|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
22nd Meeting (AM)
Fifth Committee Takes Up First Performance Report for 2010-2011 Budget Cycle,
Increased Regular Budget Funding for Sierra Leone Tribunal
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up the Secretariat’s review of the first year of the 2010-2011 budget cycle, an annual exercise that re-evaluated budget requirements for the current two-year biennium downwards by $36.5 million, or less than 1 per cent, to $4.57 billion.
When introducing the report, Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Controller Jun Yamazaki said the performance report did not include another $35.7 million in net requirements that resulted from revised estimates under various sections and the programme budget implications of the Human Rights Council.
The primary purpose of a first performance report is to pinpoint budget adjustments required because of variations in the rates of inflation, shifting exchange rates and standards used to calculate appropriations. Mr. Yamazaki said the Secretariat was working to comply with the General Assembly’s request to develop options to protect the United Nations against such financial variations. Those included tapping into the experience of other United Nations organizations, reviewing historical data from the previous biennium and working with external banking contacts.
The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) approved the Secretary-General’s revised net requirements of $4.57 billion, said Chairperson Susan McLurg, as she introduced its report. The Advisory Committee also urged the Secretary-General to expand work to develop options to protect the Organization against fluctuations in exchange rates and inflation.
Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the representative of Yemen said its members were very concerned that some areas had very high vacancy rates, such as section 5, peacekeeping operations; section 11, United Nations support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); section 17, economic and social development in Africa; and section 30, internal oversight. Despite the lack of changes in vacancies over the entire Organization, he was concerned that several sections and programmes were impacted by potential underspending, possibly because of the higher than average vacancy rates.
The Committee today also took up a recommendation to appropriate $12.3 million from the regular budget to keep the Special Court for Sierra Leone running until its mandate ends in February 2012. Established in 2002 in an agreement between the Government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations, the Court acts as an independent special court to prosecute persons responsible for violations of international humanitarian law, as well as crimes under relevant Sierra Leonean law, committed within the West African country. Mr. Yamazaki introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the issue.
In introducing the Advisory Committee’s report on funding for the Sierra Leone Special Court, Ms. McLurg stressed that its recommendation that the Assembly approve the $12.3 million in supplemental funding was made with the understanding that any regular budget funds would be refunded to the United Nations when the Court was liquidated. The Advisory Committee did not expect any additional subventions and it expected all efforts to fund the Court’s activities with voluntary contributions would be ratcheted up.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, the representative of Côte d’Ivoire noted the Court’s progress, including the prosecution and conviction of eight people for war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of human rights law. Despite more than 170 fund-raising meetings, the current level of pledges was not enough to let the Court wrap up its completion strategy by February 2012. He trusted the Special Court’s appeal proceedings would finish by the end of February 2012.
On the issue of the Sierra Leone Court, the representative of Yemen also spoke on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Cuba’s delegate also spoke on the 2010-2011 performance report topic.
The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 15 December, to discuss special political missions, strengthening the Department of Political Affairs, and the review of efficiency: budget outline 2012-2013.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) had before it the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/65/589), issued 24 November 2010.
The primary purpose of a first performance report, submitted during the first year of a two-year budget cycle, is to identify adjustments required because of variations in the rates of inflation and exchange rates, and standards assumed during the calculation of the initial appropriations. The performance report also takes into account additional mandates approved by the General Assembly and the Security Council after the budget appropriation was approved, unforeseen and extraordinary items that could not be deferred to the following biennium, and decisions of policymaking organs that are best dealt with in the performance report.
The revised requirements under the expenditure sections total $5.15 million, a decrease of $10.3 million, or 0.2 per cent below the appropriation level approved in General Assembly resolutions 64/244 A, 64/260 and 64/288. The revised estimate under the income sections totals $580.6 million, an increase of $26.2 million. As a result, net requirements total $4.57 billion, a decrease of $36.5 million, the report states.
The Secretary-General asks the Assembly to take note of the report, including the section on options for protecting the United Nations against fluctuations in exchange rates and inflation, and revise the appropriation for the biennium 2010-2011, as set out in paragraph 77, and the related income estimates, as set out in paragraph 83.
In paragraph 77, the report states that the revised level of resources requested for appropriation for the biennium 2010-2011 would be $5.15 billion.
The report divides the revised income estimates for the biennium into three sections. These are income section 1, an increase in income from staff assessment of $21.25 million; income section 2, general income, an increase of $9.31 million that reflects an increase in interest income offset by a decrease in rental income; and income section 3, a decrease of $4.37 million in services to the public.
The report notes that the decrease in net income under services to the public reflects reductions in four areas. These are a lower than expected level of sales of philatelic items, a consequence of the general economic downturn and the impact of various closures of the Assembly for the Capital Master Plan construction that impacted the counter sale and personalized stamp sale; the lack of revenue from the catering operations due to the Capital Master Plan and consequent revision to the catering contract; and the discontinuation of the news stand operation owing to Capital Master Plan activities.
Another factor behind the reduced income is the decrease in the sale of publications owing to the disruption generated by Capital Master Plan activities throughout 2010, which caused delays in the receipt of books, as well as a decline in traffic at the bookshop that led to fewer sales. These decreases were offset partly by modest increases in revenues under services to visitors, from an increase in the number of visitors and an increase in the number of subscriptions to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN COMTRADE) for 2010.
The related Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report (document A/65/604), issued 7 December 2010, recommends that the Assembly approve the revised estimates contained in the Secretary-General’s report, subject to its comments in paragraph 7, and subject to any adjustments that may result from matters now before the Assembly, including the consolidated statement of revised estimates and programme budget implications.
In paragraph 7 of its report, the Advisory Committee notes that in its report on the budget for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for 2011, it expressed its concern about the reported situation that has led to delays in the integrated compound construction project and urged the Secretary-General to resolve the problems (document A/65/602, paras. 217-221). With the uncertainties concerning the planned project, the Committee recommends that the amount of $5 million, already approved as a commitment authority, not be appropriated right now. Instead, any actual expenditures stemming from the commitment authority should be reported in the second performance report for the biennium 2010-2011.
Among other concerns and recommendations, the Advisory Committee looks forward to a comprehensive report by the Secretary-General on effective and cost-efficient operations for protecting the United Nations against fluctuations in both exchange rates and inflation, as requested by Assembly resolution 64/243.
Regarding the loss of $4.37 million in income under section 3, services to the public, the Advisory Committee asks about measures undertaken to mitigate the losses. It was told that in 2011 new electronic products, including an e-book collection and the publication of a new edition of The United Nations Today, would be developed in connection with the sales of publications. It is anticipated that those initiatives will increase revenue and efforts would be taken to further streamline the variable costs related to the sale of publications.
Regarding disruptions resulting from the Capital Master Plan, the Advisory Committee was also informed that discussions were under way to find ways to let visitors access the General Assembly Hall during the Capital Master Plan construction phase, set to begin in late 2012. The Advisory Committee notes the impact of the Capital Master Plan on income, among others as a result of reduced catering services, and encourages the Secretariat to act to mitigate any resulting losses.
Upon enquiry, the Advisory Committee was provided with updated vacancy statistics, as of 31 October 2010, for authorized posts under the regular budget for the biennium 2010-2011. The Committee notes the cumulative average vacancy rate of 5.5 per cent for both staff categories under all 34 sections of the programme budget. It is concerned that some sections continue to show significantly higher vacancy rates; for example, section 5, peacekeeping operations, shows an average vacancy rate of 12.8 per cent; section 11, United Nations support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), 17.1 per cent; section 17, economic and social development in Africa, 17.4 per cent; and section 30, internal oversight, 19.1 per cent.
The Advisory Committee expects that all efforts are being undertaken to reduce these high vacancy rates. It will continue to follow the issue when it considers the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 and other relevant reports submitted to the Assembly.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the request for a subvention to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (document A/65/570), which sets forth the overall level of resources required to complete the Special Court’s activities from 1 November 2010 to 29 February 2012. It notes that in a letter to the Security Council President (document S/2010/560), the Secretary-General points to the Special Court’s financial difficulties and asks that the matter be brought to the General Assembly’s attention to seek funding from the regular budget.
The Council President’s reply (document S/2010/561) expresses no objection to the Secretary-General’s proposed course of action, under the understanding that there are no expected additional interventions by the Special Court and that the United Nations Secretariat, the Management Committee, the Registrar and other senior Special Court officials will intensify efforts to fund the Special Court’s activities through voluntary contributions.
According to the report, the Secretary-General seeks the Assembly’s approval for up to $17.92 million in funding to meet an expected shortfall — including $4.5 million for the remainder of 2010, 11.1 million for 2011 and $2.36 million for January and February 2012 — to supplement the Special Court’s voluntary financing resources to enable it to complete its mandate.
He asks that it approve a $15.56 million subvention to the Special Court for the period from 1 November 2010 to 31 December 2011, under the provisions of paragraph 11 of annex I to resolution 41/213 of 19 December 1986, under special political missions in section 3, political affairs, of the 2010-2011 programme budget.
He also asks the Assembly to note than an additional $2.36 million subvention to the Special Court for the period from 1 January 2012 to 29 February 2012 would be submitted at its sixty-sixth session as a first charge against the provision for special political missions under section 3, political affairs, of the proposed 2012-2013 programme budget.
In the related ACABQ report (document A/65/603), the Advisory Committee recommends that the General Assembly approve, as an exceptional measure, funding of up to $12.24 million covering the periods 1 January to 31 December 2011, and 1 January to 29 February 2012, to supplement the voluntary financial resources of the Court, so that it could complete its work.
Also according to that report, ACABQ recommends that the General Assembly approve a subvention for the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the amount of $9.88 million for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011, under the provisions for special political mission of the 2010-2011 programme budget. An additional subvention for the Special Court in the amount of $2.36 million for the period from 1 January to 29 February 2012 would be included as a first charge against the provision for special political missions of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.
ACABQ also recommends that the Secretary-General report to the General Assembly at its sixty-sixth session on the implementation of the subvention during the biennium 2010-2011, and on the status of voluntary contributions for the Special Court, and that it be made on the understanding that any regular budget funds appropriated for the Special Court would be refunded to the United Nations at the time of the Court’s liquidation, should sufficient voluntary contributions be received.
Further, ACABQ stresses that additional subventions for the Special Court for Sierra Leone are not expected, and the United Nations Secretariat, the Management Committee, the Registrar and other senior officials of the Special Court would intensify their efforts to fund the activities of the Court through voluntary contributions.
Introduction of Reports
JUN YAMAZAKI, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on “request for subvention to the Special Court for Sierra Leone” (document A/65/570), which established a maximum of $17.9 million in resources required for the period from 1 November 2010 to 29 February 2012 and requested a subvention up to that amount to supplement voluntary contributions received and pledges to be collected.
Mr. Yamazaki said that since the Special Court’s inception as an independent body funded through voluntary contributions, the Secretary-General had maintained that it must be financed through assessed contributions and the Security Council, in document S/2000/1234, acknowledged that he could not be expected to create any institution without adequate funds available for at least 12 months and pledges covering anticipated expenses for the second year of operations.
During its second year of operation in 2004, owing to a lack of voluntary contributions, the Secretary-General had drawn the Council’s attention to the Court’s difficulties in paying for its third-year budget and proposed that the matter be brought to Assembly’s attention to seek the appropriation of funds, he said. Following $31.2 million in subventions, utilization had been made in the amount of $27.9 million and the remaining $3.29 million was surrendered to Member States at the end of December 2006 in accordance with financial regulation 5.3 of the Organization’s Financial Regulations and Rules.
At the time of finalizing the current Secretary-General’s report, the Special Court had indicated that the level of voluntary contributions was enough to cover operations until 31 October 2010, he said. At that time, the Special Court anticipated needing approximately $4.5 million to operate until 31 December 2010 and $11 million for 2011, as well as another $2.4 million for the period from 1 January 2012 until its mandate was completed at the end of February 2012.
In light of the foregoing, the Secretary-General’s report requested $17.92 million to supplement the Special Court’s voluntary resources, he said. Subsequently, the Special Court had received more pledges from various donors. Information on those had been given to ACABQ, which had taken them into account in formulating its recommendation.
SUSAN MCLURG, Chairperson of ACABQ, introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report (document A/65/603) and noted that the Special Court had entered its completion phase and was currently conducting its final trial. Since the Court was the first international tribunal to finish its work, the Advisory Committee encouraged it to keep a documentary record of best practices and lessons learned, so other international tribunals could benefit from its experiences.
In section III of its report, she said, the Advisory Committee discussed the current financial position of the Special Court, which had received additional pledges from three States since the issuance of the Secretary-General’s report and was now able to operate without a subvention until 31 December 2010. Accordingly, the revised request for a subvention totalled $12.3 million, of which $9.9 million would be required for 2011 and the remaining $2.4 million for January and February 2012. ACABQ stressed the need for ongoing oversight of the management of the Court’s assets.
She said the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly approve, as an exceptional measure, funding of up to $12.3 million to supplement the Court’s voluntary resources for the periods from 1 January to 31 December 2011 and from 1 January to 29 February 2012. It stressed that its recommendation were made with the understanding that any regular budget funds appropriated for the Court would be refunded to the United Nations at the time of the Court’s liquidation and it was not expected there would be additional subventions. It was expected that all efforts to fund the Court’s activities through voluntary contributions would be intensified.
WALEED M. A. AL-SHAHARI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Group of 77 valued the constructive and useful work carried out by the Special Court and commended its significant progress, underlined in section III of the Secretary-General’s report. The Group fully supported the proposals of the Secretary-General, as updated by ACABQ. It noted that, despite 174 fund-raising meetings held by the Court across capitals and diplomatic missions, it was still impossible for the Court to secure sufficient voluntary contributions to meet its mandates. Considering the responses from its traditional donors, it was highly unlikely that additional funds would be secured through voluntary contributions. The Group of 77 would seek more information on the recurrent lack of funds for its financing.
Taking into account the important aspects of the ongoing final trial, the Group of 77 was eager to explore the detailed implementation of the completion strategy, he said. The Group believed that the recurrent shortfall of adequate resources would increase the risk and impede the Courts’ ability to complete its judicial proceedings, thereby jeopardizing its mandate.
BROUZ RALPH COFFI (C ôte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that the Special Court’s creation was a practical demonstration of the international community’s support for strengthening the administration of justice in Sierra Leone. He noted with appreciation the Special Court’s progress to achieve its mandate, including the fact that eight people had been successfully prosecuted and convicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of human rights law.
He trusted that the Special Court’s appeals proceedings would be concluded by February 2012, thus ensuring that it would become the first United Nations tribunal to complete its work in line with the projected completion date, and serving as a reference point for best practices and lessons learned for the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He trusted that best practices and lessons learned, including those relating to the Special Court’s downsizing and liquidation, would benefit other international tribunals. He noted with satisfaction that that residual Court for Sierra Leone would, among other things, maintain the archives, provide witness protection if needed, supervise the enforcement of sentences and review convictions, if necessary.
Despite 174 fund-raising meetings and 225 fund-raising appeal letters to capitals and diplomatic missions, the current level of pledges received by the Special Court would not allow it to implement its completion strategy. He gave sympathetic consideration to the Secretary-General’s request to approve funding for the Special Court to supplement its financial resources. The proposed subvention would enable the Special Court to complete its mandate by February 2012, without prejudice to its independence. He paid tribute to all Member States that made voluntary contributions to the Special Court and encouraged all Member States to contribute towards the successful conclusion of its work.
Introduction of Reports
Introducing the Secretary-General’s first performance report for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/65/589), Mr. YAMAZAKI, United Nations Controller, said the report’s primary purpose was a technical one. It identified adjustments, required at the end of the biennium’s first year, due to variations in the rates of inflation and exchange, and in standards assumed during the calculation of the initial appropriations.
Overall revised requirements under the expenditure sections totalled $5.15 billion, a decrease of $10.3 million vis-à-vis the appropriation levels in Assembly resolutions (64/244 A), the revised estimates relating to the Emergency Support Unit (64/260) and the financing of the United Nations Office to the African Union (64/288). The revised estimate under the income sections totalled $580.6 million, an increase of $26.2 million. Consequently, net requirements totalled $4.57 billion, a decrease of $36.5 million, he said.
He said it was important to note that revised estimates and statements of programme budget implications, in response to draft resolutions currently under consideration, were not included in the report. Those amounts, which were being handled outside the first performance report, were subject to the Assembly’s decisions and would impact the level of the revised appropriation. As reflected in paragraph 6 of this report, as at the time it had been finalized, the amount proposed in those documents total $35.7 million. They related to revised estimates under various sections and programmed budget implications under the Human Rights Council.
Turning first to adjustments due to revised parameters, Mr. Yamazaki said the total requirements due to exchange rate fluctuations totalled $29.3 million and were included under part II.C and schedules 1 and 3 of the report. The decreased requirement owing to inflation totalled $24.3 million and was covered in part II.D. Concerning adjustments to standard costs, that resulted in a decrease of $27.2 million, reflecting the net effect of changes in salary standard costs and common staff costs, as explained in part II.E of the report.
No adjustments had been made for vacancy rates, a situation that would continue to be monitored and reported in the second performance report, he added.
Concerning the decisions of policymaking organs, he noted that due to delays in the project for construction of an integrated compound in Baghdad in 2009, the Assembly had approved a commitment authority up to $5 million for UNAMI for the biennium 2010-2011. The report sought approval to appropriate the amount of $5 million already approved as a commitment authority.
Regarding the Enterprise Resources Planning Project, he said the Assembly had approved $24.19 million for the system, to be funded from the regular budget of the 2010-2011 biennium, with its resolution 64/243. That included $11.78 million reflected in the proposed programme budget for 2010-2011, and authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitments for the remaining amount of $12.42 million. Based on more recent information on spending patterns, it would not be necessary at the time to seek an appropriation of the $12.42 million that had been provided as a commitment authority, he said. The project’s progress would be monitored and requirements linked to the commitment authority would be reported in the biennium’s second performance report.
The Secretariat had made efforts to comply with the Assembly’s request, made in resolution 64/243, to report on options for protecting the United Nations against fluctuations in exchange rates and inflation and use the experience of other organizations in the United Nations system. The Secretariat was reviewing historical (2008-2009) transactional data and working with external banking contacts, he said. The outcome of the additional review would be provided to the Assembly in the second performance report for the biennium 2010-2011, or the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.
Ms. MCLURG, Chairperson of ACABQ, introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report (document A/65/604) and said it approved the Secretary-General’s revised net requirements for the biennium 2010-2011. Those totalled $4.57 billion, which was 0.8 per cent below the appropriated net requirements of $4.6 billion.
With the uncertainties concerning the planned compound construction project in Baghdad, the Advisory Committee recommended that the amount of $5 million already approved as a commitment authority not be appropriated right now. Instead, any actual expenditures stemming from the commitment authority should be reported in the second performance report for the biennium 2010-2011.
Turning to the Assembly’s request for information on options to protect the Untied Nations against fluctuations in exchange rates and inflation, she said the Secretary-General had followed the Assembly’s direction and drawn on the experience of other United Nations organization by conducting a survey and receiving input from eight organizations. The Advisory Committee urged the Secretary-General to follow up with the remaining organizations. It noted the Secretary-General’s intention to report more extensively on the matter.
Mr. AL-SHAHARI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of the effective, smooth functioning of the United Nations and valued consideration of the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011. He noted various adjustments in the level of appropriations required for the biennium, due to variations in costing parameters, and that revised requirements had decreased by $10.3 million to $5.15 billion. He stressed the importance of implementing the Development Agenda and expressed concern over the lack of commensurate growth in that area. He noted that some programme budget implications resulting from decisions adopted by other Main Committees would be revised to reflect the costing parameters approved by the Assembly, which would affect the level of the revised appropriations.
He expressed deep concern that some sections continued to experience significantly high vacancy rates, such as section 5, peacekeeping operations; section 11, United Nations support for NEPAD; section 17, economic and social development in Africa; and section 30, internal oversight. The Group of 77 would seek detailed clarification on the reasons for the continued high vacancy rates in those areas and specific measures taken so far to address that. Despite the lack of changes in vacancies in the entire Organization, he remained concerned that several sections and programmes had been affected by potential under-expenditure, possibly due to the vacancy rates above the Organization’s average. The Group would seek further clarification on those matters during informal consultations.
On the experiment on using of limited discretion for budgetary implementation, he expressed concern that the bulk of the budget increases were financed by potential under-expenditures in development-related programmes, such as section 17, Economic and Social Development in Africa; and section 21, Economic and Social Development in Western Asia. The Group of 77 would seek detailed clarifications and justification for under-expenditures and using funds from those programmes to finance other activities. It would also await comprehensive information on utilizing that experiment and the implications for human resources management policies, the financial rules and regulations, the impact on programme delivery and on the Organization’s priorities, as well as the criteria used by the Secretary-General to define the Organization’s evolving needs.
LOIPA SÁNCHEZ LORENZO (Cuba) said it was unfortunate that the first performance reports on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 were being discussed late in the Committee’s session. She had studied the relevant reports and observed the net income requirement of $4.57 billion, a decrease of 0.8 per cent, as set forth in the Secretary-General’s report on the matter. According to paragraph 6 of the Secretary-General’s report, that did not include the $35.68 million stemming from various draft resolutions under consideration by the Assembly’s Main Committees at the time the first performance report was being drafted.
She took note of information in paragraphs 36 and 37 of the Secretary-General’s report on the reduction of realized staff vacancy rates. She expressed concern over the inability to ensure that realized vacancy rates came close to the budget rates of the biennium and that rates differed greatly from one budget section to another. That item seemed to be a problem that should be addressed. Regarding extraordinary expenses of up to $6.9 million, she hoped that the Secretary-General would have noted its link with basic security, as mentioned in resolution 64/246, and said it was not clear that that had been done in all cases presented to the Committee.
She gave particular attention to paragraphs 39 and 40 of the Secretary-General’s report on the use of limited budget discretion to cover positions and non-post requirements, to enter into commitments and to cover the evolving needs of the Organization. She observed that, of the $20 million authorized, the Secretary-General had only used $11.1 million. Notwithstanding the course of the second biennium, the Secretary-General had not used the authorized amount of limited budget discretion. The discretion of the Secretary-General should not be used to the detriment of the authority of Members States in administrative and budgetary matters.
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