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GA/11632
2 April 2015
Sixty-ninth Session, 84th Meeting (AM)

Adopting Nine Texts, General Assembly Establishes Nelson Mandela Prize Statute, Promotes Cooperation with Regional Organizations, Culture of Accountability

The General Assembly today adopted without a vote eight resolutions and one decision, including one establishing the statute of the United Nations Nelson Mandela Prize and two on promoting cooperation with regional organizations.  In other business, it filled two vacancies in the Committee on Conferences.

By the text titled “Statute of the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize”, the Assembly decided that the Prize would be presented once every five years as a tribute to the outstanding achievements and contributions of two individuals — one female and one male — from different geographic regions, and taking into account the geographic region of previous awardees so as to ensure equitable balance.  The first Prize would be awarded in 2015.

In a statement delivered after the adoption, Acting Assembly President Einar Gunnarsson, speaking for President Sam Kutesa, said the prize was not only dedicated to the memory of the great man but also aimed to recognize the achievements of those who dedicated their lives to the service of humanity through the promotion of the purposes and principles of the Organization.

The prize would serve as an inspiration to all who worked tirelessly to contribute to and improve the well-being of others through the promotion of the United Nations’ highest values, including peace, reconciliation, human rights and development.  As it had done each year since 2010, the United Nations would observe the Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July, he said, and invited all to participate in the celebration.

By another text, the Assembly welcomed the strengthened and fruitful cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie in a wide range of areas, from its contributions to crisis resolution, recovery and peacebuilding in numerous French-speaking countries, to its cooperation with the United Nations, as well as regional, subregional and non-governmental organizations towards early warning and conflict prevention.

Adopting another text, the Assembly took note of the activity of the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development aimed at promoting regional cooperation, and emphasized the importance of strengthening dialogue, cooperation and coordination between the United Nations system and that organization.  To that end, it invited the specialized agencies, components, organizations, programmes and funds of the United Nations system to cooperate and develop direct contacts with that body for the joint implementation of projects aimed at the attainment of common objectives.

The Assembly also adopted five resolutions forwarded by its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  By one text, the Assembly emphasized the importance of promoting a culture of accountability, results-based management, enterprise risk management and internal control at all levels in the Secretariat through the leadership and commitment of senior managers and asked the Secretary-General to take appropriate steps to that end.

By another, on procurement, the Assembly endorsed the related conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), stressed that best value for money; fairness, integrity and transparency; effective international competition; and the interest of the United Nations remained the four general principles for procurement, and also asked the Secretary-General to ensure that they were adhered to in the Organization’s procurement activities.

The other three resolutions the Assembly adopted were a nine-part text on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015; a text on the Joint Inspection Unit; and one on financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.  The draft decision included 10 reports of the Secretary-General and one of ACABQ on various human resource issues, which the Assembly deferred consideration of until the first part of its resumed seventieth session.

Earlier in the meeting, the Assembly appointed Sri Lanka, from the Asia-Pacific States, as a member of the Committee on Conferences effective immediately until 31 December 2017.  One seat from the Asia-Pacific States remained vacant.  Noting that the Permanent Mission of Denmark had announced that it would relinquish its membership on the Committee effective 1 April 2015, the Assembly appointed Austria to complete the remainder of its term, ending on 31 December 2016.

Action on Drafts

The General Assembly today considered eight resolutions and one draft decision.

First, it took up a text on the “Statute of the United Nations Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Prize” (document A/69/L.55).  The financial implications of the draft were contained in the report of the Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) (document A/69/837), which indicated that should the Assembly adopt that draft, an additional requirement of $97,600 under section 28, Public Information would be met from the 2014-2015 programme budget, to the extent possible, failing which the additional expenditures should be reported in the context of the second performance report for the biennium.

Adopting the text without a vote, the Assembly decided the Prize would be presented once every five years as a tribute to the outstanding achievements and contributions of two individuals — one female and one male — from different geographic regions, and taking into account the geographic region of previous awardees so as to ensure equitable balance.  It would be awarded in recognition of dedicated service to humanity, in the promotion of reconciliation and social cohesion, and in community development, guided by the purposes and principles of the United Nations.  The first Prize would be awarded in 2015.

After the adoption, EINAR GUNNARSSON, Acting President of the Assembly, delivering a statement on behalf of Assembly President Sam Kutesa, said the body had taken another important step in paying tribute to the extraordinary life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.  The Prize was not only dedicated to the memory of the great man but also aimed to recognize the achievements of those who dedicated their lives to the service of humanity through the promotion of the purposes and principles of the Organization.

In accordance with the resolution, Member States, observers, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations would have an opportunity to submit their nominations for the prize.  Encouraging all to actively participate in the nomination process, he said he would take steps to ensure that the inaugural prize was awarded in accordance with the Assembly’s resolution.

Mr. Mandela remained an international symbol of hope, humility and leadership, continued to inspire people the world over, spanning generations, races and religions.  The Prize would serve as an inspiration to all who worked tirelessly to contribute to and improve the well-being of others through the promotion of the United Nations’ highest values, including peace, reconciliation, human rights and development.  As it had done each year since 2010, the United Nations would observe the Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July, he said, and invited all to participation in the celebration.

Next, GEORGUI CISS (Senegal), introducing the draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie” (document A/69/L.58), proposed revisions in the text.  The world faced multiple threats to the fundamental principles of common concern on humanitarian, development and security fronts, he said.  The scale of the international problems and issues meant the United Nations needed to strengthen its partnership and cooperation with regional organizations.  The current resolution was inspired by the 2014 Dakar Declaration of Francophone nations, he said, calling for a new and sustainable vision of development, which would have a knock-on effect on other aspects of the Organization’s work.  The contributions of French-speaking nations to the review of peacekeeping operations served as an example of what could be done.  The resolution provided a means to further such cooperation across the spectrum of international issues and challenges.  Such cooperation would also help address the issue of multilateralism and multilingualism in peacekeeping, he said, adding that the text also highlighted the role of women in all dimensions.

The resolution was adopted, also without a vote.  By its terms the Assembly welcomed the strengthened and fruitful cooperation between the United Nations and the International Organization of la Francophonie in a wide range of areas from its contributions to crisis resolution and recovery and to peacebuilding in numerous French-speaking countries, to its cooperation with the United Nations, as well as regional, subregional and non-governmental organizations towards early warning and conflict prevention.  It also welcomed the Francophonie organization’s participation in promoting many goals of the United Nations, such as combatting terrorism and promoting the integration of the concerns of women and youth in public policies and strengthening actions against terrorism.

Speaking after the adoption, PAUL TIEMDREBEOGO, Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie, said the mutually productive relations between the two organizations were evident in different areas and allowed the fostering of a multicultural and multilingual approach.  His organization would continue to be a firm and unwavering partner in the work of the United Nations.

Introducing a draft resolution titled “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Democracy and Economic Development — GUAM” (document A/69/L.59), the representative of Ukraine said the organization sought, among other things, to promote democratic values, rule of law, sustainable development, and expansion of cooperation in a variety of fields.  Its members were guided by the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference, and they actively cooperated with other international organizations.  The Assembly had granted observer status to GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Republic of Moldova) and adopted a resolution calling for strengthened dialogue and cooperation between the two organizations.  Consultations on the latest draft were based on that text, he said.

The Assembly then adopted that text without a vote, by which it took note of that body’s activity aimed at promoting regional cooperation in areas such as trade and economic development, energy, transportation, agriculture, disaster management, culture, science, education, public health, youth, tourism and sport, as well as countering terrorism, drug trafficking, organized crime, human trafficking, illegal migration and other types of criminal activity of a transnational nature.  The Assembly also emphasized the importance of strengthening dialogue, cooperation and coordination between the United Nations system and that organization.

To that end, the Assembly invited the United Nations specialized agencies, components, organizations, programmes and funds to cooperate and develop direct contacts with that body for the joint implementation of projects aimed at attaining common objectives.

Next, presenting the Fifth Committee reports, Committee Rapporteur MATTHIAS DETTLING said the Committee had taken action on the texts without a vote, and had forwarded them to the Assembly for adoption.

The Assembly then turned to the first report of that Committee titled “Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations” (document A/69/702/Add.1), which contained two draft resolutions and one draft decision, all of which were adopted without a vote.

By the terms of the first draft resolution, on “Progress towards an accountability system in the United Nations Secretariat”, the Assembly emphasized the importance of promoting a culture of accountability, results-based management, enterprise risk management and internal control at all levels in the Secretariat through the leadership and commitment of senior managers and asked the Secretary-General to take appropriate steps to that end.  Among those were concrete measures to ensure that the compacts system would become a meaningful, powerful instrument of personal accountability, to include in his next report on accountability a detailed plan with a fixed time frame and clear milestones for how results-based management would be implemented, and to present in detail his plans to address current weaknesses related to the Organization’s data and information needs in programme planning, monitoring and reporting.

The Assembly also asked that he take actions to address systemic issues that prevented managers from meeting their targets, particularly those related to compliance with the recruitment timeline.

By the text of the second draft resolution contained in the report, titled “Procurement”, the Assembly endorsed the related conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and stressed that best value for money; fairness, integrity and transparency; effective international competition; and the interest of the United Nations remained the four general principles for procurement.  It also asked the Secretary-General to ensure that they were adhered to in the Organization’s procurement activities.

It further asked the Secretary-General to continue to explore additional innovative ways to promote procurement from developing countries and countries with economies in transition and to report on concrete measures taken in that regard.  Among other measures, it asked the Secretary-General not to proceed with a pilot project on sustainable procurement at this time.

By the terms of the draft decision, the Assembly decided to defer until the first part of its resumed seventieth session consideration of the following reports of the Secretary-General on the overview of human resources management reform:  towards a global dynamic and adaptable workforce for the United Nations (document A/69/190); mobility (document A/69/190/Add.1); performance management (document A/69/190/Add.2 and Corr.1); the young professionals programme (document A/69/190/Add.3); and assessment of the system of desirable ranges (document A/69/190/Add.4).  Also deferred were two reports of the Secretary-General on the composition of the Secretariat:  staff demographics (document A/69/292) and gratis personnel, retired staff and consultants and individual contractors (document A/69/292/Add.1).  In addition, the Assembly deferred the Secretary-General’s reports on:  the practice of the Secretary-General in disciplinary matters and cases of possible criminal behaviour, 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 (document A/69/283), amendments to the Staff Rules (document A/69/117), and activities of the Ethics Office (document A/69/332).  ACABQ’s report on human resources management (document A/69/572) was deferred as well.

The Assembly then took up a report on the “Programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015” (document A/69/422/Add.2), which contained a nine-part draft resolution on “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015”.

Speaking before the vote, RY TUY (Cambodia) confirmed that, in the spirit of partnership with the United Nations, his Government supported the revised draft resolution on the request for the proposed subvention limited to the international component of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia for 2015 with the confidence that the Organization would be in a position to provide financial assistance to the national component of the Extraordinary Chamber when necessary.  For the last two years, the Extraordinary Chamber had encouraged shortfalls, which led to the disruption of the operations.  Joint work to find a better way to address the funding not only for the international component but also for the national component was significant.

Despite the pledge by his Government, there were still missing gaps to be filled in for the second semester of 2015.  While sincerely thanking partners and donor countries for their financial support, he appealed to them to consider funding the remaining second semester for the national component.

The Assembly approved the text without a vote.  By the terms of the text in Part I, on the subvention to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Assembly authorized the Secretary-General, as an exceptional measure, to enter into commitments of up to $12.1 million to supplement the voluntary financial resources of the international component of the Extraordinary Chambers for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2015.  It would also ask the Secretary-General to report on the use of commitment authority in the context of the second performance report of the programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015.

By the text of Part II, on the strategic capital review, the Assembly welcomed progress in developing long-term capital maintenance programmes under the review, and asked the Secretary–General to better assess such a programme’s potential costs and benefits, as well as to entrust the Office of Central Support Services to ensure that lessons learned and best practices from the review were disseminated among duty stations.  The Assembly also emphasized the importance of ensuring the availability of appropriate in-house expertise in the context of the implementation of the review, and asked the Secretary-General to continue his efforts in that regard.

According to the text of Part III, on the conclusions of the High-Level Working Group on Programme Criticality, the Assembly encouraged the Secretary-General to continue consistent implementation of the programme criticality framework as an operational tool allowing informed decisions on acceptable risk to United Nations personnel.

By the terms of the text in Part IV, on standards of accommodation for air travel, the Assembly noted with concern the lack of transparency on system-wide travel data and that, notwithstanding its previous request to limit the use of exceptions to the standards of accommodation, their frequency and costs continued to increase.  It asked the Secretary-General to take immediate action to limit the use of exemptions, to strengthen internal controls in that regard, to conduct an analysis of the trends in the use of exceptions and to report thereon in his next report to the Assembly.  It also emphasized the importance of implementing all the recommendations in the report of the Office for Internal Oversight Services on the comprehensive audit of all air-travel activities and related practices.

By the text in Part V, on operational arrangements and conditions of service of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the Assembly asked ACABQ to carry out a comprehensive assessment of arrangements and formulate on that basis recommendations for improving the current conditions of service of its members, particularly their health insurance coverage, privileges and immunities, and conditions of remuneration, and steps to strengthen the efficiency of its working practices, by reviewing internal procedures and establishing a code of conduct.  Afterwards, the Assembly would authorize ACABQ members to enrol in the United Nations health insurance plans at their own expense.

By the terms of the text in Part VI, on the sixth progress report on the enterprise resource planning project, Umoja, the Assembly accepted the Board of Auditors’ reports and approved its recommendations therein on progress in implementing Umoja.  It stressed the centrality of the leadership and oversight of the Secretary-General and of the senior management, as well as of the commitment of all departments to completing the Umoja project, in order to avoid a recurrence of the mistakes and delays in implementation to date.  It also noted with concern the significant increase — totalling $54.3 million in the 2016-2017 biennium — over the initially approved budget of the project, and asked the Secretary-General to make every effort to eliminate cost overruns.  The Assembly decided to appropriate $5.54 million under section 29A, Office of the Under-Secretary General for Management of the programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015.

By the text in Part VII, on the comprehensive business case for the application of flexible workplace strategies at the United Nations, the Assembly noted progress in implementing a flexible workspace at Headquarters, and asked the Secretary-General to review the related costs, provide information on the arrangement for staff to work in remote locations, including from home, under the guidance of the interdisciplinary working group, and to incorporate workplace strategies in the ongoing design of the Strategic Heritage Plan.  The Assembly authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitments of $5.82 million for projects through 2015, and to make every effort to seek efficiencies aimed at reducing costs.

Through the text in Part VIII, on the Capital Master Plan, the Assembly accepted the Board of Auditors’ report on the Plan for 2013 and approved its recommendations therein, and asked the Secretary-General to present future proposals relating to the renovation of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and South Annex buildings as separate projects outside the Plan’s scope.  The Assembly also asked the Secretary-General to ensure a proper mechanism of accountability, as well as clear reporting lines after the closure of the Plan’s Office and to report thereon.

The Assembly noted that the Plan’s final cost as presented by the Secretary-General was $2.3 billion, recognized the need to fund the final shortfall of $154.85 million and decided to appropriate that amount on the General Fund.  Of the $154.85 million, Member States would contribute $85.24 million.  A credit of $33 million of the cancellation of prior period obligations to the biennium 2012-2013 would be applied, and the Secretary-General was authorized to credit $36.6 million from the Special Account.

The text in Part IX, on the study on recosting and options for the Organization in dealing with fluctuations in exchange rates and inflation, the Assembly endorsed the recommendations in paragraph 54 of the report of the Expert Panel that carried out the study and decided to use forward exchange rates in preparing future budget estimates commencing with the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017.

The Assembly also asked the Secretary-General to report on the impact of forward exchange rates in the context of the preparation of the proposed programme budget for the 2016-2017 biennium, provide a comprehensive assessment of the experience of forward purchasing, and provide the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) with the best estimates for inflation in order to improve forecast estimates for inflation-driven recosting.  The Assembly asked the Secretary-General not to take action on sections 7 and 8 of the Expert Panel’s report, without prejudice to paragraph 10, which stressed the need for a comprehensive solution to the problem of recosting.

By the terms of each of the above-mentioned texts, the Assembly endorsed the conclusions and recommendations in ACABQ’s related reports.

Next, the Assembly considered the report on the “Joint Inspection Unit” (document A/69/846) and adopted without a vote a draft resolution by the same name contained therein.  By that text the Assembly, among other things, took note of the Unit’s report and stressed the importance of the Unit’s oversight functions and of providing the Assembly and other legislative organs of participating organizations with practical and action-oriented recommendations to improve and strengthen the governance of the United Nations as a whole.

The Assembly welcomed the Unit’s initiative to create a roster of potential programme of work topics for the biennium 2016-2017, and reiterated its request for the Unit to optimize the number of projects in its work programme through prioritization, and to issue its reports in all official languages well in advance of meetings of the legislative organs of participating organizations.

Further by the text, executive heads of participating organizations were asked to submit their comments, including information on what they intended to do with the Unit’s recommendations, and to distribute the Unit’s reports in time for their consideration by legislative organs.  The Secretary-General was also asked to reflect the appropriate resource requirements associated with implementation of relevant portions of the medium- and long-term strategy for 2010-2019.  Further, the heads of participating organizations were requested to make full use of the Unit’s web-based system and provide in-depth analysis of how the recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit were being implemented.

The last report considered by the Assembly, “Financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals” (document A/69/693/Add.1) contained a draft resolution titled “Construction of a new facility for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Arusha branch”.  Adopting that text without a vote, the Assembly endorsed the related ACABQ report’s conclusions and recommendations, and reiterated its appreciation for the continued support of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania in facilitating the construction.  It also encouraged the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to include local knowledge and capacity in the project’s implementation and to ensure that lessons learned and best practices would be shared and applied to ongoing and future capital projects.

The Assembly further emphasized that contingency provisions approved for construction projects served to provide safeguards against unforeseen cost overruns during project implementation and asked the Secretary-General to ensure that any future cost overruns were first met from compensatory reductions through efficiencies.  It also noted with concern the higher-than-budgeted amount awarded for the architectural and engineering consultancy services, as well as construction contracts, and requested that the Secretary-General make every effort to seek efficiencies throughout the project’s implementation and to report on them in future progress reports.

For information media. Not an official record.