28 March 2008
General Assembly

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

Sixty-second General Assembly

Fifth Committee

36th Meeting (PM)



Texts on Internal Oversight, Joint Inspection Unit Also Approved;

Procurement, Strengthening Department of Political Affairs among Issues Deferred

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) concluded its first resumed session this afternoon, making recommendations to the General Assembly on such important issues on its agenda as financing for special political missions and missions of the Peacebuilding Commission, financial implications of the decisions of the Human Rights Council, strengthening investigations within the United Nations, work of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) and conditions of service of international courts’ judges.

The Committee recommended approval of additional budgets for special political missions for 2008 totalling some $48.95 million net for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas, the United Nations Representative to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board and the Office of the Special Envoy for the future status process for Kosovo, as well as revised 2008 budgets for the United Nations Mission in Nepal and the Political Office for Somalia.  Taking note of the balance of $17.32 million in the overall provisions for special political missions in the 2008-2009 budget, an additional amount of $31.63 million would be appropriated under the procedure provided for in paragraph 11 of resolution 41/213.

The Committee also recommended maintaining the staffing for the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Lord’s Resistance Army-affected areas at the level currently funded, under the provisions of its resolution 62/239 on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses.  The staffing and resource allocation for that mission would be reviewed in the context of the 2009 budget proposal for special political missions during the Assembly’s sixty-third session.  The Assembly would decide to redeploy 22 local-level positions from the electoral assistance office of the United Nations Mission in Nepal according to the needs of the Mission.

In connection with the financing of field missions of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Assembly -- based on the Fifth Committee recommendations -- would take note of the preliminary estimate of $676,300 for that purpose under the 2008‑2009 budget and endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the matter.

Addressing revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council, the Committee recommended that the Assembly take note of the preliminary estimated requirements of $2.92 million for 2008-2009, while also taking note of the fact that some $2.45 million had already been included in the programme budget for the biennium and that the balance of $466,700 was to be considered in the context of a consolidated statement of requirements arising from the continuing review by the Human Rights Council of its subsidiary machinery.  The Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in a related report of the ACABQ and request the Secretary-General to submit proposals to improve the procedure for presenting the financial requirements arising from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council.

The special political missions, field missions of the Peacebuilding Commission and decisions of the Human Rights Council are addressed in a three-part draft resolution contained in document A/C.5/62/L.30, one of six drafts that were approved without a vote this afternoon.

Having considered the proposals of the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services to improve the timeliness and quality of investigations within the United Nations, as well as the Secretary-General’s request for a mandate for a comprehensive review of United Nations investigations, the Committee recommended that the Secretary-General provide, in close cooperation with the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), detailed information on terms of reference with regard to the proposed comprehensive review before the Assembly decided on its necessity, taking into account the role and mandate of the OIOS.  By the same draft -- (document A/C.5/62/L.29) -- the Assembly would also request updated and detailed information on all the entities other than OIOS carrying out administrative inquiries and other aspects of the proposed investigation measures.

While noting with appreciation the efforts by the Office of Internal Oversight Services to improve the conduct of its investigations by applying international best practices and ensuring respect for due process rights of all United Nations staff, the Assembly would also stress that the lack of explicitly written rules and regulations for procedures relating to investigations negatively affected fairness and due process.  It would also express concern that the current investigations manual of the OIOS appeared to lack useful and practical information for investigators compared with similar manuals used in other international organizations and also appeared not to contain sufficient working instructions for conducting investigations.

Acting on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit for 2007 and its programme of work for 2008, the Committee, by another draft resolution (document A/C.5/62/L.28), recommended that the Assembly welcome progress in the JIU reform process and encourage further efforts on the part of participating organizations to consider its recommendations.  Among other things, the text would have the Assembly request executive heads of organizations to submit their comments and distribute reports in time for consideration by legislative organs and fully assist the Unit with the timely provision of all information requested by it.

Further by the text, the Unit would be requested to study the feasibility of using a web-based system to monitor the status of its recommendations and receive updates from individual organizations and to provide a detailed explanation of the nature and scope of the investigations it envisioned conducting.  The Assembly would express its readiness to apply the follow-up system to review recommendations of the Unit requiring the Assembly’s action and would affirm that oversight is a shared responsibility among Member States, the organizations and the internal and external oversight bodies.

By the terms of another draft (document A/C.5/62/L.31), the Assembly would set, effective 1 April 2008, the annual base salary of the members of the International Court of Justice and judges and ad litem judges of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda at $158,000, with corresponding multipliers applied, as appropriate, in the Netherlands and the United Republic of Tanzania.

By the terms of its draft decision A/C.5/62/L.32, the Assembly would defer to either its second resumed, or sixty-third session, consideration of several reports on the Fifth Committee’s agenda, including those on United Nations procurement activities, strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs, some aspects of human resources management reform, and comprehensive proposal on incentives to retain staff of the International Tribunals.

And finally, by the terms of a draft resolution on human resources management (document A/C.5/62/L.33), the Assembly would decide to continue its consideration of the issues of contractual arrangements and conditions of service, including in United Nations field operations, as a matter of priority, at the main part of its sixty-third session, taking into account the conclusions and recommendations of the ACABQ, with a view to the implementation of the new arrangements and conditions on 1 July 2009.

Several speakers, including the representatives of Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) Argentina, Bangladesh and New Zealand (also on behalf of Australia and Canada) expressed disappointment that the Committee had been unable to reach consensus on a more substantive human resources management resolution.  The coordinator of negotiations on the draft, the representative of Australia, thanked those delegates who had expressed appreciation for her work, saying that the Committee had come very close to consensus.  She expressed hope that the negotiations conducted so far in the effort to improve the conditions of service of staff and administration of human resources management reform would serve as a good basis for future work on the item.

Closing statements were made by the representatives of Slovenia (on behalf of the European Union), Mexico (on behalf of the Rio Group), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Nepal and United States, who acknowledged the efforts of everybody involved and thanked their colleagues for their hard work.  At the same time, several speakers expressed regret that the Committee had been unable to reach agreement on some items on its agenda, including procurement and strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs. Nepal’s representative also expressed appreciation for the approval of the text on the financing of special political missions, in particular the United Nations Mission in Nepal.  A statement was also made by the Committee’s Acting Chairman.

The Committee’s second resumed session will take place from 5 to 31 May 2008.

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For information media • not an official record