18 December 2013
General Assembly
GA/AB/4095

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

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

25th Meeting (AM)


Intergovernmental Bodies Need Predictable, Sufficient Funds, Fifth Committee Told


During Review of Next Biennium Costs for Human Rights, Sustainable Development


The United Nations must provide predictable and sufficient funds to its intergovernmental bodies, Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) delegates said today as they scrutinized the costs during the next biennium of new and existing activities of entities focused on human rights and sustainable development.


Fiji’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed the importance of the Organization’s human rights pillar.  However, it was regrettable that a significant part of its mandate relied on extra-budgetary resources.  He fully supported the additional $5.14 million being sought for the facilitation of the Human Rights Council’s wide-ranging work.  As well, he supported the requested $1.5 million that would allow the Human Rights Committee more meeting time in order to address the backlog of communications under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 


The 2016 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat III) would be an essential opportunity to chart new ways to address the challenges of urbanization and implement sustainable development goals, he said.  Yet, it was worrisome that the lion’s share of the nearly $13 million needed for its preparatory process would come from voluntary contributions, not the regular budget.


Similarly, Jamaica’s representative said it was incumbent upon the international community to adequately fund preparations for next year’s conference in Samoa on small island developing States, which aimed to help those States identify sustainable development priorities.  She backed the approval of the $762,600 sought under the programme budget for 2014-2015 for such preparations and called for full funding of the requisite services for holding the conference.


Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s representative, speaking for the League of Arab States, implored Member States to approve the funding sought towards strengthening the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region.  Requests for the services of the Qatar-based Centre, which covered 25 countries, were growing.  However, coupled with personnel and funding shortages, it suffered from a lack of material in Arabic and other languages for non-Arab speakers in West Asia.


Johannes Huisman, Director of the Department of Management’s Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth sessions, as well as the Secretary-General’s statements on the programme budget implications in 2014-2015 for implementing the Assembly’s draft resolutions on the Human Rights Committee, Habitat III, the Samoa conference and the Qatar-based Centre.


Mr. Huisman also introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates for the contingency fund, as well as two addenda to the Secretary-General’s report containing the 2014 budget proposals for United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the joint mission of United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, respectively.  Lastly, he introduced the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates for the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015 due to the  effect of exchange rate fluctuations and inflation, and his report on the revised estimates specifically for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and their International Residual Mechanism, for the same period.


Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s related reports.


At the onset of the meeting, Janne Taalas, Committee Chair, made a statement.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m., on Friday, 20 December to conclude the main part of its sixty-eighth session.


Background


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to consider several issues under its agenda item on the proposed programme budget: biennium 2014-2015.


The Committee would continue its discussion of special political missions, with the review of additional Secretariat documents, including “Thematic cluster III:  United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia” (document A/68/327/Add.7), which detailed proposed spending of $50.39 million (net of staff assessment) for 2014 for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), established in accordance with Security Council resolution 2102 (2013).


Also reviewed would be the accompanying report on the matter, “Eighteenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.17).


Also before the Committee was “Thematic cluster III:  Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations for the Elimination of the Chemical Weapons Programme of the Syrian Arab Republic” (document A/68/327/Add.8), which detailed proposed spending of $11.82 million (net of staff assessment) for the Joint Mission for the six-month period beginning 1 January 2014


In addition, it would consider the corrigendum (A/68/327/Add.8/Corr.1) and the accompanying “Nineteenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.18).


Also before the Committee was the report, “Revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth sessions” (document A/68/634) and the accompanying report on the matter, “Sixteenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.15).


Turning to budget implications for various programmes, the Committee would consider several Secretariat statements submitted by the Secretary-General in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly.


The first, “Human Rights Committee Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/68/L.31/Rev.1” (document A/C.5/68/15), laid out the costs resulting from the approval of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) of that draft resolution on 14 November 2014.  If adopted by the Assembly, the resolution would require an additional appropriation of $1.5 million for the upcoming biennium, as no provision has been made so far for additional resources to deal with increased communications under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and reports under article 40 of the Covenant.


In order to be sure it would have enough time to deal with the increased number of communications and reports, the Human Rights Committee also requested an additional meeting time of two weeks during the 2014-2015 period.  One of that Committee’s three-week plenary sessions would then be increased by one week in 2014 and one week in 2015.  An additional $33,200 would be required under section 36, staff assessment, to be offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, income from staff assessment.


The Fifth Committee would also consider the “Twenty-first report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.20) on the matter.


It would then consider the statement on “United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/68/L.52/Rev.1” (document A/C.5/68/17) and the accompanying report, “Twenty-fourth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.23).


Also before the Committee was the report, “Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.2/68/L.61” (document A/C.5/68/18) and the “Twentieth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.19) addressing the matter.


The Committee would also review the statement, “Sustainable development: follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States Follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.2/68/L.67” (document A/C.5/68/19).


Also to be reviewed would be the “Twenty-second report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.21) on the matter.


To make decisions on the contingency fund, the Committee would consider the Secretariat report, “Contingency fund:  consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates” (document A/C.5/68/20) and the accompanying report, “Twenty-third report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.22).


To consider how exchange rates and inflation would impact the financing of the tribunals during the upcoming biennium, the Committee would consider the Secretariat reports, “Revised estimates: effect of changes in rates of exchange and inflation” (document A/68/659).


It would then take up the report, “Revised estimates for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals:  effect of changes in rates of exchange and inflation” (document A/68/660) and the “Twenty-fifth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/68/7/Add.24), which also addressed the matter.


Special Political Missions, Revised Estimates, Programme Budget Implications, Contingency Fund


JOHANNES HUISMAN, Director, Programme Planning and Budget Division, Department of Management, introduced two addenda (documents A/68/327/Add.7 and A/68/327/Add.8) to the Secretary-General’s report containing the 2014 budget proposals for UNSOM and the Joint Mission of United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons mission to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria, respectively.


He said that the total 2014 requirements for UNSOM were approximately $50.4 million (net of staff assessment), including resources for 221 positions and other operational requirements.  Approximately $11.8 million (net of staff assessment), including resources for 123 positions and other operational requirements, were for the Joint Mission.  The requirements would be charged against the $1.08 billion provision for special political missions, including under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015.


He then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth sessions (document A/68/634).  Total requirements were estimated at $28.9 million for the biennia 2012-2013, 2014-2015 and 2016-2017 for extended and new mandates.  Of that amount, $4.3 million and $10.5 million were for activities of a “perennial nature” already included in the programme budgets for the biennia 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 respectively; $3.3 million was to be considered in the context of the proposed 2016-2017 budget.


Of the remaining $10.9 million, he said, a total of $5 million would come from within existing resources, through redeployment, of the budget for 2012-2013; $723,500 from the proposed budget for 2014-2015; and $5.1 million from additional appropriations in the context of the contingency fund for 2014-2015.  It was also proposed that, as of 1 January 2014, two new P-3 and one new P-4 posts be established under section 24, Human rights, of the programme budget for 2014-2015 to support activities mandated in Human Rights Council resolutions 24/19, 24/20 and 24/24.


Regarding additional requirements resulting from Council resolutions 22/13 and 22/24, on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and in Syria, he said that the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions’ (ACABQ) concurrence to enter into commitments of $3.8 million under the provisions of General Assembly resolution 66/249 on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses had been sought and received in April of this year.  The related expenditures had been reported in the context of the second performance report on the programme budget for 2012-2013.  Therefore, no additional appropriations would be sought for activities under those resolutions.


Next, he introduced the Secretary-General’s statements on the programme budget implications in 2014-2015 for implementing four draft resolutions of the Assembly.  The first statement (document A/C.5/68/15) was on the text of the Assembly’s Third Committee, which authorized one more week of meeting time in 2014, as a temporary measure, for the Human Rights Committee to address the backlog of communications under the first Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Approval was sought for $1.5 million, including $1.06 million, under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, $432,900 under section 24, Human rights, and $4,900 under section 29F, Administration, Geneva, of the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015.  That amount would be charged to the contingency fund.


He then introduced the second statement, (document A/C.5/68/17), on the Third Committee resolution A/C.3/68/L.52/Rev.1, which called for strengthening the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region.  Approval was sought for $2.17 million, including $30,400 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, and $2.14 million under section 24, Human rights, of the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015.  That amount would be charged to the contingency fund.


The third statement, (document A/C.5/68/18), he said, was on the Second Committee resolution A/C.2/68/L.61 on implementation of the outcome of United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).  The statement included the regular budget share of the costs of the preparatory process for Habitat III totalling $2.07 million (net) under section 15, Human settlements, of the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015.


The last statement (document A/C.5/68/19), he said, was on the Second Committee resolution A/C.2/68/L.67 for the convening of two preparatory committee meetings and the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in 2014.  Approval was sought for $762,600 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, of the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015.


He then introduced the Secretary-General’s report (document A/C.5/68/20) on the consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates for the contingency fund in line with Assembly resolution 42/211, which decided that the fund would be set at $40.4 million in 2014-2015.  The total potential charges confirmed at the time of finalizing the current statement, taking into account ACABQ’s recommendations and without prejudice to further Assembly decisions, would be $19.8 million, and, accordingly, a balance of $20.6 million would remain available in the contingency fund.


CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chairman of ACABQ then introduced eight accompanying Advisory Committee reports.


With respect to UNSOM, he introduced the Eighteenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/7/Add.17).  The Advisory Committee generally recommended the approval of staffing resources proposed by the Secretariat, except for two staffing positions.


He said that the report commended the Mission’s phased deployment strategy, which accounted for the area’s security situation.  It was expected that a clear separation would be maintained between the operational budgets and costs of UNSOM and the United Nations Support Office for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  Also recommended was an overall cut in the requested resources for 2014 of $1.7 million, which included a reduction of $1.4 million under operational costs, in view of the low level of expenditures in 2013.


He then introduced the report on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations for the Elimination of the Chemical Weapons Programme in Syria (document A/68/327/Add.8).  The Advisory Committee had recommended against the approval of three of the 123 positions proposed:  one position in the Donor Corporation/Advisory Cell based in Cyprus and two positions in the Liaison Office in New York.


Noting that the proposed estimates for staffing requirements were based on high vacancy rates, he said that, with the mission’s short duration, the staffing structure could have been streamlined, based on an assessment of the personnel that could realistically be brought on board during the mission’s timeframe.  The Assembly was recommended to ask the Secretary-General to analyse the lessons learned from that situation and refine the current practice for estimating requirements for missions with similar characteristics.


Introducing the Advisory Committee report on Revised estimates stemming from the Human Rights Council (document A/68/7/Add.15), he said there were no objections to the resources proposed by the Secretary-General.  Turning to another report, Programme budget implications of these draft resolutions (document A/68/7/Add.20), he said ACABQ also had no objection to the additional resource requirements of $1.5 million under the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015.


He then introduced the Advisory Committee’s report regarding the budget impact related to the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region Programme budget (document A/68/7/Add.23).  Noting the functions of the current P-5 extrabudgetary post, Head of the Centre, had been proposed to be subsumed under a new regular budget post, he said that the proposal should have been reflected as a conversion of an existing post, financed from extrabudgetary posts.  He reiterated the Advisory Committee’s recommendation regarding posts proposed for conversion:  the pertinent recruitment, rules and regulations should be applied as if they were new posts.  There were no objections to the additional resources requirements of $2.16 million (net) for the biennium 2014-2015.


Turning to the Advisory Committee report on budget implications surrounding the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Programme budget (document A/68/7/Add.19), he said there were no objections to the additional resource requirements of $2.07 million.  Regarding its report on the financial implications of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, he said there were no objections to the additional resource requirements.


Finally, turning to the contingency fund report (document A/68/7/Add.2), he recalled the Advisory Committee’s previous observation that it was the Secretary-General’s responsibility to ensure the proposed programme budget gave the fullest possible picture of the Organization’s requirements for any given biennium.  Every effort should be made to incorporate additional requirements into the initial budget proposals at all times.  Further, the contingency fund was an essential budgetary instrument to address additional resource requirements, he said, emphasizing the need to adhere to the provisions of Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211.


Statements


PETER THOMSON (Fiji), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, attached great importance to the Organization’s human rights pillar.  However, he expressed regret that a significant part of its mandate relied on extra-budgetary resources.  He noted the additional requirements of $5.14 million for 2014-2015 arising from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council and fully supported their approval.  Also noting the information from the Secretary-General on the absorption of $1.23 million during the current biennium, he said he would seek further clarification during the informal consultations.


He also said that he fully supported the $1.5 million sought to implement the Third Committee’s draft resolution enabling the Human Rights Committee to address the backlog of communications under the Optional Protocol.  The meeting time allocated to treaty bodies to comply with their increasing workload was insufficient, causing a significant and growing backlog.  The requested amount was the minimum needed to ensure the Human Rights Committee addressed the most urgent cases.


An adequate preparatory process for the Habitat III conference in 2016 was critically important to the Group, he said.  As one of the first post-2015 global conferences, it was an important opportunity to discuss and chart new pathways to respond to the challenges of urbanization and to implement the sustainable development goals.  He noted that according to the Second Committee’s draft resolution A/C.2/68/L.61, the requisite funding of an estimated $12.9 million for that process would be met by the regular budget and voluntary contributions.  Of that figure, only $3.7 million would come from the regular budget.  He shared ACABQ’s concern over the lack of clarity in the rationale for apportioning the requirements to both the regular budget and voluntary contributions, and asked why the requirements had not been fully funded from the regular budget.


The outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference had clearly recognized the urgent need for concrete, coordinated and integrated action to address the vulnerabilities of small island developing States, he said.  To that end, Heads of State had called for the convening in Samoa in 2014 of the third global conference on those States.  A solid, well-developed preparatory process was critical for the conference to effectively address those States’ sustainable development aspirations.  The Group fully supported providing adequate resources from the regular budget to ensure the process’ success and the requisite services for holding the conference.   All mandates approved by United Nations intergovernmental bodies must be given adequate resources from the regular budget for their implementation.


DAHHAM SAAD SH. AL MUTTAIRI (Saudi Arabia), speaking for the League of Arab States, said that since its inception in 2005, the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region had become indispensable.  In addition, recent political changes in the Middle East had illustrated the need for promoting nascent democratic systems.  However, although the Centre had implemented many training activities, it faced challenges due to its lack of capacity to respond to the needs of non-Arab speakers in West Asia.  Material in Arabic was lacking, as were adequate personnel and resources to cover the Centre’s operations.  Those shortcomings had affected the Centre’s ability to respond in a timely way.


He recalled that the Secretary-General had proposed the Centre be given additional resources so it could continue its training and documentation services and role in the region.  It was, therefore, important to provide adequate resources to fully implement all mandates adopted by intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations, and thus, properly finance the Centre from the regular budget starting with the 2014-2015 budget cycle.  Doing so would enable the Centre to meet increasing requests in the region for its services and implement its mandate, which covered 25 countries, in an independent, transparent way.


MELISSA JOHNSON (Jamaica), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said it was crucial that the international community provide support for the 2014 Samoa conference and its preparatory process to ensure an outcome that further enabled small island developing States to achieve their sustainable development aspirations.  She fully supported approval of the $762,600 under the programme budget for 2014-2015 to facilitate the conference.  Regional preparatory meetings earlier this year in Fiji, Jamaica and Seychelles had helped identify those States’ priorities for the conference.  The priorities had since been incorporated into the August 2012 inter-regional meetings outcome document, held in Barbados.  Those States looked forward to the opportunity to engage in dialogue with other developing countries and their developed country partners during the preparatory process in the coming months to identify effective ways to address the challenges and advance their interests in the priority areas.  All mandates approved by the Organization’s intergovernmental bodies, including the Samoa conference, should be given predictable, adequate funding.


Revised Estimates for Exchange Rates, Inflation; International Criminal Tribunals and Mechanism Financing


Mr. HUISMAN took the floor again to introduce two Secretariat reports related to the revised estimates resulting from financial projections, updated as of December 2013, for rates of exchange and inflation for the 2014-2015 proposed programme budget (documents A/C.5/68/20 and A/68/659).  He also introduced the proposed budgets of the two Tribunals and International Residual Mechanism (document A/68/660).


The revised estimates for the biennium would total $5.5 billion, a decrease of $58.4 million compared to the proposed programme budget after preliminary recosting ($5.56 billion), he said.  Because of the timing of the adoption of the draft resolution A/C.2/68/L.67 on 11 December, the financial impact of $762,600 thousand had not been included in the report.  It had, however, been included in the consolidated statement of the contingency fund.


With respect to the Tribunals, he said, the revised estimates would total $93.6 million gross, a net decreased of $1.7 million, for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; $201.7 million gross, a net increase of $3 million for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; and $120.3 million gross, a net increase of $14,500, for the International Residual Mechanism.


Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU then took the floor to introduce the Advisory Committee’s accompanying report (document A/68/7/Add.24).  ACABQ had no objections to the Secretary-General’s revised estimates for recosting resulting from exchange rate shifts and inflation.  The Secretariat report on that issue had referred to the Administration’s initial experience in using forward purchasing for the Swiss franc during the 2012-2013 biennium and its intention to continue in the 2014-2015 budget cycle, in line with Assembly resolution 67/246.  In order to improve budget predictability, the Assembly may wish to specify an appropriate time period for the purchase of forwards at the beginning of each budget period, starting January 2014.


Closing Remarks


Fifth Committee Chair JANNE TAALAS ( Finland), thanking Fiji’s representative for his remarks made on behalf of the Group of 77, said that the Committee would make every effort to engage in constructive negotiations.  He then reminded all delegates that the Committee did not have months, or even days, left in the to complete their work.  “We have hours to wrap up this session,” he said.  It was important that all engaged in constructive negotiations and focused on the essential issues for their delegation.  That would allow progress to be made.  He also urged representatives to make compromises in the few remaining hours that were left.


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