FIFTH COMMITTEE IS URGED TO ENSURE PROVISION OF RESOURCES NEEDED FOR REFORM OF UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS

29 October 2001
GA/AB/3471

FIFTH COMMITTEE IS URGED TO ENSURE PROVISION OF RESOURCES NEEDED FOR REFORM OF UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS

29/10/2001
Press ReleaseGA/AB/3471

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

19th Meeting (AM)

FIFTH COMMITTEE IS URGED TO ENSURE PROVISION OF RESOURCES NEEDED

FOR REFORM OF UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS

Report Endorses 129 New Posts, after Secretary-General’s

Request for 216; Expeditious Action to Fill Them Is Called For

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning heard a  call “to move the United Nations forward” by providing the resources needed for peacekeeping reform, since all Member States had “a stake in its success”.

The Committee took up the conclusions of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, which recently undertook a comprehensive review of United Nations peacekeeping and endorsed a strategic plan for acting on the conclusions of the review and the recommendations of the Brahimi Panel.  The representative of Australia (also speaking for Canada and New Zealand) said that, for the first time in history, the United Nations had taken a frank look at the way it conducted peacekeeping and made specific, concrete and practical recommendations for improving its capacity.  The Fifth Committee should now ensure that the plan received the resources it needed to succeed.

He said that when integrating such issues as humanitarian affairs, gender, human rights and demobilization, disarmament and reintegration into the complex peacekeeping operations, it was essential to derive “best practices” to ensure lessons learned from those missions.  While the Secretary-General had requested 216 posts and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had recommended approval of 129, he said that a somewhat higher level than 129 was warranted.  Whatever the final level of posts was agreed upon, he expected the Secretariat to fill them expeditiously.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s statement on the programme budget implications of the proposals, United Nations Controller, Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, said that the needs identified during the comprehensive review would require a reorganization of current structures, creation of new entities and strengthening of existing ones. Those changes required overall resources of over $2.69 million in respect of the regular budget for the biennium 2002-2003, and some $23.13 million for the support account for the period 1 January to 30 June 2002.  In terms of posts, additional 216 positions were identified, of which nine related to the regular budget and 207 to the support account.

A related report of the ACABQ was introduced by its Chairman, Conrad S.M. Mselle.  According to the report, “the current exercise should not be seen as a general opportunity to request resources that are not clearly and specifically related to the increase in peacekeeping needs”.  The ACABQ recommended informing the Assembly that the proposed changes involved additional requirements of some $1.57 million under the proposed programme budget and some $16.22 million under the support account for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.  Seven additional posts had been recommended for approval under the regular budget, and 122 under the support account.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, the representative of Belgium said additional resources, as well as the better use of existing ones, were needed for a better functioning of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, which should have sufficient capacity to engage in long-term strategy, capacity development and mission support for rapid and efficient deployment.  He said those countries endorsed the concept of a strategic reserve at the United Nations Logistics Base, as a significant element in enhancing the Organization’s ability to address peacekeeping.  It also attached particular importance to such issues as the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit, the need for enhanced coordination between the Peacekeeping Department and other departments, gender mainstreaming, human rights and international humanitarian law.

At the end of the meeting, the Committee discussed the schedule of its informal consultations for this afternoon.  Speaking on this matter were the representatives of Iran, Syria, Portugal and Canada.

The Committee meets again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 30 October, to continue its consideration of the budgetary aspects of peacekeeping financing and take up several issues in connection with human resources management.

Background

This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to begin consideration of peacekeeping requirements in connection with a comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations, which was undertaken last year in implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (also known as the "Brahimi report").

The Committee had before it a statement of programme budget implications (document A/C.5/55/46) for draft resolution A/C.4/55/L.23 on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.  By the draft, the Fourth Committee presents to the Assembly the recommendations and conclusions of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, which were drafted during its 2001 session. 

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would endorse the proposals, recommendations and conclusions of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and have it continue the review of peacekeeping.  The Special Committee would also review the implementation of its previous recommendations and consider any new proposals directed at enhancing the peacekeeping capacity of the United Nations.

The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations met in an extraordinary session in the autumn of 2000 to consider the recommendations of the Panel, which was created in March 2000 to undertake a major assessment of the ways to improve the Organization's peacekeeping capacity.  The Panel's recommendations, which, among other things, called for a restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, formed the basis of the Special Committee's review.

[Following an emergency request of the Secretary-General last autumn to strengthen peacekeeping, and based on the December report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the General Assembly, in its resolution 55/238 of 23 December 2000, authorized additional resources under the support account amounting to some $9.19 million. By the same resolution, the Assembly also approved a total of $419,400 gross under the current programme budget.  Consideration of many requested requirements were deferred pending a comprehensive review and capacity study requested by the Special Committee.]

At the conclusion of its 2001 session, the Special Committee made several recommendations to strengthen the Department's planning, management and mission support functions.  They include:  the creation of a Director of Management in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General; strengthening the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit; and the creation of a small new unit in the Office of Mission Support to assist in developing overall policy guidance for administrative support.  In the area of operational planning, the Special Committee reiterated its support for Integrated Mission Task Forces and recommended further strengthening of the Office of Operations.  The Special Committee also recommended enhanced capacity for the Situation Centre as a vital component of strengthening the overall coordination function assigned to the Office.

As a result of the recommendations of the Special Committee, the statement of programme budget implications (document A/C.5/55/46) presents the changes in resources for the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget and for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.  [The support account funds certain activities at Headquarters that provide direction, assistance and guidance to assist peacekeeping operations in the field.  The amount of resources in the support account depends on the level of peacekeeping activities.]

According to the statement, the change in the regular budget for 2002-2003 would amount to some $2.7 million gross, inclusive of an increase of nine posts, representing an increase of 0.1 per cent.  The change in the support account for peacekeeping operations for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 would amount to some

$25.8 million, inclusive of an increase of 207 posts, of which 129 posts are requested for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  The increase represents 0.9 per cent of the level of peacekeeping costs for the current financial period, which are projected at slightly in excess of $3.0 billion.

The addendum to that PBI statement (document A/C.5/55/46/Add.1) contains section-by-section breakdown of the estimates related to the implementation of peacekeeping reforms.  It provides summaries of the object of expenditures, post requirements and presents new administrative structures approved by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping. 

In its report entitled “Implementation of the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations” (document A/56/478), the ACABQ recalls that in its previous report it had recommended approval of only those resource requests, the postponement of which could have an adverse effect on current peacekeeping operations.  It also recommended that consideration of other post and non-post resources be deferred until a comprehensive review and capacity study requested by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping operations had been completed and the related resource requirements clarified. 

The Advisory Committee recommends informing the Assembly that, should it adopt the draft resolution contained in document A/C.4/55/L.23, additional requirements of some $1.57 million would arise under the following expenditure sections of the proposed programme budget:  $376,400 under section 3 (political affairs); $888,800 under section 22 (human rights); $127,900 under section 27D (common support services); and $182,600 under section 32 (staff assessment).  Additional requirements of some $16.22 million will also arise under the support account for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.  Seven additional posts have been recommended for approval under the regular budget; and 122 -- under the support account. 

Regarding rapid deployment capacities, the ACABQ notes that the Special Committee endorsed the concept of a strategic reserve at the Logistics Base at Brindisi.  The Secretary-General will submit separately a detailed budget proposal for the requirements of the strategic reserve and revert later to the Assembly on pre-mandate commitment authority.  The Advisory Committee has been informed that following a further exchange of views on rapid deployment, budgetary implications of those requirements would be submitted in February/March 2002. 

On presentation, the report states that instead of describing the functions and composition of organizational units, the Secretariat should concentrate on justifying the resources requested, presenting information in a clear manner. Projected efficiency gains, objectives and timeframes should be specifically stated.  The ACABQ also emphasizes the need to use workload indicators to justify resources.  Redeployment and downward reclassification of posts should form an integral part of the analysis.  Accordingly, the ACABQ recommends a complete rethinking of the way the Secretariat justifies resources for the support account when results-based budgeting is used in the next budget submission. 

On the support account, the Advisory Committee reiterates that its primary purpose is to provide additional capacity at Headquarters to manage operations in the field.  As its amount depends on the level of activities, the number of associated posts must be regularly reviewed. Every attempt must be made to justify not just additional requirements, but the totality of the request.  Current exercise should not be seen as a general opportunity to request resources that are not clearly and specifically related to the increase in peacekeeping needs. 

The report further states that the recruitment process is still slow and requires improvement.  The Committee recommends the establishment of one P-5 (instead of a D-1) post, one P-4 and one General Service post for the secretariat of the Executive Committee on Peace and Security.  Non-staff costs ($40,100) should be absorbed within the estimates to be approved under section 3 (political affairs) of the budget for the coming biennium.  However, the establishment of that secretariat would not necessarily remedy present shortcomings, unless the Executive Committee properly and efficiently discharges its functions. 

To promote a more efficient division of labour, the Advisory Committee recommends further clarifying the relationship between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other offices in the Department of Management, especially those dealing with personnel, financial administration, management of procurement activities, and monitoring of delegated authority.  An increase in the number of organizational units within the Department does not automatically facilitate coordination, and the proposed structure should be carefully monitored and adjusted in the light of future experience.  Addition of posts would be futile, unless current procedures are changed and personnel management and administration efficiencies introduced.  Emphasis should be placed on training, planning and establishment of rosters.

Regarding the proposed public information capacity within the Peacekeeping Department, the ACABQ states that such functions should be carried out by a dedicated unit within the Department of Public Information (DPI).  Related programmes should be requested in the context of each peacekeeping mission.  Accordingly, the ACABQ does not agree to the establishment of public information unit within the Peacekeeping Department.  The ACABQ also questions the rationale for establishing another gender unit in the Secretariat, stating that it is not in a position to recommend the establishment of additional posts for this purpose.  The Advisory Committee urges development of a coherent policy and would consider a request for additional resources either in the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues or elsewhere.

Introduction of Reports

The Chairman of the ACABQ, CONRAD S.M. MSELLE, said the additional estimate to implement the United Nations Panel on Peacekeeping Operations was some

$25.8 million, of which about $2.7 million was for the regular budget.  The biennial full costs for the regular budget were some $3.7 million.  The annual full cost for the support account was some $33.5 million.  The total annual full support expenditure was some $107.1 million, approximately 3.6 per cent of the projected level of peacekeeping expenditure.  The Secretary-General had requested 216 posts for the support account, of which nine posts were for the regular budget.  That did not include estimates for the strategic reserve to build a rapid deployment capacity.

The Advisory Committee had recommended some $1.6 million for the regular budget and about $16.2 million for the support account, he said.  The ACABQ had recommended seven posts for the regular budget, and 122 for the support account, of which 92 were for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  The ACABQ based its recommendations on the principle that support resources were to establish additional capacity at Headquarters to manage peacekeeping in the field.  The level of resources and related posts must be reviewed regularly to justify continuing need for them.  To that end, the ACABQ made a number of reservations and recommendations on the need to define a methodology for establishing support estimates.  Many would also apply when regular budget estimates were prepared.

The ACABQ had recognized the need to strengthen the Peacekeeping Department with temporary staff to manage the reform process, he said.  Regarding other departments, the ACABQ had taken account of staff and non-staff resources and had recommended regular budget staff for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The ACABQ had also recommended strengthening of resident audit services and had stressed the need to ensure that all available posts for resident audiors were filled expeditiously.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s statement on programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.5/55/L.23, JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS, Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts and United Nations Controller, said that in May 2001 the Secretary-General had submitted to the General Assembly the findings of the first in-depth and comprehensive managerial review of the way in which the Organization planned, deployed, conducted and supported peacekeeping operations.  The review had benefited from the input of external management consultants and former senior officials of the United Nations and of Member States.

Summarizing those findings, he said that they pointed to the need to significantly strengthen a number of core capabilities:  the management practices and culture of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; its ability to translate legislative guidance into strategic plans for future peacekeeping operations, bearing in mind lessons learned and best practices from previous operations; the priority and effort dedicated to developing the requisite policies and capacities required to enable peacekeeping operations to function efficiently and effectively; and internal coordination for the planning, conduct and support of specific peacekeeping operations.  The report also contained an assessment of the implications for the Organization of developing the ability to fully and effectively deploy peacekeeping operations within

30 to 90 days of a Security Council resolution.

The report was subsequently considered by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, which made a number of relevant proposals, recommendations and conclusions.  Prior to the approval of resolution A/C.4/55/L.23, the Fourth Committee had been informed that additional resources arising from the proposals, recommendations and conclusions of the Special Committee would not exceed $30 million.  The needs identified during the comprehensive review and the proposals and recommendations approved by the Fourth Committee would require the reorganization of current structures, creation of new entities and strengthening of existing ones.  Those changes required additional resources under the support account for peacekeeping operations for the six-month period from 1 January to 30 June 2002 and under the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003. 

The proposals involved restructuring and strengthening the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; creating a small secretariat to service the Executive Committee on Peace and Security; and strengthening the Department of Management, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator. Additional resources for the Peacekeeping Department financed by the support account for the financial period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 were estimated at some $15.03 million, including 129 posts.

The main findings of the comprehensive review confirmed that the Executive Committee on Peace and Security (ECPS) could not function as an instrument of policy development, decision-making and management in the absence of an effective secretariat, he said.  Acknowledging that need, the Special Committee recommended that the Secretary-General consider the establishment of a small support secretariat to service the ECPS.  The ECPS secretariat would service and support the work of the ECPS as an effective, action-oriented and well-coordinated decision-making body.  Three posts were proposed for that secretariat.

To absorb the additional workload created by the surge in peacekeeping operations since mid-1999, the Department for Management would need strengthening to provide effective Headquarters backstopping support to the current level of peacekeeping in a number of areas, he continued.  It was proposed that the Office of Central Support Services be strengthened in such areas as security and safety, telecommunications, procurement, and travel and transportation.  Resources were required to meet the necessary security training needs prior to the deployment of security officers.  In addition, the Security service would be required to provide staff for assignment to new office facilities and maintain emergency response capability. As for procurement, owing to the change in the procurement pattern due to the establishment of large, complex operations and higher volume of procurement, the Procurement Division was to be strengthened.  Additional resources for the Department as a whole were estimated at some $6.67 million, including 61 new posts.

He said that to enable the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide adequate, systematic and prompt substantive support and to facilitate links with the broader United Nations human rights programme, there was a need to strengthen its capacity for daily advice and substantive backstopping to the increasing number of peacekeeping operations with human rights components.  Such enhanced capacity would result in a less ad hoc and more institutionalized approach to United Nations human rights field work related to peacekeeping operations.  Resources proposed for the support account were estimated at $949,000, including nine posts.  Additional resources proposed for the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003 for the Office were estimated at $1,890,300 net, including six posts.

Regarding oversight services, he added that the Office of Internal Oversight Services would require strengthening at Headquarters in order to more comprehensively analyse management control systems and administrative procedures; respond to internal management consultancy requests from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; and to improve the quality and coverage of internal oversight services for peacekeeping operations.  For that purpose, additional resources proposed for the support account for the financial period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 were estimated at $279,500, including  four new posts.

The overall resources proposed consisted of over $2.69 million in respect of the regular budget for the biennium 2002-2003, and some $23.13 million for the support account for the period 1 January to 30 June 2002.  In terms of posts, an additional 216 positions were identified, of which nine related to the regular budget and 207 to the support account.

JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), for the European Union and associated States, said those nations were strongly committed to United Nations peacekeeping, a core function of the Organization.  He commended those who risked their lives daily to create a more peaceful and secure world.  The European Union had troops, civilian police and other personnel around the world.  Its increased share of the  financing of peacekeeping operations, as well as its contribution to training of peacekeeping personnel, was further testament to its unwavering commitment.  Its collective share of peacekeeping financing was more than 40 per cent.

The United Nations peacekeeping effort was global, he continued.  The capacity of the United Nations must be strengthened to ensure that adequate structure and staffing was in place.  The fact that peacekeeping operations in recent years had been given increasingly multifaceted tasks, including the reconstruction of institutions, human rights and demobilization and reintegration programmes, must be taken into account.

Support for conflict resolution was only one of the United Nations main tasks, he said.  Action to foster development was another priority.  Those two approaches were complementary.  Effort needed to begin to put into practice the recommendations of the comprehensive review, and the recommendations of the Brahimi report was in no way a substitute for efforts to assist development.

He said the European Union concurred with the Secretary-General that additional resources, as well as the better use of existing ones, were needed for a better functioning peacekeeping department, with sufficient capacity to engage in long-term strategy, policy and capacity development and mission support for rapid and efficient deployment.  The work of the Assembly in the autumn of 2000 to address the most urgent of the recommendations of the Brahimi Panel was an important step in the right direction.  The Special Committee had recognized the need to strengthen the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to undertake its core functions.  The European Union endorsed the concept of a strategic reserve at the United Nations Logistics Base as a significant element in enhancing the Organization’s ability to address peacekeeping.  The Secretary-General should submit proposals for required resources as soon as possible. 

He said the European Union attached particular importance to issues such as the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit, the need for enhanced coordination between the Peacekeeping Department and other departments, gender mainstreaming, human rights and internatinal humanitarian law.  It also attached great importance to the fact that budgetary decisions of the Fifth Committee should reflect the political consensus reached in the Fourth Committee.  The Union appreciated the budgetary rigour shown by the ACABQ and its efforts to formulate recommendations to facilitate negotiations in the Fifth.

JOHN DAUTH (Australia), also speaking for Canada and New Zealand (CANZ), said that the steps taken to date in reforming peacekeeping through the Brahimi Panel on Peace Operations and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations had been historic ones.  For the first time, the United Nations had taken a frank look at the way it conducted peacekeeping and made specific, concrete and practical recommendations for improving its capacity.  Member States widely supported those recommendations by approving emergency resources for those areas in the Department for Peacekeeping Operations which were most urgently in need of additional posts.  The United Nations then underwent an unprecedented comprehensive managerial review of its peacekeeping.  In July, the Special Committee had endorsed a strategic plan for acting on the conclusions of the review and the recommendations of the Brahimi Panel.

The Committee now had before it the policy on what changes needed to be implemented and the Secretary-General’s implementation plan.  It needed to ensure that the plan received the resources it required to succeed.  While the Secretary-General had requested 216 posts, the ACABQ had recommended approval of 129.  He believed a somewhat higher level than 129 was warranted, however.  Whatever final level of posts was agreed upon, he expected the Secretariat to fill them expeditiously.  The ACABQ’s emphasis on the need to improve the presentation of requests for support account resources was consistent with his delegation’s views that the United Nations must become more focused on performance and results, and that applied as much to peacekeeping as it did to the regular budget.

A number of issues needed to be integrated into the more complex type of peacekeeping operations, he continued, including humanitarian affairs, gender issues, human rights, demobilization, disarmament and reintegration.  In doing so, it was essential to derive best practices to ensure lessons learned from those missions were recycled into future operations.  He also looked forward to the completion of United Nations guidelines in such sectors as the judiciary, corrections and interim criminal procedures.

Both the Security Council and the Special Committee had recognized the importance of gender mainstreaming in the planning, development and implementation of peacekeeping operations, he said.  Provision of gender expertise in the Peacekeeping Department was crucial for translating the gender-mainstreaming mandate into practice.  He believed policy development on gender and peacekeeping issues was sufficiently urgent and important to warrant the approval of resources to develop such a capacity in the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit.  Resources were also needed at Headquarters to coordinate and support the work of the human rights components of peacekeeping.  It was essential to avoid “reinventing” those mechanisms every time a new mission was established, he stated. 

Expressing concerns over the need for a strategic framework for information technology, he said that they extended to the significant resources being devoted to information technology in the Peacekeeping Department.  Before further resources were committed to information technology, assurances were needed that those commitments were taking place within a well thought-out strategic framework.  The issue of integration between information technology development in the Peacekeeping Department and the Secretariat on the whole also deserved attention. 

He was also concerned about the impact of scattering Peacekeeping Department’s staff in a number of different locations, which would only increase as more resources were approved, he said.  The Peacekeeping Department personnel currently operated from five different buildings and on six floors within the Secretariat Building alone.  Those conditions exacerbated the lack of cohesiveness, poor internal coordination and ineffective management that had been highlighted in the comprehensive review. 

In conclusion, he urged the Fifth Committee to move the United Nations forward by providing the resources needed for peacekeeping reform, for all Member States had a stake in its success.

Other Business

The Committee Chairman, NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana), said that, in light   of the non-availability of some documents under the item on human resources management, a proposal had been made last week to postpone consideration of that item until outstanding documents had been issued.  The Committee had agreed to that proposal.  Some delegations, however, had requested that the Committee proceed with its consideration of the questions relating to the issues of consultants and the delegation of authority, in view of the fact that the relevant comments of the ACABQ had been issued in document A/56/7.  He suggested that the Committee consider the two questions on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.  The Bureau would schedule an appropriate time for consideration of the remaining documents under the item on human resources management.

SEYED MORTEZA MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran), on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, asked if the Group could make use of remaining conference services time.

ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) noted that according to the Journal there would be informal consultations this afternoon on part two of the budget, political affairs.   The Journal did not indicate, however, that the section on General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services would be taken up.  The Chairman had also not indicated that such a discussion would take place in the afternoon.  He hoped that in the future the statements of the Chairman and the Journal would reflect what had been agreed upon in informal consultations.

The CHAIRMAN then confirmed that the Group could meet and make use of the remaining conference services.

EDUARDO MANUEL DA FONSECA FERNANDES RAMOS (Portugal) said that, on a point of information, he had clarified on Friday in informal consultations that the debate on part two of the budget, political affairs, would start today.  He had also said that delegations would be able to refer to previous parts of the budget at any time.  Irrespective of the official programme of work for each informal session, delegations would be able to inquire about previous parts of the budget already discussed.

Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) said that the discussion on General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services had not been fully discussed and must be completed before moving on to another part of the budget.

Mr. RAMOS (Portugal) recalled that on Friday afternoon before finishing informal consultations, he had said that the Committee had spent two sessions or six hours going through the first part of the budget.  He had proposed starting with part two, political affairs, on Monday afternoon.  There had been no objections at that point.

Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) said that the Committee could not jump to any section of the budget before the Secretariat answered its questions.  The Secretariat had provided some answers, and he wanted to comment on those before moving on to another section.  The discussion should not be interrupted and certain points of the section on General Assembly Affairs had to be completed.  While he understood that he could return to any section, that should not prevent the Committee from completing the section on General Assembly Affairs.

Mr. RAMOS (Portugal) said the agreement reached was that the Committee would start with part two this afternoon, with the understanding that queries on other parts of the budget could be referred to at any time.  The point was made clearly in the last informal consultation. 

Mr. NAKKARI (Syria) had no problem with anything taken up last Friday.  From now on, however, he hoped that the Bureau and the Committee would not move to another section of the budget until all queries had been replied to.  Unless the round of questions and answers ended on a specific section, the issue would remain open on the agenda.  As for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services, he called for the last part of the informal session to be devoted to that section.  He did not prefer written replies to questions because all issues had to be open to discussion by delegations.  Documents could not replace debate of issues in open meetings. 

JOHN ORR (Canada) hoped that it would not become a practice to negotiate informal procedures in a formal meeting setting.  The Committee had worked well on the basis of consensus, which recognized the rights of others to request information at any time.  He hoped that they could move forward.

The CHAIRMAN said he fully understood the concerns of all delegations.  He recognized that there was much to do.  He hoped delegations would show a spirit of understanding to enable the Committee to finish its work on time.  In that light, he said that informal consultations would be held this afternoon on part two of the budget, political affairs.

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For information media. Not an official record.