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General Assembly resolution 31/93. Medium-term plan

The General Assembly,

Recalling the relevant recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts to Examine the Finances of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies,

Recalling also its resolutions 3199 (XXVIII) of 18 December 1973, 3392 (XXX) of 20 November 1975 and 3534 (XXX) of 17 December 1975,

Bearing in mind Economic and Social Council resolutions 2008 (LX) of 14 May 1976 and 2019 (LXI) of 3 August 1976,

Having considered the medium-term plan for the period 1978-1981, chapter III, section H, and chapter VII, section A, of the report of the Economic and Social Council, the report of the Committee for Programme and Co-ordination on the work of its sixteenth session, the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the medium- term plan, the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the major recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit on medium-term planning in the United Nations system, the report of the Secretary- General on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 3534 (XXX) and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions,

Conscious of the need for further harmonization of programmes throughout the United Nations system,

Aware of the usefulness of the medium-term plan as an instrument for effective co-ordination of the activities of the United Nations system,

Aware also of the respective roles of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in coordinating decisions taken by sectoral and regional bodies, while providing over-all guidance, determining policy lines and indicating areas of priority,

Recalling that the need to improve and strengthen the evaluation process as part of planning, programming and budgeting has been recognized since the issue of the report of the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts to Examine the Finances of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies,

1. Takes note with appreciation of the medium- term plan for the period 1978-1981 and accepts it in the light of the recommendations and conclusions contained in the reports of the Committee for Programme and Co-ordination and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions as the framework for the preparation of the programme budget for the biennium 1978-1979;

2. Urges each organization within the United Nations system to plan its activities, bearing in mind the related programmes planned or being carried out in other parts of the system;

3. Decides that the future medium-term plans of the United Nations should be prepared according to the following procedure:

(a) The draft medium-term plans proposed by the Secretary-General should embody:

(i) A short statement on directions that United Nations activities should take in the medium term;

(ii) A set of documents in which each major programme, developed in accordance with legislative decisions, is presented in a consolidated manner;

(iii) The following financial information:

a. Any approved allocations in the current regular budget;

b. The actual extrabudgetary expenditure for the preceding year or biennium;

c. Estimates, in percentage terms only, of the proportion of each programme's allocations during the planning period that the Secretary-General intends to devote to each subprogramme;

d. Indications of the time-phasing of planned activities as far as practicable, by programme, subprogramme and programme element;

e. As appropriate and in so far as possible, approximate amounts allocated or expended (as in a. and b. above) on related activities by other organs of the United Nations system;

(iv) Preliminary and approximate indications of future costs under the regular budget and from extrabudgetary resources for the plan as a whole and by major programmes which would neither constitute ceilings nor be binding upon Member States;

(v) Appropriate information on how proposed United Nations programmes would relate to activities of other organizations of the United Nations system;

(b) The medium-term plan will be considered by the General Assembly in the light of the comments and recommendations of the Economic and Social Council, the Committee for Programme and Co-ordination and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions following the procedures adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its decision 139 (ORG-76) of 15 January 1976;

(c) After approval by the General Assembly, the medium-term plan will constitute the principal policy directive of the United Nations which:

(i) States the medium-term objectives to be attained in a four-year period;

(ii) Describes the strategy to be followed to that effect and the means of action to be used;

(iii) Gives an indicative estimate of the necessary resources in over-all terms and by major programme;

4. Endorses the remaining recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Co-ordination not covered in paragraph 3 above and expresses appreciation for the comments thereon of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions;

5. Requests the Secretary-General to take measures to involve more closely the sectoral, functional and regional programme-formulating organs in the plan- fling and programming process;

6. Urges those organs to refrain from undertaking new activities not programmed in the medium-term plan and the subsequent programme budget unless a pressing need of an unforeseeable nature arises as determined by the General Assembly;

7. Requests the Secretary-General to ensure compliance with the planning and programme-budgeting procedure referred to above;

8. Reaffirms that supplementary estimates for expansion of existing activities or initiation of new programmes will be considered only after specific approval of the General Assembly;

9. Reaffirms its resolution 3534 (XXX) and stresses the responsibility of the Secretary-General to draw to the attention of the competent intergovernmental bodies activities that are obsolete, of marginal usefulness or ineffective, indicating the resources which could be released so that the bodies concerned may take the necessary action;

10. Decides that the Committee for Programme and Co-ordination shall function as the main subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly for planning, programming and coordination and approves the consolidated terms of reference as set out in Economic and Social Council resolution 2008 (LX);

11. Instructs the Committee for Programme and Co-ordination in particular:

(a) To review in depth, on a selective basis, the major programmes of the plan and to recommend any necessary amendments to the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly;

(b) To determine which programmes, subprogrammes or programme elements are obsolete, of marginal usefulness or ineffective and to recommend, as appropriate, their curtailment or termination;

(c) To assess the degree of substantive co-ordination of selected programmes within the United Nations system and to recommend the appropriate action thereon;

12. Further decides that, in order to encourage Member States to be represented at a high level of expertise and to ensure the continuity of their representation in the body whose central role and over-all responsibilities are recognized, the Organization shall bear from 1978 onwards, for an experimental period and subject to review by the General Assembly at its thirty- fourth session, as a special exception to the basic principles set out in paragraph 2 of Assembly resolution 1798 (XVII) of 11 December 1962 concerning the payment out of United Nations funds of travel and subsistence expenses to members of organs and subsidiary organs of the United Nations, the travel (on the basis of economy class) and subsistence expenses (at standard rates applicable to officials of the Secretariat plus 15 per cent) of one representative of each Member State on the Committee for Programme and Coordination.

98th plenary meeting
14 December 1976

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