/pay-for-performance project, and address measures to strengthen the international civil service.  The Assembly would decide to revert to consideration of the entitlements of internationally recruited staff serving in non-family duty stations at its second resumed session, following receipt of the report of the Commission on that issue.  The Commission would also be requested to consider the effectiveness and impact of measures to promote retention and recruitment, especially in difficult duty stations, and to report thereon at its sixty-third session.


In explanation of position before the vote, the representative of United States said his delegation disassociated itself from consensus.  Hazard pay had long been acknowledged to be a payment of a symbolic nature.  Appreciating the difficulties faced by those serving in areas covered by hazard pay, his Government believed that all possible ways to recognize staff for the difficulties they faced should be identified and discussed.  The resistance to approving a temporary increase while looking into one or more other measures to acknowledge that service and address the matter comprehensively was unfortunate.


He said the intent of the education benefit had been to cover a portion of the expenses commonly associated with attaining the first post-secondary degree granted to eligible dependents.  The current education grant generously compensated staff.  The proposed change would favour one set of students, paying for a portion of an advanced degree.  The result would be that, for certain dependents, the United Nations would be funding a portion of an advanced degree, creating an inequity among the benefits offered to staff.


The Committee approved the draft without a vote.


The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the United Nations pension system (document A/C.5/61/L.29), by which the Assembly would take note of an actuarial surplus of 1.29 per cent of pensionable remuneration as at 31 December 2005 and of 4.3 per cent annualized real rate of return over the 46-year period ending 31 March.  [The Joint Staff Pension Fund currently consists of 21 member organizations and covers nearly 150,000 participants and beneficiaries worldwide.]


In light of the fact that the Committee of Actuaries suggested that a portion of the 2005 surplus could be used to improve benefits, but that prudence would dictate that most of the surplus should be retained, the Assembly would approve the elimination of the limitation of the right to restoration for existing and future participants based on the length of the prior contributory service.  The Assembly would note that the Pension Board intended to keep the possible provision for the purchase of additional years of contributory service under periodic review.


The Assembly would also approve recommendations of the Committee of Actuaries and the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board to lower the current reduction in the first consumer price index adjustments due under the Pension Adjustment System to benefits from 1.0 per cent to 0.5 per cent as from 1 April 2007.


As for the benefit provisions related to family members of participants and retirees, the Assembly would note that the Board agreed that the Fund would record, for the purposes of determining entitlements, the personal status of a participant as recognized and reported to the Fund by the participant’s employing organization.


Regarding revised budget estimates, the Assembly would approve an increase in total additional resources for the 2006-2007 biennium from $108.26 million to $110.67 million for, among other things, adding five new posts to the Investment Management Service for its enhancement, reclassification of two information technology posts in the Fund secretariat and enhancement of external audit functions.


The Assembly would also decide that the International Organization for Migration shall be admitted as a new member organization of the Fund, effective 1 January 2007.


In explanation of position before the vote, the representative of United States said he appreciated the Board’s ongoing study of the situation of pensioners living in countries undergoing dollarization.  The Board had found that the impact in Ecuador was comparable to the one experienced by other retirees living in countries with high inflation rates and with fixed exchange rates.  That was a matter of significance that required objective review.  The Board’s decision of July 2006 had requested the Board’s Chief Executive Officer to meet with the Fund’s retirees in Ecuador and to report on the situation during the next session of the Board.  The United States could not join consensus on a resolution that would prejudge the Board’s ongoing study of the matter.


The draft was approved without a vote.


Speaking after the vote, the representative of South Africa, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Group had expressed concern about the lack of action taken by the Board in response to the 2004 request of the Assembly to provide a solution to attenuate the adverse consequences arising from the dollarization process on retirees and beneficiaries living in Ecuador.  Ecuador had specifically been identified as the only country in which the process had led to a problem in the system.


Expressing satisfaction with the approval of the draft resolution, she noted with concern that only one delegation had disassociated itself from the consensus, even though it was a matter of principle that directly affected Member States and the work of the Organization.  In that context, the Group of 77 looked forward to expeditious action by the Board to implement the mandate given to the Pension Board of the United Nations System, and expected that, by July 2007, the Board would come with an ad hoc measure that would finally address the problem brought about by the dollarization process on retirees and beneficiaries living in Ecuador.


The representative of Ecuador supported the position of the Group of 77 and China, and said that the Pension Fund resolution had been a result of difficult negotiations that related to the defence of the principles of the Charter regarding sovereign equality of all Member States.  He was certain that, with the mandate the Assembly had given to the Pension Board, finally a special measure would be adopted in favour of United Nations retirees and beneficiaries living in Ecuador, in order to diminish in some way the adverse effects of the country’s dollarization.  As clearly affirmed by the Board in its report, that problem had caused the loss of their purchasing power, preventing them from living with the dignity they deserved as retirees.


Furthermore, his delegation expected that the Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Board, in compliance with the mandate, would visit Ecuador as soon as possible, with the aim of achieving a result by July 2007, when the Board should adopt a special measure addressed in the text.


He said that the delegation of Ecuador wanted to acknowledge, once again, the solidarity shown in defence of the principle that was clearly established in the rules and regulations on the pension adjustment system of the Pension Fund.  He also noted with concern that the resolution was being adopted with the disassociation of a Member State, weakening the Fifth Committee’s work, where consensus had been a tradition.  The resolution did not imply huge economic consequences and did not create any precedent, but sought a fair treatment of the retirees and beneficiaries of the United Nations system.


The representative of Argentina, also speaking on behalf of Brazil and Venezuela and aligning himself with the statement on behalf of the Group of 77, regretted that, once again, a delegation had not joined consensus.  The Board had reached a consensus that dollarization had had a negative effect on retirees living in Ecuador.  Despite that finding, consensus had not been reached on how to treat the issue properly, even though Assembly resolution 59/269 had requested proposals to deal with the issue.  Today’s resolution asked that parity would be restored for the purchasing power of retirees living in Ecuador.  He further noted that, during informals, the Secretariat had been sometimes excessive in its involvement in deliberations by expressing views that had not been asked for.


Turning to a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/C.5/61/L.26), the Committee recommended that the Assembly endorse the updated composition of levels to be applied in adjusting regular budget scale rates to establish the rates of assessment for the period 2007-2009, as set forth in the Secretary-General’s report (document A/61/139 and Corr.1, annex II).  The changes are based on average per capita gross national income of Member States during the period 1999-2004.


The Assembly, by the text, would also decide that Montenegro and Serbia should both be assigned to level I for 2006.  The structure of levels of contribution for peacekeeping operations would again be reviewed during the Assembly’s sixty-forth session.


The draft was approved without a vote.


The Committee then approved, also without a vote, a draft decision concerning the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.5/61/L.22) that contained the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/61/L.38/Rev.1, by which the Committee would inform the Assembly that at adoption, additional appropriations of up to $234,800 gross ($198,400 net) would be required for the continuation in 2007 of the good offices of the Secretary-General relating to the situation in Myanmar.  Those requirements had been included in the report of the Secretary-General on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives (document A/61/525/Add.1).


The Committee then turned to a 12-part draft resolution on the consideration of special subjects (document A/C.5/61/L.25).


Section I of the text contained a draft resolution on construction of additional conference facilities at the Vienna International Centre.


By the terms of the text, the Assembly would take note with appreciation of the efforts by the host Government of Austria to construct conference facilities at the Vienna International Centre and take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the matter, also endorsing the recommendations and observations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).


[According to the Secretary-General’s progress report on the project (document A/61/166), the agreement with the Austrian Government to provide a new conference facility sets a ceiling for the project at €52.5 million, of which the United Nations and three other organizations located at the Centre would collectively contribute €2.5 million, payable in 2008-2009.  An agreement on the cost-sharing arrangement has been reached with the participating organizations.  The United Nations share of the costs for the construction amounts to €100,000, payable in 2008.  The maintenance and operation costs of the new conference facility would be shared using the present cost-sharing principle, based on actual usage.]


Section II of the text related to the construction of additional office facilities at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa.  By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would express appreciation for the efforts of the host Government of Ethiopia in facilitating the project and take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the matter, while also endorsing related observations and recommendations of ACABQ.


[According to the Secretary-General’s update on the project (document A/61/158), additional land has been allocated by the host country, and the project time schedule was revised to include construction of the two additional floors.  It is anticipated that the selection of a general contractor will be finalized by the first half of 2007 and that construction work will commence immediately thereafter.  The total estimated cost of the project in the amount of some $11.38 million remains unchanged, as approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 60/248.]


Section III was a draft decision on the contingent liability reserve for the United Nations Postal Administration, by the terms of which the Assembly would take note of relevant reports considered by the Fifth Committee and request the Secretary-General to submit, at the second part of its resumed session, a comprehensive report setting out the options for reducing the risk posed to the Postal Administration by the use of its services for commercial and bulk mail; options other than the establishment of the contingent liability reserve; the status of negotiations between the United Nations Postal Administration and the postal authorities of the countries where it operates; and further elaboration of the proposals contained in the report of the Secretary-General.


Section IV related to a draft resolution on the identification of additional resources for the Development Account.  By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the identification of additional resources for the Development Account (document A/61/282) and the report of ACABQ (document A/61/479).  While expressing regret that the Secretary-General had not provided recommendations on how an estimated $5 million could be added to the Development Account, it would request a report from the Secretary-General reviewing the modalities and rationale for funding the Account; and defining the procedures for identifying efficiencies or other gains, including potential savings, that might be identified by Member States to transfer to the Account.


By further terms, the Assembly would decide to appropriate, under section 34 of the Development Account of the programme budget for 2006-2007, $2.5 million as an exceptional measure to address the Account’s lack of resources.  It would request the Secretary-General to recommend ways to identify a further $2.5 million to be transferred to the Account, and also request an assessment of the impact of the Account on its aims and purposes, by the sixty-second session of the Assembly.


Section V contained a draft resolution on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its first, resumed, second and third sessions, as well as its first through third special sessions in 2006.  By that draft, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its first session and its first and second special sessions in 2006 (document A/61/530 and Add.1), and endorse the related oral report of ACABQ (document A/C.5/61/SR.34).


Presented in section VI was a draft resolution on administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations contained in the ICSC reports for 2005 and 2006.  By that text, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s statement on administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations contained in the reports (documents A/60/30 and Corr.1, and A/61/484, respectively).


Section VII contained a draft resolution on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives.  The draft would have the Assembly endorse the conclusions and recommendations of ACABQ relating to estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council (document A/61/640), subject to provisions of the present resolution.


By further terms, the Assembly would consider the report on that topic when it considers the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009.  It would also underline the importance of ensuring that the highest standards of integrity, competency, impartiality and professionalism were met when appointing the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives and Envoys.


Also by the text, it would request the Secretary-General to include indicators of achievement of the Organization, and not of Member States, when presenting the programme budget.  It would request the Secretary-General to submit future budget proposals in full compliance with resolution 55/231 (on results-based budgeting], and approve $326.5 million for the budgets of special political missions for 2007.  It would take note of the estimated unencumbered balance of some $95.88 million and decide to appropriate an amount of about $230.62 million under political affairs, of the programme budget for 2006-2007.


It would further by the text, decide to appropriate an amount of $22.38 million under staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income from staff assessment, of the programme budget.


Section VIII contained a draft resolution on the first performance report of the 2006-2007 budget.  By the text, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s first performance report on the programme budget for 2006-2007 and its addendum on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, while endorsing the observations and recommendations of ACABQ.


Also in that section, the Assembly would note with concern that, within the context of the 50 posts experiment, no available posts were provided for, and reiterates again on the need to identify available posts to provide for the new posts requested by the first report of ACABQ (resolution 60/246) and to enter into commitments up to $20 million in each biennium for positions and non-post requirements for the purpose of meeting the evolving needs of the Organization (resolution 60/283).


It would approve a net increase of some $81.25 million in the appropriation approved for the biennium 2006-2007 and a net increase of $28.86 million in the estimated income for the biennium, to be apportioned among expenditure and income, as indicated in the Secretary-General’s report.


By the terms of section IX on the revised estimates arising out of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its resumed organizational session and first substantive session of 2006 (document A/61/370) and endorse the related report of ACABQ (document A/61/498).


Section X contained a draft resolution on the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board.  That text would have the Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the administrative and financial implications arising from the report of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (document A/61/577), and request him to report on any additional requirements arising from the Board’s recommendation within the 2006-2007 biennium.


Section XI contained a draft resolution on strengthening the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme and the role of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice as its governing body.  By that text, the Assembly would authorize the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to approve the budget of the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund.  It would request ACABQ to submit its recommendations on the biennial consolidated budget for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to the Commission.


By further terms, the Assembly would request the Commission to report the Assembly, through the Economic and Social Council, at its sixty-second session and request the Secretary-General to promulgate financial rules for the Fund.  It would decide that the Executive Director of UNODC should maintain the Fund’s accounts and be responsible for submitting the accounts and related statements no later than 31 March to the Board of Auditors and for submitting financial reports both to the Commission and General Assembly.


Prior to action on the text, the representative of the United States addressed the text on the Development Account in section IV of the draft resolution.  He recalled that, under the terms of resolution 60/246, the Assembly had requested the Secretary-General to provide recommendations on how additional resources in the region of $5 million could be provided for the Account.  The Secretary-General had noted that it was difficult to identify savings for that purpose.  In fact, programme managers had invariably retained the savings to meet the needs of their programmes.  As a result, the Secretary-General had been unable to identify savings to respond to the request of the General Assembly.  However, some Member States had construed the decision in resolution 60/246 as a decision to add $5 million to the Account.  His delegation saw it only as a commitment to seek such funds to transfer to the Development Account.


In view of the Secretary-General’s inability to identify required savings, a proposal had been made to simply appropriate $2.5 million in new money and request the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on how an additional $2.5 million could be identified for that purpose.  His delegation strongly believed that such an enlargement should be consistent with the intention in establishing the Development Account, specifically that an enlargement in funding should not be funded by new appropriations.  If the General Assembly was to take the extraordinary action of departing from the original intention on funding of the Development Account and the practice since its establishment, in relation to the second proposed enlargement, the Secretary-General should be asked to review all the options short of an appropriation.  One important possibility was identifying savings from a review of mandates, particularly in the development area.


His Government could not agree to that proposal, but did not want to stand in the way of the approval of the text.  Thus, his delegation disassociated from the consensus.


The draft was then approved without a vote.


Addressing the issue of the Development Account, the representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, since its inception, the Development Account had not received any additional allocations from savings, contrary to the mandate adopted.  For that reason, the Assembly had decided during its last budget negotiations to allocate an additional $5 million to the Account and to request the Secretary-General to recommend ways in which that amount could be added.  The Secretary-General had done as requested.


She said that, if Member States could not accept whatever recommendation the Secretary-General had made, the Group believed it was incumbent on them to honour the political commitment and decision made to add $5 million to the Account, especially in the context in which that decision had been made and at a time when other Member States had agreed to adopt by consensus other decisions that were politically unacceptable.  She did understand, however, the difficulties faced by some delegations, because of the nature of the negotiations that had led to the adoption of the decision on the Development Account.  In that context, she appreciated the spirit of compromise shown by delegations in arriving at today’s outcome, and she hoped that the review and report requested in the draft would assist Member States in demonstrating stronger support for the Development Account, which was for the benefit of countries in all the regions of the United Nations system.  Clearly, for the record, the Secretary-General should strictly implement the provisions of the text just adopted.  She did not support the interpretation of the draft that the Committee had heard today.


The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, referred to revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council, specifically on preparations for the Durban Review Conference, as contained in section V of the draft.  The Union regretted that, late in the session, the Committee was faced with a revised estimate resulting from a Human Rights Council resolution that was inconsistent with a resolution on the same matter by the Third Committee.  Thus, the Union was concerned that the legal basis for that budget request was unclear.  In accordance with the role and responsibility of the Fifth Committee, the Union would deal with that issue in a technical way.  Thus, the Union had not opposed the adoption of that specific revised estimate, but wished to underline that the decision was entirely without prejudice to its position on the substantive or financial issue now or any future stage.


Japan’s representative explained her delegation’s position on section IV on the Development Account.  She firmly supported consensus decision-making in the Fifth Committee and had participated in the effort to reach agreement.  Her delegation had supported the establishment of the Development Account, to be funded from savings.  The additional appropriations just adopted represented a clear deviation from the resolution establishing the Account.  The appropriation of $2.5 million was an exceptional measure, as clearly stated in paragraph 5 of the draft.


The representative of Pakistan associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and addressed the provisions of section VII relating to special political missions.  Paragraph 6 of that draft captured the essence of the difficulty for many delegations in endorsing the budget proposals in that regard.  [By that paragraph, the Assembly would note the concerns expressed by Member States and request the Secretary-General to review the logical frameworks for all special political missions, in order to ensure that their programmatic aspects and resource requirements are consistent with mandates of the General Assembly and the Security Council, and to report thereon no later than the early part of the second resumed session.]  The issue needed further deliberation, but the late submission of the report had created difficulty in reaching a comprehensive decision.


He said the Committee had had to leave out the OIOS report on the audit of the management of special political missions by the Department of Political Affairs.  He hoped it would be able to take that aspect into consideration when presented with the report, as requested in paragraph 6.  That would provide the basis for discussion on the whole scope of political missions, particularly their conformity with relevant mandates.  That was imperative in applying results-based budgeting, as mandates of the bodies could not be separated from their budgeting.  Otherwise, the Assembly would be just rubber-stamping other bodies’ decisions.


The representative of Iran, addressing section VII on estimates regarding special political missions, said it had not been easy for his delegation to restrain itself, but it believed in a well budgeted United Nations and was also devoted to consensus.  However, that restraint should not be taken for granted.  The time and resources consumed could have been avoided if a more cautious approach had been taken in approaching missions in sensitive regions.  The reports of the special political mission reflected the lack of impartiality and professionalism of the special envoys and representatives in highly sensitive regions.  The negative impact of late issuance of documentation had put Member States under heavy pressure, as well.


He said it was a genuine concern that lack of accountability and transparency measures were impeding the special political missions from functioning properly.  A framework should be developed to respond to that concern along the lines of the OIOS report.  Adherence of reports to the principles of results-based budgeting provisions remained of concern.  Indicators should be linked clearly to the defined mandates of the special political missions and not to the political considerations and the achievements of individual Member States.  The current situation was not acceptable and the logical framework in at least one case did not comply fully with the results-based budgeting provisions.  His delegation had arrived at the conclusion that Security Council mandated special political missions should be financed in accordance with peacekeeping rates of assessment.  The current situation had limited the role of the Fifth Committee to rubberstamping the reports of such missions.  It did not seem prudent for the Assembly to include financing for the missions in the regular budget framework, if it could not perform its programmatic role appropriately


The representative of Nigeria, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Group had joined consensus on the understanding that the Secretariat, in implementing the recommendation of ACABQ, would be guided by the Advisory Committee’s comments, ensuring that the special political missions in Africa would receive full funding.  Implementation of the resolution must not impact negatively on the African missions.  Budgetary control of the special political missions in the Department of Political Affairs showed some weaknesses.  She, therefore, reiterated the request to the Secretary-General to submit proposals on measures to adequately address those weaknesses.  The African Group thanked Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his tireless efforts, in particular in using his good offices in the area of preventive diplomacy.


Lebanon’s representative thanked all the delegations that had shown flexibility in adopting the draft on special political missions.  He wanted to make it clear that his understanding of paragraph 6 of section VII was that the logical framework that the Secretariat had provided for all political missions concerning Lebanon, and especially indicators of achievement in that regard, were beneficial for Lebanon and its neighbouring countries.  His only concern was that those indicators did not include violations of Lebanese sovereignty and existence of foreign troops in Lebanon.  Otherwise, the logical framework reflected the mandate exactly, and the Secretariat was acting exactly as mandated by the Council.


The Director of Programme Planning and Budget Division, SHARON VAN BUERLE, then made a statement on the Contingency Fund, stating that a balance of $637,300 now remained.  The Chairman of ACABQ, RAJAT SAHA said that the Advisory Committee had taken note of that balance.


The Committee then recommended that the Assembly note that a balance of $637,300 remained in the Contingency Fund.  That decision was to be inserted as section XII of draft resolution A/C.5/61/L.25, just approved by the Committee.


The Committee then turned its attention to its draft report contained in document A/C.5/61/L.30, which contained two draft resolutions.  Draft resolution I, on the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007 had been adopted today as “Consideration of special subjects” (document A/C.5/61/L.25).  The two draft decisions in the report had also been adopted at previous meetings.


Draft resolution II related to revised budget appropriations for the 2006-2007 biennium.  By the terms of part A of the draft, the Assembly would resolve that the amount of $3.83 billion appropriated in its budget resolutions be adjusted by some $343.98 million.  Part B specified the increase of $51.51 million in the revised income estimates of $434.86 million.  Part C of the draft related to the financing of the appropriations for the year 2007.


The Committee first approved draft resolution II without a vote and then adopted the report as a whole.


The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the proposed budget outline for the next biennium, 2008-2009 (document A/C.5/61/L.21), by the terms of which the Assembly would reaffirm that the budget outline should contain a preliminary estimate of resources needed to accommodate the proposed activities during the biennium, the Organization’s priorities; real growth, positive or negative, compared with the previous budget; and size of the Contingency Fund.  It would also reaffirm that the outline should provide a greater level of predictability of resources for the biennium and promote greater involvement of Member States in the budgetary process, thereby facilitating the broadest possible agreement on the budget.  The budget proposals should reflect resource levels commensurate with the mandates, for their full and effective implementation.


Noting that the budget outline is a preliminary estimate of resources, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to prepare his budget proposal for the next biennium on the basis of an estimate of $4.19 billion at revised 2006-2007 rates.  In connection with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the level of the Contingency Fund be adjusted upward by 0.6 per cent, from 0.75 per cent to 1.35 per cent of the overall level of resources, the Assembly would decide to set the level of that fund at 0.75 per cent of the preliminary estimate for 2008-2009, namely $31.46 million, requesting the Secretary-General to review the experience of the utilization of the Fund and report to the Assembly at its next session.


The Assembly would further take note of the observation of ACABQ that, as the Contingency Fund was set at a percentage of the overall level of resources, its amount increased with the size of the budget.  Moreover, the level of the contingency fund had almost never been exceeded.  Furthermore, in its resolution 60/283, the Assembly authorized the Secretary-General a limited discretion for budgetary implementation for the biennia 2006-2007 and 2008-2009, to enter into commitments up to $20 million in each biennium to meet the evolving needs of the Organization in attaining its mandated programmes and activities.  Under the circumstances, ACABQ recommended that the level of the Contingency Fund for 2008-2009 remain at 0.75 per cent.  In that connection, the Assembly, by today’s draft, would stress that the limited discretion experiment should not imply changes to the provisions guiding the use of the Contingency Fund.


Also according to the draft, the priorities of the United Nations for 2008-2009 would include maintenance of international peace and security; promoting sustainable economic growth and development; development of Africa; promotion of human rights; effective coordination of humanitarian assistance; justice and international law; disarmament; and drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.


The draft was approved without a vote.


By a draft decision contained in document A/C.5/61/L.31 and approved without a vote, the Assembly would defer to the resumed part of its sixty-first session consideration of the report of OIOS for the period from 1 July 2005 to 30 June (document A/61/264 Part I and Adds.1-2); the report of OIOS on the inspection of the programme and administrative management of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (document A/61/61); and the note by the Secretary-General on that report (document A/61/61/Add.1).


By the draft decision, the Assembly would defer to its sixty-second session consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the unpaid assessed contributions of the former Yugoslavia (A/60/140); a letter from the Permanent Representative of Slovenia (document A/C.5/61/11); a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Assembly (document A/56/767); and a note by the Secretary-General on the outstanding assessed contributions of the former Yugoslavia (document A/58/189).


The representative of Belgium said that, as coordinator on the reports of OIOS, he had not been able to achieve consensus, as one Member State had a concern.  However, he was optimistic that, in March, he could get the resolution on track.


Closing


The Committee’s Chairman, YOUCEF YOUSFI ( Algeria), thanked all delegates for their contribution to the Committee’s achievements.  The workload and pressure of time had been heavy.  However, as usual, delegates had risen above particular interests to let the Organization carry out its mandates.  He congratulated the delegates with the spirit of compromise and flexibility.  He then went on to thank the members of the Bureau, the coordinators, and all members of the Secretariat, without whom the work would have been impossible.


Expressing appreciation with the outcome of the session, the representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, thanked the Chairman, the members of the Bureau, Member States and members of the Secretariat.  “Today, every one of us can be proud of not only concluding almost every single item that we considered, but also for taking decisions that will ensure the effective functioning of the Organization,” she said.


The Fifth Committee had approved a historic resolution that would ensure that the long overdue renovation of the Headquarters would proceed without any further delay, she said.  Three resolutions dealing with reform-related matters had been approved, thus setting the framework for future reform efforts and putting some very contentious issues related to governance to rest “once and for all”.  The strategic framework for the Organization had been approved, as well as the budget outline.  Mentioning other accomplishments of the session, she said that, most importantly, the Committee had been able to approve the scale of assessments for the next three years.


Congratulatory statements were also made by the representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union; the representative of Grenada, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group; and the representative of Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group.


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For information media • not an official record