16 December 2011
General Assembly
GA/AB/4019

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

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

23rd Meeting (AM)


As Budget Committee Takes Up Review of Financing for Special Political Missions,


Top UN Official Says Numerous Proposals Offered to Improve Budgetary Framework


Also Takes Up Options on Funding Human Rights Council’s Unforeseen Expenses,

Special Court for Sierra Leone, Limited Budgetary Discretion, Among Other Issues


While agreeing that the current funding and backstopping arrangements for the United Nations special political missions were inadequate, delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today argued over how to rectify that situation and offered diverging views on the Secretary-General’s proposals for doing so.


Lynn Pascoe, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that the Secretary-General had conducted a thorough review of the arrangements as part of his overall efforts to enact reform in peace and security, and had suggested numerous ways to create a more effective budgetary framework for the missions.


María Eugenia Casar Assistant-Secretary-General and Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on that review, while Collen Kelapile, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s related report.


Switzerland’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, saw promise in the proposal to provide the missions with access to the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund.  Mexico’s representative agreed, saying such a move would increase efficiency and security.  He also saw merit in aligning the missions’ budgetary arrangements with the budget cycle of peacekeeping operations, as the former’s activities were related to peace and security and all but one of the 31 missions had been set up the Security Council.  But, he believed the proposal to create a special and separate account to fund the missions was the most practical way to address the problem.


China’s representative, however, said that such an account should not be set up until the numerous related problems listed in the Secretary-General’s report were clarified.


The Russian Federation’s said the Secretary-General’s report did not give sufficient information to enable delegates to decide on one option or another.  Therefore, for the time being, the special political missions’ financing should be retained within the framework of the regular budget.


The European Union’s representative said that, as many of the options presented would constitute “radical and far-reaching” changes in the structure of the United Nations budgeting process, the Committee must look more fully at their administrative implications, costs and risks, as well as the possible benefits.  He rejected the call by some delegations to move the scale of assessments for the missions to the scale used for peacekeeping operations.  None of the options in the Secretary-General’s report implied any need for such a change, which would only lead to a less balanced distribution of responsibilities among Member States according to their capacity to pay.


The United States’ representative said the problem could be addressed through technical adjustments to the existing arrangements, rather than wholesale changes that would have significant adverse implications not adequately addressed in the report.  At present, the functions of 30 special political missions absorbed about 20 per cent of the regular budget; requirements totalled some $1.2 billion in a 2010-2011 biennial programme budget of $5.37 billion.  The Secretary-General’s proposals would, therefore, entail fundamental changes to the basic structure not only of the United Nations work, but of a substantial portion of the Organization’s expenditures.


Cuba’s representative said, given their complexity and sensitivity, the Secretary-General’s proposals called for a thorough analysis, which was not possible during the current session.  Thus, they should be taken up during the resumed session.


Also today, delegates scrutinized the Secretary-General’s three proposed options for how the Assembly could adequately fund unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council.  Ms. Casar introduced the Secretary-General’s report on that matter, while Mr. Kelapile introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report.


Malaysia’s representative said it would be prudent for the Secretary-General to absorb such expenses within the approved budget.  Moreover, States should be informed of any requests for commitment authority to ensure that the existing funding mechanism for such requirements was fully implemented.


Norway’s representative said she was surprised to learn so late in the Advisory Committee’s assessment of the matter that an unexplored financing mechanism for such expenses had already existed for years.  That late finding had left little time for delegates to consider it.  Similarly, the European Union’s representative expressed worries that extensive debate on the Human Rights Council’s review earlier in the year had not brought the existing procedure to light and the Secretary-General had not commented on it extensively in his report.


Cuba’s representative pointed to a discrepancy between the reports of the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee, and called for a substantive debate on the validity and application of approved mechanisms and procedures.  The status quo should be maintained until the Assembly had fully analysed such procedures.


Also today, Ms. Casar introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the request for a subvention to the Special Court of Sierra Leone; the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth sessions and its fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth special sessions; programme budget implications for implementing Assembly draft resolutions on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto, and on oceans and the law of the sea; limited budgetary discretion; and the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.


Mr. Kelapile introduced the Advisory Committee’s related reports on those subjects.


The representatives of Uruguay, Costa Rica and Argentina (speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) also made statements during today’s meeting.


The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 19 December to consider financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the contingency fund and financing of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).


Background


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to consider backstopping and funding arrangements for special political missions, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, Human Rights Council revised estimates and financing, programme budget implication, limited budgetary discretion and the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.


On backstopping and funding arrangements, the Committee had before it two reports.  The Secretary-General’s report on the review of arrangements for funding and backstopping special political missions (document A/66/340) finds that the current arrangements and their associated requirements are inadequate and that the biennial programme budget is not the optimal vehicle for funding the missions.  The lack of well-defined mechanisms to finance the missions between conferral of a mandate and approval of a budget impedes mission start-up and expansion.  Moreover, much of the backstopping capacity is provided by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and the Global Service Centre, which are not funded from the programme budget.


The report presents various options for the Assembly’s consideration that in one way or another aim to create a more effective budgetary framework that better addresses the volatility of mission resource requirements and operational characteristics; facilitates the transition between different forms of United Nations presences in support of peace, such as from a peacekeeping operation to special political mission; fills the gap in mechanisms for funding mission start-up; and eliminates barriers to backstopping capacity based on the funding stream.


The Secretary-General suggests creating a special and separate account to fund missions that would be budgeted, funded and reported annually with a financial period from 1 July to 30 June.  Such an approach would increase transparency and solve the problem of resource requirement volatility due to shifting mandates and an unsuitable financial calendar.  Another way to improve transparency in budget presentation is to remove the missions’ budget from that of the Department of Political Affairs and create a new section exclusively for them in the programme budget.


To facilitate mission start-ups and transitions, he recommends authorizing the missions to access the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund and/or strategic deployment stocks on the same basis as peacekeeping operations.  Another option is to increase the Secretary-General’s discretion within the programme budget for unforeseen, extraordinary expenses from the current $10 million to $50 million, with the Advisory Committee’s agreement.


To fund the backstopping of missions, the Secretary-General suggests making the support account available to all departments and offices, or, presuming the Assembly decides to set up a special and separate account for the missions, use that account to fund the support account and the Global Service Centre on a pro-rated basis in line with the special political missions’ share of the total backstopping requirements for peacekeeping operations and the missions.  He also suggests authorizing the charging of variable Headquarters backstopping requirements to those missions’ budgets.  A fourth option is to include the missions’ variable backstopping requirements within the support account and the capacity of the Global Service Centre.


In its twenty-second report (document A/66/7/Add.21), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) weighs in on the matter and recommends that the Assembly:


·                     set up the special and separate account under the aforementioned terms;


·                     authorize the missions, with the Advisory Committee’s prior agreement, to access the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund of up to $25 million per Assembly or Council decision related to the start-up or expansion phase of field-based missions;


·                     authorize the missions, with the Advisory Committee’s prior agreement, to access up to $25 million in strategic deployment stocks in advance of the corresponding budget appropriation if an Assembly or Council decision related to the start-up or expansion phase of field-based missions results in the need for expenditures; and


·                     make the support account available to all departments and offices to fund their variable backstopping requirements related to field-based special political missions and confirm their responsibility to support such missions, while maintaining the existing arrangements for financing the support account and the Global Service Centre.


Under the Sierra Leone heading, the Secretary-General’s report on the request for a subvention to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (document A/66/563) is submitted pursuant to Assembly resolution 65/259 by which the Assembly took note of the resources requirements of the Special Court until its closure and authorized the Secretary-General, as an exceptional measure, to enter into commitments of no more than $9.88 million to supplement the Special Court’s voluntary financial resources during 2011.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Court will not be able to complete its mandate by February 2012 and consequently needs more time and financial support for its activities through its anticipated completion date, July 2012.


The report updates the status of the Special Court’s activities and sets out the total level of Court resources, including a subvention requested for the January through July 2012 period, estimated at $9.07 million, an increase of $6.71 million over the $2.36 million previously estimated for the January through February 2012 period.


Approval of a subvention of up to $9.07 million is sought from the Assembly from January through July 2012, taking into account that there were no balances in voluntary contributions to the Special Court at the end of October 2011.  That amount would be charged against the provisions for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  It would be adjusted in the event of future receipt of voluntary contributions to the Special Court.


In its twentieth report (document A/66/7/Add.19), the Advisory Committee, stressing the importance of the Special Court’s activities and bearing in mind the progress to date toward its mandate, recommends that the Assembly approve:


·                     as an exceptional measure, a subvention of up to $9.07 million for the January through July 2012 to supplement any voluntary contributions received so that the Court can complete its work;


·                     authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments of no more than $9.07 million for the 1 January to 31 July 2011 period for a subvention to the Special Court; and


·                     request that the Secretary-General report to the Assembly at its sixty-seventh session on implementation of the subvention during the biennium 2012-2013 and on the status of voluntary contributions for the Special Court.


Furthermore, the Advisory Committee stresses that the above-mentioned recommendations are made on the basis that any regular budget funds appropriated for the Special Court will be refunded to the United Nations at the time of the Court’s liquidation, should sufficient voluntary contributions be received.  The Advisory Committee expects that there will be no more requests for subventions to the Special Court.


Concerning Human Rights Council revised estimates, the Committee considered two reports.  The Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth sessions and its fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth special sessions (document A/66/586) lays out the detailed budgetary requirements estimated at $10.77 million for the biennium 2010-2011 and $13.26 million (including $5.74 million under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, $7.38 million under section 24, Human rights, and $144,300 under section 28E, Administration, Geneva) for the biennium 2012-2013, resulting from those resolutions and decisions.


He asks the Assembly to approve those requirements.  The Assembly is also asked to approve creation of six new posts (one P-4, two P-3s, one P-2/1 and two general service), under section 24, Human rights, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  An amount of $178,800 would be required for those posts, under section 37, Staff assessment, to be offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, income from staff assessment.  The $10.77 million for the biennium 2010-2011 is in addition to the requirement of $12.14 million arising from the Council’s resolutions and decisions and relating to activities of a “perennial nature” for which provisions had already been made.


In its twenty-first report (document A/66/7/Add.20), the Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly approve the budgetary requirements, subject to certain observations and modifications regarding the creation of posts, that are outlined in paragraphs 3 to 5, 8 and 10 of its own report.  It believes that before resorting to the contingency fund, the first option should be to explore which of those amounts could be absorbed from within the proposed programme budget for 2012-2013.


On programme budget implications, the Committee considered six reports.  On the situation of human rights in Myanmar, it had before it two documents.  In his statement (document A/C.5/66/10), the Secretary-General lays out the requirements for implementation of draft resolution A/C.3/66/L.55/Rev.1, including an extra $1.2 million net ($1.36 million gross) for the 1 January to 31 December 2012 period to continue the efforts of the good offices of the Secretary-General relating to the Myanmar situation.  Those requirements would be charged against the provision for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs.


In its sixteenth report (document A/66/7/Add.15), the Advisory Committee recommends that the Fifth Committee inform the Assembly of the extra resource requirements should the Assembly adopt that draft resolution.  The Advisory Committee also drew the Fifth Committee’s attention to the fact those requirements have already been submitted to the Assembly at its current session (see document A/66/354/Add.1 and Corr.1 and 2, and the related report Advisory Committee report, document A/66/7/Add.12).


On the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto, the Committee considered two reports.  In his statement  (document A/C.5/66/11), the Secretary-General’s lays out the requirements for implementing draft resolution A/C.3/66/L.29/Rev.1, including an extra $2.99 million under section 24, Human rights; $2.77 million under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; and $8,800 under section 29E, Administration, Geneva of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  That would represent a charge against the contingency fund and, as such, would require an extra Assembly-approved appropriation for that biennium.


In its eighteenth report (document A/66/7/Add.17), the Advisory Committee recommends that the Fifth Committee inform the Assembly of the extra resource requirements should the Assembly adopt that draft resolution.


On oceans and the law of the sea, the Committee had before it two reports.  In his statement (document A/C.5/66/12), the Secretary-General lays out the requirements for implementation of draft resolution A/C.3/66/L.21, including an extra $815,800 gross ($729,100 net) under section 8, Legal affairs, $537,000 net under section 29D, Office of Central Support Services, $192,100 net under section 37, Staff assessment, and $86,700 net to be offset by the same amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  That would represent a charge against the contingency fund.


Weighing in with its own report (document A/66/7/Add.14), the Advisory Committee recommends that the Fifth Committee inform the Assembly of the extra resource requirements should the Assembly adopt that draft resolution.


Regarding Human Rights Council financing, the Committee considered two reports.  In his report on financing of unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council (document A/66/558), the Secretary-General lists three possible options for the Assembly to consider on how to provide adequate funding for such expenses.  Concluding that a specific mechanism is needed to ensure their prompt availability, within relevant United Nations regulations and rules, of regular budget resources, he recommends that the Assembly endorse the appropriate option so that he can proceed, preferably on 1 January 2012.


The first option called for a provision for financing urgent independent commissions of inquiry and/or fact-finding missions in the budget outline and the proposed programme budget in accordance with paragraph 7 of Annex I to Assembly resolution 41/213 similar to that used for special political missions.  This option would require an extra $2 million under section 24 (Human rights) of the proposed programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium.


The second option calls for creation of a $2 million per biennium reserve fund for special human rights missions.  An additional Assembly appropriation would replenish the fund annually.  The Advisory Committee and the Assembly would be required to give detailed guidance for the Fund’s use.  Under the third option, the Secretary-General would be authorized to enter into commitments of up to $8 million in any one year of the 2010-2011 biennium for the maintenance of peace and security.


In its seventeenth report (document A/66/7/Add.16), the Advisory Committee weighs in on the matter, recommending that the Assembly decide to maintain the current procedure for meeting unforeseen and extraordinary requirements for urgent human rights activities that are not related to peace and security, as described in paragraph 9 of the Secretary-General’s report.  Further, the Assembly should ask the Secretary-General to report back to it at its sixty-eighth session on the utilization of that procedure.


The Advisory Committee is ready to consider urgent requests for resources under the current arrangement, as and when required, and it urges the Secretary-General to make every effort to ensure that the time taken to prepare the relevant submissions does not delay the release of resources.  When requesting commitment authority under that procedure, the Secretary-General must always explain why the extra resources cannot be immediately absorbed within the approved resources.


On limited budgetary discretion, the Committee took up two reports.  The first, the Secretary-General’s report on limited budgetary discretion (document A/66/570), is submitted in response to the Assembly’s request that he extend to the 2010-2011 biennium his authorization during the 2006-2007 and 2008-2009 periods to enter into commitments of up to $20 million per biennium to fund positions and non-post requirements to meet the Organization’s evolving needs in carrying out its mandated programmes and activities.


In the past three biennia, the limited budgetary discretion was used to cover a broad range of activities related to organizational management requirements, such as influenza pandemic preparedness, fire code compliance and start-up of the enterprise resource planning system; requirements relating the administration of justice system; and natural or man-made events, such as the earthquake affecting the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).


Annex I to the report lists the modalities for implementing the limited budgetary discretion.  Annex II gives a detailed breakdown of its use during the 2006-2007, 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 periods.


The Secretary-General states that, thus far, the limited budgetary discretion mechanism has proven beneficial and enabled him to carry out his managerial responsibilities more effectively.  Based on that experience, he asks the Assembly to take note of the present report, and approve the permanent creation of the mechanism with some modifications to Assembly resolution 60/283, which sets out specific principles for its implementation.


The modifications include authorizing the Secretary-General to increase the amount of the discretion to $30 million, but maintaining at $6 million the amount beyond which the prior concurrence of the Advisory Committee must be sought.  Furthermore, the Secretary-General requests that the Assembly maintain the principle that the discretion not be implemented in pursuance of Assembly resolutions calling for implementation of decisions within existing resources, but he says that should not apply to cases of a cross-cutting nature that affect many budget sections.


In its nineteenth report (document A/66/7/Add.18), the Advisory Committee scrutinizes the Secretary-General’s proposals.  Noting that it had previously highlighted the inadequacy of the Secretary-General’s justifications and explanations for the proposed modifications in the last biennium, the Advisory Committee feels that the Secretary-General’s new proposal does not put forward any new arguments or rationale to support the proposed modifications.  Nor does he make clear why it is necessary to authorize him to use up to $6 million annually, instead of biennially, of discretion without the Advisory Committee’s prior agreement.  The Advisory Committee also recommends that the Secretary-General be asked to provide information on such concerns to the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session.


Concerning the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011, the Committee considered two reports.  In his second performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/66/578), the Secretary-General gives an estimate of the anticipated final level of expenditures under the programme budget for that biennium, taking into account changes in parameters for inflation and exchange rates and cost-of-living adjustments compared with the assumptions made in the first performance report (document A/65/589).


The revised requirements under the expenditure sections total $5.42 billion, an increase of $49.2 million due mainly adjustments under 24 budget sections, which is partially offset by a net decrease of $47.9 million under 18 other budget sections.  The higher requirements are also due to exchange rate fluctuations and inflation that caused a $115.56 million increase. The revised estimate under the income sections totals $601.3 million, an increase of $8.3 million.  The Assembly is asked to take note of the report, including the section on options for protecting the United Nations against exchange rate fluctuations and inflation, and approve the revised expenditure amounts and related income estimates.


Weighing in on the Secretary-General’s report with its own report (document A/66/611), the Advisory Committee says the Secretary-General’s report does not provide enough information to enable the Assembly to make an informed decision on the option for setting up a currency hedging programme.  Moreover, such a programme would only address one aspect of the recosting methodology and the report only offer one option, a hedging programme, for covering the exposure of the Organization to fluctuations in two currencies, the Swiss franc and the euro.


Accordingly, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Secretary-General be requested to explore and thoroughly analyse additional options and to report comprehensively on such options, and to include an analysis of each option’s related risks and resource requirements.  That information should be submitted in separate report for the Assembly’s consideration no later than at the main part of its sixty-seventh session.  Furthermore, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly approve the revised estimates of $5.42 billion under the expenditures section and of $601.3 million under the related income section.


Introduction of reports


Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on review of arrangements for funding and backstopping of special political missions (document A/66/340), MARÍA EUGENIA CASAR, Assistant-Secretary-General and Controller, said she outlined a number of problems faced by the Secretariat in dealing with special political missions, and presents several options for the General Assembly’s consideration.  In that regard, she addresses two sets of issues:  funding arrangements with structural implications; and urgent operational aspects.


On the funding arrangements, she said the Secretary-General proposed two options.  First, she suggested a special and separate account could be established for the funding of special political missions that would be budgeted, funded and reported on an annual basis, with a financial period from 1 July to 30 June.  Or, the budgets of special political missions could be segregated and placed under a different section of the programme budget.  Those budgets would then be presented on an annual basis.


To improve the funding arrangements during the transition from peacekeeping operations to special political missions, she said the Secretary-General proposed that the latter be authorized to access the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund on the same basis as peacekeeping operations.  Alternatively, the level of the Secretary-General’s current commitment authority for unforeseen and extraordinary expense from the current level of $10 million per decision of the Security Council could be increased to $50 million, with the Advisory Committee’s concurrence.  Both options would allow rapid response to the changing resource needs of special political missions during their start-up, expansion or transition phases.


To address the backstopping of special political missions, she said the Secretary-General proposed four options.  First, an account for peacekeeping operations could be made available for backstopping requirements of special political missions using the special separate account, pending the Assembly’s approval.  Second, the support account of peacekeeping operations and the Global Service Centre could be funded based on the size of the budget for special political missions, as a percentage of the combined budgets for both special political missions and peacekeeping operations.  Third, the variable backstopping requirements could be charged to the budgets of special political missions themselves.  Fourth, the backstopping capacity of special political missions could be included within the support account for peacekeeping and the capacity of the Global Service Centre, to which the programme budget would contribute based on the size of the budgets for special political missions as a percentage of the combined budgets for those missions and peacekeeping operations.


Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on the request for a subvention to the Special Court of Sierra Leone (document A/66/563), Ms. CASAR recalled that the Assembly had authorized the Secretary-General, as an exceptional measure, to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $9.88 million to supplement the voluntary financial resources of the Special Court for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011.


She outlined correspondence in 2010 between the Secretary-General and the Security Council regarding the Special Court’s funding shortfall of $18.4 million, noting that, due to unforeseen circumstances, the Court’s completion date had been extended from February 2012 to July 2012.  The present report updated the status of the Court’s activities and set out the total level of resources requested from January to July 2012, which was estimated at $9.1 million, reflecting an increase of $6.7 million in subvention over the $2.4 million that already been requested to cover January to February 2012.  Thus, a subvention of up to $9.1 million was sought from the Assembly for the extended six-month period, taking into account that there were no balances in voluntary contributions to the Court as of the end of October 2011.


She noted that the amount being sought would be adjusted pending future receipt of voluntary contributions.  Moreover, it was proposed that the requested $9.1 million be charged against the provision for special political missions for the biennium 2012-2013.


Statement by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs


LYNN PASCOE, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that the Secretary-General had complied with the request in Assembly resolution 65/259 (section XIII, para. 7) that he conduct a thorough review of funding and backstopping arrangement of the special political missions.  “That is exactly what we have done,” he said, noting that the Administration had looked very carefully at issues of concern as part of the Secretary-General’s overall efforts to enact reform in peace and security.  The Administration’s proposals were designed to remedy those defects.


Introduction of Reports


COLLEN KELAPILE, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s related report on funding and backstopping special political missions (document A/66/7/Add.21) and the report on the request for a subvention to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (document A/66/7/Add.19).


Concerning the special political missions, he said the current funding and backstopping arrangements were serviceable, but no longer optimal.  He pointed to several shortcomings in the Secretary-General’s report, saying it should have given a more in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of existing arrangements, as well as a breakdown of which issues impacted the individual, respective special political mission thematic clusters.  The Advisory Committee was informed that implementation of the options proposed would not, in themselves, engender more costs.  The Secretary-General’s analysis was incomplete with respect to the potential costs associated with a change in the financial period for the missions to 1 July to 30 June.


Concerning funding arrangements, the Advisory Committee recommended creating the proposed separate and special account, together with a change in the applicable financial period to 1 July to 30 June.  Although the information received did not fully justify how such a change would comprehensively address all the problems listed in the Secretary-General’s report, the change would be beneficial.  Concerning the proposed change in the financial period to 1 July to 30 June, he asked for further information on how such a change would affect Assembly processes.


Turning to its second report, on the Special Court for Sierra Leone, he noted the Secretary-General was seeking the Assembly’s approval for a subvention of up to $9.07 million so that the Special Court could complete its work by July 2012.  Any subvention approved by the Assembly would be disbursed to the Special Court in the same way as previous subventions — the funds would be transferred by the Controller on an incremental basis and adjusted according to the status of voluntary contributions.  He regretted that, to date, the Special Court had been unsuccessful in securing voluntary funding for 2012.  He expected that the Management Committee and other senior officials of the Special Court would bolster efforts to fund the Special Court’s activities through voluntary contributions.  He also encouraged the Special Court to do more to broaden its donor base.


Section III of the Advisory Committee’s report addressed the residual and legacy activities in preparation for and after the closure of the Special Court, he said.  The Residual Special Court, which was set up pursuant to an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone, was to be funded by voluntary contributions from the international community.  He trusted that effective fundraising methods would be adopted to secure sufficient voluntary contributions for the Residual Special Court.


Statements


FRANCESCO PRESUTTI, delegation of the European Union, underscored the importance of special political missions in preventing, controlling and resolving conflicts and in post-conflict peacebuilding, and alongside that the importance of effective and efficient support arrangements for those missions.  While it regretted the late introduction of the Secretary-General’s report, the European Union looked forward to a thorough discussion on the funding and backstopping arrangements for special political missions.  The Union had repeatedly asked for realistic forecasting and budgeting for special political missions.  But, while the Secretary-General’s report presented a number of options, many of them would constitute “radical and far-reaching” changes in the structure of the United Nations budgeting process.


Because special political missions had long been a part of the regular budget, the Fifth Committee must, before taking a decision on such proposals, first fully understand the scope of the issues being addressed.  The Union was concerned that the report was neither comprehensive in its analysis of the issues, nor in its presentation of data and evidence.  Further, the Advisory Committee had identified a number of shortcomings in the Secretary-General’s report and the thinking behind those points should be explored further and in more depth during the informal session.  Specifically, the Committee should look more fully at the administrative implications, costs and risks, as well as the possible benefits involved in the various options.


He went on to say that no proposal to reform the budgeting process should be considered in isolation.  Some delegations had suggested in formal statements that they would like to consider a change in the scale of assessments applied to special political missions.  The Union underlined that none of the options in the Secretary-General’s report implied any need for such a change.  It reiterated its well-known position on the assessment scales and that moving special political missions to the scale use for peacekeeping operations would lead to a less balanced distribution of responsibilities among Member States according to their capacity to pay.  That would be unacceptable to the Union, he stressed.


PIERRE HAGMANN ( Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, agreed that there were difficulties in including special political missions in the regular budget.  That was why Switzerland and Liechtenstein had sought to find alternative mechanisms for those missions.  Their volatility and unpredictability harmed the sustainability and predictability of the regular budget, which did not provide sufficient flexibility to meet the funding needs of those missions.  He praised the recommendations of the Advisory Committee in that respect.


He stressed that special political missions must have available a clearly defined source of funding as soon as their mandate was adopted.  The Secretary-General’s proposal to have access to the peacekeeping fund was a promising one.  The lack of access to the relevant backstopping of the United Nations in terms of financing modalities led to an overlap with peacekeeping missions.  Synergies should be explored and encouraged where such overlap occurred.  It was regrettable that such a significant issue was only being dealt with at the session’s end.  Enough time must be given to the issue so that the Assembly could take a decision after the necessary clarification and consideration.


LUIS ALFONSO DE ALVA ( Mexico) said the rapid growth in the last decade of the special political missions posed a challenge.  The requirements for them in the biennium 2000-2001 was $86 million, versus $1.2 billion during the last biennium.  That increase was unparalleled and was the main reason for the overall increase in the Organization’s budget.  “Addressing the challenges in front of use is of utmost importance and cannot be postponed,” he said.  A central problem was that the United Nations had two separate, misaligned funding systems.  The missions would undoubtedly be better served by aligning them with the budget cycle of peacekeeping operations.  Creating a specific account for those missions would be the most practical way to address the problem and would increase the transparency of their funding arrangements.  He supported the recommendation to give those missions access to operative arrangements, such as the Support Account, the Global Field Support Strategy, the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund and the strategic deployment stocks.   Such a move would increase efficiency and security.


He agreed with the overall conclusions of the Advisory Committee’s report and most of its recommendations.  The missions’ activities were quintessentially related to peace and security.  Only one of the 31 missions was created by an Assembly mandate; the rest were established by the Council.  The Assembly’s oversight of the missions was limited to financial issues, as there was no space to discuss all their aspects in the way that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations did with such operations.  The funding arrangements, particularly the scale of assessment, did not take into consideration the role or the nature of those missions, nor were those arrangements consistent with the widely recognized special responsibilities of the permanent Council members in maintaining peace and security.  With only two days left in the Committee’s current session, and with the issue concerning special political missions accounting for more than 20 per cent of the amount requested in the Secretary-General’s budget, the challenges must be address as a matter of urgency and priority.


JOSEPH M. TORSELLA ( United States) said that from its beginning, the United Nations had drawn on a range of activities primarily financed through the regular budget.  Those included preventive diplomacy, mediation and conflict resolution, and post-conflict peacebuilding in the pursuit of the maintenance of international peace and security.  Together, those activities were arranged under the rubric of special political missions.  While the Secretary-General had asserted, in his report, that the administrative and financial arrangements for special political missions were inadequate and had consequently proposed several options to address those shortcomings, the United States believed that the issues of concern could be addressed through technical adjustments to the existing arrangements.


“Wholesale changes to the basic funding mechanisms for special political missions may, in fact, have significant adverse implications not adequately addressed in the report, including on practical considerations related to the consideration of budget proposals by this Committee,” he continued.  Further, the Secretary-General’s most far-reaching proposals would exacerbate the piecemeal nature of the budgeting process.


He noted that, currently, 30 special political missions represented approximately 20 per cent of the regular budget, with requirements amounting to some $1.2 billion in a 2010-2011 biennial programme budget of $5.37 billion.  The Secretary-General’s proposals would, therefore, entail fundamental changes to the basic structure not only of the work of the United Nations, but of a substantial portion of the Organization’s expenditures.  Careful analysis, thorough discussion and thoughtful deliberation were needed to ensure that any changes would have no adverse impacts on the vulnerable populations who lived in the areas served by many of the special political missions.  The United States looked forward to working with all delegations to ensuring that the issue was provided the time and attention it rightly deserved.


REN YISHENG ( China) expressed concern over the late issuance of the reports.  The Advisory Committee’s report was not available until today.  That did not give delegates enough time to study it, posing difficulties during the debate on it.  He attached importance to the role of the special political missions in maintaining international peace and security and he was in favour of the Assembly providing logistical resources to those missions.  The Secretariat must show discipline and greater efficiency in utilizing budgetary resources for the missions.  He noted the issues identified in Secretary-General’s initial review on funding and backstopping of such missions.  China was ready to work with the Secretariat and Member States to find solutions to the difficulties facing the missions.  At the same time, no single measure could address the full range of issues.  Specific problems needed more than one solution.


The Advisory Committee’s report indicated that setting up a special and separate account for special political missions did not fully illustrate that all the related problems would be comprehensively addressed, he said.  Such an account should not be set up until such issues were clarified.  China had many concerns on the matter and it would bring up the specifics during informal consultations.  Member States should study the issue carefully and make prudent decisions.


JORGE CUMBERBATCH (Cuba) underlining the concerns of Member States regarding the funding special political missions, stressed that, in his proposals, the Secretary-General sought essential changes for funding arrangements in the context of the current clusters.  Sadly, however, the more substantive issues regarding special political missions were not covered in his proposals.  For its part, Cuba agreed with the view of the Advisory Committee in paragraphs 6 and 7 that the Secretary-General’s report did not set out an in-depth analysis of the impact on, among other things, individual missions.


He went on to note that special political missions should have the financial arrangements similar to those of peacekeeping operations.  If those suggestions could be accepted as sound, a decision by the Assembly would be needed to transform some political missions, such as the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), to peacekeeping operations.  The corollary would then be to apply the same assessment scale to those missions as was used in funding peacekeeping operations.


Without agreed criteria differentiating special political missions from the peacekeeping operations, the recommendation could mean that the Security Council could declare any field operation as a special political mission, which would exonerate its permanent members from accepting their funding obligations.  That was unacceptable.  The complexity and sensitivity of the Secretary-General’s proposals called for a thorough analysis, which was not possible during the current session.  Thus, it should be taken up during the resumed session.


VLADIMIR PROKHOROV ( Russian Federation) said the review and the conclusions on the funding and logistical backstopping of the special political missions were ambiguous in nature.  There were serious conceptual changes in the formation of the programme budget and in accordance with the established financial procedures of the Assembly, the options set forth in the Advisory Committee’s report for solving the funding and backstopping problems had some advantages and drawbacks.  At this time, due to a lack of adequate information from the Secretariat, it was not possible to come to a clear conclusion in favour of one option.  The Advisory Committee’s conclusions in a number of aspects were not clearly expressed.   Therefore, the special political missions’ financing should be retained within the framework of the regular budget.


The proposed changes concerning the budget cycle were unacceptable, he said.  In the past three years, the second resumed session of the Fifth Committee had not been able to conclude work on time due to the severe politicization of the items discussed.  The financing of the special political missions and the peacekeeping operations should not be merged, at present, particularly since the Assembly, at its second resumed session, was going to discuss the peacekeeping budget.  The Peacekeeping Reserve Fund was accessible to all.  It was important to not allow any kind of negative impact on new decisions on that item.  He recognized the importance of finding non-political solutions.  The Russian Federation was prepared to engage in constructive debate on the matter and he called on others to do the same.  Formulating the budget for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on the basis of a standardized model had prevented Member States from discussing its financing requirements, forcing them instead to agree with the proposed budget for that mission.  The Russian Federation would like to avoid a repeat of that during the discussion on special political missions.


Introduction of Reports


Next, Ms. CASAR presented four reports from the Secretary-General.


Introducing the report on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth sessions and its fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth special sessions (document A/66/586), she recalled the Assembly’s preference that all financial implications emanating from the resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council during a particular year should be presented to the Committee in the annual report.  Thus, the report detailed additional budgetary requirements estimated at $11 million for the 2010-2011 biennium and $13.3 million for the 2012-2013 biennium resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2011.


She said the Secretary-General proposed to meet an amount of some $11 million from the resources already appropriated for the 2010-2011 biennium, with details to be reported in the second performance report of the programme budget for that biennium.  He proposed that the amount of $13.3 million envisaged for the 2012-2013 biennium be considered in the context of the contingency fund for that biennium.  He also proposed the establishment of 6 posts (one P-4, two P-3s, one P-2/1 and two general service), under section 24, Human rights, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  The costs of those posts were included in the total requirements of $13.3 million.


In summary, she said the Assembly was being requested:


·                     to endorse meeting the additional $11 million in requirements for 2010-2011 from within the resources appropriated under the programme budget for that biennium as reported in the second performance report;


·                     to approve an additional $13.3 million, including $5.74 million under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, $7.4 million under section 24, Human rights, and $144,300 under section 28E, Administration, Geneva, for the biennium 2012-2013 in the context of the contingency fund for that biennium; and


·                     to approve the establishment of the 6 posts under section 24, Human rights, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.


Turning to the programme budget implications on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.5/66/10), she said the estimated costs of continuing the role of the good offices of the Secretary-General during 2012 would amount to $1.2 million, excluding staff assessment.  It included a staffing complement of one Special Adviser at the level of Under-Secretary-General to be engaged “when actually employed”, two P-4 and one P-3 political affairs officers and one GS (Other level) administrative assistant, as well as other operational requirements.  The total requirements were included in the Secretary-General’s report on the budgets for special political missions.


Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution (document A/C.3/66/L.55/Rev.1), she said additional requirements of $1.2 million under section 3, Political affairs, would be charged against the provisions for special political missions for the 2012-2013 biennium and $157,600 under section 37, Staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, of the programme budget for that biennium.  Approval for those requirements was being sought in the context of the Secretary-General’s report on estimates in respect of special political missions, good office and other political initiatives.


Outlining the programme budget implications on Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto (document A/C.5/66/11), she said that under paragraph 6 of the Third Committee’s draft resolution A/C.3/66/L.58, the Assembly would authorize an additional week of meeting time per year to be used consecutive to an existing regular session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  However, no provision had been made in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 for those activities and it was not currently possible to identify any activities to cut or change in order to offset this cost in the relevant sections of the budget.


Thus, should the resolution be adopted, she said additional resources amounting to $3 million would be required, including $213,600 under section 24, Human rights, $2.8 million under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, and $8,800 under section 29E, Administration, Geneva, of the proposed programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium.  That would represent a charge against the contingency fund and would, therefore, require additional appropriations to be approved by the Assembly.


Turning to the programme budget implications on oceans and the law of the sea (document A/C.5/66/12), she said that under the terms of operative paragraphs 63 and 64 of Assembly draft resolution A/66/L.21, the Secretary-General would be requested to allocate appropriate and sufficient resources to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea in the Office of Legal Affairs to provide adequate services to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.  Other operative paragraphs would request that he convene in New York, meetings of the State Parties to the Convention, the Commission and various associate Working Groups, as well as plenary meetings at the Assembly’s sixty-seventh session.


While no additional resources would be required for conference services related to the meetings, the estimated requirements for strengthened capacity in the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea would amount to $815,800.  Those requirements would cover three new posts, including one P-5 GIS Officer, one P-4 Legal Officer and one GS/OL Administrative/IT Assistant, as well as costs associated to those posts.  Should the draft be adopted, $537,000 of the $815,800 would be required under section 8, Legal affairs; $192,100 under section 29D, Office of Central Support Services; and $86,700 under section 37, Staff assessment, to be offset by the same amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.


Mr. KELAPILE, taking the floor again, introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report on the revised estimates resulting from Human Rights Council’s resolutions and decisions (document A/66/7/Add.20), and its three reports related to the programme budget implications on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/66/7Add.15), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto (document A/66/7/Add.17) and oceans and the law of the sea (document A/66/7/Add.14).


Concerning the revised estimates resulting from Human Rights Council’s decisions and resolutions, he said the Advisory Committee’s recommendations would entail an $886,200 reduction in the additional requirements of $13.26 million proposed for the biennium 2012-2013.  For the biennium 2010-2011, additional requirements totalled $10.57 million, which the Secretary-General proposed to accommodate from within the existing appropriation, as reported in the second performance report for 2010-2011.  The Advisory Committee did not recommend approval of the Secretary-General’s proposal for two P-3 posts and three GTA positions, as explained in paragraphs 4, and 5, 8 and 10 of its report.


Concerning the programme budget implications for the draft on Myanmar, the Advisory Committee noted the estimated costs to continue the Secretary-General’s good office for one year through his Special Advisor totalled $1.2 million and that the function had been undertaken by an acting Special Adviser since 1 January 2010 and the appointment of his replacement was expected by year’s end.  He welcomed the support provided by the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General on Myanmar in implementing his good offices mandate and he encouraged the Office of the Special Advisor to take full advantage of opportunities to hold meeting in New York in order to reduce travel costs.


Concerning the draft on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol, he said the extra requirements of $2.99 million would give the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities an extra week of meeting time per year.  He noted that, according to the Secretary-General, those unforeseen additional requirements were not included in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  On the backlog of reports from States Parties to the Convention pending review by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Advisory Committee was informed that only two of the 24 reports received to date had been examined, and that at the current pace of considering one report in a one-week session, it would take 11 years to review the 22 reports.  In addition, with the proposed extra week of meeting time, the duration needed to review the 22 pending reports would be reduced from 11 to five and one half years.


Regarding the draft on oceans and the law of the sea, he said the Advisory Committee, recognizing that new arrangements set out at the twenty-first Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea would significantly increase the workload of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, had no objection to the proposal to create three posts in the Division.


Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on financing of unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council (document A/66/558), Ms. CASAR said the report outlined three possible financing options for the Assembly’s consideration:


·                     The first option — including a provision for special human rights missions in the proposed programme budget — would require an extra $2 million under section 24 (Human rights) of the proposed programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium.


·                     The second option — establishing a reserve fund totalling $2 million per biennium for special human rights missions through additional assessments — would call for detailed guidance for the fund’s use from the Advisory Committee and the Assembly regarding the circumstances under which funds could be committed, released and reported to the latter body as part of the existing reporting schedule for the regular budget.


·                     The third option — providing access to resources under the Assembly resolution on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses — would presume an access to immediate funding of urgent activities resulting from the resolutions of the Human Rights Council under paragraph 1 (a) of Assembly resolution 64/246 and include the possible amendment of a sub-paragraph under that paragraph imposing a limit of $2 million for a biennium, within a specific limit.


Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on limited budgetary discretion, Ms. CASAR said the report provided information on:  utilization to date; implications of the human resources management policies and the Financial Regulations and Rules; the impact on programme delivery, as well as the Organization’s priorities; and the criteria used by the Secretary-General to define the Organization’s evolving needs.  It also provided information on the purpose and benefits of the limited budgetary discretion mechanism.


Outlining the evolution of the mechanism, which stemmed from the 2005 World Summit Outcome, she recalled that the Secretary-General had been authorized by the Assembly, on an experimental basis, to enter into commitment up to $20 million in the 2006-2007 and 2008-2009 biennia to fund positions and non-post requirements to meet the Organization’s evolving needs in carrying out its mandated programmes and activities.  This was subject to defined principles, as well as the Advisory Committee’s approval for amounts in excess of $6 million per biennium.  The Assembly had extended such limited budgetary discretion to the 2010-2011 biennium.


She noted that the limited budgetary discretion mechanism allowed resources to be reallocated between budget sections and its application fell outside the parameters of existing mechanisms.  It did not require additional funds from or new appropriations by the Assembly.  The experience of three biennia demonstrated the value of discretionary authority, which enabled the Secretary-General to respond quickly to meet emerging needs by deploying funds within the approved appropriation levels.


She stressed that the experiment had been carried out according to the nine principles set out by the Assembly and with full regard for the Financial Regulations and Rules, as well as human resources management policy.  It had also had a positive impact on programme delivery and filled a need not provided for by other mechanisms.  Thus, the Secretary-General recommended the permanent establishment of the mechanism with some modification.


Among other things, she said the experience following the 2010 earthquake in Chile showed how the mechanism allowed for evolving needs to be speedily met.  It also boosted the continuity of operations following a natural or man-made event.


In this regard, the Secretary-General was recommending that the limit of discretionary authority be raised form $20 to $30 million per biennium, she said.  He also recommended modifying his authority to enter into commitments without the Advisory Committee’s prior concurrence to $6 million per year, rather than per biennium.  Additionally, he recommended that an exception be made to exercising the discretionary mechanism with respect to Assembly resolutions that stipulated their implementation must be conducted “within existing resources” in cases where the mandated activities were cross-cutting in nature.


Mr. KELAPILE, speaking again, then introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report on financing of unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council (document A/66/7/Add.16) and its related report on limited budgetary discretion (document A/66/7/Add.18).  Concerning the first report, the Advisory Committee believed that the Secretary-General’s proposed options were premature, since the existing financing mechanism did not appear to have been used since the Human Rights Council created it in 2006.  The arrangements for meeting those expense requirements must be assumed to be fit for the purpose.


Concerning the second report, he said the exercise of limited budgetary discretion must be in accordance with the nine principles laid out in Assembly resolution 60/283.  Clear criteria for utilizing the discretion would ensure a more consistent approach.  The Secretary-General’s proposals did not adequately justify the proposed modifications to the discretion.  Moreover, the biennial utilization pattern did not indicate that the current $20 million limit was inadequate.  Therefore, the Advisory Committee recommended that limited budgetary discretion should be continued, on an experimental basis, under the current arrangements, without any modifications.


Mr. PRESUTTI, Delegation of the European Union, expressed regret that the question of financing to implement the decisions and resolutions of the Human Rights Council had been introduced so late in the main session.  Also regrettable, was the limited time for consideration of the Advisory Committee’s report before its formal introduction before the Committee.  The European Union thanked the Secretary-General for suggesting different funding options, but remained concerned that a procedure to fund unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising from the Council’s action already existed — and had for years.  It was worrying that extensive discussions related to the Councils’ review earlier in the year had not brought that existing procedure to light.  Also concerning was the lack of extensive comments on the existing procedure by the Secretary-General in his report.


Thanking the Advisory Committee for its focus on that procedure, he welcomed its commitment to consider such urgent requests as and when required.  He echoed the Advisory Committee’s suggestion that the Secretary-General make every effort to ensure that the time taken to prepare relevant submissions in that regard did not delay the release of resources.  The Union also welcomed the recommendation that the Secretary-General be asked to report back to the Assembly on his use of the procedure.


Mr. HAGMANN (Switzerland), also speaking on behalf of Liechtenstein, said the current financing of unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising from resolutions and decisions of the Human Rights Council was neither satisfactory nor sustainable.  Of the three options put forward in the Secretary-General’s report to resolve that problem, the option to modify the resolution on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses to include the possibility of incurring expenses for activities related to urgent human rights on the same basis as for activities related to peace and to security was the best.  That was the solution that delegations had advocated throughout the review of the Human Rights Council.  He expressed surprise at the contradictory interpretations in the reports of the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee.  The Secretary-General said the situation did not allow for funding of extraordinary expenses, while the Advisory Committee had advocated for the status quo, of using a mechanism that had not been used, nor proven effective.


He regretted that the Advisory Committee’s report had only been issued two days ago, not giving delegations enough time to study it, and that the issue was considered near the end of the session.  He stressed the importance of providing the necessary financial support for the Human Rights Council’s resolutions and decisions.  He stressed the importance of setting up an office for the President of the Human Rights Council and giving him the necessary support to carry out his mandate.  He also stressed the need to set up an Office of a Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.  That new special procedure will enable the international community to better fight impunity and allow victims’ voices to be heard.  He said he would contribute actively to deliberations on that matter.


HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) acknowledged the importance of providing the Human Rights Council with the necessary financial resources to enable it to carry out all of its decisions in fulfilment of its mandate.  Thus, the issue of adequate financing for unforeseen and extraordinary expenses must be addressed at the earliest opportunity.  In light of the Advisory Committee’s concerns on the Secretary-General’s proposals to change the current funding arrangements, however, it would be prudent for the Secretary-General to absorb any additional requirements within the approved budget.  Moreover, States should be informed of any requests for commitment authority to ensure that the existing financial mechanism for unforeseen and extraordinary requirements related to human rights activities was fully implemented.  It, therefore, looked forward to the Secretary-General’s assessment of how that procedure was being utilized.


Transparency and accountability should be adhered to in carrying out all human rights activities, he said.  At the same time, appropriate resources should be ensured and the existing funding mechanism for the Human Rights Council to implement it decisions should be preserved.  Nevertheless, he reiterated that the work of the special procedures mandate holders should be conducted in such a way that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States was respected.  He also called on States to continue supporting the work of the mandate holders by avoiding the politicization of any work related to the promotion and protection of human rights.


Mr. CUMBERBATCH ( Cuba) expressed concern over the Secretariat’s error in document A/66/558, in paragraph 2C, in which it affirmed that the Assembly endorsed the conclusions and recommendations in paragraph 8 of the Advisory Committee’s report A/65/548/Add.1, when in reality, in section IX of the Assembly resolution 65/259, the exact opposite had occurred.  He asked that the Secretary-General’s report be amended accordingly through publication of a corrigendum.  The question of financing unforeseen and extraordinary expenses was multidimensional.  Paragraph 6 of document A/66/7/Add.16 indicated that no urgent human rights activity mandated by the Human Rights Council had been cancelled due to a lack of funding.  But, in document A/62/125, the Secretary-General asked for a special mechanism for that purpose, which was later rejected by the Advisory Committee.  In its resolution 63/263, the Assembly accepted the annual report on revised estimates resulting from Human Rights Council decisions and resolutions, but the Advisory Committee had insisted on careful analysis of the modification of the resolution on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses.


He was struck by the new reading of the Advisory Committee, whereby the current draft on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses allowed the Secretariat to access a special mechanism set up for urgent humanitarian activities.  Cuba rejected such an interpretation, which contradicted the concerns expressed previously by the Committee regarding budget transparency.  The Secretary-General’s proposal and the Advisory Committee’s related recommendations would mean a deviation and violation of resolutions 41/213, 42/211 and those related to unforeseen and extraordinary expenses.  He called for a substantive debate on the validity and application of approved mechanisms and procedures.  For those reasons, the status quo should be maintained on a provisional basis, until the Assembly had analysed fully, and in detail, such procedures.


Turning to limited budgetary discretion, he noted that on the basis of the information given for the last three biennia, practically one half of the amounts were used for the mechanism, $29 million, and for activities that did not necessarily fulfil the guidelines of Assembly resolution 60/283.   Furthermore, and taking into account all the recent problems in the Secretariat on the optimal use of resources, he expressed concern over the Secretary-General’s proposals to expand the limited budgetary discretion to $30 million per biennium and to $6 million per year, without the prior approval of the Advisory Committee.  He expressed reservations on continuing the pilot project, which had not proven to provide any benefit to the Secretariat.  The financial discretion given to the Secretary-General should not in any way be detrimental to the oversight and administrative authority of Member States.


ÁLVARO CERIANI ( Uruguay) regretted that the presentation of the Secretary-General’s report, as well as that of the Advisory Committee, came just one week before the session’s close.  The current situation, in which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had to resort to accessing extra-budgetary funds to support urgent and extraordinary missions, was neither politically nor ethically tenable.  Those urgent missions, because of their delicate functions, should be funded from the regular budget.


In that regard, he reaffirmed paragraph 31 of the annex to Assembly resolution 65/281.  Urgent missions could not, he stressed, be subject to the existence or non-existence of voluntary funds.  Nor was it acceptable that funds were diverted from the Council’s other functions.  Thus, it was essential to establish a mechanism to allow access to funding on an immediate basis whenever the Council set up a commission of inquiry or a fact-finding mission.  While the circumstances seen this year had never been anticipated when resolution 65/281 was adopted last year, human rights were important enough that there should be no delay in adoption of an expedited mechanism.  Uruguay hoped that the issue could be addressed in a timely and urgent manner during the current session.


JULIE MEINICH JACOBSEN TAKAHASHI ( Norway) said the increasing number of urgent mandates from the Human Rights Council was a positive trend, although it had put considerable strain on OHCHR and its resources.  The Norwegian delegation had keenly studied the Secretary-General’s report and shared much of its analysis.  It was, however, surprised to learn very late in the Advisory Committee’s assessment that another, unexplored financing mechanism appeared to exist.  As such, Norway noted the discrepancy between the findings of the Secretary-General’s report and the Advisory Committee’s recommendations.  It was also concerned that that finding came at a very late stage, leaving little time for the Fifth Committee’s consideration.


She was encouraged by the Advisory Committee’s conclusion that it stood ready to examine urgent requests from Office of OHCHR under the existing funding mechanism as and when required.  Thus, it encouraged that Office to seek financing per the Advisory Committee’s recommendation.  It was crucial, however, that that process prove to be expeditious and effective and to fully cater to the needs of the High Commissioner’s Office, as laid out in the Secretary-General’s report.  Because there was limited experience with using that mechanism, an evaluation at the sixty-eighth session or earlier would be key.


MANUELA UREÑA ( Costa Rica) said the Human Rights Council should have the necessary finances for funding its mandates.  That was a highly relevant discussion and called for further examination in the Fifth Committee.  Thus, it was regrettable that the reports arrived so late.  A balance in the appropriation of human and financial resources was required for each of the three pillars — peace and security, development and human rights — of the United Nations.  That was all the more true given the growth of the role of peace and security in the Organization’s work and in the face of constant budgetary constraints.  Costa Rica had consistently supported the creation of a new fund for unforeseen events with a view to guaranteeing new mandates from the Human Rights Council.


Responding to the comments and questions from delegations, Ms. CASAR reassured the representative of Cuban that her office would investigate the issue he had raised and would take action accordingly.


Mr. KELAPILE noted that the Cuban delegation had pointed to a discrepancy between the reports of the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee, as well as the lateness of the findings.  He said the Advisory Committee was also surprised to uncover an existing funding mechanism that dated back as far as the fiftieth session of the Assembly.  Thus, the Advisory Committee had provided the relevant information in paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 of its report.


Based on an exchange of views with the Secretariat, the Advisory Committee had concluded that the information contained in the various documents it referenced in paragraphs 11, 12 and 13 suggested that the funding procedure had been used to finance activities not related to peace and security, including in Cambodia and Haiti.  Therefore, the Advisory Committee was recommending at this stage the assessments made by the Secretary-General in paragraphs 8 and 9 would appear to be invalid, based on the interpretation of the Secretariat’s representatives.


The representative of Cuba said the line of discussion could go further and develop into the need to look through precedents.  He couldn’t see the question being solved in less than a week.  Indeed, a serious, diligent discussion was required in informals on any precedents being established.  Moreover, if the Advisory Committee was correct, then any United Nations body could use the resolution to which it referred.  The day it came up for discussion in the Economic and Social Council, he was sure that some delegations would object.  Thus, further discussion, likely taking longer than a week, was required.


Introduction of reports


Introducing the Secretary-General’s second performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/66/578), Ms. CASAR said it provided an estimate of the anticipated final level of expenditures for the 2010-2011 biennium and took into account changes in parameters for inflation, exchange rates and cost-of-living adjustments as compared with last year’s update made when the first performance report was approved last year.  Additionally, it was based on actual expenditures for the first 21 months of the biennium and projected requirements for the last three months.


She said the final estimates for 2010-2011 were $5.4 billion for expenditure sections and $601.3 million for income sections.  In summary, estimates reflected a net increase of $40.9 million arising from increased requirements amounting to $103.7 million due to exchange rates, $11.9 million due to inflation, $24.1 million resulting from unforeseen and extraordinary expenses and commitments authorities approved in 2010 under various items.  There were reduced requirements of $90.5 million from expenditure sections and an increase of $8.3 million for the income sections.


She noted that the component of the adjustments to the expenditure sections related to post incumbency and other changes and reflect a decrease of $90.5 million.  A comprehensive analysis of changes to object of expenditure was included under part II, section D of the report.  The increase in income of $8.3 million reflected the net impact of changes to staff assessment levels under income section 1 of $5.6 million; an increase of $10.2 million under income section 2, general income; and an increase of $3.7 million under income section 3, Services to the public.  Details were provided in Part III of the report.


She went on to say that Part V of the report responded to the request to report on the experience of the remaining seven organizations on the mechanisms used in 2010 for protecting and mitigating the effects of fluctuations in exchange rates and inflation used by the organizations in the United Nations system.  Responses collected from those organizations were reflected in the report’s annex.  Also, the 2011 study undertaken to ascertain the impact of foreign currency fluctuations on the programme budget using foreign exchange rate transactional data pertaining to the 2008-2009 biennium was contained in paragraphs 89 to 103.


Finally, she said that expenditure information was being provided as supplementary information in response to the Assembly’s request to report on the projected total expenditure on air travel under the regular budget, by budget section, including payments under lump-sum schemes for the 2010-2011 biennium, with corresponding data for the biennia 2008-2009 and 2006-2007.


Introducing the Advisory Committee’s report on the second performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/66/611), Mr. KELAPILE said the recommendation to the Assembly was to approve the second performance report’s revised estimates for the expenditures and income sections.  In its observations on certain expenditure adjustments, it emphasized the need to address the factors driving travel requirements, as well as the need to contain travel-related costs.


The Advisory Committee commented more extensively on the information provided on options for protecting the United Nations against fluctuations in exchange rates and inflation, he said.  In particular, it addressed the establishment of a hedging programme to cover the Organization’s exposure to currency fluctuations in Swiss francs and the euro against the dollar.  It noted the Secretary-General’s statement that such a programme would need a robust risk management and accounting system, requiring as-yet-undetermined resources.  Thus, it judged that his report did not provide sufficient information to allow the Assembly to make an informed decision on establishing such a programme.


He said the Advisory Committee took the view that the Secretary-General had not responded comprehensively to the Assembly’s request in paragraph 52 of resolution 64/243.  Accordingly, it recommended that he be requested to thoroughly analyse additional options for addressing different aspects of the recosting methodology being applied, including the practice of recosting the programme budget four times in the biennial cycle.  He should also be requested to submit such a report separately from the performance report no later than the main part of the sixty-seventh session.


SEBATIÁN DI LUCA (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed the importance of the established budgetary procedure and methodology as set out in Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211.  Indeed, those procedures for formulating, implementing and approving the programme budget must be maintained and strictly followed.  Recosting was an integral part of those procedures and the Group rejected any attempt to undermine the compromise achieved more than 20 years ago regarding budget procedures.  Delegations could not pick and choose the parts that were convenient to them, or to try to reinterpret the provisions of those resolutions.


To that end, he recalled that recosting had been applied to the United Nations budget annually since resolution 41/213 was adopted.  Moreover, it was a revision process allowing adjustment in the level of appropriations resulting from variations in the operational rates of exchange, actual inflation levels, average level changes and vacancy rates assumed previously.


He stressed that any arbitrary modification of the recosting process to achieve so-called “savings” would have detrimental effects on mandated implementation in all budget sections and would undermine the priorities established by the Assembly, including on development-related activities.


Finally, he said the Group took note of the information provided by the Secretary-General on the recosting methodologies used by other international organizations.  However, it emphasized the unique nature of the United Nations, including its diverse international field presence and staff size.  Thus, recosting measure had to be customized for its needs.  The Group reaffirmed that the current methodology, as endorsed by the Assembly in resolution 47/212 A, was sound and must remain unchanged.


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