GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ACTING ON FIFTH COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS, DECIDES TO INCREASE NUMBER OF UN OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS TO 10

31 March 1998
GA/9402

GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ACTING ON FIFTH COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS, DECIDES TO INCREASE NUMBER OF UN OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS TO 10

31 March 1998

Press ReleaseGA/9402

GENERAL ASSEMBLY, ACTING ON FIFTH COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS, DECIDES TO INCREASE NUMBER OF UN OFFICIAL HOLIDAYS TO 10

19980331 Texts Adopted on Independent Study of IMIS, Procurement Reform, Peacekeeping Financing, Conference Services Matters, Budget Allocations

Acting without a vote, the General Assembly this afternoon decided to increase the number of official United Nations holidays by one day, bringing the total to 10, including the two holidays of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, as it adopted 25 recommendations of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), including seven resolutions and 16 decisions, all of which were adopted without a vote.

In the Committee, the decision on the holidays was approved by a recorded vote of 54 in favour to 25 against, with 2 abstentions (New Zealand, Ukraine) on 26 March.

Speaking in explanation of position on the text this afternoon, the representative of the United Kingdom, for the European Union and associated States, said it was always regrettable when the Fifth Committee resorted to voting, and in order not repeat that procedure, the Union had joined the consensus. However, to the Union's knowledge, the Assembly had never in the past instructed the Secretary-General to allocate holidays in any particular fashion.

The United States' representative said his Government remained deeply concerned that the current decision was not in conformity with the secular nature of the United Nations, nor did it promote equity among the very diverse religions and cultures of the Member States, as reflected in the spirit and intent of the United Nations Charter. The United States had reluctantly joined consensus on the text.

The representative of Qatar, speaking for the member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said the adoption of the decision on Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha represented a new era of equality in the United Nations. In his view, financial implications and secularism had nothing to do with any action taken by any country on the text. Some other factor had been the cause for States' actions. However, that was all behind the Assembly now.

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Also explaining their position on the text were the representatives of Indonesia (for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Nepal, Japan, Canada and Australia. The Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, Jin Yongjian, also spoke on the draft.

By other texts adopted this afternoon, the Assembly, acting on procurement reform, requested the Secretary-General to examine the possibility of awarding contracts to equally qualified vendors from countries that were current in the payment of their assessed contributions. It also requested that he examine ways to increase contract opportunities for developing countries. The representative of the United Kingdom, for the European Union and associated States, spoke after action on that text.

By another text, the Secretary-General was requested to entrust the Office for Internal Oversight Services to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the reasons for the increase in contract costs for the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS). He was also asked to have a study of the system conducted by independent experts and submitted to the Assembly no later than the end of the main part of its fifty-third regular session.

Noting an unspent balance of $9.3 million from the regular budget for the biennium 1996-1997, the Assembly decided to allocate $2.5 million for IMIS for 1998 and $1.3 million for improving conference facilities, by another text adopted. The balance was retained with a view to financing the activities of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

In action related to the programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999, the Assembly accepted the offer of the Swiss authorities for office accommodation at the Palais Wilson in Geneva. It took note of the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the United Nations International Partnership Trust Fund -- established to manage the $1 billion donation from Ted Turner. The Secretary-General was requested to report regularly to the Assembly on the subject.

Also regarding the 1998-1999 programme budget, the Assembly decided to consider the question of honoraria payable to members of organs and subsidiary organs of the United Nations at its fifty-third session. Further, it decided to defer consideration of the Secretary-General's report on redirecting non-programme costs to a development account to the second part of its resumed session.

In other action, the Assembly decided that documents issued by the Secretariat related to the Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names should be translated into the six official languages.

Regarding the code of conduct proposed for United Nations staff, the Assembly invited the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to examine

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the draft code at its forthcoming session. It requested the Fifth Committee to revert to the matter during its resumed fifty-second session.

Acting on peacekeeping financing, the Assembly decided to appropriate, for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998:

-- A total of $17.2 million gross (just under $16 million net) to the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO);

-- A total of $175 million gross ($170.7 million net) to the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA); and

-- A total amount of $15 million gross ($14.3 million net) for the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT).

Moreover, the Assembly decided that, when apportioning peacekeeping expenses, Slovakia would be included in group C of Member States -- which are assessed 20 per cent of their regular budget assessment rates for peacekeeping. It also decided to take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Assembly resolutions 49/249 and 50/224, by which it had decided to change the group assignments for peacekeeping assessments for Portugal (from group C to group B), Belarus (from group B to group C), Greece (from Group C to group B) and Ukraine (from group B to group C).

In addition, the Assembly noted that documents from the Secretariat were not being submitted as required by Assembly resolution 52/214 B and emphasized that its provisions should be implemented. [The resolution requests, in part, that those reports contain, where appropriate, summaries, conclusions, recommendations and background information.]

The Assembly also approved the revision of the terms of reference governing the audit of the United Nations. In other action, it decided to consider at its fifty-third session the Oversight Office's report on consultants and the Secretary-General's report on respect for privileges and immunities of officials of the United Nations and related organizations. It decided to defer to its next resumed session its consideration of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) and of the Secretary-General's report on the Oversight Office.

The Assembly also decided to take note of a number of reports submitted under several agenda items during the first part of the Fifth Committee's resumed session.

Also on the recommendation of the Fifth Committee, the Assembly appointed Nester Odaga-Jalomayo (Uganda) to the United Nations Staff Pension Committee to serve a three-year term of office from today until 31 December

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2000. It appointed Kevin Haugh (Ireland) to fill a vacancy in the United Nations Administrative Tribunal from today until 31 December.

At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly's Vice-President, Hasan Abu-Nimah (Jordan), drew attention to a letter from the Secretary-General (document A/52/785/Add.2) in which he states that Djibouti and Sierra Leone had reduced their arrears below the amount by which they would be stripped of their voting rights under Article 19 of the United Nations Charter. The Assembly took note of that information.

On other matters, the Assembly decided to reopen agenda item 97 (a), entitled "Renewal of the dialogue on strengthening international economic cooperation for development through partnership", and consider it directly in a plenary meeting at a later date.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to take action on recommendations of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), based on the recently concluded first part of its resumed session, and to consider the reopening of the agenda item on sustainable development and international economic cooperation.

The Fifth Committee's reports contain recommendations on the following items: appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments; financial reports and audited statements and reports of the Board of Auditors; review of the Organization's administrative and financial efficiency; programme budget for the biennium 1996-1997; aspects of the 1998-1999 programme budget; the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU); pattern of conferences; the financing of four peacekeeping operations; administrative and budgetary aspects of financing peacekeeping operations; the Secretary-General's report on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services; and human resources management.

Fifth Committee Reports

The Assembly had before it a report on appointment to the United Nations Administrative Tribunal (document A/52/674/Rev.1/Add.1), in which the Committee recommends the appointment of Kevin Haugh (Ireland) for a term of office ending on 31 December 1998.

A report on appointments to the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Committee (document A/52/676/Add.1), contains the Committee's recommendation that Nester Odaga-Jalomayo (Uganda) be appointed for a term of office to expire on 31 December 2000.

By a draft resolution concerning financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/52/732/Add.1), the Assembly would approve the revised text for the additional terms of reference governing the audit of the United Nations; accept the Auditors' recommendations; and emphasize that the primary managerial responsibility for implementation of their recommendations lies with department heads and programme managers.

On review of the United Nations administrative and financial efficiency (document A/52/746/Add.1), the Assembly had before it a report containing two texts.

By a draft resolution on procurement reform and outsourcing practices, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to examine the possibility of awarding contracts to equally qualified vendors from countries that are current in the payment of their assessed contributions. He would also be requested to intensify his efforts to broaden the geographical base of

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the suppliers roster and examine ways to increase contract opportunities for developing countries.

By the terms of a draft decision on the proposed United Nations code of conduct, the Assembly would invite the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to examine the proposed code as a matter of priority, at its forthcoming session. It would also request the Fifth Committee, in light of the ICSC's comments, to revert to the matter during its resumed fifty-second session, with a view to taking a decision on it.

A Fifth Committee report on the programme budget for the 1996-1997 biennium contains one draft decision (document A/52/743/Add.1) by which the Assembly would note an unspent balance of $9.3 million from the regular budget for the biennium 1996-1997. It would decide to allocate $2.5 million to the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) for 1998 and $1.3 million for improving conference facilities. The balance would be retained with a view to financing the activities of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Also before the Assembly was a report on the programme budget for the 1998-1999 biennium (A/52/744/Add.2) containing one draft resolution and four draft decisions.

By the draft resolution on IMIS, the Secretary-General would be requested to ensure strict adherence to the Organization's Financial Rules and Regulations in matters concerning control over expenditure on the project. He would also be requested to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services with conducting a comprehensive analysis of the reasons for the increase in the project's contract costs. Also, he would be requested to have independent experts conduct a study of the system, to be submitted to the Assembly by the end of the main part of its fifty-third session. The Assembly would express its deep concern about the time and cost overruns for the completion of the project.

By draft decision I, on honoraria, the General Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General's report on an interim study of the question of honoraria payable to members of organs and subsidiary organs of the Untied Nations; endorse the related observations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ); and decide to consider the Secretary-General's comprehensive report on the subject at its fifty-third session.

[The Secretary-General's report on the interim study resubmitted his 1992 recommendation that current rates be increased by 25 per cent. The revised rates would be paid to members of the International Law Commission, International Narcotics Control Board, United Nations Administrative Tribunal,

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Human Rights Committee, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.]

Draft decision II, on reduction and refocussing of non-programme costs, relates to the Secretary-General's proposal to redirect savings resulting from cuts in non-programme costs towards a development fund. By the draft text, the Assembly would decide to defer consideration of the Secretary-General's report, together with that of the ACABQ, to the second part of its resumed fifty-second session, pending the submission of the Secretary-General's detailed report on the sustainability and modalities of the development account.

Draft decision III, on office accommodation at the Palais Wilson, would have the Assembly approve the Secretary-General's proposal to accept the offer of the Swiss authorities to place office accommodation at the United Nations disposal, noting that the cost of about $2 million for the move to be met by the United Nations would be covered from existing resources available under the programme budget for 1998-1999 for the provision of accommodation at Geneva (section 27F). Further by the text, it would request the Swiss authorities to ensure the extension of the rent-free agreement beyond the year 2000 and would decide further to consider the issue of office accommodation at its fifty-fourth session.

Draft decision IV, on the United Nations International Partnership Fund -- established to manage the $1 billion donation from Ted Turner -- would have the Assembly take note of the report of the ACABQ on the Fund and request the Secretary-General to report regularly to it on the subject.

On the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), the Assembly had before it the Committee's report (document A/52/842) containing a decision to defer consideration of the item to the second part of its resumed fifty-second session.

The Assembly also had before it four draft decisions contained in a Fifth Committee report on the United Nations pattern of conferences (document A/52/734/Add.1). By the first, the Assembly would decide that the United Nations official holidays should be set at 10 days, in order to observe the two holidays of Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha at Headquarters and other duty stations.

By draft decision II, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General's report on the upgrading of conference rooms and interpretation booths.

By draft decision III, the Assembly would decide that the documents issued by the Secretariat related to the Conference on the Standardization of

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Geographical Names should be translated into the Organization's six official languages.

Draft decision IV would have the Assembly note that documents are not being submitted as required by its resolution 52/214 B, and emphasize that the provisions of that text should be fully implemented.

By the terms of a draft resolution in the Committee's report on financing the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA) (document A/52/547/Add.1), the Assembly would decide to appropriate to the Special Account of MONUA a total amount of $175 million gross ($170.7 million net) for the Mission's operation from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, inclusive of the $155 million gross ($150.4 million net) already appropriated and authorized under the provisions of its resolution 52/8. It would also decide to apportion, as an ad hoc arrangement, the additional amount of $20 million gross ($20.4 million net) for the same period, taking into account the scales of assessment for 1997 and 1998 and subject to the Security Council's decision to extend the Mission's mandate beyond 30 April.

Regarding the financing of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), the Committee's report (document A/52/843) contains one draft resolution by which the Assembly would decide to appropriate $17.2 million gross ($16 million net) for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998 to the MINURSO Special Account. That total amount would be inclusive of the $9.3 million gross ($8.5 million net) already authorized for the period from 1 November 1997 to 31 March 1998 and would be in addition to $30.2 million gross ($28.4 million net) already appropriated for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998.

Further by the text, the Assembly would decide, as an ad hoc arrangement, to apportion the additional amount of just under $11.1 million gross ($10.3 million net) for the period ending 20 April 1998 among Member States, taking into account the amount of some $24.3 million gross ($22.9 million net) already assessed for the same period under the terms of resolution 51/2 B, as well as the scales of assessments for the years 1997 and 1998.

In addition, the Assembly would decide, as an ad hoc arrangement, to apportion the amount of $6.1 million gross ($5.7 million net) -- for the period from 21 April to 30 June 1998 -- among Member States at monthly rates indicated in an annex to the draft, subject to the Council's decision to extend the Mission's mandate beyond 20 April.

On the financing of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) (document A/52/844), the Assembly had before it a draft resolution by which it would decide to appropriate to the Special Account of

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that Mission $15 million gross ($14.3 million net) for the expansion of the Mission for the period from 1 July 1997 to 30 June 1998, inclusive of $8.3 million gross ($7.7 million net) already appropriated under the provisions of Assembly resolution 51/237. Also by the text, the Assembly would decide, as an ad hoc arrangement, to apportion $5.4 million gross ($5.3 million net) for the period ending 15 May 1998 among Member States, in addition to the amount of some $7.2 million gross ($6.8 million net) already apportioned for the period ending 15 May 1998.

Under other provisions, the Assembly would further decide, as an ad hoc arrangement, to apportion the amount of $2.4 million gross ($2.3 million net) for the period from 16 May to 30 June 1998 among Member States, subject to the decision of the Security Council to extend the mandate of the Mission beyond 15 May.

According to the Committee's recommendation on financing the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (document A/52/845), the Assembly would decide to take note of the report of the ACABQ.

Under a draft resolution in the Committee's report on administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/52/453/Add.2), the Assembly would decide, as an ad hoc arrangement, that, from 1 April, Slovakia would be included in group C with respect to the apportionment of peacekeeping expenses (economically less developed Member States), and would therefore pay 20 per cent of its regular budget assessment rates. Its contribution to the financing of peacekeeping operations would be calculated in accordance with the scale of assessments approved by the Assembly last December and subsequent resolutions to be adopted by the Assembly concerning future scales of assessments. For the period 1 January 1997 to 31 March 1998, Slovakia would also be in group C, and its contributions should be calculated in accordance with the relevant Assembly resolutions adopted in 1994 and 1997, and its decision of 1995.

By a draft decision in the same report, the General Assembly would take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of Assembly resolutions 49/249 and 50/224.

[In those resolutions, the Assembly had decided to change the group assignments for peacekeeping assessments for Portugal (from group C to group B), Belarus (from group B to group C), Greece (from group C to group B) and Ukraine (from group B to group C).]

[The United Nations membership is divided into four groups for apportioning peace-keeping expenses. Those in "group (d)" are named economically less developed Member States that would be charged at 10 per cent of their regular budget assessment rates. Countries in "group (c)" are other economically less developed States which would be billed at one fifth. "Group

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(b)" are named economically developed States which are not permanent members of the Security Council and would be assessed at 100 per cent. In "group (a)" are the permanent Council members which would pay 100 per cent and cover expenses left unapportioned.]

On the Secretary-General's report on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (document A/52/846), the Assembly had before it a draft decision by which it would defer consideration of the item to the second part of its resumed fifty-second session.

The Committee's report on human resources management contained two draft texts (document A/52/739/Add.1). By draft decision I, on the Oversight Office's report on the United Nations use of consultants, the Assembly would decide to consider the report at its fifty-third session.

By draft decision II, on privileges and immunities of United Nations officials and those of specialized agencies and related organizations, the Assembly would defer consideration of the Secretary-General's report until its fifty-third session.

Action on Fifth Committee Reports

DJAMEL MOKTEFI (Algeria), Fifth Committee Rapporteur, introduced the Committee's reports.

Then, on the Committee's recommendation, the Assembly appointed Kevin Haugh (Ireland) as a member of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal for a term of office beginning today and ending on 31 December.

It then appointed Nester Odaga-Jalomayo (Uganda) to the United Nations Staff Pension Committee, to serve a three-year term from today until 31 December 2000.

Next, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution on the terms of reference governing the audit of the United Nations without a vote.

Turning next to the review of the Organization's administrative and financial efficiency, it adopted a draft resolution on procurement reform and outsourcing practices, also acting without a vote. It then adopted a draft decision on the proposed United Nations code of conduct, again acting without a vote.

Speaking after action, NICHOLAS THORNE (United Kingdom), on behalf of the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Cyprus, said the Union attached the greatest importance to the issue of procurement reform. The Union had made its views clear during its introductory statement on the issue

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during the Fifth Committee's discussion. That the debate on the subject would have to be resumed at the Committee's next session was a cause of considerable disappointment.

Procurement reform was an area where the United Nations was exposed to commercial society, he said. Its performance in recent years had left much to be desired. Repeated calls by Member States for fundamental reform had led to little or no significant movement. The fact that consensus on the resolution on procurement reform had been reached with relative ease demonstrated a common conviction of that unfortunate situation. Delegations had been unanimous on many important issues, not least in their call for the early implementation of revised Financial Regulations and the long awaited rules governing procurement procedures.

The Union also asked the Secretary-General to examine and report on three other key areas, he said. Those were: ways in which developing countries with economies in transition might gain a larger share of United Nations procurement; ways in which those who had fully paid their contributions might be given some measure of priority in the conclusion of procurement contracts -- the Union was interested in the experience of the World Bank in that context; and ways in which the structure of the Procurement Division could be better adjusted to meet the needs of the Organization.

The Union believed that reports on the first two points should be received no later than the autumn of 1998, he said. On the third point, the structure and staffing of the Procurement Division, there had been some disagreement among States. The Union had consistently supported the Secretary-General's view that he required a highly qualified officer at the level of D-2 with experience of top level procurement to run United Nations operations. The Union continued to believe that such experience was necessary to deal with those important issues where the United Nations must interact with top international commercial competition.

Next, the Assembly adopted the Fifth Committee's draft decision on an unspent balance from the programme budget for the biennium 1996-1997.

It then took up the Committee's report on the programme budget for 1998-1999, which contained one draft resolution and four draft decisions.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution on the IMIS.

Next, it adopted the draft decision on honoraria, also without a vote. In the same manner, it adopted decisions on reduction and refocusing of non-programme costs; office accommodation at the Palais Wilson; and the United Nations International Partnership Fund.

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The Assembly then decided to defer consideration of the JIU until the next resumed session.

Turning to the Organization's pattern of conferences, it first took up the draft decision concerning United Nations official holidays.

Speaking before action, YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) asked for information on the programme budget implications of the draft on United Nations holidays.

YONGJIAN JIN, Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, told the Assembly that should it adopt the draft decision on the United Nations holidays, there would be no associated programme budget implications.

PRAYONO ATIYANTO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said it was not convinced of the need for the Secretariat to make a statement on the financial implications of the draft. Further, there was no need to open the debate on the text, since the Fifth Committee -- the Assembly's administrative and budgetary body -- had taken up the matter. He appealed to Members not to open the debate again. Further, he appealed to all those concerned to understand the Group's position, and support the text, to enable the Assembly to take action by consensus. He suggested that the Assembly take action accordingly.

NASSER HAMAD AL-KHALIFA (Qatar), on behalf of the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, supported the position of the Group of 77 and China. It was time to move beyond what had occurred in the Committee; the issue should not be opened anew. In the spirit of friendship, he urged all concerned Members to take a decision on the matter by consensus.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the decision on United Nations holidays.

Also acting without a vote, it adopted the decision on the upgrading of conference rooms and interpretation booths, as well as the decision regarding documents issued by the Secretariat relating to the Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names. It then adopted the decision on the submission of documents under resolution 52/214 B without a vote.

Speaking after action, BINOD PRASAD BISTA (Nepal) said his delegation had joined the consensus in the belief that it served to promote the universal aspect of the Organization, which was an objective to be reflected in the official holidays. Not only should a balance be struck between observance of local holidays and those of United Nations Member States, but due regard should be paid to the major civilizations of the world. The Secretary-General had been asked to look further into the matter.

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Mr. ATIYANTO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the Group welcomed the decision on the implementation of resolution 52/214 A, by which the Assembly had decided that the official holidays should be set at 10 days in order to observe the two additional holidays. The support given in that regard by the Group was a true reflection of the genuine solidarity of its members. The Group believed the adoption of the resolution recognized the extensive diversity of Member States. He expressed the appreciation of the Group for those who had supported the resolution and asked the Secretary-General to work to fully implement it.

Mr. THORNE (United Kingdom), speaking for the European Union and Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Iceland and Liechtenstein, said the Union had very much regretted that in the Fifth Committee some delegations had insisted on reopening the very carefully balanced resolution in question. Last week the Union had been obliged to vote against a text that had changed the carefully balanced agreement.

It was always regrettable when the Fifth Committee resorted to voting, he continued. In order not repeat that procedure, the Union had joined consensus. He wished to recall, however, that the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, Rafiah Salim, had informed the Committee that the Secretary-General continued to believe that he had complied with the provisions of resolution 52/214 A.

To the Union's knowledge, the Assembly had never in the past instructed the Secretary-General to allocate holidays in any particular fashion, he said. The Union believed it was wrong to do so now and therefore deeply regretted the action that had been taken. The United Nations was, like the Union itself, an organization of Member States which spanned such a broad range of traditions that in order to respect all it must not privilege any.

BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said his delegation was deeply concerned that the proposed decision increased the number of officially observed holidays. While the United States trusted the assurances of the Secretariat that increasing the number of holidays would not have financial and budgetary implications, its concerns remained straightforward: the text sent a contradictory signal to the world that, at a time when reform of the Organization should be paramount, the officially recognized holidays would be increased. The United Nations needed to be more efficient and cost-effective; increasing the number of officially observed holidays did not work towards the goal of United Nations reform. The perception alone of such a move was contrary to reform.

The United States was also concerned that the proposed decision undermined the Secretary-General's prerogative as chief administrative officer of the Organization to establish the holidays observed at different duty

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stations based on the customs and practices of various host countries, he said. He noted that the United Nations currently recognized over 50 holidays at the various United Nations headquarters and duty stations.

The United States also remained deeply concerned that the current decision was not in conformity with the secular nature of the United Nations, nor did it promote equity among the very diverse religions and cultures of the Member States, as reflected in the spirit and intent of the United Nations Charter, he said. The United States was reluctantly prepared to join consensus on the proposed decision.

Mr. TAKASU (Japan) said that his delegation had joined in the consensus. Earlier, his delegation had voted against the text, because it felt the matter had been put to a vote prematurely, before every effort had been exhausted to achieve consensus. Japan felt that the it was the Secretary-General's prerogative to determine the United Nations holidays.

He welcomed the fact that the Assembly had adopted the text without a vote, and was pleased to be informed that the text would not entail programme budget implications. His delegation therefore felt that the text conformed with the intention of resolution 52/214 A.

Mr. AL-KHALIFA (Qatar), speaking for the member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, thanked all involved. The adoption of the decision on Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha represented a new era of equality in the United Nations. Members of the Islamic Conference were active in the United Nations, and similarly, individuals involved were civil servants of the Organization. Their rights should be recognized. In his view, financial implications and secularism had nothing to do with any action taken by any country on the text. Some other factor had been the cause for States' actions. However, that was all behind the Assembly now.

SAMUEL HANSON (Canada) was pleased that a vote had been avoided today, and that there had been a return to the procedure that was most suited to that kind of decision. Canada was glad that a vote had been avoided today, as having 10 days of official holidays generally conformed to Canadian practice, and was even slightly less generous. The United Nations was not a sectarian organization and did not officially observe the religious holidays of any Member States. The selection of staff holidays must continue to be set by the Secretary-General in consultation with the staff. The resolution did not weaken the position of the Secretary-General in that regard. Canada had supported the statement made today by the representative of the Secretariat.

MILES ARMITAGE (Australia) said his delegation believed strongly in the principle of consensus decision-making. The interests of the Organization were best served by that practice. Australia had joined consensus on the resolution with reservations. Australia would argue for the rights of all

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Members to observe their beliefs, but the departure from the practice of observing local holidays raised concern. Australia believed that the designation of holidays was within the purview of the Secretary-General. It noted that adoption of the current resolution had implications regarding the authority of the Secretary-General. Australia was pleased by the Secretariat's statement today.

Next, the Assembly took up peacekeeping operations. Acting again without a vote, it adopted the resolution on the financing of UNAVEM III and MONUA.

It then turned to the financing of the MINURSO and adopted the related resolution without a vote.

The Assembly next adopted the resolution on financing of UNMOT, without a vote.

Also acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the decision on the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH).

Next, the Assembly adopted the resolution on administrative and budgetary aspects of United Nations peacekeeping operations. It also adopted the decision on the same topic.

Continuing, the Assembly decided to defer consideration of the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services until its next resumed session.

It then decided without a vote to defer consideration of the Oversight Office's report on the audit of the use of consultants to its fifty-third session. It also decided to defer consideration of the Secretary-General's report on privileges and immunities of United Nations officials and those of specialized agencies and related organizations, until its fifty-third session.

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For information media. Not an official record.