Gaps in Revised Funding for Criminal Tribunals’ Residual Mechanism Could Hinder Mandate Delivery, Delegates Warn as Fifth Committee Considers 2018-2019 Budget

GA/AB/4282
25 May 2018
Seventy-second Session, 42nd Meeting (PM)

Gaps in Revised Funding for Criminal Tribunals’ Residual Mechanism Could Hinder Mandate Delivery, Delegates Warn as Fifth Committee Considers 2018-2019 Budget

Several gaps in the revised budget proposal for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals could negatively impact mandate delivery, delegates warned today, as the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) examined the Mechanism’s financing requirements for the next two years.

The Mechanism, which took over the remaining tasks of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, comprises branches in Arusha and The Hague.  The Secretary-General’s proposed revised requirements for the Mechanism for 2018-2019 totalled $184 million, up $52 million from the 2016-2017 final appropriation, to provide for added posts and operational requirements.

Marcio Sandro Aleixo Pereira Burity (Angola), speaking on behalf of the African Group, noted with concern that planned operational and judicial activities of the Mechanism outstripped the amount committed, which would strain the entity and compromise its ability to carry out the mandated functions such as trial appeals that followed a timeline.  He further noted that several key elements, including staffing elements at the Director level presented in the earlier proposal, were not included in the current submission.  “The Group will present specific proposals to address the identified gaps […] to ensure that the Mechanism functions properly,” he said.

The Group was seriously concerned about the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions’ (ACABQ) “unjustified recommendations for resource reductions on elements essential for mandate delivery related to training for staff, consultancies, air travel and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure”, which followed an already deep resource adjustment by the Mechanism, he said.  Further, the Group sought ACABQ’s rationale for its recommendations, as well as other elements on procurement, consultancies, recruitments, the question of shared service and other human resource elements.

Karim Samir Ismail Alsayed (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that the Secretary-General’s revised budget proposal was 14.8 per cent less than the original submission.  He was concerned that the Mechanism was not able to plan implementation of key mandated operational and judicial activities due to the uncertainty about the budget, among other reasons.  Commitment authority was not the most suitable way of funding as it led to uncertainty on mandate implementation, a matter which merited due attention.

While the Group welcomed creation of Registrar and Prosecutor posts to be located in Arusha, it was concerned that the Secretary-General’s proposal lacked the appropriate capacity to support the two offices.  Furthermore, the Group had learned of several pending challenges in the facilities and infrastructure construction project which would need to be rectified.   While the Group appreciated some of the constructive elements in the ACABQ report, it was concerned about those related to unjustified arbitrary reduction of resources and would seek clarification on a number of issues.

Justin Kisoka (United Republic of Tanzania), underlining that the Mechanism lacked delegation of authority in the areas of finance and procurement and that simple functions, such as the purchase of airline tickets for less than $200 had to be processed as far away as Europe, said such processes continued to perpetuate inefficiencies, delays and unnecessary bureaucracy.

Aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, he underscored that there was a continued need to allocate more functions to Arusha, taking advantage of the existing facilities, infrastructure and economies.  He noted with serious concern the proposed reduction in a number of budget lines, and stressed that it was difficult to understand the rationale behind those proposals.

Pedro Guazo, Acting Deputy Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the revised 2018‑2019 budget for the Mechanism  (document A/72/813 and Corr.1).  He said that, following a detailed review of the resource requirements for 2018, the Mechanism concluded that the approved commitment amount would not be sufficient to carry out the functions mandated by the Security Council, including trials and appeals, until the end of 2018.  Based on that conclusion, the Secretary-General was seeking $52 million more for 185 posts, as well as for operational requirements.  The increase was due to the expanded judicial activity related to one ongoing complex retrial of two high‑level accused persons, and three ongoing appeals cases.  It was also based on the consequential increase for administrative services by the Mechanism itself, following the closure of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the ensuing discontinuation of its administrative support to the Mechanism through double-hatting and cost-sharing arrangements.

Babou Sene (Senegal), Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, introducing its corresponding report (document A/72/875), noted that, since 1 January, the Mechanism had been carrying out its operations without the assistance of its predecessor Tribunals.  The Advisory Committee believed the new situation provided an opportunity to review and clarify the administrative arrangements to serve the two branches of the Mechanism, he said.  Consequently, the Committee recommended that the Secretary‑General review those administrative arrangements to clearly define the role performed by each of its branches and provide information on this review in its next budget submission.

While acknowledging the Mechanism’s efforts to reduce its requirements, the Advisory Committee trusted that more accurate projections would be included in future submissions, together with more detailed justification for non-post requirements, including those related to the positions funded through general temporary assistance, he said.  In that regard, the Advisory Committee considered that the forecast number of general temporary assistance positions at the end 2018-2019 did not constitute a baseline for future budget periods.  In the absence of full justification for each of the proposed positions, the Advisory Committee recommended a reduction of almost $1 million to the proposed requirement for other staff costs.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 May.

For information media. Not an official record.