SCALE OF ASSESSMENTS, PEACEKEEPING FINANCE AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 22 FIFTH COMMITTEE TEXTS

7 April 2000
GA/9706

SCALE OF ASSESSMENTS, PEACEKEEPING FINANCE AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 22 FIFTH COMMITTEE TEXTS

7 April 2000

Press ReleaseGA/9706

SCALE OF ASSESSMENTS, PEACEKEEPING FINANCE AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS 22 FIFTH COMMITTEE TEXTS

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The General Assembly adopted 9 resolutions and 13 decisions recommended to it by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon.

Through a resolution on the issue of the scale of assessments -- the formula used to determine how the expenses of the United Nations are divided among its Membership -- the Assembly asked its Committee on Contributions to examine 12 specifications for that calculation and make recommendations on how the scale might work under each specification. The specifications, set out in the resolution, involve instructions on such elements as the upper and lower limits on financial responsibilities of individual States, and on the statistical base periods used for the calculation of factors of the scale, including the primary factor, reaffirmed as a Member State's ability to pay.

Under the terms of another resolution, the Secretary-General would be allowed to spend some $200 million on the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) until 30 June, pending a comprehensive report on that Mission’s financing. About $350 million would be available for the establishment and maintenance of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) from 1 December 1999 to 30 June 2000 (including $200 million previously authorized), and an additional $26.91 million will be appropriated for the completed United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), under the terms of two other resolutions.

Resolutions examining reports of the United Nations external oversight body, the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), on United Nations outsourcing practices and on the reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services were also adopted. Instructions for financing of the High-level Intergovernmental Event for Financing for Development and the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries were contained in another resolution, and in another, certain recommendations on enhancing the cost-effectiveness of the use of United Nations publications from the JIU were endorsed.

Requirements of about $6.2 million were approved for the United Nations Peace- building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) and for the United Nations Peace- building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) in another decision.

Other decisions adopted by the Assembly noted reports and endorsed recommendations on: asbestos problems with United Nations buildings; reporting of

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9706 95th Meeting (PM) 7 April 2000

the status of death and disability claims against the United Nations; a definition of circumstances where normal United Nations procurement rules need not apply (exigency circumstances); strengthening United Nations external oversight mechanisms; and the United Nations new computerized administrative information system. Further decisions address a proposed amendment to the regulations and rules governing programme budgets, and endorse conclusions and recommendations on evaluation in a report from the Assembly's Committee for Programme and Coordination.

The Assembly also decided to defer consideration of: the working methods of its Fifth Committee; reported activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services; staff provided free-of-charge to the United Nations by Member States and other organizations (gratis personnel); proposed regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of the Secretary-General and other non-Secretariat officials; and human resources management.

All the resolutions and decisions were introduced by the Fifth Committee's Rapporteur, Jan Jaremczuk (Poland), and all were adopted without a vote.

Early in the meeting, the Russian Federation's nominee, Victor V. Vislykh, was appointed to fill a vacancy in the United Nations Staff Pension Committee.

The Assembly also took note of information provided by the Secretary-General on a payment of dues by Equatorial Guinea, which meant it was no longer subject to loss of its Assembly vote.

The representatives of the United States spoke in explanation of position, and the representative of Syria raised a point of order.

General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9706 95th Meeting (PM) 7 April 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this afternoon to consider a series of draft resolutions and decisions recommended to it by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

Appointments

Before the Assembly was the Fifth Committee's recommendation that it appoint the Russian Federation's nominee Victor V. Vislykh to the United Nations Staff Pension Committee (document A/54/545/Add.1). The recommendation follows the resignation of Vladimir V. Kuznetsov (Russian Federation) from that Committee. If appointed, Mr. Vislykh will complete Mr. Kuznetsov's term of office, which expires on 31 December.

Review of Efficiency of Administrative and Financial Functioning of United Nations

The Fifth Committee report before the Assembly on the review of efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations contains three draft resolutions and three draft decisions (document A/54/511/Add.2).

By the terms of its draft resolution on the reports of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), the Assembly would, with one exception, take note of a JIU report reviewing the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) and its machinery and related comments from the Secretary-General and the ACC.

It would also endorse part one of the Inspection Unit's recommendations on the United Nations system common services at Geneva, and the comments from the Secretary-General and the ACC on those recommendations. It would stress that pursuit of common services in Geneva should be one of many tools available to organizations and managers to obtain goods and services in the most efficient and effective manner.

By other terms, the Assembly would invite the Inspection Unit to examine common services at other duty stations, where feasible, and to pass their recommendations and observations to the General Assembly. Stressing the importance of using the recent data available in JIU reports, it would call on the Secretary- General and the executive heads of the organizations of the United Nations system to provide timely data.

Also by the draft, the Assembly would call on the Secretary-General to ensure the timely issuance of JIU reports and the related comments from the Secretary- General and the ACC, so that governing bodies could take prompt action on them. It would also encourage the Secretary-General and the ACC to take concrete steps to enhance common services and invite legislative organs of other organizations to act on the basis of the present resolution.

It would ask the Inspection Unit to continue to improve its reports consistent with the requirements of its follow-up system approved by the Assembly, and ask the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its fifty-sixth session on measures taken to enhance common services.

By the terms of a draft resolution on outsourcing practices in the United Nations, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to ensure that programme managers are guided by the basic reasons for outsourcing and its goals. It would endorse guidelines on outsourcing set out in the Secretary-General's report, pending consideration of a report which would define criteria for decisions on whether a specific activity should or should not be outsourced. It would ask that this report be delivered at the General Assembly's fifty-fifth session.

By the terms of a draft resolution on the reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the Assembly would take note of Oversight Office reports on audits of the commercial insurance programmes, Regional Commissions, the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, the United Nations health insurance programme and the conference centres of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and on an investigation into an alleged theft by a staff member of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and on the review of common services (and the related comments of the JIU).

It would also note the reports on: an investigation into the Lebanon field office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); the investigation into allegations concerning an UNCTAD electronic commerce project; the procurement of Lysol by the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); and allegations about procurement of aviation services for peacekeeping missions.

The Assembly would further note the Oversight review of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the related JIU comments, of its review of programme management in the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division, and of its report on an investigation into an alleged conflict of interest at the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, and the related JIU comments. It would ask that in future relevant legislative mandates be included in the Oversight Office's reports.

The Fifth Committee also recommends a draft decision on the definition of exigency needs for the purposes of procurement. By its terms, the Assembly would endorse the definition of that term proposed by the Secretary-General, but call for the text to specify that exigency exemptions from normal procurement rules should not come into play as a consequence of bad management.

The Secretary-General's proposal would establish that the normal rules that govern United Nations purchasing -- such as the need to call for competitive bids -- could not be waived to compensate for bad planning. However, they could be when needs were exceptional, compelling and emergent and would lead to serious damage, loss or injury if not met immediately.

By a draft decision on strengthening United Nations external oversight mechanisms, the Assembly would take note of a series of reports. Those are: the Secretary-General's report on the review of the Organization's administrative and financial efficiency; his note transmitting the comments of the Board of Auditors on the implications of extending the term of office of members of the Board and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) comments on that; the Secretary-General's note transmitting the views of the Board of Auditors on improving oversight functions; and a note from the Secretary-General transmitting the JIU's updated and additional views on the strengthening of external oversight mechanisms.

By the terms of a draft decision, the Assembly would defer consideration of the question of improving the working methods of its Fifth Committee to the second part of its fifty-fourth session.

Human Resources

A decision to defer until the second part of its resumed session consideration of gratis personnel -- people provided free-of-charge to the United Nations by Member States and other organizations -- was also recommended by the Fifth Committee (document A/54/827).

Another draft decision would see the Assembly defer consideration of proposed regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of the Secretary-General and officials other than Secretariat officials and experts on mission until the fifty-fifth Assembly session (document A/54/828).

Programme Budget for 1998-1999

By the terms of a draft decision before the Committee on the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General's eleventh progress report on IMIS, of the revised completion date for the project and of activities planned up to its completion (document A/54/508/Add.2). It would also endorse comments and recommendations of the ACABQ.

By other terms, it would ask the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive final report on the system's implementation after its completion, including an analysis of lessons learned and experience gained. That study, due at the Assembly's fifty-sixth session, would also address the issue of long-term strategy for further development of the system.

Programme Planning

Also before the Assembly was a report containing two draft decision on programme planning (document A/54/676/Add.1). The first concerns regulations and rules governing programme planning, the programme aspects of the budget, the monitoring of implementation and the methods of evaluation. By its terms, the Assembly would note the Secretary-General's proposed amendment to the rules, which would now state that expected accomplishments must be included in each subprogramme's budget proposal, and should be expressed so as to make it possible to judge later whether they had been achieved.

The Assembly would also recommend the sentence "Expected accomplishments shall be objective, feasible and pertinent to the nature of, and work carried out by each subprogramme", as an addition to the Secretary-General's language.

By the terms of the second draft decision on programme planning, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations regarding evaluation in the report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC). It would endorse JIU reports on improving the working methods and procedures of that Committee, within the framework of its mandate.

The Assembly would also decide to return to its consideration of the budget narrative provided by the electoral assistance programme at a later date.

Programme Budget for 2000-2001

A resolution and two draft decisions are contained in another Fifth Committee report (document A/54/691/Add.1).

According to the draft resolution, reviewing resource requirements for the High-level Intergovernmental Event for Financing for Development and the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the Assembly would take note of the reports of the Secretary-General1 and the ACABQ on that matter.

It would reaffirm that the Fifth Committee was the appropriate Main Committee entrusted with the responsibility for administrative and budgetary matters and also reaffirm the role of the ACABQ. It would note with concern that no extra-budgetary resources have been received, to date, to defray costs of participation in preparatory meetings or the Conference by representatives from least developed countries.

It would also decide to ask the Secretary-General to explore ways of providing resources for the High-level Intergovernmental Event for Financing for Development and the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries and to report on that at its next resumed session. It would also reaffirm its December resolve to maintain the special account and the unspent balance until all relevant activities and programmes outlined by the Secretary- General and approved by the Assembly were completed.

By the first draft decision, it would note the Secretary-General's asbestos report (document A/54/779) and endorse the recommendations on that matter made by the ACABQ.

The Secretary-General's report provides an assessment of asbestos-containing materials at United Nations Headquarters, and reviews measures to ensure they did not harm people working or visiting the complexes. It states that nearly all asbestos-containing materials would be removed if and when an impending master plan on the buildings was approved. The United Nations complies with all standards, codes and regulations issued by the United States Government, New York State and New York City regarding inspection, engineering controls, abatement and management of disposal of asbestos-containing materials, the report states. The ACABQ recommended that information be provided on asbestos at other United Nations duty stations.

The second decision recommended to the Assembly would have it approve requirements of close to $6.2 million for special political missions in Guinea- Bissau and the Central African Republic, against the provision for special political missions in the programme budget for 2000-2001.

By other terms of this text, the Assembly would note that, following its decision, some $61.5 million of the amount budgeted for special political missions would have been used, leaving some $28.9 million unallocated from the regular budget provision of roughly $90.4 million for this purpose.

That responds to requests from the Secretary-General to fund the two missions. He asked for some $2.7 million to fund the United Nations Peace-building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS) until 31 March 2001, and some $3.4 million to pay for the United Nations Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) from 15 February 2000 to 14 February 2001.

Pattern of United Nations Conferences

By the terms of a draft resolution on enhancing the cost-effectiveness of the use of United Nations publications to implement legislative mandates, the General Assembly would endorse a number of JIU recommendations (document A/54/690/Add.1).

Among the recommendations is one seeking information for the Assembly so it can carry out a detailed assessment of publications' policies and practices. Another states that the primary criterion for new publications should be specific mandates from intergovernmental bodies, with general publications kept to a minimum. By a third, the Secretariat would be called on to review sales revenues from United Nations publications at least quarterly.

Several other JIU recommendations -- such as those on strengthening the United Nations Publications Board and recommending cooperative printing programmes between the Secretariat and other entities -- would receive endorsement, subject to qualifications and comments from the CPC and the ACABQ.

The Assembly would endorse a recommendation that there should be increased use of electronic information dissemination, without prejudice to the traditional distribution of printed publications.

Among other terms, the Assembly would regret that a provision it made regarding the frequency of publication of the United Nations Chronicle (which would have changed the publication frequency to four times annually, in all languages) has not been implemented and ask that it be implemented as a matter of priority. It would ask for additional effort to improve the linguistic quality and content of United Nations publications in all six official languages concurrently. It would also ask the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of provisions of that resolution to its fifty-sixth session.

Scale of Assessments

By the terms of a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of expenses of the United Nations (document A/54/685/Add.1), the Assembly would ask its Committee on Contributions to submit 12 proposals for a scale of assessments for the period 2001-2003 to the fifty-fifth session. Specifications for each of those proposals are contained in the draft. They include elements such as the ceiling and floor rates, statistical base periods, conversion rates and debt burden adjustments.

By other provisions of the text, the Assembly would also ask the Committee on Contributions to examine and report on the consequence of sharply depressed levels of primary commodity prices on commodity-dependent economies and the impact on countries whose economies have the burden of hosting refugees, with a view to improving the current methodology. That Committee would also be asked to: suggest ways to address the combined effects of the loss of the low per capita income adjustment and having to contribute to the adjustments for Member States still below the threshold; suggest ways to deal with the effect of discontinuities relating to movements up and being just above that threshold; and to examine the long-term implications of the present criteria for determining the low per capita adjustment and report on possible alternatives.

It would welcome the agreement of the Committee on Contributions to consider more systematic criteria and approaches to deciding when market exchange rates should be replaced for the purposes of scale preparation.

By other terms, the Assembly would reaffirm the obligation of Member States to bear the expenses of the United Nations as apportioned by the General Assembly, and the fundamental principle that those expenses should be apportioned broadly according to capacity to pay. It would ask the Secretary-General to ensure that Permanent Missions are furnished with copies of the national accounts questionnaire in good time to enable follow-up.

Report of Secretary-General on Activities of Office of Internal Oversight Services

The Fifth Committee also recommended a decision, whereby the Assembly would defer consideration of the Secretary-General's report on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services to its fifty-fifth session (document A/54/829).

Administrative and Budgetary Aspects of Peacekeeping

By another draft decision (document A/54/684/Add.1) the Assembly would decide that the Secretary-General should report on the status of all death and disability claims against the United Nations from peacekeeping missions annually, commencing with the period ending 31 December 2000. Currently, reports on these claims are submitted quarterly.

Human Resources

Yet another recommended decision would see consideration of human resources management deferred until the fifty fifth Assembly session (document A/54/680/Add.1).

Financing East Timor Mission

By the terms of a draft resolution on financing the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), the Assembly would decide to appropriate an additional $26.91 million gross ($26.5 million net) and to apportion about $23.24 gross ($22.83 million net) among Member States (document A/54/505/Add.1). It would also endorse the relevant observations and recommendations of the ACABQ.

Financing East Timor Transitional Administration

The draft resolution on financing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) (document A/54/687/Add.1) would have the Assembly decide to appropriate $350 million gross ($341.08 million net) for the establishment and maintenance of the mission from 1 December 1999 to 30 June 2000, inclusive of the $200 million previously authorized by the Assembly. Among other provisions is an endorsement of the findings and recommendations on the ACABQ on that matter. The Assembly would also take note of the status of contributions as at 24 March, whereby $130.8 million, or 65 per cent, of contributions that had been previously assessed have not been paid. It would express appreciation to those Member States that have paid, and urge others to make every possible effort to ensure payment in full and on time.

Financing Democratic Republic of Congo Mission

A draft resolution before it on financing the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) would have the Assembly authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments for no more than $200 million gross ($199.76 million net) for the Mission for 6 August 1999 to 30 June 2000, inclusive of the $41.01 million previously authorized by the ACABQ (document A/54/830). It would also ask him to open a special account for the Mission. The ACABQ's comments and recommendations would be endorsed and the Secretary-General would be asked to fully implement them. Among other provisions is a request for a comprehensive report on the financing of MONUC from the Secretary-General to enable action to be taken at the Assembly's fifty-fifth session. The Assembly would also note the Secretary-General's intention to submit a preliminary expenditure report at its second resumed fifty-fourth session.

Action

The Assembly's Acting President, LAMUEL A. STANISLAUS (Grenada), informed the Assembly that a letter received from the Secretary-General advised that Equatorial Guinea had made the necessary payment to reduce its arrears below the amount that would invite sanctions under Article 19 of the United Nations Charter. The Assembly then decided to take note of that information.

The Fifth Committee rapporteur, JAN JAREMCZUK (Poland), then introduced the reports of that Committee, which contained that Committee's recommendations to the Assembly on a number of agenda items.

Appointment

The Assembly then acted to fill a vacancy on the United Nations Staff Pension Committee that was the result of a resignation. It appointed Victor V. Vislykh (Russian Federation) to fill the vacancy without a vote.

Resolutions and Decisions

A draft resolution was before the Assembly on the reports of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU). That resolution was adopted without a vote.

The draft resolution on outsourcing practices in the United Nations was taken up. That resolution was also adopted without a vote.

A draft resolution on the reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services was next on the Assembly's agenda. The Assembly adopted the resolution without a vote.

A draft decision was on the definition of exigency needs, for the purposes of procurement, was taken up and adopted without a vote.

It then moved to consider a draft decision on strengthening United Nations external oversight mechanisms, which was adopted without a vote.

By the terms of another draft decision, the Assembly would defer consideration of the question of improving the working methods of its Fifth Committee to the second part of its fifty-fourth session. The draft decision was adopted without a vote.

A similar draft decision deferring consideration of gratis personnel followed, which the Assembly adopted without a vote.

A draft decision deferring consideration of proposed regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of the Secretary-General and officials other than Secretariat officials and experts on mission was put before the Assembly. The decisions was adopted without a vote.

Another draft decision, on the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), was then adopted without a vote.

Also before the Assembly was a draft decision on regulations and rules governing programme planning, the programme aspects of the budget, the monitoring of implementation and the methods of evaluation. That decision was adopted without a vote.

A second draft decision on programme planning, on matters related to the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), was then taken up. It was adopted without a vote.

Turning its attention to a draft resolution reviewing resource requirements for the High-level Intergovernmental Event for Financing for Development and the Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, the Assembly adopted the resolution without a vote.

Next, the Assembly decided to take note of the Secretary-General's asbestos report, and endorse certain recommendations regarding asbestos.

The Assembly's attention was drawn to a draft decision that would have it approve requirements for special political missions in Guinea-Bissau and the Central African Republic. The decision was adopted without a vote.

It then turned to a draft resolution on enhancing the cost-effectiveness of United Nations publications.

ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria), speaking on a point of order, sought a correction to the Arabic text of paragraph 8 of the draft resolution. The paragraph related to the six official languages of the United Nations. He had previously requested the change be made at the Committee meeting on the draft. There had been no response. He hoped that correction would be used wherever the matter was mentioned.

The ACTING PRESIDENT assured him that note would be taken.

The resolution was then adopted without a vote.

The draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of expenses of the United Nations was taken up next, and adopted, also without a vote.

DONALD HAYS (United States), speaking in explanation of position, said that the scale of assessments was a critical issue before the membership and one that, if properly structured, would ensure the future viability of the institution. His delegation had benefited from thoughtful engagement by many Member States on the issue. The United States was encouraged by the Assembly's resolution to send new

reform proposals to the Committee on Contributions for its consideration. All Member States benefited from enhanced dialogue and a sense of openness. Although the process of reform was taking shape, sustained commitment by all was needed to assure its success. He would work with all others to promote clarity, engagement and equity in the reform agenda.

He would continue dialogue in the review of the peacekeeping scale and a reform of peacekeeping activities in general, he said. The United States hoped to join with like-minded States in calling for a full-scale review of both the peacekeeping scale and proposals aimed at improving the United Nations peacekeeping capabilities. The resumed session on peacekeeping reform should receive the same attention, cooperation and thoughtful concern enjoyed in regular budget discussions. Peacekeeping was the core task for which the United Nations was formed and one upon which it would ultimately be judged.

Another decision was then taken up on the Fifth Committee's recommendation, on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services. That was adopted.

A draft decision on the status of death and disability claims was then adopted without a vote.

The Assembly then took up a draft decision deferring consideration of human resources management. The decision was adopted without a vote.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolutions on financing the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), financing the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) and financing the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC).

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For information media. Not an official record.