GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES WORK FOR MAIN PART OF FIFTY-THIRD SESSION
GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES WORK FOR MAIN PART OF FIFTY-THIRD SESSION
GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCLUDES WORK FOR MAIN PART OF FIFTY-THIRD SESSION19981218 Acts on 25 Fifth Committee Texts; Also Adopts Text on Situation in Afghanistan
The United Nations would enter the twenty-first century with about $2.545 billion at its disposal, according to the budget outline for 2000-2001 that the General Assembly adopted this evening, as it closed the first part of its fifty-third session. However, the United States and Japan, whose combined assessments amount to some 45 per cent of regular budget contributions, disassociated themselves from the consensus on that amount, saying the figure was too high.
The Assembly also resolved to appropriate $1.261 billion for 1999 and, of that amount, assess almost $1.218 billion on Member States, by another of 25 texts recommended by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and adopted without a vote this evening. The United Nations programme budget for 1998-1999 was reduced from some $2.532 billion to about $2.527 billion to reflect revised cost estimates and the cost of resolutions adopted by the Assembly during its current session.
The General Assembly requested that the Committee on Contributions recommend ways to tighten application of Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, which strips Member States of voting rights when their arrears equal or exceed the amount due from them for the past two years, by one text. It emphasized the need for equal treatment in considering requests for exemption to Article 19 sanctions, and asked the Contributions Committee to recommend ways to address requests when that Committee is not in session.
The United Nations Pension Fund will make payments to divorced surviving spouses, according to the terms of a nine-part resolution. The Fund's regulations will also be amended to eliminate the practice of discontinuing surviving spouses benefits upon remarriage.
__________ * Revised to include additional information.
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The Assembly approved an additional $3.3 million for the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) in other action. It also approved the calendar of conferences and meetings for 1999. Noting that the two holidays of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha are to be observed as official holidays, it invited United Nations bodies to avoid holding meetings on 9 April 1999, and also asked the Committee on Conferences to consider avoiding meetings on lunar New Year's Day. By a resolution on results-based budgeting, the Secretary-General was asked to provide more justification for his proposed change to that budget format, and provide a comparative analysis of the current and the proposed methods. He was also asked to submit his proposed 2000-2001 programme budget using the present methodology, but to also provide prototype fascicles in the results-based format.
In other action, it adopted a resolution on programme planning by which it approved changes to the medium-term plan for 1998-2001. In addition, the Assembly adopted a series of texts concerning its review of administrative and financial efficiency. Among those, it approved the Fifth Committee's programme of work for 1999-2000. By a resolution on the United Nations common system, the base salary scale for Professional and higher categories of staff will be increased, as will children's allowance.
The Assembly adopted resolutions on financing the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda in 1999, appropriating some $102.5 million gross for the former, and nearly $75.8 million for the latter. It decided to appropriate an additional $87.2 million gross to finance the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (MONUA), for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999.
By another text, it approved all the recommendations of the Board of Auditors, noting with serious concern the Board's qualified audit opinions of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme. It asked the Secretary-General and the heads of those entities to take steps to avoid qualified audits next time.
Consideration of human resources management was deferred until the Assembly's resumed session, and the Secretary-General was asked to maintain current procedures limiting eligibility to fill certain vacancies to internal candidates pending that consideration.
The Assembly's consideration of the Development Account's modalities and the use of its $13.1 million will be deferred until its resumed session, by another decision.
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Among other actions, the Assembly took note of a report on death and disability benefits, on administrative arrangements for the International Trade Centre (ITC), on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system. It also took note of the Secretary-General's reports on a revolving credit fund, and decided to consider it at the Assembly's fifty-fourth session, by another text.
Actions related to the programme budget for 1998-1999 concerned financial arrangements for the dining room at the International Court of Justice, and the relationship between perennial activities and the contingency fund. At the outset of the meeting, the Assembly appointed Kenshiro Akimoto (Japan) to the United Nations Staff Pension Committee.
On matters taken up this evening not arising from recommendations of the Fifth Committee, the Assembly's Acting President, Jemat Haji Ampal (Brunei Darussalam), announced that the Working Group on the Security Council would meet from 8 to 19 February 1999.
Also this evening, the Assembly adopted a text on the situation in Afghanistan. It called upon all Afghan parties to cease all armed hostilities, to renounce the use of force and to engage, without delay or preconditions, in a political dialogue aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement of the conflict through creating a broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative government.
In addition, the Assembly decided that the International Organization of la Francophonie would participate, in the capacity of observer, in its work, instead of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation, as the organization has assumed the rights and obligations of the Agency.
It also decided which items it would keep open during its current session.
The Fifth Committee's reports were introduced by its Rapporteur, Tammam Sulaiman, of Syria.
Statements on Fifth Committee texts were made by the representatives of the United States, Japan, New Zealand (also for Canada, Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu), Austria (for the European Union), Cuba, Australia (also for Canada and New Zealand), Poland, Indonesia (for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Russian Federation and Uganda.
Assembly Work Programme
The General Assembly met this evening to consider a draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan and to take action on reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).
Also before the Assembly was a note by the Secretary-General (document A/53/701) on cooperation between the United Nations and the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation. In a letter dated 3 September, the Secretary-General of the International Organization of la Francophonie, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, informed the Secretary-General that the International Organization of la Francophonie had assumed the rights and obligations of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation. Also, the Office of the Permanent Observer of the Agency to the United Nations had become the Office of the Permanent Observer of the new organization to the United Nations. That change would imply that the International Organization of la Francophonie would assume the rights and responsibilities of the former Agency as an observer invited by the Assembly to participate in its sessions and work. Annexed to the note is the Charter of la Francophonie adopted by the Seventh Conference of heads of State and Government of countries that use French as a common language, held in Hanoi on 15 November 1997.
By the terms of a two-part draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan (document A/53/L.66), the Assembly would stress that the main responsibility for finding a political solution to the conflict lies with the Afghan parties and urge them to respond to the United Nations calls for peace.
By the terms of part A of the text, which has 23 operative paragraphs focusing on implications for international peace and security, the Assembly would call upon all Afghan parties to cease all armed hostilities, to renounce the use of force and to engage, without delay or preconditions, in a political dialogue aimed at achieving a lasting political settlement of the conflict through creating a broad-based, multi-ethnic and fully representative government.
The Assembly would urge the parties to take further confidence-building measures and the Taliban and other Afghan parties to refrain from all acts of violence, especially against civilians. It would also condemn continued foreign military support to the Afghan parties and call on States to strictly refrain from any outside interference and to end the supply of arms and military equipment, training or any other military support to the parties of conflict in Afghanistan, including the presence of foreign military, paramilitary or secret service personnel. The Secretary-General would be requested to authorize the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) to continue its efforts to facilitate an immediate ceasefire.
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The Assembly would further endorse establishing a separate civil affairs unit of the Special Mission to deter grave violations of human rights and promote respect for minimum humanitarian standards and to send an assessment mission to the country, as soon as security conditions permit, to determine the exact mandate, composition and location of the civilian monitors. It would welcome the constitution of groups of interested States, in particular the "Six plus Two" group, to coordinate their efforts, as well as the activities of international organizations, in particular the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the initiatives of its Secretary-General, and urge them to continue their efforts in a constructive manner to promote peace in Afghanistan.
Also by the terms of the draft, the Assembly would call upon the Taliban to provide security guarantees for an investigation under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the reports of massacres of civilians and mass executions of prisoners of war, as well as on reports of killings in Mazar-i-Sharif and Bamiyan, and urge all the parties, in particular the Taliban, to demonstrate their full commitment to the safety and security of international and humanitarian personnel.
It would further take note of the Supplementary Protocol to the Memorandum of Understanding of 13 May, signed by the United Nations and the Taliban, on the security of United Nations personnel in Afghanistan and urge the Taliban to proceed with an investigation of the death, serious injury and disappearance of staff members and persons employed by the United Nations, in particular the killing of the two Afghan staff members of the World Food Programme (WFP) and of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jalalabad and of the Military Adviser to the UNSMA in Kabul, and to keep the United Nations regularly informed about the progress of that investigation.
The Assembly would strongly condemn the killing of the diplomatic and consular staff of the Consulate General of Iran in Mazar-i-Sharif and the correspondent of the Islamic Republic News Agency, and urge the Taliban to inform the Government of Iran and the United Nations about the result of its investigation to date. It would call upon the Taliban to cooperate fully with an international investigation of the murders with the view to prosecute the guilty parties.
Also by the terms of the text, the Assembly would urge the Taliban and other parties to recognize, protect and promote all human rights and freedoms and call upon them to end discriminatory policies and to recognize the equal rights and dignity of men and women. It would condemn the continuing widespread violations of international humanitarian law in Afghanistan and urgently call upon all parties to respect its provisions that provide essential protection for the civilian population in armed conflicts.
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The Assembly would demand that all parties, in particular the Taliban, stop harbouring and training terrorists and that all Afghan parties cooperate with efforts to bring indicted terrorists to justice. The Assembly would reiterate its call to all parties to halt all illegal drug activities and to support international efforts to ban illicit drug production and trafficking. It would further call upon all Afghan parties, in particular the Taliban, to protect the cultural and historic relics and monuments of Afghanistan and request all Member States to take appropriate measures to prevent the looting of cultural artifacts and to ensure their return to Afghanistan.
By the terms of part B of the draft resolution, which has 15 operative paragraphs, addressing emergency international assistance for peace, normalcy and reconstruction of war-stricken Afghanistan, the General Assembly would endorse the observations contained in the report of the Secretary-General. It would call upon all relevant organizations of the United Nations to continue to coordinate their humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan on the basis of the strategic framework, in particular to ensure a consistent approach on matters of principle, human rights and security. It would also appeal to donor countries and other humanitarian organizations to cooperate closely with the United Nations.
It would further call upon the leaders of all Afghan parties to place the highest priority on national reconciliation, demand that all Afghan parties respect international humanitarian law and that they, in particular the Taliban, ensure the safety, security and freedom of movement of all humanitarian personnel and the protection of property of humanitarian organizations, and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and associated bodies as well as with other humanitarian organizations in their efforts to respond to the humanitarian needs of the people of Afghanistan. The Assembly would condemn all blockades or other interference in the delivery of humanitarian relief supplies to the Afghan people, and note the recent lifting of the blockade in central Afghanistan by the Taliban.
Also by the terms of the draft, the Assembly would urge all Afghan parties to provide unimpeded access and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and to prevent the looting of United Nations premises and food supplies. It would denounce the continuing discrimination against girls, women and religious minorities and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Afghanistan, and call upon all parties within Afghanistan to respect fully the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion, in accordance with international human rights instruments.
The Assembly would also strongly urge all of the Afghan parties to end discriminatory policies and to recognize and promote the equal rights and dignity of women and men, including their rights to full and equal participation in the life of the country, freedom of movement, access to
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education and health facilities, employment outside the home, personal security and freedom from intimidation and harassment, in particular with respect to the implications of discriminatory policies for the distribution of aid. It would appeal to all States and to the international community to ensure that all humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan integrates a gender perspective and promotes the participation of both women and men.
The Assembly would express concern over the continued laying of landmines and urge all Afghan parties to put a complete halt to their use, which continues to take a heavy toll on civilians and seriously impedes the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It would urgently appeal to all States and organizations to continue to provide, when conditions on the ground permit, all possible financial, technical and material assistance for the Afghan population and the voluntary, safe and secure return of refugees and internally displaced persons. In addition, the Assembly would call upon the international community to respond to the inter-agency consolidated appeal for emergency humanitarian and rehabilitation assistance for Afghanistan to be launched by the Secretary-General for the period from 1 January to 31 December 1999, bearing in mind the availability also of the Afghanistan Emergency Trust Fund.
The draft is sponsored by Afghanistan, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan.
Reports of Fifth Committee
In addition, the Assembly had before it a decision by the Fifth Committee apprising it that should it adopt the above draft an additional appropriation of about $5.9 million would be required under section 3 of the programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999.
The Assembly had before it a report of the Fifth Committee (document A/53/752) on appointments recommending Kenshiro Akimoto (Japan) to complete a term on the United Nations Staff Pension Committee left vacant by a resignation, expiring on 31 December 2000.
Another Fifth Committee report (document A/53/738) contained a draft resolution on the United Nations financial reports and audited financial statements, and the reports of the Board of Auditors. That text would have the Assembly approve all recommendations of the Board of Auditors, request the
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Secretary-General and executive heads of agencies and programmes to ensure timely implementation of the Board's recommendations, and endorse the related comments of the ACABQ.
Noting with serious concern the Board's qualified audit opinions of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General and the heads of those agencies and programmes to take steps to avoid qualification during the next audit, under other provisions.
Also by the draft, the Assembly would accept the Board's reports, statements, audit opinions and its summary of principal findings, conclusions and recommendations. It would decide to take up certain issues at its resumed fifty-third session.
A report of the Fifth Committee on review of efficiency (document A/C.5/53/L.33) contained a draft resolution on the proposed programme budget outline for 2000-2001 by which the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to prepare his proposed programme budget for 2000-2001 on the basis of a total preliminary estimate of $2.545 billion at revised 1998-1999 rates. That estimate would include some provision for special political missions expected to be extended or approved during the course of the biennium. The Assembly would decide that the anticipated reduction of $19.8 million related to compensating economies would not be included in the budget outline, and recognize that efforts to achieve efficient utilization of resources was an ongoing process and should not adversely affect the implementation of mandated programmes and activities.
By terms of a seven-part draft resolution contained in a report on programme planning (document A/53/743), the Assembly would adopt proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for the period 1998-2001 as amended by the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC). It would decide that priorities shall continue to be established in the medium-term plan and emphasize that these, once established by the Assembly, cannot be changed until it so decides. Also, the Assembly would note with concern that resources were redeployed to fund activities that were not approved in the 1996-1997 programme budget, while a number of mandated programmes and activities in priority areas were postponed, curtailed or cancelled.
The Secretary-General would be requested to report -- with clear evidence -- on the impact of United Nations reform and the restructuring of the Secretariat on programme delivery during 1998-1999, among other terms of the draft. The Assembly would deeply regret the use of vacant posts for consultancies and short-term appointments and reaffirm that vacancies should not be used to achieve savings.
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Under other provisions of the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) as the main General Assembly subsidiary organ of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council for planning programming and coordination. It would approve the new programme narratives for section 7A, Economic and social affairs, and section 26, Public information. Also, it would request the Secretary-General to submit a preliminary report on possible arrangements for post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Under the provisions of a draft decision contained in a further report of the Fifth Committee on administrative and budgetary coordination of the United Nations with the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (document A/53/713), the Assembly would note the statistical report of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) on the budgetary and financial situation of United Nations bodies and the relevant paragraphs of the first report of the ACABQ.
The Committee's report on pattern of conferences (document A/53/744) contains a five-part draft, 88-operative-paragraph resolution by which the Assembly would decide to include resources in the budget for the next biennium to provide interpretation services to all regional and other major groupings of Member States that so requested. Also, it would approve the revised calendar of conferences and meetings for 1999.
On publications, the Assembly would decide that when a report was submitted late to Conference Services, the reasons for the delay should be included in a footnote to the document, according to the text. Also, the Secretariat should submit a report with detailed data on reasons for delays, and an analysis of costs incurred as a consequence.
Noting with appreciation that the two holidays of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha shall be observed as official holidays, it would request the Secretary-General to ensure strict implementation when preparing all future draft calendars, and decide that United Nations bodies should be invited to avoid holding meetings on 9 April 1999. Also, the Committee on Conferences would be requested to consider a proposal to avoid holding United Nations meetings on lunar New Year's Day.
The report on scale of assessments (document A/53/464/Add.3) contains one draft resolution by which the Assembly would request that the Committee on Contributions recommend ways to tighten application of Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, which strips Member States of voting rights when their arrears equal or exceed the amount of contributions due from them for the past two years.
The Assembly would emphasize the need for equal treatment in considering requests for exemption to Article 19, by other provisions of the draft. The
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Contributions Committee would be asked to recommend ways to address requests when it is not in session, since it is the body that considers those requests and makes recommendations on them to the Assembly.
The Committee on Contributions would be requested to hold a special session in early 1999 to consider requests for exemption to Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, by which Member States lose voting rights when their outstanding dues reach a certain point, according to the text.
A draft decision on human resources management, contained in another report of the Committee (document A/53/748), would have the Assembly decide to defer consideration of the agenda item until its resumed session, request the Secretary-General to maintain current procedures regarding internal candidates and postpone promulgation of proposed amendments to the staff rules pending that consideration.
The Assembly also was to take up a draft resolution on the United Nations common system (document A/53/754) in five parts, relating to the conditions of service of professional and higher level staff, conditions of service applicable to both Professional and General Service staff, the consultative process and working arrangements of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), the framework for human resources management, and on gender balance. Among a range of other matters, the draft would have the Assembly approve a 2.48 per cent increase in base salary scale for Professional and higher categories staff. It would also approve an increase in children's allowance (including for disabled children) and in the secondary children's allowance, effective 1 January 1992.
Two reports on the United Nations Pension System contain draft texts. By a nine-part resolution in the first, (document A/53/736), the Assembly would approve additional resources of some $4.1 million for 1998-1999 for administrative arrangements, to be charged to the Pension Fund. It would also approve the revised cost-sharing arrangements between the United Nations and the Fund, and approve the reclassification of the Chief of the Investment Management Service post to the D-2 level.
Under provisions on entitlement to survivors' benefits for spouses and former spouses, the Assembly would approve amending the Fund's Regulations to provide for a payment facility in respect of former spouses. It would also approve including a new article in the Regulations to provide for a divorced surviving spouse's benefit. It would approve an arrangement for the optional purchase of surviving spouses' benefits after separation, and amendments to eliminate the current provision which requires discontinuation of a surviving spouse's benefit on remarriage. The Board would be asked to monitor implementation of the payment facility for former spouses.
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On the application of the Interim Commission from the International Trade Organization to withdraw from the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the Assembly would decide to terminate that body's membership as of 31 December 1998 and that the proportionate share of the assets of the Fund payable to the World Trade Organization upon termination shall be a complete and final settlement.
By a draft decision in the second report (document A/53/737), the Assembly would be informed that should it adopt the above-mentioned draft resolution on the pension system, the programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999 would be reduced by $625,400.
The Assembly also had before it a report of the Fifth Committee containing a draft resolution on financing United Nations operations in Angola (document A/53/745), by which it would appropriate an additional $87.2 million gross ($84.6 million net) for the period from 1 July 1998 to 30 June 1999, taking into account some $45.9 million gross (about $44.3 million net) already appropriated for the period from 1 July to 31 October 1998.
A draft resolution on financing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda would have the Assembly appropriate nearly $75.3 million for the period 1 January to 31 December 1999 (document A/53/755). It would decide to assess some $64.2 million for 1999 by the normal process for the Tribunal. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to conduct a review of the Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia Tribunals, in cooperation with their Presidents, evaluating their operation and functioning.
Also before the Assembly was the Committee's report on financing the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/53/756), containing a draft resolution by which the Assembly would decide to revise the level of appropriation to a total of some $68.3 million gross for the period 1 January to 31 December 1998, and appropriate a total of some $102.5 million gross for the period 1 January to 31 December 1999. It would decide to assess, for 1999, some $99.4 million gross in accordance with the normal procedures for the Tribunal's assessments.
The Committee's report on administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping operations (document A/53/522/Add.1) contains one draft decision A, according to which, the Assembly would take note of the report of the Secretary-General on death and disability benefits (document A/C.5/53/16).
Also before the Assembly was the draft report of the Fifth Committee (document A/C.5/53/L.27), containing three draft resolutions and three draft decisions. By the drafts, the 1998-1999 programme budget would be decreased by a little over $5.6 million, to reflect the Secretary-General's revised estimates and the programme budget implications of resolutions adopted by the Assembly on the recommendation of other Committees. Accordingly, the budget
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level that the Assembly approved in 1997 for the current biennium, of some $2.532 billion, would be adjusted to just under $2.527 billion. By another text in the same report, the Assembly would appropriate some $1.261 billion for 1999. Of that amount, almost $1.218 billion would be assessed on Member States.
By other provisions, the Assembly would note a balance of just over $15.3 million in the contingency fund.
A part of the draft pertains to the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) and would have the Assembly approve an additional appropriation of $3.3 million while also requesting that the Secretary-General take action to ensure that related activities are performed efficiently and economically and that adequate and qualified staff are assigned to implement and operate IMIS in all user departments.
Under other terms, the Assembly would defer consideration of the Secretary-General's tenth progress report, the report of the independent experts and the related report of the ACABQ to its resumed fifty-third session, and request the Secretary-General to submit an addendum to his report, taking into consideration the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services.
The document also contains of texts by which the Assembly would:
-- approve a subvention of $213,000 for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research for 1999;
-- decide to defer consideration of reports on the relationship between the treatment of perennial activities in the programme budget and the use of the contingency fund;
-- take note of the Secretary-General's report on a cost-benefit analysis on conference facilities at the Palais Wilson in Geneva;
-- take note of his report on net budgeting and endorse the observations of the ACABQ;
-- take note of the report on financial arrangements for the International Court of Justice's dining room, understanding that the United Nations does not subsidize that operation;
-- take note of the Secretary-General's report on the consolidation of technical secretariat servicing of intergovernmental bodies, and revert to the matter as appropriate; and
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-- take note of the Secretary-General's report on conference facilities at Addis Ababa and Bangkok and endorse the ACABQ's recommendations in paragraph 5 of its report.
Action on La Francophonie Organization, Afghanistan
The Assembly decided that the International Organization of la Francophonie would participate, in the capacity of observer, in the sessions and the work of the Assembly and of its subsidiary organs instead of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation.
Next, the Assembly took up the draft resolution on the situation in Afghanistan.
The Acting President, JEMAT HAJI AMPAL (Brunei Darussalam), announced that Albania, Fiji, Honduras, Republic of Moldova, San Marino, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had joined as co-sponsors since the introduction of the draft.
The Assembly adopted the two-part draft resolution on Afghanistan without a vote.
Action on Fifth Committee Reports
TAMMAM SULAIMAN (Syria), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee, introduced the Committee's reports.
The General Assembly first acted on the Committee's recommendation to appoint Kenshiro Akimoto (Japan) to the United Nations Staff Pension Committee. It decided to accept that recommendation.
It then took up the Committee's report on financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors, containing one draft resolution, which it adopted without a vote.
It then took up the Committee's report on review of the United Nations administrative and budgetary efficiency, containing two draft resolutions and six draft decisions.
SUSAN SHEAROUSE (United States) said her delegation could not join the agreement on the $2.545 billion budget outline for 2000-2001. It did not accept a budget outline level that was greater than the current budget, and that was much more than was needed to carry out all mandated programmes effectively. The United States believed that an outline equal to or less than the current budget would have enabled full implementation of mandated activities, would have reflected the likely $20 million or more in efficiency savings as a result of improvements in United Nations operations, and would
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have provided resources for the special political missions that might be undertaken in the budget period. Despite clear indications that a budget less than the current level would be sufficient for the next period, the proposed resolution endorsed an outline level that substantially exceeded that amount. Actual spending for the first year of the current biennium was well below the approved budget level. To increase projected expenditure level above the current approved level, which itself exceeded the actual spending pattern, was simply irresponsible.
She said the United States could not agree to an outline that rejected the Secretary-General's proposal to achieve $20 million in savings through efficiency gains, which was a tiny amount when compared to the overall budget. That capricious approach went against the United Nations Charter's Article 97, which gave the Secretary-General responsibility for administering the Organization in the most efficient way possible. Any budget totalling $2.5 billion would easily contain more than $20 million in savings opportunities. The original proposal would have made such savings a distinct part of the budget proposal. The United States fully expected the Secretary- General to identify efficiency savings when proposing his budget for 2000- 2001.
Approving a higher budget outline level than was justified on technical and programmatic grounds had set an unfortunate precedent, she said. It seemed that there were other forces at play that gave rise to such an extraordinary and expensive action. The United States looked forward to reviewing the Secretary-General's budget estimates next year. Those estimates should fully reflect the benefits of reform and efficiency measures, while also providing a realistic perspective of the United Nations resource requirements for the biennium.
KAZUO WATANABE (Japan) said that he could not accept the figure in the draft, for reasons stated in the Fifth Committee this afternoon, but he would not block the resolution.
The General Assembly then adopted the draft resolution on results-based budgeting without a vote.
It then turned to the draft resolution on the programme budget outline for the biennium 2000-2001, which it adopted without a vote.
It then adopted the draft decision on the revolving credit fund without a vote.
It then turned to the draft decision on the administrative arrangements for International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO, which it adopted without a vote.
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It then turned to the draft decision on guidelines for internal control standards, which it adopted without a vote.
The draft decision on the impact of the implementation of pilot projects on budgetary practices and procedures was then adopted without a vote.
Turning next to the draft decision on the biennial programme of work of the Fifth Committee, it adopted that decision without a vote.
It next turned to a draft decision on items for consideration by the Fifth Committee during the resumed fifty-third session of the General Assembly, which was also adopted without a vote.
MICHAEL POWLES (New Zealand), speaking in explanation of position on behalf of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, said that his delegations joined the consensus in support of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) recommendation that the Secretary-General prepare additional prototype fascicles in a results-based budgeting format, so the General Assembly would have more technical information at hand next year.
They also agreed that the Secretary-General should provide additional justification for his recommendation to move to results-based budgeting, he said. However, they were concerned that some paragraphs of the resolution seemed to prejudge the outcome of the comparative analysis. The discussion at the next session of the General Assembly should be technical, but, at the same time, the decision would effect the health of the Organization.
The Secretary-General should note that there was concern among some Member States about his recommendation, but strong support from others, he said. It was of the utmost importance that proper consideration be given to the proposal. A more credible United Nations was what was sought. Small States relied on the United Nations, and, if its management and administrative structure was not modernized and strengthened, the Organization was at risk. Therefore, the Member States he spoke for continued to support a gradual transition to results-based budgeting, for that would provide the seeds for a more effective Organization.
THOMAS SCHLESINGER (Austria), speaking for the European Union, said the Assembly had adopted resolution 41/213 seeking to improve the financial and administrative functioning of the Organization and facilitate agreement among Member States on the programme budget. The concept of the budget outline, introduced then, was now a pillar in the budgetary process. The Union had been pleased to join consensus on the resolution, and welcomed delegations' flexibility.
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The Union was not fully satisfied with the text, he said. It would have preferred to have retained in the outline the $20 million expected to be through economies. The amount was not unreasonable in a budget of this size. He trusted the Secretary-General would continue to apply scrutiny when preparing the budget he would propose next year. Such economies should only be sought in the context of full and effective financing for the implementation of mandated programmes and activities.
The Union welcomed the resolution, which effectively reversed calls for deviations made in the past for political reasons, he said. He was particularly pleased to see the reaffirmation that the contingency fund, in the amount of 0.75 per cent, was additional to the overall budget figure. Also, he appreciated that the budget outline now contained provision for special missions. While it was unfortunate that some delegations were unhappy with the resolution, he expected that the spirit of consensus underpinning the text would guide future work on the Secretary-General's budget proposal.
DULCE BUERGO RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said her delegation had joined the consensus, but reaffirmed that the budget outline was a preliminary estimate and was in no way a ceiling on the budget. She noted the amount approved for special political missions, which in her opinion departed from the provisions of resolution 41/213. She said she trusted that during the next session's negotiations, the Assembly would be able to ensure and approve the real amount of resources needed to implement all the programmes and activities mandated by the Assembly.
PENNY WENSLEY (Australia) spoke also for Canada and New Zealand. The adoption of an outline for the 2000-2001 programme budget represented an important first stage in the budgetary process, setting parameters within which the Secretary-General would prepare his proposed budget. She was pleased that the outline, for the first time, included provisions for special political missions. The three delegations were disappointed that the outline did not take into account the amount of $20 million in anticipated efficiencies. Still, she understood that the Secretary-General would pursue efficiencies and looked forward to the results of that effort.
The figure contained in the resolution was higher than current level appropriations, and higher than the three delegations considered financially prudent, particularly in light of the financial climate in some parts of the world, she said. The fact that the amount was too high to be endorsed by the two largest contributors was a serious concern and must be addressed. She trusted that the Secretary-General would continue efforts to allow more resources to be invested in substantive programmes.
JAN JAREMSZUK (Poland) said his delegation aligned itself with the statement made by the representative of Austria for the Union.
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Next, the Assembly turned to the Fifth Committee's report on programme planning (document A/53/743), and adopted the seven-part draft resolution contained therein, again without a vote.
The Assembly then adopted the draft decision contained in the Committee's report on administrative and budgetary coordination of the United Nations with the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (document A/53/713).
It next adopted, without a vote, the five-part draft resolution on United Nations pattern of conferences.
Again, acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted the draft resolution contained in the Committee's report on the scale of assessments (document A/53/464/Add.3).
HANS PETER MANZ (Austria), spoke on behalf of the European Union, the Central and Eastern European countries associated with the Union, and the associated country Cyprus, as well as the EFTA countries members of the EEA. He said that while the Union was pleased with the adoption by consensus of the resolution dealing with the report of the Committee on Contributions, much more remained to be done in pursuit of the Union's long-held objective of making the system of financing the Organization more transparent and more equitable.
He said it was right that the Committee on Contributions should be instructed to look at ways of tightening Article 19, in order that the effective arrears period be brought in line with the original intent of the authors of that Article. Member States should risk the loss of their vote in the Assembly if they were in default of their obligations after a real two-year period, and not the nearly three years which presently applied. The Committee on Contributions should specifically advise on the impact of doing the calculation twice a year rather than just one, and it should look closely at the consequences of using net, rather than gross, figures in the calculation.
It had long been an important objective of the Union to make the scales of assessment more equitable, he said, and, in that context, he regretted that its members had once again been prevented from even discussing its proposals to bring a more rational system to bear in the financing of peacekeeping operations. The technical advice of the Contributions Committee would be valuable in that area. It was unacceptable that a straightforward request for the Committee's help should be blocked by one group of Member States.
Concerning the current system for financing peacekeeping operations, he said that too many countries continued to receive an 80 per cent discount as a result of a calculation of their relative share of the world gross national product (GNP) in 1973, some 25 years ago. It was unacceptable that some of
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those countries continued to gain an unwarranted subsidy at the expense, not only of those who paid fully and promptly, but also from those countries which, with a change to the group system, would deservedly benefit from it. That situation should not be allowed to continue, and the Union was not prepared to accept that it was denied an opportunity to discuss the problem. It, therefore, reserved the right to return to that issue at the resumed fifty-third session.
PRAYONO ATIYANTO (Indonesia), speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Group had joined the consensus, but had done so with great disappointment. It was very concerned by the spirit evinced during negotiations. Any mistrust should be avoided. It was irrelevant to link discussion on the item with the scale for assessing peacekeeping. The Committee on Contributions did not have the mandate to discuss that scale.
The Assembly then turned to the Fifth Committee's report on human resources management (document A/53/748). Again, acting without a vote, it adopted the draft decision contained therein.
Next taking up the Fifth Committee's report on the United Nations common system (A/53/754), the Assembly adopted the draft resolution without a vote.
Again without a vote, the Assembly adopted the nine-part resolution in the Committee's report on the United Nations pension system (document A/53/736).
It then took up the Fifth Committee's report containing one draft resolution on financing the United Nations Angola Verification Mission and the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola (document A/53/745), adopting that text without a vote.
The Assembly then adopted the resolution contained in the report on financing of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/53/755).
IOURI G. ORLOV (Russian Federation) said, in explanation of vote, that taking into account the need to have a swift decision on the financing of the Tribunal it had joined the consensus. However, regarding paragraph five of the resolution relating to an ACABQ recommendation to establish an expert review of the Tribunal, the Russian Federation doubted the need for the activity of such a group and also its mandate. Its mandate should not go beyond administrative and budgetary matters. Otherwise, it would infringe on an area that was exclusively the preserve of the Security Council. Only the Security Council had the right to give political and legal evaluation of the Tribunal's operation and to carry out effective monitoring of its functions.
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The Assembly turned then to the Committee's report on financing the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/53/756).
NESTER ODAGA-JALAMAYO (Uganda) drew the attention of the Assembly to a technical error on page four of paragraph five of the text contained in the report.
The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution.
Mr. ORLOV (Russian Federation) said, in explanation of vote, that taking into account the need to have a swift decision on the financing of the Tribunal it had joined the consensus. However, regarding the paragraph of the resolution relating to an ACABQ recommendation to establish an expert review of the Tribunal, the Russian Federation doubted the need for the activity of such a group and also its mandate. Its mandate should not go beyond administrative and budgetary matters. Otherwise, it would infringe on an area that was exclusively the preserve of the Security Council. Only the Security Council had the right to give political and legal evaluation of the Tribunal's operation and to carry out effective monitoring of its functions.
Mr. ODAGA-JALOMAYO (Uganda) expressed pleasure that the Assembly had decided on a review by an expert group on the functioning of the Tribunals. He hoped the forthcoming report would be useful in helping the United Nations organs concerned to take the necessary steps to improve the functioning of the Tribunals. The resolution noted efforts by the Office of Human Resources Management to review the remuneration package for those in the Tribunal, and he hoped that would lead to helping reduce the high levels of vacancies. Efforts to improve the Tribunal's operations were noted.
The Assembly next turned to the Committee's report on financing United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/53/522/Add.1), adopting the draft decision on death and disability benefits contained therein without a vote.
Turning then to the Fifth Committee's report on the programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999, the Acting President drew attention to a correction in the document symbol. The correct symbol was A/53/485/Add.1, and not A/53/757.
The text contained two draft resolutions and three draft decisions.
Draft resolution I, "questions relating to the programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999", was adopted without a vote.
Draft resolution II, "programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999", was adopted in the same manner.
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Turning then to the three draft decisions, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on financial arrangements associated with the dining room at the International Court of Justice.
In the same manner, it adopted the draft on the relationship between the treatment of perennial activities in the programme budget and the use of the contingency fund.
It then adopted the draft decision on the Development Account, again acting without a vote.
In other action, the Assembly decided that the following agenda items would remain open for consideration during the current session:
Item 10 Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization
Item 11 Report of the Security Council
Item 17 Appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments
Item 20 Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance
Item 30 United Nations reform; measures and proposals
Item 31 Culture of peace
Item 38 Oceans and the law of the sea
Item 39 Question of Palestine
Item 40 The situation in the Middle East
Item 43 The situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti
Item 44 The situation in Central America: procedures for the establishment of a firm and lasting peace and progress in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development
Item 57 Question of the Comorian island of Mayotte
Item 58 Strengthening of the United Nations system
Item 59 Questioning of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters
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Item 60 Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly
Item 61 Restructuring and revitalization of the United Nations in the economic, social and related fields
Item 62 Question of Cyprus
Item 111 Financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors:
Item 112 Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations
Item 113 Programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999
Item 114 Programme planning
Item 115 Improving the financial situation of the United Nations
Item 116 Administrative and budgetary coordination of the United Nations with the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency
Item 117 Pattern of conferences
Item 118 Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations
Item 119 Human resources management
Item 120 United Nations common system
Item 121 United Nations pension system
Item 122 Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East
Item 123 Financing of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission and the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola
Item 125 Financing of the activities arising from Security Council resolution 687 (1991)
Item 126 Financing and liquidation of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia
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Item 127 Financing of the United Nations Protection Force, the United Nations Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia, the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force and the United Nations Peace Forces headquarters
Item 128 Financing of the United Nations Operation in Somalia II
Item 129 Financing of the United Nations Operation in Mozambique
Item 130 Financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
Item 131 Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia
Item 132 Financing of the United Nations Mission in Haiti
Item 133 Financing of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Liberia
Item 134 Financing of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda
Item 135 Financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991
Item 136 Financing of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan
Item 137 Financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994
Item 138 Financing of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Item 139 Financing of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium and the Civilian Police Support Group
Item 140 Financing of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force
Item 141 Financing of the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti, the United Nations Transition Mission in Haiti and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti
Item 142 Financing of the Military Observer Group of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala
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Item 143 Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations
Item 144 Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services
Item 145 Review of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 48/218 B
Item 155 Measures to eliminate international terrorism
Item 161 Financing of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic
Item 163 Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone
Item 165 Joint Inspection Unit
Item 167 Armed aggression against the Democratic Republic of the Congo
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