FIFTH COMMITTEE REQUESTS RESUBMISSION OF INFORMATION ACTION PLAN AT NEXT GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION

19 November 2001
GA/AB/3480

FIFTH COMMITTEE REQUESTS RESUBMISSION OF INFORMATION ACTION PLAN AT NEXT GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION

19/11/2001
Press ReleaseGA/AB/3480

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

28th Meeting (AM)

FIFTH COMMITTEE REQUESTS RESUBMISSION OF INFORMATION ACTION PLAN

AT NEXT GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION

Committee Approves Eight Draft Resolutions, Three

Draft Decisions on Issues including Joint Inspection Unit, Development Account

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved a total of

11 drafts on a variety of its agenda items this morning, including the Board of Auditors’ reports; management of buildings; the United Nations visitors’ experience; the use of private management consulting firms; the Development Account; information technology; and measures to improve the profitability of United Nations commercial activities.  In accordance with the Committee’s practice of working on the basis of consensus, all eight draft resolutions and three draft decisions were approved without a vote.

Acting on the Secretary-General’s report containing a plan of action on information technology, the Committee recommended that the General Assembly endorse the observations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the matter.  [In its report, the ACABQ noted, among other things, that the lack of financial information on the short- and long-term requirements in connection with the action plan was a serious weakness in the Secretary-General’s report.  Grave concerns regarding its budgetary implications were also expressed in the Fifth Committee.]

By the text, the Secretary-General would be requested to resubmit the plan of action and develop specific measures to improve efficiency through the application of information technology; clearly define the responsibilities of various bodies involved in the application and integration of information technology; and improve decision-making in the field.  He would be also asked to develop a cost-benefit analysis to identify information technology priorities and develop an implementation plan for those priorities.

Following its consideration of various aspects of United Nations oversight activities, the Committee also approved two texts related to the functioning of the oversight system.  In particular, it approved a draft resolution on the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), by whose terms the Assembly would take note of that body’s annual report, its programme of work, the report on the follow-up on the Unit’s recommendations, and the preliminary list of its future reports, inviting the Unit to make certain improvements in its presentation.

According to the draft, to provide the Assembly with action-oriented recommendations, the JIU should place emphasis on well-defined and timely items of

high priority and identify concrete managerial, administrative and programming questions.  Executive heads of participating bodies would be requested to observe the time frame for submitting their comments and facilitate the follow-up in implementation of the JIU’s recommendations.  The Secretary-General and executive heads would be asked to ensure that the JIU receives all requested information in due time.

Welcoming the efforts to improve coordination between United Nations internal and external oversight bodies, the Assembly would also decide to review the current state of coordination between them.  It would request the JIU to emphasize the evaluation aspect of its work, as underlined in the JIU's statute, and stress the need for the Unit to prepare more evaluation-oriented reports.

By the terms of the draft resolution on another oversight body -- the Board of Auditors -- the Assembly would accept the financial reports and audited financial statements of the Board and the Board's audit opinion on voluntary funds administered by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for 2000.  Endorsing the recommendations of the Board and the ACABQ, the Assembly would welcome the reports of the Secretary-General and the Board on the implementation of its recommendations.

By the text on the Development Account, the Assembly would urge more expeditious and effective implementation of the projects undertaken through that fund.  [The Development Account, which was established as part of the Secretary-General’s reform package, is a special multi-year account for supplementary development activities, financed in part from efficiency savings under various sections of the budget.]

Pointing out that project proposals should contain all costs and relevant information, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to include in his next report the date of commencement, the implementing agency and the anticipated dates of completion of all ongoing projects, and provide explanations for any schedule changes in their completion.  To augment the Development Account, the Secretary-General would also be requested to intensify efficiency measures that might result in sustainable savings and monitor all projects in order to identify the under-performing ones.

By the draft resolution on the management of buildings, the Assembly would endorse the related JIU report and request the Secretary-General to take account of its recommendations when elaborating the capital master plan.

Also related to the capital master plan was a draft resolution welcoming the initiatives of the United Nations Association of the United States –- the prospective donor -– to mobilize resources in order to provide new facilities for the visitors’ experience at the United Nations.   Noting the desirability of expanding the number of potential contributors to the project, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to evaluate the proposed financial and fiscal aspects of the donation in view of the Financial Rules and Regulations of the United Nations and the capital master plan; and to ensure that the project is fully integrated with that plan, including its security measures.

Acting on several other JIU reports, the Committee approved a draft resolution on policies and practices in the use of private management consulting firms by the United Nations, as well as draft decisions on the use of consultants and delegation of authority in the United Nations.

Also approved this morning was a draft resolution on measures to improve the profitability of United Nations commercial activities, by whose terms the Assembly -- expressing satisfaction with the Secretary-General’s report on the matter and endorsing the ACABQ recommendations thereon -- would note the proposal to separate the management of commercial activities from the Organization's other fields of action, and request detailed information on its administrative and financial implications.  The Secretary-General would be requested to elaborate on the proposal as far as its specific commercial goals and the steps to achieve them are concerned.  Of particular interest in this respect would be the use of outsourcing and the optimum use of space within the United Nations buildings.

By another draft decision, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a progress report on young professionals in the context of his report on human resources management to be submitted at the fifty-seventh session, taking into account the observations of the Advisory Committee.

The drafts were introduced by the Committee’s Vice Chairpersons, Oleksii Ivashchenko of Ukraine and John Orr of Canada, as well as the representatives of Egypt, Botswana, Australia, India, Pakistan and Croatia, who coordinated the informal consultations on various agenda items.

The Committee will continue its work at a date to be announced.

Organization of Work

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider the organization of its work and to take action on a series of draft resolutions.

Committee Chairman NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) drew the Committee’s attention to a letter dated 9 November from the President of the General Assembly, in which he explains the Assembly’s decision to allocate agenda item 169, entitled “Administration of justice” to the Fifth Committee, on the understanding that any decision regarding amendment to the statute of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal or relating to the establishment of a higher-level jurisdiction would be subject to the advice of the Sixth Committee (Legal).

Action on Texts before Committee

The first draft resolution before the Committee was on the financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/C.5/56/L.6).  By the terms of that text, the Assembly would accept the financial report and audited financial statements and the Board's report and audit opinion on voluntary funds administered by the UNHCR for 1 January to 31 December 2000.  Endorsing the recommendations of the Board and the ACABQ, the Assembly would welcome the reports of the Secretary-General and the Board on the implementation of recommendations.

The draft was introduced by AYMAN M. ELGAMMAL (Egypt).

The representative of Morocco suggested technical changes to the text.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then took up two draft resolutions under the review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations and the JIU. 

According to the terms of the draft on the management of buildings: practices of selected United Nations system organizations relevant to the renovation of the United Nations Headquarters (document A/C.5/56/L.3), the Assembly would endorse the JIU's report on that issue and request the Secretary-General to take account of its recommendations when elaborating the capital master plan.  The Assembly would also decide to revert to consideration of the report when it considers the Secretary-General's report on the capital master plan.

By the terms of a draft resolution on the JIU's report on policies and practices in the use of private management consulting firms (document A/C.5/56/L.4), the Assembly would endorse elements contained in paragraphs (b) and (d) of recommendation 1 and recommendations 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the report.  It would invite the Secretary-General and participating organs to take account of the relevant provisions of General Assembly resolutions 55/232 and 55/247 when addressing issues raised in paragraphs (a) and (c) of recommendation 1 and recommendations 6, 7 and 8.

The Inspectors’ recommendations address the issues of policy framework, monitoring and control, follow-up actions, inter-organization coordination, conflicts of interest, regionally based firms, rotation policy, and language and country of publication of advertisements for international biddings.

COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana) introduced the draft resolutions.

The draft resolutions were then approved by the Committee without a vote.

The Committee then took up the question of enhancing the United Nations experience for visitors.  By draft resolution A/C.5/56/L.8, the Assembly would welcome the initiatives of the United Nations Association of the United States –- the prospective donor -– to mobilize resources in order to provide new facilities for the visitors’ experience in the form of an in-kind donation to the Organization.  Endorsing the observations of the Advisory Committee, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to ensure that the development of the project is fully integrated with the capital master plan, including security measures.  A decision on the question should take place in the light of any further decision on the capital master plan.

Further by the terms of the text, the Secretary-General would be authorized to invite the United Nations Association of the United States to proceed with the preparation of a schematic design for the new visitors’ experience, taking into account the conditions set out in the related report of the Secretary-General and highlighted by the ACABQ.  Noting the desirability of expanding the number of potential contributors to the project, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to evaluate the proposed financial and fiscal aspects of the donation in view of the Financial Rules and Regulations of the United Nations and the capital master plan.  The Secretary-General would also be requested to submit, when practicable, a comprehensive report on various aspects of the project, including the options for its final scale; projected revenues; and the cost of maintaining the new visitors’ experience.

HENRY FOX (Australia) introduced the draft text to the Committee, which then approved the draft without a vote.

By the draft resolution on the Development Account (document A/C.5/56/L.9), the Assembly would express concern at the low rate of implementation of the projects undertaken through the Account and urge their more expeditious and effective implementation.  Pointing out that project proposals should contain all costs, including support costs, as well as information on whether they are to be financed from the Development Account, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to include in his next report the date of commencement, the implementing agency and the anticipated dates of completion of all ongoing projects, and provide explanations for any schedule changes in the completion of the projects.  To augment the Development Account, he would also be requested to intensify efficiency measures that might result in sustainable savings.

The Assembly would further welcome the fact that the projects financed from the Development Account have a positive impact on the development of countries, are cost-effective, and are jointly designed and implemented by several entities of the United Nations.  The Secretary-General would be requested to monitor the projects, with a view to identifying the under-performing ones, identify the causes, and present proposals to correct the situation or redeploy funds to the projects delivering results.

The draft text was introduced by RAMESH CHANDRA (India).

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

On the proposed measures to improve the profitability of the commercial activities of the United Nations, the Committee had before it draft resolution A/C.5/56/L.10, by whose terms the Assembly would note with satisfaction the reports of the Secretary-General and the ACABQ on the matter.  In particular, it would note the proposal to separate the management of the commercial activities from the Organization's other fields of action, and request detailed information on its administrative and financial implications.  The Secretary-General would be requested to elaborate on the proposal as far as its specific commercial goals and the steps to achieve them are concerned.  Of particular interest in this respect would be the use of outsourcing and the optimum use of space within the United Nations buildings.  The Secretary-General would also be asked to make proposals to streamline and simplify the administration and management structure underpinning those activities.

OLEKSII IVASHCHENKO (Ukraine) introduced the draft text.

The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

Regarding information technology, the Committee had before it draft resolution A/C.5/56/L.11, by whose terms the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General's report containing a plan of action on the matter, and would endorse the Advisory Committee's recommendations.  The Secretary-General would be requested to resubmit the plan of action and develop specific measures to improve efficiency through the application of information technology in the Secretariat. 

The Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to define clearly the responsibilities of different bodies involved in the application and integration of information technology within the Organization, improve coordination and reduce duplication.  He would also be asked to develop a cost-benefit analysis to identify information technology priorities and develop an implementation plan for those priorities.  A single report containing information requested by the draft would be submitted to the fifty-seventh session of the Assembly.

JOHN ORR (Canada) introduced the draft, noting that a minor editorial change had been made to the text.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

Turning to human resources management, the Committee considered three draft decisions, which were introduced by AIZAZ CHAUDHRY (Pakistan).

On the report of the JIU on the use of consultants in the United Nations, the Committee had before it a draft decision (document A/C.5/56/L.12) which would have the Assembly endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) and the observations of the ACABQ on the matter, and request the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the decision at its fifty-seventh session.

The draft decision was approved without a vote.

The Committee then took up a decision on the delegation of authority (document A/C.5/56/L.13), by which the Assembly would request the Secretary-General, in the implementation of the recommendations of the JIU as endorsed in decision 55/481 of 14 June 2001, to also take fully into account the observations of the ACABQ, as indicated in the relevant section of its report on the proposed budget for 2002-2003.

The Committee approved the draft decision on delegation of authority without a vote.

On young professionals, the Committee had before it draft decision A/C.5/56/L.14, by whose terms the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to submit a progress report on the matter in the context of his report on human resources management to be submitted at the fifty-seventh session, taking into account the observations of the Advisory Committee.

That draft was also approved by the Committee without a vote.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/C.5/56/L.5), by the terms of which the Assembly would take note of the JIU's annual report, the 2001 programme of work, the report on the JIU follow-up system and the preliminary list of reports for 2002 and beyond.  Taking note of the tentative nature of the list of potential reports, the Assembly would invite

the Unit to improve the presentation of the list by providing information on the source, including legislative basis, objectives and problems to be addressed and the duration and expected date of completion.  Such information should be presented before the final quarter of each year. 

By further terms of the draft, the Assembly would request executive heads to observe the time frame for submitting comments and stress the need for the JIU to emphasize well-defined items of high priority, identifying concrete managerial, administrative and programming questions aimed at providing the Assembly with action-oriented recommendations.  It would stress that compliance with the provisions contained in paragraph 4 of the follow-up system on reports is a responsibility of the Unit as a whole.  The Chairman of the JIU would be requested to ensure compliance by the Unit with the provisions of its statute, as well as the internal standards, guidelines and procedures approved by the Unit.  The Secretary-General and executive heads would be requested to ensure that the JIU is provided with the information requested by it in due time. 

Also according to the text, the Assembly would welcome initial steps by the JIU and other oversight bodies to develop coordination to enhance the impact of oversight activities and avoid duplication.  It would request executive heads to take necessary steps to facilitate action on the follow-up system and would request the Unit to submit additional recommendations to the Assembly at its next session on its experience with the follow-up system, focusing on legislative actions and implementation of approved recommendations.  The Assembly would decide to review the current state of coordination among United Nations oversight bodies to improve the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations.  It would request the JIU to emphasize the evaluation aspect of its work, as underlined in the JIU's statute, and stress the need for the Unit to prepare more evaluation-oriented reports.

JASMINKA DINIC (Croatia) introduced the draft resolution.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Committee discussed its programme of work for the week, as well as arrangements for the period of Ramadan.

The Committee CHAIRMAN said that after consultations the Bureau had decided to recommend that the Committee maintain its normal working hours for morning meetings, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and, during the period of Ramadan, to hold afternoon meetings from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Speaking on the organization of work were the representatives of Tunisia, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Argentina, Australia and Portugal.

The Committee then decided to accept the proposal to make arrangements for Muslim delegations to break their fast in the afternoon during Ramadan.  The Committee also decided not to meet on Friday, 23 November.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.