26 March 2014

Fifth Committee Considers Financial Implications of Draft Resolution on Strengthening United Nations Human Rights Treaty Body System

26 March 2014
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

33rd Meeting (AM)

Fifth Committee Considers Financial Implications of Draft Resolution


on Strengthening United Nations Human Rights Treaty Body System


Text Contains Requests for More Resources, Proposals on Saving Millions of Dollars

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today examined the financial implications of a proposed draft resolution on strengthening the United Nations human rights treaty body system — a text that would have a far-reaching impact on how it operates.

Draft resolution A/68/L.37, titled “Strengthening and enhancing the effective functioning of the human rights treaty body system”, contains requests for more resources and meeting time, and proposes measures that would save millions of dollars, such as imposing word limits in documentation and reducing the number of working languages for translation and interpretation services.

Maria Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller, presented the Secretary-General’s statement on the programme budget implications arising from the draft resolution (document A/68/779), saying that since the establishment of the first treaty body in 1969, the system had enjoyed significant growth due to the adoption of new treaties and the sharp increase in the number of States parties to those instruments.  Taking both additional costs and savings into account, the draft’s adoption would lead to a net cost increase of $194,000 for the 2014-2015 biennium, she said.

Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), presented that body’s eponymous report (document A/68/807), recommending approval of the Secretary-General’s proposals, except for those relating to two P-3 posts, one GS (OL) post, and videoconferencing equipment for two conference rooms.  He said that savings achieved would exceed additional costs by $324,200 for that period.

In the ensuing discussion, most speakers described the draft resolution as “balanced”, but the Russian Federation’s representative expressed concern about the adverse impact on translation and interpretation services.  Multilingualism and language parity were critical to the work of the treaty bodies, he pointed out.  One reason behind the need for additional resources was that the treaty bodies exceeded their mandates, he added.

Bolivia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said she supported providing the resources requested by the Secretary-General, should the General Assembly adopt the draft resolution.  All mandates approved by United Nations intergovernmental bodies should be provided with adequate resources from the regular budget.  She emphasized, however, that the timely submission of reports from the Secretariat and the ACABQ, in all official languages, was critical to the Fifth Committee’s work.

Singapore’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that the draft established the requirement for capacity-building activities to be undertaken “in consultation with and with the consent of the State concerned”, and “upon the request of the State parties”.  ASEAN would examine the budget implications associated with the capacity-building programme, she said.  It supported the additional 15 per cent margin of meeting time, as proposed in the draft, so as to prevent the recurrence of backlog, she said, noting that the additional time would be 8.6 weeks.

A representative of the European Union Delegation described the draft as balanced, and urged the Committee to adopt it swiftly.

Switzerland’s delegate — speaking also for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Norway and Turkey — echoed that sentiment and called upon Member States to endorse the complete package of measures negotiated over two years through the intergovernmental process.

Costa Rica’s representative — speaking also for Argentina, Colombia, Peru, El Salvador and Uruguay — urged Member States to approve the financial implications, noting that the text accommodated all positions expressed.

The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on 28 March, to take up a feasibility study on the long-term accommodation needs of the United Nations, and to conclude the first part of its resumed session.

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