Budget Committee Takes Up Reports of Office for Partnerships, Committee for Programme and Coordination

7 October 2011
GA/AB/4001

Budget Committee Takes Up Reports of Office for Partnerships, Committee for Programme and Coordination

7 October 2011
General Assembly
GA/AB/4001
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

6th Meeting (AM)

Budget Committee Takes Up Reports of Office for Partnerships,

 

Committee for Programme and Coordination

 

In Address, General Assembly President Urges Committee, In Budget Year,

To ‘Work as Part of Same Team’ to Reach Timely Decisions, Save Scarce Resources

As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) took up its agenda item on programme planning today, delegates praised the work of the United Nations main subsidiary body for planning, programming and coordination and urged managers in the Secretariat to diligently implement its conclusions and recommendations concerning the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.

Argentina’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, welcomed the guidance provided by the Committee for Programme and Coordination on the changes in the strategic framework for the 2012-2013 period, specifically endorsing its conclusions and recommendations for the Organization’s new entity on gender equality, UN Women, which included an important set of constructive amendments. 

He welcomed the United Nations steps to support the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and fully endorsed the Programme and Coordination Committee’s recommendation that the Secretary-General urgently fill the vacant post of Under-Secretary-General in charge of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.  The Fifth Committee had never received the report it had been promised on the matter last year.  He also welcomed ongoing cooperation among the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), and the Joint Inspection Unit, and encouraged more effective dialogue and cooperation among those entities.

Cuba’s representative, who reaffirmed that programme planning was essential for the Organization’s functioning, echoed the Group of 77’s call on the Secretariat to strictly abide by the legislative mandates as it created the strategic frameworks for UN Women.  But he reiterated his concern over the lack of reports presented by the Joint Inspection Unit to the Programme and Coordination Committee, saying that infringed on the recommendation adopted at the body’s forty-seventh session. 

The outcomes of the Programme and Coordination Committee’s fifty-first session had reaffirmed the relevance of its recommendations and conclusions, he continued, expressing hope that the amendments finally approved for the reviewed logical frameworks would lead to their prompt publication and expressing his Government’s willingness to quickly reach a draft resolution on that issue.

The findings of the Programme and Coordination Committee were documented in its report on its fifty-first session, which was introduced today by Gaston Lasarte, who had chaired that session.

Regarding the Fifth Committee’s agenda item on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011, Venketachalam Krishnan, Chief of Operations for the United Nations Office for Partnerships, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the work of that Office.  Afterwards, the Committee adopted a draft decision in which it took note of that report.  

Also today, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser addressed the Committee, saying he had identified “United Nations reform and revitalization” as a main area of focus for the current session.  Any sincere efforts towards that aim required financial and human resources; authority, oversight and accountability; and the political will to support and implement reform initiatives.  The important task of addressing those critical issues fell into “the capable hands” of the Fifth Committee, which should endeavour to improve its working methods.

“In this regard, I would emphasize that respecting the closing date for the completion of the work of the Fifth Committee, that is Friday, 9 December, 2011, would bode well for the Committee’s credibility as a responsible body”, he said.  A focused approach to negotiations and “working as part of the same team” would lead to timely decisions, save the Organization’s scarce resources and contribute to improving the overall working environment.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 11 October, to begin its debate on improving the financial situation of the United Nations.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to consider programme planning and the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.

It had before it the report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on the work of its fifty-first session (document A/66/16, chapters I, II.B, III and IV), issued after the Committee held its substantive session from 6 June to 1 July 2011.  The Committee is the main subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly for planning, programming and coordination.  It is involved with regulations and rules governing programme planning, the programme aspects of the budget, the monitoring of implementation and the methods of evaluation.

In a set of conclusions and recommendations starting on page 6 of the report, the Committee for Programme and Coordination recommends that the Assembly change the wording of programme 2, political affairs; programme 7, Economic and social affairs; programme 12, Human settlements; and programme 18, Economic and social development in the Secretary-General’s consolidated report of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  It lists the specific changes to be made.

The Programme Committee reiterates the need to improve the effectiveness of management indicators used to evaluate programme questions and recommends that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to take concrete measures to ensure evaluation has the greatest possible impact on the United Nations system’s medium- and long-term strategic planning.  During its meetings in June, the Programme Committee considered the reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) that evaluated the programmes of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, special political field missions led by the Department of Political Affairs but supported by the Department of Field Support, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  It lists its conclusions and recommendations following its evaluation of the OIOS reports.

Under the programme budget for the biennium 2010-1011 heading was the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Office for Partnerships (document A/66/188), which oversees the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), the United Nations Democracy Fund and the Partnership Advisory Services and gives detailed summaries of each of those bodies’ activities in 2010.

It states that as of 31 December 2010, the Partnerships Office had programmed through UNFIP — the interface for partnership between the United Nations and the United Nations Foundation, the public charity responsible for administering Robert E. Turner’s $1 billion contribution in support of United Nations causes — more than $1.17 billion, including $0.4 billion in core Turner Funds and $0.7 billion from other partners, for 507 projects implemented by 43 United Nations entities in 124 countries.  Annex I of the report gives a description of those projects. 

Thorough the Democracy Fund, the Office has channelled approximately $95 million to more than 340 projects in 150 countries worldwide on strengthening civil society leadership skills, promoting women’s and youth’s participation, and promoting civil society’s voice in media programmes.  Concerning the Organization’s Partnership Advisory Services, which provides advice on how to best develop and implement public-private partnerships, the report noted that the number of private sector entities that had sought advice had increased significantly.

Statement by General Assembly President

General Assembly President NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER said he had identified “United Nations reform and revitalization” as a main area of focus for the current session.  Any sincere efforts towards Organizational reform and revitalization could not succeed without ensuring the following three pre-requisites:  the provision of financial and human resources; authority, oversight and accountability; and the political will to support and implement reform initiatives.

The important task of addressing those critical issues fell into “the capable hands” of the Fifth Committee.  He gave great importance to the work of the Assembly’s key administrative and budgetary body, which had traditionally acted very responsibly in carrying out its duties under the Charter, and had remarkably adhered to the principle of consensus as the basis of its work.

The sixty-sixth session was a budget year and the Fifth Committee bore a heavy responsibility as its efficiency, effectiveness and decision-making processes were very important to a large majority of the United Nations membership.  It would be appropriate for the Committee to identify areas where it could make progress in its organization of work.  In the context of the Assembly’s reform and revitalization, there was broad recognition of the need to improve the Committee’s working methods.  While identifying a new set of measures would help contribute to a healthy debate, the implementation of existing ones would be an important step in the right direction.

“In this regard, I would emphasize that respecting the closing date for the completion of the work of the Fifth Committee, that is Friday, 9 December, 2011, would bode well for the Committee’s credibility as a responsible body,” he said.  It was important that Member States applied a focused approach to their negotiations.  Relying on interactive sessions, negotiating in good faith, understanding each others’ concerns and priorities, and “working as part of the same team” would lead to timely decisions.  That would save the Organization’s scarce resources and contribute to improving the overall working environment, he added.

Introduction of Reports

The Committee then turned to its agenda item on programme planning.

GASTON LASARTE, Chair of the fifty-first session of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, introduced the Committee’s report (document A/66/16), on the session held from 6 June to 1 July.  He noted that the 35-member body still had four vacant seats, including for the Eastern European Group and the Asian Group.  Regarding the United Nations programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011 and proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013, the Committee proposed changing the indicator for assessing progress in technical and regional cooperation in United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) (programme 12, subprogramme 3). 

In terms of planning, the Programme Committee made several conclusions and recommendations on two recently created entities:  UN Women and the United Nations Office to the African Union, he said.  The Programme Committee recommended changes to 23 paragraphs in the report on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 on expected results, progress indicators and the strategic objectives of new institutions and their mandates.  In its scrutiny of the OIOS evaluation reports of various United Nations offices, it recommended improving the methodology for conducting assessments and ensuring regular follow-up on progress, ensuring sufficient financial and staffing resources and a more systematic approach to evaluating OIOS activities, and making better use of in-house experts to carry out evaluations.

He said the Programme Committee would evaluate the programmes of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at its 2013 session.  In its evaluation of the OIOS report of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the Programme Committee underscored the need to adopt steps to correct and reduce the Department’s weaknesses by focusing more on strategic priorities and clarifying its specific role in capacity-building.

In scrutinizing the OIOS report on the triennial review of the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made at its forty-eighth session concerning special political field missions, the Committee took note of the progress in improving mission strategic planning, but noted with concern that some of the OIOS recommendations had not been implemented, he said.  Moreover, the Committee recommended that that the Secretary-General ensure full implementation of comprehensive strategic planning, in the context of results-based budgeting, particularly as it concerned more meaningful achievement indicators and betters links between the field missions’ objectives, activities and achievements.

On the question of coordination, the Programme Committee made recommendations relating to the annual overview report of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2010/11, among them, that the Assembly bring to the attention of the Secretary-General, in his capacity of Chair of the Board, the need for the Board to act in accordance with its mandate of enhancing system-wide coordination, he said.  Also in that capacity, the Secretary-General should be asked to report on the United Nations challenges and opportunities resulting from the Rio+20 Conference in 2012. 

As for support for NEPAD, he said the Programme Committee noted that the United Nations system must renew its commitment by rationalizing a results-based system to monitor and evaluate the impact of its support for implementing the Partnership.  It also recommended that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to adopt the necessary measures to create synergies between the United Nations entities participating in the cluster system in order to eliminate the duplication of work and the inefficient use or resources. 

Statements

SEBASTIÁN DI LUCA (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, welcomed the Programme Committee’s guidance on the changes in the strategic framework for the 2012-2013 period, and stressed that setting the priorities of the United Nations was the sole prerogative of Member States.

He reiterated the Group’s view that the strategic framework was a tool to let Member States evaluate the work of the different United Nations entities as they carried out their various functions and then allocate appropriate resources to them.  In that context, the Group endorsed the conclusions and recommendations adopted by the Programme Committee regarding the proposed strategic framework of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) that included an important set of constructive amendments.

Turning to that Committee’s recent consideration of a report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on strengthening the role of evaluation and the application of evaluation findings on programme design, delivery and policy directives, the Group expected that the Programme Committee’s recommendations and conclusions were diligently implemented by managers in the Secretariat.

The Group continued to strongly believe that the United Nations Chief Executive Board (CEB) should play an important role in improving the coordination in the United Nations system and enhancing the Organization’s effectiveness.  As Chairman of the CEB, the Secretary-General should continue to take actions to enhance the Board’s transparency and accountability to Member States.  The Group welcomed continued cooperation among the CEB, the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), and the Joint Inspection Unit, and encouraged a more effective dialogue and cooperation among those entities.

He went on to welcome the steps taken by the United Nations systems to support the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Programme Planning Committee’s debate on the issue during its recent session.  In that context, the Group found it difficult to understand the delay in filling the vacant post of Under-Secretary-General in charge of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa.  It fully endorsed the conclusions of the Programme Committee contained in paragraph 131 of its report, which, among other things, urged the Secretary-General to fill that post.  The Fifth Committee was promised a report on the matter during the main part of the sixty-fifth session and the document had never been officially produced.  The Group simply expected urgent action on the issue.

JORGE CUMBERBATCH (Cuba) said programme planning was essential for the Organization’s functioning and it was an exercise that enabled the legislative mandates of the various organs and intergovernmental entities of the United Nations to become concrete consensual activities.  Cuba reaffirmed the Programme and Coordination Committee, as the main subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council for planning, programming, supervision and coordination.  Cuba reiterated its concern over the lack of reports presented by the Joint Inspection Unit to the Programme Planning Committee.  That infringed on the recommendation adopted at its forty-seventh session, which was echoed in Assembly resolution 62/224.

Noting that the Programme Committee this summer reviewed the first logical frameworks for the normative work of UN Women, he said the Secretariat had to strictly abide by the legislative mandates as it created the strategic frameworks for the entity.  Cuba promoted a group of constructive amendments aimed at aligning the UN-Women logical framework with that concept.

He noted that the Group of 77 developing countries and China had expressed its concern for three years about the consolidation of the mandate of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa with the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States.  Paragraph 131 of the Programme Committee’s report emphasized that the issue had already been endorsed by the Assembly itself.  A report on that “thorny issue” was promised last year, but the document never reached the Member States.  “For our part, we only want that the problem created be resolved once and for all by the leadership of the Secretariat of the Organization,” he said.

The outcomes of the Programme Committee’s fifty-first session had reaffirmed the relevance of its recommendations and conclusions, which Cuba endorsed, he said.   Cuba hoped the amendments finally approved for the reviewed logical frameworks led to their prompt publication.  Cuba was willing to quickly reach a draft resolution on the issue, he added.

Introduction of Report

VENKETACHALAM KRISHNAN, Chief of Operations for the United Nations Office for Partnerships, introduced the Secretary-General’s report (document A/66/188) on the work of that Office.  The report covered the three main entities that the Office oversees:  the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, the United Nations Democracy Fund, and Partnerships Advisory Services and Outreach.  He gave the Committee a two-page summary of the information in the report.

UNFIP was created in 1998 to serve as an interface between the United Nations Foundation and the United Nations system.  He said that that ongoing partnership had helped the United Nations receive net additional resources, through UNFIP, of about $1.2 billion for programmes and projects in the four main areas of the Foundation’s work.  Those areas were:  women and children’s health; women and population; environment; and peace, security and human rights.  Annex 1 of the Secretary-General’s report laid out the distribution of 507 projects in 124 countries, he said.  The composition of the Advisory Board for the Democracy Fund and UNFIP was laid out in Annex V and II of the Secretary-General’s report.

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