Human Resources Management Reform, Accountability System, Remediation after Storm Sandy among Issues, as Fifth Committee Approves 8 Consensus Texts
Human Resources Management Reform, Accountability System, Remediation after Storm Sandy among Issues, as Fifth Committee Approves 8 Consensus Texts
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
27th Meeting (PM)
Human Resources Management Reform, Accountability System, Remediation after Storm
Sandy among Issues, as Fifth Committee Approves 8 Consensus Texts
Also Approves Drafts on Information Technology Management, Common System;
Will Meet in Plenary Next Week to Act on Remaining Draft Text, Conclude Session
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon approved by consensus eight draft texts addressing, among other issues, human resources management, progress in setting up an accountability system in the United Nations and the cost to recover from the damage to Headquarters caused by storm Sandy last October, while failing to reach agreement on a decision to defer several agenda items to a later session.
The text on human resources management set forth the Committee’s views on management reform, recruitment and staffing, activities of the Ethics Office, the Secretary-General’s mobility initiative and his policy on disciplinary matters and possible criminal behaviour by staff.
By that text’s terms, the Assembly, stressing the fundamental importance of management reform to enhance the Organization’s efficiency and effectiveness, would ask the Secretary-General to report during the main part of the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session on implementation of ongoing reforms, with a focus on whether they were yielding the expected benefits and other concrete improvements.
Further, the Assembly, noting with serious concern the slowness in filling vacant posts and in achieving full gender parity among staff, would ask the Secretary-General to report on the reasons for such delays and ways to rectify them. The Secretary-General would also be called upon to implement a more effective tool to ensure an equitable geographical distribution in relation to the posts financed through the regular budget.
Explaining his position after that text’s adoption, Iran’s representative said paragraph 71 on staff management was inconsistent with the spirit of international labour laws and standards. Not only had the Joint Inspection Unit’s recommendation for improving and upgrading the Organization’s labour standards been ignored, but the policy had been changed to “old and outdated regulations”, he said. He said it was “regrettable” that the Organization would “shy away” from its labour obligations.
The Russian Federation’s representative drew attention to several of the text’s references to the Secretary-General’s proposals on staff mobility and said the Assembly should clarify elements of the proposed new system. He looked forward to a serious conversation during the next session on how the Secretariat should perform in the twenty-first century, particularly on its personnel make-up and its management, and pledged support for an open, transparent and easily understandable system.
By another consensus text, the Assembly, concerned about the ineffectiveness of the Organization’s current systems for monitoring and evaluating progress and performance and the weaknesses in its financial reporting arrangements, would ask the Secretary-General to start implementing the results-based management framework in a phased manner and take further steps to ensure the Compacts systems became a meaningful, powerful accountability instrument.
As part of a wide-ranging text approved today on “special subjects” related to the programme budget for the 2012-2013 biennium, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments of up to $6.06 million for construction and mitigation work and up to $131.42 million for remediation work to enable the Organization to recover from storm Sandy.
Further to that text, the Assembly would pronounce itself on the report of the Board of Auditors on audit and evaluation of information and communications technology in the Secretariat, the emergency management system, the feasibility study on the Headquarters 2014-2034 accommodation needs, the Organization’s safety and security management system, and the standards of accommodation for air travel.
The Committee also sent the Assembly consensus texts on the United Nations common system, the report of the Joint Inspection Unit, the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system.
Addressing the Committee before action on the drafts, Susana Malcorra, Chef de Cabinet of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, said she recognized the “significant value” of several of the texts, particularly on the accountability framework. Also, the Committee’s consideration of revised estimates for the cost to recover from storm Sandy would facilitate the Organization’s plans to protect the buildings against future disasters. In addition, the Committee’s consideration of the Secretary-General’s proposals on official travel would lead to more effective, efficient travel.
Additionally, the Committee was unable to reach agreement on the draft decision that asked the Assembly to defer several items until the second part of its resumed sixty-seventh session — including the Secretary-General’s reports on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict; implementation of the report of the Senior Advisory Group on the rates of reimbursement to troop-contributing countries and other related issues, as well as the related Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions report, and a letter dated 9 November 2012 from the Assembly President addressed to the Committee Chair on that subject. Still, other agenda items would be deferred to the sixty-eighth session.
After action on the texts, Committee Chair Miguel Berger ( Germany) suspended the meeting so that delegations could continue informal negotiations on the report of the Senior Advisory Group. Several delegates, however, notably from Fiji (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China) and India, stressed the need to wrap up negotiations, at the earliest, on that agenda item and were opposed having the item deferred.
The representatives of the Russian Federation. United Kingdom, United States, Pakistan, France, China, Japan, Brazil and Jordan also spoke.
The Committee will reconvene next week to take action on the decision concerning questions deferred for future consideration and conclude the first part of its resumed session.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to conclude the first part of its resumed sixty-seventh session and take action on all related draft resolutions.
A text on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/C.5/67/L.23) focused on six areas: information and communications technology (ICT): report of the Board of Auditors on audit and evaluation of ICT in the United Nations Secretariat; organizational resilience management system: the emergency management framework; the feasibility study on the United Nations Headquarters accommodation needs 2014-2034; revised estimates relating to section 34 of the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 for remediation work in the aftermath of storm Sandy; the safety and security management system for the United Nations; and standards of accommodation for air travel.
By its terms, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations in the reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the Board of Auditors on those subjects. It would ask the Secretary-General to propose a revised ICT strategy by the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session; include a comprehensive management framework based on well-defined concepts and effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in that strategy; and implement his action plan to strengthen information security as a matter of priority.
The Assembly would approve the organizational resilience management system approach as the emergency management framework, as well as ask the Secretary-General to give a detailed accounting of the full cost of that initiative and submit a progress report on its implementation during the first part of the Assembly’s resumed sixty-eighth session.
Further, the Assembly, noting that the Secretary-General’s expanded study on the Headquarters’ long-term accommodation needs was not sufficiently precise or comprehensive to facilitate decision-making by the Assembly, nor did it give equal treatment to all the options presented, would ask the Secretary-General to submit a new report with comprehensive information on all viable options. The Assembly would also decide that the Secretary-General’s pursuit of negotiations with the intention to keep option 3 viable shall in no way represent a commitment by the Organization and shall be without prejudice to any Assembly decision. Nor shall it entail legal or financial liability to the United Nations.
The Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments during the 2012-2013 biennium of up to $6.06 million under section 34, Construction, alteration, improvement and major maintenance for mitigation work, and of up to $131.42 million to enable remediation work. It would note that $137.85 million in remediation work was expected to be reimbursed under the terms of the United Nations insurance policies and that the total estimated amount of non-recoverable damages would be no more than $11.07 million. It would decide to establish a multi-year special account for insurance recovery and expenditures relating to the damage in the storm’s aftermath until 31 December 2015, with a possible extension depending on the status of the insurance claims process.
The Assembly, stressing the importance of ensuring full accountability for compliance with safety and security policies and guidelines, and of monitoring managerial performance throughout the United Nations, would ask the Secretary-General to continue to report thereon in the context of his relevant reports. It would stress that the armed security services from private security companies to secure the Organization’s premises and personnel should be used as a last resort when other alternatives were inadequate.
The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to report at the start of the Assembly’s sixty-eighth session on the projected total expenditure on air travel under the regular budget, by budget section, including payments under lump-sum schemes, for the 2012-2013 biennium, with corresponding data for the previous two biennia. It would decide that for official travellers below the level of Assistant Secretary-General, the standard of accommodation for air travel would be business class for single-leg journeys of nine hours or more and for multi-leg journeys of 11 hours or more, including a maximum of two hours of connection time, provided that the journey to the next destination resumed within 12 hours.
Further, the Assembly would decide that the Secretary-General shall, as an interim measure pending the outcome of the review to be concluded in 2015, revise the provision for determining the travel-related lump-sum payment to “70 per cent of the least restrictive economy class fare”, and it would ask the Secretary-General to provide, in his next report on the subject, an analysis on the impact of implementing that provision and to make more proposals on modifying the lump-sum scheme.
The Secretary-General would take action to limit the use of exceptions to the standards of accommodation for air travel and present proposals for enhancing controls in that area by no later than the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session. Lastly, the Assembly would decide that the changes implemented by the text would not affect the current standards of accommodation or the daily subsistence allowance of members of United Nations organs or subsidiary organs, committees, councils and commissions.
A text on human resources management (document A/C.5/67/L.29) focused on 11 areas: human resources management reform; recruitment and staffing; comprehensive assessment of the system of geographical representation; mobility; composition of the Secretariat; consultants; staff-management relations; practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and possible criminal behaviour; activities of the Ethics Office; and other matters.
By its terms, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations in the ACABQ reports on those subjects. Stressing the fundamental importance of human resources management reform to enhancing the Organization’s efficiency and effectiveness, the Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to ensure that lessons learned from implementing previous reforms were taken into consideration when formulating new proposals, and it would ask him to issue a progress report during the main part of the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session on implementation of ongoing reforms, with a focus on whether they were yielding the expected benefits and other concrete improvements.
The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to ensure that proposals for the Assembly’s consideration be as detailed and comprehensive as possible and go beyond identifying broad principles, overall direction and key elements. Noting the Secretary-General’s efforts to improve the performance appraisal system, in line with paragraph 42 of section IV of its resolution 65/247, the Assembly would express concern over the shortcomings in the current sanctions system for underperformance, which may adversely impact productivity and undermine the Secretariat’s ability to implement its mandates.
The Assembly would regret the overall slow progress to date in implementing continuing appointments, and reiterate its request that the Secretary-General report to the Assembly on their implementation in the context of his next report on human resources reform. It would note with serious concern that the 120-day target for filling a post had not been reached, as well as ask the Secretary-General to investigate the reasons for delays at each stage of the staff selection and recruitment process, report on the outcome of those efforts and propose during the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session appropriate steps to address the issues identified.
The Assembly would confirm that the placement of successful candidates from the young professionals programme should be made at the P-1 or P-2 level, endorse the G-to-N arrangement under the Young Professionals Programme, emphasize that candidates sitting for the programme examination should be neither advantaged or disadvantaged by the geographic location of their exam, and ask the Secretary-General to conduct a comprehensive review of the method and format of the exam, including its cost implications, while ensuring a level playing field for candidates worldwide.
In addition, the Assembly would express serious concern that progress towards the goal of a 50/50 gender balance in the United Nations remained elusive and reiterate its call on the Secretary-General to bolster efforts to attain and monitor gender parity in the Secretariat. The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to present proposals to create by its sixty-ninth session a more effective tool to ensure an equitable geographical distribution in relation to the posts financed through the regular budget.
It would note the Secretary-General’s intention to introduce a managed mobility policy, beginning with a two-year preparation phase, followed by a period of staged implementation, starting from 1 January 2015, and acknowledge that the matter was subject to further Assembly decisions and approval. It would decide that mobility meant a change in position that involved one or a combination of a change of role, function, department, duty station or a move from the Secretariat to and from a United Nations agency, fund or programme. The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to give it a comprehensive report during the main part of its sixty-eighth session on how to further refine the proposed mobility policy, as well as to outline and present an alternative to the proposed framework that would incorporate revised incentives and leverages that promoted geographic mobility.
The Assembly would stress that $1-a-year contracts should only be granted under exceptional circumstances and be limited to high-level appointments and ask the Secretary-General to prepare guidelines on the use of those contracts. It would ask the Secretary-General to inform the ACABQ on a regular basis about the issuance of such contracts. The Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to present to it the requirements for Government-provided personnel in the relevant budget proposals and to report thereon.
Further, the Assembly would reiterate its concern over the increased use of consultants, especially for the Organization’s core activities and ask the Secretary-General to identify in what areas, functions and activities, if any, consultants were hired or rehired for more than one year and to report during the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session on that and its related costs.
On staff-management relations, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to revise his bulletin ST/SGB/2011/6 in line with existing staff regulations. Noting with concern the ongoing backlog of disciplinary cases and that many of them had not been concluded within a reasonable timeframe, the Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to intensify his efforts to complete disciplinary cases in a timely manner and eliminate the remaining backlog of cases as soon as possible. The Assembly would urge the Secretary-General to encourage senior officials who had not yet publicly disclosed a summary of their assets to do so as soon as possible. Noting the Secretary-General’s intention to conduct a comprehensive review of the existing policy for protection against retaliation in the Organization, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to expedite development of methods towards that end, and to report thereon during the sixty-ninth session.
On other matters, the Assembly would express confidence that the Secretary-General had complied with the judgements of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and United Nations Administrative Tribunal with regard to awarding and severance of employment contracts in the Secretariat. It would ask the Secretary-General to report on improvements in the process for reporting, fact-finding and resolving misconduct on, among other things, the relationship between policy administered by the Ethics Office and the Organization’s various oversight, adjudicative, disciplinary, and dispute resolution mechanisms, and internal mechanisms for reporting misconduct including through the supervisory chain of command.
By the terms of a text on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit for 2012 and programme of work for 2013 (document A/C.5/67/L.24), the Assembly would reiterate its request to the executive heads of the participating organizations to fully comply with the statutory procedures for consideration of Joint Inspection Unit reports. In particular, that would mean submitting their comments, including information on what they intended to do regarding the recommendations for the Unit, distributing reports in time for consideration by legislative organs, and providing information on the steps to be taken to implement those recommendations.
Also by the draft’s terms, the Assembly would reiterate its request for the provision of all information requested by the Unit. In addition, it would request the Unit to consider optimizing the number of projects in its programme of work through prioritization and would reiterate its request to the Unit to continue to focus its reports on important priority items, identifying concrete managerial, administrative and programming questions aimed at providing the General Assembly and other legislative organs of participating organizations with practical and action-oriented recommendations on precisely defined issues.
By the terms of a draft on the United Nations common system (document A/C.5/67/L.28), the Assembly would note the decision of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to conduct a comprehensive review of the compensation package for staff in the Professional and higher categories, and asked that the Commission in undertaking that review bear in mind the financial situation of the organizations participating in the common system and their capacity to attract a competitive workforce. ICSC would report on its findings during the main part of the sixty-ninth session.
Further, the Assembly would approve, effective from the school year in progress on 1 January 2013, ICSC’s recommendations in paragraph 44 of its report and annex III thereto and note with concern that the number of claims for the education grant has increased by 24 per cent system-wide since the last biennial review in 2009, resulting in a 35 per cent increase in the overall amount of education grant disbursed between 2009 and 2011. Concerning pensionable remuneration, the Assembly would take note of the decision in paragraph 59 of its report.
It would approve effective 1 January 2013 the revised standards of conduct for the international civil service as contained in annex IV to the Commission’s report, endorse ICSC’s decision to support the recommendation of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund to raise the mandatory age of separation to age 65 for new staff of members organizations of the Fund effective no later than 1 January 2014, and welcome the strategic review by ICSC’s secretariat on the implications of applying the increased age to current staff members.
Concerning contractual arrangements, the Assembly would take note of the decisions in paragraph 104 of its report. On conditions of service of staff in Professional category and higher, it would note that tax changes in the comparator administration had resulted in an increase of 0.12 per cent in the salaries of its officials over 2011 levels.
By a draft decision on the budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system (document A/C.5/67/L.27), the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General, in his capacity as chair of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), to coordinate the annual compilation of analysis relating to the financial situation of organizations participating in the common system, including, inter alia, a focus on the budgetary implications on adjustments to all elements of staff costs, for both the most recently-completed calendar year, as well as on the basis of projections for the subsequent calendar year, and to submit the related report to the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session.
By a text on the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on its activities (document A/C.5/67/L.25), the Assembly would encourage United Nations internal and external oversight bodies to further enhance cooperation through joint work planning sessions, without prejudice to each other’s independence. It would take note of the OIOS report on its activities from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012, note with concern the status of implementation of recommendations contained in that report, and encourage the Secretary-General to call on programme managers to ensure their full implementation.
It would ask the Secretary-General to redouble efforts to implement outstanding and recurring recommendations of the Office dealing with issues of a systematic nature, and encourage OIOS to continue efforts to enhance its audit, investigation, inspection and evaluation functions. Further, it would note with appreciation the work of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee and endorse the observations, comments and recommendations contained in paragraphs 18, 19, 21, 23, 25, 29, 30, 34 to 40, 44, 46, 49, 52, 54, 56, 58 to 61, and 65 of that body’s annual report.
The Assembly also would ask the Secretary-General to entrust OIOS with publishing audit reports on OIOS’ website on an experimental basis by no later than 1 July 2013 until 31 December 2014. And it would decided that a final decision on continuing the experiment be made in the context of the review of the OIOS’ mandate during the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session.
A text on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document A/C.5/67/L.26) would authorize the activities related to all phases of the construction of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Arusha branch, and authorize the Secretary-General to establish a multi-year special account to record income and expenditures for the construction of the facility.
Also by its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to entrust OIOS to ensure effective oversight coverage on the implementation of construction of the facilities. It also requested the Secretary-General to make further efforts to shorten the duration of construction, to allocate provided resources in the most effective and efficient manner and to submit a progress report. It would also stress the importance of the leadership and guidance, interaction and coordination between the Secretariat in New York, including the Office of Internal Oversight Services, and the Mechanism, Arusha branch, with clear reporting lines during the implementation of the project.
By a draft resolution on progress towards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat (document A/C.5/67/L.22), the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations in the ACABQ’s related report and note with concern that the Organization’s current legacy systems for monitoring and evaluating progress and performance, and the weaknesses in the financial reporting arrangements were not effective. It would ask the Secretary-General to start implementing the results-based management framework in a phased manner by developing an action plan and incorporating into the Umoja design the Assembly’s recommendations in terms of planning, programming, budgeting, monitoring, reporting and evaluation, and to further refine that framework, taking into account lessons learned, challenges and the views of relevant bodies, among other things.
It would ask the Secretary-General to continue implementing the enterprise risk management policy and to take further steps to ensure the Compacts systems become a meaningful and powerful instrument of accountability.
By a draft decision on questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/67/L.30), the Assembly would decide to defer until the second part of its resumed sixty-seventh session consideration of the following:
- Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the report of the Senior Advisory Group (A/67/713) and related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/67/749), together with a letter dated 9 November 2012 from the President of the General Assembly to the Chair of the Fifth Committee transmitting the report of the Senior Advisory Group established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 65/289 to consider the rates of reimbursement to troop-contributing countries and other related issues (A/C.5/67/10).
Furthermore, the Assembly would decide to defer until its sixty-eighth session consideration of the following:
- Comprehensive report of the Secretary-General on procurement activities and two related addenda (A/67/284, A/67/284/Add.1 and A/67/284/Add.2), as well as the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (A/64/501).
- Report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the audit of procurement management in the Secretariat (A/64/369).
- Notes by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit entitled “Offshoring in United Nations system organizations: offshore service centres” (A/65/63) and his comments and those of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination thereon (A/65/63/Add.1).
- Notes by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Joint Inspection Unit entitled “Environmental profile of the United Nations system organizations” (A/65/346) and his comments and those of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination thereon (A/65/346/Add.1).
- Report of the Secretary-General on United Nations procurement activities (A/67/683) together with two addenda to that report entitled “Report of the Secretary-General on the independent procurement challenge system” (A/67/683/Add.1) and “Report of the Secretary-General on response to the comprehensive report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on United Nations procurement activities” (A/67/683/Add.2).
Statement by Chef de Cabinet
SUSAN MALCORRA, Chef de Cabinet, recognized the “significant value” of several of the drafts, particularly the accountability framework. She appreciated the Committee’s consideration of revised estimates for the cost of the response to storm Sandy, saying that the Organization would be able to plan to protect the buildings against future disasters. She welcomed consideration of the Secretary-General’s proposals on official travel, saying it would lead to more effective and efficient travel, and also welcomed consideration of the United Nations’ future accommodation needs.
On human resources, she looked forward to analysis of the proposed mobility policy, saying she was “absolutely committed” to it. The Secretary-General appreciated Member States’ support which had enabled him to push forward with the proposals and to put in motion some of the most critical reform in the Organization. Noting that the pilot project of public Office of Internal Oversight Services reporting would be assessed, she also pointed to the continued discussion and postponement of some items on the agenda, hoping for agreement as soon as possible.
Action on Drafts
The Committee first took up a draft resolution on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/C.5/67/L.23), adopting the text without a vote.
Next, the Committee took up a draft entitled human resources management (document A/C.5/67/L.29), which the Committee adopted without the vote.
Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Iran said they joined consensus because of the importance of the draft to the Organization. However, he felt paragraph 71 of the draft on staff management was inconsistent with the spirit of international labour laws and standards. The Joint Inspection Unit’s recommendation for improvement and upgrading of the Organization’s labour standards had not only been ignored, but the policy had been changed to “old and outdated regulations”, he said. He said it was “regrettable” that the Organization would “shy away” from its labour obligations.
Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the Russian Federation drew attention to a number of the draft’s fundamental aspects, primarily those pertaining to the Secretary-General’s proposals on staff mobility. He called on the General Assembly to give more attention to various areas of staff mobility and to clarify elements of the proposed new system. Regarding the instruction to submit revised provisions on mobility, based on the equality of internal and external candidates for posts in the Secretariat, he said that, in practice, the revised provisions would need to mean that all vacant posts would be open to both internal and external candidates. He also drew attention to a paragraph requesting an alternative proposal on mobility, in particular recalling A/RES/63/250, which invited the Secretary-General to elaborate a voluntary-based system. Stressing the importance of those items to the scope of the proposal, he believed that the quality of the Secretary-General’s report would enable States to use better parameters for making a decision in the next session. In that session, proposals for changes to the existing system of appointment and recruitment to posts would be submitted, reflecting the various alternative approaches.
He also drew attention to the paragraph on Government-provided personnel, pointing out that there had been no agreement yet on a civilian capacity initiative. He said that the paragraph was fully in keeping with one of the priorities of the discussion and that it allowed the enhancement of the transparency on the use of Government-provided personnel when the Secretary-General had difficulty deploying permanent staff of the United Nations.
He looked forward to the next session, when a serious conversation would take place over how the Secretariat should perform in the 21st Century, particularly on its personnel make-up and its management. It was not an easy discussion, but would have a major bearing on the Organization’s future, he said, promising his support for a open, transparent and easily understandable system that helped to ensure a flexible staffing policy which was open to the outside world, which could involve external expertise in the Secretariat and which could react quickly to the Organization’s changing personnel requirements.
The Committee then took up the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/C.5/67/L.24), the United Nations Common System (document A/C.5/67/L.28), Budgetary and financial situation of the organizations of the United Nations system (document A/C.5/67/L.27), Report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on its activities (document A/C.5/67/L.25), the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document A/C.5/67/L.26) and Progress towards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat (document A/C.5/67/L.22), all of which it adopted without votes.
MIGUEL BERGER ( Germany), Committee Chair, then suspended the meeting so that delegations could continue negotiations on the report of the Senior Advisory Group.
Resuming the session and taking up the questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/67/L.30), Mr. Berger said that the document proposed that questions on Partnership and Procurement would be deferred until the sixty-eighth session, while the report of the Senior Advisory Group would be discussed during the second resumed session of the Fifth Committee’s sixty-seventh session.
The representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, objected to deferment of the Senior Advisory Group issue. He asked the formal session be suspended so that informal negotiations could continue.
The representative of India supported the suggestion of the representative of Fiji.
The representative of the Russian Federation called for consistency, saying that an agenda item on civilian capacity was also deferred due to a lack of time in the current session. It would be difficult for him to support an extension if that extension was applied to only a single agenda item. He was prepared to agree to an extension if there was an understanding that negotiations on civilian capacity would also resume. He also asked for clarification on how long the Chair was willing to extend negotiations.
The representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Pakistan, France, China, Jordan and Japan all took the floor to support the suggestion of the representative of Fiji.
The Chair said that if the meeting was suspended, the decision on deferral would not be taken. He then agreed to suspend the meeting, planning a resumption of the formal process on Tuesday, 2 April, after the United Nations holiday.
The representative of India said that the representative of Fiji had proposed continuing negotiations to an immediate conclusion, meaning that negotiations should continue immediately and to a conclusion, with adoption of a draft to take place before the following day. He said that negotiations on the issue of the Senior Advisory Group were linked closely to a separate decision, taken some months back, which was due to expire at midnight on 31 March. Meeting on 2 April would mean that the prior agreement would end, so it was vital to continue negotiations to a conclusion.
The Chair said that whatever the outcome of negotiations, delegations would all have to see the agreed upon text and to gain approval from their capitals.
The delegate from Brazil asked for clarification on the extension of the Committee’s resumed session to Tuesday. He asked whether the Chair could ensure that the meeting would be successfully concluded by that time. If there was no mutually satisfactory solution, what would happen over the agreement mentioned by India, which was due to expire on 31 March? He said legal clarity was needed on that point before delegates could proceed.
The Chair said that the extension to 2 April was a proposal. The questions of the agreement and all aspects of the Senior Advisory Group report were up for negotiation.
The representative of India said that delegates were empowered by their capitals to make decisions on behalf of their Governments. He added that negotiations were proceeding well and were close to a conclusion. The Committee had to meet before 31 March, even to conclude an ad referendum agreement, because ensuring that any decision was active before 1 April was essential.
The representative of Brazil thanked the Chair for the clarification, saying the explanation was in line with his understanding. He understood that all issues related to the Senior Advisory Group report were up for negotiation and that nothing was agreed if negotiations did continue.
The Chair explained to the representative of India that Friday, 29 April, was a United Nations holiday. All delegations needed a chance to see the text, which they could do on Monday at the earliest, meaning that Tuesday would be when the issue could actually be closed.
The representative of Jordan said the issue was being overcomplicated and he complained that “procedural considerations” were jeopardizing the outcome of negotiations on a “crucially important” aspect of the United Nations’ activities. He said the whole issue could be resolved if informal negotiations were allowed to continue, with only a few more hours needed to resolve the issue.
The Chair stressed the importance of transparency and inclusiveness, noting the lack of conference services, which would prevent all delegations from reading and analysing the text stemming from the outcome of negotiations. Therefore, he said, reconvening on Tuesday was the right response.
The representative of India seconded the intervention of the delegate from Jordan, saying that conference services were already ended for the day and that it was not the first time that negotiations at the United Nations had continued beyond such a time. He requested “a few hours more” to firm up the negotiations, stressing the importance of retaining the momentum in negotiations.
The Chair said that negotiations could continue as soon as the suspension took effect. However, he stressed the importance of all delegations having a chance to see the agreed upon text before a formal session of the Committee was convened.
The representative of India stressed again the importance of continuing the negotiations. Capitals would have a chance to look over and analyse any agreement before the drafts were taken to the General Assembly.
The chair then suspended the meeting.
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