General Assembly Endorses Recommendations from First Report of Ad Hoc Working Group on Regular Process for Reporting, Assessing State of Marine Environment

4 April 2011
GA/11065

General Assembly Endorses Recommendations from First Report of Ad Hoc Working Group on Regular Process for Reporting, Assessing State of Marine Environment

4 April 2011
General Assembly
GA/11065
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

84th Meeting (AM)


General Assembly Endorses Recommendations from First Report of Ad Hoc Working


Group on Regular Process for Reporting, Assessing State of Marine Environment


Also Adopts Budget Texts on Capital Master Plan, Burundi Office, Iraq Fund,

Disappearances Convention, Official’s Compensation, Air Travel, Inspection Unit


Moving closer to operationalizing the global reporting and assessment process on the state of the world’s marine environment, which was first called for by the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the General Assembly today adopted a consensus resolution requesting that the Secretary-General explore the establishment of appropriate means to address the communications requirements needed for the launch of such a process.


The Assembly also unanimously adopted three resolutions forwarded by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2010‑2011, the Capital Master Plan and the Joint Inspection Unit.


By the draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea, the Assembly endorsed the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including Socio-economic Aspects, which had held its first meeting on 14 to 18 February 2011.


Further by that text, Member States were invited to provide comments on the possible outline for the first global integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment, along with draft criteria for the appointment of experts and the draft guidelines for workshops, by 30 April 2011.  Revised versions reflecting States’ comments were also requested from the Group of Experts by 30 May 2011 for further discussion and adoption at the next meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole, which the Assembly requested the Secretary-General convene within existing resources on 27 and 28 June 2011.


Introducing the text, Donatus Keith St. Aimee (Saint Lucia), whose delegation had been among its main sponsors, said it was sometimes forgotten that marine ecosystems played a critical role in the health of the terrestrial environment, with which everyone was more familiar.  But, marine ecosystems could not be ignored in analysis of and discussions on climate change, food security and biodiversity, among others.  “We therefore need to know much more about the state of that sector of our planet, and it is our hope that equal attention would be given to monitoring and reporting, as well as the measures that may be necessary from our findings for improvement,” he said.


By the text on the Capital Master Plan, the Assembly authorized a security enhancement estimated at $100 million and decided that all related costs — including those resulting from the delays caused by the enhancement — would not result in additional assessments to Member States.


Reiterating its decision that approved associated costs to the Capital Master Plan would be financed from the approved budget of the Plan, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to make every effort to absorb the 2011 associated costs from within that budget in the total amount of $58.87 million (net).  He was further authorized to enter into commitment authority of up to $286,300 and to report on expenditures in the context of the next report on proposals for financing the associated costs.


By the four-part text on special subjects relating to programme budget for the biennium 2010‑2011, the Assembly decided that the additional amount of $815,625 required by the entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances should be met from within the resources already appropriated in that programme budget.  It also approved the budget of the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) in the amount of $22.14 million (net) for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011, as well as the budget of the United Nations Representative to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) of the Development Fund for Iraq of $24,600 (net) for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2011.


Further by that text, the Assembly set the compensation for the Chairs of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) Chair at $224,833, including the special allowance, effective 1 January 2011, and adjusted the pensionable remuneration accordingly to $279,283.  The annual net compensation of the ICSC Vice-Chair was set at $214,833, effective 1 January 2011, with the pensionable remuneration adjusted to $264,320.


Noting with concern the lack of consolidated and comprehensive data on air travel across the United Nations system, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to conduct a comprehensive audit of all air travel activities.  The Secretary-General was also asked to present proposals to more effectively and efficiently use resources for air travel at the first part of the Budget Committee’s resumed sixty-sixth session.


By the text on the Joint Inspection Unit’s 2010 report and its 2011 programme of work, the Assembly requested that the Unit — which is the only external and independent oversight body carrying out evaluations, inspections and investigations across the United Nations system — to improve its future work programmes and prioritize projects in them to allow Member States to easily track each project’s progress in future annual reports.  It also authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitment authority of $71,300 from the 2010‑2011 programme budget for the development of a web-based follow-up system to track the Unit’s recommendations, and requested he report on expenditures in the context of the second performance report.


Nicole Ann Mannion ( Ireland), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee, introduced that body’s reports.


The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.


Background


As the General Assembly met this morning to take up the report on the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects (document A/65/759), it was expected to take action on a draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea (document A/65/L.65).


Also before it were two reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/65/646/Add.2), which contains two draft resolutions, and on the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/65/796), which contains one draft resolution.


The report of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole (document A/65/759) notes, among other things, that the Group held its first meeting at United Nations Headquarters from 14 to 18 February 2011.  Representatives of 75 Member States, 15 intergovernmental organizations and other bodies, and 10 non-governmental organizations attended the meeting.  The report says that the Working Group adopted its agenda and that delegations held a general exchange of views.  In its substantive discussions, the Working Group considered the establishment of a management and review mechanism.


The report says that, based on presentations by the Group of Experts, delegations also discussed options to achieve the deadline of 2014 for the completion of the first cycle of the Regular Process.  The Working Group also considered the status of the trust funds established for the purpose of supporting the operations of the first five-year cycle of the Regular Process.


The report says that, as the Working Group considered the way forward, discussions focused on the possible structure of a management and review mechanism — or bureau — the functions and modalities of regional workshops and the means of nominating the pool of experts that would be required to support the development of the first integrated assessment.  In an effort to prepare for continued deliberations, it was agreed that States would also need to further consider and review the possible outline for the first global integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects.


Finally, the report says that the Working Group agreed to recommend that the Assembly request the Secretary-General to convene a second meeting of the Group in June 2011 with a view to finalizing and adopting, among others, the criteria for the appointment of the experts to the pool of experts, the preliminary outline for the first global integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects, and the draft guidelines for workshops.


By the draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea (document A/65/L.65), the Assembly would endorse the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects.  It would request the Secretary-General to explore, in consultation with the relevant Group of Experts, the establishment of appropriate means to address the communication requirements of the Regular Process, having in mind the needs to avoid duplication, and to report on the finding as soon as possible.


The text would also have the Assembly invite States to provide comments on the possible outline for the first global integrated assessment of the state of the marine environment, the draft criteria for the appointment of experts and the draft guidelines for workshops by 31 April 2011.  It would request the Group of Experts to prepare, by 30 May 2011, revised versions of those draft documents to reflect States’ comments, for further discussion and adoption at the next meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole.


The first draft text on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 — on special subjects relating to that budget (document A/65/646/Add.2) — contained four parts and an annex.


By the first part, on revised estimates resulting from the entry into force of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations in the relevant report by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  It would also decide to establish one P-4 and one General Service level post under section 23, Human Rights, and that the additional amount of $815,625 required by the entry into force should be met from within the resources already appropriated under the programme budget for the 2010-2011 biennium.


By part two, concerning estimates for United Nations special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations in the ACABQ report on the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) and the United Nations Representative to the International Advisory and Monitoring Board (IAMB) of the Development Fund for Iraq.  It would underscore the need for a smooth transition from the Burundi Office’s predecessor, the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB), and approve the budget for BNUB in the amount of $22.14 million (net) for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2011, as well as the budget of $24,600 (net) for the United Nations Representative to IAMB for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2011.


It would also decide to appropriate $7.5 million under section 3, Political Affairs, and $624,800 under section 36, Staff Assessment, to be offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, Income from Staff Assessment, of the programme budget for the 2010-2011 biennium, taking into consideration the $14.64 million already approved for BINUB.  It would further decide to use the unencumbered balance of BINUB to offset part of the required additional appropriation for BNUB.


Under part three, relating to the conditions of service and compensation for full-time members of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) and the ACABQ Chair, the Assembly would again endorse the ACABQ conclusions and recommendations.  It would also decide to discontinue the use of the price index as the basis for annual net compensation for those officials, and decide that the annual net compensation of the ICSC Chair and the ACABQ Chair be set at $224,833, including the special allowance, effective 1 January 2011, and to adjust accordingly the pensionable remuneration to $279,283.


It would further decide that the annual net compensation of the ICSC Vice-Chair be set at $214,833, effective 1 January 2011, and to adjust accordingly the pensionable remuneration to $264,320.  It would decide that, beginning 1 January 2012, the annual net compensation for the three officials would be adjusted subject to a cost-of-living adjustment equivalent to the annual change at the midpoint net base salary of Undersecretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries-General.


By part four, which covers standards of accommodation for air travel, the Assembly would express regret that the Secretary-General had not presented a comprehensive report called for in resolution 63/268, on the basis of a review by the United Nations Chief Executive Board for Coordination and specific proposals on harmonizing standards for United Nations staff travel.  Recognizing the need for efficient, effective air travel, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations in the related ACABQ report, and ask the Secretary-General to ensure that the procurement process for all air travel management services contracts was conducted in full compliance with the general procurement policies stated in the United Nations Financial Regulation 5.12.


The Assembly would also ask the Secretary-General to present, at the first part of its resumed sixty-sixth session, measures to more effectively and efficiently use resources for air travel, including those set out in an annex to the text, and for him to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to conduct a comprehensive audit of all air travel activities.


By the second draft resolution, on the Capital Master Plan (document A/65/646/Add.2), the General Assembly, stressing the importance of effective oversight, transparency and accountability in the management of the renovation project, would endorse the conclusions and recommendations of ACABQ in its report related to the Plan.  It would approve the recommendations in the Board of Auditors’ report, note with concern its findings and emphasize the importance of fully implementing its recommendations.


Further, the Assembly would reiterate its request that the Secretary-General make every effort to avoid budget increases through sound management practices and to ensure by all means that the Plan was completed within the budget as approved in General Assembly resolution 61/251.


On procurement and sustainability, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to continue reviewing all expression-of-interest notices and bid invitations issued by the construction manager, and to continue his thorough review of the project’s contractors.


Concerning security, the Assembly would authorize a security enhancement estimated at $100 million, as reflected in paragraph 6 of the ACABQ report, and decide that all related costs, including those resulting from the delay in the Capital Master Plan caused by the enhancement, would not result in additional assessments to Member States.


Regarding associated costs, the Assembly would reiterate its decision that such approved costs would be financed from the approved budget of the Plan and ask the Secretary-General to make every effort to absorb the 2011 associated costs from within that budget in the total amount of $58.87 million (net), and authorize him to enter into commitment authority of up to $286,300 and to report on expenditures in the context of the next report on proposals for financing the associated costs.


By the draft text contained in the Fifth Committee’s report on the Joint Inspection Unit, which relates to that Unit’s 2010 report and its 2011 programme of work (document A/65/796), the Assembly would stress the need for the Unit to continuously update and improve its medium- and long-term strategy for the 2010‑2019 period, as well as reiterate its request to the Secretary-General for appropriate resources to implement relevant portions of the strategy in the context of the proposed programme budgets, including those for the 2012‑2013 period.


The Assembly would also ask the Unit — an independent external oversight body that carries out evaluations, inspections and investigations across the United Nations system aimed at helping legislative organs of the participating organizations meet their governance responsibilities — to make every effort to ensure future funding requests were made in the context of the established regular budget cycle.


The Assembly, noting the ongoing progress in developing a web-based follow-up system to track the Unit’s recommendations, such as status of acceptance, implementation and impact, would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitment authority of $71,300 from the 2010‑2011 programme budget for that system and request him to report on expenditures in the context of the second performance report.


Further, the Assembly, stressing the importance of optimizing the Unit’s capacity to complete its reports in a timely way, would ask it to improve its future work programmes and prioritize projects in them, so that Member States can easily track each project’s progress in future annual reports.  The Assembly will urge the Unit to strengthen interaction with the focal points of the participating organizations to discuss how they were considering and acting on the Unit’s recommendations.


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