REFORM OF UNITED NATIONS INTERNAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, SECURITY MANAGEMENT, TSUNAMI RELIEF AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED IN TEXTS APPROVED BY BUDGET COMMITTEE

GA/AB/3795
30 March 2007

REFORM OF UNITED NATIONS INTERNAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, SECURITY MANAGEMENT, TSUNAMI RELIEF AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED IN TEXTS APPROVED BY BUDGET COMMITTEE

30 March 2007
General Assembly
GA/AB/3795
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Fifth Committee

45th Meeting (PM & Night)


REFORM OF UNITED NATIONS INTERNAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, SECURITY MANAGEMENT, TSUNAMI


RELIEF AMONG ISSUES ADDRESSED IN TEXTS APPROVED BY BUDGET COMMITTEE


Other Drafts Concern Financing for Lebanon, Timor-Leste Missions,

Funding for After-Service Health Insurance Benefits, Salaries for Judges


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this evening provided recommendations to the General Assembly on a wide range of issues, including administration of justice within the United Nations, a review of tsunami relief operations, the Organization’s security management system, financing of missions in Lebanon and Timor-Leste, the growing costs of after-service health benefits of staff and conditions of service of members of the International Court of Justice and judges of the two International Tribunals.


Acting on the proposals of the Redesign Panel on the Administration of Justice at the United Nations, the Committee recommended, by one of six draft texts that were approved without a vote today, the establishment of a new, independent, transparent, professionalized, adequately resourced and decentralized system of internal justice, consistent with relevant rules of international law and the principles of the rule of law and due process, “to ensure respect for the rights and obligations of staff members and accountability of managers and staff members alike”.  Stressing the importance of increased transparency in decision-making and increased accountability of managers, the Assembly, by the terms of the text, would recognize that the new system should improve performance and have a positive impact on staff management.


Placing great emphasis on informal resolution of disputes before they escalate to unnecessary litigation, the draft envisions strengthening of the Ombudsman’s Office through the establishment of a Mediation Division at Headquarters and identification of possible new posts for the Ombudsman’s Office in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi.  The text also outlines a fundamentally different two-tier formal system of justice, consisting of first instance and appellate tribunals, rendering binding decisions and ordering appropriate remedies.  The Joint Appeals Boards and the Joint Disciplinary Committees would be replaced with a new, decentralized first-instance Dispute Tribunal.  The second tier of justice would be represented by a United Nations Appeals Tribunal.  The Assembly would also acknowledge the need for a process of management evaluation that would be efficient, effective and impartial, while reaffirming the importance of the general principle of exhausting administrative remedies before formal proceedings are instituted.  The system would be coordinated by a newly established Office of the Administration of Justice.


The text on the Organization’s strengthened and unified security management system addresses the operations of the Department of Safety and Security, along with such issues as cooperation with host countries, cost-sharing arrangements and introduction of a standardized access control system.  The draft, among other things, calls for the elaboration of a comprehensive safety and security policy framework and a review of existing safety programmes.  For the first phase of the standardized access control system, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments of up to $20.21 million under 2006-2007 budget, $1.5 million under the budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and $1.98 million under the budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, without prejudice to the implementation of projects previously approved.


By another draft, stressing the importance of further addressing the matter of after-service health insurance benefits of United Nations staff, the accrued liability of which is expected to approach $5 billion in 25 years, the Assembly would decide, pending the validation of the liabilities and an audit by the Board of Auditors, to revert to that item as a matter of priority at its sixty-third session.


Noting a significant increase in estimated liabilities, the Assembly would recognize the need to specifically identify the sources of accrued liabilities, and request, in addition to the valuation, information on financing options and sources, as well as possible long-term strategies and measures to reduce the Organization’s costs.  The Assembly would also approve several cost-containment measures, including more restrictive eligibility requirements and changes of the cost-sharing basis for staff recruited on or after 1 July 2007, as well as the establishment of a special account to record after-service health insurance accrued liabilities and an account for related transactions.


Consensus could not be reached on a draft resolution on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which was approved by a vote of 126 to 3 against (Israel, Palau, United States), with 1 abstention (Australia) (see annex II).  By its terms, the Assembly would appropriate some $403.1 million for the 2006-2007 financial period, including some $257.34 million previously authorized for the period ending on 31 March and in addition to the amount of $97.6 million apportioned for the Force prior to its expansion last year.


Further, the use of the current commitment authority for the Force’s financing would be extended until 30 June 2007, and actual expenditures would be reported in the context of the performance report.  The Secretary-General would be requested to provide an analysis of the capacity required to implement the Force’s mandate, and resources would be approved for the Strategic Military Cell, pending rejustification of requirements in the context of the next budget.


Prior to the vote on the draft as a whole, the Committee decided to retain in the text preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 4,5 and 20 by a recorded vote of 78 in favour to 5 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Palau, United States), with 44 abstentions (see annex I).  Those paragraphs refer to several previous resolutions that called for Israel to pay some $1.12 million for the damage resulting from a 1996 incident at the UNIFIL headquarters in Qana, Lebanon.


The Committee also recommended an appropriation of some $184.82 million for the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) for the period from 25 August 2006 to 30 June 2007, including some $170.22 million previously authorized for the period ending on 31 March.


Also today, the Committee recommended that the annual base salary of the members of the International Court of Justice and the judges and ad litem judges of the Rwanda and Former Yugoslavia Tribunals be set at $133,500 per annum, with corresponding post-adjustment, effective 1 January 2007.  The Assembly would “grandfather” the current level of the salary for the currently serving judges at The Hague.  Any judge re-elected for a new term of office would then receive a salary based on the new system.  The draft also addresses travel and subsistence regulations for the International Court of Justice, as well as the judges’ retirement benefits, pension schemes and education grants.


By another draft, the Assembly would express regret over the lack of cooperation among various United Nations entities in sharing oversight information with the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), which had sought to compile a consolidated report on internal audits of tsunami operations, requested by the Assembly in resolution 60/259.  The Assembly would stress the importance of full implementation of legislative decisions and decide to consider further the issue of coordination between United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies, in particular relating to complex inter-agency programmes.


Following the withdrawal of a draft decision on the financing of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) by its co-sponsors, the Committee then returned to informal consultations on the matter.  It expects to conclude its first resumed session at 10 a.m. on Monday, 2 April.


Action on Drafts


The Committee first took up the draft resolution on the audit and investigative review of tsunami relief operations conducted by the Secretariat, funds, programmes and the specialized agencies (document A/C.5/61/L.41), which would have the General Assembly note the efforts of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to coordinate a consolidated report, as requested by the Assembly in resolution 60/259.  It would also take note of the oversight activities of OIOS with regard to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Indonesia and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, noting that most of OIOS recommendations regarding the operations of those offices have been implemented.


Regretting the lack of cooperation with OIOS in preparing a consolidated report on internal audits and investigative reviews undertaken of the tsunami relief operation, the Assembly would again stress the importance of full implementation of legislative decisions.  It would decide to consider further the issue of cooperation and coordination between the United Nations funds, programmes and the specialized agencies, in particular relating to complex inter-agency programmes being implemented by a number of entities of the United Nations system.  It would recall further that the Board of Auditors conducted a horizontal review of the activities of the United Nations system in the aftermath of the tsunami and look forward to its consideration at its sixty-second session.


The text was adopted without a vote.


The Committee adopted, also without a vote, a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)) (document A/C.5/61/L.37).  By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to UNMIT as of 27 March 2007, including outstanding contributions of some 47 per cent of the total assessments.  It would note with concern that only 36 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.


Endorsing the conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), subject to the resolution’s provisions, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure their full implementation.  It would decide to approve the establishment of a D-2 post for the Chief of Staff, a D-1 post for the Chief Political Affairs Officer and a D-1 post for the Deputy Police Commissioner responsible for administration and development.  It would urge the Secretary-General, in the context of the Mission’s proposed budget for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008, to review the Mission’s staffing requirements, including the posts of Chief of Staff, the Chief Political Affairs Officer and the Deputy Police Commissioner responsible for administration and development.


Regarding budget estimates for the period from 25 August 2006 to 30 June 2007, the Assembly would decide to appropriate some $184.82 million to the Special Account for UNMIT for the period from 25 August 2006 to 30 June 2007, including the amount of $170.22 million previously authorized for UNMIT for the period from 25 August 2006 to 31 March 2007 under the terms of its resolution 61/249.


The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/C.5/61/L.39), by which the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions outstanding to the Force as of 28 February 2007, of $340.7 million, representing some 8 per cent of the total assessed contributions, noting with concern that only 12 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full.


Expressing deep concern that Israel did not comply with former Assembly resolutions, the first being 51/233 and the last 61/250, the Assembly would stress once again that Israel should comply with those resolutions, and would request the Secretary-General to take the necessary measures to ensure the full implementation of the relevant paragraphs in the resolutions.  [Those paragraphs concern a demand that Israel shall pay the amount of some $1.12 million resulting from an incident at Qana on 18 April 1996.]


Endorsing the Advisory Committee’s recommendations and requesting the Secretary-General to ensure their full implementation, the Assembly would recall Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) and request the Secretary-General to continue to measure the accomplishments of UNIFIL fully in accordance with the Council mandate.  It would note the establishment of a Strategic Military Cell as an ad hoc mechanism to provide military strategic guidance for the Force, and emphasize the need to ensure unity of command and Headquarters coordination in military planning.


Noting the significantly increased size and the increased area of operation of UNIFIL, it would request the Secretary-General to provide an analysis, to the extent possible, of the capacity required to undertake the Force’s mandated activities in the context of the budget proposals for the Force for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008.  The Assembly would also approve the proposed resources for the Strategic Military Cell, as an interim measure, pending rejustification of resource requirements in the context of the proposed budget for the Force for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008.


On budget estimates for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, the Assembly would decide to appropriate some $403.1 million for the Force’s expansion for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, including the amount of $257.34 million previously authorized by the Assembly under the terms of its resolution 61/250 for the period from 1 July 2006 to 31 March 2007 and in addition to the amount of $97.6 million already apportioned under the terms of resolution 60/278 for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.


By other terms of the resolution, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to extend the use of the commitment authority until 30 June 2007, and request him to report actual expenditures in the context of the performance report for the peacekeeping support account for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.  It would decide to approve the decrease in the total estimated staff assessment income approved for UNIFIL under the terms of its resolutions 60/278 and 61/250, for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007, from $6.84 million to $5.63 million.


On the financing of the appropriation, the Assembly would, by other terms of the text, decide, taking into account the amount of $97.6 million already apportioned under the terms of resolution 60/278 for 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007 and the amount of some $257.34 million apportioned under the terms of its resolution 61/250 for the period from 1 July 2006 to 31 March 2007, to apportion among Member States the additional $145.75 million for the Force’s expansion for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007. 


Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of Israel reiterated her country’s support for UNIFIL, which played an essential role in the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006) and in bringing stability to the region.  Israel had been forced to call for a vote on the text, as one Member State had been singled out from all the others.  UNIFIL must not be subjected to political machinations.  There was no precedent for a particular Member State bearing sole financial responsibility for damage sustained by a United Nations peacekeeping force.  In every situation, Israel acted in accordance with the General Assembly principle of collective responsibility, absorbing such costs within the general budget for peacekeeping operations.  UNIFIL should be no different.  Yet, each year, the Committee was forced to consider the same political motives of some Member States, pinning both the blame and costs for the unfortunate Qana incident squarely on Israel.


Meanwhile, Hizbollah terrorists, and the dangerous circumstances that had led to the incident in the first place, continued to threaten regional peace and security and went virtually unnoticed, she said.  Hizbollah had employed a strategy of hiding behind and within United Nations and civilian infrastructure to conceal its perilous, terrorist activity.  That was precisely what had occurred at Qana.  The use of civilian and United Nations infrastructure as shields was a growing phenomenon and should be a cause of concern for all those concerned about the region.  The Committee had been subjected to lengthy negotiations on politicized language by the calculated and underhanded tactics of one Member State, whose sole goal was to undermine the implementation of resolution 1701, an act that placed the region in grave danger, to protect its own parochial interests.  Although that Member State had hijacked the debate, ultimately, it had been accommodated by the Committee.


The financing of UNIFIL was of great importance to all, she said.  Unfortunately, ill political intentions forced Israel to call for a vote on an issue that should easily be a matter of consensus.  Israel, financially and morally, supported the objective of peacekeeping.  For the sake of peacekeeping, she called on Members to vote with their consciences and to consider, in the future, removing political statements that cheapened the resolution.


The Committee adopted preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 20 by a recorded vote of 78 in favour to 5 against ( Australia, Canada, Israel, Palau, United States) with 44 abstentions. (See annex I.)


The resolution as whole was adopted by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 3 against ( Israel, Palau, United States) with 1 abstention ( Australia). (See annex II.)


Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Australia’s representative said his country had been a supporter of UNIFIL and its expansion, as called for by resolution 1701.  His delegation had, however, abstained on the text, as he believed that its sole focus should be on budgetary issues.  Singling out Israel was unhelpful and did not promote the cause of peace in the region.


Germany’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union had abstained on the texts of preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 20, because it considered the text as drafted inappropriate in the context of a resolution dealing with UNIFIL’s financing.  The broader political aspects had been debated in the General Assembly in April 1996.  The Union, as in the past, would have wished that the Committee’s consultations could have been confined to the resolution’s budgetary aspects.


The representative of the United States said his delegation strongly supported UNIFIL, which was implementing an important mandate.  The United States had opposed previous resolutions, as they had required Israel to pay for the costs of the Qana incident.  They had not been consensus texts.  After the Organization’s inception, the Secretary-General had pursued the settlement of claims against a State.  Using a funding resolution to legislate a settlement was inappropriate, politicized the Committee’s work and should be avoided now and in the future.


Canada’s representative regretted that the Committee had not been able to adopt the text by consensus, undermining a tradition, by which political considerations had no place in financial and budgetary bodies.  Texts on peacekeeping operations should be neutral.  Every attempt to politicize United Nations peacekeeping should be opposed.  It was, moreover, inappropriate to target one party for criticism and non-compliance with United Nations resolutions.  For the future, he urged the proponents of that language to re-evaluate their actions and withdraw the paragraphs in question.  Canada supported UNIFIL’s mandate and the full implementation of resolution 1701.


Sudan’s representative said that his delegation had not been able to participate in the voting to retain the text of preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 20 of the draft.  Had he voted, he would have placed a positive vote.


A similar statement was made by the representative of Mauritania.


Lebanon’s representative said that his delegation supported the principle of collective responsibility for peacekeeping financing.  However, that principle did not contradict the general principle of a State’s responsibility for its internationally wrongful acts and their consequences.  Furthermore, that principle was safeguarded by the Charter of the United Nations and relevant General Assembly resolutions.  It was on the basis of the principle of State responsibility that previous Assembly resolutions had asked for money to be paid to the United Nations for the damages incurred as a result of Israel’s attack on the UNIFIL headquarters in Qana.  That principle was again reflected in today’s draft.  The intention was to the focus on financial and budgetary aspects of the matter.


Allegations had been raised regarding Hizbollah, he continued.  In that connection, he wanted to remind Israel that Hizbollah had not existed when Israel invaded his country.  Hizbollah was only a popular response to occupation.  People in Lebanon knew who the real terrorists were, and who exercised State terrorism. He would advise the Israeli delegate to liaise with her colleague from the United Kingdom Mission, for it was well known that the United Kingdom had issued arrest warrants for two Israeli Prime Ministers, one of them a founding father of the State of Israel.  If a founding father was a terrorist, one could only wonder what that inferred for the State of Israel.


In conclusion, he said that his delegation supported the implementation of resolution 1701 and asked Israel -- if it supported UNIFIL and resolution 1701 -- to withdraw its forces, which were still on Lebanese territory.  Everyone was also aware of the instances several months ago, when Israeli airplanes had overflown the maritime component of UNIFIL.  If Israel supported the role of UNIFIL, its actions should reflect it words.


The representative of Chile said that he had not been present at the time the vote had been taken, but he supported UNIFIL and wanted that reflected in the records.


Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on conditions of service and compensation for non-Secretariat officials (document A/C.5/61/L.40).  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would -- effective 1 January 2007 -- set the annual net base salary of the members of the International Court of Justice and the judges and ad litem judges of the Rwanda and Former Yugoslavia Tribunals at $133,500 dollars per annum, with corresponding post adjustment.


At the same time, it would decide to maintain, as a transitional measure, the level of annual salary approved in its resolution 59/282 for the current members of the International Court of Justice and the Tribunals’ judges for the duration of their current term of office, “or until such a time as this amount is overtaken by the application of the revised annual salary system”.  Reaffirming the principle that the conditions of service and compensation for those officials shall be separate and distinct from those of the Secretariat officials, the Assembly would state that its current decision shall not constitute a precedent for any other category of judges working within the United Nations system and that any decision regarding the service of any other category of judges shall be decided on a case-by-case basis.


Also by the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to revise and update the travel and subsistence regulations for the International Court of Justice, and to report thereon to the General Assembly, for its approval, at its sixty-second session.  The draft also addresses the Tribunal judges and International Criminal Court members’ retirement benefits, pension schemes and education grants.


Prior to action on the draft, the Chief of the Conditions of Service Section of the Office of Human Resources Management said that the Secretariat had been asked for a formal explanation of paragraph 8 of the draft.  The Secretariat confirmed its understanding that the adoption of the paragraph would ensure grandfathering of the current level of annual salary, which had been approved by resolution 59/282 for the judges of the International Court of Justice and the Tribunals, who were currently serving at The Hague and currently being paid in local currency, in accordance with the current level resulting from the application of the floor exchange rate mechanism. It was also understood that any judge who would be re-elected for a new term of office would then receive a salary based on the new salary system, which would consist of an annual net base salary, plus the application of a post adjustment.


The draft was approved without a vote.


The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the strengthened and unified security management system (document A/C.5/61/L.42), by the terms of which the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of a system-wide safety and security policy and the unity of command in this regard.


Emphasizing the need for a comprehensive safety and security policy framework at the United Nations, which should provide the basis for the threat and risk assessment, cooperation with host countries, cost-sharing arrangements and operations of the Department of Safety and Security, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to present such a framework at the first part of its resumed sixty-second session and conduct a comprehensive review of existing safety programmes at Headquarters and duty stations.  The Assembly would also note the intention of the Department of Safety and Security to gradually assume a leading role in crisis response and management, requesting the Secretary-General to provide detailed information on the project and its related costs in the budget proposal for 2008-2009.


The Assembly would also underline that funding for safety and security, based on the cost-sharing arrangement among the United Nations Secretariat, organizations, funds and programmes at Headquarters and duty stations, should be clear, predictable and secure.  In that connection, it would recall the provisions of resolution 59/276, in which it called on all entities participating in the cost-sharing arrangements to provide prompt and secure funding, and for those in arrears to ensure prompt payment of outstanding sums. It would also note with concern the disagreement leading to the non-participation of the World Bank in field-related security costs, which could hinder coordination of security operations.  To resolve this issue, the Secretary-General, in his capacity as the Chairman of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, would be asked to carry out consultations with the World Bank, as a matter of urgency.


With the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of United Nations staff and premises resting with the host country, the Assembly would also emphasize the role of host country agreements in defining this responsibility and, in this regard, reiterate its request to the Secretary-General -- contained in resolution 59/276 -- to report on the updating and revision of host country agreements, as well as different capacities of host countries to provide security to the United Nations.


The text also encourages the Department of Safety and Security to maintain training as a high priority and to continue its collaboration with various bodies in this regard; and asks for a comprehensive management audit by OIOS, focusing on such issues as the structure of the Department of Safety and Security, recruitment procedures and interaction with other entities, including the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.  By the draft, the Assembly would note with appreciation the efforts to achieve as wide as geographic balance as possible in the Department of Safety and Security, without compromising the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, and urge the Secretary-General to continue such efforts.  It would also urge him to continue his efforts to achieve greater gender parity in the Department of Safety and Security, inviting Member States to assist the Secretary-General in this regard.


The draft emphasizes the need to gain efficiency in the implementation of the approved projects through streamlining, setting benchmarks, meeting the time lines and strengthening accountability.  Also emphasized is the importance of taking full account of best practices and lessons learned, in order to facilitate the implementation of the first phase of the standardized access control system.  The Secretary-General would be requested to report on that project, including on any possible efficiency gains, at the Assembly’s sixty-second session, and to guarantee the highest level of protection of personal data available in the standardized access control system.  Also contained in the draft are the provisions for the use of the data related to representatives of Member States, other than Secretariat officials and experts on mission, as recorded in the access control system.


For the first phase of the standardized access control system, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments up to $20.21 million under 2006-2007 budget, $1.5 million under the budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and $1.98 million under the budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, without prejudice to the implementation of projects previously approved for the current biennium, to be reported in the context of respective second performance reports.  In the event that the implementation of the first phase of standardized access will have an impact on previously approved projects, the Secretary-General would be requested to report on such impact.


Prior to action on the draft, Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that, in paragraph 30, three words needed to be deleted from the last line.


The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.


The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on liabilities and proposed funding of liabilities under after-service health insurance benefits (document A/C.5/61/L.43), by the terms of which, noting that estimated liabilities had increased significantly, the Assembly would recognize the need to specifically identify the sources of accrued liabilities.  It would request the Secretary-General to validate them by using current data, apply the actuarial methodology prescribed by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards and to submit a detailed report, with figures audited by the Board of Auditors, on the outcome of the validation and the status of liabilities, as well as additional information on financing options, no later than the main part of the sixty-third session.  Recognizing the complexity of the issue and the significant amount of liabilities, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to present long-term strategies, taking into account various financing options.


Further to the draft, the Assembly would approve changes to the after-service health insurance provisions for new staff recruited on or after 1 July 2007, aligning insurance eligibility and subsidy requirements to 10 years minimum participation in the Organization’s health insurance plans, eliminating the buy-in provision after 5 years of participation, and applying a theoretical pension of a minimum of 25 years of service as the basis of assessing retiree contributions, as opposed to using the actual number of years, when less than 25.  Other measures include the introduction of a minimum participation requirement of five years for after-service health insurance eligibility of dependents, or two years if the spouse has coverage with an outside employer or national Government, except where the dependent is newly acquired within this period and is enrolled within 30 days of the effective date of the dependent relationship.  The Secretary-General would be requested to report on measures aimed at reducing the Organization’s costs related to health-care plans.


The Assembly would also approve the establishment of an independent special account to record after-service health insurance accrued liabilities and an account for related transactions.  More comprehensive and analysis-based information would be requested on the results of the actuarial valuation of the after-service health insurance plan as of 31 December 2007 concerning: the advantages and disadvantages for Member States of the “pay-as-you-go” option versus the option of funding those liabilities; the projections regarding the proportion of staff in peacekeeping operations who would be entitled to benefits; levels of charge as a percentage of salary costs to be applied against different funding sources, including the regular and peacekeeping budgets and extra-budgetary funds that would be sufficient to finance liabilities in a predictable manner without building up a reserve; the option of partially funding the liability; the option of full funding over a longer period than envisaged in the Secretary-General’s report; the proportion of the current accrued liability in relation to different categories of beneficiaries; and an after-service health insurance reserve fund and its investment strategies.


Stressing the importance of addressing the matter further, the Assembly would decide, pending the validation of the liabilities and audit by the Board of Auditors, to revert to it, as a matter of priority, at its sixty-third session.


The draft resolution was adopted without a vote.


The meeting was then suspended to allow for consultations of pending issues.


When the meeting resumed, the Committee took up a draft resolution on the administration of justice within the United Nations (document A/C.5/61/L.44), by the terms of which the Assembly would decide to establish a new, independent, transparent, professionalized, adequately resourced and decentralized system of internal justice, consistent with relevant rules of international law and the principles of the rule of law and due process, “to ensure respect for the rights and obligations of staff members and accountability of managers and staff members alike”.  Stressing the importance of increased transparency in decision-making and increased accountability of managers, the Assembly would recognize that the new system should improve performance and have a positive impact on staff management.


Recognizing that the informal resolution of conflict is a crucial element of the administration of justice system and emphasizing that all possible use should be made of the informal system, in order to avoid unnecessary litigation, the Assembly would decide to create a single integrated and decentralized Office of the Ombudsman for the United Nations Secretariat, funds and programmes, and request the Secretary-General to identify three posts for the Office of the Ombudsman for Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi.  The Assembly would also decide to formally establish a Mediation Division located at Headquarters within the Ombudsman’s Office to provide formal mediation services for the Organization and the United Nations funds and programmes.  It would stress that, once parties have reached an agreement through mediation, they are precluded from litigating claims covered by the agreement and that parties should be able to bring an action in the formal system to enforce the implementation of that agreement.


On the formal system, the Assembly, by other terms, would agree that the formal system of administration of justice should comprise two tiers, consisting of a first-instance, a United Nations Dispute Tribunal, and an appellate instance, a United Nations Appeals Tribunal, rendering binding decisions and ordering appropriate remedies.  The decentralized Dispute Tribunal would replace existing advisory bodies within the current system, including the Joint Appeals Boards, the Joint Disciplinary Committees and other bodies, as appropriate.  The Assembly would agree that legal assistance for staff should continue to be provided and would support the strengthening of a professional office of staff legal assistance.


By further provisions, the Assembly would agree to establish an Office of the Administration of Justice, headed by a senior management level official that will have the overall responsibility for coordinating the United Nations system administration of justice system.  As transitional measures, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure that Joint Appeals Boards, Joint Disciplinary Committees, the United Nations Administrative Tribunal and other bodies, as appropriate, continue to function until the new system is operational with a view to clear all cases before them.  The Secretary-General would also be requested to report on a series of issues regarding the establishment of the new system, including in-depth analysis regarding the scope of the persons that might be covered by the new system, proposals on the nomination and selection process for the Ombudsmen and the judges, and revised terms of reference for the Ombudsmen, as appropriate, taking into account the proposed changes and suggested locations.


The Assembly would decide to continue consideration of the item during its sixty-second session as a matter of priority and with the objective of implementing the new system of administration of justice no later than January 2009.


Before acting on the text, SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, said the Secretariat wished to put on record its understanding of the resolution on the administration of justice.  In connection with operative paragraphs 4, 12, 16 and 28 of the draft, it was the Secretariat’s understanding that, as the system, offices and division were being established in principle, there were no financial implications relating to the draft resolution before the Committee.  Details of resource requirements would be presented to the Assembly at its sixty-second session in the context of the report requested in operative paragraph 32.  Concerning operative paragraph 13, the Secretary-General would make his best efforts to identify the three posts for the Office of the Ombudsman in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi.  In that connection, the result of those efforts would be reported to the Assembly at its second resumed sixty-first session.


Acting without a vote, the Committee adopted the draft resolution.


Pakistan’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed appreciation to the coordinator and Secretariat officials for their sterling work on the item.  The resolution marked a starting point -- an important transition -- of the current system to a new, independent, transparent, professional system consistent with the principles of international law and due process.  The Group was supportive of many of the proposals before the Committee and was ready to extend the resource support required to go ahead.  He looked forward to the preliminary report requested by the draft, and hoped to have a positive response regarding the identification of the three posts.  Several issues in the text, including the establishment of the Office of the Administration of Justice, represented an important landmark in terms of the resolution’s follow-up and implementation.  He hoped that Office would be able to coordinate further the implementation of the reform process.  The resource support would be coming through expeditiously once the relevant reports of the Secretary-General were before the Committee.  After all the steps envisaged in the resolution had been taken, he hoped to have a new system in place by the timeline in the text -- January 2009 -- ushering in a new era in the United Nations administration of justice.


The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in explanation of position, aligned himself with the consensus on the resolution on the understanding that, in accordance with subparagraph b of paragraph 32, the Secretary-General should present proposals with regard to the selection and appointment of Ombudsmen and judges.


Australia’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, also thanked the coordinator for guiding the negotiations over the last few days, as well as the Secretariat for their assistance.  He also thanked those in the room who had provided their expertise to the Committee.  The resolution was an important step in the reform of the administration of justice system, which the countries he represented strongly supported.  He looked forward to making more progress on those reforms in the sixty-second session.


The representative of Germany, on behalf of the European Union, expressed his gratitude to the coordinator of the negotiations on the draft and appreciation for the cooperative spirit within the Committee.  He said he looked forward to further progress on the matter.


The Committee then took up consideration of the draft decision submitted yesterday on the future operations of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) (document A/C.5/61/L.38).


Providing an overview of the Institute’s current situation, Ms. VAN BUERLE said the expenditures for the period 1 January to 31 December 2006 amounted to $1.3 million.  The voluntary contributions received in 2006 amounted to $378,940.  The United Nations subvention approved by the Assembly for 2006-2007 amounted to $1.04 million.  Currently, pledges amounting to $325,011 had been made to INSTRAW for 2007.  It was not known if there were likely to be any further pledges for 2007.  As of 26 March 2007, the funds currently available for allocation to INSTRAW stood at $499,960, excluding an amount of $200,000 held in reserve in accordance with established trust fund practice.  Monthly expenditure, based on 2006, was estimated at some $100,000 to $110,000.  On the assumption that the projected level of expenditure for 2007 was at the same level as 2006, namely $1.3 million, the shortfall was expected to be some $857,800.  The Institute’s Executive Board had approved the proposed work plan and operational budget for 2007 amounting to some $1.525 million, excluding programme support costs.


RAJAT SAHA, Chair of ACABQ, said that, as the Advisory Committee had not received a report from the Secretary-General, he had no comments to offer.


Mexico’s representative said the principle of good faith was enshrined in the United Nations Charter, a principle to which he attached great importance.  In submitting the draft, his delegation had indicated that the co-authors had submitted it under circumstances beyond their control.  He expressed readiness to hold consultations in good faith to achieve an outcome acceptable for all delegations.  Speaking on behalf of the co-authors, he withdrew the draft decision as a sign of good will.  He had every certainty that the Committee would shortly be able to find a solution acceptable to all.


The representative of Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, thanked the facilitator of informal consultations on the draft and the Secretariat for the explanations provided.  Friendship and trust were the guiding principle of the Committee’s work, and he welcomed the fact that the co-sponsors had withdrawn the draft, allowing the Committee to return to the established practice.  His delegation would engage in the negotiations in good faith.


The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, also expressed appreciation for the gesture of the co-sponsors to withdraw the draft.  It was her understanding that the text had been tabled by Mexico and the Group of 77 as “a place-holder” for action on the financing of INSTRAW.  She looked forward to the consideration of a resolution in keeping with the established practice of the Committee.


The representative of Pakistan said that the Group of 77 had gone along with the course of action that had been conveyed to it after “very good work and hectic informals” under the facilitation of the representative of Ireland.  A certain understanding had been reached, and he thanked the European Union, Australia, Canada and New Zealand for accepting the gesture, which the co-sponsors had made to restore the trust that they were “in no way interested in breaching”.  As had been indicated by Mexico, and made clear from the statement by the Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, the draft had been put forward to address the impeding financial crisis with which INSTRAW was faced.  He approved of the course of action presented by the facilitator to quickly find a solution and return to a formal meeting, and hoped that good faith would be displayed in action, and a good and fair consensus would be reached that the Group had always wished to achieve.


ANNEX I


Vote on Separate Paragraphs/UNIFIL


Preambular paragraph 4 and operative paragraphs 4, 5 and 20 of the draft resolution on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (document A/C.5/61/L.39) was retained by a recorded vote of 78 in favour to 5 against, with 44 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Gambia, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Australia, Canada, Israel, Palau, United States.


Abstain:  Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.


Absent:  Angola, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Georgia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Montenegro, Nauru, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


ANNEX II


Vote on United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon


The draft resolution on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) (document A/C.5/61/L.39) was approved by a recorded vote of 126 in favour to 3 against, with 1 abstention, as follows:


In favour:  Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Against:  Israel, Palau, United States.


Abstain:  Australia.


Absent:  Angola, Azerbaijan, Barbados, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mongolia, Montenegro, Nauru, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu.


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.