Fifty-sixth General Assembly
30th Meeting (PM)
SECOND COMMITTEE APPROVES DRAFTS ON: RESOURCES FOR OFFICE OF ECOSOC PRESIDENT;
INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION; CODE OF ETHICS FOR TOURISM
Acting without a vote, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) this afternoon approved two draft resolutions and one draft decision.
By the terms of a decision approved by the Committee on the Office of the President of the Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly would decide that the Office should be provided with the means to carry out its important functions, taking into account the different arrangements made for the principal organs of the United Nations listed in Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Charter.
A resolution on international migration and development would have the Assembly urge Member States and the United Nations system to strengthen international cooperation in the area of international migration and development to address the root causes of migration, especially those related to poverty, and to maximize the benefits of international migration to those concerned.
In addition, the Assembly would invite governments, with the assistance of the international community, to seek to make the option of remaining in one’s country viable for all people, particularly through efforts to achieve sustainable development, leading to a better economic balance between developed and developing countries.
By the terms of a resolution on a Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, the Assembly would take note with interest of the Code, which outlines principles to guide tourism development and to serve as a frame of reference for the different stakeholders in the tourism sector, with the objective of minimizing the negative impact of tourism on environment and on cultural heritage, while maximizing the benefits of tourism in promoting sustainable development and poverty alleviation as well as understanding among nations.
In addition, the Assembly would invite Governments and other stakeholders in the tourism sector to consider introducing, as appropriate, the Code in relevant laws, regulations and professional practices.
Also this afternoon, the Committee took up the topic of training and research. Under that item it discussed the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), stressing that the financial situation of the Institute must be strengthened in order to ensure the continuation of its programmes.
Speaking on that item, the representative of Japan said it was regrettable that voluntary contributions to UNITAR’s general fund remained inadequate. More countries, especially those that participated in and benefited from programmes of the Institute, should make voluntary contributions, particularly to the general fund. That was needed so that UNITAR could conduct its activities from a more solid financial base. At the same time, UNITAR should continue to be efficient in formulating and implementing its programmes in order to ensure the continued support of Member States and their taxpayers for its activities.
The UNITAR should be strengthened and provided with sufficient resources to enable it to fulfil its mandate in the most effective manner, said the representative of Iran, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China. To prevent further deterioration of current financial difficulties, he emphasized the need to waive rental and maintenance costs for the premises occupied by UNITAR in Geneva and New York. Bearing in mind that other similar organizations affiliated with the United Nations enjoyed such privileges, there was no plausible reason to deny the same exemption to UNITAR, an institution that was totally self-funded and was providing free training facilities to Member States.
Marcel Boisard, Executive Director of UNITAR, said the Institute’s services had been increased and improved, benefiting some 6,000 people on five continents. UNITAR had placed itself at the service of Member States to help them develop human resources and strengthen human capacities. The UNITAR, however, could not continue the same level of activity due to lack of voluntary contributions to the general fund. Contributions to the fund had diminished by 30 per cent, while the demand for UNITAR had increased greatly.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Haiti, Jordan and Nigeria. The observer of Switzerland also spoke.
Harriet Schmidt, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on UNITAR.
The Committee will meet again on Monday, 26 November, to discuss trade and development; globalization and interdependence; and high-level intergovernmental consideration of financing for development.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this afternoon to discuss the issue of training and research. Before it is a report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (document A/56/615).
In the report, the Secretary-General states that UNITAR’s activities have remained steady and sustained. Some 120 different programmes, seminars and workshops have been organized throughout the world each year since 1996. Over 5,500 participants are now benefiting from UNITAR training and capacity-building activities annually. A number of significant programme developments may be singled out -- for example, the fellowship programmes in preventive diplomacy, international law, international civil service and international affairs management. Such programmes had been organized in Europe and at campuses in New York, largely meeting the expectations of the participants. The number of nominations, however, greatly exceeded the places available.
Among other UNITAR programmes, the report states that grants have been received from a multilateral source for the development of the programme on law and cyberspace (likely also to be funded by the World Bank in the future). At the request of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNITAR has organized two training seminars for local journalists in the professional use of the Internet, at Kinshasa and Goma. The UNITAR was also requested by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to undertake a pilot capacity-building project for two Kosovo municipalities in the field of municipal administration and planning. The UNITAR was also active in organizing training and capacity-building programmes in chemicals and waste management, to ensure that dangerous chemicals and waste are handled safely without causing harm to human health and the environment.
The UNITAR network of partners is also being consolidated, the report adds. Almost all the ongoing programmes are designed and conducted in conjunction with one or more institutions, within and outside the United Nations system. Over the last few months, several high-level meetings were held or correspondence was exchanged between the Executive Director of UNITAR and various heads of departments or programmes, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNDP and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). In addition, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) secretariat requested UNITAR to assist in preparing a guide for self-assessment of country capacity needs for global environmental management.
On financial issues, the report states that, owing to a very stringent management of funds over the past few years, the financial situation of UNITAR has become more positive. It remains fragile, however, because of the continued low level of non-earmarked voluntary contributions. These contributions are crucial if the Institute is to answer the numerous and often very urgent requests for training and capacity-building in developing countries and countries in transition. Unfortunately, it should be noted that the response of Member States has been disappointing. The successful restructuring of UNITAR, called for in General Assembly resolution 55/208, has been praised and the relevance of its programmes underlined, but the voluntary contributions to the General Fund remain low. The Secretary-General sincerely hopes that the Member States, in particular the industrialized countries that are benefiting from UNITAR activities, will consider increasing or resuming their contributions without delay.
In regard to continuity in the management of UNITAR, the Secretary-General has decided, with the concurrence of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, to upgrade the post of the UNITAR Executive Director to the level of Assistant Secretary-General.
In regard to reclassifying rental rates for UNITAR offices, the report states that, in resolution 55/208, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to consider reclassifying the rental rates and maintenance costs charged to UNITAR with a view to alleviating its current financial difficulties. Those difficulties were aggravated by the current practice of charging UNITAR commercial rates for its offices.
This issue was raised by UNITAR’s Board of Trustees, in consideration of the fact that UNITAR is charged rental and maintenance costs while serving the Organization free of charge, in particular through the training of diplomats and government officials from Member States. It was found, however, that the Secretary-General was not in a position to “reclassify” the rates charged to UNITAR for rent and maintenance costs unless the General Assembly decided to make an express exception for UNITAR.
The report adds that, moreover, if the part of the costs currently paid by UNITAR in connection with rent and maintenance is to be taken over by the United Nations, the Assembly should also decide to amend Article VIII, paragraph 13 of the Statute of UNITAR, which states:
“The general administrative, personnel and financial services of the United Nations shall be utilized by the Institute on conditions determined in consultation between the Secretary-General and the Executive Director, it being understood that no extra cost to the regular budget of the United Nations is to be incurred.”
It is suggested that the following words be added at the end of the paragraph: “without the express approval of the General Assembly.”
The Committee was also expected to take action on several draft resolutions. The first is submitted by the Vice-Chairman of the Committee, Felix Mbayu (Cameroon), on the basis of informal consultations held on draft resolution A/C.2/56/L.4. Among other things, the text on international migration and development (document A/C.2/56/L.28) would have the Assembly urge Member States and the United Nations system to strengthen international cooperation in the area of international migration and development to address the root causes of migration, especially those related to poverty, and to maximize the benefits of international migration to those concerned.
In addition, the Assembly would invite governments, with the assistance of the international community, where appropriate, to seek to make the option of remaining in one’s country viable for all people, particularly through efforts to achieve sustainable development, leading to a better economic balance between developed and developing countries.
Further, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to solicit, one additional time, the views of Member States that have not responded to the survey on the feasibility of convening an international conference on migration and development, as well as those of the International Labour Organization, the International Organization for Migration and other relevant organizations, both within and outside the United Nations system.
Also before the Committee is a note by the Secretariat containing a draft decision recommended by the Economic and Social Council for adoption by the General Assembly on the Office of the President of ECOSOC (document A/C.2/56/L.6). By its terms, the Assembly would decide that the Office should be provided with the means to carry out its important functions, taking into account the different arrangements made for the principal organs of the United Nations listed in Article 7, paragraph 1 of the Charter.
Another note by the Secretariat contains a draft resolution on a Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which the Council recommended to the Assembly for adoption (document A/C.2/56/L.7). That text would have the Assembly take note with interest of the Code, adopted at the thirteenth session of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization, which outlines principles to guide tourism development and to serve as a frame of reference for the different stakeholders in the tourism sector, with the objective of minimizing the negative impact of tourism on the environment and on cultural heritage, while maximizing the benefits of tourism in promoting sustainable development and poverty alleviation as well as understanding among nations.
Also, the Assembly would invite governments and other stakeholders in the tourism sector to consider introducing the Code in relevant laws, regulations and professional practices, and in this regard recognize with appreciation the efforts made and measures already undertaken by some States. It would also encourage the WTO to promote effective follow-up of the Code.
Introduction of Secretary-General’s Report on UNITAR
HARRIET SCHMIDT, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Management, said the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) had taken a number of reform measures over the last year, including efforts to consolidate its network of partners. The financial situation continued to be a source of concern due to the low level of funding from donor countries. Such funding problems made it difficult for UNITAR to perform the tasks requested of it by Member States.
MARCEL BOISARD, Executive Director of UNITAR, said services for the Institute had been increased and improved. They benefited some 6,000 people on five continents. UNITAR’s training programmes were often secondary to the long-term operation of strengthening capacities. UNITAR had placed itself at the service of Member States to help them develop human resources and strengthen human capacities. Despite its modest stature and limited means, UNITAR had created an important role within the United Nations system.
UNITAR did have difficulties, however, in mobilizing finances for its activities, he said. UNITAR’s general fund covered fixed expenses as well as the cost of training programmes for diplomats accredited to the United Nations. While those training programmes had historically occurred in Geneva, UNITAR was now organizing more than 30 conferences in New York each year, mainly on the management of multilateral affairs. Those had met with some success and last year the Committee recommended expanding its training activities. UNITAR, however, could not pursue its programmes due to lack of voluntary contributions to the general fund. Contributions to the general fund had diminished by 30 per cent, while the demand for UNITAR had increased greatly.
BAGHER ASADI (Iran), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that by providing training and research services to the United Nations system and to Member States, the Institute was making a significant contribution to human resources development. While UNITAR had achieved a lot and continued to do so, the scope and magnitude of needs called for more to be done to transmit knowledge, technical expertise and accumulated experience, commensurate with the increasing needs of developing countries. Innovative ways of systematically utilizing the Institute in the execution of training and capacity-building programmes for the economic and social development of developing countries should be explored.
The UNITAR should be strengthened and provided with sufficient resources to enable it to fulfil its mandate in the most effective manner, he said. He urged developed countries to increase their voluntary contributions to the Institute and place it on a solid financial base so that it could continue to be a viable, autonomous, stable institution capable of providing its services in a sustainable manner. The contributions of developed countries to the General Fund had not increased, although their participation in training programmes had been on the rise. That discrepancy needed to be addressed.
To prevent further deterioration of current financial difficulties, he emphasized the need to waive rental and maintenance costs for the premises occupied by UNITAR in Geneva and New York. Bearing in mind that other similar organizations affiliated with the United Nations enjoyed such privileges, there was no plausible reason to deny the same exemption to UNITAR, an institution that was totally self-funded and provided free training facilities to Member States.
YOSHIYASU KAWAGUCHI (Japan) said his country supported UNITAR’s activities and had made top-level contributions to the UNITAR general fund. It had also contributed through special-purpose grants to a variety of UNITAR programmes, in particular the conferences on peacekeeping issues, organized jointly by the Institute of Policy Studies of Singapore and the Japan Institute of International Affairs Management. In addition, the training workshop for the Asia/Pacific region on the implementation of multilateral agreements was funded through the United Nations Human Security Trust Fund, to which Japan had contributed.
It was regrettable that voluntary contributions to UNITAR’s general fund remained inadequate, he said. More countries, especially those that participated in and benefited from programmes of the Institute, should make voluntary contributions, particularly to the general fund. That was needed so that UNITAR could conduct its activities from a more solid financial base. At the same time, UNITAR should continue to be efficient in formulating and implementing its programmes in order to ensure the continued support of Member States and their taxpayers. Despite the difficult economic and financial condition it was in at present, Japan for its part intended to continue its contributions to and cooperation with UNITAR.
JEAN MAXIME MURAT (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the member countries of CARICOM benefited greatly from the work of UNITAR. The fellowships in the field of international law were of particular importance. Every year, UNITAR with its meagre resources was able to carry out its good work, from which all States benefited. He appealed to the Secretary-General to take a decision with regard to the rental and maintenance costs of UNITAR’s offices. Also, he appealed to countries to resume their voluntary contributions without delay. He commended the Institute for its close ties with other research and training centres around the world, and expressed his appreciation to UNITAR and its Executive Director for the work they undertook in assisting small island developing States.
ARIANE WALDVOGEL, observer of Switzerland, said that UNITAR’s activities, which consisted of providing workshops and training for international civil servants, now covered a broad spectrum. However, due to its meagre resources, the Institute was not able to respond to all the requests it received. She was in favour of focusing UNITAR’s activities on a few sectors, for example, managing chemical substances, climate change and environmental law. With regard to diplomatic training, she appreciated UNITAR’s programme on briefing and debriefing special representatives of the Secretary-General.
It was undeniable, she said, that UNITAR had made great progress in the reforms imposed on it in the early 1990s. UNITAR today enjoyed broad confidence on the part of Member States. However, the financing of the Institute remained a problem. Contributions to the general fund were insufficient, and financing for the overall budget came from a limited number of backers. She called on all countries, especially those industrialized countries that had used UNITAR’s services, to ensure the development and viability of the Institute in the long term.
WALID AL-HADID (Jordan) said he commended the efforts exerted by UNITAR’s director and the bureau to meet the goals of the Institute. The Institute’s mission was to strengthen capacities and organize training workshops, in which he had personally participated. Among them, the workshops on the activities of the United Nations and its committees confirmed UNITAR’s role in providing expertise to United Nations delegates. Member States should enable the Institute to rise to the challenges put to it and provide it with support from the United Nations system: it was after all an organization that provided its services free of charge.
AUSTIN PETER ETANOMARE OSIO (Nigeria) said that, in the era of knowledge-based globalization, the role of UNITAR could not be over-emphasized. It was a positive strategy of UNITAR to design its programmes with the support and cooperation of governments. That allowed such programmes to be country-owned and improved their effectiveness. It should also be remembered that it was not only developing countries that had benefited from UNITAR’s programmes; which it provided free of charge. Developed country participation in such programmes was also high. Resources were greatly needed by UNITAR to carry out its activities. For his country’s part, it would continue to support a yearly endowment for UNITAR under which the Institute received a minimum of $50,000 every year as Nigeria’s contributions to the general fund.
FELIX MBAYU (Cameroon), Vice-Chairman of the Committee, introduced the draft decision regarding the Office of the President of the Economic and Social Council.
Committee Secretary Margaret Kelly informed the Committee that the draft had potential programme budget implications, which had previously been to the Council. Should the Committee adopt the text, it would be referred to the Fifth Committee for its consideration.
The Committee adopted the draft decision without a vote.
Mr. MBAYU then introduced the draft resolution on the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which the Committee adopted without a vote.
Next, Mr. MBAYU introduced the draft resolution on international migration and development.
The text, which had no programme budget implications, was also adopted without a vote.
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