Fifth Committee Takes Up Budget Impact of United Nations Remediation Work in Aftermath of Storm Sandy

15 March 2013
GA/AB/4060

Fifth Committee Takes Up Budget Impact of United Nations Remediation Work in Aftermath of Storm Sandy

15 March 2013
General Assembly
GA/AB/4060
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Fifth Committee

26th Meeting (AM)

Fifth Committee Takes Up Budget Impact of United Nations Remediation Work

 

in Aftermath of Storm Sandy

 

Also Begins Consideration of Study on 2014-2034 Headquarters Accommodation Needs

Immediate measures were needed to mitigate the United Nations Headquarters’ vulnerabilities to future flooding events, delegates warned in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today, as they discussed the costs incurred by the Organization in the aftermath of storm Sandy.

Those costs were likely to total $154.9 million for remediation and mitigation, according to the Secretary-General’s report on the topic, with $137.9 million of that sum being recovered through two insurance policies.  The report estimated that it was probable that an estimated $11 million for content and equipment, exceeding the Organization’s insurance coverage, would not be recoverable and could result in a request for funding at a later date.

A representative of the European Union said he believed that the preliminary claim estimate of $11 million of repairs not being covered by insurance was too low and he was determined to scrutinize the estimates carefully.  The cost of repairs not met by insurance claims should be met through efficiencies and savings and any additional cost requirements should also be absorbed by the Organization.  Resolving to examine whether the sum expected to be paid by insurers was realistic, he stressed the need to negotiate with the insurers to provide the best possible payout and higher interim settlements.

Fiji’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, echoed those sentiments, noting that the inadequacy of current property insurance meant it was vital to immediately pursue measures to mitigate vulnerabilities to future flooding events “to avoid the risk of uninsured financial exposure in the future”.

He went on to raise concerns about the fact that the initial assessment of material damage to the Headquarters building presented “a different picture” in the latest report and he reiterated his belief that the Secretariat’s “communication with the Member States during and in the aftermath of storm Sandy was dismal”.  Despite major investments in information and communications technology, the existing system had “failed to function effectively” and he called on the Secretary-General to take effective remedial action to prevent such occurrences in future emergencies.  Acknowledging the “sincere efforts” made by the Secretariat to restore normal working conditions after the storm, he said future damage from natural disasters could be reduced by responding positively to the after-action review and lessons-learned exercises.

As he introduced the report, Yukio Takasu, Under-Secretary-General for Management, said it set out the Secretary-General’s proposals to meet the cash-flow challenges to the 2012-2013 budget posed by the storm’s effects.  He noted that, although material damage had been contained and “robust insurance coverage” was likely to meet most of the cost of remediation work and mitigation measures, the United Nations would “bear the risk of significant (uninsurable) financial exposure” if it did not implement the measures.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body’s related report, agreeing with the Secretary-General’s proposed short-to-medium-term approach to funding insurance claims and remediation work.  The Working Capital Fund could be used as a cash-flow-bridging mechanism, pending the receipt of insurance settlements, and a multi-year account could be established, he said, though its term should be limited to 31 December 2015.  He was also pleased to see that the after-action review that the Advisory Committee had requested had been made available.

Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet, introduced that after-action review and discussed its recommendations for improvements under five pillars.  The final report focused on the higher-level recommendations that had a more cross-cutting nature and longer-term impact.

Also today, delegates examined the expanded feasibility study on the Headquarters accommodation needs 2014-2034, with the Secretary-General’s report on the subject introduced by Mr. Takasu and the ACABQ’s recalled report introduced by Mr. Ruiz Massieu.

The delegate of Fiji, who spoke for the Group of 77 and China, stressed that any proposal to accommodate Headquarters needs must be in conformity with the original design and respect the historical integrity of the United Nations complex.  He believed that the Secretary-General’s report did not provide a comprehensive analysis of the four options, or include the elements necessary for delegates to make an informed decision.  Meanwhile, he could not find in the report a sound basis for concluding that the third option was the best.  Renovation of the South Annex and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Building were part of the Capital Master Plan, and should not be considered as part of a discussion on long-term accommodation needs.

The European Union’s representative pledged to study the Secretary-General’s request for the United Nations to negotiate with the United Nations Development Corporation on the subject of the viability of the United Nations Consolidation Building.  He said he would also study the new feasibility study’s expanded elements, but concluded that all options should remain open for consideration until more details were received.

The delegate from Algeria emphasized the importance of working to provide something for future generations of colleagues.  Delegates had a duty to ask themselves how they had benefited from previous generations who had created the current legacy of facilities.  Consolidation appealed to him because it harked back to the original value of the Charter, fitting with the original idea of a “unified and manageable Secretariat”.

The representative of Cuba also spoke in the meeting.

The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 20 March, when it will continue its resumed session with discussion of the Review of efficiency — Procurement.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to discuss revised estimates relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 for remediation work in the aftermath of storm Sandy, and the feasibility study on the United Nations Headquarters accommodation needs 2014-2034.

At the start of the meeting, Committee Chair MIGUEL BERGER ( Germany) noted that delegates were working hard and making personal sacrifices to advance discussions on the Committee’s various agenda items and to complete its work on time.  On Tuesday, the Bureau was informed by one regional group that there should be no meetings after 6 p.m. or on weekends, and that there should be no extensions to the established deadline to complete the Committee’s work.  That was a very challenging proposal.  To implement it, the Committee would have to reorganize the way in which it did business.  “But I do believe we can improve the way in which we negotiate,” Mr. Berger said, calling on all delegations to work together in a spirit of compromise.

Revised Estimates in Aftermath of Storm Sandy

YUKIO TAKASU, Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates relating to section 34 of the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 for remediation work in the aftermath of storm Sandy (document A/67/748), which sets out the Secretary-General’s proposals to meet the cash flow challenges for the 2012-2013 budget due to the damage to Headquarters by storm Sandy, which occurred on 29 October 2012.  Despite the storm’s severity and resulting flooding, material damage to the Secretariat was contained.  The core infrastructure was intact, but significant damage occurred to plants and equipment on the third and lower levels of the basement, most notably to the chiller plant, operations-related spaces and printing facilities.

Fortunately, the United Nations had robust insurance coverage under two complementary policies, he said.  They included the builder’s risk insurance policy, with coverage of $100 million, for construction under the Capital Master Plan, and the Organization’s global property insurance policy, with coverage of $50 million, managed by the Office of Central Support Services.  He estimated that $154.9 million would be needed for remediation work and mitigation measures.  That amount comprised an estimated $87.9 million in preliminary claims to be submitted under the builders’ risk policy; $61 million in preliminary claims under the property policy; and an estimated $6 million for mitigation measures not covered by insurance.

Of the $154.9 million, an estimated $137.85 million would be recovered under two insurance programmes in due course, Mr. Takasu said.  Pending the outcome of the insurance claim recovery process, it was probable that an estimated $11 million for content and equipment damages during the storm may not be recoverable from insurance and could result in a request for funding at a later date.  The claims process would be complex and lengthy.  While expenditures for remediation activities would be incurred mainly in 2013, most recoveries under the insurance policies would not be received until the 2014-2015 period.

The Department of Management, therefore, had presented proposals to seek commitment authority and meet cash-flow challenges, pending completion of recoveries from the insurer.  Concerning mitigation measures, the After-Action Review, led by the Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, included a recommendation to reduce the Headquarters’ vulnerability to future flooding.  Such measures were not covered by the Organization’s existing insurance programmes, because the insurers only paid for a “like-to-like” replacement, not enhancement above what was legally mandatory.  The steps needed to reduce vulnerability included the waterproofing of critical electrical rooms in the third basement, relocation of the electrical rooms from the fourth and fifth basements to the third basement, and relocation of automatic fire pumps from the third basement to the second basement.

“We consider it prudent to invest $6 million and to undertake these remedial measures now,” he said.  The level of available insurance coverage for flood damages in the New York area was significantly reduced after storm Sandy.  Moreover, when the Global Property Insurance policy was renewed for 2013, coverage was reduced to $20 million from the previous coverage of $50 million.  “As a result, the United Nations will bear the risk of significant (uninsurable) financial exposure if it does not undertake these measures,” he warned.

Accordingly, the Assembly was being asked to approve some $6.06 million, under section 34 (construction, alteration, improvement and major maintenance) of the 2012-2013 period, needed to carry out urgent preventive work in the basement to ameliorate potential damages in the event of another flood, he said.  The Assembly should authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments of up to $131.4 million during the 2012-2013 biennium and note that, while most costs of the remediation work would be reimbursed under the terms of the insurance policies, an estimated $11.1 million may be needed for content and equipment.  Further, the Assembly should authorize the Secretary-General to use the Working Capital Fund to cover the payments on a cash-flow basis in anticipation of future insurance settlement claims; and it should endorse the Secretary-General’s proposal to set up a multi-year special account for insurance recovery and expenditures relating to damage in the storm’s aftermath.

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the related report (document A/67/789) and said the Advisory Committee agreed with the Secretary-General’s proposed short-to-medium-term approach to funding insurance claims and remediation work.  He recommended that the Secretary-General be authorized to enter into commitments in the current biennium up to $146.4 million and to utilize the Working Capital Fund as a cash-flow-bridging mechanism, pending the receipt of insurance settlements.  He added the Committee did not reject establishment of a multi-year account, but said its term should be limited to 31 December 2015.

He said it would be prudent to take mitigation measures now, particularly given the decrease in the United Nations’ flood insurance coverage since storm Sandy.  In relation to that, he called on the Committee to approve the estimated $6.1 million increase in the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013.  He said that the Advisory Committee report had called for an after-action review led by the Chef de Cabinet to be provided at the earliest opportunity and he was pleased to note that that document had been made available.  On future insurance coverage, while recognizing the constraints faced by the Organization, he called on the Secretary-General to closely monitor the insurance market with a view to purchasing additional coverage, if and when it became available at a reasonable cost.

SUSANA MALCORRA, Chef de Cabinet, discussed the five pillars of the after-action review that she had conducted following storm Sandy.  She said that the final report focused on the higher-level recommendations that had a more cross-cutting nature and longer-term impact.

She said that the review found that activation of the governance and crisis management programme had gone well and that “processes were thoroughly implemented and followed”.  Preparation for the storm had been good, with close links to the New York emergency services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as a strong communications plan being in place.  She said critical operations had continued, despite disruption to the majority of the Secretariat’s work.  The Security Council had met within 48 hours of the storm, for example.  Nonetheless, senior leadership and Senior Emergency Preparedness Teamneeded to be better aware of their roles in the event of a crisis.  While the lack of awareness was, in part, due to the fact that a number of senior managers were new to their roles, training needed to be more regular, ongoing and to be supplemented by regular drills.  There also needed to be more periodic testing of the integrated emergency management framework and it needed to be regularly updated.  She said the Organization could have taken better account of the availability of potential assistance from other United Nations Agencies based in New York and added that a reassessment of contingency planning for major events needed to be conducted as part of the Senior Emergency Preparedness TeamAssessment.

The storm had highlighted the Organization’s total dependence on technology, she said, noting that the dependence was “much higher than recognized”.  Lost infrastructure affected the output of emergency procedures, with some systems prevented from communicating with their backups.  While no data had been lost, some systems had gone offline, highlighting the need for automatic back-up.  She said the report called for more consistency in identifying critical systems, adding that department heads “needed to be upfront” about what was critical.  She noted that the Office of Information and Communications Technology had set-up an internal taskforce for disaster recovery and business continuity, which was drawing up “a clear set of amended plans, eliminating some of the problems seen during the storm.”

She acknowledged that there had been insufficient communications during the storm period and that coordination between the different communications channels “was not well established”.  A single platform should have communicated with United Nations staff and Member States, she said, noting the establishment of a task force to set-up new mechanisms and protocols for communications.  She said that during the recent storm the Organization had reached out in a much more seamless manner, with work under way to set-up a single site for emergency situations.  Work was also being carried out to host the website in Geneva and Brindisi, so that there were other ways to reach the United Nations website if New York failed.  Despite concerns that the United Nations had gone “off radar” during storm Sandy, she said that the Secretary-General had been in close contact with the New York Mayor, as well as the Governors of New York and New Jersey and the Red Cross, to offer the Organization’s support.

She said the United Nations had learned “clear lessons” that its ability to reach out to staff quickly and efficiently was not there.  A review of staff communications during emergencies was in process, with traditional communications trees being tested and alternative ways to process salaries in emergencies being explored.  She added that other United Nations offices were going through similar processes to ensure that they were also able to use the New York office as a backup, if necessary.

On the question of the storm’s impact on physical infrastructure, she said that Under-Secretary-General Takasu had addressed that, but acknowledged that some preparedness needed strengthening.

Statement

PETER THOMSON, (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, acknowledged the Secretariat’s “sincere efforts” to restore normal working conditions following storm Sandy and appreciated the Secretary-General’s steps relating to recovery and remediation and the conclusion of the after-action review.  He said the initial assessment of material damage to the United Nations Headquarters presented “a different picture” in the latest report, with damages to the plant and equipment, the data centre and to the operations-related spaces and printing facilities of particular concern.  The after-action review and lessons-learned exercises were steps in the right direction to prevent future damage from natural disasters, he said, adding that he wished to receive further information on the adequacy of insurance of all United Nations premises against natural disasters, particularly in the context of United Nations Headquarters’ vulnerabilities.  Due to the inadequacy of current property insurance, he said immediate measures were needed to mitigate the vulnerability to future flooding events “to avoid the risk of uninsured financial exposure in the future”.

Noting the Secretary-General’s proposal for a multi-year special account, he said the Organization needed to address the emergencies and mitigation issues sustainably.  He emphasized the importance of accountability and oversight in the implementation of remedial measures and reiterated that he believed “communication with the Member States during and in the aftermath of storm Sandy was dismal”.  Despite major investments in information and communications technology, he said the existing system had “failed to function effectively”, and he called on the Secretary-General to take effective remedial action to prevent such occurrences in future emergencies.

FRANCESCO PRESUTTI, a representative of the European UnionDelegation, recognized the challenges facing Secretariat staff in handling a situation as severe as storm Sandy and he thanked staff for its efforts to maintain the integrity of the United Nations complex.  He noted that, according to preliminary claim estimates, more than $11 million in repairs would not be covered by insurance.  The European Union would want to scrutinize the estimates carefully.  It supported ACABQ’s recommendations that efforts should be made to absorb any requirements not covered by insurance through further efficiencies and savings.  It supported ACABQ’s recommendation to make efforts to absorb the additional requirements, estimated at more than $6 million, for mitigation.  The Union would scrutinize that figure carefully, as well.  Concerning cash flow requirements for the repair work, he stressed the need to negotiate with the insurers to provide the best possible payout and higher interim settlements.  The European Union would also examine whether the expected sum paid by insurance was realistic.  He looked forward to receiving more information on efforts under way to secure coverage beyond the current ceiling.  He supported ACABQ’s recommendation that the Secretary-General should closely monitor the insurance market, with a view to making the Organization adequately insured against all types of risk at a reasonable price.

OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ ( Cuba) noted Ms. Malcorra’s statements on the current and future measures by the Secretariat to address the aftermath of storm Sandy.  It was clear that the United Nations Headquarters and New York City were not prepared to deal with natural phenomena on the scale of storm Sandy.  Caribbean countries like Cuba were aware that prevention measures were essential.  He endorsed Fiji’s statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  He was eager to discuss the matter further in the Committee.   Concerning the Committee’s work methods and conduct, he fully shared the sentiments of Chairman Berger’s statement regarding delegates’ professionalism and the fact that the Committee’s workload had negatively affected their personal lives.  Mr. Berger’s comments on that trend were very appropriate and reflected the feelings of many Committee members.  He also commended Mr. Berger’s professionalism in his capacity as Committee Chair, which reflected the Committee’s professionalism as well.

MOURAD BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) said it was incumbent on Member States and the Secretariat to face adversity when it occurred.  He lauded the steps taken by the Secretariat in the aftermath of storm Sandy and underscored the positive spirit with which the Secretariat was reacting to Committee members’ concerns, with a view to improving the Organization’s functioning.  There were several lessons learned and major steps taken by the Secretariat to address the concerns of both internal and external stakeholders.  While fully aligning himself with Fiji’s statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, he cautioned the Committee’ against falling into the trap of micromanaging the United Nations insurance programme.  “We don’t want to become the insurance department manager of the Secretariat,” he said, in response to the Group’s call for more information on the adequacy of insurance of all United Nations premises against natural disasters, particularly in the context of the Headquarters’ vulnerabilities.  Rather, the focus should be on anticipating insurance needs and on strengthening the Organization in ways that would enable it to sustain operations and rebuild facilities in cases of disaster.  Algeria was willing to engage constructively on that and other issues under the agenda item before the Committee today.

Responding to those comments, Ms. MALCORRA said that the “writing was on the wall” concerning the reality of climate change and natural disasters.  The United Nations Headquarters and New York City at large needed stronger preparedness and mitigation measures to address storms and other weather events, because it was unlikely that insurance plans would cover the ensuing damages to the extent needed.  Undoubtedly, the appetite for providing insurance coverage would diminish.  The Organization may need to invest in other areas to make sure that preparedness matched current and future challenges and addressed the fact that insurance plans may not provide the desired coverage.

Feasibility Study on United Nations Headquarters Accommodation Needs 2014-2034

Mr. TAKASU introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the expanded feasibility study on the United Nations Headquarters accommodation needs 2014-2034 (document A/67/720) responded to ACABQ’s recommendation for further analysis of the feasibility study on accommodation needs.  The expanded study refined several key assumptions, he said, including revision of the projections for future staff population, a downward revision of the gross square foot per person, and the inclusion and expansion of the needs of funds and programmes in line with the “One UN” mandate.  That led to the revision of the total number of staff seated outside United Nations-owned property and requiring consideration by the study.

Four options to meet additional space requirements were considered, he said, describing them and comparing them, noting that the option of meeting off-campus accommodation needs through commercial lease would score low on efficiency, security and achievement of campus effect.  It would also expose the Organization to a “volatile rental market after 2023 and be dependent on landlord parameters”.  He concluded that that option was “economically unfavourable to the Organization in the long-run”.  Meanwhile, he said that the construction of a high-rise building on the North Lawn funded by a third party was constrained by significant legal and commercial considerations.  While the option to construct a high-rise building on the North Lawn funded by a special assessment of Member States entailed no land cost, it did require an upfront outlay of capital costs over $1 billion through assessed contributions by Member States.  Following that course would lead to a contradiction of General Assembly guidance “that major capital expenditure projects are not implemented simultaneously in order to prevent the need to finance them at the same time”.

The other option, which proposed the building of DC-5 by the United Nations Development Corporation (UNDC), would cost an estimated $1.36 billion, including financing costs (interest payment) and $113 million in lieu of the cost of the land, to be funded through the issuance of public bonds by UNDC.  Those bonds would be redeemed through rent payments over 30-35 years under a rent-to-own arrangement, while designs were at a more advanced stage than other options, meaning construction could begin in mid-2014 and be completed in mid-2017.  There would be no up-front capital investment required and the United Nations would eventually own the building.  DC-5, known as the United Nations Consolidation Building, was “the most preferable option to meet the long-term accommodation needs at the United Nations Headquarters”, he said.

Urgent action was required on lease negotiation and signing and the issuance of bonds, he urged, because New York State legislation that allowed the purchase would expire in 2015.  He did not ask Member States to commit to DC-5; rather, he sough authorization “to enter into negotiations with the UNDC” on the most favourable lease terms and on an extension of the lease on DC-1 and DC-2.  The General Assembly would eventually be invited to commit to the plan at its first resumed sixty-eighth session in early 2014, whereupon the lease would be signed and public bonds issued by the UNDC.

On the renovation of the South Annex and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Building, he presented three possible options, including their financial implications.  He went on to note that the report also covered possible uses of the temporary North Lawn building for an interim period.  He suggested the building could be utilized as a “valuable swing space for a few more years until the future shape of long-term accommodation needs becomes clearer”.  With the United Nations engaged in several major facilities projects, sequencing was guided by relevant decisions of the General Assembly, with no major construction project to start until completion of the Capital Master Plan in late-2014.  While the Secretariat intended to engage in negotiation with the United Nations Development Corporation on DC-5, it would continue to explore all other options and would submit a comprehensive report to the resumed sixty-eighth session of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) in early 2014.

Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU introduced ACABQ’s related report on the expanded feasibility study on the United Nations Headquarters accommodation needs 2014-2034 (document A/67/788).  ACABQ found that the information in the Secretary-General’s report was “not complete or comprehensive”.  As a result, ACABQ could not arrive at a conclusion as to which option was the most viable at this stage.  Therefore, all options should be kept open for “full development and consideration”.  ACABQ suggested that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to explore options, including, but not limited to, those presented in the expanded feasibility study, and to submit another report with more comprehensive information.  ACABQ did not object to the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Assembly ask him to enter into negotiations with the United Nations Development Corporation on the proposed DC-5 building, so as to ensure that the proposed building remain a viable option.  But, the authority for the Secretary-General to negotiate, if granted by the Assembly, should refer to all options and should be without prejudice to any Assembly decision on the Headquarters’ long-term office needs.

In Section III of its report, ACABQ discussed several key factors affecting the estimation of office space needs at Headquarters, including population analysis, office space allowance and alternative workplace strategies, and an appropriate balance between owned and leased office space, he said.  While there was merit in including the funds and programmes in the original and expanded feasibility studies, the baseline for calculating the core office space needs should include Secretariat staff only.  Concerning the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and South Annex Buildings, the Secretary-General had not proposed options for renovation, nor their related financial implications, as requested by the Assembly in its resolution 67/246 (section V, paragraph 29).  He recalled that the Assembly, in its resolution 67/246, had not approved the cost reduction related to the proposal to defer removal of the temporary North Lawn Building.  The Secretary-General’s report had not forwarded a proposal that merited reconsideration of the recent decision not to delay demolition of the North Lawn Building.

LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji) speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, reiterated his position that any proposal to accommodate United Nations Headquarters needs must be in conformity with the original design and respect the historical integrity of the United Nations complex.  He expressed regret that the report presented by the Secretary-General did not provide the General Assembly with the necessary elements for an informed decision.  He concurred with the ACABQ that the expanded feasibility study did not provide comprehensive analysis of the four options, nor a sound basis for the conclusion that the third option was the most optimal and, therefore, most preferred by the United Nations.

The Group also questioned the underlying rationale for the linkage between the extension of the leases of DC-1 and DC-2 and the construction of the United Nations Consolidation Building, as proposed by the United Nations Development Corporation.  He said it was “most astonishing” that an entity created with the aim to assist the United Nations community with its office space and other real estate needs would adopt a position detrimental to the work of the Organization.  In regards to the renovation of the South Annex Building and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Building, the Group emphasized that the renovation of these buildings was part of the Capital Master Plan project and should not be brought under the agenda item concerning United Nations long-term accommodation needs.

The information provided did not include a comprehensive explanation on the reasons behind the suspension of the renovation of the South Annex and the Library, he said, adding that it was critical for the General Assembly to consider any proposals regarding the future of these buildings.  With regard to the temporary North Lawn Building, he recalled the clear mandate of the General Assembly for its timely demolition and removal upon completion of the Headquarters renovation.  He called for more detailed information on the proposed options in order for the General Assembly to make an informed decision.

GERTON VAN DEN AKKER, speaking on behalf of the European Union Delegation, took note of the Secretary-General’s request to enter into negotiations with the Development Corporation and other possible entities to ensure that the United Nations Consolidation Building remained a viable option.  He pledged to study that request and the related ACABQ’s view on this in detail when discussing all possible options during upcoming informal consultations, as well as related issues such as implementation of flexible use of office space and flexible working arrangements, total population requirements, the inclusion of the funds and programmes in both the original and expended feasibility studies and the need to respect the commemorative value of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library.

However, he said that the report of the Secretary-General contained insufficient information to enable the General Assembly to take a decision on the future accommodation needs during this first resumed session.  Given the incomplete nature of the information provided in the report and many related uncertainties, he believed all possible options should be kept open for consideration until more details were received.

Mr. TAKASU took the floor again, saying the United Nations Development Corporation had provided the United Nations with space in the DC-1 and DC-2 buildings since the 1970s.  A law had been passed to enable the Development Corporation to use public land to construct the proposed DC-5, he said, with a Memorandum of Understanding enacted under the terms of which they had to act.  No profit was involved in the project, he added, looking forward to the Committee’s authorization for him to continue negotiations.

Mr. BENMEHIDI ( Algeria) then took to the floor, noting the cautiousness of the Secretariat, the ACABQ and the Member States.  His delegation would recommend the gathering of additional details and information to make an informed decision on the options presented.  He said he had been prompted to take the floor because the issue was something of potential benefit to future generations of colleagues.  He said delegates had a duty to ask themselves how they had benefited from previous generations who had worked at the United Nations to create the current legacy of facilities.  He liked the idea of consolidation, saying it harked back to the original values of the Charter and the original values of a properly functioning United Nations.  He said the consolidation building idea fit with the original conception of a “unified and manageable Secretariat” and added that that was the spirit in which he hoped to engage with colleagues.

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