BUDGET COMMITTEE APPROVES SEVEN DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON TRIBUNALS, DUES PAYMENTS, UN COMMON SYSTEM, INTERNAL OVERSIGHT, POLITICAL MISSIONS

20 December 2001
GA/AB/3491

BUDGET COMMITTEE APPROVES SEVEN DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON TRIBUNALS, DUES PAYMENTS, UN COMMON SYSTEM, INTERNAL OVERSIGHT, POLITICAL MISSIONS

20/12/2001
Press ReleaseGA/AB/3491

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

39th Meeting (PM)

BUDGET COMMITTEE APPROVES SEVEN DRAFT RESOLUTIONS ON TRIBUNALS, DUES PAYMENTS,

UN COMMON SYSTEM, INTERNAL OVERSIGHT, POLITICAL MISSIONS

Preparing to conclude its work for the main part of the current session, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon approved seven drafts without a vote, acting on the financing of the two International Tribunals; measures to encourage timely payment of Member States’ dues to the Organization; the United Nations common system; the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the audit of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Albania; and financing of several special political missions.

By the terms of two draft resolutions on the financing of the Tribunals for 2002-2003, the Assembly would decide to appropriate, on a provisional basis, the gross amounts of some $242.79 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; and $192.31 million -- for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.  Those decisions would be subject to further review at the resumed session in March next year.  Both Tribunals would be requested to submit their financial and programme performance reports on an annual basis.  [This year, the reports on the financing of the two Tribunals only came before the Fifth Committee on 7 December -– the day it was initially scheduled to conclude its work.]

       The Assembly would further note with great concern the high vacancy rates in the Tribunals and decide to keep their staffing at the 2001 levels until appropriate requirements for 2002-2003 were determined at the resumed session.  In the meanwhile, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia would be authorized to use the necessary general temporary assistance resources to provide the equivalent of up to 90 new posts, with the understanding that the use of temporary employees was to ensure an accelerated schedule of trials and would be without prejudice to the decisions adopted by the Assembly.  The Rwanda Tribunal would receive an equivalent of up to 80 new posts, under similar conditions.

By another draft resolution, the Committee urged all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without imposing conditions, in order to avoid difficulties being experienced by the Organization, recommending that the Secretary-General be requested to propose or consider further measures to encourage payment.

That text was approved following the debate earlier in the session on the incentives and sanctions to encourage timely payment of dues.  By its terms, the Assembly would recognize that multi-year payment plans, subject to careful

formulation, could be helpful in allowing Member States to demonstrate their commitment to paying their arrears.  The Secretary-General would be requested to propose guidelines for such plans through the Committee on Contributions.  The Assembly would also encourage Member States to provide the Secretariat with information regarding their schedule of payments or intentions to clear the accumulated arrears.

Acting on another text, the Committee recommended that the Assembly reaffirm the central role of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) in the regulation and coordination of the conditions of service of the United Nations common system and take note of that body’s 2001 report.  Approving several recommendations contained in that document, the Assembly would also decide that, as of 1 January 2002, the euro should be used as the official currency for the salaries, the education grants and dependents’ allowances in the euro-zone countries.

By further terms of the draft resolution, the Assembly would look at the margin between the net remuneration of United Nations staff in grades P-1 to D-2 in New York and that of officials in comparable positions in the United States federal civil service, which was 111.0 for 2001.  In particular, it would consider it necessary to address the imbalance between the net remuneration ratios of United Nations staff in grades P-1 to D-2 in New York in the context of the overall margin considerations.  (Those ratios range from 117.1 at the P-2 level to 104.4 at the level of D-2).  The Assembly would also approve, effective 1 March 2002, the revised base scale of gross and net salaries for staff in the Professional and higher categories and ask for a timetable for the implementation of the review of the measures to strengthen the international civil service.

In other action this afternoon, the Committee approved a draft decision recommending that the General Assembly take note of the Oversight Office report on the audit of the UNHCR operations in Albania.

Two draft decisions were approved, as orally presented by the Committee’s Chairman, Nana Effah-Apenteng (Ghana).  By the terms of one, the Assembly would approve the charge of $1.7 million for the period of 1 January to 31 March 2002 for the United Nations Office in Burundi, and by the other -- some $1.41 million for the period of 1 January to 31 December 2002 for the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for Cyprus.  Both amounts would be charged against the provision for special political missions requested under section 3 of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.  The consideration of the Burundi mission would continue during the Assembly’s first resumed session in March 2002.

In other business this afternoon, the Committee decided to inform the General Assembly that its adoption of draft resolution A/56/L.62 on Afghanistan would necessitate a charge of some $7.35 million against the provision of

$93.7 million for special missions requested in the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.

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The drafts before the Committee were also introduced by the representatives of Botswana, India and Norway who had conducted informal consultations on them. Reports were introduced by the Director of Programme Planning and Budget Division, Warren Sach, and the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Conrad S.M. Mselle.

Representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), India, Russian Federation and Norway took part in the discussion on the texts.  The representative of Cuba spoke in explanation of position.

The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at a time to be announced tomorrow, 21 December.

Background

This afternoon, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to take action on several drafts coming of the informal consultations and take up programme budget implications of the decisions to be taken by the General Assembly.

Review of Efficiency of Administrative and Financial Functioning

of United Nations

The Committee had before it a draft decision on the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the audit of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) operations in Albania (document A/C.5/56/L.27).  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would take note of the report of the Oversight Office and look forward to the full and expeditious implementation of the recommendations contained in the report within the context of the annual report of the Office on its fifty-seventh session.

Scale of Assessments

The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations (document A/C.5/56/L.23), by the terms of which the Assembly would recall its resolution 55/5A of October last year on the measures to encourage timely, full and unconditional payment of assessed contributions by Member States, taking into account the incentives and sanctions used by various international and regional organizations.

Requesting the Secretary-General to update the information contained in his report on the application of Article 19 of the Charter, the Assembly would recognize that multi-year payment plans, subject to careful formulation, could be helpful in allowing Member States to demonstrate their commitment to paying their arrears.  The Secretary-General would be requested to propose guidelines for such plans through the Committee on Contributions.  The Assembly would also encourage Member States in a position to do so to provide the Secretariat with information regarding their schedule of payments or intentions to clear their accumulated arrears.

[Under Article 19, a Member State in arrears in the payment of its dues, in an amount that equals or exceeds its contributions for the two preceding years, can lose its vote in the Assembly.]

Further by the text, the Assembly would urge all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without imposing conditions, in order to avoid difficulties being experienced by the Organization, and request the Secretary-General to propose or consider further measures to encourage Member States in arrears to reduce and eventually pay their dues.

United Nations Common System

The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the United Nations common system:  report of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) (document A/C.5/56/L.15).  Reaffirming the Commission's central role in the regulation and coordination of the conditions of service of the United Nations common system, the Assembly would take note of the 2001 ICSC report.

Also according to the text, the Assembly would approve the recommendation of the Commission that, as of 1 January 2002, the euro should be used as the official currency for those emoluments which are currently set in the national currencies of the 12 euro-zone countries, and that the national currency amounts would be converted by applying the respective fixed conversion rats and then rounded up or down to the nearest euro.  It would approve the recommendation that the converted values of the education grant for nine currency areas, as well as children's and secondary dependant's allowances for nine locations, change over to the euro as of 1 January 2002.  The Assembly would also invite organizations to officially convert General Service salary scales and allowances, where applicable, into euros, as of the same date. 

By further terms of the text, the Assembly would note that the margin between the net remuneration of United Nations staff in grades P-1 to D-2 in New York and that of officials in comparable positions in the United States federal civil service for 2001 is 111.0.  The Assembly would also note that the United Nations/United States remuneration ratios range from 117.1 at the P-2 level to 104.4 at the D-2 level, and consider that this imbalance should be addressed in the context of the overall margin considerations established by the Assembly.

Regarding the base/floor salary scale, the Assembly would approve, effective 1 March 2002, the revised base scale of gross and net salaries for staff in the Professional and higher categories.  On strengthening the international civil service, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General, in consultation with the ICSC Chairman, to present a timetable for the implementation of the review of the strengthening of the international civil service at the main part of the Assembly's fifty-seventh session.

Financing of International Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on the financing of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/C.5/56/L.25), by the terms of which the Assembly would deeply regret the late submission of the reports of the Secretary-General on the financing of the Tribunal.  It would also note with great concern the high vacancy rate in the International Tribunal and the absence of a firm exit strategy for the completion of the Tribunal's work.  The Assembly would decide that the staffing table for the Tribunal remain at levels approved for 2001 until the Assembly determines appropriate levels for 2002-2003 at its March 2002 resumed session. 

By further terms of the text, the Assembly would authorize the Tribunal to use the necessary general temporary assistance resources to provide the equivalent of up to 90 new posts recommended by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), with the understanding that the use of general temporary assistance is to ensure an accelerated schedule of trials and would be without prejudice to the decisions adopted by the Assembly at its resumed session.

Also according to the text, the Assembly would decide to appropriate, on a provisional basis, to the Special Account for the Tribunal, a total of some $242.79 million gross (about $218.22 million net) for 2002-2003.  It would request the Tribunal to submit annually a financial and programme performance report to the Assembly.  The Assembly would decide that the financing of the appropriation for 2002-2003 under the Special Account shall take into account the unspent unencumbered balance of some $5.68 million gross (about $6.38 million net) for 2000, interest and miscellaneous income of some $3.56 million for 2000-2001, estimated additional requirements of some $4.85 million gross ($3.57 million net) for 2001, and the estimated income of $154,400 for 2002-2003, to be set off against the aggregate amount of the appropriation.

By further terms of the text, the Assembly would decide to apportion for 2002 some $60.18 million gross (about $53.52 million net) among Member States in accordance with the scale of assessments applicable to the regular budget for 2002-2003.  It would further decide to apportion for 2002 the same amount among Member States in accordance with the rates of assessment applicable to peacekeeping operations for 2002.

By the terms of a draft resolution on the financing of the Rwanda Tribunal (document A/C.5/56/L.26), the Assembly would deeply regret the delay in submission of the Secretary-General's reports on the issue.  It would also note with great concern that the high vacancy rate, particularly at the administrative level, affects the Tribunal's activities.  The Assembly would decide that the staffing table remain at levels approved for 2001 until the Assembly determines, at its resumed 2002 March session, appropriate levels for 2002-2003.  The Assembly would authorize the Tribunal to use the necessary general temporary assistance resources to provide the equivalent of up to 80 new posts recommended by the Advisory Committee, with the understanding that it would ensure an accelerated schedule of trials and would be without prejudice to decisions adopted by the Assembly on an authorized staffing table for 2002-2003 at its resumed session.

Also according to the text, the Assembly would decide to provisionally appropriate to the Special Account for the Tribunal a total of some $192.31 million gross ($173.61 million net) for 2002-2003.  It would decide also that the financing of the appropriation take into account the actual unencumbered balance of some $4.24 million gross (about $3.85 million net) as of the end of 2000, the estimated unencumbered balance of some $3.01 million gross (about $2.35 million net), which was taken into account in resolution 55/226, and some $2.16 million in interest and other miscellaneous income recorded for 2000-2001, to be set off against the aggregate amount of the appropriation.

Requesting the Tribunal to annually submit a financial and programme performance report to the Assembly, the Assembly would also note the proposed maintenance costs for prisoners and request the Secretary-General to include this item in the report on the long-term financial implications of the Tribunal at the resumed fifty-sixth session.  It would decide to apportion for 2002 some $47.84 million gross ($43.24 million net) among Member States according to the scale of assessments applicable to the regular budget for 2002-2003, and the same amount according to the scale of assessments for peacekeeping operations.

Afghanistan

Before the Committee was a Secretary-General’s statement on programme budget implications of draft resolution A/56/L.62 (document A/C.5/56/31) by the terms of which the Assembly would extend the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) for one year -– until 31 December 2002.  Should the Assembly adopt that text, estimated requirements of some $7.36 million would arise in respect of requirements for 2002 under section 3, Political affairs, of the programme budget for 2002-2003.  That amount would be charged against the proposed provision of some $93.69 million for special political missions.

In its report on the A/56/L.62 programme budget implications (document A/56/720), the Advisory Committee agrees that the Fifth Committee should inform the Assembly that adoption of the draft in question would lead to additional requirements of some $7.36 million to be charged against the provision of

$93.7 million for special political missions. 

The ACABQ also notes that the current structure of the Mission provides for 21 posts in the Professional and above category, five General Service posts, six Field Service posts, 49 local level positions, and four military observers.  In 2002, it is proposed to strengthen the Mission by one additional D-1 post to head the political section, two new Civil Affairs P-4 posts, and two new Field Service posts.  Also, an upgrading of a P-5 post to the D-1 level has been requested for the Civil Affairs Coordinator.  The number of military observers for 2002 would be reduced from four to three.

While the costing of salaries and common staff costs in 2002 assumes a vacancy rate of 12 per cent for both international and local staff, the Advisory Committee notes that the performance report of the Mission for 2000-2001 reflects savings of $1.2 million, which resulted mainly from the 16 per cent vacancy rate.  There is an expectation that in 2002 positions would be filled faster. 

Revised Estimates

The Committee also had before it two addenda to the report of the Secretary-General on estimates in respect of matters of which the Security Council is seized.  [The Committee considered the total estimated requirements for all

15 political missions with mandates extending into 2002-2003 -- some $29.52 million -- on 18 December.  For further information, see Press Release GA/AB/3490 dated 18 December.] 

The first report (document A/C.5/56/25/Add.1) contains the proposed resource requirements of the United Nations Office in Burundi.  The total estimated requirements amount to some $6.92 would be charged against the $93.7 million provision proposed for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.

Another addendum to the Secretary-General's report (document A/C.5/56/25/Add.2) contains proposed resource requirements relating to the Special Adviser on Cyprus for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2002.  The total estimate totals some $1.41 million and would be charged against the $93.69 million provision proposed for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2002-2003 budget. 

Out of that amount, some $298,300 is earmarked for the staff costs, including two political affairs officers and a secretary.  No changes are proposed in the staffing for 2002.  Provisions of $163,000 are made for the services of experts; and $574,200 for the travel of the Special Adviser and his staff.  The estimate for operational costs amounts to $166,200.

Also before the Committee was the related report of the Advisory Committee (document A/56/7/Add.6).  The ACABQ recalls that in its report A/56/7/Add.5 on the estimates in respect of which the Security Council is seized, it recommended deferral pending a detailed review of the issue in February 2002 and subsequent action by the Assembly.  Having considered the proposed resource requirements for the United Nations Office in Burundi contained in document A/C/5/56/25/Add.1, the ACABQ recommends a similar course of action.  In the meantime, however, the Advisory Committee recommends that an amount of $1.7 million for 1 January to

31 March 2002 be charged against the provision for special political missions requested under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed programme budget.

In its eighth report (document A/56/7/Add.7), the Advisory Committee recommends appropriating an amount of some $1.41 million for the Special Adviser on Cyprus for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2002, to be charged against the provision for special political missions of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.  The ACABQ will take the information contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the matter into account when it resumes consideration of the estimates in February 2002.

Action on Drafts

Review of Efficiency of Administrative and Financial Functioning

of United Nations

The Committee first took up a draft decision on the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the audit of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Albania. 

COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana) introduced the text.

The Committee adopted the draft without a vote.

Scale of Assessments

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of expenses of the United Nations. 

A.V.S. RAMESH CHANDRA (India) introduced the draft, saying that in operative paragraph 6 of the text the understanding was that the Secretary-General’s report would be presented during the main part of the Assembly’s fifty-seventh session and would be considered by the Committee at its resumed fifty-seventh session.

The draft resolution was then approved without a vote.

EVA SILOT BRAVO (Cuba), speaking in explanation of position, said the substance of the text remained of concern to her delegation.  While it was constructive to address all measures to assist countries in arrears, the theme should be looked at in a broader context.  It was unacceptable to establish a link between consideration of exemptions of countries in arrears and consideration of measures of the type addressed by the text.  The Committee should study the question on the basis of its own merits.

United Nations Common system

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the United Nations common system. 

NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana), the Committee Chairman, introduced the text, which the Committee approved without a vote.

MICHEL TILEMANS (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union was pleased to have reached consensus on the issue.  It was satisfying to know that elements of the Secretary-General’s proposal were moving forward.  He thanked the coordinator of the item and all those taking part in the informal consultations.  He looked forward to receiving the report at the fifty-seventh session.

Financing of International Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

Turning to the next agenda item, the Committee took up two draft resolutions on the financing of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals. 

ANNE MERCHANT (Norway) introduced the draft texts.  She first noted some technical changes to the text on the former Yugoslavia, including a change to operative paragraph 11, which should read “ninety” rather than “ninety-three” posts.  Operative paragraph 7 of the same text should read:  “notes with concern the absence of a firm strategy”.

On the Rwanda draft, she drew the Committee’s attention to a technical change in operative paragraph 1 of the text.  In operative paragraph 8, “80 posts” should be replaced with “77 posts”.

The representative of India thanked the coordinator of the item for ensuring the speedy approval of the resolution.  In operative paragraph 8 of draft resolution A/C.5/56/L.25 on the former Yugoslavia, “firm” should be added before the word “exit”.  In operative paragraph 7, “firm” should be placed before “exit”.

CONRAD S.M. MSELLE, Chairman of the ACABQ, said that the ACABQ had used the term “a firm realistically achievable exit strategy” in its report.  To be faithful to that text, operative paragraph 7 should read:  “the absence of a firm, realistically achievable exit strategy”.  However, if the drafters of the paragraph did not wish to use the words “realistically achievable”, then the Committee should use what the coordinator had suggested.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he did not object to the phrase “a firm exit strategy”. 

The representative of Norway said the Committee had never discussed the term “realistically achievable”.  It was up to the Committee to decide.

Mr. MSELLE advised the Committee to go along with the amendment proposed by the coordinator, as operative paragraph 1 of the text endorsed the ACABQ’s recommendations.

Following the discussion, the Committee then decided to use the term “a firm exit strategy”.

Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft texts.

Programme Budget Implications on Draft resolution A/56/L.62

concerning Afghanistan

WARREN SACH, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, introducing the Secretary-General’s report.

The Chairman of the ACABQ, Mr. MSELLE, introduced a related report of that body.

Based on the recommendations of the ACABQ, the Committee then decided to inform the General Assembly that should it adopt draft resolution A/56/L.62,

an amount of some $7.35 million would be charged against the provision of

$93.7 million for special missions requested under section 3, Political affairs, of the programme budget for 2002-2003.

Mr. SACH then introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the revised estimates in connection with the extension of the United Nations Office in Burundi.

Mr. MSELLE introduced a related ACABQ report.

The Committee then approved a draft decision, as orally presented by its Chairman, NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana), by the terms of which the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the matter and concur with the observations and recommendations of the Advisory Committee.  It would approve the charge of $1.7 million for the period of 1 January to 31 March 2002 for the United Nations Office in Burundi against the provision for special political missions requested under section 3 of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.  It would also decide to resume its consideration of the matter at its first resumed session in March 2002.

As the Committee turned to the estimates related to the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for Cyprus, the reports before the Committee were, once again, introduced by Mr. SACH and Mr. MSELLE.

The Committee then approved a draft decision on the matter, as orally presented by the CHAIRMAN.  It recommended that the Assembly take note of the report of the Secretary-General and concur with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the matter.  It would approve the charge of some

$1.41 million for the period of 1 January to 31 December 2002 for the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for Cyprus against the provision for special political missions requested under section 3, Political affairs, of the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003.

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For information media. Not an official record.