|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
23rd & 24th Meetings (AM & PM)
Fifth Committee Takes Up $676 Million Proposal to Finance 29 Political
Missions in 2011, as well as Budget Outline for 2012-2013 Biennium
As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the proposed financing for 29 special political missions for 2011, some delegates warned of the problems posed by the expanding and fluctuating financial demands those missions were placing on the Organization’s budget resources, an impact even seen in the outline presented today by Secretariat officials for the 2012-2013 budget cycle.
United Nations Controller Jun Yamazaki, introducing the Secretary-General’s reports on the missions and the proposed budget outline, said that if the spending earmarked for the missions, which covered everything from the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), were not included, the proposed budget outline would increase by only 1.4 per cent, or $56.9 million, to $4.25 billion. If provisions for those missions were included, the budget would be up by 5.8 per cent, or $297.1 million, to $5.46 billion.
Mr. Yamazaki said the total budget requirements for the 29 special political missions for 2011, part of the Organization’s current 2010-2011 budget cycle, totalled $676.42 million. Requirements for each mission varied widely, ranging from $629,200 to more than $270 million and requirements for the two largest missions — UNAMA and UNAMI — accounted for about $478 million, or 70.6 per cent, of the total resources requested.
After the report on the political missions was introduced, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe gave the Committee an outline on the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs since the General Assembly had adopted resolution 63/261. That resolution required the report now before the Committee. Regarding special political missions, he said the Department had focused on making its integrated peacebuilding offices function more smoothly. Vacancies in all the missions, for example, had been reduced from 35.3 per cent in December 2009 to 29.4 per cent as of 1 November 2010. Other improvements were the development of United Nations regional offices over the past several years, such as the United Nations Regional Centre for Central Asia, which provided the Department with a presence on the ground, “where it counts”.
During the debate on the item, Mexico’s delegate said the Organization’s budget for the special political missions had increased throughout the years, as the missions kept growing in size, needs and scope. They seemed to inherit the structure of the peacekeeping operations from which they emanated, even though they were backed with regular budget resources. It was imperative for the Secretariat to explore alternative ways to finance the missions and she urged the Secretary-General to quickly turn out a report on the financing options.
Côte d’Ivoire’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted that the missions’ operational activities did not let them fully integrate into the Secretariat’s programme of work or follow the regular budget cycle. Thus, it might be appropriate to separate their financing from the regular budget and perhaps address them in a manner similar to peacekeeping.
Regarding the Secretariat’s outline for the two-year budget cycle beginning in January 2012, the Republic of Korea’s delegate said it did not provide a systemic mechanism to identify obsolete activities that should be ended, or place a cap on the Secretary-General’s spending. He asked the Secretary-General to investigate a more sustainable method to formulate and present the budget proposal. All the potential add-ons from proposals now before the Assembly meant the preliminary estimate of resources could far exceed the current increase of 5.8 per cent, he added.
Cuba’s delegate noted that the portion of budget resources earmarked for “international cooperation for development” and “regional cooperation for development” was only 0.7 per cent, placing those items in the low growth parts of the budget, compared to the previous budget cycle. She was concerned that the development account was at the same level, $23.7 million, as the previous biennium, far below the agreed level of $200 million. Meanwhile, the financing of special political missions had been increased by $240 million. It was regrettable, she said, that the Organization’s activities to help developing countries to achieve higher levels of economic and social development had been “sacrificed over time”.
Susan McLurg, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) introduced the Committee’s reports on the budget and special political missions.
Gregory Starr, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Safety and Security, provided an overview of developments in the United Nations Security Management System, including a revised accountability framework and the new security level system.
Other delegates speaking on the topic of special political missions, the strengthening of the department of political affairs and safety and security issues were the representatives of Yemen (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Canada (on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Syria, Iran, Qatar, Japan, Brazil, Iraq, South Africa and Nicaragua.
Addressing the Committee on the proposed budget outline were Yemen (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), the United States and Mexico.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 16 December, to discuss the financing for the International Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the programme budget implications associated with Myanmar and a memorial to remember victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) had before it more than a dozen reports on several topics, including the Organization’s 29 special political missions, strengthening the Department of Political Affairs, and Safety and Security, all of which fall within the agenda item, “Programme budget: Biennium 2010-2011”. Concerning the upcoming budget, under the agenda item “Review of efficiency - 2012-2013 budget outline”, the Committee was to consider two reports.
On the special political missions, the Committee has before it six reports of the Secretary-General, two Corrigenda, and a report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). The Secretary-General’s report, 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/65/328) that was issued 27 October 2010.
The report contains the proposed funding requirements for the second year of the 2010-2011 budget cycle for 29 special political missions stemming from actions taken (or expected to be taken) by the General Assembly or Security Council, based on requests from Member States and/or recommendations of the Secretary-General. The details of the missions are set out in the addenda (documents A/65/328/Add. 1-5).
The estimated requirements for these missions total nearly $676.4 million net ($716.9 million gross). After taking into account the overall estimated additional requirements at the end of 2010 ($8.59 million gross), the additional amount being sought totals $685 million ($725.49 million gross). About $430.47 million would be met by the balance of the undistributed provision for special political missions. The remaining $254.53 million would be addressed in accordance with paragraph 11 of annex I to Assembly resolution 41/213 of 19 December 1986 under section 3, Political affairs, of the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.
In its resolution 64/245, the General Assembly approved budgets for special political missions for 2010 of $569.5 million net and decided that the overall provision for special political missions for the biennium 2010-2011 should be $1 billion. The mandates of most of the special political missions detailed in the report have been renewed or extended into 2011, and requests for the extension or renewal of the mandates of the other missions are before, or being submitted to, the Security Council.
The report separates the 29 missions into the following categories:
Eight missions have open-ended mandates: the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus; the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide; the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara; the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004); the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL); the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA); the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS); and United Nations support for the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission.
Nine missions have mandates expiring in 2011: support to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1540 (2004) on non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction; the Monitoring Group on Somalia, the Group of Experts on Côte d’Ivoire; the Panel of Experts on the Islamic Republic of Iran; the Panel of Experts on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL); the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1526 (2004) concerning Al-Qaida and the Taliban and associated individuals and entities; the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA); and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
One mission - the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Myanmar - is under consideration by the Assembly.
There is some level of uncertainty regarding the mandates of two missions. Owing to uncertainty regarding the extension beyond 31 December 2010 of the mandate of the United Nations Representative on the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, no budgetary provisions were made for 2011. On the basis of Security Council resolution 1939 (2010), the current mandate of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) will end on 15 January 2011 and the Mission will enter into a liquidation phase.
Eight remaining missions have mandates expiring in 2010: the Panel of Experts on Liberia; the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Panel of Experts on the Sudan; the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA); the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS); the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB); the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA); and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED).
The Security Council has also provided a new mandate for the establishment of the United Nations Office for Central Africa for a two-year period, starting 1 January 2011.
In the report, the Secretary-General asks the Assembly to approve the budgets totalling $676.42 million for the 29 special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Council and reflected in table 1 of the report; and take note of the net additional requirements for 2010, totalling $8.59 million.
He also asks the Assembly to take note of the undistributed balance of $430.47 million, under the provision for special political missions of the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011, and appropriate $254.53 million under section 3, Political affairs, of the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011, in accordance with the procedures provided for in paragraph 11 of annex I to resolution 41/213 of 19 December 1986. Further, he asks it to appropriate $40.49 million under section 36, Staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment, of the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.
As in 2010, the budget proposals for special political missions for 2011 are organized in the following thematic clusters and included in the designated reports: Thematic cluster I: special and personal envoys, and special advisers of the Secretary-General (documents A/65/328/Add.1 and Add.1/Corr.1); Thematic cluster II: sanctions monitoring teams, groups and panels (documents A/65/328/Add.2 and Add.2/Corr.1); Thematic cluster III: United Nations offices, peacebuilding support offices, integrated offices and commissions (document A/65/328/Add.3).
The budgets for the larger missions are presented in separate addenda: UNAMA (document A/65/Add.4); and UNAMI (document A/65/328/Add.5).
In the addendum to the report, Thematic cluster I: special and personal envoys and special advisers of the Secretary-General (document A/65/328/Add.1), the Secretary-General outlines the proposed resource requirements for 2011 for six special political missions grouped under the thematic cluster of special and personal envoys and special advisers of the Secretary-General. The estimated requirements for 2011 for the special political missions grouped under this cluster total $8.8 million.
The net additional requirements being sought for these six special political missions amount to about $7.7 million, taking into account an estimated balance of $968,000 that is expected to remain unencumbered for the six missions at the end of 2010.
A corrigendum (document A/65/328/Add.1/Corr.1) provides revisions to the tables included in paragraph 1 and paragraph 95 of the Secretary-General’s report.
Concerning Thematic cluster II: sanctions monitoring teams, groups and panels (document A/65/328/Add.2), the Secretary-Generals outlines the proposed resource requirements for 2011 for 10 special political missions created by decisions of the Security Council and grouped under the thematic cluster of sanctions monitoring teams, groups and panels.
It details a new requirement, provisions for the Panel of Experts on Iran that was established by Security Council resolution 1929 (2010) in June 2010. The estimated requirements for 2011 for the special political missions grouped under this cluster total $29.9 million. Considering the estimated balance of $1.08 million expected to remain unencumbered for nine of those missions at the end of 2010, the additional amount being sought for the 10 missions totals $28.79 million.
The Corrigendum (document A/65/328/Add.2.Corr.1) includes revisions in paragraphs 12 and 148 of the report.
A third report on Thematic cluster III: United Nations offices, peacebuilding support offices, integrated offices and commissions (document A/65/328/Add.3) includes the proposed resource requirements for 11 special political missions grouped under the thematic cluster of United Nations offices, peacebuilding support offices, integrated offices and commissions, which emanate from the decisions of the Security Council.
The estimated requirements for 2011 for these 11 special political missions grouped total $160 million (net). After taking into account the estimated balance of some $3.23 million expected to remain unencumbered for the 11 missions at the end of 2010, the additional amount being sought for the missions under the cluster amounts to $156.87 million.
In a separate report, the Secretary-General outlined the finances of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (document A/65/328/Add.4), which contains the proposed resource requirements for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011, totalling some $270 million (net). It is expected that the Mission’s projected expenditures for 2010 will total nearly $238.6 million, producing an over-expenditure of about $11.67 million. After considering the over-expenditure, the net amount being sought for 2011 totals about $281.68 million.
Also a final report on special political missions contains the proposed resource requirements for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (document A/65/328/Add.5) for the period from 1 January to 21 December 2011, totalling $207.73 million net. After considering the anticipated $2.2 million over-expenditure of the 2010 appropriation, the total net requirements for 2011 will total $209.93 million.
The report also includes an update on the status of the construction project related to the planned integrated headquarters compound construction project in Baghdad. The report states that range of activities implemented in 2011 will depend on available resources and the evolving security and operational environment. To that end, UNAMI will continue to re-evaluate and adjust its internal operational capacity and security structures, and consolidate its presence across the country into four main hubs, including Baghdad, Erbil, Kirkuk and Basra. Because of the withdrawal of United States Forces and the expiration of the 607 Agreement, among others, UNAMI will need to become operationally self-reliant during 2011. Increased resources and support will be critical during the transition period. As the United States Forces draw down and UNAMI takes on the responsibility for greater security management, a significant increase in resources, including security personnel, will be required.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, Implementation of General Assembly resolution 63/261 on the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs and 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/65/602), issued 8 December 2010.
Turning to the revamping of the Department of Political Affairs, the Committeehad before it the Secretary-General’s report, Implementation of General Assembly resolution 63/261 on the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs (document A/65/161), issued 22 July 2010.
In its resolution 63/261, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to submit, at its sixty-fifth session, a comprehensive report on the efficiency and effectiveness of the new structure and approved 49 out of the 101 requested posts. It structured the Department by splitting the Asia and Pacific Division and the Americas and Europe Division, which resulted in six regional divisions: Africa I Division, Africa II Division, Middle East and West Asia Division, Asia and Pacific Division, Americas Division and the Europe Division.
The Assembly also endorsed the establishment of a Policy Planning and Mediation Support Division and Counter-Terrorism Task Force Office.
The revisions were seen to strengthen the Department’s ongoing transformation into a more proactive platform for conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding, leading to an increased demand for its services, the report states. It was noted that the increase in resources had helped the Department’s Divisions to focus on conflict prevention efforts by dedicating more time to developing comprehensive strategies that addressed the deep-rooted causes of conflict.
Several challenges remained. While the implementation of the resolution greatly improved the Department’s capacity to deliver on its core mandates activities, the fact that only half the number of posts requested was approved meant the Department continued to operate with insufficient capacity in a number of areas, requiring it to rely on extrabudgetary and other ad hoc arrangements. Also, relations with Member States and managerial oversight were hampered by the lack of consistency in the appointments of division heads across the establishment of the six regional divisions.
External relations lacked any dedicated in-house capacity to effectively communicate. Field missions lacked effective funding modalities requiring them to rely on the regular budget versus pre-mandate commitment authority, causing delays and complications. The capacity of the Executive Office of the Department to handle an increase in staff was limited with no additional regular budget capacity. Lastly, it was noted that there was an “acute” lack of travel funds under the regular budget.
The Committee also had before it a Corrigendum to the report,Implementation of General Assembly resolution 63/261 on the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs (document A/65/161/Corr.1). This corrigendum deletes paragraph 58, includes replacements in paragraphs 59 and 60, and substitutes texts in paragraphs 62 and 63.
Regarding financial backing for the Organization’s safety and security, the Committee had before it two reports. The report of the Secretary-General on Revised security management framework and revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 under section 5, Peacekeeping operations, related to a strengthened and unified security management system for the United Nations (document A/65/320) was submitted pursuant to decisions made by the General Assembly during its sixty-fourth session. Those decisions endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions relating to safety and security for the biennium 2010-2011 and additional emergency resources to enhance the level of security for United Nations staff working in Afghanistan and other high-threat locations.
The report comprises the revised framework for accountability of the United Nations security management system, including an update on the implementation of the new security level system that will replace the long-standing security phase system in January 2011 and a funding proposal for strengthening safety and security in high-risk locations.
The General Assembly is requested to approve the establishment of two new posts (one P-4 and one local level) for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, effective 1 January 2011, and appropriate a total amount of nearly $3.2 million under the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011. That programme budget would comprise increases under peacekeeping operations (some $3.1 million) and staff assessment (some $22,000) and be offset by a corresponding amount under income from staff assessment.
The report was accompanied by the corrigendum (document A/65/320/Corr.1), which states that the third sentence of the summary should read Section II is submitted pursuant to section VI, paragraph 3, of General Assembly resolution 64/245, in which the Assembly endorsed the conclusions and recommendations contained in the oral statement by the Chair of the Advisory Committee (see A/C.5/64/SR.20 and Corr.1) relating to additional emergency resources to enhance the level of security for United Nations staff working in Afghanistan and other high-threat locations.
Also before the Committee was the related report of the ACABQ (document A/65/575). Concerning the revised security framework, the ACABQ considers that the shift in institutional mindset from a “when to leave” to a “how to stay” approach imposes far greater managerial responsibility on security-related decision-makers, since the operational success of security systems depends on the security adviser and on other relevant officials assessing quantitative threats and making decisions to ensure proper implementation of suitable measures to calibrate threats and hazards on the ground.
The report notes that greater managerial responsibility requires clearer lines of accountability, particularly in situations where lives may be at risk. It welcomes efforts by the Department of Safety and Security and the Inter-Agency Security Management Network’s steering group to review and update the framework for accountability and recommends that the Assembly take note of it. The report notes that, while the revised framework clarifies the roles and responsibilities of United Nations security management system actors, as well as their reporting relationships, it does not discuss the consequences of non-compliance. The ACABQ trusts that existing mechanisms to manage managerial performance will be applied to address any shortcomings.
Further, the report emphasizes that guidelines for acceptable risk are an important part of the security risk management process. The ACABQ trusts that work under way on the question of programme criticality will result in a common framework for decision-making that indicates who is responsible for making such decisions.
Concerning the revised estimates, the report states that additional requirements for security enhancements are $147,700 for two additional posts (one Chief Security Officer at the P-4 level, and one Security Information Assistant at the local level); and $615,000 for furniture and equipment, comprising $420,000 for three armoured trucks and $195,000 for 130 flak jackets and helmets.
The remaining $2.4 million is to improve the premises at the Headquarters compound in Islamabad, comprising $1.45 million to replace existing porta-cabin exterior walls and roofs with stainless steel, $459,000 to construct a safe room and a concrete brick wall façade to protect against the effects of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, $337,200 to purchase a fire-fighting system, and $149,000 to install Hesco bastions, a reinforced main gate, additional perimeter lighting and biometric movement access control.
While stating that a piecemeal approach to the budget process is undesirable, the ACABQ recognizes the exceptional and urgent nature of the particular request and recommends that the Assembly approve establishment, effective 1 January 2011, of the two new posts and appropriate $3.18 million under the programme budget for the 2010‑2011 biennium, comprising increases under section 5, peacekeeping operations, and section 35, staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, income from staff assessment.
Turning to the Secretariat’s proposed budget for 2012-2013, the Committee had before it two reports. The report of the Secretary-General, Proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/65/560), sets out a preliminary budget estimate of $4.25 billion (without provisions for special political missions), up $56.9 million, or 1.4 per cent, over the approved appropriations and related provisions of the biennium 2010-2011. After including required provisions for special political missions, the preliminary budget estimate is $5.46 billion, up $297.1 million, or 5.8 per cent, over existing provisions for the biennium 2010-2011.
Issued on 5 November 2010, the report recommends that the level for the budget’s contingency fund be set again at 0.75 per cent of the proposed budget, or $40.9 million, for the biennium 2012-2013. The report notes that the size of the contingency fund had been set at 0.75 per cent of the overall level of resources for the first budget outline and all subsequent ones.
Under the procedures set by the Assembly in resolutions 41/213 and 42/211, a contingency fund is established for each biennium to absorb additional expenditures derived from legislative mandates not provided for in the programme budget. Under that procedure, if additional expenditures are proposed that exceed the contingency fund’s resources, the activities would be implemented only through the redeployment of resources from low-priority areas or by modifying existing activities. Otherwise, the additional activities would have to be deferred to a later biennium.
The report emphasizes that the estimated budget requirements for 2012-2013 would also be impacted by decisions taken in the first performance reportfor the biennium 2010-2011, revised estimates and programme budget implications considered by the Assembly during the sixty-fifth session.
The first performance report identifies adjustments needed to account for inflation and other variables. The second performance report provides an estimate of the anticipated final level of expenditures and income for the biennium.
In resolution 63/266, the Assembly, inter alia, asked the Secretary-General to provide information on initiatives now before the Assembly and foreseeable items that could impact the budget outline. On page 10 of this report, Annex II provides a detailed list of initiatives, for which the Assembly is now seized or for which reports are expected to be submitted by the Secretary-General, that were known during the report’s preparation. If adopted, those items will significantly impact the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013. The extent of the requirements are dependent on the Assembly’s decisions.
In a previous document, Proposed strategic framework for the period 2012-2013, Part one: plan outline (document A/65/6 (Part one)), the Secretary-General outlined the Organization’s long-term objectives for 2012-2013. These included: sustained economic growth and sustainable development in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions and recent United Nations conferences; maintenance of international peace and security; development of Africa; promotion of human rights; effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts; promotion of justice and international law; disarmament; and drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
This report proposes that the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 manifest these priorities and Annex I, on page 9, outlines the proposed distribution of resources among various sections. The largest increase of 9.5 per cent is earmarked for capital expenditures, while the only proposed decline, 0.3 per cent, is proposed for public information.
Turning to the special political missions, the report estimates the full biennial provision for 2012-2013 for special political missions now in effect in 2010-2011 would total $1.24 billion. While the composition of the missions may change in 2012-2013, the report notes that the overall number is not expected to decrease. As a result, an increase of $240.2 million is included in the biennium’s outline estimate.
Special political missions have characteristics that set them apart from the Organization’s other activities, which are financed through the regular budget. Their structures are not part of the Secretariat’s organizational structure and their activities are directed towards operational matters that do not lend themselves to be fully integrated into the Secretariat’s programme of work.
In view of their unique characteristics, special political missions are not treated in accordance with the Regulations and Rules Governing Programme Planning, the Programme Aspects of the Budget, the Monitoring of Implementation and the Methods of Evaluation. The procedures followed to initiate the missions, whether through the Security Council or the General Assembly, do not follow the programme planning and budgeting cycle of the regular budget. They may be approved at any time of the year and their related resource requirements have consistently proven almost impossible to predict accurately. Under the circumstances, the Assembly may wish to give guidance on the treatment of special political missions under the regular budget procedures for estimating requirements in the budget outline and subsequent programme budgets.
A corrigendum (document A/65/560/Corr.1) provides revisions to the tables included in paragraph 3 and Annex II of the Secretary-General’s report, as well as to a sentence in paragraph 9.
The related ACABQ report notes that, of the $5.16 billion appropriated for 2010-2011, $4.16 billion related to established activities funded under the regular budget, while the remaining $1 billion was the overall provision for 2010-2011 for special political missions.
It notes that the Secretary-General, taking into account programmatic changes and adjustments for delayed impact and one-time costs, estimates a total net projected growth in programme resources of 1.4 per cent, or $56.9 million. After accounting for the full estimated biennial provision for special political missions, which total $1.24 billion, the total preliminary estimate of $5.46 billion would represent an increase of $297.1 million, or 5.8 per cent, over existing provisions for the biennium 2010-2011.
While recommending approval of the Secretary-General’s proposal that the contingency fund continue to be set at 0.75 per cent of the overall level of resources, the Advisory Committee lays out several concerns in its report. It stresses the continued importance of the Secretariat’s rigorous application of established procedures for reviewing programme outputs in order to determine their ongoing relevance and ensure the optimum use of resources.
The Advisory Committee continues to be concerned about the potential budgetary impact of extending positions, funded under general temporary assistance, that were originally approved for time-limited functions. It recommends that, when possible, the Secretary-General provide the Assembly, through the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013, an indication of the number of positions funded under general temporary assistance during the current biennium. And if the information is available, the functions associated with the positions.
As the Secretary-General indicates in his report, the requirements set out in the outline will be subject to recosting to reflect changes owing to inflation and exchange rates for the biennium. He also emphasizes that the overall level of estimated requirements for 2012-2013 will be affected by decisions taken in the first performance report for 2010-2011, and by revised estimates and statements of programme budget implications to be considered by the Assembly at its sixty-fifth session.
In this regard, the Advisory Committee notes that, in annex II of his report, the Secretary-General provides a detailed list of initiatives of which the Assembly is currently seized, or for which reports are expected to be submitted. If adopted, these items will have a significant bearing on the level of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.
Upon enquiry, the Committee was provided with an updated list, as at 8 December 2010, of such initiatives and their potential financial implications. It notes that if the budget outline were to include the estimates, in respect of all items currently before the Assembly and foreseeable items in reports yet to be issued, the preliminary estimate would increase by about $38.9 million. The Committee recommends that the General Assembly take account of the updated information set out in the annex to the present report.
Introduction of Reports
JUN YAMAZAKI, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on special political missions contained in documents A/65/328 and A/65/328/Add.1-5, which contained the budget proposal for 2011 for 29 special political missions emanating from the decisions of the General Assembly and/or the Security Council. The presentation of the budget proposals follow the same format as in 2010 and group the missions into three thematic clusters.
He said the total requirements for the 29 missions for 2011 totalled $676.42 million net ($716.89 million gross) and financial details for each mission were presented in Table 1 of document A/65/328. The requirements for each mission vary widely, ranging from $629,200 to more than $270 million. Requirements for the two largest missions — UNAMA and UNAMI — account for about $478 million, or 70.6 per cent, of the total resources requested.
Regarding staffing resources, 5,152 positions were requested for 2011 and the number of positions requested reflect a net reduction of 34 positions. The largest missions accounted for 3,719 positions, or about 72 per cent, of the total number.
The proposed resource requirements for UNAMA for the period 1 January to 31 December 2011 were estimated at $270.01 million net, reflecting a net increase of $43.09 million, or 19 per cent over the 2010 appropriation. The proposed increases include the required enhancement of security measures in all United Nations premises in Afghanistan, additional aircraft, and increasing rates for local staff salaries and hazardous duty station allowances.
The proposed requirements for UNAMI for the period 1 January to 31 December 2011 were estimated at $207.78 million net, up $56.40 million or 37.3 per cent, over 2010. The proposed increases include the creation of 84 additional positions, construction and renovation work for two new UNAMI compounds in Basra and Kirkuk and air transportation increases.
Mr. Yamazaki also addressed the Committee on the revised security management framework and revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 peacekeeping operations, which related to a strengthened and unified security management system for the Organization. The Secretary-General’s report on the issue (document A/65/320) comprised the revised framework for accountability of the United Nations security management system, he said. It also included an update on the implementation of the new security level system, which would be replacing, in 2011, the long-standing security phase system, as well as a funding proposal for strengthening safety and security in high-risk locations.
Continuing, he noted that Section I of the report, submitted pursuant to the General Assembly’s resolution 64/243, endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the ACABQ relating to safety and security for the biennium 2010-2011. Section II of the report, pursuant to the Assembly’s resolution 64/245, endorsed the conclusions and recommendations by the Chair of the Advisory Committee. That addressed additional emergency resources that would enhance the security level for United Nation staff working in Afghanistan and other high-threat locations. Also included in that section were the resource requirements for strengthening the security and safety of United Nations staff and premises at the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).
Concluding, he addressed Section III of the report in which the General Assembly was asked to approve the establishment of two new posts, one P-4 and one General Service-local level for UNMOGIP, which would be effective 1 January 2011 under the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011. In addition, a total amount of $3.18 million would be appropriated under the programme budget for peacekeeping operations, as well as an increase of $22,400 for staff assessment, which would be offset by a corresponding amount under the section on income from staff assessment.
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. LYNN PASCOE provided the Committee with an outline on the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs since the Assembly adopted resolution 63/261. The report before the Committee (document A/65/161) was submitted in July 2010, in response to the resolution, and he stressed that the report was not a plea for additional resources. It was primarily an effort to provide the governing bodies with a comprehensive picture of its progress in the areas of policy planning, conflict prevention and mediation backstopping of special political missions, coordination and cooperation with United Nations country teams and resident coordinators, electoral assistance and the support to the Security Council. As of today, 47 of 49 posts authorized by the Assembly had been filled and two remaining posts were under recruitment.
He provided the Committee with examples of those efforts, including the Department’s concerted effort to broaden the geographical distribution of staff. As of today, 65 nationalities were represented, an increase of eight nationalities since March 2008, he said. The relationship between the Department of Political Affairs and the Department of Field Services had been strengthened and formalized through consultative guidance development.
Regarding special political missions, he said the Department had focused on making its integrated peacebuilding offices function more smoothly. Vacancies in all the missions, for example, had been reduced from 35.3 per cent in December to 29.4 per cent as of 1 November 2010. Other improvements were the development of United Nations regional offices over the past several years, to provide the Department with a presence on the ground, “where it counts”. The United Nations Regional Centre for Central Asia, for example, was able to support the crisis response in Kyrgyzstan after the ouster of the former president in April and outbreak of inter-ethnic violence in June.
He noted that the operations in Iraq and Somalia deserved particular attention, as the staff operated under extremely difficult security conditions. The Department had focused on implementing the Secretary-General’s strategy as mandated by the Security Council. Somalia was a complex operation. With the planned withdrawal of United States military resources from Iraq, UNAMI was about to enter a crossroads of fundamental change, especially in the security of the United Nations there. At the same time, the Government of Iraq and partners were encouraging a stronger presence for the United Nations. Maintaining or increasing the current level of operations in Iraq would have major resource implications in 2011, he added.
Referring to some of the challenges, he noted that the Department’s strengthening under the regular budget placed the Department on a much improved footing to conduct its core business, but it did not provide all it needed to carry out its mandate in a timely and efficient manner. “Today’s crises that require rapid response simply can’t and won’t wait for budget resolution, and other budget mechanisms are required to address such needs” he said. The Department would continue to seek resources to build such mechanisms, including through extrabudgetary resources. Last year, the Department launched its first multi-year appeal for the 2011-2013 period, in the order of $17.9 million, to maintain and enhance its capacities.
GREGORY STARR, Under-Secretary-General, Department of Safety and Security, presented the developments in the United Nations Security Management System (UNSMS), including the revised accountability framework and the new security level system, and the security-related resource requirements for UNMOGIP. In regard to the additional emergency resources required for security and safety for staff and premises at UNMOGIP, he noted that the resources requested were needed to meet the “minimum operating security standards”.
Continuing, he pointed out that the revised framework highlighted the fact that, in circumstances where United Nations staff were working in high-threat areas and in which the host Government could not reasonably respond, the Organization had a duty as an employer to reinforce and, where necessary, supplement the capacity of the host Government in fulfilling the obligations to keep staff secure and safe. Concluding, he said that the security level system had been piloted successfully in five localities and had received positive feedback across the United Nations Security Management System. Further, the Department had re-prioritized its training activities in 2010 to ensure that extensive training on the new system be provided to security management teams. He believed that the new security level system would be fully implemented by January 2011.
SUSAN MCLURG, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced the report of the Advisory Committee, which contained comments and recommendations on the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening the Department of Political Affairs, and on his proposal for special political missions for 2011. She noted that the strengthening of the Department had increased its effectiveness and flexibility in carrying out its mandated tasks. With regard to the challenges that still remained to be addressed and that relied on extrabudgetary resources, no action was currently required, as the Secretary-General intended to submit proposals to the General Assembly during its sixty-sixth session.
She then turned to the Committee’s comments and recommendations addressing the requested resources for the special political missions in the three thematic clusters, as well as the larger missions in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and Iraq (UNAMI). In Cluster I, a small adjustment related to staffing proposed for the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide and non-staff costs in the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus would reduce the overall resources of $8.7 million by an amount of $496,400. In Cluster II, the increase of resources of $3.2 million would reflect the first time inclusion of the requirements for the new Panel of Experts on Iran. Turning to Cluster III, she said that the resources proposed would provide for a total of 11 offices, including the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), which would be established in January 2011.
Continuing, she noted that the Committee had recommended reductions in the level of resources proposed for eight missions, including, among others, BINUB, UNMIN and UNOCA, whose proposed organizational structure support component would benefit from streamlining and more cost-effective design. In regards to UNMIN, the revised estimates reflected the Security Council’s decision to terminate its mandate by 15 January 2011 and have a four-month liquidation period, rather than the previously proposed seven-month liquidation period. She also said that, in regards to BINUB, the Committee was recommending to the General Assembly that it appropriate 50 per cent of the proposed resource requirements for 2011. The recommendations in Cluster III would reduce the Secretary-General’s overall proposal of $160 million for the missions by $39.4 million.
She also addressed, among others, the 2011 resources for UNAMA, which reflected the refocused priorities of the Security Council and through organizational restructuring would ensure the Mission’s ability to carry out the refocused mandate. However, she said that continuing restructuring could detract from mandate delivery and she urged that a balance be found. She also observed that the proposed increase of $38.6 million was mostly security related. While recognizing the importance and need of such items under the budget category, she stated that such arrangements needed to be managed with “prudence” and on the basis of priority needs. The recommendations of the Committee for UNAMA for 2011 would result in a reduction of $11.3 million. Concluding, she stated that the recommendations contained in the Advisory Committee’s report would result in an overall reduction of $57.5 million in the resources proposed by the Secretary-General for special political missions for 2011.
Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, WALEED AL-SHAHARI (Yemen) said the Group believed the Secretary-General’s report on the strengthening of the Department of Political Affairs lacked detailed information, clarity and comprehensiveness about the impact of new structure and new posts on the overall functions of the Department. He repeated the importance of the principle of equitable geographical representation in the recruitment of staff. Nationals of the concerned regions were the most knowledgeable of the needs of their regions. He repeated the request made by the Committee for Programme and Coordination to present concrete measures to address the issue of imbalance in geographic representation and gender parity in the Department of Political Affairs and roster of electoral assistance. That matter was not addressed in the present report, as requested, he said.
Stressing the importance of providing safety and security for United Nations staff all over the world, he said that any provisions of the United Nations for safety and security could not work in isolation. It was essential to establish clear criteria for determining security needs and basic standards for evaluating threat perception and risk assessment, so the Department of Safety and Security could respond to any emergency. In that context, the Group was concerned that the Secretary-General had not complied with the Assembly request, made in resolution 61/263, for a report on the comprehensive safety and security policy framework of the United Nations.
He noted that the shift in the “when to leave” to “how to stay” approach in security management entailed greater managerial responsibility with clearer lines of accountability and decision-making at all levels, especially in the field. The Group emphasized the importance of ensuring that requirements for safety and security of the Organization, particularly in field missions, were fully met.
BROUZ RALPH COFFI (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking for the African Group, welcomed the improvements made to the presentation for special political missions, including the programme performance information for 2010 of the two largest missions, UNAMA and UNAMI, both of which accounted for 71 per cent of the requirements. To that end, he stressed that further efforts be made to formulate the indicators of achievements of the special political missions, which would allow for a better assessment of progress towards expected accomplishments. However, he also supported the ACABQ’s request that budget presentations include information on all resources available from different sources of funding. Thus, extrabudgetary resources should be fully disclosed in order to allow a clear and transparent analysis.
Continuing, he expressed concern at the overall vacancy rate as of June 2010 in the special political missions, which was 28 per cent for international staff and 19 per cent for national staff. He did note that, by August 2010, the international rate had been reduced to 22 per cent, but urged that the trend of posts being left vacant as a mechanism to “plug budget deficits or as an instrument for cost-cutting” be addressed. Further, he stated that the General Assembly should provide each mission with the necessary resources, so that they would be able to fully discharge their mandates. He also said that UNOCA headquarters be situated in Libreville, Gabon, a location supported unanimously by Member States in Central Africa.
He observed that special political missions had grown exponentially both in size and complexity. The unique characteristics of those missions set them apart from other activities of the United Nations that received financing through the regular budget. The special political missions’ activities were directed towards operational matters and did not lend themselves to full integration with the programme of work of the Secretariat and did not follow the regular budget cycle. To that end, he stated that it might be appropriate to separate the budget for those missions from the regular budget, and address them in a manner similar to peacekeeping.
Speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, PHILIPPE LAFORTUNE ( Canada) said he recognized the challenges of accurately budgeting for special political missions, as their operational environments changed constantly. Noting the budget proposal now before the Committee, he said it would be good budgetary policy for the Secretariat to appropriate a more realistic estimate of their requirements for the overall biennium. As the Missions’ budgets fluctuated considerably more than other parts of the budget, he said consideration should be given to a different method of budgetary presentation.
He welcomed the extension of the mandate of UNAMA and firmly believed that it played a central role in coordinating international action and assistance to support the Afghanistan Government. The countries he spoke for were heavily involved in Afghanistan and he understood the increased emphasis on civilian efforts focusing on elections, reconciliation and reintegration, regional cooperation and aid coherence. He believed that a better alignment of international efforts through UNAMA would help the international community and Afghan Government offer a better future for Afghans.
He would like clarification on how the Advisory Committee’s recommendation to reduce the appropriation for the operational costs for UNAMA and UNAMI would impact safety and security. Finally, he was concerned with the late arrival, as in previous years, of the complex proposals for hundreds of millions of dollars for the special political missions a few days before the session’s end. He would like clarification on the issue during informal negotiations.
ISMAIL BASSEL AYZOUKI ( Syria) said that once again there were shortcomings in preparing the budgets for special political missions and that, due to the sensitive nature of missions, it was essential to fully abide to the relevant resolution regarding them. He expressed great concern about the Special Envoy for Security Council resolution 1559 (2004) and pointed out that there were grave violations and clear breaches of the mandate of the Special Envoy. An example was the unacceptable inclusion of Syria’s name in the report, as his country had fully implemented all resolutions in regard to Lebanon.
Further, the withdrawal of military forces from Lebanon had been based on “no understanding of any party”, but had been purely on the part of the Syrian Government. Further, the relevant resolution regarding diplomatic relations and borders did not fall within the mandate of the Special Envoy, as it included bilateral agreements between Lebanon and Syria. He called for the deletion of the section in the report that referred to his country and urged the Special Envoy to concentrate on his mandate, which included addressing the occupation of Arab lands by Israel and Israel’s disregard of international law and Security Council resolutions. He also noted that “it was strange” the report of the Secretary-General did not mention the accomplishment of his country of having withdrawn its forces from Lebanon.
MOHAMMAD KHAZAEE ( Iran) spoke on the country’s position concerning part G of the document A/65/328/Add.2, entitled “Panel of Experts on the Islamic Republic of Iran”. Iran regarded Security Council resolution 1929 (2010), and other related resolutions issued against Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities, as unjust and unlawful. It was its firm belief that those resolutions were based on false speculations and misinformation propagated by certain permanent members of the Security Council to advance their political interests, which was to deprive a developing country and a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) of its inalienable right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The Iranian nuclear programme had nothing to do with Chapter VII of the Charter. The Council’s intervention in Iran’s peaceful nuclear programme was unlawful.
Iran disagreed strongly with the provisions of part G of the document and disassociated itself from any legal and financial consequences of the consideration and possible adoption of that section of the agenda item 131. It was not appropriate to see such a statement in a Fifth Committee document.
MOHAMMAD ABDALLAH AL-JABIR ( Qatar) said that special political missions and good offices were essential in preventing outbreaks and escalations of international disputes. He expressed support for the strengthening of those components of the Organization on the regional and international levels. His country was fully committed to seeking peaceful resolutions to conflicts and, in that regard, had brokered mediation efforts in Lebanon, Yemen and Sudan.
Continuing, he said that the “concept of good offices” should not be limited to circumstances where peacekeeping operations were mandated or where activities within the structure of the United Nations were programmed. There were political circumstances that needed urgent and prompt intervention of the Secretary-General, before conflict broke out or deployment of a peacekeeping mission became necessary. The results of those efforts, he said in conclusion, were encouraging and thus such activities should be supported financially and politically. He called upon all Member States to provide support towards that end.
AKIHIRO OKOCHI (Japan), noting that the budgetary request for special political missions for 2011 was 20 per cent higher than last year’s budget, acknowledged that the increase stemmed from the need for crucial safety and security measures on the ground, notably with UNAMA and UNAMI. These “exceptional circumstances” made it important to prioritize the budgetary requests for each mission and to focus on what was really urgent, deferring until next biennium other less pressing requests. He also supported the ACABQ’s observation that some Cluster III missions had disproportionately high support activities and staff, relative to the substantive activities and staff, which could be partially explained by the peacekeeping operation structure they inherited. He hoped that a discussion on that issue would take place and that submission of proposals be made to the Secretary-General for more cost-effective support arrangements for small, substantive offices.
SHIN BOO-NAM (Republic of Korea), noting the important role special political missions played in maintaining international peace and security, said he would like to see them attain their goals while efficiently utilizing the resources given to them by the General Assembly. In that regard, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to better define the division of roles among the three Departments in the Secretariat. He hoped that in the introduction of standard operating procedures a greater synergy among relevant Departments would ensure effective implementation of special political missions.
He also observed that there were more cases of cooperation and coordination among the special political missions in order to achieve cost-saving and efficiency gains. The consolidation of the administrative components of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission and the United Nations Office for West Africa, among others, was a welcome example of that. However, he shared the ACABQ’s concern over the disproportionate distribution of administrative and substantive staff for some special political missions. He urged that a cost-effective alternative in providing administrative support for small offices be developed. Further, some special political missions had open-ended mandates. In that regard, he said each political mission was created for specific tasks and should be operated only for a limited duration of time to achieve those tasks.
INGRID BERLANGA VASILE ( Mexico) said the budget for the special political missions had increased throughout the years and Mexico was alarmed that, though the present composition of the missions may change in 2012-2013, it was not expected that the overall level of resources would trend downwards. Mexico stressed that those missions would be of limited duration and aim to accomplish specific tasks. Yet, the missions continued to grow in size, needs and scope and seemed to inherit the structure of the peacekeeping operations from which they followed, though they were budgeted with regular resources. Their continuous extension made it excessively burdensome for the Organization’s regular budget.
For that reason, Mexico considered it imperative to explore alternative ways to finance special political missions. Member States could not, and should not, continue to finance those Missions in the way they had been doing without having a thorough and frank discussion on financing options. Mexico urged the Secretary-General to present a report as soon as possible on financing options, she said. The level of extrabudgetary resources provided to special political missions should be fully disclosed, in order to allow a full analysis of the resources proposed, compared with the capacity available from all types of funding. Also, the potential for savings should be explored.
BRUNO BRANT ( Brazil), regarding the security and safety at Headquarters during the general debate, stated that treatment by security personnel of VIPs and heads of delegations was of great concern. He pointed out that, during the debate, heads of delegations received unequal treatment within the compound and that some areas were only available to Heads of State who had security details, which were assigned at the discretion of the host country. He stressed that access to all areas of the Organization’s compound should be available for all Heads of State and heads of delegations and that any limitation in that regard was unacceptable. “Security cannot trump protocol,” he said in conclusion.
ALAA KADHAM ( Iraq) said the country had provided land in the heart of Baghdad in order to build the United Nations headquarters and it had helped defray construction costs. That was being done through a construction fund of $25 million offered by Iraq. The Iraqi Government was committed to providing support to the United Nations on the ground, under Security Council resolutions, and support the United Nations staff in Iraq.
The representative of South Africa, associating with the statements of the Group of 77 and African Group, agreed with the representative of Brazil and was very concerned about the manner in which the Security Department had treated Heads of State and delegates inside and outside the Headquarters building in September. “It was unacceptable and a great source of discomfort,” he said. He added that some delegates had been treated rudely when trying to access certain parts of the building. He would like to know why this unacceptable situation had occurred and had never seen it before. He hoped that this type of treatment would not happen again. “Security should not lead to the suspension of protocol,” he added.
DANILO ROSALES DÍAZ ( Nicaragua) noted that the astronomical budget for the special political missions had increased 12 times since 2000. She also observed that 70 per cent of the current requirements in the report were for Afghanistan and Iraq. “The time has come”, she stressed, for the Fifth Committee to revise financing methods for special political missions, pointing out that it was “incomprehensible” that those missions were financed through the regular budget scale, instead of the peacekeeping scale. She called for action and said she was still awaiting a report of the Secretary-General on the issue, which she hoped would lead to changes in financing.
Turning to the treatment of heads of delegations during the general debate, she stated her surprise that the legitimate concerns of security for all had been at times implemented with almost full disregard for the diplomatic nature of the Headquarters and the Organization.
OSCAR FERNANDEZ-TARANCO, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said the 47 posts that had been recruited had, over the last few months, produced positive results, such as a more proactive stance for the Department and greater coordination among divisions. There was now better management oversight, as the Department provided support for missions with more complex mandates. The additional posts had let the Department become more relevant and interact with agencies, funds and programmes. It had led to more synergies between Headquarters and field missions. There were now more staff available, at a time when the Department of Political Affairs had became the lead department between humanitarian, and political and peacekeeping operations.
Concerning the geographic representation issue, he said the Department would provide a more concrete breakdown during the informal meetings. He noted there were 65 nationalities now, an increase of eight nationalities.
Mr. STARR, Department of Safety and Security, said the Department always tried to balance security requirements with protocol requirements. The Department tried its best to treat all delegations as courteously and equitably as possible. The Department did not control the streets and avenues outside the compound. He took responsibility for conditions within the compound. He was unaware of the concerns and would work with the representatives of Brazil, South Africa and Nicaragua.
JOSIEL MOTUMISI TAWANA (South Africa) said that, during the general debate, access between First and Second Avenues had been difficult, not because of local police, but because of “rude UN security personnel” blocking vehicles that were clearly identified as being of a permanent delegation. He affirmed that he would give further details to the head of security.
Ms. MCLURG, Chair of the ACABQ, addressing the timing of the report on special political missions, stated that this was a perennial problem of both her Committee and the Fifth Committee. She pointed out that there was a “small window of opportunity” for the review of 29 mission budgets, and that such a window was “made even smaller” when there was a delay in receiving documents or when United Nations officials were not available. Her Committee took a concerted effort to get materials together and that the situation should be looked into. However, she stressed, “we do the best we can”, given the number of reports ACABQ had to review and then generate in such a short period of time. She also noted that last year’s report had come out at the same time and that it seemed necessary to look at the matter “globally” on when ACABQ received the reports.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala), Committee Chair, said that the importance of the Organization’s political missions in the field was not the kind of issue that could be resolved in just the remaining four to five days left to the Committee. He urged that the timing of the release of reports be looked into and addressed, so that Member States had time to review all the materials. He also pointed out that, especially in light of the growth of those missions and their impact on the budget, the issue had many implications on how the Organization received and distributed resources. Thus, it was “a little unfair” for Member States to adopt fundamentals on issues of such importance in such a short time.
Introduction of Reports
Mr. YAMAZAKI, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2012-2013, as presented in documents A/65/560 and Corr.1. In line with the process set out in resolution 41/213, the outline provided an indication of four elements: a preliminary estimate of resources to accommodate the proposed programme activities during the biennium; priorities; real growth, positive or negative, compared with the previous budget; and the size of the contingency fund, expressed as a percentage of the overall level of resources.
As this Committee knew, the budget outline was not a preliminary programme budget, but a preliminary estimate of resources and could only be general in nature. It attempted to establish broad resource projections developed at a high level of aggregation. The budget, which would come later in the process, would reflect detailed programming and the review and establishment of requirements at a detailed level.
To establish a preliminary estimate of resources, the Secretariat began with the initial appropriation for 2010-2011 of $5.16 billion. That starting point was adjusted by several factors, including the full provision for the continuation of the new posts that were approved for the current biennium; the removal of one-time costs in 2010-2011; provision for programme changes in the biennium 2012-2013; and requirements for special political missions.
He said that provisions for those posts required an additional $21.8 million in the biennium 2012-2013 and one-time costs totalling $45.9 million had been removed, as they would not be required in the next budget cycle. Provisions had been made for programme changes in 2012-2013 of $81 million. Requirements for special political missions continued to trend significantly upward. The full biennial provision for those missions currently existing in the biennium 2010-2011 would total $1.24 billion. That was shown in the outline as $240.2 million above the existing provisions of $1 billion.
The preliminary budget estimate of $4.26 billion, before inclusion of special political missions, represented an increase of $56.9 million, or 1.4 per cent, he said. With the provisions for the special political missions, the preliminary estimate of $5.46 billion was an increase of $297.1 million, or 5.8 per cent over the previous biennium.
Ms. MCLURG, Chair of the ACABQ, introduced the report of the Advisory Committee on the proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2012-2013. She noted that the Secretary-General foresaw a total net projected growth of 1.4 per cent, as compared to the existing provisions for the current biennium. However, including the full estimated biennial provision for special political missions would result in a total net growth of 5.8 per cent.
Further, the Advisory Committee agreed with the adjustments proposed by the Secretary-General to reflect the delayed impact of regular budget posts in 2012-2013 and the non-requirement for resources provided in 2010-2011 for one-time costs. However, she said that it was premature to conclude that an additional $81 million would be required to accommodate programme changes in 2012-2013. In that regard, the Secretary-General should, when presenting his detailed budget proposals, provide an analysis that showed he had exhausted all opportunities offered in the review of the programme outputs. The Advisory Committee stressed the importance of the rigorous application by the Secretary-General of established reviewing procedures, with a view to determining ongoing relevance while ensuring the optimum utilization of resources.
Continuing, she said that the annex of the Advisory Committee’s report also detailed the possible impact of items currently before the General Assembly, as well as foreseeable items yet to be considered for the biennium 2012-2013. She noted that, if the budget outline were to include the estimates, the preliminary estimate would increase by approximately $38.9 million. She also noted, in regard to the estimates for special political missions, the Secretary-General had made efforts to implement its earlier recommendation to present the estimates in such a way as to identify those resources attributable them. Concluding, she said the Advisory Committee recommended the contingency fund continue to be set at 0.75 per cent of the overall level of resources.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Mr. AL-SHAHARI (Yemen) noted that, as in previous budgets, activities related to security and human rights were the only areas in the proposed outline where significant growth was foreseen.
He stressed that the estimates were indicative in nature and the level of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 could be higher or lower than the preliminary estimates before the Committee today. The Group noted the proposed indicative resource change of 0.7 per cent under both Part IV and Part V of the programme budget. The Group reiterated the importance of having adequate resources, so the Secretariat could implement the Development Agenda mandated by the Assembly.
The Group would like additional information on the $81 million proposed for programmatic changes during the upcoming budget cycle. He stressed that careful attention should be given to set the budget outline at an appropriate and realistic level, while leaving the contingency fund to address implications that emerge later. The Group emphasized that, in accordance with the Charter, the Assembly was the only body authorized to consider and approve the budget and the Secretary-General should appoint the staff under regulations established by the Assembly.
He stressed that the Fifth Committee’s role in budgetary and administrative matters should be respected and he reminded other Main Committees to stop using the phrase “within existing resources” in their resolutions. To do so would contradict rule 153 of the rules of procedure, as well as numerous Assembly resolution that had reaffirmed the role of the Fifth Committee, he said.
JAN DE PRETER (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union, expressed his regret at the late issuance of the proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2012-2013, especially with such little time left to the Fifth Committee at the current session. He underscored that the budget outline should provide a greater level of predictability of resources and should promote greater involvement of Member States in the budgetary process. The Organization’s budget had increased significantly over the last years and the European Union did not question the principle that the budget should reflect a resource level commensurate with the mandates for their full, efficient and effective implementation. However, he noted that no serious effort seemed to be undertaken to pursue further efficiencies that would make the Organization more effective.
Continuing, he said that when a budget was prepared in increments, the legislative bodies approving the budget did not seem to understand that the Secretariat sought to deliver mandates more efficiently on a smaller resource base. There was, he observed, an urgent need to study possibilities for the reallocation of resources and cross-cutting savings. He urged the Secretariat to scrutinize its business methods in all different departments and programmes, and to find ways to include close consideration of recurrent expenditures and to go beyond incremental budgeting, which led to continuously increasing budget levels that affected the membership unequally. He concluded by supporting the recommendation of the ACABQ for the need to go beyond incremental budgeting and to evaluate and consider the entire quantum of resources necessary to carry out the Organization’s programmes and activities.
PARK IN-KOOK (Republic of Korea) stated that the proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2012-2013 did not reflect the policy priorities and directions of the Organization, lacked a “forward-looking perspective”, and did not give the Secretariat a framework in which to quickly respond to a rapidly changing economic and social environment, as well as the ability to address new challenges. It also failed to provide a systemic mechanism that would identify obsolete activities that should be terminated, nor did it provide a budget ceiling for the Secretary-General. Further, he pointed out, only the expenditure side had been taken into account, without any attention to the revenue side, when they were two sides of the same coin.
He stated that the overall budgeting framework, including the outline, needed to be reviewed from the “zero-base” and be completely revised to address the stated concerns. Best practices from other international organizations and Member States should also be considered, as well, in the revision. In regard to special political missions, alternative budget arrangements, including the establishment of an annually budgeted separate account, should be explored. Requesting that the Secretary-General investigate a more “sustainable” method to formulate and present the budget proposal, he also called upon Member States to give the necessary authority and clear guidance to the Secretary-General towards that goal. He noted that, with all the potential add-ons from proposals currently pending in the General Assembly, the preliminary estimate of resources would “far exceed” the current increase of 5.8 per cent. The increases in the overall budget level was a serious burden on Member States faced with increasing fiscal deficits.
JOSEPH H. MELROSE ( United States) stated that it was the responsibility of Member States to provide sufficient resources to the Organization so that it could fulfil its mandate. However, reviewing the 2012-2013 budget outline, he emphasized that it was “imperative that we not conduct business as usual”. As the General Assembly had not acted on all proposals, the 5.8 per cent increase did not reflect requirements carried over from the current year. Further, States must adopt a responsible framework for the next budget that was sustainable by Member States, who were accountable to their taxpayers. Thus, increases in the budget could not be assumed to be “the normal order of business”. He urged the Secretary-General to, among others, prioritize expenditures, reduce costs, and capture efficiencies.
Continuing, he also insisted upon greater budgetary discipline and that efforts be made to minimize new budget initiatives that often emerged during the budget cycle. Although he recognized there would be unforeseen contingencies, he pointed out that mid-cycle additions could often be foreseen and addressed at the beginning of the cycle. As well, it was the responsibility of Member States to question whether the resources under the 2010-2011 baseline budget should be automatically carried over. In considering the Secretary-General’s statement that the budget process would continue to include a detailed review of the programme outputs, he asked how the review had been carried out and whether the completed review impacted the budget outline total. Concurring with the ACABQ that it was too early to conclude that additional resources would be required to accommodate the new or expanded activities in 2012-2013, he requested information on what efforts were being made to offset the new programme costs by downsizing, or eliminating programmes less productive and not essential.
LOIPA SANCHEZ (Cuba), noting that the proposed programme budget conformed to the guidelines established by the relevant resolution, pointed out that the new percentage of resource for the next biennium regarding “international cooperation for development” and “regional cooperation for development” was only 0.7 per cent, thus placing these items within the lower growth parts of the budget, as compared to the previous budget. She also expressed concern that the development account was maintained at the same level as the last biennium, $23.7 million, an amount far below the agreed level of $200 million and she underscored that it was the Secretariat’s responsibility to promote mechanisms that would contribute to the account’s financing. In contrast, the financing of special political missions had been increased by $240 million. It was regrettable, she said, that the Organization’s activities in assisting developing countries to achieve higher levels of economic and social development had been “sacrificed over time”.
Continuing, she questioned the recommendation of the Advisory Committee to review programme inputs, as it could be seen as a veiled attempt to revive the controversial mandate review process. The impossibility of determining which programmes were more important than others had, after three years of “intense” deliberations, caused the stagnation of the mandate review. She questioned the approach of the Advisory Committee on the additional requirements, which seemed based more on concerns over budget increases rather than the merits of each proposal. The budget period should not be used as an instrument to carry out budget cuts, or advance proposals not approved by intergovernmental bodies.
Ms. BERLANGA VASILE ( Mexico) expressed dissatisfaction with how late the discussion on the proposed programme budget outlines for the biennium 2012-2013 was taking place. As her country was still struggling with the negative effects of the global financial crisis, she was concerned about the increase of 5.8 per cent in the proposed outline. In regards to the additional needs of the special political mission, it was impossible to predict those needs or the corresponding resources. She called for the establishment of guidelines that would apply to these missions in order to estimate their needs in the budget outline and she urged the Secretary-General to “achieve savings while trying to absorb emerging needs”.
* *** *For information media • not an official record