FIFTH COMMITTEE QUESTIONS ADDITIONAL RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS OF $620,000 FOR SECRETARIAT’S TERRORISM PREVENTION BRANCH

4 November 2002
GA/AB/3533

FIFTH COMMITTEE QUESTIONS ADDITIONAL RESOURCE REQUIREMENTS OF $620,000 FOR SECRETARIAT’S TERRORISM PREVENTION BRANCH

04/11/2002
Press ReleaseGA/AB/3533

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fifth Committee

20th Meeting (AM)

FIFTH COMMITTEE CONSIDERS ALLOCATION OF ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

FOR SECRETARIAT’S TERRORISM PREVENTION BRANCH FOR 2002-2003

As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning took up a number of requests for additional resources in connection with new decisions of intergovernmental bodies and international conferences, several speakers stressed the utmost importance of anti-terrorist activities and supported the measures proposed to strengthen the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the Secretariat.

However, in connection with the constraints faced by the Organization’s contingency fund, which contains resources for previously unscheduled activities, questions arose as to the course of action to be taken. In his report on the matter, the Secretary-General had stated that, should the General Assembly approve the strengthening of the Terrorism Prevention Branch, additional costs of $619,400 would arise, inclusive of staff assessment requirements.  Those would be chargeable to the contingency fund.  The additional resource requirements would be for three new Professional level and two General Service posts and an increase in non-post costs.

Presenting the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), on the other hand, the Chairman of that body, Conrad S.M. Mselle, proposed a different way out of the difficult situation.  The Advisory Committee proposed that additional resources and posts be considered in the context of the proposed budget for 2004-2005.  The Secretary-General should be given authority to commence recruitment for the posts identified, but the candidates would be informed that the posts would be subject to approval by the General Assembly.

Difficulties associated with the contingency fund were also raised in connection with the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council.  Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the matter, the Director of the Office of Programme Planning and Budget Division, Warren Sach, said that the document itself was a routine report, but the fact that the Organization was operating in the context of a constrained contingency fund introduced an unusual aspect to the matter.

As the Committee considered financing of projects through the Development Account and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), the United States representative emphasized that the issue was not about “just spending money”, but making sure that the money spent achieved the goals intended.

He added that the two agencies’ projects and programmes were integrally related and represented innovative ways to approach development with limited, narrowly focused aims and objectives, and a very strong evaluation component.   His delegation was concerned, therefore, that the monitoring process for UNFIP appeared to be onerous and bureaucratic.

Other documents before the Committee were introduced by the Chairman of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, Thomas Mazet; United Nations Controller Jean-Pierre Halbwachs; UNFIP Director Amir Dossal; and United Nations Security Coordinator Tun Myat.  The Committee began its consideration of revisions to 19 of the Organization’s main programmes to take account of recent decisions of United Nations conferences and main bodies; new administrative arrangements for the International Trade Centre (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development/World Trade Organization); field security arrangements; and proposed donation of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) assets to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Also taking part in today’s discussion were representatives of Denmark (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Nigeria, Cuba, Japan, Australia, Pakistan, Botswana, India and Canada.

The Committee will continue its consideration of revisions in programme planning at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 5 November.

Background

This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to begin its consideration of programme planning and take up several reports in connection with the 2002-2003 budget of the Organization, including revised estimates arising out of resolutions and decisions by the Economic and Social Council.  Another issue to be considered by the Committee was financing of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH).

Programme Planning

In connection with this agenda item, the Fifth Committee considers financing of the Organization’s mandated programmes and activities in priority areas.  Although the United Nations has already adopted a medium-term plan, which forms the basis for preparing the biennial programme budgets in the current period, certain revisions in programme planning components are needed to incorporate programme implications of resolutions and decisions by intergovernmental bodies and international conferences.

The Committee had before it the proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for 2002-2005 -- the document determining United Nations priorities -- as contained in documents A/57/6, Progs. 1, 2, 3, 5, 7-19, 24-26.  The changes are based on such documents as resolutions on counter-terrorism, follow-up to the Millennium Declaration and illicit trade in small arms, as well as measures to improve accountability and implement recommendations of the Panel on Peacekeeping.  Some of the mandates are related to creation of such new bodies as the United Nations Forum on Forests.

Also before the Committee was this year's report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) (document A/57/16).  [The CPC is a subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly for planning, programming and coordination.  It reviews the programmes of the United Nations and assists the Economic and Social Council in its coordination functions.  Its conclusions and recommendations play a key role in the adoption of the programme budget by the Assembly.]

Having taken up the proposed budget outline for 2004-2005, the CPC recommended that the Assembly approve all the priorities identified in the Secretary-General’s report on the matter (document A/57/85).  The Committee pointed out that the estimates should be adequate for full implementation of all mandated programmes and activities and noted that in September the Secretary-General would submit reform proposals to strengthen the Organization.  Any implications that the reform would have for the proposed programme budget outline would be addressed at the fifty-seventh session of the Assembly.

The CPC recalled that provisions should be made for special political missions approved or extended in the course of the biennium.  While noting that the budget submission would reflect cost-effectiveness measures and simplified procedures, the CPC recommended undertaking a review of obsolete activities, pointing out that such a review should remain within the context of relevant rules and regulations.  The Committee recommended that the size of the contingency fund should be 0.75 per cent of the budget outline total, and reaffirmed the provision which requires reprogramming of activities when that fund is fully utilized.

On programme planning, the CPC considered the Organization’s performance for 2000-2001 and took up proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for 2002-2005.  The Committee noted the rate of 83 per cent achieved in the implementation of programmed outputs for 2000-2001, and commended programme managers and staff for their initiative and resourcefulness in programme management in response to legislative mandates.  It also stressed the importance of the delegation of authority, self-evaluation and monitoring by programme managers, and suggested that consideration be given to including in their performance appraisals a standard personal objective to ensure full compliance with the requirements.  In connection with the new results-budgeting format, the Committee concluded that considerable effort was still required to muster sufficient expertise in translating programmatic goals into clear and comprehensive indicators of expected accomplishments and achievements realized.

Also on the proposed changes to the medium-term plan, the Committee had before it a Secretary-General’s note (document A/C.5/57/12) on the applicability of several regulations governing programme planning and the programme aspects of the budget with regard to revisions to the list of legislative mandates relating to subprogramme 4, Decolonization, of programme 1, Political affairs.  The Secretary-General concludes that regulation 4.13 and rule 104.8 would appear to be applicable whenever proposals are made to the General Assembly for additions to and deletions from the programmes and subprogrammes contained in the medium-term plan.  The proposal to add the “Question of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)” to the list of legislative mandates in the decolonization subprogramme is an additional intergovernmental mandate adopted after the medium-term plan was enacted.  Rule 104.8, paragraph (a) (i), refers to such situations by indicating revisions as being required when mandates “call for new or substantially modified programmes and subprogrammes or any other revisions that should be properly identified”.

In a related note (document A/C.5/57/19), the Secretariat explains that, regarding the CPC recommendation on additional revisions of programme 7 of the medium-term plan to reflect the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Assembly is currently considering various options and modalities for the intergovernmental review of the follow-up to several conferences, including the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development.  The conclusions that the Assembly will reach on this overall issue will have important implications for defining requirements for Secretariat support and reporting and, therefore, for the tasks and structure of relevant units within the Secretariat.

In his letter to the Chairman of the Fifth Committee (document A/C.5/57/20, the President of the General Assembly transmits a letter from the President of the Economic and Social Council concerning that body’s resolution 2002/39 on the proposed revisions to the medium-term plan of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) for 2002-2005.  The text of the resolution is attached to the document.

Another document before the Committee contains the Secretary-General’s report on programme performance of the United Nations for the biennium 2000-2001 (document A/57/62).  The programme budget of the United Nations for 2000-2001 included 23,657 programmed quantifiable outputs.  In addition, 1,080 outputs were carried over from the previous biennium, 1,979 outputs were added by legislative bodies, and 1,689 outputs were initiated by the Secretariat, bringing the total number of outputs to be implemented to 28,405.  Of this number, 3,943 were terminated, 68 per cent of them by legislation and the rest for programmatic reasons, and 622 were postponed, 5 per cent by legislation and 95 per cent for programmatic reasons.

A total of 23,840 outputs were implemented utilizing 35,550 work-months.  This comprised 58 per cent of all work-months available to the Secretariat, with the remaining 42 per cent devoted to non-quantifiable activities such as international cooperation, inter-agency coordination and liaison and technical cooperation activities.  The implementation rate of initially programmed outputs, including those carried over from the biennium 1998-1999 and added by legislation, ranges from 51 to 98 per cent among the budget sections.  The average is 83 per cent.  However, if the 2,692 outputs terminated by legislation are deducted from the total workload, the overall implementation rate of the mandated outputs increases by 9.2 percentage points to 92.2 per cent.

If the overall outputs are to include those added by the Secretariat for programmatic reasons, the average implementation rate would vary from 51 per cent to 98 per cent and average 84 per cent.  Finally, the implementation rate calculated as the ratio of all implemented outputs (programmed, reformulated, added by legislation and by the Secretariat) to the outputs initially programmed in the 2000-2001 budget would range from 58 to 291 per cent, with the average at 101 per cent.  This last figure is an indication of how much was achieved by the Secretariat with the resources provided to deliver the initial set of programmed outputs.

The report also describes advances in enhancing monitoring and reporting modalities throughout the Organization by further development of the Integrated Monitoring and Documentation Information System (IMDIS), and reviews the current status of the monitoring and reporting function throughout the Secretariat.

The distinct new feature of the 2000-2001 budget was the inclusion of expected accomplishments into each of its subprogrammes under the results-based budgeting format.  These were replicated as the reporting goals for the qualitative assessments of programme performance for each subprogramme of the budget, along with the indicators of achievement and the accomplishments realized.

Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General (document A/57/68), which contains an OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services) report on strengthening the role of evaluation findings in programme design, delivery and policy directives.  The report reviews in-depth evaluation and self-evaluation activities in the United Nations during the period 2000-2001.  It contains an overview of arrangements made in the Secretariat to carry out the evaluation function and a critical analysis of evaluations carried out in different programmes.

In about half of the programmes of the medium-term plan, the head of the programme directly reviews the results of evaluation activities, the report points out.  Specialized intergovernmental bodies also review evaluation findings for about half of the programmes.  The intergovernmental review of evaluation findings is frequently linked to the review of medium-term plan proposals.  While steps are taken in a number of programmes to assess the implementation of evaluation findings, the practice is still limited.

While a few programmes implemented comprehensive evaluation plans, which covered all their major activities for the medium-term plan period, the majority of programmes did not fully observe these requirements, set out in the rules governing programme planning, programme aspects of the budget, the monitoring of implementation and the methods of evaluation.  In these programmes, the report states, were examples of useful evaluations which assessed the implementation of department-wide strategies or functions.  It is recommended that in the programmes where no comprehensive evaluation plans have been developed, managers formulate plans that would focus on particular issues of strategic importance to their programmes.  The implementation of results-based budgeting, it is expected, would contribute to and reinforce the evaluation system.

Owing to the timing of intergovernmental meetings, the report continues, in-depth evaluations undertaken by the OIOS have rarely been reviewed by specialized intergovernmental bodies prior to review by the CPC.  Such prior review would require the evaluations to be completed much earlier in the year.  To achieve this result, the report recommends that the number of in-depth evaluations be reduced to one, instead of two, each year.  The resources that would then become available would be deployed to do evaluations of cross-cutting issues of the Secretariat as a whole, in order to facilitate the work of as many programmes as possible.

The report also contains three annexes detailing existing institutional arrangements and capacity evaluation in the programmes of the medium-term plan, in-depth evaluation reports completed and scheduled, 1993-2003, and a descriptive summary of external and internal evaluations carried out during the period 2000-2001 in the programmes of the medium-term plan.

Programme Budget for 2002-2003

The first document under this agenda item is the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) (document A/57/133), which provides data regarding the outcome of the ninth and tenth funding cycles that took place in 2001, as well as information on progress in each programmatic focus area.  [The Fund was established following Robert Edward Turner’s announcement on 18 September 1997 of a gift valued at $1 billion in support of United Nations causes.  Since the partnership between UNFIP and the United Nations Foundation was launched in 1998, $423 million have been programmed as at the end of 2001.]

The Secretary-General reports that a total of $111.9 million has been programmed for the year 2001, with $36.8 million awarded for projects concerning the environment, including biodiversity, sustainable energy and climate change.  Some $32.2 million was allocated to projects relating to children’s health.  The main areas of concern were eradicating polio, preventing tobacco use and decreasing child mortality.  Some $19.2 million was given to projects in the peace, security and human rights area; $18.4 million was allocated for projects regarding population and women; and $5.2 million was provided for institutional building capacity.

In a related report, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/57/7/Add.6) recommends that the Assembly take note of the report of the Secretary-General It alsocomments onthe Fund’s monitoring and evaluation strategy, and includes four different components to ensure cost-effectiveness and efficiency in each of the major programmes.  Noting a large number of reports involved, with a total of 137 annual progress reports analysed in 2001, the ACABQ finds this process onerous and bureaucratic and believes that the time has come to streamline it.  In this regard, it welcomes the focus in 2002 on evaluating clusters of projects designed to address a significant issue within a programme area.  More needs to be done, however, and the Committee looks forward to seeing evidence of progress in this regard in the next report on UNFIP.

Also before the Committee was a report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of projects financed from the Development Account (document A/57/360).  In 2002, the report states, there were further improvements in the coordination and management of the Account.  For example, procedures have been elaborated and programmed for the online submission to the Manager of new project proposals.  And a pilot interface has been constructed between the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) and IMDIS to support integrated monitoring of Development Account projects.

The conception and design of most of the projects conform to the criteria laid down for the Account.  Capacity-building is the main objective of the projects, and all projects promote subregional, regional or international cooperation.  However, none of the projects had been completed by the end of 2001.  This delay in the launch of projects was due to the need to identify the modalities for project activities on capacity-building that fully comply with the Financial and Programme Planning Regulations and Rules and the criteria established by the Assembly.  Another factor was the multi-country nature of the projects, which adds complexity to their implementation.

The report concludes that, while progress has been made towards building capacities and promoting regional and inter-entity cooperation, the sustainability of many of these achievements has yet to be proven.  Evidence of ownership of the endeavours by or in the participating countries is at present very limited.  Ensuring the sustainability of the impact of regional or interregional projects requires that strong and committed partners take over from the United Nations entity upon project completion.  Implanting responsibility and ownership in cooperating partners is imperative if full impact is to be achieved.

In connection with this document, the Advisory Committee (document A/57/7/Add.5) notes that the Executive Committee for Economic and Social Affairs increasingly serves as collective manager of the Account, and cautions that the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs is ultimately accountable for the management of the Account.  The role of the Executive Committee should, therefore, be to provide overall guidelines.  The ACABQ recommends that the General Assembly take note of the report of the Secretary-General (document A/57/360).  It is of the opinion, however, that the report in connection with the Development Account should be submitted in the context of the presentation of the proposed programme budget.

There was a further report of the Secretary-General on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 2002 (document A/C.5/57/13).  It details budgetary requirements resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 2002.  These relate to activities in the area of non-governmental organization (NGO) matters, human rights and narcotic drugs.

Among the decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council is decision 2002/224, in which the Council decided to authorize the Committee on NGOs to hold a resumed session in January 2003.  The adoption of that decision would entail additional resource requirements of some $440,000 of the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003.

The adoption of decision 2002/270 on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance would require some $260,000 for the establishment of an Intergovernmental Working Group and some $400,000 to establish a Working Group of five Independent Experts on People of African Descent.  Decision 2002/281 on the organization of the work of the fifty-ninth session of the Commission of Human Rights would require some $280,000 for 14 fully serviced additional meetings.  Finally, decision 2002/285 on the second session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues would require some $150,000 of additional resources.

As a whole, the expenditure requirements arising as a result of the resolutions and decisions for the biennium 2002-2003 are estimated at

$1.87 million, of which some $1.27 million could be absorbed, leaving an appropriation requirement of $599,900.  Recommendations are made as to how the General Assembly may wish to manage these requirements in the context of the consolidated statement of revised estimates and statements of programme budget implications.

There was also an ACABQ report on revised estimates resulting from Economic and Social Council resolutions and decisions (document A/57/7/Add.12), in which the Advisory Committee notes the descriptions of the Council decisions provided in the report and the explanations of additional requirements arising from those decisions.  As indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, such additional expenditures are to be dealt with in the context of the procedures established for the operation of the contingency fund.  The Secretary-General will be presenting a consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates to the General Assembly prior to the conclusion of the first part of the fifty-seventh session of the Assembly.  The Advisory Committee will revert to this matter in the context of its consideration of that statement.

Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General’s report on experience in applying the revised administrative arrangements approved by the General Assembly for the International Trade Centre (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development/World Trade Organization) in its decision 53/411 B (document A/C.5/57/14).  The document describes the way in which new arrangements were implemented in the context of the preparation of the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003.

It concludes that the application of the new arrangements has resulted in an additional workload for the secretariats of the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO), given the need by the governing bodies of the two organizations to continue to review the budget proposals for the Centre in accordance with their respective budget cycle and in a format specific to each organization.

The report recommends that the secretariats of the two parent organizations submit joint proposals to their respective legislative bodies on ways to streamline the number of budget documents produced and to simplify the budgetary approval process for the Centre to the maximum extent possible.

A Secretary-General’s report on Strengthening the Terrorism Prevention Branch of the Secretariat (document A/57/152) describes the substantive, organizational and programme context, including the measures taken by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice to ensure the coordination and complementarily of its contributions with the work of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council.

It provides a succinct review of the pertinent mandates of the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Programme, highlighting the important tasks to be performed by the Centre for International Crime Prevention in strengthening cooperation among Member States and in providing technical assistance to requesting countries in preventing and combating terrorism.

The report makes proposals for a strengthened programme of work for fulfilling effectively the expanded mandates.  The focus is on the provision of assistance to Member States, upon request, for ratifying and implementing the

12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.  The programme of work would, thus, also contribute to the implementation of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001).  Its main elements would be:  (a) facilitation and/or provision of legislative assistance; (b) facilitation and/or provision of capacity-building assistance; (c) identification and dissemination of best practices; and (d) identification and promotion of awareness of links between terrorism and related crimes.

Finally, the report identifies the resources required in the programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003 for implementing the strengthened programme of work.  The additional resource requirements would be for three new Professional level (one D-1, one P-4 and one P-3), and two General Service (other level) posts and an increase in non-post costs.

An addendum to the report (document A/57/152/Add.1) contains the closing summary of the Chairman of the Committee on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, delivered at the symposium entitled “Combating International Terrorism:  the Contribution of the United Nations”, held in Vienna in June 2002.  It discusses United Nations conventions and protocols, regional and subregional mechanisms and experiences, and the contribution of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

A further addendum (document A/57/152/Add.2) states that should the General Assembly approve the strengthening of the Terrorism Prevention Branch, additional costs of $619,400 would arise inclusive of staff assessment requirements.  These would be chargeable to the contingency fund under the provision of General Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211.

At the time the Fifth Committee reviews the consolidated statements of items chargeable to the contingency fund, it may wish to consider whether the costs in respect of the strengthening of the Branch could be wholly or partially deferred in 2003 or whether resources might be redeployed from other activities of lower priority.

To date, it has not been possible to identify activities under

section 14, Crime prevention and criminal justice, of the 2002-2003 programme budget which might be cancelled, postponed or modified in favour of the strengthening of the Terrorism Prevention Branch.  In the light of this, the General Assembly may wish to consider the option of establishing posts in 2003 on the understanding that, given the limited resources available in the contingency fund and the length of the recruitment process, the posts could be made available for the initiation of recruitment activity, but would not be occupied until late 2003 or early 2004.

In such a case, the related appropriation required for the biennium 2002-2003 would be substantially reduced or eliminated.  It would, of course, need to be clearly understood that once such posts are approved, a full financial provision for them would be required in the biennium 2004-2005.

Documents A/57/152/Corr.1 and A/57/152/Add.1/Corr.1 state that the agenda item on the above reports should read “Agenda item 112:  Programme Budget for the biennium 2002-2003” rather than “Agenda item 102:  Crime prevention and criminal justice”.

There was also a report of the ACABQ on strengthening the terrorism prevention branch of the Secretariat (document A/57/7/Add.13).  Rather than proceed in the manner proposed by the Secretary-General, the Advisory Committee recommends that proposals for additional resources, including posts, be considered in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005.

The Committee recognizes that, if the course of action it is recommending is followed, it would mean that recruitment against such posts, as may be approved by the General Assembly (in December 2003) for the biennium 2004-2005, may not be completed until near the end of 2004.  In order to expedite this process, the Secretary-General could initiate the recruitment process during 2003, on the understanding that candidates would be informed that the availability of the posts in question would be subject to the decision to be taken by the Assembly in the context of the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005.

Another Secretary-General’s report outlines a framework for accountability within the United Nations field security management system (document A/57/365), which was agreed upon on an inter-agency basis by all the organizations of the system shortly after the Assembly, in its resolution 56/255, decided on the new security management system for the Organization and related personnel in the field.  The goal of the system is to provide safety and security of staff, which would enable effective conduct of United Nations activities.

According to the document, the responsibility for the system rests with the Secretary-General in his capacity as Chairman of its Chief Executives Board for Coordination.  Accountable to him are heads of United Nations agencies, programmes and funds who are also responsible for the implementation of safety provisions and resource allocation for security.  A comprehensive review of policies and resource-related issues pertaining to the entire United Nations security system is on the agenda of the High-Level Committee on Management.

The document further describes the role of the United Nations Security Coordinator and explains that within each agency, one individual is appointed as a senior security manager and/or headquarters security focal point.  United Nations resident coordinators operate in all the countries where the United Nations is present.  Coordination in the field is ensured by field security coordination officers who are hired based on agreed inter-agency criteria.  To provide a more effective basis for accountability within each organization, in additional to the United Nations field security handbook, all agencies are expected to develop organizational policy statements outlining the roles and responsibilities of each individual in the security management system.  That would decrease the potential for varying interpretations and applications of security measures.

There was also a report of the ACABQ inter-organizational security measures: framework for accountability for the United Nations field security management system (document A/57/7/Add.11), detailing its consideration of and response to the report of the Secretary-General entitled “Inter-organizational security measures:  framework for accountability for the United Nations field security management system” (document A/57/365).

The Committee requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-eighth session on the capacity in the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator to monitor effectively the activities outlined in the report.  The Advisory Committee also stresses the importance of adequate training in the process of implementing the new mechanism and welcomes the emphasis placed on training in the report of the Secretary-General

The Advisory Committee was informed that a framework of cooperation on security issues with NGOs was being worked out.  It welcomes this development and emphasizes the importance of devising a system for charging parties other than immediate partners in the United Nations security management system for services.

The Committee recommends that the General Assembly take note of the mechanism of accountability and responsibility in the area of field security, which is now in place.  The Committee also recommends that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to transmit the report to the executive heads of the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) so that it may be made available to the legislative bodies of those specialized agencies and the IAEA.

United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Under the agenda item on financing of the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the proposed donation of the Mission’s assets to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina (document A/57/449) and a related report of the ACABQ (document A/57/486).  According to these documents, the Mission’s mandate will be completed on 31 December 2002, and the Mission has already formulated a preliminary assets disposal plan.  Based on July inventory records, the assets of UNMIBH were established at approximately $58.8 million.  It is proposed that

12 per cent of that amount (some $7.1 million) be donated to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It is also estimated that 55 per cent ($32.6 million) of the assets will be transferred to the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, 1 per cent will be sold to United Nations agencies, and 32 per cent (some $18.9 million) will be written off or disposed of commercially.  The Advisory Committee recommends that the Fifth Committee approve the proposed donation of assets to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Government.

Introduction of Documents

Introducing the report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), the Committee Chairman, THOMAS MAZET, focused on the main issues contained in the document.  Having considered the proposed budget outline for 2004-2005¸ the Committee had taken up such important issues as a preliminary estimate of resources to accommodate proposed activities and real growth compared with the previous budget.  Among the recommendations of the Committee were proposals for a new subprogramme on financing for development following the Monterrey summit, and revisions to some programmes in connection with the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which took place earlier this year.  The Committee had also considered other programme modifications in connection with recent decisions by intergovernmental bodies and international conferences.

United Nations Controller JEAN-PIERRE HALBWACHS introduced related reports of the Secretary-General.  Regarding proposed revisions to the programme aspects of the budget, he said that the current plan had been adopted by the General Assembly at its fifty-fifth session.  Under existing rules, it should be revised as necessary every two years to incorporate programme changes.  The proposed revisions related to 19 programmes, including political affairs, disarmament, economic and social affairs, the New Agenda for Development, environment, crime prevention and criminal justice, drug control, economic and social development in various parts of the world, human rights, internal oversight and the least developed countries.  When adopted by the Assembly, the revised plan would serve as a basis for preparation of the next budget of the Organization.

AMIR DOSSAL, Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), introduced the Secretary-General’s report contained in document A/57/133.  He said that this year, more targeted and strategic proposals had been made.  The Fund intended to respond to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) recommendations regarding simplifying the process of project approval and implementation.

Introducing a related ACABQ report, the Chairman of that body, CONRAD S.M. MSELLE, said the Advisory Committee had recommended that procedures and processes to programme and formulate projects and evaluate their results should be subjected to a comprehensive analysis, which could provide useful lessons.  Compelling evidence of the impact projects supported by UNFIP and the United Nations Foundation would be critical to generating additional resources and creating public-private partnerships in support of the United Nations.  Improvements were also needed in reporting by implementing partners.

THURE CHRISTIANSEN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, took note of the report on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council (document A/C.5/57/13) and the explanations relating to its late submission.  The European Union commended the Secretariat for its exceptional efforts to accommodate excess expenditures, and took note of the discussion in section 4 of the report on the contingency fund.  It would be more productive to have substantive discussions when there was a clear picture of the amount being sought and when more was known about its implications for the contingency fund.  The European Union also commended the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management for accommodating unforeseen meetings, which was an indication of better management. He supported the Economic and Social Council proposals to further review its needs for meeting as far as the Human Rights Commission was concerned.

THOMAS REPASCH (United States) said his delegation had read with interest the reports on UNFIP and the implementation of the Development Account.  Those projects and programmes were integrally related and both represented innovative ways to approach development with limited, narrowly focused aims and objectives, and a very strong evaluation component.  His delegation was concerned, therefore, that the related ACABQ report stated that the monitoring process for UNFIP appeared to be onerous.  His delegation would like to hear some additional views on that subject and what might be done to address it.  He would also be interested in hearing how the aforementioned programmes related to the regular programme for technical cooperation.

Responding to comments, Mr. DOSSAL said that in terms of project approval and monitoring of implementation, UNFIP relied on implementing agencies, using their expertise.  If a project was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for example, that body generated reports which were later analysed by UNFIP and the United Nations Foundation.  As correctly pointed out by the ACABQ, with a large number of projects, it was important to simplify the reports and follow-up procedures.  Now that the Fund was approaching a five-year mark, it was necessary to analyse the lessons learned, and he hoped he would be able to report next year accordingly.

Mr. REPASCH (United States) said that his question had been broader, for it had also dealt with the Development Account.  There were synergies between those programmes, which required focused work and clear objectives in order to ultimately produce results.  The issue was not just about spending money, but making sure that the money spent achieved the goals intended.

Mr. DOSSAL said the point was well taken.  He did look at the Development Account as an example.  UNFIP’s projects were undertaken on the basis of the main goals set by the Assembly.  It was necessary to remember that UNFIP was not an implementing but a facilitating organization:  it acted as a distribution channel, dealing with all the organizations of the United Nations family.  While it was important to find commonalities, the Development Account represented only a small percentage of what the United Nations system did.

The Committee then decided to ask the Secretariat to prepare a decision, whereby the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report and concur with the observations of the Advisory Committee on the matter.

Further Introductions

The Director of the Office of Programme Planning and Budget Division, WARREN SACH, then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the Development Account -- the second progress report on the activities of that body.  This time, great improvement had been noted in the implementation of the programmes approved, compared with the first progress report.  The document listed specific projects and their status of implementation as of the middle of this year.

He particularly singled out the issue of sustainability, saying that when the Account had been established the concept was that it should seek good development ideas, get things moving and let others continue.  Once established, the activities should not be funded from the United Nations budget.  So far, that pick-up had not been in evidence, and the issue needed to be kept under review.

Mr. MSELLE introduced a related ACABQ report, saying that the Advisory Committee had welcomed the streamlined presentation of the Secretary-General’s report, but further improvements were needed, including a clearer presentation of attainable objectives and results, including capacity-building in recipient countries.  Future reports should be presented in the context of the proposed budget.  That would facilitate a clear understanding of the relationship of the activities carried out under the Support Account and those carried out under cooperation activities.  The Advisory Committee expected the proposed budget for 2004-2005 to contain expanded information on the matter.

Statements

Mr. REPASCH (United States) said that his comments on the issue were similar to those he had made on UNFIP.  He was curious about some of the data presented on page 5 of document A/57/360:  did the percentage in the last column on the implementation of projects relate to the objectives being accomplished or the money spent?  As he had indicated before, the projects were not about just spending money, but accomplishing results.  Unfortunately, he did not see much information on accomplishments.  The Account projects had been deliberately established as focused and time-bound exercises, which needed to be implemented without excessive bureaucracy.  He was disappointed to see that most of the projects were delayed and yet that in many cases not all the funds were spent, let alone the accomplishments and objectives.

NONYE UDO (Nigeria) said the ACABQ report did not present enough details of what had been done in the various programmes.  For example, a programme on combating urban pollution of superficial and groundwater aquasystems in Africa was supposed to end in 2002.  Her delegation would like to know more about its status and when it was completed, as there were no details to guide delegates.

Mr. SACH, Director of the Office of Programme Planing and Budget Division, responding to questions from the floor, said the progress of those projects was being tracked and reported on the Web site for the Development Account, where there was project-by-project reporting.  The report could easily have ballooned into huge dimensions, he said.  In the interest of trying to focus on strategic aspects of management, the best solution would be to work with overview tables; then, for further details, information could be found on the Web site.  Regarding the programme on combating urban pollution of superficial and groundwater aquasystems in Africa, he said that the scheduled completion date had been set for September 2003, and that the programme was still operating.

Mr. MSELLE, Chairman of the ACABQ, said paragraph 4 of the ACABQ report stated that 43 projects had been approved, and so far $17 million had been spent. Paragraph 5 showed that a majority of the projects had become operational only in 2000, and completion dates would now be as much as one or two years later than previously thought.  Thus, it was too early to form judgement as to the overall impact of many of the projects.

Mr. REPASCH (United States) said that the Secretariat should be applauded for the information provided on the Web site.  His delegation, however, was concerned about the use of the indicator contained in the report showing implementation by the rate of expenditure, since that was not the primary indicator.  He wondered if another kind of indicator could be included in the table which could show, for example, the percentage of objectives achieved to date.  The conclusions contained in the report on the Development Account had already indicated that there were problems regarding sustainability.  Therefore, his delegation did not feel it was necessary to wait for projects to have run their course to determine their impact.

Ms. UDO (Nigeria) said that whereas there was need for brevity and concision in reporting, there had to be a balance.  Delegates should not have to check Web sites to see things that should be reflected in the report.  The focus of what needed to be conveyed should not be lost.

Mr. SACH, responding to further points raised by delegates, said it was necessary to look at reporting on completed projects as they were being completed, rather than on those that were building up, which would result in a very heavy load of material.

Introduction of Reports:  Economic and Social Council Decisions

Mr. SACH introduced the Secretary-General’s report contained in document A/C.5/57/13, saying that the document before the Committee was a routine report on the revised estimates arising out of the Economic and Social Council’s latest session.  The unusual aspect of the matter was that the Organization was operating in the context of a constrained contingency fund.  Out of the total amount of some $1.8 million required in connection with Council’s decisions, some $600,000 needed to be immediately considered.  With absorption, the consolidated statement to be presented later could contain further reductions. 

The cost estimates were specified by individual resolutions, with one on human rights being the first one.  Given appropriate scheduling, many of the resources for such meetings as those of the Committee on NGOs could be absorbed.  The same applied to the second session of the Indigenous Issues Forum.  Annex II to the document listed the decisions that could not be absorbed in terms of scheduling meetings for particular dates.  Among those were decisions on structural adjustments and organization of the work of the fifty-ninth session of the Human Rights Commission.  Recommendation 25b related to the sensitive issue of relations between the Assembly’s organs and the Economic and Social Council, for it suggested that the Assembly might invite the Council to review its conference service requirements in relation to the Human Rights Commission, urging the Commission to organize its work so that additional meetings were not necessary.

Mr. MSELLE introduced a related ACABQ report.  As costed by the Secretariat, the Economic and Social Council’s decision would give rise to additional expenditures not exceeding some $600,000 under various sections of the budget.  Those amounts would be considered in the context of the use and operation of the contingency fund, and the ACABQ would revert to the matter when it received a consolidated statement on programme budget implications.

Statements

Mr. CHRISTIANSEN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, recapitulated the main points he had made before.  In particular, he commended efforts to accommodate the additional resources, saying that he hoped they would become more common in the future.  The substantive discussion would be more productive once a clear picture on the whole amount became clear.  He commended the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management for accommodating a large number of unforeseen meetings and looked forward to solid progress in that regard in the future.  He supported the proposal to ask the Economic and Social Council to further review its needs for meetings as far as the Human Rights Commission was concerned. 

Ms. BUERGO (Cuba) endorsed the comments of the representative of Denmark and said that her delegation also appreciated the efforts of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management to accommodate various requests and mandates.  She also entirely agreed with Mr. Sach’s comments about the non-routine situation this year.  While consideration of additional estimates and budget implications in each case would require future efforts of the Fifth Committee, she wanted to make some comments initially exploring the manner of dealing with the issue.

Concerning the use of contingency funds, she said that a procedure existed for cases where additional expenditures went beyond the limit.  Activities could be deferred or modified during the biennium.  In making such a decision, it was necessary to establish priorities, getting a clearer idea in respect of which activities could be considered to be of greater importance within each programme. Regarding recommendation 25b which invited the Economic and Social Council to review its decision on additional meetings for the Human Rights Commission, she said that certain related suggestions had been presented to the plenary under the agenda item on the reform, and those proposals could be considered together.

SHINICHI YAMANAKA (Japan) asked for clarification with regard to the possible absorption of additional requirements.  His delegation agreed with Warren Sach that this year’s report was not as routine as it had been before, and that there were additional expenditures needed for the operation of the contingency fund.  He would like the question to be discussed in the context of the consolidated statement on programme budget implications to be presented by the Secretary-General.

Ms. ATTWOOLL (United States) said that her delegation was pleased to note that over half of the revised estimates had been able to be absorbed.  That was a positive step, and much progress had been made during the past year.  As the work of the Fifth Committee moved forward, she said, it was not in the position to make any decisions on allocating new funds for revised estimates, and still needed to consider that programme budget implications and the consolidated statement would be coming through later this session.

DAVID DUTTON (Australia) sought clarification about the process surrounding the consolidated statement to be prepared at the end of the session.  He also wished to know the criteria behind the recommendations on absorption. 

Mr. SACH, responding to questions about how determinations were made with regard to absorption, said that that was a scheduling issue and related to conference servicing.  If additional meetings could be accommodated within the established teams of interpreters, additional meetings could be absorbed without additional cost.  If meetings needed extra interpreters, however, the cost of those meetings could not be absorbed immediately.

With regard to questions concerning the consolidated statement, he said that, first of all, all of the programme budget implications and revised estimates had to be together.  In the order of work that had been agreed by the General Committee, work by substantive committees relating to programme budget implications should be completed by 22 November.  At this time, the list would be consolidated and proposals would be made to ensure that there could be some accommodation of those requirements within the available resources.

Reports on Revised Arrangements for Budget of International Trade Centre

(UNCTAD/WTO)

Introducing the Secretary-General’s report (document A/C.5/57/14), Mr. SACH said that the United Nations and the World Trade Organization (WTO) both contributed to the financing of the International Trade Centre (ITC).  Aligning the two organizations’ budget procedures was not easy.  While the United Nations had a biannual budget cycle, for example, the WTO had an annual budget.  Nevertheless, revised administrative arrangements between the two organizations had been set out by the Assembly in its decision 53/411 B.  Now, as a result of a review of those arrangements, a conclusion could be made that their application had resulted in an additional workload for the secretariats of the ITC, the WTO and the United Nations.  A cumbersome process required a large amount of duplicative documentation, and the report recommended that the two parent organizations submit joint proposals to their respective legislative bodies on ways to streamline the number of budget documents and simplify the budgetary approval process for the Centre to the maximum extent possible.  Given the timing of that proposal, however, such an arrangement would not be immediately reflected in the 2004-2005 budget.

Introducing a related report (document A/57/7/Add.10), Mr. MSELLE said that the ACABQ concurred with those proposals.

Strengthening of Terrorism Prevention Branch of Secretariat

Introducing the Secretary-General’s report (documents A/57/152 and Corr.1, and Adds.1 and 2), Mr. SACH said that the matter had been reviewed by the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian).  In the current budget, there were two Professional posts for work on terrorism within the context of the Crime Programme.  To strengthen anti-terrorism measures, it had been proposed to introduce five additional Professional- and other level posts.  The additional resources proposed to strengthen the Terrorism Prevention Branch for 2003 amounted to some $563,800.  If the posts were to be established in 2003 and not filled until later, the costs could be substantially reduced or eliminated.  That was particularly important as the item would be chargeable to the contingency fund, which was constrained at present.

Mr. MSELLE introduced a related ACABQ report (document A/57/7/Add.13), saying that the Advisory Committee was proposing that additional resources and posts be considered in the context of the proposed budget for 2004-2005.  The Secretary-General should be given authority to commence recruitment for the posts identified.  However, candidates would be informed that the posts would be subject to approval by the General Assembly.  If the Secretary-General found funds within the current budget, he could bring into the staffing table some of the candidates identified, on the understanding that the continuation of their function beyond 2003 would be subject to approval of the posts and resources by the Assembly.

The representative of Japan said that the proposals before the Committee did not represent programme budget implications related to a resolution or a revision of the programme.  He wondered if it was appropriate for the Fifth Committee to consider the item without consideration by related intergovernmental bodies.  However, he could go along with making the revisions in the context of the revised programme budget for 2004-2005.

ABDELMALEK BOUHEDDOU (Algeria) welcomed the fact that that after hesitating so long, the Secretariat had finally decided to submit a report requested in response to last year’s resolution.  His delegation was particularly interested in the matter under discussion.  The proposals contained in the Secretary-General’s report met concerns at having the Vienna Centre carry out its work programme related to the fight against terrorism.  He was also pleased by the ACABQ recommendations.

Ms. BUERGO (Cuba) said that when the Fifth Committee considered the consolidated statements on unforeseen expenses, it might wish to decide whether the costs could be wholly or partly deferred to 2003.  The Fifth Committee should also have clearer indications from relevant committees as to which items could be deferred and which should be pursued.  The Committee’s work would be greatly facilitated if each member could identify the degree of priority of these items.

AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) said that his delegation needed some clarification on the expanded mandate of the Centre for International Crime Prevention.  A related resolution had proposed several options for funding for the Centre.  However, the Secretary-General’s report was not clear about any progress made in the matter.  Her delegation also wished to know when the resource requirements proposed in document A/57/152, on strengthening the terrorism branch, would be considered.

COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana) said that African countries had taken an interest in the need to strengthen this branch in the belief that, as developing countries, they required a lot of assistance if they were to contribute effectively to challenges arising from terrorism.  Botswana, therefore, welcomed the report and was willing to look at it positively.

Mr. REPASCH (United States) said that his delegation recalled the request made to strengthen the Terrorism Prevention Branch, and the numerous occasions when it had affirmed and reaffirmed efforts to prevent terrorism as a priority of the Organization.  With regard to future budgets, he  believed that the Secretary-General needed to consider the issue of terrorism prevention in his overall view of priorities.

JAIDEEP MAZUMDAR (India) agreed that the documentation on the issue was highly complex.  That was understandable, however, given the various twists and turns the subject had taken.  All those complexities should not deflect the Committee from the central theme.  The subject of terrorism was of utmost importance.  He supported the proposals before the Committee and agreed with the recommendations of the Secretary-General and the ACABQ in that regard.  As for the programmatic issue, it should be considered in informal consultations.  Suffice it to say that the Third Committee had passed a resolution on the subject, and the Fifth Committee should not go into the merits of that text.  Given the universal importance attached to the subject, he looked forward to further discussing the proposed measures.

JERRY KRAMER (Canada) registered his support for the proposed strengthening of the Terrorism Prevention Branch along the lines set out in the Secretary-General’s report.  Taking note of the programmatic elements of the issue, he said the functions to be performed were important and the resources would serve an important purpose.  As the contingency fund was facing constraints, he believed the approach suggested by the ACABQ would provide for some work to start in the course of this biennium.  The full budgetary implications could be considered in the context of the next budget.

Responding to comments from the floor, Mr. SACH said that no programme budget implications would be presented on the matter as the Secretary-General’s report was, in essence, a revised estimate.  Since a number of comments had been made regarding a substantive review of the question, he wanted to track what had happened earlier this year:  the issue had been reviewed by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.  The report of that body had later been considered by the Economic and Social Council.  As the Third Committee had also considered the programmatic material on the matter, at this point, substantive review had been exhausted.  Now it was up to the Assembly to act if it wished to do so.

Mr. MSELLE added that it was not the first time that the Advisory Committee had made a recommendation of that nature.  In the past, it had already recommended -- and the Fifth Committee had agreed -- that rather than have recourse to a contingency fund, estimates should be either absorbed or postponed to the next biennium.

The representative of Pakistan had wondered if the issue of recruitment and placement of candidates in 2003 would create a precedent, he continued.  He did not believe so.  For example, the most recent recommendations had been made in connection with peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone and Kosovo.  The ACABQ had recommended taking action immediately to fill quite a large number of posts, but had made it clear that both a grade and number of posts would be determined within the next budget.  As for the concern that the proposed procedure would give rise to more work for the Fifth Committee, he did not think so.

The representative of Japan responded to Mr. Sach’s statement that the issue had already been discussed in the Third Committee.  However, that issue appeared ambiguous from the documents before the Committee.  As for the action taken by the Third Committee, it had merely taken note with appreciation of the report on the matter.  Thus, he still did not understand if the programme review had been made by the Third Committee or not.

Introduction of Text

TUN MYAT, United Nations Security Coordinator, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on field security arrangements.  He said that the report identified all actors within the United Nations system who had security responsibilities, and the mechanisms that would be used to implement accountability.  It discussed the establishment of a system for incentives and contained a generic security policy statement, which had been adopted by all organizations of the United Nations system.  New projects for enhanced training were being discussed and investigations would be undertaken whenever there was a security incident.

Each duty station had been provided with a standardized budget for the running of the security unit, he continued, and a framework for accountability would be an important first step.  Given the diversity of personnel rules and procedures in the United Nations system, however, it would be impossible to have one system that would apply across the board.  There must also be a concerted effort on the part of governments to fully investigate attacks against United Nations staff, otherwise accountability would be largely meaningless.

Mr. MSELLE introduced the related report of the ACABQ.

Ms. ATTWOOLL (United States) wanted to know if in future a report could be published on an annual basis on accountability measures being applied in the field.  Such a report could discuss how actively and effectively measures were being applied and what sort of results were being achieved.

Mr. MYAT, addressing comments from the floor, said he intended to carry out reports on how measures were being complied with and would report back to the

Committee in great detail.  Regarding the issue of accountability, he said that it was not necessary to have a separate report.  One reporting mechanism could be used to include that subject.

Ms. ATTWOOLL (United States) said her delegation would be happy to receive a consolidated report that contained some information about the implementation of accountability measures.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mr. HALBWACHS then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the donation of UNMIBH’s assets to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina (document A/57/449), and Mr. MSELLE presented a related ACABQ report (document A/57/486).  He said the Advisory Committee recommended that the General Assembly approve the proposed donation of assets.

Mr. REPASCH (United States) asked if the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina had charged the United Nations taxes and fees, which were prohibited by the status-of-forces agreements.

Mr. HALBWACHS replied that, to his knowledge, the United Nations had not incurred any expenses whatsoever in relation to the assets that were proposed for donation.

Mr. REPASCH (United States) clarified that earlier this year he had heard that several governments had not complied with the status-of-forces agreement, making the United Nations pay millions of dollars in taxes and other fees.  Those charges needed to be ultimately recovered.  Was the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina among those governments?

Mr. HALBWACHS said the answer was still no.  While there were such issues in relation to Croatia and the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), no such charges had been incurred by UNMIBH.

The Committee then decided to ask the Secretariat to prepare a draft decision by whose terms the Assembly would approve the donation of assets to the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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For information media. Not an official record.