|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
1st Meeting (AM)
Budget Committee Holds Organizational Meeting
As they swiftly adopted their programme of work for the sixty-fifth session today, delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) stressed the need for the Secretariat’s timely submission of more than 150 documents and the efficient use of resources, as they aim to wrap up an intensive agenda by 10 December.
Opening the organizational meeting, Committee Chairperson Gert Rosenthal ( Guatemala) said the delegates had to balance their main role, representing what each perceived as the interest of its respective country, with a collective responsibility for the smooth management of the United Nations. “It is in the Fifth Committee where management policies and the allocation of resources are shaped, which form pillars of the workings of an intergovernmental organization such as ours,” said Mr. Rosenthal, who was chair of the Committee during the fifty-fifth session in 2000-2001.
“This was neither the place nor the time to enter into philosophical meanderings on the role of the Fifth Committee…or more generally, the General Assembly, but the main point is that the work we undertake, individually and collectively, is very important,” said Mr. Rosenthal.
This session will zero in on human resources management. The delegates will receive briefings on management in the United Nations, human resources management, the United Nations Common system, information and communications technology and Umoja/enterprise resources planning, as well as on the Capital Master Plan and space planning for the next 20 years.
Mr. Rosenthal said document A/C.5/65/L.1, the status of the preparedness of relevant documentation, had to be submitted in advance of today’s meeting for issuance in the six official languages and did not reflect subsequent updates. Also, a separate list on the status of documentation would be issued for the Committee’s first and second resumed sessions.
Turning to the Assembly’s efforts to streamline the resolution process, he said resolutions should only request reports from the Secretary-General in cases where the report was indispensable for facilitating implementation. Resolutions should be short and focus on the action-oriented paragraphs.
The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union and Associated States, said he believed the Committee would be able to conclude its work by the 10 December deadline, thereby enhancing the quality of all the already outstanding work done by all delegations. The timely submission of all required documents in all official languages had an important impact on the Committee’s discussions. “The quality and speed of our deliberation depend on this,” he said.
Regarding the current 2010-2011 programme budget, the European Union reiterated that “a piecemeal approach” that would substantially increase an already agreed programme budget had to be avoided. The 2010-2011 budget adopted last December was $5.156 billion, up 5.5 per cent from the previous biennium. Add-ons to the regular budget, proposed at this stage by the Secretariat, already totalled more than $350 million. If agreed to as proposed, the 2010-2011 budget would increase by more than 12 per cent.
“The [European Union] will carefully scrutinize each new proposal on its individual merits, thereby carefully balancing the immediate needs of the organization with the imperative of the current fiscal climate that exists,” he said.
The preparation of the regular budget outline for the biennium 2012-2013 was very important for the Organization and gave the Committee a chance to assign priorities to budget items and discuss how to include all foreseeable expenses in the biennial budget draft. The European Union would support the management reform processes and efforts to modernize the Organization and make it more effective and efficient.
He said ensuring the Organization’s effective financing was the joint responsibility of the membership. While the EU had, and would continue, to protect the most vulnerable countries from making excessive contributions to the budget, all Member States with the capacity should assume a larger share of the Organization’s expenses. The Assembly had recognized in resolution 64/248 that the current methodology for sharing the cost could be enhanced, and the EU was looking forward to discussing the best way to move the review of this critical issue forward.
The representative of Chile, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said Member States were concerned about the renovation work, brought about by the Capital Master Plan, that had made the electronic voting system unusable. He urged the Secretariat to find an immediate solution. The Group also gave special priority to the needs of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, and welcomed all efforts to promote the reconstruction and rapid recovery of the peacekeeping mission. It was important to provide the financial resources for the mission to continue its work.
The Group commended the creation of UN Women and the appointment of Michelle Bachelet as Under-Secretary-General. It fell to the Committee to analyze the structure and regular budget of that body. Noting that the greater part of the proposed increase of the 2010-2011 budget was for Special Political Missions, it was urgent that the Committee find alternative ways to finance these missions. Chile also would closely follow talks on the scale of assessments, human resources management, the pension system, the new system of administration of justice and the recommendation of the judges of the different tribunals.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the representative of Yemen noted that the goal of 90 per cent compliance for the timely submission of documents had not been met and he expected additional progress. He stressed the need to carry out negotiations in “an open, inclusive and transparent manner, rather than decision-making based on small group configurations”.
The permanent representative of Pakistan, aligned with the remarks made by Group of 77 and China, welcomed the designation of coordinators to ease negotiations. He stressed the need for additional improvement in the submission of documents and the need to use bold print for the document’s conclusions and recommendations. Noting a recent trend of “unnecessary and artificial linkages” between various issues, he said this practice should be discouraged since it prevented the consideration of issues according to their own merit and substance. And in order to conserve resources, he said the practice of seeking additional supplementary information in writing should be limited only when it was absolutely essential.
The representative to Japan said his country believed good management human resources was the key to a bright future for the United Nations and he urged the Secretariat to provide sufficient information in a timely manner, including information on the future implications of these proposals. It was difficult to exaggerate the value of effective and efficient management. Thus, Japan would closely consider the reports on the administration of justice, procurement, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, information and communications technology and enterprise resource planning, and aim to make a decision on whether or not the current system and new initiatives would serve the long-term interest of the Organization and Member States.
As a strong supporter of fiscal discipline, Japan commended efforts to refrain from submitting add-ons and taking piecemeal approaches and would scrutinize those requests carefully in order to keep additional expenses to a minimum.
In other business, the Committee set 5 November for elections under Agenda Item 116 for appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments. It set 15 October as the deadline for the submission of candidates.
The Committee will take up the scale of assessments for the apportionment of expenses of the United Nations at 10 a.m. Monday, 4 October.
* *** *For information media • not an official record