FIFTH COMMITTEE BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF 2002-2003 BUDGETS OF INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA
FIFTH COMMITTEE BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF 2002-2003 BUDGETS OF INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA
Fifty-sixth General Assembly
33rd Meeting (AM)
FIFTH COMMITTEE BEGINS CONSIDERATION OF 2002-2003 BUDGETS
OF INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA, RWANDA
Speakers Express Concern at Tribunal Vacancy Rates;
Also Takes Up Budget Implications on UN Radio Broadcasting Expansion
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning began its consideration of the proposed budget for the two International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and addressed financing of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). It also took up the programme budget implications of several draft resolutions before the Assembly, including one that would expand the United Nations international radio broadcasting capacity.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s proposals for financing the two Tribunals, the Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, Warren Sach, said that the Assembly had recently made the budgets of those bodies biennial, in order to synchronize them with the Organization’s regular budget cycle. For 2002-2003, the requirements for the courts reflected their increased workload and amounted to some $256.2 million for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal and some $198.6 million for the Rwanda Tribunal, after recosting.
The reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the two budgets were introduced by the Chairman of that body, Conrad S.M. Mselle, who said that the Advisory Committee was recommending an approval of some $249 million gross for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal and
$196.4 million for the Rwanda Tribunal. The assumptions regarding the Tribunals’ workload should be carefully monitored and reported in the context of the performance reports that the ACABQ had requested.
Several speakers in the debate expressed concern over the high vacancy rates at the Tribunals and endorsed the comments by the ACABQ on the need to fill the vacant posts as soon as possible.
In that connection, the representative of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union) said that the high vacancy rates made it difficult to determine the precise need for the new posts. While 54 additional posts had been approved for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal only six months before, 117 positions were vacant three months ago. Some 150 unfilled posts at the Rwanda Tribunal also represented a very high vacancy rate. He also stressed the need for the Tribunals to carry out
their mandates as soon as possible, saying that it was important for them to at least complete the phase establishing all indictments by 2004 or 2005.
The representative of the Russian Federation emphasized that the Tribunals had been established as temporary judicial bodies. It was now clear that those bodies’ mandates were coming to an end. He wanted, in particular, to look at the proposal for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal. Its budget for 2002-2003 was proposed on the basis of an increase in staff, which was explained by the need to accelerate its work in its end stage. Taking into account high vacancy rates, he believed that the requested new posts could fully be absorbed within already approved resources.
China’s representative also expressed concern over the magnitude of the request for the resources for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, which showed an increase of some $30.88 million over the appropriation for the previous biennium. He understood the Secretary-General’s efforts to enhance the Tribunal’s capacity, but since the establishment of the Court, its budgetary requirements had been constantly growing, especially in recent years, and always by a large margin. The resource increases were not proportionate to the efficiency and progress of the trials.
As the Committee took up the budget implications of the draft on the international radio broadcasting capacity of the United Nations, the representative of Egypt said that the pilot project to produce 15-minute programmes in the six official languages to promote the goals of the Organization, had been successful. The General Assembly had stated in a relevant resolution that radio was the most widespread and cost-effective means available to the United Nations for the dissemination of information. The expanded broadcasting programme should be financed on an equal footing with other means of information, including the Web sites.
The representative of Canada said the expansion of the United Nations radio broadcasting capacity was of concern, because as a whole, the Organization was continually focusing on the margins, and not on the core public information capacity of the United Nations. How many existing radio producers were there? It would help deliberation on the budget implications to have some explanation of existing capacity. Despite the fact that the United Nations had been able to carry out the radio programme within existing resources, there was now a request for additional funds for next year.
The Committee also discussed the budgetary implications of the draft texts on the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, the human rights situation in Myanmar and the Office of the President of the Economic and Social Council. At the end of the meeting, the delegates discussed the Committee’s programme of work for the end of the current session.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Iran (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), United States, Syria, Cameroon, Austria and Cuba.
The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at 2 p.m. Monday,
10 December, when it is scheduled to continue its consideration of Tribunal financing.
This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met to consider the financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). Also before the Committee were documents on the programme budget implications of several drafts before the Assembly.
Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
According to the Tribunal's financial performance report for the year ended 31 December 2000 (document A/56/501), the Tribunal’s expenditures during that period were lower than the amount appropriated for the year by the terms of Assembly resolution 54/239 B. They totalled some $100.47 million gross
($89.56 million net), resulting in a reduction in requirements of some
$5.68 million gross ($6.38 million net), compared with the approved amount.
According to the report, the savings under posts represented 8.5 per cent of the appropriation and related to reductions under salaries, common staff costs and mission subsistence allowance. An amount of some $1.84 million was generated under the Office of the Prosecutor and $2.27 million under the Registry. The net savings are attributable to favourable exchange rates; high vacancy rates; and payment of daily subsistence allowance instead of mission subsistence allowance owning to the short time spent in field offices. Significant savings under general temporary assistance in the Registry due to delays in the recruitment of personnel to implement the projects were to some extent offset by recruitment of an additional team of forensic experts under the exhumation programme in Kosovo.
Stricter control over overtime and night differential led to savings of some $114,300. Increased requirements of $461,600 for temporary assistance for meetings were attributable to a much higher than forecast volume of documents that had to be translated in-house for security purposes and that required expertise at a relatively senior level. The savings under the salaries and allowance of judges, including common staff costs, are the result of lower requirements than budgeted, and savings on consultants and experts are due to the postponement to 2001 of a number of new trials. Economy under the travel section results from reduced travel requirements due to fewer than anticipated trips by witnesses, support persons and dependants.
The report lists increases under such sections as general operating expenses ($4,900); supplies and materials ($66,500); and furniture and equipment
1.79 million) to cover additional requirements, which include sanitation and forensic supplies, electronic data-processing equipment, vehicles, furniture and communications equipment.
Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General containing the budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for the biennium 2002-2003 (document A/56/495). In December 2000, the General Assembly decided to biennialize the Tribunal's budget on an experimental basis for 2002-2003, following the costing methodology currently used for the regular budget. Also in December 2000, the Security Council, by resolution 1329 (2000), decided to amend the Statute of the Tribunal to allow for the establishment of a pool of ad litem judges to enable it to conclude its work at the earliest possible date. In April 2001, the Assembly, by resolution 55/225 B, authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed
$5.3 million gross ($4.9 million net) to support the ad litem judges for 2001.
The resources for 2002-2003 before recosting amount to some $248.4 million gross ($224.7 million net), reflecting an increase of $25.8 million net or
13.1 per cent over the 2000-2001 appropriation, as well as an additional
132 posts. The level of resources, including increases in staff, provides for a 20 per cent increase in court session capacity to support the acceleration of the Court's programme of work.
An addendum to the report (document A/56/495/Add.1) contains budgetary assumptions; organizational charts; monthly vacancy reports for December 2000 to August 2001; justification for new, reclassified and redeployed posts; equipment requirements; workload indicators; voluntary contributions and Trust Fund activities; a summary of follow-up action on the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) recommendations; and financing of the Tribunal for 2002-2003.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on the conditions of service and compensation of “other than Secretariat” officials, including the members of the International Court of Justice and judges of the International Tribunals, as well as ad litem judges of the Yugoslavia Tribunal (document A/C.5/56/14).
Regarding the judges’ salaries, the report states that that mechanism used to regulate their emoluments against the weakening/strengthening of the United States dollar continued to provide adequate protection in the value of salary. Over the last three-year period, the United States dollar gained, on average,
19 per cent against the Netherlands guilder and, in real terms, the emoluments of the members of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have “more than kept pace” with increases in the cost of living in the Netherlands. Accordingly, the Secretary-General is of the opinion that the annual emoluments of the members of the Court, the judges of the two Tribunals and the ad litem judges should be maintained at their current level of $160,000.
Concerning the special allowances of the Presidents of the ICJ and the International Tribunals, the Secretary-General considers it reasonable to increase them from $15,000 to $20,000. A commensurate growth in the allowance of the Vice-President of the ICJ and the Vice-Presidents of the Tribunals when acting as President, would result in the daily increase from $94 to $125, subject to a maximum of $12,500 per year.
Presenting information about recently-approved increases in the level of education grants in five currency areas for Professional and higher categories of United Nations staff, the Secretary-General further proposes that they should be extended, under the same conditions, to the members of the Court and the Tribunals’ judges as from the school year in progress on 1 January 2001. The programme budget implications of these proposals are estimated at $48,600 for the biennium 2002-2003. No changes are proposed to the other conditions of service of the members of the Court or the judges of the Tribunals. The Secretary-General proposes that no change be effected in the arrangements for ad hoc judges on the occasion of this periodic review.
Also contained in the report are the recommendations concerning travel expenses, medical insurance, pension payments, educational assistance to the
ad litem judges, interpretation of service-related injuries and illnesses and survivors’ benefits.
According to the ACABQ report on the Yugoslavia Tribunal’s budget (document A/56/665), the Advisory Committee is not convinced that the overall budget proposal for 2002-2003 includes sufficient information attesting that a rigorous examination was undertaken of approved resources before making proposals for additional funds. Accordingly, it recommends adjustments to various items of the proposal.
On the whole, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly approve the appropriation of some $249 million gross ($223.2 million net) for the operations of the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 2002-2003. That would represent a reduction of some $7.2 million gross from the estimate of
$254.2 million gross indicated in the proposed budget. The report also contains a table summarizing the post reductions recommended by the Advisory Committee.
The ACABQ expresses concern at the practice of establishing posts through general temporary assistance in the expectation that they would be approved on an ex post facto basis. On this basis, the Advisory Committee recommends that some of the additional functions continue to be performed through temporary assistance, at the same time recommending approval of transfer of several posts. Taking into account workload projections for 2002-2003 and actual expenditure patterns, the Advisory Committee recommends approval of $9.5 million (before recosting), rather that $9.9 million requested for general temporary assistance in 2002-2003. The Advisory Committee also addresses the issue of vacancies within the Tribunal, reiterating its view that it was necessary to fill the vacant posts as rapidly as possible.
As the Court’s budget is now submitted biennially, the report further recommends that a financial and programme performance report be submitted on an annual basis. It is the view of the Advisory Committee that there does not appear to be a realistically achievable exit strategy for the completion of the work of the Tribunal. The Committee was informed that 36 indicted fugitives are still at large and 26 more investigations could possibly lead to indictments, and it would be misleading to assume that the mere provision of the requested resources would lead to the achievement of the targets specified so far.
Regarding the long-term question of enforcement, the report states, the current situation might result in a situation where convicted persons would have to stay in the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague, which is not only against the rules (the Unit is a remand centre and not a prison), but would also have cost implications for the Tribunal’s budget.
Regarding travel and public relations activities, it states that judicial functioning of the Tribunal should have priority over public relations and attendance at external meetings. Also, as the ACABQ has doubts regarding the capacity of the investigation teams to carry out the envisaged 2,470 missions, the Committee recommends approval of $6 million for travel, rather than $6.5 million requested for the Office of the Prosecutor.
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda
Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on the financial performance of the Rwanda Tribunal for the period 1 January to
31 December 2000 (document A/56/500). In December 1999, the Assembly decided to appropriate to the Special Account for the Tribunal a total of some $86.2 million gross ($78.2 million net) for that period. Recorded expenditure amounted to about $83.1 million gross (some $75.8 million net), resulting in an unspent balance of $3 million gross ($2.4 million net). An annex to the report provides detailed actual workload statistics reflecting the Tribunal's activities.
A report of the Secretary-General on the Rwanda Tribunal's budget (document A/56/497) contains the Court’s resource requirements for 2002-2003, which amount to some $204.4 million gross ($186.9 million net), before recosting. The proposal reflects an increase of some $24.3 million gross ($22 million net), or
13.4 per cent over the 2000-2001 appropriation and includes 101 additional new posts. The proposed budget increase is to support a planned growth in the Tribunal’s court session capacity of over 100 per cent to fulfil its programme of work. The report reflects recent decisions by the Assembly (resolution 55/226), by the terms of which it biennialized the Tribunal’s budget to synchronize it with the regular budget cycle of the United Nations.
The addendum to the report (document A/56/497/Add.1) contains budgetary assumptions; the organizational structure and post distribution for 2002-2003; the monthly vacancy report for 2001; the justification for new, reclassified and redeployed posts; the Court’s workload indicators; voluntary contributions and trust fund activities; information about actions taken to implement recommendations of the ACABQ; and financing of the Tribunal.
Also before the Committee was a letter dated 14 September 2001 from the Secretary-General to the Presidents of the General Assembly and the Security Council (document A/56/265). The Secretary-General attaches a report from the President of the Rwanda Tribunal, Judge Navanethem Pillay, in which she reviews the current situation regarding the conduct of trials before the Tribunal and assesses how the Tribunal's activities are likely to evolve in the future. She concludes that the Tribunal will require considerable time to complete all trials if its current structure is retained. To address the situation, President Pillay proposes the establishment of a pool of ad litem judges to hear cases that have been made ready for trial and to dispose of motions that have been submitted in other cases during their pre-trial phase.
The Secretary-General notes that the President's proposal differs from that adopted for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal in a number of respects. The pool of ad litem judges for the Rwanda Tribunal would consist of 18 (as compared to 27)
ad litem judges. The ad litem judges would be competent to adjudicate not only in trials, but also in pre-trial proceedings. It would also be possible for cases to be heard by a bench that is composed of ad litem judges alone, not including any of the permanent judges of the Tribunal. The reform, if implemented by the end of 2002, would enable the Rwanda Tribunal to complete all cases against present detainees approximately by the end of 2004. The completion of the trials against 136 new accused would depend on the arrest rate.
Should the Council adopt the proposed measure, the Assembly would be requested to approve the related increases required of the Tribunal. The Council would be required to amend the Tribunal's Statute. The preliminary cost of adopting the proposal for nine ad litem judges in 2002-2003 would be
In a related report on the Tribunal’s financing (document A/56/666), the ACABQ requests that the financial performance report be restructured, with the format and content of the report following those of the budget estimates for the Tribunal. It should also include programme performance information. The summary table should be accompanied by tables on appropriation and expenditure for each of the three organs of the Tribunal by object of expenditure. The report should also indicate performance in terms of the benchmarks used to estimate requirements. As the budget is now submitted biennially, the financial and programme performance report should be submitted annually.
Regarding the proposed budget for 2002-2003, the ACABQ welcomes the accelerated pace of trials. It notes, however, that the important question of long-term planning for the enforcement of sentences, which the ACABQ previously highlighted, is still pending. While acknowledging that a report will be submitted on the issue in the spring of 2002, the ACABQ reiterates its concern on the issue and regrets the delay in submission of the report.
On the proposed staffing table, which comprises 973 posts, reflecting an increase of 101 posts, the ACABQ notes that high vacancy rates continue to plague the Tribunal, ranging from 27.8 per cent to 20.3 per cent in the Professional category for January to October 2001. Until vacancies are reduced, it will not be possible to accurately determine requirements for additional personnel. On the ACABQ's recommendation to institute two-year contracts for staff members, while that has had little effect on the vacancy situation, it has improved planning and enhanced the efficiency of human resources management. Any initiative to improve conditions of service should be considered within the framework of the salaries and allowances in the United Nations common system. Neighbouring United Nations headquarters should offer any assistance possible.
Regarding the functions of the Kigali office, the ACABQ had expected a clearer indication in the budget estimates of the results of a rigorous review of the administrative and support services of that office. Such information should be included in the next budget estimates. The ACABQ is of the view that there does not appear to be a firm and realistic exit strategy for the completion of the Tribunal's work. Recalling a previous report on the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, the ACABQ believes that a realistic assessment should be made of the steps and measures needed to meet stated goals.
Regarding the Office of the Prosecutor, the Advisory Committee was informed that as of 31 October, 35 posts in the Office were vacant, including one D-2 and one D-1. These posts, namely the Deputy Prosecutor in Kigali and the Chief of Prosecution in Arusha, have been vacant for a while and there is no indication when they will be filled. The ACABQ is concerned about how this situation will impact the effectiveness of the prosecutorial and investigative activities of the Tribunal. The situation not only stalls the full implementation of the work of the Office of the Prosecutor, it also leads to costly expenditures by the Prosecutor and accompanying staff for travel to and from Arusha, Kigali and
The Hague. Immediate steps should be taken to fill those positions. Flexibility should be granted in implementing recruitment procedures, particularly regarding the length of time for which vacancies must be posted.
Regarding a request for some $525,800 for the Office of the Prosecutor under consultants and experts, the ACABQ recommends an appropriation of $400,000. The estimate for travel for the Office amounts to some $3.3 million, reflecting an increase of about $1.5 million over the 2000-2001 appropriation. The ACABQ recommends the appropriation of some $3 million for travel. The ACABQ recommends accepting the request for general operating expenses of some $900,000.
The ACABQ also recommends approving a request of some $460,200 for consultants and experts, including $25,000 to study the impact of technology on the Tribunal. On the estimate of some $2.24 million for the travel of witnesses, on the basis of past experience the ACABQ recommends approving an amount of some $2.1 million.
The Advisory Committee is also of the opinion that there is a need to ensure the effective operation of oversight mechanisms in the Tribunal. In that regard, it asks the Board of Auditors, in its next audit, to carry out a special evaluation of the effectiveness of the means available, including staff and non-staff assets, to manage, monitor and control the expenses of the Tribunal's legal aid system. The ACABQ recommends approving $19.5 million out of the amount of $20.53 million requested for contractual services for the Registry.
Regarding a previously authorized amount of some $213,500 for upgrading prison facilities, the ACABQ notes that only some $43,300 was expended. Following a ruling of the Office of Legal Affairs, the remainder has not been used by the Tribunal, nor have funds been requested for that purpose in the budget submission for 2002-2003. The ACABQ is of the view that the Secretary-General should have immediately provided the General Assembly with the reasons for using the funds it authorized. An explanation as to the legal and financial reasons for this situation is required and should be submitted by February 2002.
On the proposed restructuring of the Witnesses and Victims Support Sections, the ACABQ questions the rationale for the restructuring and does not support it. The budget proposal includes requests for a total of 34 new posts, representing an increase of some 82 per cent in total staffing of the section. The ACABQ notes that statistics in the budget report do not justify the expansion of the Witnesses and Victims Support Sections to the extent proposed in the estimate. In view of the workload trends in that area, the ACABQ questions the extent of the requested increases in terms of posts and other budgetary proposals. It recommends approval of a total of 23 of the 34 posts requested.
In conclusion, the ACABQ recommends that the General Assembly approve an appropriation of some $196.4 million gross (about $177.2 million net) for the operations of the Tribunal for 2002-2003, representing a reduction of some
$2.1 million gross (about $1.9 million net). A total of 24 posts
(5 Professional and 19 General Service) are not recommended for approval for
Mission in Ethiopia/Eritrea
The Committee also had also before it a report of the Secretary-General containing UNMEE's proposed budget for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 (document A/56/610), which amounts to some $208.9 million gross (about $205 million net). Non-budgeted voluntary contributions in-kind amount to about $200,000. Of the total budget, civilian personnel costs account for 14 per cent of the resources, operational costs account for 27 per cent and military personnel reflect
55 per cent of the budget. Staff assessment and other programmes account for
4 per cent of the budget.
The Secretary-General asks the Assembly to appropriate some $208.9 million gross (about $205 million net) for the maintenance of the Mission for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002, inclusive of some $90 million gross (about $88.9 million net) previously authorized and assessed under the terms of Assembly resolution 55/252 B of 14 June 2001 for 1 July to 31 December 2001. The Assembly should also assess an additional amount of some $14.4 million gross (about $13.6 million net) for
1 July to 31 December 2001. For the period 1 January to 15 March 2002, the Assembly is asked to assess some $43.5 million gross ($42.7 million net). Should the Security Council decide to extend the Mission's mandate, the Assembly should assess some $60.9 million gross (about $59.8 million net) for 16 March to 30 June 2002 at a monthly rate of $17.4 million gross (about $17.1 million net).
In a related report of the ACABQ (document A/56/661), that body notes that the estimated requirements for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 represent a 16 per cent increase in total resources (gross) in relation to the apportionment for the financial period 2000-2001. In that regard, the Advisory Committee was informed that estimated expenditures for 1 July to 31 December 2001 amounted to some $51.3 million as of 31 October, leaving an unspent balance of about $38.6 million, compared with the apportionment of some $90 million. The total of $51.3 million included some $33 million in unliquidated obligations and $1.7 million in pre-encumbrances. The significant level of unliquidated obligations and pre-encumbrances, which represent two thirds of the estimated expenditure of some $51.3 million, indicated that funds would not be ultimately disbursed in their totality.
The ACABQ notes that the Mission's proposed 2001-2002 budget provides for the deployment of up to 3,980 troops, 200 military observers -- supported by
71 international, 24 local staff and 10 United Nations Volunteers -- and an administrative component of some 186 international staff, 250 local staff and
72 United Nations Volunteers.
The Advisory Committee is concerned that there has been no progress in implementing a previous recommendation to establish a direct flight between Addis Ababa and Asmara. According to the Mission, the additional cost caused by the absence of such a link amounted to some $0.9 million for 23 August 2000 to 30 June 2001 and an estimated $1 million for 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.
The ACABQ also recalls that in its resolution 1320 (2000), the Security Council requested the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to conclude status-of-forces agreements with the Secretary-General within 30 days of the adoption of that resolution. Pending the conclusion of such agreements, a model status-of-forces agreement of October 1990 should apply provisionally. It was informed that a status-of-forces agreement remained to be signed by the Government of Eritrea. According to the Mission, taxes paid by UNMEE to the Government of Eritrea for January to September 2001 amounted to some $167,100.
On staffing issues, the Advisory Committee welcomes the fact that the Mission, in response to an ACABQ recommendation, proposes to increase the number of United Nations Volunteer positions, including by converting 17 international Professional posts and 24 local-level posts to United Nations Volunteer positions. As compared with the staffing situation for the financial period 2000-2001, the proposed staffing level reflects a reduction of 25 international staff and
48 local staff and an increase of 67 Volunteer positions.
Regarding a provision of some $26.2 million under air operations, the ACABQ is not convinced of the operational need for the executive jet, which is used for an average monthly total of 26.17 hours, although the Mission pays for 30 hours monthly, as stipulated in the contract. The Advisory Committee requests that contractual arrangements and the use of the executive jet be reviewed with a view to ascertaining its cost effectiveness. The Mission should explore less costly alternatives.
Taking into consideration the financial performance during the period ended 30 June 2001, and the pattern of expenditure and commitments for 1 July to
31 December 2001, the ACABQ recommends that the General Assembly approve the appropriation and assessment of some $198.4 million gross for 1 July 2001 to
30 June 2002, inclusive of $90 million gross appropriated and assessed by the Assembly in June 2001 for 1 July to 31 December 2001. The Advisory Committee also recommends monthly assessment for the period from 16 March to 30 June 2002 should the Council decide to extend the mandate of UNMEE beyond 15 March 2002.
Statements of Programme Budget Implications
According to the Secretary-General's statement on the programme budget implications of draft resolution B contained in document A/56/21/Add.1 on the development of an international radio broadcasting capacity for the United Nations (document A/C.5/56/20), the adoption of that text would lead to the need for an additional appropriation of some $2.7 million for the biennium 2002-2003, as follows: $2.4 million under section 26, Public information; and $308,000 under section 32, Staff assessment (to be offset by an equivalent amount under income from staff assessment).
By operative paragraphs 47 and 49 of the draft resolution, the Assembly would decide to expand the international radio broadcasting capacity of the Organization in all six official languages and report on the implementation of the project to the Committee on Information at its twenty-fifth session. Under the proposal, the United Nations would continue to produce 15-minute programmes in the six languages, which consist of news, background information and reports about various activities of the Organization. The Department of Public Information (DPI) would require 17 new temporary posts for producers, executive producers, research assistants, planners and General Service staff for the project, at a cost of some $1.7 million. No provision has been made in the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003 for the continuation of the radio project beyond the pilot phase.
Regarding the potential for absorption, the document states that the resources required under the programme cannot be covered from within the overall amount requested under section 26, Public information, of the proposed budget.
A statement of programme budget implications was also submitted for draft resolution A/C.3/56/L.69/Rev.1 on the subregional centre for human rights and democracy in Central Africa (document A/C.5/56/22). By the terms of the draft resolution, adopted in November by the Third Committee, the General Assembly would invite the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, under the direction of the Secretary-General, to provide assistance to the Centre to ensure its efficiency and smooth running. The activities to be implemented include training for political leaders and media practitioners and activities related to democracy, including provision of assistance to governments for the preparation of elections.
Should the Assembly approve the draft resolution, that would give rise to additional requirements of some $1 million under section 22, Human Rights, of the proposed programme budget. As it is not currently possible to identify activities within section 22 that could be terminated or deferred during the current biennium, an additional provision of $1 million would be required over and above the resources proposed. The provision would constitute a charge against the contingency fund and would require an increase in appropriations for 2002-2003.
Another statement of budget implications before the Committee concerns the Office of the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) (document A/C.5/56/23). By the terms of draft decision A/C.2/56/L.6, the General Assembly would decide that the Office of the President of ECOSOC be provided with the means to carry out its functions, taking into account the different arrangements made for the principal organs of the United Nations listed in Article 7 of the Charter. In view of the nature of and functions of the Office of the President of ECOSOC, only the arrangements for the Presidents of the Assembly and the Security Council could be used as models.
Should arrangements for the President be modelled on those accorded the General Assembly President, a provision would be required to cover the cost of official travel of the President; members of the Bureau acting on behalf of the President; and official hospitality required for official functions. An estimated $125,000 annually would be required. Should arrangements for the President of the Security Council be adopted as a model, there would be no direct financial implications, as requirements for the Council President are met through ad hoc arrangements whenever they arise.
The Fifth Committee is requested to determine which of the possible alternative arrangements is most appropriate and then inform the Assembly as to whether the adoption of the draft decision would involve financial implications.
Yet another budget implications statement before the Committee (document A/C.5/56/24) concerns the situation of human rights in Myanmar. By the terms of draft resolution A/C.3/56/L.55, the General Assembly would welcome the report of the Secretary-General on the visit of his Special Envoy for Myanmar to that country and strongly endorse his efforts to facilitate the national reconstruction process among all the interested parties in Myanmar. The Assembly would also encourage the Government of Myanmar to establish a constructive and regular dialogue with the Secretary-General to make better use of his good offices.
Should the Assembly adopt draft resolution A/C.3/56/L.55, provision of some $277,900 would be required for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2002 for the good offices of the Secretary-General to facilitate the process of dialogue and national reconciliation in Myanmar. These requirements would be charged against the provision of $93.7 million for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget.
Introducing the Secretary-General’s reports on the Tribunals, the Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, WARREN SACH, said that the Assembly had recently biennialized the budgets of those bodies in order to synchronize them with the regular budget cycle of the Organization. The requirements for the Rwanda Tribunal reflected the increased activities of the Court. The proposal did not contain any provision for the ad litem judges, who could later be approved by the Security Council. Any decision in that respect would be subject to additional budgetary requests in the future.
With respect to the Yugoslavia Tribunal, he said the proposed budget was meant to reflect its growing workload as well. It included full provisions for the ad litem judges, which had been already approved for that Court.
Reports of the ACABQ were introduced by the Chairman of that body, CONRAD S.M. MSELLE. He said that the Secretary-General was proposing approval of a total of $454.7 million for the two Tribunals. The proposal also contained provisions for the total of 2,073 posts for the two Courts, including 233 new posts. For the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the cost estimates included requirements for ad litem judges, but that was not the case for the Rwanda Tribunal. Those proposals were the first biennial estimates for the two Tribunals.
He said the ACABQ was recommending an approval of some $249.01 million gross for the Yugoslavia Tribunal and $196.44 million for the Rwanda Tribunal. The reports of the ACABQ contained detailed explanations of its recommendations. The assumptions regarding the Tribunals’ workload should be carefully monitored and reported in the context of the performance reports that the ACABQ had requested. In the meantime, the Advisory Committee had recommended that, where appropriate, short-term staff be used, should the workload increase beyond the projections.
MICHEL TILEMANS (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the draft budgets for the two Tribunals were the first ones presented in compliance with the new biennial budget cycle. They included data on the volume of work and the objective of the judicial activities of the Tribunals. He noted those positive developments, which would make the requests for resources more complete and transparent. It was important, however, to carry out annual audits of the work of the Tribunals, whether they be internal or external. Annual reports on the budget performance and budget execution should also be submitted.
The European Union remained committed to the timetables for the work of the Tribunals, he continued. He was concerned over the high vacancy rates at the Tribunals and endorsed the comments by the ACABQ on the need to fill the vacant posts as soon as possible. The high vacancy made it difficult to determine the precise need for the new posts. Regarding the Yugoslavia Tribunal, while welcoming the striking new developments in its activities, he recalled that
54 additional posts had been approved only 6 months before. Also, three months before, 117 posts had been still vacant.
Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, he noted that there were 150 unfilled posts, which represented a very high vacancy rate. He also shared the concern of the Advisory Committee over the vacancies at the highest level at the Tribunals, which affected the investigative and prosecution activities of the Courts. Regarding the establishment of a team of ad litem judges, he emphasized that, without prejudice to the decisions of the Council, it was important to first make use of the existing significant resources.
Continuing, he endorsed the recommendations of the ACABQ on the draft budgets. However, the Union would carefully examine the draft budgets on the basis of their merits without losing sight of the need for the Tribunals to carry out their mandates as soon as possible. He noted that no exit strategy had been developed for the Tribunals. It was important for them to at least complete the phase establishing all indictments by 2004 or 2005.
Regarding the comments of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) and the Board of Auditors presented at the previous session, he was pleased with the progress in many areas, including the rate of usage of court rooms by the Yugoslavia Tribunal and compliance with accounting rules by the Rwanda Tribunal. While also pleased with the efforts of the Rwanda Tribunal to prevent abuse in terms of fee-splitting, he noted that the results of those measures were not yet apparent. He would continue to follow that question very closely, which should be examined by the Board of Auditors in accordance with the recommendations of the ACABQ.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada), also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the delegations he represented were among the strongest supporters of the Tribunals and demonstrated that commitment by paying assessed contributions in full, on time and without condition. Noting that outstanding contributions exceeded some
$47 million, he urged all Member States to remit their assessed contributions as soon as possible.
There was both grounds for satisfaction and concern in relation to the work of the Tribunals, he said. He was pleased with changes within the Yugoslavia Tribunal to improve efficiency and increase capacity, as well as those planned to accelerate the programme of work. He had supported changes to the Yugoslavia Tribunal’s statute a year ago, which provided for the use of ad litem judges and the adoption of other changes to speed up the rate at which trials were being held. While over the short-term increasing capacity also increased costs, over the long-term the increase in capacity would result in important cost savings and savings in time.
Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, he noted that work indicators demonstrated significant underperformance in a number of areas. He was pleased, however, that the performance situation had somewhat improved. The number of accused on trial in 2001 had increased to 17. While he was concerned about the frequency and amount of extrajudicial activity in both Tribunals, he was pleased to see that the focus on judicial activities was increasing. It was critical that both Tribunals continued to adopt innovative solutions to managing costs and improving efficiencies wherever possible.
While welcoming the management review of the Rwanda Tribunal, he remained concerned, however, about its high vacancy rates -- as high as 27.8 per cent for Professional staff and 16.4 per cent for General Service staff. The experiment with two-year contracts did not appear to have had the desired effect. He would welcome concrete initiatives for addressing the problem. He noted that the ACABQ had reiterated its view that it was not possible to accurately determine requirements for additional personnel in the Tribunal until vacancies were considerably reduced. Despite that, however, the ACABQ had recommended approval of all but 24 of the 95 additional posts requested. He welcomed clarification on that contradiction.
He said the extended vacancy of 35 posts in the Office of the Prosecutor was particularly troubling. The situation hindered the implementation of the vital work of the Office of the Prosecutor and led to costly expenditures for travel to and from Arusha, Kigali and The Hague. With the assistance of Headquarters, immediate steps should be taken to fill those posts. He supported measures to better control the legal aid system. He regretted, however, that information provided to the ACABQ was insufficient for it to form an opinion on the adequacy of those measures. As such, he endorsed the ACABQ’s proposal for the Board of Auditors to provide a special evaluation of the effectiveness of the means available, including staff and non-staff assets, to manage, monitor and control expenses of the Tribunal’s legal aid system.
On plans to complete all investigations by the end of 2004, and to present last indictments by 2005, he was pleased that the Prosecutor had set those target dates. He strongly encouraged her to also set a target date for the conclusion of first instance trials, as she had done for the Yugoslavia Tribunal. It was very important that a firm, achievable strategy for the completion of work was adopted for both Tribunals. Both Tribunals were seeking additional resources to their already significant budgets. Given their management and performance track records, there was a strong case for continued scrutiny at regular intervals by the appropriate United Nations oversight bodies.
He said the question of the ongoing oversight mechanism should be addressed by the Committee when it considers the report on the implementation of the recommendations of the expert group to review both Tribunals, which would be submitted for consideration by the General Assembly in May 2002. The Tribunals played a very important role in the international community’s efforts to uphold international humanitarian law, by replacing a culture of impunity with one of accountability. While committed to ensuring that adequate resources were provided to both Tribunals, some areas needed to be more efficiently managed.
VLADIMIR A. IOSSIFOV (Russian Federation) said the Tribunals had been established by the Security Council as temporary, judicial bodies to establish and maintain peace in those regions and to bring to justice all international criminals. It was now clear that those bodies' mandates were coming to an end. He wanted in particular to look at the proposal for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal. Its budget for 2002-2003 was proposed on the basis of an increase in staff. Such an increase was explained by the need to accelerate its work in its end stage. Taking into account high vacancy rates, he believed that the requested new posts could fully be absorbed within already approved resources.
An analysis of the Tribunals would be useful, he added. The Tribunals had no clear, implementable strategy to finish their work within a certain timetable. There was no tha the Yugoslavia Tribunal had carried out its work in implementing the Committee’s recommendations in all areas of its activities. Regarding personnel requests, especially in the Office of the Prosecutor, those proposals were not within the Tribunal’s mandate, primarily the proposal to establish an office to follow expected financial accounts. Such a decision was not in accordance with the Tribunal’s mandate and was an attempt to extend its activities and exceed its functions.
On the estimated expenditures, he supported the recommendations of the ACABQ to endorse the budget at an amount less than what was requested. He was prepared to support a further lowering of that budget. It was necessary to submit to the General Assembly next year an interim report on the use of the Tribunal’s resources, including a rationalization of the use of existing resources.
ZHOU QIANGWU (China) commented on the late issuance of the reports before the Committee. The ACABQ reports had become available only on Wednesday this week. In that respect, he recalled the request by the Assembly that the reports on the budgets of the Tribunals be submitted prior to 1 October each year, and requested explanations from the Secretariat in that respect.
Regarding the Yugoslavia Tribunal, he said that his delegation was concerned over the magnitude of the request contained in the Secretary-General’s report, which showed an increase of some $30.9 million over the net appropriation for the previous biennium -– an increase of some 15.5 per cent. He understood the Secretary-General’s efforts to enhance the Tribunal’s capacity, but since the establishment of the Court, its budgetary requirements had been constantly growing, especially in recent years, and always by a large margin. The resource increases and efficiency and progress of the trials were not proportional.
Directly connected to the budget requests was the question of posts for the Yugoslavia Tribunal, he continued. According to the Secretary-General’s proposal, the assessed budget posts would increase to some 1,100 –- an increase of 132 posts over the previous biennium. The request did not appear convincing, and he would continue to give attention to the issue in conjunction with the ACABQ’s recommendations.
On gratis personnel, he added that the documents before the Committee showed that 97 gratis personnel were assigned to the Tribunal. He wanted to know how they had been selected, what countries they were from and the duration of their assignments. He also noted that, as of 30 June 2001, 40 interns had been assigned to the Tribunal and he sought clarification regarding the legislative mandate behind their assignment. He requested that the Secretariat present lists containing the information about the current assessed budget posts within the Tribunal and the breakdown by countries and levels; also the gratis personnel information with a breakdown by titles, levels and countries of origin.
On the question of fee-splitting between the counsels and detainees, he noted that the Office of Internal Oversight Services was conducting an in-depth investigation of the matter and he would like to receive the latest information. His delegation also supported the transfer of non-critical cases to local courts, which could reduce the pressure of the Yugoslavia Tribunal and expedite the processing of the cases.
Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, he hoped that it would enhance its efficiency in conducting trials, expedite its proceedings within existing resources and complete its work as soon as possible.
Responding to comments, Mr. SACH said that he recognized that the vacancy rates for the Tribunals had been higher than in the Secretariat at large. That reflected the rapid growth of the Tribunals. It was hard to keep pace with the requirements of the courts. In the case of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, while
117 vacancies had been reflected three months ago, now that number had been reduced to 101, and attempts were being made to fill the vacancies quickly. In the case of the Rwanda Tribunal, more severe vacancy problems existed, but there had been movement to reduce the number of vacancies.
Some progress had been made in that respect, he said. At the end of October, the vacancy rate there amounted to 17 per cent. The matter received full attention of the Tribunals’ management. Bearing in mind the difference in the situation on the ground, different vacancy rates had been budgeted for the two Tribunals. The new developments would be reported in the context of the performance reports.
Regarding the date of the issuance of the reports, he said that, indeed, they had been published three weeks late. The Secretariat had had full cooperation from both Registrars, which had submitted their reports at the end of June, but the review of the proposals had taken longer than anticipated. Change to the biennial cycle had contributed to the problem. At this point, nothing more could be done without sacrificing quality. Regarding gratis personnel and the lists of staff, he said that he would try to provide them during informal consultations.
ELIZABETH A. NAKIAN (United States) said it was the understanding of her delegation that another formal meeting would be held on the Tribunals on Monday. Her delegation had planned on making its statement at that meeting.
The CHAIRMAN said that as there had been no other inscription on the list for delegations wishing to speak, the Bureau had thought that the Committee could conclude its consideration of the Tribunals today. To accommodate the United States delegation, however, the item would remain open.
Mr. MSELLE then introduced the ACABQ’s report on the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, saying that the ACABQ was recommending an appropriation and assessment of some $198.4 million to include $90 million already appropriated and assessed by the General Assembly for 1 July to 31 December 2001.
The Committee concluded its general discussion on that item.
Statements on Programme Budget Implications
Mr. MSELLE introduced the ACABQ’s reports on the programme budget implications before the Committee. Regarding the development of an international radio broadcasting capacity, he noted that under terms of the draft resolution the General Assembly would decide to expand the international radio broadcasting capacity in all six official languages, building on the success of the radio pilot project. It would also request the Secretary-General to report to the Committee on Information on the estimated number of listeners reached. He said the ACABQ was briefed on efforts to establish and increase listenership.
The ACABQ recommended that the Fifth Committee inform the General Assembly that should it adopt draft resolution B, expenditures would arise not exceeding $2.4 million under section 26, Public information, and $308,000 under section 32, Staff assessment, of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003, and that additional appropriations would be considered by the General Assembly in accordance with the use of the Contingency Fund.
Regarding the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, he recalled that resource requirements under sub-programme 3 of section 22 of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget reflected the non inclusion of resources for the Subregional Centre. That non inclusion was without prejudice to such needs that might be demonstrated in reports to be submitted to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session. He recalled that a non-recurrent provision of $1 million was appropriated by the Assembly for the Subregional Centre for the biennium 2000-2001.
Noting that in the draft resolution the Secretary-General was requested to report to the Assembly on the implementation of the resolution, he said the ACABQ recommends that the report include information on the programme of work that was being carried out by the Subregional Centre and related expenditures. The ACABQ recommended that the Fifth Committee inform the General Assembly that, should it adopt the draft resolution, expenditures would arise not exceeding $1 million under section 22, Human rights, of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget.
Regarding the Office of the President of ECOSOC, he said a policy decision must be taken by the General Assembly before the ACABQ can pronounce on the issue.
On the human rights situation in Myanmar, he said the ACABQ recommended acceptance of the Secretary-General’s proposals.
As the Committee turned to the budget implications of the international broadcasting capacity of the Organization, SEYED MORTEZA MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the Group attached great importance to the continuation of the programme and supported the resource requirements indicated by the Secretary-General in his statement. Regarding the activities through which the request would be implemented, he drew attention to the need to fully implement the conclusions of the Committee on Information in that respect, which did not limit the broadcasting activities to “peacekeeping, humanitarian and other activities of the United Nations system”, to which part III of document A/C.5/56/20 referred.
THOMAS REPASCH (United States) said that his Government supported the goals and objectives of the programme. It was especially pleased to see an evaluation component in the proposal, which would allow the programme and the Department of Public Information to evaluate the impact of the broadcasting efforts and let the Member States know what impact they had produced. It was a key to better management.
He went on to say that his delegation had repeatedly expressed concern over the approach to public information. Currently, the overall public information programme of the Organization was being discussed in the context of the budget resolution, and various proposals had been made regarding the analysis of those efforts. The United Nations public information mandates should be carried out in a rational and effective way.
Any new activities should be carried out in accordance with the efforts to prioritize activities and redirect resources from low-priority areas to more important activities, he said. Regarding the programmatic aspects of the proposal before the Committee, he asked if the Secretariat had considered partnership with various agencies of the system, possibly on a cost-sharing basis. The whole idea of developing radio programmes to promote the goals of the United Nations needed to be seen within a broader context of what the agencies were doing all over the world.
AYMAN M. ELGAMMAL (Egypt) supported the position of the Group of 77 and said that the General Assembly had stated in a relevant resolution that radio was the most widespread and cost-effective means available to the United Nations for the dissemination of information. The pilot project on broadcasting had proven successful. Based on that, he felt that it should be financed on an equal footing with other means of information, including the Web sites, from the regular budget of the Organization.
JOHN ORR (Canada) said the statement of budget implications, because it was an expansion of the United Nations radio broadcasting capacity, was of concern, because as a whole the Organization was continually focusing on the margins, and not on the core capacity of the United Nations. How many existing radio producers were there? he asked. It would facilitate the deliberation of the budget implications to have some explanation of the existing capacity in the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget. Despite the fact that the United Nations had been able to carry out the radio programme within existing resources, there was now a request for additional funds for next year. What programmes or elements of the Department of Public Information programme were deferred in the current biennium?
Regarding the 17 new posts mentioned in paragraph 7, he asked if he could assume that standard costs for new posts were only budgeted at a 50 per cent vacancy rate, or 50 per cent of the total cost. That downplayed the total continuing cost of the programme. On the $240,000 for the telecommunications engineering contract, that amount was to augment existing engineering staff, and it seemed to be an expensive contract. He wanted explanation on the additional requirements and the existing engineering staff within that section.
ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) said he would have wished to have had the ACABQ’s reports in writing, which would have made them official documents. He stressed the need to provide the necessary financing for the development of the radio broadcasting programme, which ought to be institutionalized with the proper resources.
Mr. SACH said the possibility for cooperation with the United Nations agencies to share costs would be pursued. On the provisions being an extension of the current radio broadcasting capacity, he said that it must be clear that the radio capacity was a successor arrangement to a pilot project that was carried out in an ad hoc manner, without continuing financing arrangements. For that reason, when preparing the budget for 2002-2003, there had been no provision for the international radio broadcasting capacity within initial estimates, as it lacked a mandate for that period. That mandate had now been forthcoming. On the number of existing radio producers and associate producers in the six official languages, the Department of Public Information had provided that information in informal consultations.
Concerning the Subregional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, EKORONG A DONG PAUL (Cameroon) said that his delegation would like to provide some information in support of the budget request for the Centre. The Centre had been placed under the control of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and a final agreement had been reached between the United Nations and the subregional structures, establishing the Centre as a permanent international mechanism.
Continuing, he expressed some concerns regarding the statement on budget implications. Regarding the proposed post of the Head of Office for the Centre at the P-5 level, he said that under the Centre’s programme of work he would have to cover at least 11 countries. Given the very nature of the Centre, he would also have to deal with very delicate subjects and communicate directly with heads of State and government of the subregion. For that reason, he would like the Head of Office to be budgeted at the level of D-1, at least. Also, under the budget statement, two programme director posts were proposed: one for human rights; and one for democracy aspects. One was envisioned at a P-3, and the other at P-4 level. To ensure balance between the two programmes, he wanted both positions to be at the P-4 level.
Mr. REPASCH (United States) said that his delegation supported human rights and democracy in Africa and around the world and had a strong attachment to the objectives of the programme outlined in the document before the Committee. He noted, however, that in paragraph 3 of the budget statement it states that the Committee on Programme and Coordination had recommended that the proposed budget include resources for the Centre. Going back to its report, he had read that such a recommendation had been made in the discussion during the session. It was not an agreed-upon recommendation. He also wanted clarification regarding the status of the Centre. Was it already operating? What had it accomplished so far?
In conclusion, he added that the ACABQ had recommended that information on the Centre’s programme of work be included in future reports on the matter. It was curious that, in fact, at present there was no programme of work. How could the ACABQ make a judgement on the costs without seeing one? He also noted that, so far, there was no agreement on the narrative of the budget for the human rights programme within the proposed budget of the Organization and that the discussions on the Centre needed to be tied up with the consideration of that segment.
Mr. ORR (Canada) said that his delegation had joined the consensus on the matter in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural). He had a technical question, however. A request for some $42,000 for a General Service position at the local level seemed rather high. Was that a normal income for a secretary in Cameroon?
Mr. SACH said that the drafting of paragraph 3 of document A/C.5/56/22 was weak. It indicated that the Committee on Programme and Coordination had recommended allocation of resources for the Centre for 2002-2003. That paragraph could be better formulated, indicating that the Committee had discussed the possible recommendation, for no specific recommendations had been adopted. As for the costing for the General Service position, the information in the document before the Committee was based on the information provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and he would verify that information.
Mr. MSELLE said the Centre had just started its activities. The report indicated activities carried out in 2001. The programme of work for the Centre was yet to be proposed and included in the programme budget document. Therefore, the ACABQ had indicated that, since the Centre was in its initial phase, the next Secretary-General’s report should provide additional information on the work programme.
Mr. SACH said that when the High Commissioner had reported on her work to the Third Committee in October, an outline of the work programme for 2002-2003 had been included in document A/56/36/Add.1. It was because of that that the Secretariat thought it could put together the necessary resource proposals to carry out the Centre’s work.
Mr. EKORONG A DONG (Cameroon) said he had heard from some members of the Committee that the Centre was not a United Nations structure. An agreement had been finalized between the United Nations and the subregion, rendering the Centre a full-fledged structure of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Office of President of ECOSOC
Mr. REPASCH (United States) said the President of ECOSOC performed important functions and had, therefore, an extremely important status. Based on the descriptions of two approaches outlined in the budget statement, the model most closely related to the President of ECOSOC was that for the President of the Security Council. He expressed his preference for using that model in determining the arrangement to be followed.
MBAYU FELIX (Cameroon), speaking on behalf of the President of ECOSOC, who this year was the Permanent Representative of Cameroon, said it was clear that Cameron did not stand to benefit directly if a decision were taken on the issue. Cameroon had been honoured with the duty to serve the ECOSOC. He was pleased with the statement made by the United States. There was agreement that ECOSOC must be treated like all the other principal organs of the United Nations. Before the Committee were two modalities for the provision of resources. The current President of ECOSOC had no particular preference. It was for the Committee to decide which was the most appropriate model.
He noted that the amount of resources needed varied from year to year. It was not right, however, that such a body be starved of the resources it needed. Whatever the decision was taken, the Committee should ensure that the resources for the smooth functioning of the Office were provided this year. Such assurance would be in line with the Millennium Declaration, the basis tenets of equity, common sense and good judgement.
As the Committee turned to the budget implications of the draft on the human rights situation in Myanmar, the Committee’s Chairman, NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) proposed that informal consultations be held on the matter this afternoon.
Organization of Work
Regarding the programme of the Committee’s work for the week of 10 to
14 December, the CHAIRMAN said that it did not take into account the remaining statements on programme budget implications of several texts coming from the Second Committee, as well as the reports on the financing of several special missions. As the Committee was approaching the end of the main part of the session, he appealed for cooperation, so that the Committee could complete its work by the end of next week.
Reporting on the informal consultations on the pattern of conferences, the representative of Austria appealed to all delegations to submit language proposals
on the draft on the scale of assessments, which had been distributed yesterday. Regarding the progress made in informal consultations, he said that, in less than 9 hours, the Committee had made great progress on the 13 documents to be considered. It had not, however, started to consider the draft resolution, which was already 15 pages long, but did not contain the language proposals from some delegations.
The representative of Egypt reminded the Committee that his delegation had not received requested information on such human resources issues as the age of retirement and the administration of justice.
The representative of Syria said that financing for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) also needed to be addressed. Financial implications of several texts were also yet to be taken up, as well as some recommendations of the ACABQ. He did not want to hold evening meetings, but if such meetings were needed, he would like them to end at 8 p.m.
The CHAIRMAN said, as the Committee was pressed for time, it needed to schedule some evening meetings. A lot depended on the spirit of accommodation in the course of the Committee’s work. Many issues could be resolved within a short time. It was necessary to focus on the substantive issues, to finish work by
The representative of Cuba cautioned the Committee against excessive optimism. The Committee could not work on a 24-hour schedule. She did not think the Committee was prepared to complete its work on 14 December, when many outstanding issues were remaining. The Committee could defer some decisions until its March session. A more realistic programme of work was needed.
The representative of Syria clarified that when proposing not to hold a meeting on Friday, he would agree if that was absolutely necessary. But, it should end by 8 p.m. If circumstances required, the Committee would work until midnight. He was actually used to that.
The representative of Cameroon said that his delegation was small, and he was no longer prepared to accept the suffering of working long hours. It was important to select the subjects that the Committee needed to focus on, deferring other items until the resumed session.
The representative of Iran, on behalf of the Group of 77, said the programme of work should be adjusted to reflect the comments of delegations. The Group had emphasized at the beginning of the session the need to avoid night meetings and to focus on time-bound issues.
The SECRETARY of the Committee, responding to the query on UNIFIL, said that informal consultations had concluded on that item. The Bureau was waiting for a draft text, which the Group had to submit before the Bureau could schedule its consideration next week.
The representative of Syria stressed the need for delegates to be informed in advance of the date of the meeting when the Committee would act on the UNIFIL draft. The meeting should take place later next week, perhaps on Thursday or Friday, to allow all delegations to be present.