GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 2000-2001 PROGRAMME BUDGET OF SOME $2.536 BILLION AS IT CONCLUDES WORK FOR MAIN PART OF FIFTY-FOURTH SESSION

23 December 1999
GA/9696

GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 2000-2001 PROGRAMME BUDGET OF SOME $2.536 BILLION AS IT CONCLUDES WORK FOR MAIN PART OF FIFTY-FOURTH SESSION

23 December 1999


Press Release
GA/9696


GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 2000-2001 PROGRAMME BUDGET OF SOME $2.536 BILLION AS IT CONCLUDES WORK FOR MAIN PART OF FIFTY-FOURTH SESSION

19991223

Assembly Adopts 29 Texts on Recommendation Of Fifth Committee; Assembly President Delivers Closing Speech

Acting without a vote, the General Assembly this evening adopted a programme budget of some $2.536 billion for the biennium 2000-2001. That amount was an increase of some $2 million over the 1998-1999 budget.

The five budget resolutions for 2000-2001 were adopted as the Assembly finished the main part of its fifty-fourth session. It adopted a decision and resolution on the recommendation of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial), 19 resolutions and 10 decisions on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), one decision on the Assembly's programme of work and one taking note of the report of the Economic and Social Council.

Among changes made to the Secretary-General's proposals, the Assembly decided to reduce resources for general temporary assistance by some $3.2 million, to reduce resources for consultants by some $2.03 million and reduce those proposed for staff travel by some $2.48 million. Increases were also made in certain areas, including for international cooperation for development and for international justice and law.

In his final speech to the Assembly's main session, Assembly President Theo- Ben Gurirab (Namibia) said that reforming the Security Council into a more representative body to enhance its credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness was one of the main challenges that the United Nations would face in 2000.

Although all Members States believed in the urgent need for changes to the Council, it had become clear once again that no concrete conclusions could be made at this time. He also spoke about the urgent priority given to Africa, which must be reflected in the Assembly's budget and priorities.

In other action this evening, the Assembly adopted texts on financing the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia for 2000. It decided to appropriate some $106.15 million gross for the former Yugoslavia Tribunal and $86.15 million gross for the Rwanda Tribunal. It also asked for an expert review group report on the two Tribunals and approved changes to the conditions of service of the Tribunal judges.

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9696 88th Meeting (Night) 23 December 1999

Among other drafts approved was a 70-plus operative paragraph resolution on pattern of conferences, by which the Assembly approved the draft biennial calendar of conferences and meetings for 2000-2001. It also noted the reduction in resources allocated for mandated conference services, and asked that economy measures not adversely affect the delivery and quality of services.

In addition, the Assembly adopted texts and resolutions by which it decided to appropriate and/or authorize peacekeeping funds as follows:

-- some $427.06 million gross for establishing and maintaining the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) from 10 June 1999 through 30 June 2000;

-- some $200 million gross for maintaining the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) and establishing the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) from 1 July 1999 through 30 June 2000; and

-- some $200 million gross for the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).

It also adopted two resolutions and four decisions on administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping, on the peacekeeping support account, on death and disability benefits and the on the level of peacekeeping assessment that would apply to three new Member States -- Kiribati, Nauru and Tonga.

Also this evening, the Assembly adopted resolutions and decisions by which it:

-- approved base salaries for Professional and higher categories of staff;

-- decided that Kiribati, Nauru and Tonga would each pay 0.001 per cent of the United Nations expenses;

-- exempted Georgia from sanctions which would be applied according to Article 19 of the Charter for lack of payment of assessments;

-- decided to continue considering the scale of assessments at the first part of its resumed session;

-- approved amendments to the Staff Regulations and noted amendments to the Staff Rules;

-- asked the Secretary-General to develop rules for the investigations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and decided that arrangements for reimbursements for activities undertaken by the Office for funds and programmes should be in accord with those bodies' rules and regulations.

-- accepted the audited financial statements and the Board of Auditors report on voluntary funds of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; approved the Board's recommendations and conclusions and those of the Advisory Committee on

General Assembly Plenary - 1b - Press Release GA/9696 88th Meeting (Night) 23 December 1999

Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ); noted the Secretary-General's report on consultants and the comments from the Board, and asked the Auditors to monitor the implementation of the guidelines; and decided to decrease the amount appropriated for the 1998-1999 budget.

It took note of the following:

-- the reports of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, urging the Secretary-General to issue revised Regulations Governing Programme Planning, the Programme Aspects of the Budget, the Monitoring of Implementation and the Methods of Evaluation;

-- the parts of the report of the Economic and Social Council allocated to the Fifth Committee; and

-- the report of the Joint Inspection Unit for 1 July 1997 to 31 December 1998, its programme of work for 1999 and the preliminary list of reports for 2000 and beyond; and the Secretary-General's report on the implementation of the Unit's recommendations, asking him to improve the quality of those reports.

Also tonight, the Assembly decided which agenda items it would leave open for consideration.

The Fifth Committee's Rapporteur, Jan Piotr Jaremczuk. (Poland) introduced the Committee's reports and revisions to the drafts contained therein.

The representative of Finland spoke for the European Union after the action regarding the International Criminal Tribunals.

The representatives of the United States, Finland (for the European Union), Guyana (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Canada (also for Australia and New Zealand), Cameroon (for the African Group) and the Philippines spoke in explanation of position on the budget resolution.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this evening to take action on various decisions and resolutions recommended in the reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), including on the United Nations programme budget for 2000-2001. It is also expected to act on a report of its Second Committee (Economic and Financial) and consider the report of the Economic and Social Council.

By the terms of a draft resolution, on implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the 1990s, contained in part VII of the report of the Second Committee on sustainable development and international economic cooperation (document A/54/587/Add.6), the Assembly would decide that the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries will be held in Brussels; that the meeting of the intergovernmental preparatory committee envisaged in paragraph 4 of its resolution 53/182 will be organized in New York in two parts, in the third quarter of 2000 and the first quarter of 2001, each for five working days; that the Secretary-General of the Conference will organize the three expert- level preparatory meetings provided in paragraph 4 of its resolution 53/182 at venues and for durations deemed most appropriate in consultation with Member States; and to defray the cost of participation of two government representatives from each least developed country in the preparatory committee meetings and the Conference itself, through the use of unspent balances from the United Nations programme budget of the United Nations for the biennium 1998-1999.

According to a report of the Fifth Committee, should the Assembly adopt that resolution, additional provisions would be required over and above the resources included in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001, as follows: $616,400 under section 11A and $30,000 under section 26. Those provisions would represent a charge against the contingency fund and as such would require a related additional appropriation.

The Assembly had before it a report of the Fifth Committee on the financial reports and audited statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/54/506/Add.1) containing a draft resolution, by which the Assembly would accept the audited financial statements and the Board of Auditors report on voluntary funds of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It would approve all the Board's recommendations and conclusions and those of the ACABQ. Noting the Secretary-General's report on consultants and the comments from the Board, it would ask the Auditors to monitor the implementation of the guidelines and its instructions on use of consultants.

A second Fifth Committee report, on programme planning (document A/54/676) recommends a draft resolution by which the Assembly would note the report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination; and urge the Secretary-General to issue revised Regulations Governing Programme Planning, the Programme Aspects of the Budget, the Monitoring of Implementation and the Methods of Evaluation.

In a third report from that Committee, on the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/54/507/Add.1), a draft decision is recommended, whereby the Assembly would note the Joint Inspection Unit report for 1 July 1997 to 31 December 1998, its programme of work for 1999 and the preliminary list of reports for 2000 and beyond. It would also note the Secretary-General's report on the implementation of the Unit's recommendations, and ask the Secretary-General to improve the quality of those reports.

By terms of draft resolution A contained in the report of the Fifth Committee on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations (document A/54/685), the Assembly would decide: that the rate of assessment of Republics of Kiribati and Nauru and the Kingdom of Tonga should be 0.001 per cent for 1999 and 2000; that the contributions of the three States should be calculated on the basis of one twelfth of their rate of assessment for 1999 per full calendar month of membership and that a corresponding adjustment should be made in their assessments for 1999 as non-member States; and that the contributions of the three States for 1999 and 2000 should otherwise be applied to the same basis of assessment as for other Member States, except in the case of peacekeeping operations.

By the terms of draft resolution B in the same report, the Assembly would ask the Committee on Contributions to further consider measures to encourage the timely, full and unconditional payment of assessed contributions, and to make appropriate recommendations pursuant to its general mandate.

By the terms of draft resolution C contained in the same report, the Assembly would urge all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions, to prevent financial difficulties for the United Nations. It would urge all Member States in arrears and requesting exemption under Article 19, to provide the fullest possible supporting information that might support the claim that failure to make the necessary payments had been attributable to conditions beyond their control.

By the terms of draft decision I contained in the same report, the Assembly would decide that Georgia is permitted to vote under Article 19 of the Charter until 30 June 2000.

By the terms of draft decision II, the Assembly would decide to continue consideration of the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations as a matter of priority at the first part of its resumed fifty- fourth session and to approve, no later than the last day of the first part of that resumed session, the methodology that would instruct the Committee on Contributions to recommend to the Assembly, a scale of assessments for the period 2001-2003.

A Fifth Committee report on the United Nations common system (document A/54/677) recommends a draft resolution whereby, from 1 March 2000, staff assessment levels for those receiving remuneration at the single rate would change (the levels are annexed to the report). The Assembly would repeat its call for the International Civil Service Commission to comprehensively review the post adjustment for Geneva, and ask that body to review the education grant for the next Assembly session. Among other terms, it would decide to consider a review of the International Civil Service Commission at its fifty-fifth session, and ask the Secretary-General to provide reasons for such a review, and further information on it.

A draft resolution on financing of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is recommended in another Fifth Committee report (document A/54/678). By its terms the Assembly would decide to appropriate, on a provisional basis subject to a review at the resumed session, some $106.15 million gross ($95.94 million net) for the Tribunal for 2000, set off against the some $2.74 million unencumbered balance from 1998, the estimated $8.2 million balance for 1999, and $5200 in expected income for 2000. It would deeply regret the delay of the related report and ask for its submission by 1 October next year.

Another draft resolution, recommended in a Fifth Committee report on financing the Rwanda Tribunal (document A/54/679), would have the Assembly appropriate, subject to a review at its resumed session, some $86.15 million gross ($78.17 million net) for the Tribunal for 2000, set off against the some $2 million unencumbered balance for this year. Among other terms, the Secretary-General would be asked to improve workload indicators and use them to support resource requests.

In a Fifth Committee report on financing the United Nations missions in Sierra Leone (document A/54/686), a draft resolution would have the Assembly decide to appropriate some $200 million gross (about $197.77 million net) for the maintenance of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone (UNOMSIL) and the establishment of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, including the $52.97 million previously authorized by the ACABQ. It would decide, as an ad hoc arrangement, to apportion some $161.67 million among Member States for 1 July 1999 to 21 April 2000, and to apportion some $38.33 million, at some $16.67 per month, from 21 April should the Mission mandate be extended.

The Assembly also had before it a report of the Fifth Committee containing a number of recommended decisions and resolutions on the administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping operations (document A/54/684).

By the terms of a draft resolution proposed on the assessments of Belarus and Ukraine, the Assembly would decide, from the date of the resolution's adoption, that all financial contributions of those two Member States, including those for pre-1996 assessments, would be taken into account when determining whether their arrears equaled or exceeded the amount due for the preceding two full years, (and therefore whether they would fall under Charter Article 19 sanctions). The Assembly would emphasize that that would not exempt them from their obligations to pay.

In the same report, three draft decisions are recommended to the Assembly, by which each of Kiribati, Nauru and Tonga would be placed in the “group D” list of economically less developed States for the calculation of their peacekeeping financial obligations.

By the terms of another draft resolution on the support account for peacekeeping operations, the Assembly would approve 67 additional support account- funded temporary posts for 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2000, and authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments up to some $3.50 million for additional staff costs. It would also ask the Secretary-General to fully implement paragraph 11 observations from the ACABQ report. [In its report, the ACABQ states it expects that full justification for the requirements of all support account posts will be provided in comprehensive annual proposals on the total requirements for all departments’ backstopping peacekeeping operations, due in spring 2000. It also asked for workload indicators, adding that, in this regard, a database should be established and maintained for each unit.]

Also in that report is a recommended draft decision on death and disability benefits, by which the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General's note on death and disability benefits and on the progress made in clearing the backlog of claims for incidents.

A Fifth Committee report on the implementation of Assembly resolution 48/218B (document A/54/673) recommends a draft resolution by which the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) as the principal internal oversight organ and recognize its importance in assisting the Secretary-General to fulfil responsibilities. The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to transmit the reports of the Office to it for consideration and action, ask him to comment on the Office's findings and recommendations and ensure that the views of the concerned departments are included. By other terms, the Assembly would decide that arrangements for reimbursements for activities undertaken by the Office for funds and programmes should be in accord with those bodies’ rules and regulations. It would also ask the Secretary-General to develop rules for the Office's investigations.

A draft decision recommended in a further Fifth Committee report on human resources management (document A/54/680), would have the Assembly approve amendments to the Staff Regulations proposed by the Secretary-General, and note amendments to the Staff Rules. It would decide to continue consideration of that item as a matter of priority at its resumed fifty-fourth session.

A Fifth Committee report on financing the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document A/54/674) recommends a draft resolution whereby the Assembly would appropriate some $427.06 million gross ($410.09 million net) for that Mission for 10 June 1999 to 30 June 2000. It would also ask him to finalize agreements with agencies with roles in implementation in the Mission's mandate and to report on those to the Assembly. By other terms, it would ask the Secretary-General to undertake a study on the use of United Nations Volunteers in peacekeeping operations. It would ask the Secretary-General to improve his presentation in the future and submit financing requests in a timely manner. The ACABQ observations would be endorsed and the Assembly would decide to keep that issue under review at its resumed session.

Another report from that Committee on financing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) (document A/54/687), recommends a resolution by which the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments for that mission not exceeding $200 million, including the $50 million previously authorized by the ACABQ. It would ask the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on the financing of UNTAET as a priority, to enable action at the first part of its resumed session.

By the terms of a draft decision recommended in the Fifth Committee report on the report of the Economic and Social Council (document A/54/668), the Assembly would take note of the chapters of the Council report allocated to the Fifth Committee, notably chapters I, VII (sections B and C) and IX.

By the terms of part A of a draft resolution contained in the report of the Fifth Committee on the programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999 (A/54/508/Add.1), the Assembly would resolve that for 1998-1999, the amount of close to $2.530 billion appropriated by resolution 53/215A and 53/219 shall be decreased by some $41.6 million, so that the new total appropriation will be some $2.488 billion. The draft contains a chart indicating the changes to each budget part. All parts are decreased except for Part I, Overall policy-making direction and coordination, Part VI, Human rights and humanitarian affairs, and Part XI, Capital expenditures, each of which show increases.

By Part B of the draft, the Assembly would resolve that for 1998-1999, the estimates of income of almost $362.71 million approved in resolution 53/215B shall be decreased by $6.33 million, bringing the total income section to almost $356.38 million. Income from staff assessment shall be credited to the Tax Equalization Fund, and direct expenses of the United Nations Postal Administration, services to visitors, catering and related services, garage operations, television services and sale of publications not provided for under budget appropriations, shall be charged against the income derived from those activities.

By the terms of a six part 70 operative paragraph draft resolution contained in the report of the Fifth Committee on the pattern of United Nations conferences (document A/54/690), the Assembly would approve the draft biennial calendar of conferences and meetings for 2000-2001, subject to the provisions in that resolution. Among other terms, it would note with concern the further reduction in resources allocated for mandated conference services, and ask that economy measures not adversely affect the delivery and quality of services.

The Assembly would decide to include all necessary resources in the budget for 2000-2001 to provide interpretation services for meetings of regional and other major groups of Member States upon request. It would decide that full interpretation services in all six official languages must be ensured for the entire duration of intergovernmental body meetings. It would also decide that a permanent interpretation service be established at the United Nations Office in Nairobi and encourage greater use of that facility.

The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to ensure that documentation for meetings is available in accordance with the six-week rule in all six languages, that documents contain summaries, consolidated conclusions and relevant background, and that when they are submitted late, reasons are given in footnotes to the reports.

Two draft resolutions before the Committee were on review of the United Nations administrative and financial efficiency.

Among the terms of a 200 operative paragraph draft resolution (I) contained in the report of the Fifth Committee on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 (document A/54/691), the Assembly would decide that there should be no change to the budget methodology without its approval. It would decide that any development related to results-based budgeting should be undertaken only with the prior approval of the Assembly. It would call on the Secretary-General to explore presenting one consolidated section on staff assessment in future programme budgets, and to ensure all sections of the proposal in future are presented in the same format. It would decide to make changes to the programme narratives of the budget as set out in an annex to the resolution.

Among other terms, the Assembly would decide that a vacancy rate of 6.5 per cent for Professional staff and 2.5 per cent for General Service staff would be used for the budget calculation, and note that should vacancy rates prove lower, additional resources would be provided if required.

Noting the lack of a comprehensive information technology strategy for the Organization, it would ask for the development of such a strategy. It would decide to reduce the level of resources proposed by the Secretary General by some $3.44 million. It would also decide to reduce resources for general temporary assistance by some $3.2 million from the Secretary-General's proposed figure, with the exception of general temporary assistance for conference services. The Assembly would also decide to reduce resources for consultants, except those for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the regional commissions, by some $2.03 million, and those proposed for staff travel by some $2.48 million. It would also decide on a staffing table for the biennium, annexed to the resolution.

Another draft text on budget appropriations, also contained in the report of the Fifth Committee on the programme budget for the biennium 2000 would have the Assembly appropriate a total of close to $2.536 billion for the upcoming biennium as follows:

Part I: Overall policy-making, direction and coordination $473,645.3 II: Political affairs 231,586.3 III: International justice and law 55,386.8 IV: International cooperation for development 268,767.9 V: Regional cooperation for development 347,230.4 VI: Human rights and humanitarian affairs 123,613.1 VII: Public Information 143,605.5 VIII: Common support services 441,857.4 IX: Internal oversight 19,220.6 X: Jointly financed administrative activities… 60,845.5 XI: Capital expenditures 42,617.4 XII: Staff assessment 314,248.0 XIII: Development account 13,065.0

TOTAL: $2,535,689.2

By part B of the draft, the Assembly would approve income estimates other than assessments on Member States totaling almost $361.3 million from income to staff assessment, general income and services to the public. Part C of the draft would have the Assembly decide to appropriate almost $1.267.845 billion for the year 2000, less $41.60 million for the decrease in the revised appropriations for 1998-1999.

Draft resolution III contains 14 parts on special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for 2000-2001. By part I, it would approve the recommendation of a subvention of $213,000 from the regular budget for 2000 for the United Nations Institute on Disarmament Research on the understanding that no additional appropriation would be required under section 4, Disarmament, of the budget.

Part II of the draft would have the Assembly approve a gross budget for the Joint Inspection Unit for 2000-2001 of $7.33 million. Part III would have the Assembly approve a gross budget for 2000-2001 for the International Civil Service Commission of close to $12.26 million. By part IV, the Assembly would take note of the report of the Secretary-General on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council at its 1999 organizational and substantive sessions.

Part V of the draft, on the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, would have the Assembly approve expenses chargeable directly to the Fund totaling $62.30 million net for the biennium 2000-2001 and an increase of $3.28 million net for the biennium 1998-1999 for the Fund's administration; and approve an addition to the regular budget of $401,400 for the United Nations share of the cost of the administrative expenses of the central secretariat of the Fund, and an increase of $18,400 in estimates of income from rental of premises; and authorize the Pension Board to supplement voluntary contributions to the Emergency Fund for 2000-2001 by up to $200,000.

By part VI, the Assembly would note that a balance of $15.76 million remained in the contingency fund. Part VII, on the United Nations Special Coordinator in the occupied territories, would have the Assembly approve the charge of total requirements of $3.76 million against provisions proposed for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed budget for 2000-2001, and concur that the related provisions for the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator already included in the proposed programme budget for the biennium, be transferred from section 5, Peacekeeping operations, to section 3.

By Part VIII, the Assembly would note that an unallocated balance of some $35.02 million remained against the provision of some $90.39 million for special political missions. By part IX, it would note the report of the Secretary-General on construction of additional conference facilities at Addis Ababa. By part X, it would request the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive report on internal and external printing practices to the Assembly's fifty-fifth session. Part XI of the draft would have the Assembly decide to revert to the subject of rental of United Nations premises by press and other entities at its resumed fifty-fourth session.

Part XII would have the Assembly note the report of the Secretary-General on public information. Part XIII would have it note the Secretary-General’s report on the use of general temporary assistance and endorse the recommendations of the ACABQ. Part XIV would have it note the information provided in the Secretary- General's report on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

By draft resolution IV, on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses for the biennium 2000-2001, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General, with prior concurrence from the ABACQ, to enter into commitments in 2000-2001 to meet unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising during or subsequent to the biennium, and details the limits for various purposes.

Draft resolution V, on the Working Capital Fund for 2000-2001, would have the Assembly establish the Fund, for the biennium, in the amount of $100 million, with Member States making advances to the Fund in accordance with the scale adopted by the Assembly for contributions to the budget for the year 2000.

By the terms of a draft resolution on action taken on certain items, which is contained in the report of the Fifth Committee on Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations (document A/54/511/Add.1), the Assembly would decide that the Fifth Committee would continue considering the following items at its resumed session: financial reports and audited financial statement, and reports of the Board of Auditors; review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations; programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999; programme planning; proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001; improving the financial situation of the United Nations; pattern of conferences; scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations; report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS); human resources management; appointments to fill vacancies in subsidiary organs and other appointments; and the financing of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Further, the Committee’s resumed session will cover administrative and budgetary aspects of United Nations peacekeeping; as well as the financing, and in some cases the liquidation of the: United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force and United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon); United Nations Angola Verification Mission and United Nations Observer Mission in Angola; activities arising from Security Council resolution 687 (1991) (United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission ); United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara; United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia ; United Nations Protection Force; United Nations Confidence Restoration Operation in Croatia; United Nations Preventive Deployment Force and the United Nations Peace Forces headquarters; United Nations Operation in Somalia II; United Nations Operation in Mozambique; United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus; United Nations Observer Mission in Haiti; United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia; United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda; United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan; United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina; United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium and the Civilian Police Support Group; United Nations Support Mission in Haiti and the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti; Military Observer Group of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala; United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic; United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone; United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone; United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo; United Nations Mission in East Timor; and United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor.

Report of Economic and Social Council

The General Assembly also had before it the report of the Economic and Social Council (document A/35/3 and Add 1). According to the Council President, this year had seen much progress in reviving the Council's role as envisaged in the United Nations Charter and in restoring its identity. For the first time in many years, the Council had managed to complete consideration during the session of all substantive issues on its agenda. Eradication of poverty was the Council's leitmotif this year. The Council also gave special consideration to Africa and African development, as well as the Latin American region. But much remained to be done. In particular the Council's functions vis-a-vis the United Nations funds and programmes and the specialized agencies needed to be revitalized and strengthened. That was a task that, in the President's view, the Council should turn its priority attention to in the year ahead.

The report details the Council's activities for the year and an addendum lists the composition of the Council and the members of its subsidiary and related bodies.

Action on Texts before Assembly

The Assembly first turned its attention to the draft resolution from its Second Committee on the Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries and a draft decision from the same report, as well as a report of its Fifth Committee on the draft’s programme budget implications.

The draft resolution was adopted without a vote, followed by the draft decision in the same fashion.

The Assembly then turned its attention to the reports of its Fifth Committee. They were introduced by that Committee’s Rapporteur, JAN JAREMCZUK (Poland). He also orally introduced various editorial and other amendments.

The Assembly then took up the Fifth Committee's report on financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/54/506/Add.1). It adopted the draft resolution contained therein, acting without a vote.

Next, it turned to the Committee's report on programme planning (document A/54/676), and adopted the draft resolution it contained in the same manner.

The Assembly adopted the decision in the report on the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/54/507/Add.1), again acting without a vote.

The Assembly then adopted, again without a vote, the one draft resolution and two draft decisions in the report on the scale of assessments for apportioning the United Nations expenses (document A/54/685).

It then took up the report on the United Nations common system (document A/54/677), adopting, in the same manner, the five-part draft resolution it contained.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolutions on financing the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/54/678) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (document A/54/679).

MATTI KAARIAINEN (Finland), speaking in explanation of position on behalf of the European Union, said because the Union supported the work of the Tribunals, it would have wished for adequate time to address the issues related to their budgets thoroughly. It was important that they could carry out their work effectively and efficiently. Concerns had been expressed about administrative functions that remained to be addressed. This resolution would allow a proper discussion without impairing their ability to work.

Next, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution on financing the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone and the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (document A/54/686).

It then took up the Committee's report on administrative and budgetary aspects of financing United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/54/684), adopting the two draft resolutions and four draft decisions contained therein without a vote.

Turning then to the Fifth Committee's report on review of General Assembly resolution 48/218B on the Office of Internal Oversight Services (document A/54/673), the Assembly adopted the draft resolution therein, again acting without a vote.

It next took up the Fifth Committee's report on human resources management (document A/54/680), adopting the recommended draft decision without a vote.

The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution on financing the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (document A/54/674).

Turning then to the report on financing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (document A/54/687), it adopted the draft resolution on the matter in the same manner.

The Assembly then adopted the draft decision recommended by the Fifth Committee on the report of the Economic and Social Council (document A/54/668).

It then acted on the draft resolution on the programme budget for 1998-1999 (document A/54/508/Add.1).

Next, it took up the report on pattern of conferences (document A/54/690), and adopted the one draft resolution contained therein.

Turning then to the programme budget for 2000-2001, the Assembly had before it the Fifth Committee’s report on the programme budget for 2000-2001 (document A/54/691), containing five draft resolutions.

DONALD HAYS (United States), speaking in explanation of vote, said his Government was unable to associate itself with the consensus on the budget because it was not in keeping with its national policy requiring strict budget discipline. However, it believed that this budget represented an important step in the direction of a revitalized United Nations, one that was stronger and more relevant than before. Setting this world body on sound footing required more than balancing the budget; it required active participation from the family of nations, coming together around a common set of priorities and embracing sound management principles. The United States had set a course that, when completed, would strengthen the underpinnings of the Organization.

The United States was committed to working vigorously toward resolving the arrears issue with the active participation of Member States over the course of the next year, he said. The budget was sound and structured to meet the Secretary- General’s priority needs while adhering to the mandate of operating responsibly and within financial limits. For the future, the United States expressed its firm support for a budget process that was transparent, efficient, and that adhered to the policies endorsed by the General Assembly and the Secretariat regarding budget and personnel practices. Overall, the United States was pleased that the process had brought Member States closer together in their common commitment to the United Nations global agenda.

The Assembly then approved the five draft resolutions without a vote.

Mr. KAARIAINEN (Finland), speaking in explanation of vote for the European Union, said the Union had approached negotiations on the proposed programme budget determined to review each and every section on its own merits. It wanted to see the United Nations perform effectively, with budgetary discipline, efficiency and an overall approach of value for money. During the negotiations, the Union had never been guided by a need to reach a “benchmark” on the budget. Further, it had made an honest effort to meet the substantive concerns of other delegations, such as the Group of 77. The result reflected the objectives of all delegations. But the Union would have preferred a more dynamic budget, more oriented towards the Organization’s priorities. The Union was pleased that the budget had been adopted without a vote.

GARFIELD BARNWELL (Guyana), for the Group of 77 and China, said the adoption of the text concluded protracted, arduous, intense and painful negotiations. During the entire process, the Group of 77 and China had participated in a spirit of cooperation and flexibility. However, it regretted to note that some of the negotiating partners had taken unrealistic positions which made the process more complex and cumbersome.

The Group of 77 and China recognized the role of the Secretary-General as the chief administrative officer under the Charter’s Article 97. It reaffirmed that the level of resources for the programme budget should be adequate for the full implementation of all mandated programmes and activities. There could be no arbitrary decision to lower the level of resources or impose a ceiling which could adversely impact on effective programme delivery. The allocation of resources to the budget had to be justified on the basis of requirements of output delivery and the priorities set in the medium-term plan, in accordance with the relevant regulations and rules.

He recalled that at one stage during the negotiation process, efforts had been made to take decisions outside the Fifth Committee. The Group reaffirmed the role of the Fifth Committee under the General Assembly’s Rules of Procedures, through which the Committee was entrusted to consider all administrative, financial and budgetary questions. He then stressed that the current budgetary process must be respected fully, and that any changes in the process must be subject to the prior consideration and approval of the Assembly. It was the exclusive prerogative of the Assembly to determine the budgetary process. He regretted that the conditions under which the Fifth Committee had been forced to work did not promote smooth and transparent negotiations, and the lateness of the documents had caused extreme difficulties. In future, the Secretariat should submit all documents in accordance with the six-week rule.

MICHEL DUVAL (Canada), speaking also for Australia and New Zealand, welcomed that overall fiscal discipline had been maintained and that considerable savings had been achieved to compensate for cost increases. The Committee had agreed to some justifiable reductions in the new budget as well as to some additional proposals. Such negotiations entailed political compromises on the part of all delegations, but the fact remained that the Secretary-General, as chief administrative officer, had not requested most of those additional proposals. Nor had the proposals been reviewed by the ACABQ or the Committee on Programme and Coordination. Significant departures from the Secretary-General’s proposals and the advice of expert bodies undermined the established budgetary and programmatic procedures.

The three delegation’s statement on the proposed programme budget had expressed the desire to see a more concise budget resolution that focused on governance issues and not administrative minutiae, he said. Unfortunately, that had not been the case. The delegations he spoke for would continue to advocate a more strategic approach. It regretted that one Member State had been unable to join the consensus, but took note of the explanation provided. While it would have been preferable that there had been no add-ons to the Secretary-General’s proposal, compromises were necessary. Welcoming the agreement, he then urged all Member States to fund the budget in full, on time and without conditions.

MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Group was glad to say that the Assembly President, Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia), had shouldered the tasks of this Assembly session and had proven an excellent President. The African Group was proud of him.

The African Group joined the consensus on the budget, he said, and he congratulated those who had crafted the consensus. However the global level was below that requested by the Secretary-General, who was more aware of the Organization's needs than anyone else. The African Group regretted that. Significant reductions had been made to achieve the consensus, and he hoped they would not have an adverse impact on the mandated programmes. He welcomed the role given to some important projects, such as the provision for permanent interpretation for the United Nations Centre in Nairobi and the resources provided for the Central African human rights centre. Those positive elements would have been better if a decision had been taken to allow the use of the positive balance from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He hoped that that decision was just postponed.

MARY JO ARAGON (Philippines) said the level of resources for 2000-2001 had been lower than the amount proposed by the Secretary-General and she hoped the amount just adopted would enable him to implement fully all mandated activities, particularly those regarding cooperation for development. All Member States should pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions. Her delegation continued to have reservations, which it would pursue under the item on human resources management.

The Assembly then adopted the two draft decisions in the report on review of administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations efficiency (document A/54/511/Add.1), acting in each case without a vote.

It then decided to take note of the chapters and sections of the report of the Economic and Social Council, adopting that text without a vote (document A/54/3 and Add.1).

Next, the Assembly decided that the following agenda items would remain open for consideration during the fifty-fourth session.

Item 10: Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization;

Item 11: Report of the Security Council;

Item 15: Elections to fill vacancies in principal organs;

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 22: Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal;

Item 37: Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development;

Item 38: Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters;

Item 42: The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina;

Item 43: The situation in the Middle East;

Item 44: Question of Palestine;

Item 46: Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa;

Item 47: 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 48: The situation of democracy and human rights in Haiti;

Item 49: United Nations reform: measures and proposals;

Item 50: The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security;

Item 59: Strengthening of the United Nations system;

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 63: Question of Cyprus;

Item 90: Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects;

Item 97: Macroeconomic policy questions;

Item 99: Sustainable development and international economic cooperation;

Item 101: Operational activities for development;

Item 110: Implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women;

Item 117: Financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors;

Item 118: Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations;

Item 119: Programme budget for the biennium 1998-1999;

Item 120: Programe planning;

Item 121: Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001;

Item 122: Improving the financial situation of the United Nations;

Item 123: Joint Inspection Unit;

Item 124: Pattern of conferences;

Item 125: Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations;

Item 126: United Nations common system;

Item 127: Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services;

Item 128: Financing of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in the Middle East;

Item 129: Financing of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission and the United Nations Observer Mission in Angola;

Item 130: Financing of the activities arising from Security Council resolution 687 (1991);

Item 131: Financing of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara;

Item 132: Financing and liquidation of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia;

Item 133: 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 134: Financing of the United Nations Operation in Somalia II;

Item 135: Financing of the United Nations Operation in Mozambique;

Item 136: Financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus;

Item 137: Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia;

Item 138: Financing of the United Nations Mission in Haiti;

Item 139: Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia;

Item 140: Financing of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda;

Item 141: Financing of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan;

Item 142: 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 143: 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 144: Financing of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina;

Item 145: Financing of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium and the Civilian Police Support Group;

Item 146: Financing of the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force;

Item 147: 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 148: Financing of the Military Observer Group of the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala;

Item 149: Financing of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic;

Item 150: Financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone;

Item 151: Administrative and budgetary aspects of the financing of the United Nations peacekeeping operations:

Item 160: Measures to eliminate international terrorism;

Item 163: Review of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 48/218 B;

Item 164: Human resources management;

Item 166: Financing of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo;

Item 169: Financing of the United Nations Mission in East Timor;

Item 170: Armed aggression against the Democratic Republic of the Congo;

Item 172: Financing of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone;

Item 173: Financing of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor.

THEO-BEN GURIRAB (Namibia), President of the General Assembly, said that during the first three months of its work, the Assembly had considered 148 out of 174 agenda items. Despite divergence of views on some of the issues, cooperation and mutual respect had characterized the atmosphere. The Assembly adopted 250 resolutions -- about 180 by consensus -- and 77 decisions on issues of major concern to Member States and the Organization.

Regarding the Security Council, he said many speakers had addressed the following issues: humanitarian intervention; conflict situations in Africa; regional initiatives; sanctions; and reform of that body. While some delegations had praised the improvement in its meetings, others had reiterated calls for a more analytical Security Council report on its ongoing activities and inclusion of more information on its informal consultations of the whole.

He said that a large number of delegations had stated that humanitarian intervention without Council authorization was unacceptable, yet even they had accepted that the subject must still be discussed in appropriate forums. Concern had been expressed by Member States over the Council’s slow response to the conflicts in Africa, and Members had called for a more balanced approach to important events, especially in respect of United Nations peacekeeping and financing, where speed and even-handedness were needed.

Most speakers had insisted on a more representative Council, to enhance its credibility, legitimacy and effectiveness, he said. Clearly, that was one of the main challenges that the United Nations would face in 2000. Although all Members shared the same belief in the urgent need for changes in the Council's composition and working methods to prevent an endemic gridlock, it had become clear once again that no concrete conclusions could be drawn at this time.

He said that in deliberations on the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 1994), it had been stressed that while some countries enjoyed economic growth and the benefits of globalization, the vulnerable economies of developing countries had continued to be negatively affected by uncontrolled circumstances. The forthcoming special session to be held in Geneva in 2000 should serve as a third pillar in the deliberations on the redesign of the global financial architecture. The consensus had been that the commitments agreed upon at Copenhagen should be reaffirmed and transformed into concrete realities. The special session should identify progress made and obstacles encountered in implementing the Programme of Action. A frank assessment of the factors hampering implementation and progress was needed.

On the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa, he cited the Secretary-General's statement that urgent priority should be given to Africa. That must be reflected in the budget and priorities set by the Assembly. The Secretary-General had also recommended that the Assembly establish its own working group to take stock of the progress so far in implementing the proposals contained in his report on the Causes of Conflict in Africa. The Secretary-General had further proposed that the working group focus on new ways to mobilize assistance to post-conflict societies, including debt cancellation. In that connection, the President intended to announce soon the names of the two coordinators for the working group.

He said the eradication of poverty was an essential prerequisite for development. The more Africa worked, however, the fewer benefits it drew from its efforts. The fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic must be intensified because it was a threat to the very existence of many African countries. The United Nations must, more than ever, take the leadership to combat that devastating menace and help save millions of lives. On emergency assistance to individual countries, the Assembly had adopted 19 resolutions to provide emergency international assistance to regions and individual countries. Dialogue among civilizations continued to draw the serious attention of Member States, he said. The Assembly had adopted a resolution on that important subject and had invited governments and other interested parties to further intensify their actions to promote the concept widely. Iran had provided a committed leadership by spearheading an open-ended and robust dialogue on the subject, at the United Nations, and by inviting influential personalities from outside to share their thoughts with delegates.

He stressed the need for wider acceptance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and its consistent application, as well as the harmonization of national legislation with its provisions. Throughout the debate, the responsible use and sustainable development of ocean resources had been highlighted, as had the protection and preservation of the marine environment, implementation of the Global Plan of Action for land-based sources of pollution and maritime safety.

Assistance in mine action had been discussed at length and a resolution had been adopted, he said. Speakers had noted the need for the continued commitment of the international community in clearing anti-personnel landmines. Another major contribution to disarmament had been the adoption of the resolution on a nuclear- weapon-free zone for Central Asia, likewise, the adoption of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. That timely action would fill in a lacuna in the international law on terrorism and further strengthen efforts to combat that crime.

He cited other major issues of global concern that the Assembly or its Committees had covered: children trapped in armed conflicts; gender equality; proliferation of small arms and their negative impact; assistance to small island developing States; the International Court of Justice and its role in inter-State relations; World Conference on Racism and Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance, to be convened in 2001; and a High-level International Forum on Financing for Development, also envisaged for 2001.

The question of reviewing and streamlining the new scale of assessments was difficult he said, bearing, as it did, on the United Nations budget itself and resources available to the Organization to carry out its work globally. The Fifth Committee's resolutions and decisions adopted by the Assembly had given an indication that the ideal end to that longest-running agenda item was nowhere near. But the search must continue.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.