7 April 2009


7 April 2009
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-third General Assembly


79th Meeting (AM)



Also Adopts 11 Texts Recommended by Budget Committee; Peacekeeping Finance,

Capital Master Plan, Streamlined Contracts, Joint Inspection Unit among Issues

The General Assembly today agreed to convene a high-level conference on the impact of the world financial and economic crisis on development, from 1 to 3 June at Headquarters.

“There is widespread consensus among world leaders that the current crisis has its roots in ethical failure,” said Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto, after the resolution establishing the conference was adopted.  He added that he aimed to produce a programme of work for the conference next week, as stipulated in the text.

The modalities for the conference are contained in the resolution which was submitted by Mr. d’Escoto late last month and entitled “organization of the United Nations conference at the highest level on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development” (document A/63/L.66).  It was adopted without a vote, along with 10 other resolutions and 1 draft decision adopted upon the recommendation of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).

The resolution calls for Member States to agree on a concise outcome document, based on a draft to be prepared by Mr. d’Escoto through an open, transparent and inclusive process led by Member States.  Further, the conference will require $867,700 in additional appropriations to the biennium budget, according to a Fifth Committee report on the issue (document A/63/807).

Jorge Valero (Venezuela), speaking after the Assembly adopted the resolution, explained that the “Group of 77” developing countries and China were responsible for proposing the idea for such a conference, first broached at the Doha Conference on Financing for Development in November 2008.  But, even earlier, Venezuela had tabled a resolution at the General Assembly called “the global economic and financial crisis and its consequences” (document A/63/L.22), co-sponsored by 33 countries.

Welcoming the Assembly’s approval of the conference’s modalities, Mr. Valero listed several topics that the Venezuelan Government thought worthy of consideration.  Among them was the suggestion that the international community develop regional monetary reserves based on a system of regional special drawing rights.  Another suggestion was that it eliminate the dollar reserve, which he said would prevent the United States “Empire” from “financing its deficits through the issuance of new dollar bills”.

Camillo Gonsalves ( Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), one of two co-facilitators for the conference preparatory process, said he and co-facilitator Frank Majoor ( Netherlands) had pledged to conduct the preparations in “full regard” of the provision that the process be led by Member States and result in an outcome to be agreed by Member States.

“We consider the resolution to be a carefully calibrated and balanced document, designed to engender the support of all Member States.  No single paragraph should be read in isolation, because such an approach would detract from the totality of the good-faith compromises and concessions made by all Member States to date,” he stressed.

Other resolutions adopted by the Assembly today included two separate texts approving the financing of two United Nations peacekeeping missions in Africa -- the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), contained in document A/63/787, and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), contained in document A/63/788 -- and a third text approving a support package for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), contained in document A/63/789.

By the terms of those texts, the Assembly appropriated around $56.2 million for UNMIS to meet personnel costs, aircraft rental and fuel needs.  It authorized additional commitments of up to $139.67 million for MINURCAT, whose mandate has been extended until 15 March 2010.  It authorized commitments of up to $77.79 million for the provision of logistical support to AMISOM.

By another peacekeeping-related text the Assembly approved the donation of assets from United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) following its termination -- with a total residual value of over $2 million -- to the Government of Ethiopia and the African Union, in support of its Mission in Somalia.

Other resolutions adopted unanimously by the Assembly dealt with special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009, among them a text dealing with the budget of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), on the withdrawal of troops from Lebanon, whose narrative and logical framework had been newly revised.

On that subject, the representative of Syria, who spoke after the resolution was adopted, registered several concerns about the revised logical framework, saying it contained “flaws” and “distortions”.  Despite discussions between his Government and the Secretariat on its formulation, the Special Envoy had disregarded Syria’s views on possible infringements of its sovereignty, including on bilateral matters, such as diplomatic relations with other countries.  In addition, the Special Envoy’s treatment of the provisions of Council resolution 1559 (2004) on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon had turned attention away from the true problem, which was Israeli occupation of Arab lands.

He stressed that, when the Member States had decided to take note of the logical framework of the budget for the Special Envoy in an earlier meeting, Syria had not approved of it.  As he understood it, the Security Council would not be authorized to spend from the budget, because the logical framework had not truly followed the principles of results-based budgeting.

That text was contained in a multi-part resolution that also touched on the United Nations Postal Administration, standards of accommodation for air travel and business continuity management (parts I to IV of draft resolution I, in document A/63/648/Add.5).

Two other resolutions, also adopted without a vote, touched on the budget of the Capital Master Plan, including a critical text on proposed arrangements for a secondary data centre at Headquarters (draft resolution II in document A/63/648/Add.5).  In that resolution, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to absorb within the Capital Master Plan budget $5.1 million of the cost of migrating the primary data centre to the North Lawn building.  It decided that $2.03 million of the costs would be financed from resources to be approved for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010.

Meanwhile, by a resolution on the Capital Master Plan itself (draft resolution III in document A/63/648/Add.5), the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to ensure that costs were brought back within the approved budget of around $1.8 billion.  That includes the so-called “associated costs” that have been requested by various departments in connection with the project, amounting to around $30.27 million net, which the Secretary-General was requested to absorb through the Capital Master Plan budget.  Among other things, the lengthy text also addresses the issues of sustainability, procurement, health and safety, donations, parking, accessibility and oversight.

The three remaining resolutions dealt with staff matters and oversight and accountability within the Secretariat.  The Assembly adopted a resolution containing a set of amendments to the United Nations Staff Regulations that would enable the implementation of a streamlined contractual framework, adopted at the conclusion of the main part of the sixty-third session last December (document A/63/639/Add.1).  By a resolution on the accountability framework, enterprise risk management and internal control framework, and results-based management framework (document A/63/649/Add.1) the Assembly requested a report from the Secretary-General on proposed measures to strengthen personal accountability within the Secretariat and institutional accountability towards Member States.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution relating to the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/63/786), in which it requests the Secretary-General to expeditiously appoint an Executive Secretary for the Unit, which is an independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations.

Three issues were deferred to a later date, which, according to the sole decision adopted today, include the review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations; issues falling under the programme budget for the 2008-2009 biennium, including a report on a common payroll for the United Nations system organizations, among other documents; and the financing of the core diplomatic training activities of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (document A/63/649/Add.1).

Texts from the Fifth Committee were introduced by Rapporteur Patrick Chuasoto ( Philippines).

Also today, the Assembly was informed that Tajikistan had made the necessary payment to reduce its arrears.

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