Fifth Committee Presented with Documents Assessing Second Performance Report for 2016-17 Programme Budget, Impact of Draft Resolutions on Expenditures

GA/AB/4269
20 December 2017
Seventy-second Session, 28th Meeting (AM)

Fifth Committee Presented with Documents Assessing Second Performance Report for 2016-17 Programme Budget, Impact of Draft Resolutions on Expenditures

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was presented today with documents assessing the second performance report on the 2016‑2017 programme budget, as well as the programme budget implications and revised estimates resulting from exchange rates, inflation and resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly’s main committees and other United Nations bodies.

Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Assistant Secretary‑General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the second performance report, which estimated that the level of expenditures for 2016‑2017 would total $5.68 billion, a net increase of $61.4 million due mainly to commitment authorities and unforeseen and extraordinary expenses approved following the revised appropriation, increases related to post incumbency and other changes, offset in part by lower requirements for currency and inflation.

Additionally, she introduced reports laying out the revised estimates from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council; a report on the contingency fund; and two reports on revised estimates due to changes in exchange rates and inflation, including one related to the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

She also presented delegates with reports detailing the programme budget implications of draft resolutions and decisions on a variety of topics, including steps to prevent an arms race in outer space; nuclear disarmament; the adoption of a declaration on human rights and fundamental freedoms; the effects of terrorism on human rights; an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; and the rights of the child.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its corresponding reports.

Concerning the resolution on the rights of the child, Uruguay’s representative — also speaking for Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela — expressed full support for the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on Children and Armed Conflict and the Secretary-General’s request for $672,000 to create two posts for that Office.

The Fifth Committee will next meet on Friday, 22 December at 3 p.m. to conclude its work.

Second Performance Report on Programme Budget for Biennium 2016-2017

BETTINA TUCCI BARTSIOTAS, Assistant Secretary‑General and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the second performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2016‑2017 (document A/72/606).  The report gave an estimate of the anticipated level of expenditures for 2016‑2017, taking into account actual expenditures for the first 22 months of the biennium, projected requirements for the last two months, and changes in inflation and exchange rates.  The net increase of $61.4 million mainly related to authorities and unforeseen and extraordinary expenses approved following the revised appropriation ($37.8 million) and increase related to post incumbency and other changes ($30.3 million), offset in part by lower requirements for currency and inflation ($6.7 million).

Lower requirements of $6.7 million for currency and inflation reflected favourable rates of exchange of the United States dollar in relation to several currencies and favourable inflationary rates for post and non‑post objects of expenditures, she said.  The report sought approval to appropriate an extra $37.8 million to cover unforeseen and extraordinary expenses ($24 million), a subvention for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia ($11 million), and a subvention for the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone ($2.8 million).  Following issuance of the second performance report, the Secretary‑General approved an additional commitment authority of $1.1 million to re‑establish observation operations in Syria until 31 December 2017.

Under post incumbency and other changes, the proposal reflected a net increase of $30.3 million, resulting from increased requirements of $58.5 million for posts and $24.3 million for other staff costs, as well as reduced net requirements of $52.5 million under non‑post object of expenditure, she said.  The final estimated level of expenditure for 2016‑2017 totalled $5.68 billion, reflecting a net increase of $61.4 million over the approved revised appropriation of $5.6 million.  Turning to income, projections indicated that $553.7 million was anticipated, up $14.5 million from the projections one year ago.  Consequently, the combined effect of the anticipated final level of expenditure and income for 2016‑2017 resulted in a net increase of $46.9 million, representing 1 per cent of the net revised appropriation and estimate income.

CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its corresponding report (document A/72/647), in which it recognized and encouraged the Secretary‑General’s efforts to improve the document, including more detailed analysis of overall expenditure trends.  Concerning forward purchasing, the Advisory Committee recalled that the main benefit of using forward rates was the predictability they provided to the budget process.  It stressed the importance of adopting a consistent approach, with a fixed purchase date for entering forward contracts.  Overall, he said, the Advisory Committee recommended that the General Assembly approve the revised estimates for 2016‑2017, as set out in tables 3 and 9 in the Secretary‑General’s report.

2018-2019 Budget: Revised Estimates, Budget Implications of Draft Resolutions

Ms. BARTSIOTAS then introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its thirty‑fourth, thirty‑fifth and thirty‑sixth sessions, twenty‑sixth and twenty‑seventh special sessions (document A/72/602 and A/72/602/Add.1).  She noted that the reports detailed the 79 resolutions and decisions with financial implications adopted by the Human Rights Council.  The reports requested approval of additional appropriations, representing a charge against the contingency fund for the biennium 2018‑2019 of $21.7 million.  The reports also requested approval of the establishment of three new P‑3 posts and approval of an additional appropriation of $52,800.

She then introduced the Secretary‑General’s statements on the programme budget implications of several draft resolutions.  Presenting the statement (document A/C.5/72/11) on draft resolution A/C.1/72/L.5 on further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space, she recalled that the General Assembly asked the Secretary‑General to establish a United Nations Group of Governmental Experts to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of an internationally legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space.  To implement the request, the Secretary‑General proposed additional resources of $994,000 to cover meeting servicing, documentation, technical services, consultancy and travel costs.

Next, she presented the statement (document A/C.5/72/12) on draft resolution A.C.1/72/L.45/Rev.1 on nuclear disarmament, in which the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to convene a United Nations high‑level international conference on nuclear disarmament as well as a one‑day organizational meeting in March in New York from 14 to 16 May 2018.  To implement it, an additional $250,000 to cover meeting services, documentation, webcasting and website production and maintenance services would be required.

The statement (document A/C.5/72/14) on draft resolution A/C.3/72/L.50/Rev.1 on the twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms was then introduced.  By the terms of that draft, the General Assembly would ask the Secretary‑General to present a comprehensive assessment and analysis of the ways in which the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in cooperation with other actors, could give due consideration to the adoption of a declaration on human rights and fundamental freedoms.  To implement the draft, the Secretary‑General proposed $146,000 and general temporary assistance at the P‑4 level for six months as well as related non‑post requirements related to travel of three high‑level international experts and the production of pre-session documentation.

She then introduced the statement (document A/C/5/72/15) on draft resolution A/C.3/72/L.49/Rev.1 on the effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights, in which the General Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution to the Assembly at its seventy‑third session.  To implement the request, the Secretary-General proposed $80,500 and general temporary assistance at the P‑4 level for three months and related non‑post requirements to cover the production of pre-session documentation.

The Secretary‑General’s statement (document A/C.5/72/16) on draft resolution A/C.3/72/L.21/Rev.1 on the rights of the child was then introduced.  By its terms, the General Assembly requested the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Children and Armed Conflict to increase engagement with States, United Nations bodies and regional organizations, particularly sub‑regional organizations, to increase public awareness activities, including by collecting, assessment and disseminating best practices and lessons learned.  To implement that request, the Secretary‑General asked for $672,000 and the establishment of two Political Affairs Officer posts (one P‑5 and one P‑4) and related non‑post requirements in line with the standard common services costs for New York.

Next, she introduced the statement (document A/C.5/72/18) on draft resolution A/72/L.7 on the International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  In that resolution, the General Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to provide appropriate support to the intergovernmental conference to consider the recommendations of the preparatory committee on the text of an internationally legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The conference would be held in New York during 2018 through 2020.  To implement the request, the Secretary-General proposed $2.2 million to cover meeting servicing, documentation, security and public information.

She then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the contingency fund:  consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates (document A/C.5/72/20), noting that potential new charges to the contingency fund totalled $41.3 million.  Taking into account recommendations provided by the Advisory Committee, as well as the Fifth Committee, the potential charges to the contingency fund would amount to $39.4 million, resulting in a remaining balance of $1 million.

Turning to the Secretary‑General’s reports titled “Revised estimates:  effect of changes in rates of exchange and inflation” (document A/72/646) and “Revised estimates for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals:  effect of changes in rates of exchange and inflation” (document A/72/641), she said that the requirements would total $5.55 billion for the proposed 2018‑2019 programme budget and $232.7 million for the International Residual Mechanism.

Mr. RUIZ introduced the Advisory Committee’s corresponding reports, beginning with the revised estimates for the Human Rights Council (document A/72/7/Add.35), in which it recommended approval of the three proposed P‑3 Human Rights Officer posts, while recommending against 10 general temporary assistance posts.  It also recommended reductions under travel, simultaneous interpretation and sound technician/recording services.  Otherwise, the Advisory Committee recommended approval of the Secretary‑General’s proposals.

He then turned to the programme budget implications of draft resolutions emanating from the General Assembly and its main committees.  With regard to new measures to prevent an arms race in outer space (document A/72/7/Add.38), the Advisory Committee recommended resources for the provision of one sound technician, rather than two.  It also noted the need for transparency on the estimated cost of simultaneous interpretation, and asked the Secretary‑General for details when the Assembly considers the related report.

On the follow‑up to the Assembly’s high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament (document A/72/7/Add.37), he said the Advisory Committee made recommendations which represented a reduction of $13,800 to the additional resources sought in the Secretary‑General’s report.  Concerning requested resources for simultaneous interpretation, the ACABQ questioned the rational for two parallel costing parameters, introduced in 2016 and 2017 respectively, and trusted that more clarification would be provided.

Concerning the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/72/7/Add.41), he said that one general temporary assistance position at the P‑4 level for three months was sufficient, with support from existing expert staff within the OHCHR and other United Nations entities.  The Advisory Committee also recommended a reduction of related resources.

On the effects of terrorism on human rights (document A/72/7/Add.40), he said the Advisory Committee recommended against one general temporary assistance position at the P‑4 level, given existing staffing levels in the Secretariat and expert support from the Counter‑Terrorism Implementation Task Force.  It also recommended that additional and smaller requirements for documentation services for one pre‑session document be absorbed.

With respect to the programme budget implications on the rights of the child (document A/72/7/Add.39), he said the Advisory Committee recommended a 10 per cent reduction in the amount proposed for travel.  It also recommended a P‑4 general temporary assistance position, instead of the proposed P‑4 post.

Turning next to an international legally binding instrument on marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (document A/72/7/Add.42), he said the Advisory Committee recommended that additional resources requested in the Secretary‑General’s statement be reduced by $54,327.  He added that it was not convinced of the need for requested resources for overtime to cover late meetings, when no such meetings were planned in the relevant draft resolution.

In conclusion, he said the Advisory Committee recommended that the Fifth Committee inform the General Assembly that, should it adopt the draft resolutions, additional resource requirements of about $4.1 million would arise under the proposed 2018‑2019 programme budget and represent a charge against the contingency fund.

Regarding the contingency fund (document A/72/7/Add.43), he said the Advisory Committee was requesting an update to the list of potential charges, reflecting its recommendations, be provided to the General Assembly.  It also recommended that the Assembly consider the potential charges related to new and expanded mandates against the contingency fund, as outlined in the Secretary‑General’s report, and offer appropriate guidance to him.

Finally, on the effect of changing rates of exchange and inflation on the proposed 2018‑2019 programme budget (document A/72/7/Add.36), he said that, in broad terms, the Advisory Committee did not object overall to the Secretary‑General’s revised estimates.  Concerning the revised recosting arrangement for the International Trade Centre, the Secretary‑General’s proposal was not presented in a proper format that would enable the Assembly to act.  The Advisory Committee was also not convinced of the justification given for changing the recosting methodology for the International Trade Centre at this stage, and thus recommended against the proposed revised costing arrangement for that entity in 2018‑2019.

In terms of the effect of changing rates of exchange and inflation on the proposed budget of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals for the biennium 2018‑2019, he recalled the Advisory Committee’s report on that entity’s proposed budget (document A/72/654) in which it recommended that the General Assembly authorize the Secretary‑General to enter into commitments not exceeded $43.90 million to maintain the Mechanism from 1 January through 30 June 2018, pending a revised budget proposal for the entire biennium 2018‑2019.  It therefore did not recommend recosting the proposed budget for the time being.

MARIA FERNANDA SILVERA (Uruguay), also speaking on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela, said those delegations reiterated their full support for the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on Children and Armed Conflict.  The work of the Office was of great value and had a vital role to play in helping children in armed conflict around the world, which was at the core of efforts to prevent and break cycles of violence that fed conflict.  Assigning two additional staff members to the Office was of vital importance, and in that context, she expressed support for Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the necessary resources be provided for those additional staff members.

For information media. Not an official record.