The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today took up a request from the Secretary‑General for $1.33 million in additional resources to establish the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate, with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions challenging details of the proposal.
Presenting the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Revised estimates relating to the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate” (document A/72/373), Johannes Huisman, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division of the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, said the General Assembly was being asked to approve $1.33 million as a charge to the Organization’s contingency fund.
In addition, he said, the Assembly was requested to approve the establishment of four posts — one Assistant Secretary‑General, who would be the Victims’ Rights Advocate; one at the P‑4 level; one at the P‑3 level; and one General Service (Other level).
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee, presented that body’s corresponding report (document A/72/7/Add.27), saying it had received very limited information with respect to the Office’s staffing requirements. It also questioned the appropriateness of the Office’s proposed structure, in particular an “unorthodox arrangement” whereby the Victims’ Rights Advocate, a senior‑level post funded through the regular budget, would report to the Special Coordinator on Improving the United Nations Response to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, a temporary senior‑level position funded through extra‑budgetary resources.
In light of those concerns, he said, the Advisory Committee recommended that the Assembly approve the temporary establishment of the proposed structure and related four posts for 12 months from 1 January 2018. It expected the Secretary‑General to provide a full assessment of the need to maintain those posts beyond 2018, and recommended that an optimal structure for all sexual exploitation and victims’ rights issues be presented to the Assembly for consideration at its seventy‑third session.
With regard to additional operational requirements, the Advisory Committee recommended a 15 per cent reduction in the overall amount proposed for official staff travel, a reduction of $209,500 for alteration of premises, and a 20 per cent reduction for furniture and equipment.
The Secretary‑General, in a report to the Assembly during its seventy‑first session (document A/71/818), proposed the nomination of a Victims’ Rights Advocate as part of a new approach towards sexual exploitation and abuse. Working with a small staff, that official would work across the United Nations system to develop an integrated strategic response that would enable victims and witnesses to file complaints and ensure prompt assistance. The Victims’ Rights Advocate would also work closely with government institutions, civil society and national legal and human rights organizations to build support networks and to help ensure that the full effects of local laws, including remedies for victims, were brought to bear.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon), Chair of the Fifth Committee, encouraged delegates to engage “actively and constructively” in their ongoing informal consultations.
The Fifth Committee will next meet at a date and time to be announced in the Journal.