Fifty-sixth General Assembly
34th Meeting (PM)
FIFTH COMMITTEE COMPLETES DEBATE ON BUDGETS FOR TRIBUNALS FOR RWANDA,
FORMER YUGOSLAVIA; TEMPORARY COMMITMENT AUTHORITY PROPOSED
Concern Expressed at High Level of Requested Appropriations; Draft
Introduced on Financing United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) concluded its discussion of the 2002-2003 budgets for the International Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda this afternoon, representatives of the United States and India expressed concern over the high level of proposed appropriations for the two courts and insisted that greater justification be provided for the Tribunals’ needs.
The United States representative said that, as both courts had suffered from serious mismanagement in the past, his delegation would find it difficult to support the proposed 13.4 per cent increase in the financing of the Rwanda Tribunal, and 13.1 per cent growth in the budget of the other. Considering the late issuance of the reports on the matter, he proposed granting temporary commitment authority to the two tribunals and postponing consideration of the matter until the resumed session next spring.
Also this afternoon, the representative of Iran (speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) introduced a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), by the terms of which the Assembly would provide financing for the mission for the period ending 30 June 2002. By other terms of the draft, the Assembly would also stress that Israel must pay some $1.28 million resulting from an incident at Qana, Lebanon, on 18 April 1996.
In other business, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, Rafiah Salim, informed the delegates about the status of documentation on human resources management.
On organizational matters, the representatives of Syria and Iran addressed the schedule of forthcoming meetings of the Committee in the final days of its work and the reports still to be presented. The representative of Iran said that six reports on human resources management were to be submitted, in accordance with relevant General Assembly resolutions.
The Committee will meet at 10 a.m., Wednesday, 12 December, to consider several aspects of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003, to examine the second performance report for the current biennium, and to take up financing of several peacekeeping missions.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected this afternoon to conclude its general debate on the financing of the International Tribunals on former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. (For background information, see Press Release GA/AB/3485 of 7 December.) The Committee was also to continue its consideration of the budget of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
On UNIFIL, the Committee had before it draft resolution A/C.5/56/L.17, by the terms of which the Assembly would provide a budget for the functioning of the mission) for the period from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002.
Also by the terms of the text, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to the Force as at 15 November 2001, including contributions outstanding in the amount of $179.4 million (4 per cent of the total assessed contributions from the inception of the Force). It would note that some 15.5 per cent of Member States had paid their assessed contributions in full. All countries would be urged to ensure full payment.
Among several requests to ensure efficiency and economy in the administration of the mission, the draft also includes a request to the Secretary-General to continue efforts to recruit local staff against General Service posts, commensurate with the requirements of the Force.
Expressing its deep concern that Israel had not complied with its resolutions 51/233, 52/237, 53/227, 54/267, 55/180 A and 55/180B, the Assembly would stress the need for that country to strictly abide by them. It would also reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to ensure full implementation of relevant resolutions, stressing once again that Israel must pay some $1.28 million resulting from an incident at Qana, Lebanon, on 18 April 1996.
PATRICK KENNEDY (United States) applauded the budget office and the two tribunals for their hard work in presenting the budgets for the first time on a biennial basis. He said the United States fully supported the two tribunals in bringing to justice those who were guilty of heinous crimes. Given their requests for significant increases in resources, however, he expressed serious concern over the late introduction of the budget sections in the session. As both courts had suffered from serious mismanagement in the past, and had been beset with alleged corrupt practices, the United States believed the short time frame the Committee had been given was inadequate. While the United States welcomed the accelerated pace of work at both tribunals, he found it difficult to support a 13.4 per cent increase for the Tribunal for Rwanda and a 13.1 per cent increase for the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Given previous management problems and high vacancy rates, he said, the requests for new posts at both tribunals seemed excessive and unjustified.
On the request of the Rwanda Tribunal for ad litem judges, he said the Tribunal must provide assurances that it would work efficiently to complete its tasks. Both courts must be held to a specific programme of action to complete their work by 2007-2008, continuing appellate functions beyond those dates. He
said ad litem judges must be used to complete the current workload of the Rwanda Tribunal. It was necessary for both courts to demonstrate that all judges worked to full capacity and were present when the tribunals were in session. Improved oversight mechanisms at both tribunals must be implemented. The United States strongly supported the initiative to introduce on-site auditors and investigators at both tribunals.
He proposed that the Committee grant temporary commitment authority to the two tribunals, and postpone consideration of the budgets until the Committee’s resumed session in March or May. The intervening time could be used to closely scrutinize the budgets. His delegation saw merit in moving consideration of the budgets to an off-cycle, non-budget year.
RAMESH CHANDRA (India) said the budget documents had vindicated his concern over the Tribunals' requests for a high level of resources. He said he would need to see greater justification for the proposed increase in the number of posts. He asked that data on the number of judges on tour every year in the last three years, and the number of days of proceedings postponed due to their non-availability, be submitted in writing to the Committee during informal consultations.
RAFIAH SALIM, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, speaking on the status of human resources documentation, said several documents were in the final stages of preparation and would be available to the Committee shortly. She apologised for the delay, and expressed gratitude for the Committee's keen interest in human resources issues. Normally, requests by the Fifth Committee would have been available by December the previous year. The Committee's work on human resources matters, however, had concluded with the adoption of resolution 55/258 of June 2001. Two papers, one on the age of retirement and another on the system of internal justice could not be completed until all relevant bodies had discussed the issues. The paper on the age of separation would be submitted for translation on Tuesday evening, and she expected the Committee to have it by the end of the week. She hoped to have the document on the system of internal justice in the first quarter of 2002. The paper on monitoring would also be completed at that time. The report on the use of consultants and retirees would be submitted for translation and distribution this week.
ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) noted that the delay in the report on the system of justice was due to consultations between the administration and staff. Those consultations should be undertaken in the best way possible to reflect the independent opinion of staff. The Secretary-General’s report must contain tables reflecting the opinions of staff. It would also be useful for delegations to obtain both points of view on the system of justice.
SEYED MORTEZA MIRMOHAMMAD (Iran), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that, depending on the appearance of the moon and the Muslim observance of Eid Al-Fitr, it might be necessary to review the schedule of meetings planned for the weekend. He also reminded the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management that six reports on human resources management were to be submitted to the fifty-sixth session of the Assembly. The Committee should be able to consider those reports at least during its first resumed session.