General Assembly approves nearly 17 per cent increase in current UN budget

General Assembly in session

24 December 2008 – The United Nations General Assembly today approved an almost 17 per cent increase in the current United Nations budget for the 2008/2009 period to $4.87 billion from $4.17 billion, including nearly $500 million for the next six months for peacekeeping operations in Sudan's war-ravaged Darfur region.

The measure was among a host of resolutions form its Administrative and Budgetary Committee adopted by the Assembly as it wrapped up its work for year, mainly covering internal administration and disciplinary issues, deterring procurement fraud and malfeasance within the World Organization and improving transparency.

“This morning's decision by the General Assembly enhances the United Nation's ability to better respond to the needs of the Organization,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement, adding that he was “deeply appreciative” for the additional resources.

The resolutions also set the $4.87 billion figure as a guide for Mr. Ban in preparing the 2010-2011 programme budget to be deliberated in the 64th session of General Assembly, beginning in September.

“Let us use the holidays to recharge our batteries and return in 2009 with renewed vigour,” Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto said in closing the session. “We cannot afford to rest on our laurels after this intensive period. Indeed, we have a busy schedule ahead and there are many important issues that call for dedication and diligence from all of us.”

Budgetary measures adopted ranged from an assessment of about $449.86 million for the first six months of 2009 for the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the provision of $429.5 million for 27 special political missions, the establishment of several posts for the Rule of Law Unit, and $5 million for design work for the integrated compound in Baghdad for the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

On internal administration, the Assembly approved a major shift from the current system of contracts, which, which it said “lacks transparency and is complex to administer,” adopting new contractual arrangements consisting of temporary, fixed-term and continuing appointments, to come into effect under a single set of Staff Rules, effective 1 July 2009.

It requested Mr. Ban to ensure a judicious mix of career and fixed-term appointments, to achieve an appropriate balance between institutional memory, long-term commitment and independence and the ability to bring in fresh insights and expertise, and to dismiss non-performing staff.

On the administration of justice within the UN, the Assembly adopted the statutes of the UN Dispute and Appeals Tribunals, as of 1 July, emphasizing that all possible use should be made of the informal system of justice in order to avoid unnecessary litigation.

Regarding the Procurement Task Force of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the Assembly recognized that its commitment to preventing and deterring fraud could not be sustained in the long-term by an ad hoc body. It noted Mr. Ban's intention to transfer the Task Force's remaining caseload to the Investigations Division of OIOS at the beginning of 2009, and requested him to ensure that OIOS has the expertise and capacity within its approved structure to effectively investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct in procurement.

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