Concluding Main Part of Seventy-Second Session, General Assembly Adopts $5.397 Billion Budget for 2018-2019, as Recommended by Fifth Committee

GA/11997
24 December 2017
Seventy-second Session, 76th Meeting (AM)

Concluding Main Part of Seventy-Second Session, General Assembly Adopts $5.397 Billion Budget for 2018-2019, as Recommended by Fifth Committee

Plenary Drafts, Outstanding Texts from Other Main Committees Also Approved

Upon the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the General Assembly wrapped up the main part of its seventy-second session today, adopting a $5.397 billion budget for the United Nations for the 2018-2019 biennium and switching the Organization, on a trial basis, to a year-by-year budget cycle.

Describing progress made thus far, Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia) recalled that success was not measured by the number of resolutions adopted but rather the impact made on people’s lives.  “Our work is not yet done,” he said, citing the need to finalize the Global Compact on migration and continue apace on Security Council reform.  “We need to talk, and more importantly, listen to one another”.

The headline budget figure was 5 per cent less than the final budget approved for the 2016-2017 biennium, and $193 million below the $5.405 billion proposed 2018-2019 budget unveiled by the Secretary-General on 11 October, due among other things to across-the-board reductions in contractual services, furniture and equipment, consultants and travel, as well as reduced funding for special political missions.

Overall, the Assembly adopted 15 Fifth Committee resolutions and three decisions.  Among the highlights, it approved, as part of the Secretary-General’s ambitious management reform agenda, his proposal to change the United Nations budget cycle from a biennial to an annual budget period on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020, pending a final decision at its seventy-seventh session on whether to continue that practice.  The Secretary-General’s proposal was aimed at simplifying and streamlining the Organization’s management.

The Assembly decided not to implement, at present, any changes regarding expansion of exceptional budgetary authorities, unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, or the Secretary‑General’s limited budgetary discretion.  Nor did it alter the current level of commitment authority for additional resources requirements arising from Security Council decisions.

An omnibus text, “Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017,” was adopted after an oral amendment, proposed by Cuba’s delegate and focused on the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, was rejected by a recorded vote of 24 against to 76 in favour, with 44 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly approved $508.49 million for 34 special political missions authorized by itself and/or the Security Council.  The Secretary-General, on 15 December, had requested $636.6 million.

The Assembly also approved financial and staff resources for the newly established Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate; asked the Secretary-General to continue with the implementation of flexible workplace strategies at Headquarters in New York; approved $62.06 million in resource requirements until 31 December 2019 for the ongoing implementation of the Umoja enterprise resource management project; and expressed with serious concern the need to address myriad shortcomings at the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.

Earlier in the meeting, the Assembly took action on outstanding reports containing drafts submitted by its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and Third Committee (Social Humanitarian and Cultural), as well as three plenary resolutions.

Among the highlights was a Third Committee resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar, requesting the Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy to the country and calling for an end to Government military operations against the Rohingya community.

Myanmar’s delegate, before the Assembly’s adoption — by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 24 abstentions — called the text subjective, politically motivated and intended to exert unwarranted political pressure on his country.  It would not promote human rights or help solve the complex situation in Rakhine State.

Following up on the major migration issues which dominated 2016, the Assembly adopted a plenary text deciding that an intergovernmental conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, would be held in Morocco on 10 and 11 December 2018.

By the terms of another plenary resolution, the Assembly decided to convene a conference to elaborate the text of an 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.

The conference would meet for four sessions of 10 working days each, with the first taking place in the second half of 2018, the second and third in 2019, and the fourth in the first half of 2020.  The Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to convene the first session from 4 to 17 September 2018.

Recalling that their countries were not party to the Convention, the representatives of Colombia, Venezuela and Turkey said that neither their participation in negotiations nor the outcome of those discussions could affect their positions on that framework or related agreements.

The Russian Federation’s delegate meanwhile stressed that consensus had not been reached on any possible elements of a draft text for a legally binding instrument, citing an unwillingness to strike a balance between the importance of sustainable economic activity and marine conservation.

In other action, the Assembly extended the terms of three ad litem judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, whose term expires on 31 December 2017, for another year, from 1 January to 31 December 2018:  Rowan Downing (Australia), Alessandra Greceanu (Romania) and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria).  It also took note of the President’s appointment of Iraq and Nepal to the Committee on Conferences for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2018, as well as agenda items that remained open for consideration during the seventy-second session.

Also speaking were representatives of El Salvador, Sudan, Burundi, United States, Syria, Estonia (on behalf of the European Union), Iran, Nicaragua, Canada, Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Cambodia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.

Action on Draft Resolutions

Acting without a vote, the Assembly first adopted a draft resolution submitted by its President, “Modalities for the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” (document A/72/L.9), deciding that a conference of the same name would be held in Morocco on 10 and 11 December 2018.

By other terms, the Assembly decided that the Global Compact would be adopted on Monday, 10 December 2018, and that two dialogues would be held in parallel with the plenary meetings, except during the latter’s opening and closing.  They would be titled, respectively, “Promoting action on the commitments of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration”, and “Partnerships and innovative initiatives for the way forward”.

The representative of El Salvador said his delegation would have wished to see greater political participation by all Member States in seeking consensus, and expressed hope of greater civil society participation in the Conference.  He added that he would have preferred the Conference to be held in New York to facilitate the participation of all delegations, given the presence of permanent missions in the city.  El Salvador advocated maintaining a political focus on the universality of migration and its links to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He recalled that the agreed outcome would be concluded according to deadlines set for negotiation in New York in July 2018, following which it would be submitted to the Assembly President before the end of the current session in September, for the sole purpose of its adoption.  El Salvador had joined the consensus on the understanding that countries lacking permanent representation in Morocco would benefit from the trust fund support cited in operative paragraph 19, he said, adding further that the word “particularly” in reference to least developed countries did not mean “exclusively”.

Third Committee Drafts

The Assembly then took up the report of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) on the promotion and protection of the rights of children (document A/72/435), taking action on a draft amendment to draft resolution II, “Rights of the child”.

The representative of Sudan expressed serious reservations about references to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, saying that exploiting the resolution to exert unacceptable pressure on Member States to include such language jeopardized her country’s ongoing peacebuilding efforts aimed at safeguarding children’s rights.  The Court had hampered all peace efforts with its malevolent interference, she said, emphasizing that, at its best, the Court was a threat to stability and peace in Sudan.  It was not a United Nations organ, despite fervent attempts by some to paint it as such.  Distancing Sudan from the Court, she referred to operative paragraph 16, calling for a vote on draft resolution II, and for the deletion of the words “inter alia through the International Criminal Court”.

By a recorded vote of 30 in favour to 89 against, with 31 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the amendment proposed by Sudan’s delegate.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution II in its entirety by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Palau).

By that text, the Assembly decided to take a number of measures, including to request that the Secretary-General submit a report on the rights of the child at its seventy-third session, with information on the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Among the instructions for special mandate holders, the Assembly requested that the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, continue to submit reports to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.  They should contain information on field visits and progress in eradicating the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Turning to the report on human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (document A/72/439/Add.2), the Assembly adopted resolution XXI, “Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights”, by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 1 against (South Africa), with 58 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly reiterated that all States should take measures to deny all forms of support for terrorists and terrorist groups, particularly political, military, logistical and financial support.  It emphasized the importance of technical cooperation, capacity-building and exchange of information and intelligence on counter-terrorism.

It then adopted, without a vote, draft resolution XXII, “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”.

By its terms, the Assembly strongly condemned the targeting, criminalization, intimidation, torture, disappearance and killing of individuals, including human rights defenders, for reporting and seeking information on human rights violations and abuses.  In that context, it decided to devote a high-level plenary meeting at its seventy-third session, in 2018, within existing resources, to the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, requesting that the Assembly President consult with Member States to determine the scope and modalities for that meeting.

The representative of Burundi said her delegation had been unable to vote on draft resolution XXI and wished to vote in favour of that text.

Turning to the report on human rights situations and the reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/72/439/Add.3), the Assembly took up draft resolution V, “Situation of human rights in Myanmar”.

The representative of Myanmar strongly rejected as discriminatory and selective the application of overlapping actions taken unfairly against his country in the name of human rights.  He added that he had voted against that approach in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) and would do so again today because the draft contravened universally accepted principles in addressing human rights in a Member State.  Describing the resolution as subjective, politically motivated and intended to exert unwarranted political pressure on Myanmar, he said it would not promote human rights or help solve the complex situation in Rakhine State.  Rather, it would only lead to escalating tensions among communities inside the country.

He went on to express concern over the demonization of the Government and security forces of Myanmar, saying it was aimed at tarnishing the integrity of the country’s leadership.  Dramatized and unverified charges were sowing seeds of mistrust among religious communities, and such incitement, inflammatory rhetoric and biased media reporting on Rakhine State must cease, he stressed.  While Myanmar had taken responsibility for addressing the complex situation, its efforts required international support.  The Government had worked to solve immediate humanitarian, security and socioeconomic needs arising from the 25 August terrorist attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, he said, noting that the violence had ceased in certain areas and humanitarian assistance had been provided to all affected families.  Furthermore, Myanmar had agreed on terms of reference to establish joint working group with Bangladesh, and repatriation would begin in January in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner, he said.  Myanmar had also begun to implement recommendations by the Annan Commission as a road map to addressing the causes of violence.

More broadly, he said that Myanmar had cooperated with Human Rights Council special rapporteurs and other special mandate holders over three decades and continued to work with the Secretariat to establish constructive partnerships.  The recent visit by the Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict was a clear sign of the Government’s desire to work with the United Nations.  Underlining that only mutual respect and constructive cooperation would bring about positive results, he recalled that the Security Council had held eight meetings on the situation in Rakhine since March, while the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution and appointed an international fact-finding mission.  On 5 November, the Human Rights Council had held a special session and adopted another resolution, while the Third Committee had adopted its own text on the same issue.

Such efforts went beyond reason in promoting human rights in any one country, he said, adding that there were ulterior political motives behind them.  Myanmar was not obliged to accept a resolution initiated by countries with malicious intent whose human rights records were far from perfect.  The text was an attempt to impose their political agenda on Myanmar, he said, emphasizing that the Government and people of Myanmar were united in their resolve to address issues in Rakhine State and would not be deterred by external interference.  He urged delegates to reject the draft.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 24 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly called on Myanmar, among other things, to end ongoing military operations that had led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights of persons belonging to the Rohingya community and other ethnic minorities and to hold perpetrators accountable; allow full and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance; ensure the voluntary and safe return of all internally displaced persons and refugees; grant full, unrestricted and unmonitored access for the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission; and grant full citizenship rights, in keeping with transparent due process, to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, including by reviewing the 1982 Citizenship Law.  It also requested that the Secretary-General appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and offer assistance to that country’s Government.

Plenary

Turning next to plenary resolutions, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution titled, “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” (document A/72/L.7).

By its terms, the Assembly decided to convene a conference to elaborate the text of such an instrument, with a view to developing that framework as soon as possible.  Negotiations would address topics identified in the package agreed in 2011.  The conference would meet for four sessions of 10 working days each, with the first taking place in the second half of 2018, the second and third in 2019, and the fourth in the first half of 2020.  Requesting the Secretary‑General to convene the first session of the conference from 4 to 17 September 2018, the Assembly decided that the conference would hold an organizational meeting in New York, from 16 to 18 April 2018, to discuss preparations for a zero draft of the instrument, among other issues.

The representative of Colombia expressed thanks to the facilitators for establishing the modalities to create an internationally legally binding instrument.  His country’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts were home to much biological diversity, whose health required coherent national management and the efforts of other countries which impacted those waters.  Colombia was committed to the conservation, protection and sustainable development of oceans, carrying out policies, plans and programmes nationally and globally.  It joined in asking for protection of areas beyond national jurisdiction, taking into account that such resources were threatened by human activities.

He stressed the importance of creating a legally binding instrument, recalling that participation in negotiations or results of those discussions could not affect the legal position of States not party to the Convention.  Colombia had not ratified the Convention and its provisions could not be applied to it.  On that premise, Colombia had decided to take part in negotiations for creating the instrument.  The resolution and Colombia’s participation could not be interpreted in a way that would express its tacit acceptance of the Convention.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her country attached great significance to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.  During the discussions, radical approaches had been voiced, which could undermine the existing legal regime established by the Convention.  Her country’s doubts had only deepened with each round.  During the process on biodiversity, there was a stark divergence of positions, lack of intent to find common ground, and an unwillingness to strike a balance between the importance of sustainable economic activity and marine conservation, all of which caused the collapse of the work of the Preparatory Committee, established by resolution 69/292, which failed to fulfil its mandate.  Consensus had not been reached on any possible elements of a draft text for a legally binding instrument.

She expressed regret that the Preparatory Committee’s final document failed to reflect the principled approaches of the Russian Federation, and thus, saw no justification for convening a diplomatic conference.  Rather, fully justified would be the pursuit of efforts by the Preparatory Committee to fulfil its goal of seeking consensus‑based elements that could serve as the basis for a future agreement.  Uncertainties about the modalities of a future conference had been overlooked in the resolution, which was underpinned by procedural mechanisms that enabled a loose interpretation of their application, in turn undermining the process and potential results.

Also, she said the Assembly’s rules of procedure were not always uniform, which carried risk of abuse of the sensitive issue of adopting a resolution by consensus.  The text’s provision to craft a legally binding instrument as soon as possible had not been subject to agreement in the Preparatory Committee.  The Russian proposal to draft two resolutions to thoroughly discuss the underpinnings of the conference had been disregarded.  Haste and reckless in that process only undermined trust.  As such, she disassociated from consensus and called on all stakeholders to base their work on open, frank and inclusive dialogue.

The representative of Venezuela recalled that her country was not party to the Convention, which was why norms referred to in that instrument — particularly standards considered part of international customary law — could not be applied to Venezuela unless it recognized them in the exercise of its sovereignty.  The Convention could not be considered the only legal framework governing oceans and seas.  Other international instruments, together with Convention, formed the law of the sea.

She expressed support for efforts to use maritime areas in a sustainable manner in accordance with international law.  Venezuela joined consensus on the resolution, taking into account operative paragraph 10, which recognized that participation in negotiations or the outcome of such discussions could not affect countries not party to the Convention or related agreements.  Venezuela’s participation in a future conference could not be understood as a change of position on that matter.

The representative of Turkey expressed support for efforts towards efficient sustainable use of maritime spaces, in line with international law, and therefore supported the draft.  Turkey’s participation in the negotiations envisaged in the framework of a resolution that could lead to a legally binding instrument could not be interpreted as a change in its position on the Convention, he said, pointing out that his country was not a party to the Convention, which it viewed as neither universal nor unified.  The Convention was not the only legal framework regulating oceans and seas, he added, while welcoming the paragraph acknowledging that neither participation in negotiations nor their outcome could affect non‑parties to the Convention or related agreements.

The representative of the United States said the conference should operate by consensus, which was the best way to develop effective and lasting solutions.  Unfortunately, the resolution did not require consensus decision-making in the conference, and while the United States was concerned about the potential of the conference operating on the decision‑making modality presented in the resolution, it did not object to the adoption of the resolution itself, she said, expressing hope for progress towards the sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond jurisdiction and urging all to work on the basis of consensus as the key to a lasting agreement.

First Committee Drafts

The Assembly next took up the report of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/72/407), adopting by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 5 against (France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 47 abstentions draft resolution III titled, “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space”.

By its terms, the Assembly decided that the newly established Group of Governmental Experts would operate by consensus, without prejudice to national positions in future negotiations, and hold two two‑week sessions in Geneva in 2018 and 2019.  Further, if the Conference on Disarmament agreed on and implemented a balanced and comprehensive work programme that included negotiation of an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, the Group of Governmental Experts would conclude its work and submit its results to the Secretary‑General for onward transmission to the Conference on Disarmament.

In the report on general and complete disarmament (document A/72/409), the Assembly took up an amendment to the twelfth preambular paragraph of draft resolution XXIII, titled “Follow‑up to the 2013 high‑level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament”, adopting the amendment by a vote of 97 in favour to 29 against, with 18 abstentions.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, as a whole, by a vote of 114 in favour to 30 against, with 14 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly called for the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on effective nuclear disarmament measures, deciding to convene in New York, from 14 to 16 May 2018, a United Nations high‑level international conference on nuclear disarmament to review the progress made in that regard, and further, that the Secretary‑General or his designate would act as Secretary‑General of the conference.  A one‑day meeting would be held in New York on 28 March 2018.

The representative of Syria said he wished to amend his vote on preambular paragraph 12.

The Assembly President responded that the Secretariat should be informed after the meeting of any voting corrections.

The Assembly then resumed consideration of its agenda item titled, “Investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him”, adopting without a vote a resolution of the same name (document A/72/L.19).

By its terms, the Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to reappoint the Eminent Person appointed pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/260 to continue to review potential new information to assess its probative value, in order to determine the scope that any further inquiry or investigation should take.  It urged all Member States to release any relevant records and provide to the Secretary‑General relevant information, encouraging them also to ensure that any such records that remained classified, more than 50 years after the fact, were declassified.

Fifth Committee Drafts

The Assembly then took up the reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) introduced by Felipe Garcia Landa (Mexico).

First, it took up document A/72/668, which contained two texts.  The Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution on the programme budget for the biennium 2016‑2017 , which is known as the second performance report, by which the Assembly resolved that the final budget appropriations for 2016‑2017 totalling $5.68 billion should be increased by $62.56 million.  The final income estimates totalling $539.18 million should be increased by $14.50 million.

Next, the Assembly adopted without a vote a draft decision titled, “United Nations Office for Partnerships” by which it took note of that Office’s annual report.

The Assembly then adopted a text titled “Human resources management”, contained in document A/72/667, by which it approved proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations and noted amendments to the Rules set out in the Secretary‑General’s report, subject to provisions of the present resolution.

By further terms, it decided that new Staff Rule 13.13 (c) proposed to implement the acquired right to normal retirement ages should read as follows: “The mandatory age of separation of a staff member who reached the age of 60 or 62 on or prior to 31 December 2017 should not be reset to 65, including if such staff member was exceptionally retained in service beyond the mandatory age of separation of 60 or 62 beyond 1 January 2018.”

Also by the text, the Assembly noted the commitment to review and simplify the regulatory framework and decided to defer any changes to Regulation 3.6 of the United Nations Staff Regulations and Rules.

Next, the Assembly adopted a text titled “United Nations common system”, contained in document A/72/666, by which it took note of the International Civil Service Commission’s (ICSC) 2017 report.  Noting with serious concern that some common system organizations had decided not to implement the Commission’s decisions regarding the 2016 results of the cost‑of‑living surveys and mandatory age of separation, the Assembly called on those organizations and staff to fully cooperate with the Commission in applying the post adjustment system and in implementing its decisions without undue delay.

The Assembly, reminding executive heads and governing bodies of the common system that failure to fully respect Assembly decisions on Commission recommendations could prejudice claims to enjoy benefits of participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, asked the Commission to recommend appropriate measures to deal with non‑complying organizations and report by no later than the Assembly’s seventy‑fourth session.  It also approved guidelines for the use of the National Professional Officer category as recommended by the Commission in paragraph 48(a) and annex II of its report.

The Assembly further approved proposed principles and guidelines for performance appraisal and management for recognition of different levels of performance, as recommended in paragraph 65 and annex VI of its report.  Additionally, it approved, with effect from 1 January 2018, as recommended by the Commission in paragraph 97 of its report, the revised unified base/floor scale for staff in the Professional and higher categories, as contained in annex VII (A) and (B) to that report.

The Assembly then adopted a text on administration of justice at the United Nations, contained in document A/72/665.  By its terms, the General Assembly endorsed the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), subject to the provisions of the present resolution.  It noted that staff still appeared to have limited awareness of the system of administration of justice and encourage that system to continue its outreach and other awareness‑raising campaign efforts.

By further terms, the Assembly encouraged the Secretary‑General and Office of Human Resources Management to ensure staff had more understanding of the rules, regulations and instructions and administrative issuances dealing with human resources; urged the Secretariat to further strengthen and increase outreach to provide information on the role and functioning of the system and possibilities it offered; and stressed the importance of establishing an outreach and communication strategy for all staff covered under the formal and informal administration of justice system.

Noting the ongoing efforts to strengthen the policy on protection against retaliation, the Assembly also noted with concern Internal Justice Council observations related to protection against retaliation for staff members who lodged cases before the Tribunals or appeared as witnesses, requesting the Secretary‑General to present a comprehensive analysis of all existing policies and provide recommendations on ways to improve protection for such staff at its seventy‑third session.

Also by the text, the Assembly recognized the ongoing positive contribution of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance to the administration of justice system, decide to extend the experimental period for one year, from 1 January to 31 December 2018, and asked the Secretary‑General to provide further information on the implications of regularizing the voluntary staff funding mechanism in order to make a decision on financing of the Office at its seventy‑third session.  It noted continuing high opt‑out rates from the mechanism and encourage the Secretary‑General to continue to strengthen such incentives, particularly in locations where the participation rate was low.

The Assembly further decided to extend the three ad litem judge positions and current incumbent judges as well as the extension of the six current temporary staff supporting those judges for one year from 1 January to 31 December 2018.  It requested the Secretary‑General to provide further information regarding the implication of the establishment of three new permanent judges in the United Nations Dispute Tribunal so that a decision could be taken on that issue at the Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft on the financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, contained in document A/72/664.  By its terms, the Assembly resolved that, for the 2016‑2017 biennium, $98.06 million gross ($86.92 million net) approved in its resolution 71/268 for the financing of the Tribunal would be adjusted by $7.72 million gross ($6.36 million net), for a total of $105.78 million gross ($93.28 million net).

Further to the text, the Assembly decided, for the year 2017, to apportion among Member States, in accordance with the assessments scale applicable to the regular budget of the United Nations for the year, $28.95 million gross ($25.38 million net), including $3.90 million gross ($3.23 million net), being the increase in assessments.

The Assembly also decided, for the year 2017, to apportion among Member States, in accordance with assessment rates applicable to peacekeeping operations of the United Nations for the year, $28.95 million gross ($25.38 million net), including $3.90 million gross ($3.23 million net), being the increase in assessments.

The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution on the financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, contained in document A/72/669, by which the Assembly authorized the Secretary‑General to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $87.8 million gross ($80 million net) for the maintenance of the Mechanism for the one‑year period from 1 January to 31 December 2018.

It also decided that the total assessment for the one‑year period from 1 January to 31 December 2018 under the Special Account amounting to $84 million should consist of $87.8 million, being the amount of commitment authority for the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018, less $3.78 million, being the decrease in the final appropriation for the biennium 2016‑2017, approved by the Assembly in paragraph 3 of section 1 of the resolution.

Concerning the financing of the African Union‑United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), contained in document A/72/671, the Assembly adopted a text by which it decided to abolish four posts and to redeploy 10 posts to the Political Affairs Section and the State and Liaison Offices as appropriate from the Khartoum Office.  On the revised budget estimates for 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, the Assembly decided to appropriate to the Special Account for the Operation $910.94 million for the Operation’s maintenance, inclusive of $486 million previously authorized for the Operation for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2017 under the terms of its resolution 71/310.

The Assembly then turned to a draft on financing of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), contained in document A/72/670.  By the terms of that text, on the budget estimates for 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, the Assembly decided to continue to use the Special Account established in accordance with resolution 58/311 for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, beginning on 16 October 2017.  Further, the Assembly decided to appropriate to the Special Account for the Mission $88.11 million to establish and maintain the Mission from 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, inclusive of $25 million previously authorized by the ACABQ under the terms of section VI of General Assembly resolution 64/269.

The Assembly then turned to the report on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/72/681), which contained five draft resolutions recommended by the Fifth Committee.

The representative of Cuba, on section 22 of draft “L.17” [Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016 2017] said there was no legal basis for carrying out responsibility to protect activities, as there was no negotiated agreement among States on the definition of that concept.  Over 10 years, the Secretariat had not presented a legislative mandate, given by States, to make progress on that concept.  Resources associated with the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect were “mixed up” with those requested for the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, whose functions Cuba supported.

Thus, the budgetary estimates and associated narrative for the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect should be removed, she said, and only considered once the Assembly took a decision on the concept, its implementation and scope.  Reiterating Cuba’s request to introduce amendments to section 22 of the draft, she read out proposed changes to preambular paragraphs 1 and 2, and operative paragraphs 1 and 2.  She asked delegates to consider those amendments and vote in favour of them.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Fifth Committee should refrain from political discussions.  The mandate of the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide had been approved by Security Council resolution 1366 (2001) and it was the responsibility of the Fifth Committee to ensure its adequate funding.  The proposed amendments would reduce the capacity of that office, hampering its collaboration with the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect.  For that reason, the European Union would vote against the amendments.

The representative of Iran, on the proposed amendments, said his country supported effective and immediate United Nations response to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.  However, there was no intergovernmental consensus on the responsibility to protect concept.  It was unacceptable that limited resources be allocated to a post for which there was no agreed terms of reference for its functions, due to the absence of an agreed definition on the responsibility to protect.  He would vote in favour of the amendments and encouraged others to do likewise.

The representative of Nicaragua said it was inappropriate to allocate resources for the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, as that concept had not garnered consensus.  For that reason, Nicaragua would support the amendments.

The representative of Canada supported the call for a vote on the amendments, urging delegates to vote against them for all the reasons Canada had outlined in the Fifth Committee.

The representative of Syria said the principle of responsibility to protect was one of the most controversial issues in the United Nations, with the General Assembly having reached no agreement on its definition, scope, effects or possible means of implementation.  Implementation of that concept constituted a flagrant violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, particularly the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and non‑interference in their internal affairs.  Syria would vote in favour of Cuba’s oral amendments.

The representative of Belarus objected to conflating two unrelated mandates, which led to abuse in allocating funds for one mandate at the expense of another. He called for supporting the amendments.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed support for the oral amendments to section 22 of “L.17”, as the responsibility to protect concept had not been agreed by all Member states and informal discussions were ongoing.  It was unacceptable to discuss budget issues for the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect and mix them with those for the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide.  He would vote in favour of the amendments.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution I, on questions relating to the programmed budget for the biennium 2018‑2019, consisted of 12 parts.  By that text, the Assembly, among other things, decided to reduce by 10 per cent resources for contractual services; furniture and equipment; consultants; supplies and material; and hospitality.  It also decided to reduce by 5 per cent resources for general operating expenditures and other staff costs, reduce non‑post resources for information technology by 10 per cent, reduce the resources for experts by 15 per cent, reduce the travel of representatives by 25 per cent, and reduce resources for travel of staff by 10 per cent.

The Assembly approved one P‑3 post in the areas of General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; as well as the proposed establishment, under international drug control, crime prevention and criminal justice, of three posts of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at the P‑4 and P‑3 levels to support the Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

It decided not to establish one D‑1 post relating to overall policymaking, direction and coordination; one P‑3 post under General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; or one P‑3 and one Fixed Assets Management Officer-FS post under peacekeeping operations.

It also decided not to approve 18 new posts requested by the Department of Public Information, while under common support services it would approve one P‑5 (Mental Health Officer) post under Medical Services Division, New York.

Under peacekeeping operations, it abolished one General Service post from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and decided not to approve the proposed acquisition of vehicles for that entity.

It decided to continue funding the post of Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and approve a request for a $750,000 subvention to that Institute from the regular budget.  It also decided to retain, under international cooperation for development, the post of Social Affairs Officer (P-3) in the secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Under international justice and law, the Assembly authorized the Secretary‑General to enter into commitments not exceeding $1 million for the implementation of an enterprise resource planning system in the biennium 2018‑2019.  It also decided to reduce the resources for programme support by $200,000, and not to approve the proposed conversion of two posts from general temporary assistance positions.

Under human rights and humanitarian affairs, the Assembly decided to approve $3.75 million for the activities of the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic for the year 2018.

Next, the Assembly took up draft resolution II titled “Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016‑2017”, which covered 28 topics.

The Assembly then rejected the oral amendment proposed by the representative of Cuba by a recorded vote of 24 against to 76 in favour, with 44 abstentions.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution II, as a whole, without a vote.

By its terms, with regard to the revised estimates relating to the Office of Counter‑Terrorism under section 3, Political affairs, section 29D, Office of Central Support Services, and section 36, Staff assessment, the Assembly approved the additional resources proposed in the amount of $1.1 million (net of staff assessment).

On the revised estimates relating to the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, section 29D, Office of Central Support Services, and section 36, Staff assessment, the Assembly approved the additional resources proposed in the amount of $612,500 dollars (net of staff assessment).  The Assembly approved the establishment of posts, comprising one Assistant Secretary‑General, one P‑4, one P‑3 and one General Service (Other level) under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, for the period 1 January to 31 December 2018.

Regarding progress in implementing a flexible workplace at United Nations Headquarters, the Assembly reaffirmed that flexible workplace strategies should be aimed at improving the Organization’s overall productivity and efficiency, as well as the staff workplace environment.  It asked the Secretary‑General to continue with the implementation of flexible workplace strategies in New York in 2018, with a maximum of 140 staff per floor, and to report thereon at the main part of its seventy‑third session.  Noting the decrease in the current revised project costs, the Assembly asked the Secretary‑General to revisit his cost estimates for the project’s implementation and to review the methodology and underlying assumptions to arrive at a reliable cost estimate for the project, and to provide updates information in that regard in his next report.  It also decided that project and swing space costs for 2018 would be absorbed within the proposed programme budget for 2018‑2019.

Turning to the administrative expenses of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the Assembly welcomed the findings and recommendations in the report of the Board of Auditors on the Fund, and noted with serious concern the need to address all the shortcomings identified by the Board, including the need to ensure accurate data for the actuarial valuation, in particular the need to strengthen the internal control procedures, ensure the timely and accurate processing of benefits, and create a client grievance redressal mechanism.  It also asked the Secretary‑General to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) with conducting a comprehensive audit of the governance structure of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund Board, to include a review of the checks and balances between the Board and the Pension Fund leadership, and to submit its report with key findings to the Assembly at its seventy‑third session to be considered within the context of the Fund.  The Assembly also noted the progress made in the processing times of benefit payments in 2016, while expressing concern at the continued delays in the receipt of payments by some new Fund beneficiaries and retirees, and once again stressed the need for the Pension Board to take appropriate steps to ensure that the Fund addresses the causes of such delays. 

Further, the Assembly approved the revised estimates of $174.96 million for 2016‑2017 for the administration of the Fund, and approved expenses, chargeable directly to the Fund, totalling $169.47 million net for 2018‑2019.  It also approved $22.19 million as the United Nations share of the cost of the administrative expenses of the Fund for 2018‑2019, of which $14.11 million would represent the share of the regular budget and the balance of $8.08 million would represent the share of the funds and programmes.

On the Enterprise resource planning project, Umoja, the Assembly, among other things, welcomed its implementation globally across more than 40,000 staff in 400 locations, and note that was a significant achievement.  The Assembly also recognized the progress made in the implementation of Umoja since the previous progress report, and the effort of staff and managers in the implementation of Umoja Foundation and Extension 1 to date.  Regretting the delay in full implementing Extension 2 of Umoja, the Assembly asked the Secretary‑General to continue to implement the project within the approved timeline and budget and to provide detailed information on the full implementation by the Assembly’s seventy‑third session.  Noting the insufficient progress in developing a benefit realization plan, the Assembly stressed the need to establish a clear and transparent record of the realization of qualitative and quantitative Umoja benefits.  It also recalled paragraph 43 of the report of the Advisory Committee, and welcomed the Secretary‑General’s proposals for the restructuring and gradual downsizing of the Umoja project team.

Further the Assembly also decided that the total project expenditure should not exceed $516.74 million by 31 December 2018.  It also approved the resource requirements of the project until 31 December 2019 in the amount of $62.06 million.  It also approved $9.31 million under the 2018‑2019 proposed programme budget representing the regular budget’s share for the Umoja project costs, and would request the Secretary‑General to absorb $4.65 million of the regular budget’s share within the 2018‑2019 proposed programme budget.

With regard to estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, the Assembly approved $508.49 for the 34 special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, including the commitment authorities for United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and $686,900 for the share of special political missions in the budget of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the biennium 2018‑2019.  It also approved a charge of $510.03 million, including $853,800 for the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary‑General on Myanmar, against the provision for special political missions proposed under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018‑2019 proposed programme budget.

Next the Assembly turned to draft resolution III titled “Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018‑2019”, which included budget appropriations for the biennium 2018‑2019; income estimates for the biennium 2018‑2019; and financing of the appropriations for 2018.

The representative of Syria, explaining his vote on other sections of resolution “L.17”, said that while his delegation had voted in favour of section XXII — on special political missions — it had reservations on allocating resources to the special envoy on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), who, until he had resigned, had transcended the limits of his mandate outlined by that text.  Unfortunately, the authors of the Secretary‑General’s report continued to apply the same approach through following up on bilateral issues between Syria and Lebanon — notably in paragraphs 80 and 82 on diplomatic relations and demarcation of boundaries.  That violated their sovereignty and interfered in their domestic affairs.  Such reports of the Secretary-General were biased towards Israel, and overlooked the terms of reference for resolution 1599, notably withdrawal from Lebanese territory.

On section XXIV, on the decision of the Human Rights Council, he expressed Syria’s reservation about allocating resources to resolutions 34/26 and 36/20 — on the human rights situation in Syria — as his country rejected the use of human rights situations in a selective, illegal and politicized manner to interfere in domestic affairs.  On section IV — Office of Counter‑Terrorism — Syria had joined consensus from its position against terrorism, a scourge which obstructed peace, security and development.  The United Nations should have active role in countering terrorism in strict respect of international law and the Charter.

He said the Office of Counter‑Terrorism should not be subject to political pressure and attempts at financial polarization by States working to improve their reputations.  Some donations might seem noble but had ulterior motives to bring pressure to bear on the United Nations credibility.  To prevent such interference, all funding of United Nations mechanisms should be part of the Organization’s regular budget.  He reaffirmed that the Office should be exclusively funded through the regular budget with no extrabudgetary funding.  Hence, Syria had reservations the involvement of one country well‑known for sponsoring terrorism in that Office, giving that Government privileges in the work of that body.

The Assembly adopted draft resolution III without a vote.  By part A, on the budget appropriations for the biennium 2018‑2019, the Assembly approved $5.397 billion for disbursement in the following categories: $745.49 million for Overall policymaking, direction and coordination (Part I); $1.37 billion for Political affairs (Part II); $98.10 million for International justice and law (Part III); $471.02 million for International cooperation for development (Part IV); $570.56 million for Regional cooperation for development (Part V); $378.8 million for Human rights and humanitarian affairs (Part VI); $177.36 million for Public information (Part VII); $564.73 million for Common support services (Part VIII); $39.97 million for Internal oversight (Part IX); $144.24 million for Jointly financed administrative activities and special expenses (Part X); $80.62 million for Capital expenditures (Part XI); $233.97 million for Safety and security (Part XII); $28.4 million for the Development Account (Part XIII); and $494.9 million for Staff assessment (Part XIV).

By part B, on revised income estimates for the biennium 2018‑2019, the Assembly resolve to approve those estimates, totaling $552.31 million as follows: Income from staff assessment — $498.97 million; General income — $49.17 million; and Services to the public — $4.17 million.

The Assembly, by the text, also resolved, for part C, that for the year 2018, budget appropriations would consist of $2.84 billion, being half of the appropriation of $5.39 billion approved for the biennium 2018‑2019 by the Assembly in paragraph 1 of resolution A above, plus $68.62 million, being the net increase in appropriations for the biennium 2016‑2017 approved by the Assembly.  The draft also states that there should be set off against the assessment on Member States their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of $257.42 million.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution IV on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses for the biennium 2018‑2019.  By that text, the Assembly authorized the Secretary‑General, with the prior concurrence of the ACABQ, to enter into commitments in the biennium 2018‑2019 to meet unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising either during or subsequent to the biennium.  Those commitments should be entered into if concurrence of the Advisory Committee was not necessary for such commitments not exceeding $8 million in any one year of the biennium 2018‑2019 as the Secretary‑General certified related to the maintenance of peace and security; such commitments as the President of the International Court of Justice certified related to expenses.

By further terms, the Assembly decided that, for the biennium 2018‑2019, if a Security Council decision resulted in the need for the Secretary‑General to enter into commitments relating to maintenance of peace and security in an amount exceeding $10 million, that matter should be brought to the General Assembly.  If the Assembly was suspended or not in session, the Secretary‑General should convene a resumed or special session of it to consider the matter.

Next, the Assembly adopted draft resolution V on the Working Capital Fund for the biennium 2018‑2019.  By that draft, the Assembly established the Fund for 2018‑2019 in the amount of $150 million, and Member States would make advances to it in accordance with their scale of assessments for 2018.  Those should be set off against the following allocations of advances: credits to Member States resulting from transfers made in 1959 and 1960 from the surplus account to the Working Capital Fund in an adjusted amount of $1.03 million; and cash advances paid by Member States to the Fund for the biennium 2016‑2017, in accordance with Assembly resolution 70/251 of 17 February 2016.  Should credits and advances paid by any Member State to the Fund exceed that State’s advance under the provisions of paragraph 2 and above, the excess would be set off against the amount of contributions payable in respect of the biennium 2018‑2019.

The Assembly then turned its attention to the report titled “Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations”, which contained a draft resolution and a draft decision.

By the draft resolution titled “Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations”, adopted without a vote, the General Assembly welcomed the Secretary‑General’s commitment to improving the Organization’s ability to deliver on its mandates through management reform.  Emphasizing that reform initiatives should be integrated, coherent and mutually reinforcing, it approved the proposed change from a biennial to an annual budget period on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020, and requested the Secretary‑General to conduct a review of changes to the budgetary cycle in 2022, following the completion of the first full budgetary cycle.  Further in that regard, the Assembly decided to review, with a view to taking a final decision, the implementation of an annual budget at its seventy‑seventh session.

In addition, the Assembly decided that the Proposed Programme Budget document would consist of three parts; dealing with the Organization’s long‑term priorities and objectives; the programme plan for programme and sub‑programmes and programme performance information; and post and non‑post resource requirements for programmes and sub-programmes.  The first two parts would be submitted through the Committee for Programme and Coorindation, and the third through the Advisory Committee, for the Assembly’s consideration.

The Assembly went on to ask the Secretary‑General to assess the impact of changes to the budgetary cycle on the work of the Assembly’s subsidiary bodies, and reaffirmed that no changes would be made to budget methodology, established budgetary procedures and practices or financial regulations without prior review and approval by the Assembly.

The Assembly also decided not to implement, at present, any changes regarding any expansion of exceptional budgetary authorities, unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, and the Secretary‑General’s limited budgetary discretion, as well as the current level of commitment authority for additional resources requirements arising from Security Council decisions related to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Finally, again through text, the Assembly requested the Secretary‑General to undertake an assessment of the mechanisms and levels of discretionary managerial authorities that might be required in order to address unanticipated programmatic needs and to report thereon to the Assembly in its seventy‑third session.  It also decided not to increase the level of the Working Capital Fund.

Next the Assembly adopted a draft decision on questions deferred for future consideration, by which it decided to defer until the first part of its resumed seventy‑second session consideration of the Secretary‑General’s report on review of the utilization of the contingency fund and the related report of the ACABQ.

By further terms, the Assembly decided to defer until the main part of its seventy‑third session consideration of the Secretary‑General’s fifteenth annual progress report on implementation of the capital master plan; Board of Auditors report on the capital master plan for the year ended 31 December 2016; Secretary‑General’s report on implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its reports for the year ended 31 December 2016 on the United Nations and on the capital master plan; related report of the ACABQ; Secretary‑General’s fourteenth annual progress report on implementation of the capital master plan; Board of Auditors’ report on the capital master plan; Secretary‑General’s report on implementation of recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its report on the capital master plan for the year ended 31 December 2015; related report of the ACABQ; Secretary‑General’s report on review of arrangements for funding and backstopping special political missions; and the related report of the ACABQ.

The representative of Iran disassociated from section XXII of “L.17”, allocating resources for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015).  He expressed concern about the overflow of human and financial resources into the capacity for implementing of that text.  Taking into account legislative mandates, staffing, allocation of 11 positions and a significant amount for official travel — for such a small capacity — would be interpreted as waste of scarce resources.  The General Assembly took its first step to rectify that problem by downgrading two P‑4 positions. 

While necessary, that was an insufficient measure and he encouraged assembly to take more measures to prevent a waste of resources and ensure resources were commensurate with mandated activities.  He would interested learn more about performance information for the capacity and the justification for proposed assumption to examine accuracy of the resource requirement estimate.  The Secretariat did not provide committee with requested info which was essential for carrying out mandate.

He expressed deep concern with non‑compliance with official travels with mandate related regulations, and provisions of paragraph 10 in the note from the Security Council President (document S/2015/44).

The representative of Cambodia expressed thanks to the Secretary‑General for efforts to secure funding for the extraordinary chambers in his country.  Cambodia attached great importance to ongoing trials of top Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes committed during 17 April 1975 to 6 January 1979, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Cambodia supported the Secretary‑General’s request for the General Assembly to provide a subvention to the international component for 2018, which would enable the chambers to carry out their remaining judicial proceedings.

As had been done in recent years, Cambodia would contribute $4 million to the chambers’ national component in 2018, he said, accounting for 69 per cent of the proposed $5.8 million budget.  Of that contribution, $1.65 million would cover operating costs; $2.75 million would pay for the first six months of national staff salaries.  Cambodia would seek continued support from the United Nations to raise an additional $1.8 million from donors to cover payment of national staff salaries for second six months.

He then detailed substantial judicial progress of the chambers over 11 years since its inception, thanks to collaboration between Cambodia and United Nations, as highlighted in the Secretary‑General’s August 2017 report A/22/341. 

The representative of Syria said that while his delegation had joined consensus on “L.16,” it had reservations on the allocation of financial resources to the Monitoring Mechanism.  It believed it would have been better to use those resources to increase humanitarian assistance provided by international organizations working inside Syria in coordination and cooperation with the Government.  He added that the Monitoring Mechanism represented a violation of the sovereignty and of States and interference in their internal affairs.  He expressed regret that the General Assembly overlooked the root causes of the crisis in Syria, which was the emergence of terrorist groups supported by various Governments, and ignore that Syria provided for 75 per cent of humanitarian needs.

For information media. Not an official record.