Fifth Committee Takes Up Revised Estimates for 2012-2013 Budget Due to Sustainable Development Conference, Human Rights Council Decisions, Sierra Leone Court

18 December 2012
GA/AB/4056

Fifth Committee Takes Up Revised Estimates for 2012-2013 Budget Due to Sustainable Development Conference, Human Rights Council Decisions, Sierra Leone Court

18 December 2012
General Assembly
GA/AB/4056
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Fifth Committee

21st Meeting (PM)

Fifth Committee Takes Up Revised Estimates for 2012-2013 Budget Due to Sustainable

Development Conference, Human Rights Council Decisions, Sierra Leone Court

 

Also Takes Up Budget Implications of Resolution on Arms Trade Treaty

Conference, Report on Use of Contingency Fund, Financing for Timor-Leste Mission

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon examined revised budgetary estimates for the 2012-2013 cycle related to a diverse array of issues, including sustainable development, decisions of the Human Rights Council, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the arms trade treaty, the contingency fund and financing of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste.

The Organization would need an extra $8.77 million in the current biennium and $10.37 million during 2014 and 2015 to implement the sustainable development road map and commitments made at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, said Johannes Huisman, Director of the Department of Management’s Programme Planning and Budget Division, as he introduced the Secretary-General’s report on that matter.

The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) endorsed the requirements for the current biennium and said it would weigh in on the 2014-2015 figures when the Assembly considered the proposed programme budget for the next biennium, said Chairperson Collen Kelapile, who introduced that body’s related report.

The Conference outcome would have deep, far-reaching implications for the Organization’s work, supplanting its existing institutional, normative and structural sustainable development framework through a multi-year process, Mr. Kelapile said, suggesting that the Secretary-General be asked to supply the Assembly with more detailed information that would aid relevant decision-making. 

Algeria’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, also endorsed the Secretary-General’s request for resources, which were vital to advance the Rio+20 outcome document’s important objective of freeing humanity from poverty and hunger.  He reiterated the Group’s long-standing position that the Assembly must ensure adequate funds for all mandated programmes and activities, and regretted that some of ACABQ’s recommendations appeared to jeopardize the Organization’s ability to implement intergovernmental mandates.

In another report, ACABQ backed the Secretary-General’s request to approve a subvention of $14 million to keep the Special Court for Sierra Leone running from 8 December 2012 through next year, Mr. Kelapile said.  Without the extra funds, the Court — now grappling with a lack of adequate voluntary contributions and a looming $921,156 shortfall — would not be able to operate the last three weeks of December.  That was particularly worrisome, as the Court was completing the appeal in its final case against former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

Côte d’Ivoire, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said it greatly valued the Special Court’s work.  It was unacceptable to allow that body to run out of funds and not be able to complete its judicial proceedings.  States must take collective action, he said, pushing for quick adoption of a decision to provide the Special Court with the requisite resources.

Also today, David Curry, Director of the Department of Management’s Peacekeeping Financing Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s note on UNMIT’s financing arrangements, with the ACABQ’s endorsement introduced by Mr. Kelapile. 

Mr. Huisman and Mr. Kelapile also introduced the reports of the Secretary-General and ACABQ concerning revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at it nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first sessions; programme budget implications for Assembly resolution A/C.1/67/L.11 on the arms trade treaty; and the consolidated statement of programme budget implications of and revised estimates for the contingency fund. 

The Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. Thursday, 20 December, to take action on all outstanding matters.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this afternoon to consider the programme budget biennium 2012-2013 as it relates to revised estimates resulting from decisions contained in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development; revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at it nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first sessions; a request for a subvention to the Special Court for Sierra Leone; programme budget implications for Assembly resolution A/C.1/67/L.11 on the arms trade treaty; a consolidated statement of programme budget implications of and revised estimates for the contingency fund; and financing of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

On the first topic, the Committee had before it two reports.  The Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates resulting from the decisions contained in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled “The future we want” (document A/67/591) sets out the programme budget implications of implementing draft resolution A/66/L.56, on the sustainable development road map and commitments agreed to during the June 2012 conference, known as Rio+20, and asks the Assembly to do the following:

-   Approve $8.77 million, representing a charge against the contingency fund, under the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013, including $1.79 million under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; $3.48 million under section 9, economic and social affairs; $1.4 million under section 18, economic and social development in Africa; $636,800 under section 19, economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific; $819,600 under section 21, economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean; $345,400 under section 22, economic and social development in Western Asia; $98,500 under section 29D, Office of Central Support Services; and $183,000 under section 37, Staff assessment, offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, income from staff assessment.

-   Note that $10.39 million will be included in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015, including $1.17 million under section 2; $5.21 million under section 9; $919,300 under section 18; $507,400 under section 19; $925,600 under section 21; $683,700 under section 22; $314,800 under section 29D; and $659,400 under section 37, offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1.

In a related report (document A/67/641), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) recommends that the Assembly approve the Secretary-General’s proposed appropriations.  ACABQ expects that during the remainder of the biennium, the Secretary-General will continue to make every effort to meet extra requirements from within existing resources.  ACABQ will make its observations and recommendations on the estimated $10.37 million in resource requirements for the next biennium at the time of considering the proposed programme budget for that budget cycle.  It recommends that the Secretary-General be asked to include in his next report information on the overall expenditures needed across the Secretariat to produce the Global Sustainable Development report, details on the one-time expenditures incurred for preparing the Conference and details on the acquisition of office automation equipment.  Future reports of the Secretary-General also should include an update on the strategies and measures to achieve synergies and efficiency gains, as well as information on the division of new and existing roles among United Nations entities involved in sustainable development. 

On the second topic, the Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first sessions (document A/67/607) puts the requirements at $13.6 million under the 2012-2013 programme budget.  Of that amount, $3.07 million relates to activities of a perennial nature and therefore is already included in the budget.  The Assembly is asked to finance $3.08 million through existing resources.  Additionally, it is asked to approve the following:

-   Appropriation of $7.46 million, representing a charge against the contingency fund, including $2.13 million under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; $5.32 million under section 24, human rights; and $13,700 under section 29E, administration, Geneva.

-   Establishment as of 1 January 2013 of one P-3 post under section 24, human rights, to support an independent expert appointment by the Council in its resolution 19/10 on human rights and the environment.

-   In connection with the $7.46 million appropriation, $70,000 will be required under section 37, staff assessment, to be offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, income from staff assessment. 

In its related report (document A/67/647), ACABQ states that before resorting to the contingency fund, efforts should be made to see if relatively small resource requirements for short-term activities could be funded from existing resources.  The $77,200 requested for a panel discussion on corruption’s negative impact on human rights and a panel discussion on the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples should be absorbed, as such.  The $13,700 requested under section 29E should be met from within existing resources.  The positions of Analyst and Archivist can be combined and the budgetary requirements of the commission of inquiry reduced accordingly.  With that in mind, ACABQ recommends approving the Secretary-General’s proposed appropriations. 

On the third topic the Committee considered two reports.  In his report on the request for a subvention to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (document A/67/606), the Secretary-General asks the Assembly to approve a subvention of $14 million for the period from 8 December 2012 through 31 December 2013 for the Special Court under the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  He notes that he informed the Security Council President in an 8 November 2012 letter that, despite fundraising efforts, a lack of sufficient voluntary contributions could cause the Special Court to run out of funds.  It will experience a $921,156 shortfall at year’s end 2012 and, unless funds are made available, it will not be able to operate during the last three weeks of December.  That was particularly concerning since the Court was in the process of completing the appeal in its final case against former Liberian President Charles Taylor.

In its related report (document A/67/648), ACABQ, noting the importance of the Special Court’s activities and the trial in progress, recommends the Assembly approve, as an exceptional measure, a subvention of up to $14 million and that the Secretary-General enter into commitments in that amount under the provisions of paragraph 11 of annex 1 to resolution 41/213 of 19 December 1986, under special political missions in section 3, Political affairs, of the 2012-2013 programme budget.

ACABQ also asks the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session on implementation of the subvention during the current biennium and on the status of the voluntary contributions for the Special Court.  ACABQ makes that recommendation on the basis that, in line with section XII, paragraph 6, of Assembly resolution 65/259, any regular budget funds appropriated for the Special Court will be refunded to the United Nations when the Court is liquidated, should sufficient voluntary contributions be made; and the Secretariat, Management, Registrar and other senior officials of the Special Court will intensify efforts to fund the Court’s activities through voluntary contributions. 

On programme budget implications, the Committee had before it a document on the arms trade treaty (document A/C.5/67/13) in which the Secretary-General lays out the requirements for implementation of draft resolution A/C.5/67/L.11 of an extra $563,800 for the biennium 2012-2013, to facilitate in New York from 18 to 28 March 2013 the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.  The additional funding requirements — comprising $380,600 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; $134,200 under section 4, Disarmament; and $49,000 under section 29D, Office of Central Support Services — would represent a change against the contingency fund, therefore requiring the Assembly’s approval.

In a related report (document A/67/649), ACABQ has no objections to the proposed $89,000 for travel of the President-designate of the Conference for consultations, but it does not recommend approving the proposed $45,200 for a consultant under section 4.  As it has received justification on how the proposed requirements of $380,600 under section 2 and the $49,000 under section 29D have been reviewed and whether they could be met through existing resources, it recommends that the Secretary-General make every effort to absorb them, failing which the additional expenditures for implementing activities should be reflected in the context of the second performance report for the biennium 2012-2013.

Taking those factors into account, ACABQ recommends that the Committee inform the Assembly that, should it adopt draft resolution A/C.1/67/L.11, an extra $89,000 under section 4 would be required in the 2012-2013 budget, representing a charge against the contingency fund.

Concerning the contingency fund, the Committee had before it two reports.  The Secretary-General’s report on the contingency fund:  consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates (document A/C.5/67/15) states that, taking into account ACABQ’s recommendations at the time of reporting, the potential charges would total $19.74 million, which exceeds by $5.98 million the remaining balance in the contingency fund of $13.76 million.  The report provides a breakdown of the potential charges by budget section.  The Assembly is asked to consider those charges related to new and expanded mandates.

In its report (document A/67/650), ACABQ recalls its previous observation that it is the Secretary-General’s responsibility, as the Organization’s chief administrative officer, to ensure that the proposed programme budget presents the fullest possible picture of the Organization’s requirements for any given biennium.  ACABQ reiterates its recommendation that the Secretary-General be asked to analyze the way in which the contingency fund has been utilized in the current biennium.  In the future, every effort should be made to incorporate additional requirements into the budget proposals.  If a full submission of items is not possible, indicative resource estimates should be reflected in the proposed programme budget in order to give Member States the most comprehensive information available at the time.  

The Secretary-General is responsible for informing the Assembly thoroughly and accurately whether sufficient resources exist for implementing a new activity.  The contingency fund is an essential budgetary instrument for addressing extra resource requirements.  The Secretary-General should bring any problems caused by constraints to the Assembly’s attention in a timely way.  With that in mind, the Assembly may wish to consider the potential charges set forth in paragraph 7 of document A/C.5/67/15 and accordingly offer appropriate guidance to the Secretary-General. 

On the final topic, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s note on the financing arrangements for the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (document A/67/618), which lays out the resource requirements for that mission, known as UNMIT.  It notes the $162.2 million appropriated, under the terms of Assembly resolution 66/270, for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (including $155.43 million to maintain UNMIT; $6.43 million for the support account for peacekeeping operations; and $351,200 for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy) and the $78.39 million assessed for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2012 (including $75 million to maintain the Mission; $3.21 million for the support account for peacekeeping operations; and $175,600 for the United Nations Logistics Base).

It asks the Assembly to approve the following, taking into account those amounts:

-   Assess $11.59 million gross ($11.17 million net) to maintain UNMIT during the period from 1 July to 31 December 2012;

-   Assess $10.1 million gross ($9.66 million net) for the period from 1 January to 30 April 2013 for the anticipated administrative liquidation of the Mission, subject to a Council decision;

-   Assess $3.21 million gross ($2.89 million net) for the support account for peacekeeping operations and $175,600 gross ($107,350 net) for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2013.

In its related report (document A/67/638), ACABQ says the Secretary-General’s report did not respond to ACABQ’s request for a breakdown of the specific activities and outputs.  It looks forward to receiving that information in the next report.  With that in mind, ACABQ backs the Secretary-General’s proposed resource requirements.

Programme Budget for Biennium 2012-2013

JOHANNES HUISMAN, Director, Programme Planning and Budget Division, first presented the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates resulting from decisions contained in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (document A/67/591), saying that additional requirements were estimated at $8.77 million for the proposed programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium.  In addition, $10.37 million would be required for 2014-2015, to be considered in the context of the proposed programme budget for that biennium.

He then presented the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its nineteenth, twentieth and twenty first sessions (document A/67/607).  Total budgetary requirements were estimated at $13.60 million for the 2012-2013 biennium, of which $3.06 million related to activities of a “perennial nature”.  Some $3.07 million was proposed to be financed through the redeployment of existing resources, and $7.46 million represented additional requirements, under section 2 (General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management), section 24 (human rights) and section 29E (administration, Geneva).

He said it was proposed that those requirements be financed from additional appropriations in the context of the contingency fund for the 2012-2013 biennium.  As regards additional requirements resulting from Council resolution 19/22 entitled, “Human Rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic”, he said the ACABQ’s agreement on $2.1 million in commitments — under General Assembly resolution 66/249 on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses — had been sought and received in April 2012.  The related expenditures had been reported separately in the context of the first performance report on the programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium.

Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on the subvention to the Special Court of Sierra Leone (document A/67/606), he said it requested a $14 million subvention to supplement voluntary contributions received and pledges to be collected by the Court.  The Assembly had authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $9.06 million for the subvention for the 1 January to 31 July 2012 period.  Earlier this year, at the Court’s request, the Assembly extended the implementation period beyond 31 July 2012.

He went on to say that voluntary contributions were not sufficient to cover the Court’s operations beyond the first week of December 2012, noting that more than $921,156 likely would be required for the Court’s operation through the end of the year.  In addition, an estimated $13.1 million would be needed for the Court’s operations in 2013.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.1/67/L.11 entitled “The Arms Trade Treaty”, he said $563,800 in total additional resources would arise for the 2012-2013 biennium, under section 4 (disarmament); under section 2 (General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management); and under section 29D (Office of Central Support Service).  That would represent a charge against the contingency fund, and as such, require an additional appropriation for the 2012-2013 biennium to be approved by the Assembly.

Regarding the consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates vis-à-vis the contingency fund, he said the Assembly, in its resolution 66/247, had approved $26.7 million in charges, leaving a balance of $13.8 million in the fund for the current biennium.  Potential charges would amount to $19.7 million, which exceeded the remaining balance by $5.9 million.  Taking into account the ACABQ’s latest recommendations, potential charges would amount to $17.7 million, which would exceed the fund’s remaining balance by $3.9 million.  As the format of the budget no longer contained priority setting information approved by States, alternative options for reallocation or reduction of resources between high and low priority mandated programme elements would require Assembly approval.

The Assembly was requested to consider the potential charges related to new and expanded mandates against the contingency fund, he added.

COLLEN KELAPILE, Chair of the ACABQ, introduced the related reports.  In its report on the revised estimates resulting from the decisions contained in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, entitled “The future we want” (document A/67/641), ACABQ recognized that the Conference outcome would have deep, far-reaching implications for the Organization’s work, supplanting its existing institutional, normative and structural sustainable development framework through a multi-year process.  ACABQ welcomed the focus in the Conference’s outcome document on the need to promote synergies and coherence; avoid duplication and eliminate unnecessary overlap in the United Nations system; and reduce administrative burdens and build on existing arrangements.  Given the initiative’s complexity, ACABQ suggested that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to enhance the information available to the Assembly for decision-making on those proposals. 

In its report on the revised estimates resulting from decisions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first sessions (document A/67/647), ACABQ stated that proposals for extra resources to implement new mandates should include a clear analysis of actual expenditures in respect of similar activities and the current status of expenditure under the affected budget sections.  ACABQ, noting some lack of consistency in the Secretary-General’s approach for how to finance the extra requirements, called for clear criteria in that regard.  Concerning resolution 19/11 on the rights of persons with disabilities:  participation in political and public life, ACABQ recommended that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to ensure that content on all United Nations websites be fully accessible to people with disabilities and to report thereon in the context of the 2014-2015 proposed programme budget.

Concerning the request for a subvention to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (document A/67/648), ACABQ, in light of the Special Court’s fundraising challenges, expressed concern about the sustainability of voluntary contributions to finance the Residual Mechanism’s activities.  In that regard, ACABQ recommended that the Secretary-General be asked to analyze lessons learned from the Special Court’s experience and to examine alternate means of financing the Residual Mechanism’s activities.

In its report on the programme budget implications of the draft resolution A/C.1/67/L.11 on the arms trade treaty (document A/67/649), ACABQ recommended that the Fifth Committee inform the Assembly that, should it adopt draft resolution A/C.1/67/L.11, an extra $89,000 under section 4 would be required in the 2012-2013 budget.  That would represent a charge against the contingency fund and, as such, require appropriation for the biennium.

In its report on the contingency fund (document A/67/650), ACABQ stated that if the Assembly approved the Secretary-General’s proposed appropriations, the fund would have a shortfall of $3.92 million.  ACABQ recalled its previous observation that recognized that, while extra resource requirements must be considered and that it was not always possible to fit new initiatives in the biennial cycle of the regular budget, the Secretary-General was responsible for ensuring the proposed budget gave the fullest possible picture of the Organization’s requirements for the biennium.  ACABQ also stressed the need to adhere to Assembly resolutions 41/213 and 42/211 on the contingency fund’s use.

Statements

MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Rio+20 outcome document had enshrined the bold international commitment to free humanity from poverty and hunger.  Such objectives were important to his delegation.  The new mandates conferred on the United Nations by the outcome document highlighted its role in that endeavour.  The Secretary-General had requested that the Assembly approve $8.77 million in additional appropriations to finance the mandates emanating from Rio+20 in the current biennium.  He also noted the resource requirement that would need to be included in the 2014-2015 biennium budget proposal.

The ACABQ had endorsed those requests, he said, noting that such resources were essential to advance the Rio+20 decisions.  A number of other revised estimates and programme budget implications had been submitted to the Fifth Committee.  He reiterated the Group’s long-standing position that resources to be approved by the Assembly must be commensurate with all mandated programmes and activities, to ensure their full and effective implementation.  He regretted that some of the ACABQ’s recommendations appeared to jeopardize the United Nations ability to implement intergovernmental mandates.  The Group would examine each of the documents and seek to contribute to the Committee’s discharge of its responsibility for ensuring adequate financing for United Nations activities.

BROUZ RALPH COFFI (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the African Group, recalled that resolution 1325 (2000) requested the Secretary-General to negotiate an agreement with Sierra Leone with a view to creating an independent Special Court that would prosecute persons responsible for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law.  The Group greatly valued that Court’s work.  Despite 95 fundraising meetings held in 2012, as well as 154 fundraising letters, the Court still had been unable to secure voluntary contributions to complete its mandate.

Given that the Court could run out of funds, the Group was concerned that it would be unable to complete its mandate, he said, including the appeal in its final case, an unacceptable situation for which States must take collective action.  The Court would see a $921,156 shortfall at the end of 2012, as well as $13.07 million for 2013.  The Secretary-General had requested a $14 million subvention for the Court to complete its work for the period through 31 December 2013.  The Group strongly supported that proposal and would push for quick adoption of a decision to provide the Court with resources required to complete its judicial proceedings.

Financing of United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)

DAVID CURRY, Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, Department of Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s note on the financing arrangements for UNMIT for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 July 2013 (document A/67/618).  He noted that projected expenditures to maintain UNMIT for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2012 were $86.56 million, or $11.6 million above the amount assessed for the same period, due to the Mission’s drawdown.  By its resolution 66/270, the Assembly also decided to assess $84 million for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2013 subject to a decision of the Security Council to extend UNMIT’s mandate.  In his report to the Council (document S/2012/765), the Secretary-General recommended that UNMIT continue with its phased drawdown until completion of its mandate on 31 December 2012.  The report of the Council mission to Timor-Leste (document S/2012/889) indicated that UNMIT concurred with the Secretary-General’s recommendation.

Should the Council decide not to extend UNMIT’s mandate beyond 31 December 2013, the cost of the Mission’s drawdown and anticipated administrative liquidation would be within the resources approved by resolution 66/270.  Given that requirements were assessed only up to 31 December 2012, and pending issuance and approval of a revised budget subject to a Council decision, an extra assessment of $25.08 million was requested within the approved appropriation in order to fund UNMIT’s operations, including $3.4 million for the support account and the United Nations Logistics Base.

Mr. KELAPILE then introduced the ACABQ’s report on financing arrangements for the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) for the 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 period (document A/67/638).  The ACABQ recommended that the Assembly approve an additional assessment of $11.60 million gross ($11. million net) for the Mission’s maintenance during the 1 July to 31 December 2012 period.

He said the ACABQ also recommended approval of a $10.09 million gross ($9.65 million net) assessment for the 1 January to 30 April 2013 period for the Mission’s administrative liquidation, subject to decision by the Security Council, as well as a $3.21 million gross ($2.90 million net) assessment for the support account for peacekeeping operations, and $175,600 gross ($107,350 net) for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, for the 1 January to 30 June 2013 period.

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