Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee)
Questions relating to the programme budget
Excerpt from A/73/250, Section J, paragraphs 66-82:
66. The General Committee draws the attention of the General Assembly to rule 153 of the rules of procedure, which reads:
No resolution involving expenditure shall be recommended by a committee for approval by the General Assembly unless it is accompanied by an estimate of expenditures prepared by the Secretary-General. No resolution in respect of which expenditures are anticipated by the Secretary-General shall be voted by the General Assembly until the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee) has had an opportunity of stating the effect of the proposal upon the budget estimates of the United Nations.
67. Pursuant to rule 153 of the rules of procedure, the Secretariat considers financial implications of all draft resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs. This process begins once the draft is submitted for issuance as a document of the Assembly. Until then, the Secretariat is not in a position to provide any official view as to whether a draft resolution or decision would have financial implications.
68. The General Committee draws the attention of the General Assembly to the fact that, in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure, the consideration by the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee) of any proposal involving expenditure before such a proposal is voted on by the Assembly is mandatory and the rule as formulated does not provide for any exceptions.
69. The General Committee also draws the attention of the General Assembly to the need for initiators of proposals with budgetary implications to clarify a timetable at an early stage with the Chair of the Administrative and Budgetary Committee (Fifth Committee) and the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, in order to ensure full compliance with rule 153.
70. With regard to rule 153 of the rules of procedure and paragraph 13 (d) of decision 34/401, which requires a minimum period of 48 hours before action is taken on a proposal so as to allow the Secretary-General to prepare the programme budget implications of proposals before the General Assembly, the General Committee draws the attention of the Assembly to the fact that, in most cases, more than 48 hours are required for the Secretary-General to review the programme budget implications of proposals before the Assembly.
71. The General Committee brings to the attention of the General Assembly paragraph 31 of resolution 71/323, in which the Assembly recalled rules 153 and 154 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly and encouraged the Chairs of the Main Committees and the Secretary-General to ensure observance of those rules, within their respective mandates.
72. The General Committee draws the attention of the General Assembly to paragraphs 12 and 13 of decision 34/401 (A/520/Rev.18, annex V), which read:
12. It is imperative that Main Committees should allow sufficient time for the preparation of the estimate of expenditures by the Secretariat and for its consideration by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Fifth Committee and that they should take this requirement into account when they adopt their programme of work.
(a) A mandatory deadline, not later than 1 December, should be established for the submission to the Fifth Committee of all draft resolutions with financial implications;
(b) The Fifth Committee should, as a general practice, consider accepting without debate the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the financial implications of draft resolutions up to a prescribed limit, namely $25,000 on any one item;
(c) Firm deadlines should be set for the early submission of the reports of subsidiary organs which require consideration by the Fifth Committee;
(d) A minimum period of 48 hours should be allowed between the submission and the voting of a proposal involving expenditure in order to allow the Secretary-General to prepare and present the related statement of administrative and financial implications.
73. The General Committee also draws the attention of the General Assembly to regulation 5.9 of the Regulations and Rules Governing Programme Planning, the Programme Aspects of the Budget, the Monitoring of Implementation and the Methods of Evaluation (first adopted in resolution 37/234, annex; the rules in the revised edition (ST/SGB/2018/3) are issued pursuant to resolution 72/9), as well as to Assembly resolution 54/236 and its decision 54/474. Regulation 5.9 reads:
Regulation 5.9. No council, commission or other competent body shall take a decision involving either a change in the programme budget approved by the General Assembly or the possible requirement of expenditure unless it has received and taken account of a report from the Secretary-General on the programme budget implications of the proposal.
74. Furthermore, the General Committee draws the attention of the General Assembly to paragraph 6 of its resolution 35/10 A, which reads:
6. Decides that all proposals affecting the schedule of conferences and meetings made at sessions of the General Assembly shall be reviewed by the Committee on Conferences when administrative implications are being considered under the requirements of rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the Assembly;
75. The General Committee draws the attention of the General Assembly to section VI of its resolution 45/248 B on procedures for administrative and budgetary matters, in which the Assembly:
1. Reaffirms that the Fifth Committee is the appropriate Main Committee of the General Assembly entrusted with responsibilities for administrative and budgetary matters;
2. Reaffirms also the role of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions;
3. Expresses its concern at the tendency of its substantive Committees and other intergovernmental bodies to involve themselves in administrative and budgetary matters;
4. Invites the Secretary-General to provide all intergovernmental bodies with the required information regarding procedures for administrative and budgetary matters.
76. The General Committee also draws the attention of the General Assembly to the oral statement of programme budget implications read by the Secretariat prior to the consideration of a proposal containing budgetary implications that would have an impact on future budget periods and that would be included in the proposed programme budget or that would be funded from extrabudgetary resources.
77. The General Committee further draws the attention of the General Assembly to the views expressed by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions on the use of the phrase “within existing resources”* and to the report in which the Committee emphasized the responsibility of the Secretariat to inform the Assembly thoroughly and accurately about whether there are enough resources to implement a new activity.**
78. The General Committee brings to the attention of the General Assembly the fact that, pursuant to paragraph 5 of resolution 40/243, United Nations bodies may hold sessions away from their established headquarters when a Government issuing an invitation for a session to be held within its territory has agreed to defray, after consultation with the Secretary-General as to their nature and possible extent, the actual additional costs directly or indirectly involved. The methods of budgeting these costs should be improved so as to ensure that all additional costs are accounted for.***
79. The General Committee also brings to the attention of the General Assembly the fact that all activities related to international conventions or treaties that, under their respective legal arrangements, ought to be financed outside the regular budget of the United Nations, may be undertaken by the Secretariat only when sufficient funding is received, in advance, from States parties and States not parties participating in the meetings.
80. The General Committee further brings to the attention of the General Assembly paragraph 11 of resolution 69/250, in which the Assembly invited Member States to include in new legislative mandates adequate information on the modalities for the organization of conferences or meetings.
81. The General Committee draws the attention of the General Assembly to the estimated conference servicing-related costs of convening an additional two meetings of up to three hours each in length during working hours, which are $11,900, and during weekends, which are $37,195 on a Saturday and $37,627 on a Sunday,**** and that those costs do not include additional services relating to substantive support by a Secretariat office, webcast services or costs relating to the holding of meetings outside of working hours, among others.
82. The General Committee also draws the attention of the General Assembly to the estimated costs relating to the issuance of an additional report or note by the Secretariat not exceeding 8,500 words in length when originating in the Secretariat or 10,700 words when not originating in the Secretariat, which are $27,800 for 8,500 words and $34,800 for 10,700 words,8 and that those costs relate to the editing, translation and issuance of the document and do not include additional services relating to substantive support in the drafting of its content.
** Ibid., Fifty-fourth Session, Supplement No. 7 (A/54/7).
*** Ibid., Forty-first Session, Supplement No. 49 (A/41/49), para. 21, recommendation 4.
**** The estimate is based on costs as at 12 September 2018 and is subject to change.