Fifth Committee Tackles Wide Range of Financial Matters, Including Funding for International Criminal Tribunals’ Transition to Residual Mechanism

10 December 2013
GA/AB/4092

Fifth Committee Tackles Wide Range of Financial Matters, Including Funding for International Criminal Tribunals’ Transition to Residual Mechanism

10 December 2013
General Assembly
GA/AB/4092
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

22nd Meeting (AM)

Fifth Committee Tackles Wide Range of Financial Matters, Including Funding

 

for International Criminal Tribunals’ Transition to Residual Mechanism

 

Resources Needed for Strengthening Security against Growing

Threats to Organization’s Communications, Data, Says Top Management Official

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took stock of the financing requirements for the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia, as it heard Secretariat officials shed light on progress in completing those bodies’ work and the transferring of their functions to a residual mechanism.

Maria Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller introduced the Secretary-General’s performance reports on both Tribunals and their International Residual Mechanism for the 2012-2013 period and their financing needs for the coming biennium.  She highlighted that resources needed for the Rwanda Tribunal, which, in the next two years, would focus on completing appeals and related judicial activities as well as transferring operations, had continued to decline, falling 53.8 per cent from the 2012-2013 period to $80.88 million net, before recosting, for the 2014-2015 period.

As well, she said, in the next two years the Yugoslavia Tribunal would need an estimated $170.16 million net, before recosting, a 34 per cent drop from the previous biennium.  That body would focus on completing two of its last three trials, eight of its last nine cases on appeal and the transfer of substantive activities to the Residual Mechanism.  The International Residual Mechanism would require an estimated $103.59 million net, before recosting, up $52.5 million from the previous biennium, to carry out its functions in the 2014-2015 period and to pay for 126 posts.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introducing that body’s related reports, endorsed the Secretary-General’s final 2012-2013 budgetary appropriations as well as the proposed 2014-2015 budget for both Tribunals and their Residual Mechanism.

Fiji’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, took note of the figures and said that, during the Committee’s informal session, he would seek information on the plans to abolish temporary posts at both Tribunals and the rationale behind them.  Echoing those concerns, Côte d'Ivoire’s representative, speaking for the African Group, welcomed progress in setting up the Arusha branch of the Residual Mechanism.  He also encouraged the Secretary-General to take the steps needed to finalize a draft agreement with the Government of the Netherlands for creation of a branch in the Hague.

Yukio Takasu, Under-Secretary-General for Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s progress report on the action plan towards strengthening information and systems security across the Secretariat, noting that the Office of Information and Communications Technology had invested more than $1.3 million from the approved 2012-2013 budget in filtering, monitoring and intrusion detection tools.  Nonetheless, resources had been inadequate to address shortcomings and the growing number of threats to the Organization’s communications and data.

“We have come to the conclusion that despite our best efforts, additional measures must be urgently taken to protect ourselves better,” he said.  An extra $3.44 million would be needed next year to expand coverage of the intrusive detection service and to upgrade firewall infrastructure and filtering solutions for internet traffic to duty stations beyond Headquarters, among other security measures.

Also today, Ms. Casar introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on a request for a subvention to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia; limited budgetary discretion; revised estimates resulting from decisions in General Assembly resolution 67/290 on the format and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development; and a statement on programme budget implications (document A/C.5/68/14) on the draft resolution A/C.1/68/L.37 entitled “Developments in information and telecommunications in the context of international security” of the Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).  Mr. Ruiz Massieu introduced the Advisory Committee’s related reports.

In their scrutiny of the request for a subvention for the Cambodian courts, delegates shared the Committee’s concern over the chronic budget shortfall of the Courts’ Extraordinary Chambers.  Cambodia’s representative, noting that the Court’s trial of surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime was the “most significant case in international legal history”, called for national and international funding to secure the smooth functioning of that body’s judicial proceedings.

At the onset of the meeting, Janne Taalas ( Finland), Fifth Committee Chair, called on the Committee to complete the mounting workload of the sixty-eighth session within the next two weeks, imploring delegates to use the remaining time wisely.

The representatives of Kuwait and Japan also spoke today.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 16 December to consider special political missions; the programme budget implications of draft resolutions approved by the Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) and financing of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.

Background

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to discuss various financing issues.  Regarding the financing of the tribunals, it had before it two reports of the Secretary-General: Budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994, for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/494); and the second performance report on the budget of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for the biennium 2012-2013 (document (A/68/579).

Regarding the Yugoslavia Tribunal, it would consider the Secretariat’s reports: Budget for the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/386); and the second performance report on the budget of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/68/582).

Also before it was the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions second performance reports for the biennium 2012-2013 and proposed budgets for the biennium 2014-2015 of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document A/68/642).

It would also review the Secretariat reports: Budget for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/491); and second performance report on the budget of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/68/594).

Regarding information and security systems, it had before it the report, Progress on the implementation of recommendations related to strengthening information and systems security across the Secretariat (document A/68/552), and the accompanying Advisory Committee report of the same name (document A/68/7/Add.1). 

It would also consider the Secretariat report, Limited budgetary discretion (document A/68/490), and the tenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015 limited budgetary discretion (document A/68/7/Add.9).

The Fifth Committee would also address the Secretariat reports: Revised estimates resulting from the decisions contained in General Assembly resolution 67/290, entitled “Format and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development” (document A/68/365); an addendum (document A/68/365/Add.1); and the accompanying fifteenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015, revised estimates resulting from the decisions contained in General Assembly resolution 67/290, entitled “Format and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development” (document A/68/7/Add.14).

Regarding the courts on Cambodia, the Fifth Committee would consider the Secretariat document, Request for a subvention to the Extraordinary Chambers in

the Courts of Cambodia (document A/68/532), and the accompanying thirteenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015, Request for a subvention to

the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (document A/68/7/Add.12).

On the programme budget implications of a resolution resulting from the First Committee’s adoption of draft resolution A/C.1/68/L.37 on 5 November 2013, the Fifth Committee would consider a Secretary-General Statement submitted in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly.  That statement, Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, Programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.1/68/L.37 (document A/C.5/68/14) lays out the costs resulting from the First Committee’s adoption of said draft resolution.  If adopted by the Assembly, that resolution would require an additional appropriation of $1.44 million in the upcoming biennium, as no provision has been made so far to move forward on a study of existing and potential threats in information security and possible cooperative measures to address those threats.

The Committee would also consider the fourteenth report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/7/Add.13) regarding the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.1/68/L.37.

Opening Remarks

Fifth Committee Chair, JANNE TAALAS ( Finland) stressed the urgent need for the Committee to complete the mounting workload of the sixty-eighth session within the next two weeks.  The Committee had allowed an exceptionally large amount of work to pile up and the General Assembly had given it two more weeks to complete its work.  “This is the Fifth Committee, which works best under pressure.  It is used to producing miracles.  We must now try to work the Fifth Committee magic,” he said.

“You will be sitting here a lot,” he continued, noting that the better part of the next two weeks would be spent primarily in informal sessions but with some scheduled meetings as well.  He also pointed out that the Committee had received a tentative programme of work for those weeks with more meetings than scheduled.  “We need to use the time wisely and engage with each other,” he stressed, urging Committee members to follow the “give and take of negotiation”, as negotiations were not a zero sum game.

Financing of International Criminal Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism

MARIA EUGENIA CASAR, Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, presented the Secretariat reports on the financing of the international criminal tribunals and the International Residual Mechanism. 

She first introduced the Budget for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994, for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/494).  During the upcoming biennium, the Rwanda Tribunal’s main activities would include the completion of appeals and related judicial activities, the preparation and transfer of records to the Residual Mechanism archives facility, the translation of judicial records, the provisions of judicial and administrative support for the Mechanism, and the undertaking of residual administrative operations.

She said that overall resource requirements for the Rwanda Tribunal would total $80.88 million (net of staff assessment) before recosting, a drop of $94.3 million, or 53.8 per cent, compared with 2012-2013 resources at revised rates.  The Secretariat had proposed the retention of 306 temporary posts until December 2014 and 95 temporary posts until December 2015.  It also had proposed abolishing 321 posts, including 149 Professional and above, and 172 General Service and other categories.

Ms. Casar then introduced the second performance report on the Rwanda Tribunal’s budget for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/68/579).  A final appropriation of $166.92 million (net of staff assessment) had been proposed, a drop of about $2.5 million compared to the revised appropriate for the biennium of 2012-2013.  That net decrease had resulted from the reduction of about $2.9 million due to changes in exchange rates and a reduction of about $6.6 million in post incumbency and other changes, partially offset by additional requirements of approximately $7 million, due to inflation.

She then turned to the Budget for the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/386).  That financial proposal had been based on several planning assumptions, including the completion of two of the Tribunal’s last three trials, the completion of eight of the last nine cases on appeal and the transfer of substantive activities to the Residual Mechanism.  Its overall resource requirements for the upcoming 2014-2015 biennium totalled $170.16 million (net of staff assessment) before recosting, a drop of $87.6 million or 34 per cent compared with the previous biennium resources at revised rates. 

In addition, she said, the Secretariat had proposed the retention of 506 temporary posts until December 2014 and 379 temporary posts until December 2015, while abolishing 167 posts, including 98 Professional and above and 69 General Service and other categories.  That level was 30.6 per cent more than the current authorized staffing level of 546.  In addition, the gradually abolishing of 156 positions, funded with general temporary assistance, through the biennium had been proposed.

She also introduced the Secretariat’s second performance report on the Budget of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/68/582), which proposed a final appropriation of $247.26 million (net).  That reflected a decrease of about $4.5 million compared with the revised appropriation for the 2012-2013 biennium.  The overall reduction of $9.2 million resulted from post incumbency and other changes, which were partially offset by additional requirements of about $1.7 million.  Those additional requirements stemmed from changes in exchange rates and an increase of about $3 million due to inflation.

Ms. Casar then presented the Budget for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/68/491).  The Security Council had established the Mechanism with two branches through its resolution 1966 (2010).  The Arusha branch had begun operating on 1 July 2012 and The Hague branch on 1 July of this year.

She said the Mechanism’s financial needs for the 2014-2015 biennium was estimated to tally $103.59 million (net of staff assessment), before recosting, an increase of about $52.5 million.  A total of 126 posts had been proposed compared to the 67 posts financed during the previous biennium.  That reflected the creation of 29 posts previously funded by the two Tribunals through the “double‑hatting” mechanism in 2012-2013 and 30 new posts for administrative functions, including 17 in Arusha and 13 in The Hague.

Introducing the Secretariat’s second performance report on the Budget of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the biennium 2012-2013 (document A/68/594), Ms. Casar said that a final appropriation of $18.08 million (net of staff assessment), reflecting a drop of about $33 million when compared with the revised appropriation for the 2012-2013 budget cycle, had been proposed.  That overall reduction had resulted from decreases of about $33.5 million in post incumbency and other changes and a decrease of about $0.6 million due to changes in exchange rates.  It had been partially offset by an increase of about $1.1 million due to inflation.

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introduced that body’s report (document A/68/642) on the second performance reports for the biennium 2012-2013 and proposed budgets for the biennium 2014-2015 of the Criminal Tribunals and their International Residual Mechanism.  The Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly approve the final appropriations for the biennium 2012-2013 as proposed by the Secretary-General for the Tribunals and the Residual Mechanism.  Further, it recommended approval of the proposed budgetary requirements for the biennium 2014-2015 for both Tribunals and the Mechanism, with any cost savings resulting from the revised travel policy pursuant to A/RES/67/254 to be reflected in the relevant performance reports.   The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions also recommended that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to make all efforts to expedite completion of the construction projects and to provide an update to the Assembly no later than the first part of its resumed sixty‑eighth session.

PETER THOMSON ( Fiji), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted the $518.91 million gross revised appropriation for the Tribunals and their Residual Mechanism, the revised appropriation for each of the Tribunals and the elements behind the variances.  During the informal consultations, he would seek detailed information on each variance, the completion strategies for both Tribunals and the transition measures for their Residual Mechanism.  On the proposed 2014-2015 budget for the Rwanda Tribunal, he took note of the amount of $86.85 million gross (before recosting), down 53.8 per cent net from 2012-2013, at revised rates.  That was due mainly to reductions in the Chambers, Office of the Prosecutor, Registry and Records Management and Archives components, with the Rwanda Tribunal’s Trust Fund to be used to support the Tribunal’s legacy activities.  The plans to abolish 321 temporary posts and the Tribunal’s high vacancy rates were also acknowledged.  During the informal consultations, he would request more information on the staff retention, recruitment and separation strategies. 

He also took into account that in the proposed 2014-2015 budget for the Yugoslavia Tribunal, the amount of $191.34 million gross (before recosting) was down 34 per cent net from 2012-2013, at revised rates.  That was due mainly to reductions in the Chambers, Office of the Prosecutor, Registry and Records Management and Archives components.  Noting the plans to abolish 167 posts, he said he would seek information about the assumptions behind some staff and other changes and how such changes related to those in the Rwanda Tribunal.  On the proposed budget 2014-2015 budget for the Tribunal’s Residual Mechanism, he observed that the amount of $110.5 million gross (before recosting), had gone up 101.8 per cent, at revised rates, due mainly to the additional requirements in the Office of the Prosecutor, Registry and Records Management and Archives components.  That would be partly offset by reductions proposed for the Chambers.  Acknowledging the elements of proposed post and non-post resources, he said he would seek greater detail on such proposals.

He then turned to the development in creating the Residual Mechanism, stating he welcomed the signing of the Headquarters agreement between the United Nations and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania for the Arusha branch.  Observing that the negotiations for the Hague branch had yet to be concluded, he encouraged the Secretary-General to take all necessary measures to ensure a dedicated team was in place to facilitate the draft agreement’s conclusion as a matter of priority.  Noting that construction of the Arusha branch was on track and on schedule, he said he would seek updates on the procurement of architectural consultancy services and status of contract negotiations, as well as efforts to shorten the project duration as requested by the Assembly.  He stressed the need for involving senior leadership at Headquarters in New York and close oversight for that and all other overseas capital projects.

Brouz Ralph Coffi (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking for the African Group, aligned his delegation with the Group of 77 and China, and took note of the revised appropriation of $518.91 million cited in the second performance reports for the biennium 2012-2013.  Elements of the variances would be examined.  The Tribunals’ and Mechanism’s budget performance would require specific clarification, in particular with the implementing of each entity’s mandate, including the Tribunals’ completion strategies and the transitional measures to the Mechanism and national jurisdictions. 

He also acknowledged the variance of the budget proposals for the 2014-2015 period from the revised appropriations for the 2012-2013 period, including the decrease to $86.9 million gross (before recosting), or 54 per cent, for the Rwanda Tribunal; the decrease to $191.34 million gross (before recosting), or 34 per cent, for the Yugoslavia Tribunal; and the increase to $110.5 million (before recosting), or 102 per cent, for the Residual Mechanism.  He would seek clarification on many of the proposed elements as they related to mandate implementation, including retention of key personnel, recruitment and opportunities for outgoing staff at other United Nations entities. 

He welcomed progress in construction of the Arusha branch, specifically the recruitment of a project manager, completion of the conceptual design and progress in the recruitment for the architectural consultancy and contract negotiations.  Acknowledging the conclusion and signing of the Headquarters agreement between the United Nations and the host country, he said he looked forward to the timely conclusion of ongoing negotiations between the Organization and the Government of the Netherlands.  He also stressed the need to complete the project on time to avoid cost overruns, as well as the importance of full accountability and oversight in the field and at Headquarters in New York. 

Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015

YUKIO TAKASU, Under-Secretary-General for Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s progress report on implementation of recommendations related to strengthening information and systems security across the Secretariat (document A/68/552).  The Secretary-General had taken the Board of Auditors’ recommendations on strengthening information security very seriously.  The Secretariat had developed an action plan as a matter of priority and had been actively implementing it to address urgent information security shortcomings within existing resources.

In the last seven months, he said, the Secretariat had, among other things, issued an information security policy directive to all heads of departments and offices.  As well, it had strengthened preventive controls, limited administrative privileges and had acquired additional filtering systems for email and internet traffic.  It had also introduced additional firewalls with more advanced technology and had developed a computer-based training course to raise awareness on information security among all Secretariat staff.  Those initiatives had been performed in close collaboration with other information and communications technology units in the Secretariat and other United Nations system organizations.  The content of the information security awareness training and guidance on minimum security requirements for public websites had been based on common recommendations by the system-wide Information Security Special Interest Group.

The Office of Information and Communications Technology had reprioritized its activities, he said, investing more than $1.3 million from the approved 2012‑2013 budget in filtering, monitoring and intrusion detection tools to strengthen information security.  The Office also had redeployed staff internally to begin the work.  However, such resources had proven insufficient to adequately address all weaknesses.

To establish the Secretariat’s information security needs, an independent technical assessment had been conducted in July of this year, he said.  Based on its results, security breaches had occurred throughout 2013 with clear evidence of increased threats to the Organization’s communications and data.  “We have come to the conclusion that despite our best efforts, additional measures must be urgently taken to protect ourselves better,” he stated.  Experiences throughout the year had demonstrated clearly significant shortcomings that had exposed the Organization to an unacceptable level of risk.  The Chief Information Technology Officer would brief the Committee on such shortcomings during the informal session.

It was necessary, he underscored, to develop comprehensive information security measures and the institutional and financial arrangements for their efficient deployment and continued operation.  That would be in the context of the overall review of the information and communications technology strategy and operation.  The outcome of the review would be submitted for consideration during the Assembly’s sixty-ninth session.  The Secretariat had, in the report, requested extra resources for interim measures that must be implemented swiftly and before the Assembly considered the revised strategy in late 2014.  The amount requested was $3.44 million for the 12-month period in the biennium 2014-2015; it would cover the cost of expanding the coverage of the intrusive detection service, upgrade of firewall infrastructure and filtering solutions for internet traffic to duty stations beyond Headquarters, as well as additional security measures.  He stressed his Office’s commitment to build on operational strengths and protect the Organization from any cyberattack threats.

Ms. CASAR introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on: the limited budgetary discretion (document A/68/490); revised estimates resulting from decisions in Assembly resolution 67/290 on the format and organizations aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (documents A/68/365 and Add.1); a request for a subvention to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (document A/68/532); and a statement on programme budget implications (document A/C.5/68/14) on the draft resolution A/C.1/68/L.37 entitled “Developments in information and telecommunications in the context of international security” of the Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security).

Introducing the report on limited budgetary discretion, she said that, based on the experience gained during the last three biennia, the Secretary-General had concluded there was value in the discretion mechanism.  It was faster than other mechanisms in its ability to address the Organization’s evolving needs for which resources were not otherwise available.  Although no recourse had been made to the discretionary authority in 2012-2013, the Secretary-General still saw merit in continuing the discretionary authority and therefore proposed no changes to the limited budgetary discretion mechanism under the terms of section III of Assembly resolution 60/283.  The Secretary-General would continue to assess implementation of the mechanism during the biennium 2014-2015, allowing for further refinement and justification of any proposed changes to the parameters in the full report.

Introducing the report on revised estimates of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, she said that in order to hold the forum an estimated $741,800 more would be required under Section 9, Economic and social affairs of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015.  However, subsequent to that report’s issuance, the Assembly had adopted resolution 68/1 on 20 September of this year, stating that in addition to the regular meetings of the Economic and Social Council’s substantive sessions in New York and Geneva, another location could be decided upon, on an ad hoc and cost-effective basis, if it would contribute to a better discussion of the main theme.  For that reason, the resource requirements had been revised upward to $754,600, representing a charge against the contingency fund and, as such, would entail an additional appropriation in that amount for the biennium 2014-2015.  The new amount was listed in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report.

Introducing the report on the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, she said the 2012 report on the matter to the Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) had highlighted the acute financial shortfall of the Chambers and their risk of financial failure.  The precarious financial situation had not changed since then, prompting the Secretary-General to direct the current report to the Fifth Committee and seek a subvention that would provide financial stability and allow the international and national components to issue annual staff contracts, as opposed to limited 3-month contracts, and to meet operational costs.

Since that report’s issuance, she said, a pledging conference, chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General and attended by Cambodia’s Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers, had been held on 7 November, this year.  A total of $2.9 million in new money had been pledged for the international component; no pledges had been made for the national component.  The Secretary-General sought the Assembly’s approval of up to $51.1 million for the period 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2015 to supplement the financial resources of the Chambers so they could complete their mandate.  An amount of $24.8 million would be appropriated for 2014 under the proposed programme budget for 2014-2015, and a subvention of up to $26.3 million for 2015 would be considered at the main part of the sixty-ninth session.  The Secretary-General also sought approval for the Organization to use its discretion to provide reimbursable loans to the Cambodian Government from the subvention of up to $4.6 million in 2014 and up to $4.2 million in 2015.

Turning to the report on statements of programme budget implications for the draft resolution on developments in information and telecommunications in the context of international security, she said that text called for the creation of a group of governmental experts to examine potential threats in the information sphere and cooperative measures to address them.  Implementing the activities in operative paragraph 4 of the draft would require an estimated $1.44 million more for the biennium 2014-2015, including $654,300, under Section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, and $785,100 under Section 4, Disarmament.  That amount would represent a charge against the contingency fund and, as such, would entail an additional appropriation in that amount for the biennium-2014-2015.

Mr. RUIZ MASSIEU then introduced the Advisory Committee’s accompanying reports: strengthening of information and systems security (document A/68/7/Add.11); limited budgetary discretion (document A/68/7/Add.9); revised estimates resulting from decisions in Assembly resolution 67/290 on the format and organizations aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, A/68/7/Add.14); a request for a subvention to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (document A/68/7/Add.12); and programme budget implications “Developments in information and telecommunications in the context of international security” of the Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) (document A/68/7/Add.13).

He said that in regards to strengthening information and systems security across the Secretariat, the Advisory Committee had recommended the Assembly ask the Secretariat to ensure that its medium- and long‑term strategy for information security be based on common policies and tools.  Further, the Secretary–General should take prompt remedial action to address any existing obstacles that would limit its ability to effectively carry out the promulgation and enforcement of uniform informational security policies throughout the Secretariat.  The Assembly should request the Secretary-General to supply any additional resource requirements needed for temporary assistance and staff travel from the resources included in the proposed programme budget for the upcoming 2014-2015 biennium.

Turning to the Advisory Committee’s report on limited budgetary discretion, Mr. Ruiz Massieu noted that the Secretariat’s limited discretion, set at $20 million per biennium, had never been fully used since the Assembly, in resolution 60/283, first gave the Secretary-General that authority on an experimental basis.  A better definition was needed of the circumstances that would allow that limited discretion to be used.  Clearer criteria would ensure a more consistent approach to the use of the Secretariat’s limited budgetary discretion, noting that under the current arrangements, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions had no objection to the continued use of that authority, on an experimental basis. 

On revised estimates resulting from the decisions contained in General Assembly resolution 67/290, entitled “format and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development”, he said that there had been no objection to the Secretariat’s request for an additional $0.7 million to carry out the recommendations contained in the Assembly resolution.  However, there was concern that the Secretary-General had used an exceptional procedure to present his statement on the budget implications of the draft resolution that preceded Assembly resolution 67/290.  The budget statement had been sent to the Assembly without first being considered by the Fifth Committee, in accordance with rule 153 of the Assembly’s rules of procedure.

He then addressed the matter of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, saying that the Advisory Committee previously had never voiced any observations on the budget or staffing levels of the Court since it had been funded by voluntary sources up to now.  He also noted that the Secretariat report contained a request for a subvention rather than a full-fledged budget proposal.  Therefore, he could not comment on the Chamber’s resource requirements.

However, he expressed concern both over the Extraordinary Chambers’ steadily worsening cash position over the past 18 months and the fact that the funding shortfall was just now being brought to the Fifth Committee’s attention.  The Secretary-General should intensify efforts to obtain additional voluntary contributions and the Courts should intensify its efforts to reduce spending.  As a financing mechanism for 2014, the Assembly should let the Secretary-General make commitments, not to exceed $12.4 million, pending the Assembly’s consideration of the Extraordinary Chamber’s future financing arrangements.  If voluntary contributions exceeded that body’s remaining budget requirements for 2014, regular budget funds should be refunded to the Organization.

Finally, turning to the programme budget implications of a resolution resulting from the First Committee’s adoption of draft resolution A/C.1/68/L.37, Mr. Ruiz Massieu said that there had been no objection to the additional spending of $1.4 million.  That would finance the creation of a group of governmental experts who would study in 2014 how international law applies to States’ use of information and communications technologies, and other related issues outlined in the draft resolution.  The expert group would be required to deliver the results of its study to the Assembly at its seventieth session.

Mr. THOMSON ( Fiji), speaking for the Group of 77 and China, said he shared the Committee’s concern about the adverse cash position of the Extraordinary Chambers.  It was regrettable that voluntary contributions had not been sufficient enough to meet the Extraordinary Chambers’ needs during the last year and a half.  The steadily worsening financial situation was undermining its operations and the ability to implement its programme of work.  He called on the Secretary-General to intensify efforts to obtain additional voluntary contributions for funding that body’s future activities.

Turning to the issue of strengthening information and systems security in the Organization, he emphasized the need to provide necessary resources that would ensure the action plan’s implementation.  It was critical to protect the Organization against security breaches as well as against massive surveillance.  “The importance we attach to security information in the Organization is not disconnected to a wider discussion that is happening with regards to information security in general,” he emphasized.  In regards to mandates approved by all intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations, in particular those related to development activities, he stressed that those bodies must receive predictable and adequate funding.  He also highlighted the role of the high-level political forum in ensuring the comprehensive implementation of the Rio+20 mandates.

Mr. AL-THWEEKH ( Kuwait), aligning his delegation with the Group of 77 and China, reiterated his belief in the vital role of the United Nations to preserve international peace and security.  Efforts toward that end needed to be scaled up.  It was essential to have clearly defined financial appropriations and standards.  Underscoring his support for the Secretary-General’s steps to address the growing changes in the Organization, he urged Member States to fulfil their budgetary obligations.  There must be an organic relationship between the proposed budget and Member States’ payment of their assessed contributions.  It was the duty of all Member States to fulfil their obligations in full and on time so that the United Nations could carry out its mandate.  In that regard, Kuwait had paid assessed contributions in full and on time.  The development agenda, particularly poverty eradication, should be given due priority in the Organization’s proposed budget.

Mengeang Nay( Cambodia) pointed out that the Extraordinary Chambers was a hybrid court where national and foreign judges worked alongside one another, addressing cases covering crimes committed throughout the country.  Currently, before the Courts was what was being called “the most significant case in international legal history”, with the surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, former Head of State and the President of the National Assembly facing trial.  Yet, despite those achievements, the Extraordinary Chambers faced a financial crisis, especially regarding paying its national staff.  He highlighted Cambodia’s direct and indirect funding totalling $20 million dollars, representing approximately 10 per cent of the Court’s total expenditure.  

Cambodia’s cash commitment to that body from its national budget had tripled from $0.6 million dollars in 2006 to $1.8 million in 2013, exceeding the amounts allocated to the Cambodian National Supreme Court by 257 per cent, he pointed out.  However, voluntary contributions on behalf of the international community had dwindled while budget shortfalls had become chronic.  “The persistent financial insecurity is likely to jeopardize the judicial proceedings and the success of the Courts in fulfilment of its mandate,” he stressed.  In order to secure the smooth running of the judicial proceedings, the funding must come from both international and national components and should cover salaries for all staff of national component, including judicial officials and other personnel.

HIROSHI ONUMA ( Japan) applauded the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and for the positive and tangible developments towards serving justice in that country.  Cognizant of its importance, he stressed the need to deal with the Chambers’ financial difficulties by considering the Secretary-General’s proposal for a subvention.  However, noting the prolonged trials period, he called on the Secretariat and on the Chambers to ensure that further progress be made on all judicial proceedings in an efficient and effective manner.  He then stressed the importance of establishing some strategy for the Chambers to accomplish its completion in a concrete manner while continuing to ensure fair and impartial trials and preventing any form of impunity. 

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