TEXT ENDORSING RECOMMENDATIONS OF PROGRAMME AND COORDINATION COMMITTEE APPROVED BY BUDGET COMMITTEE

15 December 2008
GA/AB/3883

TEXT ENDORSING RECOMMENDATIONS OF PROGRAMME AND COORDINATION COMMITTEE APPROVED BY BUDGET COMMITTEE

15 December 2008
General Assembly
GA/AB/3883
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly

Fifth Committee

23rd Meeting (AM)


TEXT ENDORSING RECOMMENDATIONS OF PROGRAMME AND COORDINATION


COMMITTEE APPROVED BY BUDGET COMMITTEE

 


Also Debates Financing for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia Tribunal,

Takes Up Secretary-General’s Proposal for Funding Rule of Law Unit


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning recommended that the General Assembly endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on the programme performance of the United Nations for the biennium 2006-2007 and the proposed biennial programme plan for the period 2010-2011.


By the draft resolution on programme planning, which was approved without a vote this morning, the Assembly would also set eight main priorities for 2010-2011, including the promotion of economic growth and development; maintenance of peace and security; development of Africa; promotion of human rights; coordination of humanitarian assistance; justice and international law; disarmament; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism.  Based on those priorities, and the biennial programme plan, the Secretary-General would be requested to prepare the Organization’s budget proposal for the next biennium.


Also by the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination in monitoring and evaluation and encourage programme managers to further improve the qualitative aspects of indicators of achievement in order to enable better evaluation of results, bearing in mind the importance of defining the indicators to ensure their clear measurability.


In other action this morning, the Committee approved a draft decision, taking note of a statistical report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system.


In the context of the financing of the two International Tribunals, members of the Committee considered a request for additional requirements of some $30.19 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and $15.55 million for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in connection with the courts’ revised 2009 trial schedules.


Explaining the revisions, Sharon Van Buerle, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, said that they had resulted from recent apprehension of several fugitives by both Tribunals, as well as the rejection of a number of petitions for the referral of cases to Rwanda for trial.  A case previously referred to the Netherlands by the Rwanda Tribunal had been revoked as the courts of that country had indicated that they had no jurisdiction to try it.  Also discussed were the difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff in the context of the impending closure of the Tribunals.


The Committee also took up the Secretary-General’s proposals for the Rule of Law Unit, for which he recommends it be comprised of seven new posts to be established effective 1 January 2009, along with related resources amounting to $953,800 (net) under the 2008-2009 budget.


Expressing “strong reluctance” to fund the Unit through additional resources during the present biennium, the representative of Japan said that submitting a request for seven posts in the middle of a non-budget year was “not opportune”.  Cost-sharing among the departments of the Secretariat and the funds and programmes would be the most appropriate structure for the Unit.  Further, as the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had pointed out, secondment of staff from various entities seemed to have “great merit”.


The representative of Switzerland, also speaking on behalf of Liechtenstein, however, stressed the Unit’s critical role in ensuring that the United Nations system collectively addressed rule of law issues in the most strategic, efficient and effective manner possible.  If properly resourced, it could rationalize the Organization’s rule of law capacities among various departments, agencies, funds and programmes by serving as the Headquarters focal point.


In light of previous experience, he firmly believed that the Rule of Law Unit was currently under-resourced, he continued.  Moreover, he challenged the analysis of the Advisory Committee regarding the benefit of secondments of specialized staff from various entities working in the field of rule of law.  While acknowledging that secondments could promote a sense of ownership and facilitate coordination among partner entities, relying on seconded personnel was not sustainable in the long term and impeded the continuity and, thus, the quality of the Unit’s work.


Expressing support for the proposals of the Secretary-General, the representative of France (on behalf of the European Union) also recalled that, in order to support the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, which the Unit services, certain Member States had made voluntary contributions or announced their intention to do so.


Statements were also made by representatives of Rwanda (on behalf of the African Group), United States, Cuba and Chile.  The reports of the Advisory Committee were introduced by that body’s Chair, Susan McLurg.


The Committee will take up the financing of special political missions at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 16 December.


Background


When it met this morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to act on draft texts on programme planning and the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system (documents A/C.5/63/L.3 and A/C.5/63/L.4).  It was also going to consider the financing of the two International Tribunals and the Rule of Law Unit.


In connection with the financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Committee had before it the Tribunal’s first performance report for the current biennium (document A/63/558), which reflects a requirement for additional appropriations of some $7.83 million gross ($7 million net) for 2008-2009.  The increased requirements reflect changes with respect to exchange rates, inflation and standard salary costs.


The Committee also had before it the first performance report of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for 2008-2009 (document A/63/559), which reflects a requirement for additional appropriations of some $13.12 million grow ($11.4 million net) for the biennium.  The increased requirements include changes with respect to exchange rates, inflation and standard salary costs.


Commenting on those documents, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in a related report (document A/63/595), recommends approval of the Secretary-General’s requests for additional appropriations for the Tribunals.


In connection with the Board of Auditors’ comments regarding the Tribunals, the Advisory Committee notes that the Board issued a modified opinion for both Tribunals with an emphasis of matter for the biennium ended 31 December 2007.  The emphasis of matter relates to deficits in the reserves and fund balances of the Tribunals in the amount of $38.5 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and $13.5 million for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  The Board points out that, in view of the impending closure of the Tribunals, there is a need to identify the funding sources to be used in the payment of separation and after-service benefits of employees.


In this connection, the Advisory Committee recalls that the Assembly, in its resolution 61/264, decided to revert to the question of the provision for after-service health insurance at its sixty-third session.  The ACABQ further recalls its recommendation that the Assembly take up the proposed funding of the after-service health insurance liabilities of the Tribunals in the context of that overall review and consider related additional requirements in the context of the first performance reports of the Tribunals.  The Advisory Committee was informed that a comprehensive report on after-service benefits is to be submitted at the resumed sixty-third session.


On the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Advisory Committee notes the efforts under way to develop specific performance standards and analytical tools for the management of the Chambers and looks forward to proposals on these measures in the context of the next budget submission.  It also notes continued high vacancy rates and lead times for the recruitment process, as well as the measures taken to expedite recruitment and retention of staff.  It concurs with the recommendation of the Board of Auditors in that regard.


Commenting on the Tribunal’s performance, the Advisory Committee, notwithstanding the difficulty in recruiting and in retaining staff in the context of the impending closure of the Tribunal, emphasizes the importance of maintaining adequate staff levels to ensure the successful completion of the mandate of the Tribunal and recommends that the Tribunal intensify its efforts in this regard.


On the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, the Advisory Committee concurs with the Board’s recommendation that the Tribunal should continue to explore ways and means of retaining existing staff in order to ensure successful completion of its mandate.


The Secretary-General’s report, on revised estimates arising in respect of Security Council resolution 1800 (2008) on the appointment of additional ad litem judges at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/62/809), notes that the Security Council decided that the Secretary-General may appoint, within existing resources, additional ad litem judges upon request of the President of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in order to conduct additional trials, even if the total number of ad litem judges appointed to the Chambers will, from time to time, temporarily exceed the maximum of 12 provided for in the Statute of the International Tribunal, to a maximum of 16 at any one time, returning to a maximum of 12 by 31 December 2008.


It is estimated that the requirements in connection with the appointment of up to four additional ad litem judges at any one time, returning to 12 by 31 December 2008, at the former Yugoslavia for 2008-2009, would amount to $374,500.  Every effort will be made to meet the costs arising from the appointment of additional judges within the current appropriation for 2008-2009, and the actual expenditures will be reported in the context of the second performance report for 2008-2009.


The Advisory Committee, in a related report (document A/62/7/Add.38), notes that the appointment of additional ad litem judges is a way to reduce the projected time frame for completion of the work of the Tribunal.  In order to assess progress made, it requests that information concerning the appointment of additional ad litem judges be submitted in the first performance report for the biennium 2008‑2009.


Recalling that the Security Council, in its resolution 1800 (2008), decided that ad litem judges must be appointed from within existing resources, the Advisory Committee notes from paragraph 11 of the Secretary-General’s report that, while the Tribunal is not in a position to determine whether additional costs can be met from within the approved appropriation, every effort will be made to absorb the additional requirements.  The Advisory Committee expects that the appointment of additional ad litem judges will, indeed, be implemented from within existing resources.  On that basis, it recommends that the Assembly take note of the report of the Secretary-General.


The Committee also had before it a report on revised estimates relating to the Rule of Law Unit (document A/63/154), which was constituted by the Secretary-General at the beginning of 2007 in support of the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group.


According to the report, the Unit fills a critical gap in ensuring that the United Nations system collectively addresses rule of law issues in the most strategic, efficient and effective manner possible.  Its functions include:  ensuring coordination and coherence among United Nations entities engaged in rule of law activities; developing system-wide strategies, policy direction and guidance in promoting the rule of law; and enhancing partnerships between the United Nations and many other actors engaged in the rule of law activities.


Upon the establishment of the Unit, four Professional staff were made available to the Unit from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and the Office of Legal Affairs.  During 2007, it was envisioned that this arrangement would continue to be the basis for the long-term operation of the Unit, supplemented by extrabudgetary resources.  However, the departments and agency providing the staff made it clear that they would not be able to continue funding this arrangement beyond 31 December 2008.


Based on the experience gained during the initial period, it has been determined that four posts would not be adequate for the long-term effective functioning of the Unit.  The Secretary-General is of the view that seven posts (one D-2, one P-5, two P-4, one P-3 and two General Service) would need to be established effective 1 January 2009 for the Unit, for which additional resources in the amount of $588,700 would be required.  In addition to the post resources, the Unit would require general temporary assistance in the amount of $35,000, representing six months at the General Service level to meet peak workloads, as well as operational costs in the amount of $330,100 for office accommodation, commercial communications, supplies, furniture and equipment.


Accordingly, should the Assembly agree with the proposal to provide resources to support the Unit on an ongoing basis, additional resources in the amount of $953,800 would be required under the budget for 2008-2009, to be provided in accordance with the provisions governing the contingency fund.


The ACABQ, in a related report (document A/63/594) states that secondment of staff from various entities working in the field of rule of law not only permits the Unit to benefit from the experience of those entities, but also promotes a sense of ownership of the process on the part of those entities, and thus facilitates coordination.  Furthermore, the ACABQ is concerned that the request for seven new posts in the middle of the biennium is symptomatic of a lack of both planning and of budgetary discipline.  Accordingly, it recommends that the Secretary-General be requested to ensure that the staff required for 2009 continue to be provided through secondment (preferably of existing personnel) and that those entities which form part of the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group be asked to provide personnel for the Unit.  In the past, the Advisory Committee had emphasized the need for the Secretary-General to manage the Secretariat as a whole.  Should it be determined that additional staff is required from the resources of the programme budget, such a request could be made in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.


The ACABQ also recalls that, in August 2007, the Deputy Secretary-General requested voluntary contributions from Member States to fund activities of the Unit, including the design of a United Nations system-wide rule of law website, development of a United Nations rule of law database as a repository for all materials, lessons learned and best practices, and organization of workshops and seminars.  Upon enquiry, the Advisory Committee was informed that, as at 14 November 2008, voluntary contributions of $548,344 had been received, an additional ₤220,000 had been pledged and $102,859 had been spent.  The Advisory Committee welcomes these voluntary contributions.


Taking into account those recommendations and observations, as well as the extrabudgetary resources available, the Advisory Committee recommends against approval of the additional resources requested in the report of the Secretary-General.


Introduction


SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the two Tribunals.  In connection with a report on the revised estimates for 2008-2009 (document A/63/506), she said that, since the approval of the Rwanda Tribunal’s budget for 2008-2009, there had been two new developments that had resulted in the revision of the trial schedule for 2009.  In particular, three fugitives had been apprehended, and the trial schedule had been revised to reflect changes in the completion of some first-instance trials.  Also, three petitions for the referral of cases to Rwanda for trial had been rejected, and it was anticipated that two remaining cases would also be rejected.  Thus, the previously-expected reduction in the Tribunal’s workload would not materialize.  Also, a case previously referred to the Netherlands had been revoked, as the Courts of that country had indicated that they had no jurisdiction to try it.  Accordingly, it was anticipated that the Tribunal would be writing judgements and conducting trials in 17 cases involving 30 accused persons in 2009.


Given that the level and pace of trial activity up to the third quarter of 2009 would remain at 2008 levels, the Tribunal would require the continuation of the functions of 339 posts that were supposed to be gradually phased out, until 30 September 2009, she said.  As such, additional requirements for the Rwanda Tribunal for the biennium amounted to some $28.85 million gross as indicated in the report, or $30.19 million after recosting, should the parameters of the first performance report be applied.  Those additional requirements related to the extension of the terms of judges, increased general temporary assistance in lieu of posts earmarked for abolition, defence counsel fees, travel, rental of aircraft, supplies and materials.  The Assembly was requested to approve a revised appropriation for the biennium in the amount of $305.38 million gross for the Rwanda Tribunal.


Introducing a report on revised estimates for the former Yugoslavia Tribunal (document A/63/513), she said that two fugitives had recently been apprehended, and the trial schedule for 2009 had been revised accordingly.  Initially, it had been anticipated that there would be a reduction in the trial activity in the second half of 2009, but now the Tribunal would be conducting trials and writing judgements in 11 cases involving 27 accused persons during 2009.  The Tribunal’s initial budget proposal for 2008-2009 had included gradual phasing out of functions related to 258 posts, but, with the increase in the workload, the Tribunal would require their continuation until the end of 2009.  Accordingly, the additional requirements for the Tribunal for 2008-2009 amounted to some $13.12 million gross, or $15.55 million after recosting.  The Assembly was requested to approve a revised appropriation for the biennium in the amount of $376.23 million gross for the former Yugoslavia Tribunal.


SUSAN MCLURG, Chair of the ACABQ, introduced that body’s reports, saying that recent developments, including the apprehension of several fugitives, would have a major impact on the Tribunals’ respective completion strategies, which had anticipated a downsizing during the second half of the biennium.  The difference between the level of additional resources required by the Tribunals was essentially due to their different completion strategies:  the approved budget for the Rwanda Tribunal had been established on the basis of a more accelerated completion strategy, anticipating a more rapid downsizing from the start of 2009, whereas the former Yugoslavia Tribunal had budgeted for the abolition of some posts from mid-2009 only.  The Advisory Committee was recommending approval of the proposals in the Secretary-General’s submissions on revised estimates for 2008-2009.


She also noted the difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff in the context of the impending closure of the Tribunals.  The Board of Auditors had also commented on that issue.  Notwithstanding those difficulties, the ACABQ emphasized the importance of maintaining adequate staff levels to ensure the successful completion of the mandate of the Tribunals and recommended that they intensify their efforts in that regard.


Statements


GRÉGORY CAZALET (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that the issue was being addressed during the Committee’s final days, and re-stated his wish that the Committee conclude its work by the end of the week.  He reaffirmed the European Union’s support for the work of the two Tribunals, which were instrumental in the struggle against impunity.  He also paid tribute to the work of the members of the Tribunals -- judges, prosecutors, and so on -- and congratulated them on their use of non-monetary incentives in the context of departing personnel.


He stressed the importance of providing the Tribunals with the resources necessary to conclude their work according to schedule, in a manner consistent with decisions made by the Security Council.  The report of the Board of Auditors should be considered when appropriate.


ALFRED NDABARASA (Rwanda), speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted the difficulties that the Rwanda Tribunal faced in continuing to perform its work, as a number of cases still remained to be completed, while the recruiting and retaining of staff remained a challenge.  Given the justifications provided, and taking into account the recosting, the Group supported additional requirements for 2008-2009 for the Tribunal in the amount of $30.19 million, as recommended by the ACABQ.  The Tribunal had realized significant milestones in the discharge of its mandate.  Some of the most notorious genocide suspects had been arrested and brought to justice; an increasing number of countries had increased their cooperation with the court; and great strides had been made in fighting the culture of impunity.  He looked forward to the forthcoming conclusion of the “military trial”, which would be a major achievement in the Tribunal’s history.


By its resolution 1503, the Security Council had set two deadlines for the completion of the Tribunal’s activities and stated that those cases that might not be completed within the set deadlines, especially those involving the middle- and low-ranking suspects, should be transferred to national jurisdictions, including Rwanda.  In line with the resolution, the Tribunal was required to devise an implementation strategy and report to the Council.  The African Group firmly believed that it was important to clearly signal to the Tribunal that it was imperative to conclude its work in a timely and orderly manner, and that it should promptly begin the transfer of cases and convicts to national jurisdictions, in particular Rwanda.  Financing for the Tribunal beyond 2010 was not an option and no effort should be spared in ensuring that the Tribunal completed its work in the time allocated.


The Group believed that the transfer of cases to Rwanda was crucial, since the crimes falling under the Tribunal’s mandate had been committed in that country, he said, mostly by Rwandans and against fellow Rwandans.  The evidence and witnesses used by the Court were from Rwanda.  The administration of justice by the Tribunal was supposed to be more visible in Rwanda than elsewhere.  Both the Prosecutor and the Tribunal’s Registrar had conducted a series of visits to Rwanda to verify its readiness and willingness to receive the Tribunal’s outstanding caseload.  They had expressed their satisfaction with the level of readiness attained by Rwanda’s judicial institutions.  The African Group would like to see a successful conclusion of the completion strategy in 2010.  He trusted that the strategy would not have an adverse effect on current, pending and future cases.


LARA PHAM ( United States) conveyed her Government’s full support for the work of the two Tribunals, adding that the United States had been a leading financial and political supporter of those bodies.  Her Government had encouraged Tribunal officials to continue the swift pace of trials, so as to come close to meeting the completion strategy endorsed by the Security Council of finishing all trials and appeals by 2010.  United States support had included seconded personnel, substantial monetary and in-kind contributions, information-sharing arrangements and diplomatic support.


She noted the first performance reports of the two Tribunals, and further noted the Secretary-General’s report containing the revised estimates for both bodies.  The United States supported the actions recommended by the ACABQ on those matters.  She understood that the provision of those additional resources was intended to enable the Tribunals to take on an additional workload in 2009, with as little deviation as possible from the completion strategies.


She said the Tribunals should ensure they operated at maximum capacity and efficiency, so that they could meet their timelines and still deal with additional defendants who might be taken into custody in the future.  She endorsed the conclusion of the ACABQ on the possible need to appoint additional ad litem judges, as addressed in Security Council resolution 1800 (2008), notwithstanding the fact that the total number of ad litem judges might from time to time temporarily exceed the maximum of 12 provided for in the International Tribunal statute.  Indeed, it was expected that the appointment of additional ad litem judges be implemented from within existing resources.


She noted concerns expressed about the ability of the Tribunals to retain key staff in the final periods, and expressed serious reservations about proposals that had been put forward in that regard.  In particular, none of the proposals seemed to be limited to the “specific evolving needs” of the Tribunals and all failed to target the specific skills and abilities that would be necessary.  They ran the risk of setting a “dangerous precedent” that was not provided for in the common system.  Regarding the unchanged proposed retention bonus proposal, she reiterated her belief in the validity of conclusions made by the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) in document A/62/30.


PABLO BERTI OLIVA ( Cuba), commenting on the revised estimates arising as a result of Council resolution 1800 (2008), drew attention to what he deemed as the Council’s interference in Assembly business.  In deciding that ad litem judges should be established within existing resources, the Council was encroaching on Assembly business.  In the past, some had defended the Council’s jurisdiction by discussing how the General Assembly might or might not address implications of Council decisions.  In this case, the Council was interfering in Assembly matters, for appropriation of resources fell under the Assembly’s purview and not that of the Council.


The Chair duly took note of that comment by the representative of Cuba.


ABRAHAM QUEZADA ( Chile) endorsed the point made by the Secretary-General and officials of the Tribunals in relation to staff matters.  Staff working at the Tribunals were an essential component for international legal security, but both Tribunals were facing a potential exodus of staff, which could endanger the full conclusion of their mandates.  For the former Yugoslavia Tribunal, it would be a question of concluding within the next few years.  Within the United Nations, there was also a true concern, over the financial consequences for recruiting new staff.  According to recent estimates, the retention bonus would have budget implications not exceeding $5 million, but transfer and recruitment of new staff would cost 10 times more.  The Tribunal had over 1,200 staff who were expecting fair treatment and career development.


The fulfilment of the Tribunals’ mandates was important, and he called for a just solution seeking compatibility between staff needs and budget considerations.  The report of the Secretary-General referred to additional resources for 2008-2009 and clearly showed the necessary resources for the two Tribunals, which had changed significantly.  His delegation was aware of the workload for 2009 -- the highest since the Tribunals’ beginnings.  The necessary resources should be allocated, so the Tribunals could cover the agenda for the next year, working at 100 per cent capacity to fulfil their mandates as soon as possible.  He supported the recommendations of the ACABQ in that regard.


Rule of Law Unit


The Committee next heard an introduction by Ms. BUERLE on the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009 related to the Rule of Law Unit (document A/63/154).  At the 2005 World Summit, the United Nations had been called on to strengthen its activities relating to rule of law and Member States had urged the Secretary-General to submit a report on the establishment of a rule of law assistance unit within the Secretariat.  Subsequently, in his report on the issue (document A/61/636), the Secretary-General informed the Assembly of the creation of a Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group, and a small substantive unit.  The Assembly reaffirmed Member States’ support for the establishment of that Group under the leadership of a Deputy Secretary-General in resolution 62/70.


She said, in its initial phase, the Unit was comprised of up to four Professional staff seconded on a temporary basis from key United Nations actors.  Given the temporary nature of the arrangement, in the present report the Secretary-General puts forward proposals for the Unit to be comprised of seven new posts to be established effective 1 January 2009, along with related operational resources amounting to $953,800 (net) under the 2008-2009 programme budget.  The resource requirements and functions of the individual posts were explained in part II and the annex of the report.  Part IV detailed actions sought of the Assembly.


Ms. McCLURG, introducing the report of the ACABQ on the subject (document A/63/594), said that in considering the report of the Secretary-General on the revised estimates related to the Rule of Law Unit, the ACABQ had decided to recommend that the staff required continue to be provided through secondment.  The Committee further recommended that the Secretary-General ask entities participating in the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group to provide personnel.


She said it was within the purview of the Secretary-General to redeploy human resources within the Secretariat to meet the Unit’s needs.  The Committee’s position took account of the Secretary-General’s stated original concept to staff the Unit through the secondment of personnel from key United Nations actors involved in the field of rule of law.  Secondment of staff in that manner permitted the Unit to benefit from the experience of those entities and helped promote a sense of ownership of the process and would facilitate coordination.


She said the Committee discouraged proposing new posts for existing functions in the middle of the biennium, which it found to be symptomatic of a lack of planning and budgetary discipline.  Should it be determined that additional staff was required for the Unit from the programme budget, such a request could be made in the proposed budget for 2010-2011.


The representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that, in accordance with the report on strengthening of the rule of law activities of the United Nations, the Union supported the rule of law coordination group, supported by the Rule of Law Unit.  The Unit had been established to help the rule of law coordination; work out general guidelines, strategies and directives; and strengthen partnerships within the United Nations system and with outside actors.  The Union recalled that, in order to support the group in carrying out its tasks, certain Member States had made voluntary contributions or announced their intention to do so.  In conclusion, he would like to express support to the general guidelines proposed by the Secretary-General in his report on revised estimates for the biennium related to the Rule of Law Unit.


THOMAS GUERBER (Switzerland), also speaking for Liechtenstein, said that he regretted that the formal introduction of the item was taking place after the official ending date of the Committee’s main session and that the ACABQ’s report had been made available to Member States only last Friday.  He was concerned that such time constraints seriously impeded the Member States’ ability to effectively manage the budget process.


At the 2005 World Summit, Member States had made a strong commitment to a renewed effort to strengthen United Nations activities to promote the rule of law.  On the same occasion, the Assembly had expressed its support for the idea of establishing a rule of law assistance unit within the Secretariat in order to strengthen relevant activities.  At the request of Member States, the Secretary-General had created a Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group and the Rule of Law Unit, under the leadership of the Deputy Secretary-General.  In its resolution 62/70, the Assembly had reaffirmed its support for the establishment of those entities, as well as their position within the Secretariat.


In the view of the delegations he represented, the Rule of Law Unit played a critical role in ensuring that the United Nations system collectively addressed rule of law issues in the most strategic, efficient and effective manner possible.  If properly resourced, it could rationalize United Nations rule of law capacities among various departments, agencies, funds and programmes by serving as the Headquarters focal point, thus minimizing duplication and overlap and enhancing opportunities for synergy.


In light of previous experience, he firmly believed that the Rule of Law Unit was currently under-resourced, he continued.  Moreover, he challenged the analysis of the Advisory Committee regarding the benefit of secondments of specialized staff from various entities working in the field of rule of law.  While acknowledging that secondments could promote a sense of ownership and facilitate coordination among partner entities, relying on seconded personnel was not sustainable in the long term and impeded the continuity and, thus, the quality of the Unit’s work.  The delegations he represented were ready to engage in an open and constructive discussion about the appropriate resource level of the Unit.


JUN YAMADA ( Japan) expressed full support for the recommendations of the ACABQ on the proposed revised estimate on the establishment of the Rule of Law Unit.  Submitting a request for seven posts in the middle of a non-budget year was “not opportune”.  He, therefore, expressed “strong reluctance” to fund that Unit through additional resources during the present biennium.  Cost-sharing among the departments of the Secretariat and the Funds and Programmes would be the most appropriate structure for that unit.  Further, as the ACABQ report had pointed out, secondment of staff from various entities seemed to have “great merit” and he hoped that the Committee would fully take account of the points he mentioned during its informal consultations.


The Chair noted that informal consultations would be held under the chairmanship of the representative of Sweden.


Action on Drafts


The Committee had before it a draft resolution on programme planning (document A/C.5/63/L.4), by the terms of which the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on the programme performance of the United Nations for the biennium 2006-2007 and the proposed biennial programme plan for the period 2010-2011.


[In addition to the programme plan, Committee for Programme and Coordination, during its latest session, also considered the plan outline as the first part of the proposed strategic framework for 2010-2011 -- the United Nations principal policy directive for the biennium.  Both in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009, the Assembly approved only the programme plan, taking no decision on the plan outline.  By its resolution 62/224 last year, the Assembly decided to maintain the strategic framework as the principal policy directive and to continue to include the plan outline in it.  However, the Secretary-General was requested to improve the format of part 1 and the reflection of the longer-term objectives therein by, among others, elaborating on the priorities of the United Nations agreed to by the Member States.


During its session this year, the Committee for Programme and Coordination reiterated the importance of the Organization’s long-term objectives and recommended that the plan outline reflect those objectives, pursuant to all relevant resolutions and based on all mandates by Member States.  It also stressed the need for coordinated effort by the Secretariat to better formulate suitable expected accomplishments, so that all mandated activities and outputs could be included at that stage of budget preparation.]


By the draft resolution approved today, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to prepare the proposed budget for 2010-2011 on the basis of the biennial programme plan and a set of eight priorities.  It would decide that those priorities would include:  promotion of economic growth and development; maintenance of peace and security; development of Africa; promotion of human rights; coordination of humanitarian assistance; justice and international law; disarmament; drug control; and combating international terrorism.


The text also endorses the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on evaluation; the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination; the New Partnership for Africa’s Development; and improving its working methods and procedures within the framework of its mandate.


Also by the text, the Assembly would reaffirm the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination in monitoring and evaluation and recognize the importance of continuing to improve the log frame.  In this regard, it would encourage programme managers to further improve the qualitative aspects of indicators of achievement in order to enable better evaluation of results, bearing in mind the importance of defining the indicators in a way that ensures their clear measurability.


Reaffirming the role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination as the main subsidiary organ of the Assembly and the Economic and Social Council for planning, programming and coordination, it would emphasize that the Committee should enhance its coordination role, in order to increase planning efficiency, so as to continue to ensure the timeliness of the implementation of, and prevent duplication and redundancy in, the actions of the Organization.  It would also welcome the progress made by the Committee in improving its working methods.


The text was approved without a vote.


The Committee then approved, also without a vote, a draft decision contained in document A/C.5/63/L.3.  By this text, the Assembly would take note of the document transmitting a statistical report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system (document A/63/185).


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