General Assembly chief hopes budget talks will be resolved tomorrow

Jan Eliasson

22 December 2005 – The General Assembly could agree by as early as tomorrow on the United Nations’ budget for the next two years, the Assembly’s President Jan Eliasson said today, after weeks of contentious and often slow-moving talks on the issue.

In a letter to the Permanent Representatives of the 191 UN Member States, as well as the Permanent Observers, Mr. Eliasson said: “As I write, intense discussions on the 2006-07 budget are under way. I know that work is going on to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion by tomorrow. It is crucial and critical for the UN that we now reach a decision on the budget.”

The budget negotiations have been so thorny that earlier this month Secretary-General Kofi Annan postponed an official trip to Asia to help deal with the problem. At the time he urged Member States to pass a budget before the end of this year to ensure that ongoing UN operations are not hindered.

Mr. Eliasson said the cost of establishing an ethics office, the external evaluation of the UN’s auditing and oversight system and proposals on an independent oversight advisory committee were also part of the budget talks.

In his letter reviewing progress on implementing the outcome document from September’s World Summit, the Assembly President praised delegates for agreeing earlier this week to set up a Peacebuilding Commission, which will aim to prevent countries emerging from conflict from falling back into chaos.

“The fact that a number of you were prepared to set aside some deeply held differences of view in order to see the resolution adopted this week shows that this Assembly is willing and able to come together when the time for decisions is here,” he wrote.

“To those who argue that the United Nations, and the General Assembly in particular, is not able to take important but difficult decisions, I hold up the example of the Peacebuilding Commission as an example of what we can do together.”

On the decision to form a Human Rights Council as a successor to the current Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Eliasson said informal consultations have been scheduled for mid-January. The earlier the work on the Council could start, he added, the earlier they could start making the necessary transitional arrangements between the Commission and the Council.

Mr. Eliasson said talks on reform of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) should be concluded early next year to promote further implementation as soon as possible. To this end, consultations would be held in mid-January, he said, and the Assembly had authorized follow-up processes on migration and development in 2006 and on financing for development in 2008/09.

He noted that Member States have continued to show strong interest in reform of the 15-member Security Council as an essential element of the overall UN reform effort and he would convene the Open-ended Working Group on the matter in early 2006.

Mr. Eliasson said he would also consult Member States on issues relevant to countering terrorism, including a strategy, a comprehensive convention and a high-level conference.

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