The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today heard United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres formally present an initial budget proposal of just over $5.4 billion, before recosting, for the 2018‑2019 budget cycle beginning on 1 January 2018.
The proposal was almost 4 per cent — or around $200 million — below the appropriation for the current two‑year budget cycle that ends in December, and $10 million above the budget outline figure set by the General Assembly in 2016.
“While mandates are increasing, the regular budget, excluding special political missions, has not grown in real terms over the past 17 years,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that the proposed budget included a net decrease of 92 staff posts, as well as a preliminary recosting of $128 million, mainly related to inflation as per standard methodology, taking regular budget requirements to $5.53 billion.
Going forward, he said the Organization would continue to rely heavily on voluntary contributions to complement regular budget resources. Extrabudgetary resources were currently estimated at $21.3 billion, down $178 million from the current biennium.
The Secretary-General dedicated much of his statement to his plans to reform the Organization for the twenty‑first century to have it more focused on people and delivery and less on process and bureaucracy.
“Reform is for the people we serve and, indeed, for everyone who serves under the United Nations flag or is part of the enterprise of building a better world for all,” he said. Some important steps had been reflected in the budget proposals, including strengthened whistle-blower protection, the creation of a new Office of Counter‑Terrorism and a new strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.
He emphasized that women’s empowerment was a top priority, with the United Nations system strategy on gender parity, launched in September, providing a roadmap to reach parity at the senior levels of leadership by 2021, and ultimately by 2028 across the board. On management reform, he said his goal was to bring decision-making closer to the point of delivery, decentralizing authority and simplifying rules, policies and procedures.
“We will continue to improve ourselves, but I will also need the support of Member States to make the Organization more effective,” he said, adding: “Let us work together to ensure that the United Nations makes the best possible use of our resources provided by our taxpayers and to the service of humanity.”
Speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Ecuador’s delegate voiced deep concern and disappointment over the way in which the Secretariat, in proposing a series of arbitrary cuts, had interpreted General Assembly resolution 71/274 on the budget outline. He added that, two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, marshalling financial resources for that ambitious effort remained a daunting challenge. It was troubling, too, that the budget proposal included random cuts to such development-oriented entities as the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Regular Programme for Technical Cooperation.
The representative of the United States, recognizing the Secretary-General’s personal engagement in reforming the Organization, expressed concern that the Secretariat was making only incremental changes, with budgets growing by millions of dollars from each biennium to the next. “We cannot support unsustainable budget growth,” she said, emphasizing that her delegation would press for real reductions, both on the overall budget level and staffing. The only sustainable United Nations was an affordable one, she added, with budget levels balanced with the financial constraints of its Member States.
Several speakers expressed concern over proposed cutbacks targeting the five United Nations Regional Economic Commissions. Some also questioned funding requests contained in the budget proposal for initiatives — such as Human Rights Up Front — not yet approved by the General Assembly, as well as plans to augment the number of posts at the D‑1 director level and above while scaling back on Professional-level posts. Some also commented on inefficiencies involving the roll-out of the Umoja enterprise resource planning system.
“The United Nations must work more efficiently and demonstrate that it is making effective use of the resources it has been entrusted with,” said Singapore’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressing however that “we should not artificially put the Organization in a straitjacket and hamper its ability to fulfil its mandates”.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its related report, stating that its recommendations would entail an overall reduction of $42.9 million to the Secretary-General’s 2018‑2019 budget proposal. Through its report, the ACABQ also reiterated its concerns about the growing number and proportion of senior-level posts and the fact that the reductions in the lower-level Professional grades could negatively impact important human resources management targets.
Others who spoke before the Committee today were Jorge Theresin Flores Callejas, Vice-Chair of the Joint Inspection Unit, who introduced that body’s report on safety and security in the United Nations system, and Simona Petrova, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), transmitting the comments of the Secretary-General and the Board on the Joint Inspection Unit report.
Also speaking today were representatives of Angola (on behalf of the African Group), Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein), Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Japan, Mexico, Russian Federation, India, Paraguay, Chile, Morocco, Qatar, Colombia and Cuba, as well as the European Union delegation.
The Fifth Committee will meet again at a time to be announced in the Journal.
Proposed Programme Budget for Biennium 2018‑2019
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, introduced the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019 (document A/72/6 and A/72/6/Corr.1), which included a budget outline of just over $5.4 billion, before recosting. That was almost 4 per cent — or around $200 million — below the appropriation for the current biennium. “While mandates are increasing, the regular budget, excluding special political missions, has not grown in real terms over the past 17 years,” he said. The budget level was $10 million above the budget outline figure adopted by the General Assembly in 2016, due to a request for an increase by the International Court of Justice and a General Assembly decision concerning the humanitarian monitoring mechanism in Syria.
Regarding special political missions, he said that since 2010, new operations had been launched in Yemen, Syria, Burundi, Colombia and elsewhere, while others — for example, in Sierra Leone and Nepal — were discontinued. As a result, the budget level for special political missions remained at around $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion per biennium, and the proposal for 2018‑2019 maintained that level. The proposed budget also included preliminary recosting of $128 million, mainly related to inflation as per standard methodology, taking the regular budget requirements to $5.53 billion. In terms of posts, he said the proposal reflected an overall net decrease of 92 posts. Going forward, he said the Organization would continue to rely heavily on voluntary contributions to complement regular budget resources. Extrabudgetary resources were currently estimated at $21.3 billion, down $178 million from the current biennium.
Turning to his reform initiatives, he said: “Reform is for the people we serve and, indeed, for everyone who serves under the United Nations flag or is part of the enterprise of building a better world for all.” Systemic weaknesses had been examined to find new ways of being more nimble, responsive and effective in managing staff and resources and in supporting Member States. An extensive review of internal policies and administrative instructions was meanwhile under way to remove duplication, reduce fragmentation and streamline procedures. Some important steps had been reflected in the budget proposals, including strengthened whistle-blower protection, the creation of a new Office of Counter‑Terrorism and a new strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. With respect to development, he said the quadrennial comprehensive policy review resolution had provided a strong mandate to reposition development at the heart of the United Nations work and to pursue other changes to the United Nations development system.
Staying on the topic of reform, he said women’s empowerment was a top priority, with the United Nations system strategy on gender parity, launched in September, providing a roadmap to reach parity at the senior levels of leadership by 2021, and ultimately by 2028 across the board. “This goal is not just about numbers, but about transforming our institutional culture so that we can access and capitalize on our full potential,” he said, adding that regional diversity was also a concern for him, as reflected in the make-up of his Executive Office. On management reform, he said his proposal was aimed at bringing decision-making closer to the point of delivery, decentralizing authority and simplifying rules, policies and procedures. That would require greater transparency and accountability in all activities to better serve intergovernmental and governance processes at Headquarters.
“We will continue to improve ourselves, but I will also need the support of Member States to make the Organization more effective,” he said, adding that he would be introducing reports to the Fifth Committee on the principles guiding his reform efforts and on concrete proposals to strengthen the planning and budgetary process and to allow him to redeploy our resources in support of mandate delivery. A new management paradigm for the Organization would entail delegating managerial authority to programme managers, and demanding greater accountability from them for mandate delivery. It would also involve changes to management and support structures, measures to streamline and improve planning and budgeting processes, and steps to improve his ability — as Chief Administrative Officer — to redeploy resources within parts of the budget to better support mandate implementation.
He noted, however, that those proposals would not affect the 2018‑2019 budget proposals. For the new management structure, his Office would provide a breakdown of functions and a costed proposal for the two new departments in 2018, he said. Some of the changes would be reflected in the support account for peacekeeping operations in 2018/2019, and others would be accommodated within the approved staffing table for the regular budget. If approved, the changes to the planning and budgetary cycles and documentation would take effect in 2020. “I look forward to continuing our joint efforts to realize the aims of the Organization and meet the global public’s high expectations,” the Secretary-General said. “Let us work together to ensure that the United Nations makes the best possible use of our resources provided by our taxpayers and to the service of humanity.”
The Secretary-General then introduced reports relating to its proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019. Before the Committee was a Foreword and Introduction (document A/72/6 (Introduction) and A/72/6 (Introduction)/Corr.1), as well as sections on Overall policymaking, direction and coordination (document A/72/6 (Sect. 1)), including subsections on General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management (document A/72/6 (Sect. 2)); on Political affairs (document A/72/6 (Sect. 3)), including subsections on Disarmament (document A/72/6 (Sect. 4) and Corr.1), Peacekeeping Operations (document A/72/6 (Sect. 5) and Corr.5) and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (document A/72/6 (Sect. 6)); on International justice and law — International Court of Justice (document A/72/6 (Sect. 7) and Corr.1) and Legal Affairs (document A/72/6 (Sect. 8) and Corr.1).
It also included sections on International cooperation for development — Economic and social affairs (document A/72/6 (Sect. 9)), Least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (document A/72/6 (Sect. 10)), United Nations support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (document A/72/6 (Sect. 11)), Trade and development (document A/72/6 (Sect. 12) and Corr.1), Environment (document A/70/6 (Sect. 14), Human Settlements (document A/72/6 (Sect. 15)), International drug control, crime and terrorism prevention and criminal justice (document A/72/6 (Sect. 16)) and UN‑Women (document A/72/6 (Sect. 17)).
Further sections were on Regional cooperation for development — Economic and social development in Africa (document A/72/6 (Sect. 18)) Economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific, (document A/72/6 (Sect. 19)), Economic development in Europe (document A/72/6 (Sect. 20)), Economic and social development in Latin America and the Caribbean (document A/72/6 (Sect. 21)), Economic and social development in Western Asia (document A/72/6 (Sect. 22)) and Regular programme of technical cooperation (document A/72/6 (Sect. 23)); on human rights and humanitarian affairs — Human rights (document A/72/6 (Sect. 24)) and Corr.1), International protection, durable solutions and assistance to refugees (document A/72/6 (Sect. 25)), Palestine refugees (document A/72/6 (Sect. 26) and Corr.1) and Humanitarian assistance (document A/70/6 (Sect. 27)).
Additional sections were on Public Information (document A/72/6 (Sect. 28)); on Common support services — Management and support services (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29)), Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29A)), Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29B)), Office of Human Resources Management (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29C), Corr.1 and Corr.2), Office of Central Support Services (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29D)), Office of Information and Communications Technology (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29E)), Administration, Geneva (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29F)), Administration, Vienna (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29G)) and Administration, Nairobi (document A/72/6 (Sect. 29H)); and on Internal Oversight (document A/72/6 (Sect. 30)).
Section were also included on Jointly financed administrative activities and special expenses — Jointly financed administrative activities (document A/72/6 (Sect. 31)) and special expenses (document A/70/6 (Sect. 32)); on Capital expenditures — Construction, alteration, improvement and major maintenance (document A/72/6 (Sect. 33) and Corr.1); on Safety and security (document A/70/6 (Sect. 34)); on Development Account (document A/72/6 (Sect. 35); and on Staff assessment (document A/72/6 (Sect. 36)); as well as Income Section 1, 2 and 3 (documents A/72/6 (Income sect. 1), A/70/6 (Income sect. 2) and A/70/6 (Income sect. 3)).
Introduction of Other Reports
CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) then introduced its corresponding report (document A/72/7), recalling that the Secretary-General was asked to prepare his proposed programme budget for 2018‑2019 based on a preliminary estimate of $5.395 billion. The Secretary-General’s proposal amounted to $5.405 billion before recosting, or 0.2 per cent above the level stipulated in the budget outline. After including preliminary recosting, the proposed resource level totalled $5.533 billion, which reflected a decrease of $87.6 million, or 1.5 per cent over the level of the revised appropriation for 2016‑2017 and $156 million or 2.7 per cent lower than the actual final expenditure for 2014‑2015. The Secretary-General had indicated that the budget proposal finalized in the first few months of his tenure did not reflect his future vision for the Organization and the related reform proposals, which may impact resource requirements. Several other proposals, including those pertaining to the global service delivery model and overseas construction projects, had not been included in the 2018‑2019 budget proposal.
He said that the recommendations outlined in the Advisory Committee’s report would entail an overall reduction of $42.9 million to the Secretary-General’s 2018‑2019 budget proposal, including the removal of $13.3 million related to the Secretariat’s contribution to the United Nations Resident Coordinator system and a $17.2 million reduction to the resource requirements for contributions to after-service health insurance, based on expenditure patterns to date. The Advisory Committee questioned whether the resource requirements should have been included in or excluded from the budget proposal. For the proposed resource changes, “the Committee cites instances where the categorization under ‘new or expanded mandates’ or the attribution to specific efficiency initiatives is, in its view, questionable,” he said. The strategic oversight exercised in the preparation of the budget proposal should be improved to ensure greater consistency across different departments and offices, he stressed.
Turning to the specific reference to the proposed reductions of $64.3 million attributed to organizational efficiencies, the Advisory Committee did not object to any of the related proposals in light of the Secretary-General’s assurance that they would not impact the Organization’s ability to deliver mandates, he said. At the same time, the Advisory Committee remained unconvinced that those reductions were the direct result of efficiency measures, including the implementation of Umoja, the Organization’s enterprise resource planning system. The Advisory Committee was concerned that despite a significant investment of resources and repeated assertions that the implementation of the system and its use would improve the availability of information and analysis, its introduction had not led to an improvement in the quality or timeliness of the information provided in the 2018‑2019 budget proposal.
The Secretary-General had also proposed a net decrease of 92 posts comprising 175 posts for abolishment, offset in part by the establishment of 79 new posts and the conversion of four posts from general temporary assistance, he continued. The Advisory Committee reiterated its concerns about the increasing number and proportion of senior-level posts and the fact that the reductions in the lower-level Professional grades could negatively impact important human resources management targets for the Organization.
The Chair then drew the Fifth Committee’s attention to the report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee on the Office of Internal Oversight Services: proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019 (A/72/85); the tenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of projects financed from the Development Account ((A/72/92 and A/72/92/Corr.1); and the report of the Secretary-General on Consolidated changes to the biennial programme plan as reflected in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019 (A/72/84, A/72/84/Corr.1, A/72/84/Corr.2 and A/72/84/Add.1).
JORGE THERESIN FLORES CALLEJAS, Vice‑Chair of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced its report titled “Safety and security in the United Nations system” (documents A/72/118 and A/72/118/Add.1), which assessed the current United Nations safety and security system and its ability to respond to global security challenges. The report provided a comprehensive overview of the security culture, standards, response capability and resources, and contained several recommendations. In particular, he drew attention to the recommendation that the General Assembly request the Secretary-General to prepare a proposal for a safety and security funding model that would provide the Department of Safety and Security with a transparent, sustainable and predictable budget and the flexibility necessary to address unforeseen crises, to be considered during the Assembly’s seventy‑second session.
SIMONA PETROVA, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), introduced the Secretary-General’s note transmitting her comments and those of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/72/118/Add.1). She said that organizations of the United Nations system had found many useful points for action in the report as well as many relevant recommendations intended to strengthen safety and security throughout the system. However, organizations also indicated areas where the report could have been improved through further in-depth analysis, highlighting particularly the role of the security management system in delivering humanitarian assistance. Organizations also suggested the report could have been strengthened with a more comprehensive analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the existing security management system. Organizations supported the recommendation that existing host country agreements be adapted, but also questioned whether those agreements provided the flexibility needed to respond to fluctuating security environments. Further, organizations welcomed the recommendation aimed at strengthening their analytical capabilities of social media and other big data sources, but questioned some of the implementation mechanisms contained within that recommendation.
DIEGO FERNANDO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed deep concern and disappointment about the Secretariat’s creative interpretation of General Assembly resolution 71/274 on the budget outline in proposing a series of arbitrary cuts. The budget outline was an indicative and preliminary estimate of resource requirements, not a pre‑approved ceiling of resources. The Group of 77 favoured actual efficiency savings, but it was puzzled by the lack of justification on most of the proposed efficiencies, in particular the ones relating to Umoja benefits realization. It was not the first time the Fifth Committee had heard about the lack of justification of so-called efficiencies achieved by Umoja, which looked set to keep costing Member States a significant amount of money. The Group of 77 agreed with the Advisory Committee’s view that the Secretary-General’s budget proposal seemed to put a greater emphasis on achieving resource reduction targets than on the impact of the proposed reductions on their respective programmes. “We are unconvinced that all of the proposed reductions can be attributed to efficiency measures, including the implementation of Umoja,” he said.
Noting that two years had passed since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said financial resources to fulfil that ambitious effort were a daunting challenge that must be properly addressed. Member States must provide the United Nations with the resources it needed to act as the Agenda’s key enabler. However, the Group of 77 seriously doubted that the current budget provided the Organization with the appropriate means to fulfil that role. He added that the Group of 77 would have liked to have seen a strengthening of the development pillar. It was therefore troubling that the budget proposal contained random cuts to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Regional Commissions and the regular programme of technical cooperation. Strengthening those entities was a priority for the Group of 77, he said, encouraging all delegations to engage in budget deliberations with a spirit of flexibility and responsibility.
BURHAN GAFOOR (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77, welcomed the push for a United Nations that was more transparent and accountable to the membership and believed that the Organization must have more visibility and meaningfully demonstrate a clearer link between resources and results. Pointing out that the United Nations was tasked with implementing the decisions of Member States, he said it was not tenable to continue to demand more from the Organization while seeking arbitrary cuts or threatening to withhold resources. “The United Nations must work more efficiently and demonstrate that it is making effective use of the resources it has been entrusted with,” he said, adding: “But we should not artificially put the Organization in a straitjacket and hamper its ability to fulfil its mandates.” ASEAN noted that the initial estimates to finance special political missions in the proposed budget totalled more than $1.1 billion, and in that context, the Group believed the Assembly must have a serious discussion on the funding arrangements for such missions in relation to other development priorities.
MARCIO SANDRO ALEIXO PEREIRA BURITY (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, stressed that any changes to the budget preparation methodology should be subjected to the approval of the General Assembly. The Group understood that the resources proposed by the Secretary-General may not be adequate to effectively address the priorities set by the General Assembly, in particular threats linked to the peace and security architecture and the urgent needs of the 2030 Agenda. The African Group expressed serious concern about the continued unjustified, across the board resource reductions that imperilled mandate delivery, including those related to the Group’s key interests such as development.
The Group was highly concerned with the downward trend of budget growth that did not take into account “real changes” and additional mandated responsibilities of the Organization, he said. Specifically, the Group was deeply concerned about the unjustified reductions in the number of post and non‑post resources in important areas, including development for Africa, maintenance of international peace and security, humanitarian assistance, disarmament, drug control, crime prevention and combatting international terrorism. The Group noted that development in Africa was one of the eight United Nations priorities and stressed that proposals on humanitarian assistance, the environment and development should be given special attention during budget consultations and negotiations. The proposal on implementation of the global service delivery model and construction projects away from Headquarters should be useful in strengthening the already existing infrastructure and related facilities.
PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that the Group acknowledged that the implementation of Umoja had resulted in inefficiencies. CARICOM was concerned that despite the significant investment of resources, the deployment of Umoja had not resulted in the anticipated improvements in the quality or timeliness of the information provided to ACABQ in support of the Secretary-General’s budget proposal for the upcoming biennium. CARICOM was also deeply concerned that despite expanded mandates to support the sustainable development of small island developing States, the resources allocated to the Small Island Developing States Unit in the Department of Social and Economic Affairs had remained unchanged. CARICOM expected that the proposed reduction in resources, including the abolishment and redeployment of posts within the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) would not affect the Commission’s capacity to carry out its important mandate.
CARLOS ALEJANDRO FUNES HENRÍQUEZ (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, voiced concern over proposed resource reductions for the Regional Commissions, in particular the ECLAC. CELAC would oppose the approval of reductions that might jeopardize that entity’s capacity to deliver on its mandate. CELAC supported the ACABQ’s recommendations on the increased number of senior posts at and above the D‑1 level and the reduction in lower Professional-grade posts, which could have a negative impact on such human resource management initiatives as the Young Professionals Programme. Emphasizing the important role played by special political missions in securing peace in several regions, including Latin America and the Caribbean, he said arrangements for their funding and backstopping should be an integral part of the Fifth Committee’s deliberations.
JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of the European Union delegation, emphasized that a responsive United Nations required a planning and budgeting tool that was transparent and agile. Such a tool should ensure that resources were allocated in the best possible way to deliver the United Nations crucial mandates and that could be flexible to meet priority demands. The budget document presented to the Fifth Committee had seen improvements compared to recent years, particularly regarding transparency and streamlined processes. Yet, the proposal also bore the marks of years of incremental budgeting, which undermined the strategic nature of the budget. The current system lacked flexibility in terms of managers’ ability to reprioritize and redistribute resources and staff in line with emerging priorities; it was not set up to maximize a sense of strategic prioritization, managerial ownership or responsibility for results. The current system was not conducive to the strict budgetary discipline and predictability Member States expected. For too long, add-ons had been adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the budget level. In that context, the European Union supported the Secretary-General’s ambition to reform the United Nations budget processes.
ALEXANDRA BAUMANN (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, stressed that the current system of budgeting and planning within the United Nations was dysfunctional and must be reformed. Instead of micromanaging the Organization to the extent of creating or abolishing individual posts, Member States needed to provide strategic guidance, ensure sufficient resources and their most efficient use and focus on results rather than inputs. In that connection, the Secretary-General’s proposals to fundamentally reform the programme planning and budgeting processes were strongly welcomed. The United Nations could much more effectively and efficiently achieve its mandated objectives by allocating its resources more strategically. The bulk of assessed contributions continued to be used for peacekeeping to address situations where conflict had already broken out. The Organization did not invest enough in conflict prevention and mediation, she said, adding that the United Nations needed a stronger human rights pillar able to fully implement its related mandates.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia), also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, welcomed the proposals to improve and streamline the programme planning and budgeting process, which included moving to an annual budget cycle and improving the presentation of budget materials and results to ensure greater transparency and accountability. For the Organization to deliver the mandates entrusted to it by Member States, the current processes must be fit for purpose. Ensuring the Organization delivered more effectively would take more than just embracing the reforms, she stressed, adding that there was a need for Member States to carefully re‑examine how they worked together, particularly within the Fifth Committee.
TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan) said that his delegation could not emphasize strongly enough that every single dollar spent by the Organization came from the taxpayers of Member States. His delegation took note of the proposed staffing level of 9,998 established and temporary posts for the biennium 2018‑2019 under the expenditure section and that the ratio of D‑1 and higher posts to Professional-level posts remained high or was even increasing. His delegation was concerned about the trend of presenting the reduction of mainly junior-level posts as overall cost-reduction efforts and efficiencies. The report on management reform contained several proposals concerning changes to the basic budget formulation, its machinery and budget implementation, he underlined, adding that Japan would keep a close eye on the discussions concerning those matters.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), noting that his delegation had expressed its position on the proposed programme and budget a couple of days ago, said discussions could not ignore the Secretary-General’s reform initiatives nor the changing paradigm implied in putting the 2030 Agenda at the centre of the Organization’s work. The Fifth Committee should approve the allocation of resources so that the Secretariat could responsibly undertake its functions with a clear focus on prevention, inclusion and human rights, thus laying the foundation for progress on reforms.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said her delegation recognized the Secretary-General’s personal engagement and leadership in reforming the United Nations. It also recognized that the proposed budget did not fully reflect his reform vision. However, the United States was concerned about the process used to form the budget. Rather than respecting the General Assembly’s established budget outline of $5.3 billion, agreed in December, and using that outline as a starting point to develop the budget, the Secretariat had continued to make only incremental changes from one biennium to the next. Without a bottom-up approach, the Secretariat could not strategically set out priorities or conduct a long-overdue impact assessment. As a result, budgets grew by millions of dollars each biennium. The United States therefore urged a fundamental reform of the recosting practice that had made responsible budgeting impossible.
The United States would press for real reductions, both on the overall budget level and staffing, she said, adding that the United Nations must be disciplined about priorities. “We cannot support unsustainable budget growth,” she stressed. Budget levels must balance what the United Nations required to fulfil its mission with Member States’ financial constraints. The only sustainable United Nations was an affordable one, she said, emphasizing the need to work together with a renewed focus to move the Organization onto a sound and sustainable fiscal path with a budget that met real world needs, even if that meant challenging the status quo.
SERGEY V. KHALIZOV (Russian Federation) said his delegation hoped that a proposal on recosting would be presented to the Fifth Committee at a later stage. Regarding the draft budget, he said the Russian Federation would pay attention to justifications for additional human resources, including for the implementation of functions that the General Assembly had yet to take a decision on, such as the Human Rights Up Front initiative.
PAULOMI TRIPATHI (India), associating herself with the Group of 77, welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to make specific reform proposals to improve the way the Organization worked. The stagnation in the availability of overall resources continued as demands on the system multiplied. The mismatch of earmarked and non‑earmarked resources also persisted and expanded. Another concern was the imbalance of the resources available for the three pillars of the United Nations work — peace and security, development and human rights — she said, noting that the peacekeeping budget was in itself more than three times the United Nations regular budget. Meanwhile, the United Nations development system budget was only a small percentage of total global development efforts. Although Member States had adopted an ambitious development agenda, the capacity of the United Nations system to assist national development efforts remained marginal at best. A balanced allocation of resources was the responsibility of Member States. The budget outline was not a pre‑approved ceiling of resources available in the regular budget, she said, emphasizing that the creation of posts was not the only vehicle for programme delivery.
JULIA ANSELMINA MACIEL GONZÁLEZ (Paraguay), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that the budget should reflect the strategic vision of the Secretary-General in implementing mandates and priorities agreed by Member States. Emerging and growing challenges drove new functions and mandates, which required a rethinking of governance and management. Creating a more flexible and efficient organization involved leveraging management tools, including the global service delivery model. Her delegation understood that the budget outline was an indicative and preliminary estimate of the need for resources and that the effective delivery of mandates should always be the major factor in determining the allocation resources. The challenge of implementing the 2030 Agenda was never greater than it was today, she said, underscoring that a strengthened United Nations must be capable of effectively carrying out the mandates conferred upon it by the Member States. Paraguay was deeply concerned by the proposed cuts to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNCTAD and the Regional Commissions.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, noted that the Organization was in the middle of a reform process, while also seeking to implement the 2030 Agenda, both of which would be determining factors in the programme planning and budget process. It would be an “unforgivable mistake” to hastily adopt strategic decisions based on ignorance that could undermine the legitimacy of the Organization, which was already constantly under scrutiny. Member States would be shirking their responsibilities if they did not constructively follow what the Secretary-General had said regarding the importance of transparency and accountability in the budgetary process.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) welcomed a proposed increase in resources for development cooperation, but noted that the suppression of 11 economic and social development posts in Africa did not reflect the priority given by the Organization to that continent. He also highlighted the wisdom of the Secretary-General reducing the size of the delegation which accompanied him on official missions, calling on others to follow his example.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said her delegation welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to strike a balance within the Secretariat and on the ground. Such measures should help the Organization discharge its duties in a more efficient manner, she said, adding that the budget must guarantee the necessary resources to allow mandates approved by Member States to be properly discharged.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) underscored the importance of gender balance in human resource management, as well as her delegation’s concern with proposed cutbacks for Regional Commissions such as ECLAC, which was playing an important role in implementing the 2030 Agenda and in the creation of a regional forum.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said her delegation opposed attempts to approve proposals that had no mandate from Member States, as was the case for the Human Rights Up Front initiative for which a D‑1 post had been requested. Such proposals undermined trust between Member States and the Secretariat. She added that a different funding method for special political missions must be considered, and that reforming the United Nations should preserve the Organization’s intergovernmental nature and strengthen its capacity to fulfil its functions, especially in the area of development. Successful reform would depend on all Member States meeting their financial obligations in full, on time and without conditions, she said, noting also with concern a tendency by some bodies to be involved in administrative and budgetary manners.