law of the sea delegates adopt budgetary, financial decisions
States Parties Conclude Session; President of Meeting
Notes Spirit of Compromise on Contentious Article in Convention
Concluding its session this morning, the fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea adopted three budgetary and financial decisions, including the 2005-2006 budget for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and heard from its Credentials Committee.
Adopting a decision on budgetary matters of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for 2005-2006 (SPLOS/L.41), the Meeting approved the Tribunal budget for 2005-2006, which came to a total of 15,506,500 euros, including some 2,093,200 euros for case-related costs. By the terms of a second decision on reimbursement of national taxes (SPLOS/L.40), a budget line to reimburse Tribunal members and officials would be included in the 2005-2006 budget.
A third decision on budgetary matters of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for 2004, (SPLOS/L.42) authorized the Registrar to meet extra costs when shortfalls resulted from unforeseeable increases in daily subsistence allowance, salary costs and common costs. He could also meet shortfalls due to exchange rate fluctuations when the Tribunal failed to meet approved expenditures for 2004 from the budget line “Maintenance of premises”. Such overexpenditures could be financed by transfers between appropriation sections, or by using savings from the financial period 2002 up to $500,000.
The Meeting then took note of a document on budgetary performance for 2003 (SPLOS/112).
Addressing Tribunal finances, the representative of Trinidad and Tobago asked Tribunal Registrar PHILIPPE GAUTIER whether a mechanism existed to adjust the salaries of Tribunal members, which had originally been fixed in dollars, that were affected by exchange rate fluctuations. Mr. GAUTIER explained that staff members’ salaries were adjusted so that they received the same amount each month in euros, but that no mechanism currently existed to compensate judges’ salaries affected by fluctuating exchange rates.
Trinidad and Tobago’s representative suggested that the Registrar make proposals to the fifteenth Meeting of the States Parties for an appropriate mechanism to compensate judges for exchange rate fluctuations. The Parties approved the proposal.
Also this morning, the Meeting heard from Monaco’s delegate, Chairperson of the Credentials Committee, who presented the Committee’s report (document SPLOS/115). The report noted that 105 States plus the European Union and European Community had submitted their representatives’ credentials to the forum. A draft resolution put forth by the Credentials Committee, accepting all credentials received, was adopted by consensus by the Meeting of States Parties.
Summarizing the session, Meeting President Allieu Kanu (Sierra Leone) noted that the Meeting’s Working Group on Budgetary and Financial Matters had reviewed its first biennial draft budget, and that the budget had appeared for the first time in euros. Because of increased staff costs and exchange rate fluctuations, the budget had increased, and funds had been set aside for case-related costs, which would only be used for cases submitted to the Tribunal.
As in previous years, he added, article 319 of the Convention, which concerns the Secretary-General’s reports to the Meeting, had provoked a rich debate between Parties favouring discussion of substantive matters and those that did not. Nevertheless, a spirit of compromise had prevailed, allowing States to reach consensus and break the impasse.
Concluding, he observed that next year’s Meeting of States Parties would be held from 13 to 17 June 2005, preceded by one week of meetings of the Informal Consultative Process. Among other things, next year’s Meeting would elect seven judges of the Tribunal, due to term expirations.
Representatives from the following States expressed their appreciation to the President and all others who had made the Meeting a success: Guyana (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group); Slovenia (on behalf of the Eastern European Group); Uganda (on behalf of the African Group); and Oman (on behalf of the Asian Group).
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