Special Political Missions, Human Resources Management, Among Topics
As it managed the first year of the 2018-2019 budget cycle and zeroed in on ways to make the Organization run more effectively, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today tended to its fiscal responsibilities by approving the complex methodology used to calculate the annual contributions of Member States.
The Fifth Committee sent two resolutions to the General Assembly that outlined the formula behind the so-called scale of assessments, one of which will be applied to the regular budget and the second to the peacekeeping budgets. These fine-tuned financial gauges will help the Organization gather the crucial funding its needs to deliver its mandates, pay thousands of staff members and peacekeepers and operate offices and peacekeeping missions around the world. The Fifth Committee considers revising the methodology every three years.
Gillian Bird (Australia), Fifth Committee Chair, said that, on an exceptional basis for 2019-2021 only, three countries in Level B of the peacekeeping scale of assessments – Bahamas, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – will be afforded discounts of 7.5 per cent to their assessments rates. Bearing those discounts will be the five permanent members of the Security Council.
The representative of the United States, emphasizing that no one Member State should pay more than one quarter of the Organization’s budget, said the lack of agreement on a 25 per cent ceiling will result in a 3 per cent shortfall in the United Nations peacekeeping budget, as the United States will pay no more than 25 per cent of peacekeeping expenses. Going forward, she said the United States will keep calling for more equitable financial burden-sharing – and that discounts for wealthy countries should be eliminated.
The representative of China said the new scale of assessments means that his country will become the second-largest contributor to the regular budget, after the United States. He said the Committee’s work took place against the backdrop of universal support for multilateralism and a stronger role for the United Nations in international affairs. “We have covered a lot of ground with tremendous results,” he said.
As part of the Organization’s ongoing efforts to establish policies that can better manage people, recruit talent and help prod the Organization’s culture more fully into the twenty-first century, the Fifth Committee sent the Assembly a resolution, “Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations: Comparative assessment of human resources structures”, approving the proposal in the Secretary-General’s related report. The Committee, however, asked the Assembly to defer consideration of human resources management items until its seventy-fourth session.
Regarding the United Nations common systems, the Fifth Committee expressed serious concern about the decision of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to pay an organizational bonus to all staff members. It urged all organizations to fully and faithfully implement decisions of the Assembly and International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) in a timely manner.
A 17-part omnibus text, “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019”, was sent to the Assembly for its consideration. The wide-ranging budget text gave infusions of cash necessary to keep courts in Sierra Leone and Cambodia running, renovations on target to keep historic United Nations structures in Geneva and Addis Ababa open and operating safely; and Umoja, the Organization’s vast enterprise resourcing planning project, on track with scheduled rollouts throughout the system.
Special political missions also drew dedicated attention from the Fifth Committee delegates, whose text on this issue indicated they wanted earlier consideration of the special missions’ budgets as the Organization moved to annual budgeting in 2020. The text recommended the Assembly approve a budget of $651.24 million for the 36 continuing special political missions authorized by the Assembly or Security Council and $595,500 for the shared special political missions in the budget of Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the biennium 2018-2019.
In a move praised by several delegates, the Committee also asked the Assembly to approve $13.57 million for a special purpose trust fund for the United Nations resident coordinator system, which is essential for carrying out the Organization’s development-related activities and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals.
As always, the Fifth Committee scrutinized the Secretary-General’s so-called first performance report as the first year of the 2018-19 budget year came to a close and looked ahead to make sure spending for 2019 was on track. The primary aim of the performance report is to pinpoint budget adjustments needed because of variations in rates of inflation, shifting exchange rates and standards used to calculate appropriations.
The Committee also sent the Assembly texts on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the informal and formal administration of justice system, and financial of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, among other things.
Finally, the Fifth Committee approved a draft decision by which the Assembly would defer consideration of several topics to later sessions. And it adopted its draft report for the current session, which began on 9 October.
Ms. Bird and Jan Beagle, Under-Secretary-General for Management, made closing remarks.
Also speaking today were representatives of Egypt (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Russian Federation, Austria (on behalf of the European Union), Cuba, Canada, Iran, India, Nicaragua, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Belarus, Netherlands, Israel, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Myanmar, Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Uganda (on behalf of the African Group), Japan, Pakistan and Mexico.
Appointment of Members of Committee on Contributions
By acclamation, the Fifth Committee recommended that the General Assembly appoint Jakub Krzysztof Chmielewski (Poland) as a member of the Committee on Contributions for a three-year term of office beginning on 1 January 2019.
Action on Drafts
The Committee first took up a draft on financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/C.5/73/L.12). By its terms, the General Assembly would take note of the audit opinions and findings and endorse the recommendations contained in the reports of the Board of Auditors. It also would endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). In addition, the Assembly would request that the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals closely monitor progress of the six pending staff cases of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to ensure they are resolved promptly and ask the Secretary-General to report thereon in the context of his next report on implementation by the Residual Mechanism of the Board’s recommendations.
The Committee approved the text without a vote.
Next, the Committee approved the text on programme planning (document A/C.5/73/L.3), by which the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on the United Nations programme performance for 2016-2017, evaluation, the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2017, the United Nations system support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the report of the Joint Inspection Unit, all of which are contained in its report on the work of its fifty-eighth session. The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure the timely implementation of the recommendations.
Next, the Fifth Committee took up a text on the pattern of conferences (document A/C.5/73/L.17), by which the Assembly would approve the draft revised calendar of United Nations conferences and meetings for 2019, as submitted by the Committee on Conferences, and authorize the Committee on Conferences to make any adjustments to that calendar that might become necessary as a result of Assembly actions and decisions during its seventy-third session.
Also by the text, the Assembly would note that the overall utilization factor at the four main duty stations was 81 per cent in 2017 and 80 per cent in 2016, 2015 and 2014, thus meeting the established benchmark. It would urge secretariats and bureaux of bodies that underutilize their conference-servicing resources to work more closely with the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management and to consider changes to their work programme, as well as encourage the Secretary-General to enhance the efficiency of conference servicing and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its seventy-fourth session.
It would request the Secretary-General to provide detailed information regarding the possible renovation work aimed at addressing the deteriorating conditions at the limited capacity related to the conference services facilities at the United Nations Office at Nairobi and present that information during the main part of the seventy-fourth session.
Regarding access for persons with disabilities, the text would have the Assembly welcome the measures taken to ensure access to and use of conference services and facilities for such persons, including the establishment of the Accessibility Centre, and would request the Secretary-General to continue to address issues related to the accessibility of conference facilities as a matter of priority. The Assembly would also welcome the integrated global management rule as an efficient approach, where feasible, to servicing meetings away from duty stations, and request the Secretary-General to strengthen his efforts to realize further savings by rigorously applying the rule to applicable meetings, without jeopardizing the quality of services.
In documentation and publications, the Assembly would emphasize the paramount importance of the equality of the six official languages and of multilingualism and ask the Secretary-General to continue his efforts in ensuring full parity in line with Assembly resolution 71/328. It would note with concern that only 80 per cent of the author departments reached the 90 per cent compliance rate for timely submission of their reports to the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management and would reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to enforce the slotting system more rigorously.
On the topic of digitalization, the text would have the Assembly welcome the modernization of the Official Document System, including the introduction of a portable system, and its accessibility in all six official languages of the United Nations. It would ask the Secretary-General to take all measures necessary to ensure the timely completion of digitization of key documents in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library and in the main duty stations and to entrust the Department of Public Information with presenting a proposal for the digitization of important older United Nations documents at all four duty stations no later than at the main part of the Assembly’s seventy-fourth session. The Assembly would also ask the Secretary-General to seek additional voluntary contributions for the digitization of important older United Nations documents, including by broadening the donor base.
The text was approved without a vote.
The Committee then turned its attention to two draft resolutions, titled “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations” (document A/C.5/73/L.6) and “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations peacekeeping operations” (document A/C.5/73/L.7).
The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, withdrew “L.6” and “L.7”.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, the draft resolution titled “Scale of assessment for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations” (document A/C.5/73/L.8), which would have the Assembly take note of the Committee on Contributions’ report on its seventy-eighth session, and reaffirm that the scale shall remain the prerogative of the General Assembly and the fundamental principle that the Organization’s expenses shall be apportioned broadly according to capacity to pay.
Also by the text, the Assembly would decide that the scale of assessments for the period from 2019-2021 should be based on eight elements, which include estimates of gross national income, average statistical base periods of three and six years; the debt-burden approach employed in the scale of assessment of the period from 2016 to 2018 and a minimum assessment rate of 0.001 per cent; a maximum assessment rate for the least developed countries of 0.01 per cent; and a maximum assessment rate of 22 per cent.
The Assembly would ask the Committee on Contributions to review and make recommendations on the elements of the scale’s methodology, in order to reflect the capacity of Member States to pay, and report to the Assembly by the main part of its seventy-sixth session. The text lays out the scale of assessment for each Member State for 2019, 2020 and 2021, and urges all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without imposing conditions.
The Committee then took up the draft resolution titled “Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations peacekeeping operations” (document A/C.5/73/L.9), by which the Assembly would reaffirm its determination that the scale shall remain its prerogative. Reaffirming the five general principles that underline the financing of peacekeeping operations, the Assembly would also reaffirm that assessment rates for their financing should be based on the scale of assessments for the United Nations regular budget, with an appropriate and transparent system of adjustments based on the levels of Member States.
The Assembly would recognize the need to reform the current methodology for apportioning the expenses of peacekeeping operations and desire to address the issue in an effective, expeditious manner. It also would reaffirm that all discounts resulting from adjustments to the regular budget assessment rates of Member States in level C to J shall be born on a pro rata basis by the Security Council’s permanent members. The Assembly would welcome the voluntary commitment of Portugal to remain in level B and reaffirm that, for purposes of determining the eligibility of Member States for contribution in particular levels during the 2019-2021 scale period, the average per capita gross national income of all Member States will be $10,476 and the per capita gross national income of Member States will be in the average of 2011 to 2016 figures. Further, the Assembly would decide to review the structure of the levels of the peacekeeping scale of assessments during its seventy-sixth session.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia), Fifth Committee Chair, confirmed the understanding that, on an exceptional basis for the 2019-2021 scale period only, three countries in Level B of the peacekeeping scale of assessments – Bahamas, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – will be afforded discounts of 7.5 per cent to their assessments rates. Those discounts will be borne, on a pro rata basis, by the five permanent members of the Security Council, she said, adding that those remarks would appear in a footnote to the report of the Secretary-General annexed to “L.19”.
The Committee then approved “L.9” without a vote.
The representative of the United States, stressing that her country takes its obligations to the United Nations seriously, said that for the Organization’s financial health, the United States believes that no one Member States should pay more than one quarter of its budget. Lack of agreement on a 25 per cent ceiling will cause the Organization to face a 3 per cent shortfall in its peacekeeping budget, as the United States will pay no more than 25 per cent of peacekeeping expenses. Going forward, she said the United States will keep calling for more equitable financial burden-sharing. “L.9” affirms the need to expeditiously and efficiently reform the methodology for the peacekeeping scale of assessments, she said, adding that discounts for wealthy countries, whose per capita income is more than double the average of the Organization’s membership, lack justification and should be eliminated. Those countries are mentioned in the footnote of the Secretary-General’s report, she added. Another clear indicator of the need for reform is the fact that nearly half of all Member States get an 80 per cent discount, levied after capacity to pay is factored into the regular budget assessments. That is neither sensible or equitable, she said.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that all Member States had shown extraordinary flexibility on this incredibly complex agenda item. He added that his delegation did not share many of the provisions expressed in the statement just heard by the Committee.
Next, the Committee took up a text on the United Nations common system (document A/C.5/73/L.18), by which the Assembly, taking note of the International Civil Service Commission’s 2018 report (document A/73/30), would reaffirm its role in approving conditions of services and entitlements for all staff serving in the organizations of the common system. The Assembly would reiterate its request to the Commission to recommend appropriate measures to deal with those organizations not in compliance with the Commission’s decisions and recommendations and to report at the Assembly’s seventy-fourth session.
Also by the text, the Assembly would express serious concern about the decision of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to pay an organizational bonus to all staff members and urge organizations to fully and faithfully implement the decisions of the Assembly and Commission in a timely manner. Regarding review of pensionable remuneration, the Assembly would approve, with effect from 1 January 2019, the Commission’s recommendations contained in paragraph 47 of its 2018 report. The Assembly would welcome efforts by the United Nations to improve accessibility of premises and conferences and provide reasonable accommodation in the workplace and encourage organizations to continue to improve accessibility.
Under conditions of service of staff in the Professional and higher categories, the Assembly would approve, effective from 1 January 2019, the Commission’s recommendation, found in paragraph 83 of its report, for the revised base/floor scale and pay protection points for staff in these categories, as contained in annex VI of the report. The Assembly would note the Commission’s decision to continue monitoring the level of margin (between the net remuneration of officials in the Professional and higher categories in New York and officials in comparable positions in the comparator civil service) and to take the necessary corrective action under the operation of the post-adjustment system, if the trigger levels of 113 or 117 are breached.
Further, the Assembly would ask the Commission to continue its efforts to improve the post-adjustment system to minimize any gap between the pay and the post-adjustment indices, welcoming the review of the system’s methodology and operational rules governing the determination of post-adjustment multipliers, so as to enhance the accuracy, stability and predictability of salary adjustments.
The draft was approved without a vote.
Next, the Committee took up a draft on the United Nations pension system (document A/C.5/73/L.15) by which the Assembly would take note of the report of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board and the report of the Secretary-General on investments of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, as well as measures undertaken to increase the Fund’s diversification. The Assembly would also endorse the conclusions and recommendations of ACABQ’s related report (document A/73/489), subject to the provisions of the present resolution.
On actuarial matters, the text would have the Assembly note the valuation results reporting a deficit of 0.12 per cent as of 31 December 2017, compared to a surplus of 0.41 per cent as of 31 December 2015, and in this regard stress the importance of continuing to achieve the necessary 3.5 per cent annual real rate of return on a long-term basis for the Fund’s future solvency. It would note that the Board issued an unqualified audit opinion on the Fund’s financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2017 and urge the Board to address all pending issues with clear targets and milestones. On governance, the Assembly would note the current dual role of the Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of the Board; and decide to replace the existing post by two distinct and independent positions as “Pensions Benefits Administrator” and “Secretary of the Board” no later than January 2020.
It would note that the Board established a working group, which should adhere to the Tripartite Structure of the Board with the latter considering the issues of participation, rotation and equitable representation on the Board in fulfilling the mandate of the working group in order to review the following elements: (a) the terms of reference, and self-evaluation methodology of Board members; (b) the composition and size of the Board, including the role of retiree representatives and modalities to directly elect retiree representatives to the Board; (c) allocation of seats on the Pension Board; (d) implementation of a review and rotation scheme for the adjustment of the composition of the Pension Board on a regular basis, to allow eligible member organizations to share the rotating seats in a fair and equitable manner; (e) including a regular review mechanism for the adjustment of the composition of the Pension Board; (f) the usage of the Standing Committee; and (g) the need for the Assets and Liability Monitoring Committee.
By other terms, the Assembly would urge the Pension Board to ensure timely and proper succession planning for the positions of Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer to allow adequate time for their competitive selection based on pre-established procedures that ensure integrity and fairness.
The Assembly would decide to amend article 4 of the Regulations of the Fund as follows: “Subject to the provision of these Regulations, the Board shall adopt its own rules of procedure, which shall be reported to the General Assembly and the member organizations”. The Assembly would decide to approve the proposed amendments to articles 30, 32 and 46 of the Regulations of the Fund as provided in Annex XI of the report of the Board. Further, the Assembly would approve the exception to article 15 b of the Regulations to the Fund to effect a change from biennial to annual budget, on a trial basis, subject to the follow-up review by the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session.
The Assembly would reiterate the need to enhance the processing of the receipt of payments by some beneficiaries and stress the need for the Fund to increase efforts to address the delays and proactively resolve actionable cases, open workflows, legacy and other outstanding cases, and ensure the implementation of a system to prioritize the resolution on the most urgent and severe cases.
The Assembly would decide to reconstitute the Executive Office of the Pension Fund such that it is directly responsible to both entities of the Fund for the provision of administrative services, within existing resources. It would also approve the admission of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to membership in the Fund, with effect from 1 January 2019.
The Committee approved the text without a vote.
Next, the Committee considered a text on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) (document A/C./73/L.13). By that text, the General Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to promote effective coordination and collaboration regarding the Office’s audit, evaluation and investigation functions to ensure an integrated approach to its oversight function. It would also take note of the OIOS report on its activities from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, noting with concern the status of implementation and its recommendations and asking the Secretary-General to implement outstanding and recurring recommendations in that context.
By further terms, the Assembly would call upon the Secretary-General to make use of the Office’s expertise in the ongoing reform process by implementing its recommendations, and welcome its efforts and progress made in terms of reducing vacant posts. As such, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue making efforts to fill remaining vacant posts, particularly in the Investigations Division. Moreover, the Assembly would note the Office’s role as the central intake mechanism for fraud and corruption allegations, encouraging it to consider calls to expand the reporting and recording of all forms of misconduct as part of renewed efforts to strengthen and professionalize the United Nations system investigations function.
The text was approved without a vote.
The Committee then took up a text on the administration of justice at the United Nations (document A/C./73/L.10).
By its terms, the General Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in ACABQ’s related report (document A/73/428) and stress the importance of ensuring access for all staff members to the system of administration of justice, regardless of their duty station. Noting that staff still appear to have limited awareness of the system, the Assembly would also urge the Secretary-General to further strengthen and increase his outreach activities, paying particular attention to field missions and offices. It would further note the new revised policy on protection against retaliation for reporting misconduct, requesting that the Secretary-General report in the next report of the system on how such retaliation is being addressed.
Further, the Assembly, recalling paragraph 37 of the ACABQ’s related report, would ask the Secretary-General to establish the pilot project to offer access to informal dispute resolution services to non-staff personnel. Moreover, it would decide that the pilot project will not affect the mandate of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services. Noting with concern the number of pending applications to the Dispute Tribunal, the Assembly would underscore the need for continued analysis of the trends in new cases received and ask the Secretary-General to continue to collect statistics on the caseloads of different United Nations system entities. Taking note of paragraph 30 of the ACABQ report, the Assembly would decide to extend the voluntary supplemental funding mechanism for the Office of Staff Legal Assistance for a period of three years, from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2021, as orally amended.
Also by the text, the Assembly would decide to amend article 4.1 of the statute of the Tribunal to read “The Dispute Tribunal shall be composed of three full-time judges and six half-time judges”. It would also decide to amend article 5 of the Tribunal statute to read: “1. The three full-time judges of the Dispute Tribunal shall exercise their functions in New York, Geneva and Nairobi, respectively. 2. The half-time judges of the Dispute Tribunal shall be deployed up to a cumulative period of six months per year, as decided by the President based on caseload and any judicial absences affecting the Tribunal’s work. 3. The Dispute Tribunal may decide to hold sessions at other duty stations than New York, Geneva and Nairobi as required by its caseload.”
The Assembly would decide to extend the positions of the two ad litem judges in Geneva and Nairobi and the current incumbent judges, pending the nomination of candidates by the Internal Justice Council and the appointment of the four half-time judges, expected to take place by 31 December 2019. It would also decide not to extend the ad litem judge position in New York expiring on 31 December 2018.
The text was approved without a vote.
Also approved was a text on financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document A/C.5/73/L.11), which would have the Assembly take note of the first performance report of the Secretary-General on the budget of the Residual Mechanism for the biennium 2018-2019. That text would also have the Assembly decide on a revised appropriation to the Special Account for the Residual Mechanism of $195.72 million gross ($174.69 million net) for 2018-2019. By its other terms, the Assembly would also decide for the year 2019, to apportion among Member States, in accordance with the scale of assessments applicable to the regular budget of the United Nations for the year, a total of $48.85 million gross ($43.58 million net), including $151,750 gross ($178,400 net), being the decrease in assessments.
The text was approved without a vote.
Next the Committee turned to a draft on financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (document A/C.5/73/L.16), by which the Assembly would decide to allocate $56.83 million for air operations from the overall resources for the Operation, and appropriate to the Special Account for the Operation $715.52 million for the maintenance of the Operation for the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019.
The Committee then took up a draft decision submitted by the Chair on programme budget implications relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/C.5/73/L.19), which contained implications for eight draft resolutions.
Should the General Assembly adopt the draft resolution, “Effects of atomic radiation” (document A/C.4/73/L.9), the text would request the Secretary-General to strengthen support for the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation within existing resources. Doing so would, she said, require an additional $24,900 due to the proposed reclassification of a P-4 post to the P-5 level as Deputy Secretary, effective 1 January 2019. In addition, $4,400 would be required under the staff assessment section of the 2018–2019 budget, to be offset by an equivalent amount under the income from the staff assessment section.
If the Assembly adopts the draft resolution “Advancing responsible State behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/73/L.37), the text would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General, with help from a group of governmental experts, to continue to study possible cooperative measures to address information security threats. That text would require an additional appropriation of $206,700 in 2018-2019.
If a draft resolution (document A/C.1/73/L.22/Rev.1) pertaining to the convening — no later than 2019 for a duration of one week at Headquarters — of a conference on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is adopted by the Assembly, additional resource requirements for 2019 totalling $1.01 million would be required.
By adopting the text of draft resolution (document A/C.6/73/L.22) regarding the report of the International Law Commission on the work of its seventieth session, the Assembly would decide that the Commission’s next session would be held in Geneva from 29 April to 7 June and from 8 July to 9 August 2019. That would require additional resources of $128,100 that would represent a charge against the contingency fund and, as such, would require additional appropriation for 2018–2019.
By adopting the draft resolution “Situation of human rights in Myanmar” (document A/C.3/73/L.51), the Assembly asks the Secretary-General to extend the appointment of the Special Envoy on Myanmar and provide all assistance necessary to enable the Special Envoy to effectively discharge her mandate and brief Member States every six months, or as otherwise requested or warranted by the situation on the ground. The Special Envoy on Myanmar would continue to function on a when-actually-employed basis, supported by a small team based in Nay Pyi Taw and at Headquarters in New York.
If adopted, that text would require an additional resource requirement of $1.23 million, net of staff assessment, for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2019. Approval is being sought in the context of the 2019 budgets for special political missions under section 3, Political Affairs, of the programme budget for the biennium 2018-19.
By the text of the draft resolution “A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action” (document A/C.5/73/L.52/Rev.1), the Assembly would approve additional resource requirements of $447,500 under the programme budget for the biennium 2018–2019. That would include $423,700 under section 24, Human rights; $21,000 under section 28, Public information; $2,800 under section 29F, Administration, Geneva; and $11,000 under section 36, Staff assessment, to be offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment.
The Assembly would also be requested to approve the establishment of one P-4 post under section 24, Human rights, effective 1 January 2019.
Another draft resolution with budget implications (document A/73/L.23), “Cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States”, would require additional resources of $267,100 if adopted. The requirements would provide for two posts under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018–2019 programme budget, and $20,300, under section 36, Staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1.
Moreover, should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution (document A/C.2/73/L.49), “Report of the Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme”, no additional resources would be required.
Finally, a draft resolution on “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine” (document A/C.3/73/L.48), would also require no additional resources, if adopted.
The Committee approved the text without a vote.
The representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, as well as co-sponsors Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and United States, said that, as consensus had been achieved during deliberations, his delegation would withdraw the draft resolution titled “Revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth sessions and twenty-eighth special session” (document A/C.5/73/L.5).
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/C.5/73/L.20), which in 19 parts, took up the following: revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council during 2018 (I); revised estimates resulting from United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) (II); subvention to the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (III); subvention to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (IV); revised estimates relating to the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, section 29B, Department of Operational Support, and section 36, Staff assessment (V); progress on the implementation of a flexible workspace at United Nations Headquarters (VI); seismic mitigation retrofit and life-cycle replacements project at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific premises in Bangkok (VII); and progress in the construction of new office facilities at the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, and update on the renovation of conference facilities, including Africa Hall(VIII).
Also: proposal for the replacement of office blocks A to J at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (IX); renovation of the North Building at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago (X); first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (XI); financial implications relating to the administration of justice at the United Nations (XII); Strategic Heritage Plan of the United Nations Office at Geneva (XIII); Estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council (XIV); revised estimates for resident coordinator system (XV); administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations contained in the report of the International Civil Service Commission for the year 2016 (XVI); enterprise resource planning project, Umoja (XVII); revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth sessions and twenty-eighth special session (XVIII); and contingency fund (XIX).
By part VI, regarding progress on the implementation of a flexible workspace at the United Nations Headquarters, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue implementing flexible workspace strategies in New York in 2019, with a maximum number of 140 staff members per floor and to report on that at the main part of the Assembly’s seventy-fourth session. Further, it would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments up to the amount of $12.7 million with respect to 2019 project costs.
By part VII, on seismic mitigation retrofit and life-cycle replacements project at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific premises in Bangkok, the Assembly would appropriate $4.48 million for project activities in 2019. That would comprise $1.07 million under section 19 – Economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific – and $3.42 million under section 33 – construction, alteration, improvement and major maintenance of the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019.
Further by the text, part X – regarding the renovation of the North building at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago – would have the Assembly recall paragraph 28 of the related ACABQ report, approving the proposed overall scope of the project, its maximum cost and implementation strategy. It would also appropriate $676,000 for the project in 2019, comprising $231,700 under section 21 – Economic and Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean – and $445,000 under section 33 – construction, alteration, improvement and major maintenance – of the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019. Moreover, the Assembly would approve the establishment of a multi-year construction in progress account for the project, deciding to reduce swing space costs by $50,000 and to adjust the maximum project cost accordingly to reflect paragraph 14.
Also by the text, part XI on the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 would have the Assembly approve a net increase of $109.8 million in appropriation approved for biennium 2018-2019, to be apportioned among expenditure and income sections as indicated in the Secretary-General’s first performance report.
Moreover, part XIV of the text - containing estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or Security Council – would have the Assembly affirm that special political missions play a critical role in maintaining international peace and security. As such, the Assembly would look forward to earlier consideration of mission budgets as part of the move to annual budgeting, stressing the importance of the Advisory Committee considering such budgets in sufficient time to allow the General Assembly time needed to make considered decisions.
The Assembly would approve $651.24 million for the 36 continuing special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council and $595,500 for the share of the missions’ budget of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for 2018-2019. Further, it would approve a charge of $476.09 million against the provision for those missions, corresponding to the balance in the provision, under section 3, Political affairs; decide to appropriate an extra $182.55 million under section 3, Political affairs; and further decide to appropriate $12.57 million under section 36, Staff assessment, of the 2018-2019 programme budget.
Further, by part XVII of the text regarding the enterprise resource planning project, Umoja, the Assembly would highlight investments made by Member States, expressing concern that the projected total expenditure for the Umoja project has more than doubled from its initial estimate of $248.3 million in 2007 to $543.96 million in 2019. As such, the total cost of ownership has been revised upwards in 2018 to $1.41 billion by 2030. Also, the Assembly, regretting the delay in fully implementing Umoja Extension 2, would request the Secretary-General to continue to implement the project within the approved timeline, achieve the project’s objectives and its full implementation by December 2019, and approve its resource requirements until 31 December 2019, in the amount of $15.5 million as presented in the tenth progress report.
Under part XV, regarding revised estimates relating to the resident coordinator system, the Assembly, asking the Secretary-General to inform Member States about existing and potential funding gaps of the system, would look forward to the new cost-sharing formula for 2021 onward to be presented to the ACABQ, the Fifth Committee and the respective governing bodies of the member entities of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, reflecting the direct involvement of each agency, based on the proportion of services used. The Assembly would appropriate an additional $13.57 million as a grant to the special purpose trust fund in 2019, under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, of the 2018-2010 programme budget and ask the Secretary-General to provide information on the use of this assessed contribution.
Lastly, the Assembly would note that a balance of $110,900 remains in the contingency fund.
The representative of Cuba pointed to section 14 of “L.20” regarding estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council. As her delegation has noted for more than a decade, there is no legal basis for activities carried out in relation to the responsibility to protect, as there is no intergovernmental agreement on the definition of that concept. Over the years, she said, resources related to the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect have been included in the budget of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, whose mandate Cuba fully supports. Budget estimates and associated narratives regarding the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect should be removed, to be reconsidered once the General Assembly has taken a decision on that concept, its implementation and other issues. She then proposed oral amendments to preambular and operative paragraphs in “L.20”.
The representative of Canada, calling for a vote, said his delegation did not support the proposed amendments, the effects of which go beyond the Fifth Committee’s responsibilities.
The representative of Iran, affirming that his delegation will vote in favour of the proposed draft amendment, emphasized the serious risk of biased interpretation and application of the concept of the responsibility to protect. In practice, he added, the responsibility to protect has been guided by the politicized interests of some Member States, not by dignity or human rights. Moreover, the concept is being applied in a selective manner, he stated.
The representative of India, said there is no explicit mandate from Member States on the appointment of a Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect because there is no consensus on the concept itself. Given the serious divergence of views on the subject, India will abstain.
The representative of Nicaragua said it is appropriate not to assign resources for the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, given the lack of consensus in the General Assembly on that concept. Nicaragua will vote in favour of amendment presented by Cuba and encourages others to do so as well.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, also welcoming Cuba’s oral amendment, said there are pros and cons regarding the responsibility to protect, a concept which lacks consensus in the General Assembly and which contains dangerous elements that can be manipulated by certain Member States. References to the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect should be deleted until there is agreement by consensus. His delegation will vote in favour of the oral amendment.
The representative of Syria called the responsibility to protect one of the most controversial topics at the United Nations, as well as one of the most discussed. It is also a concept that lacks a legal framework. Its misuse by several Member States is a clear violation of the purposes and objectives of the United Nations Charter, including respect for State sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs. Syria will vote in favour of the oral amendment.
The representative of Belarus said any decision on funding in relation to the responsibility to protect must be preceded by agreement on the content and scope of that concept. With the General Assembly far from consensus on the issue, his delegation will vote in favour of the oral amendment.
The representative of the Netherlands, emphasizing the importance his country attaches to the work of the Special Advisor, said he would second his Canadian colleague’s request for a vote.
The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of vote before the vote, said the Fifth Committee’s deliberations should focus on administrative and budgetary issues. It should refrain from political discussions which relate to the work of other United Nations forums. Recalling that the mandate of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide was approved by the General Assembly in 2001, he said the Committee’s responsibility is to ensure it is adequately funded. Amending preambular paragraphs 1 and 2, and operative paragraphs 1 and 12, would greatly reduce the capacity of the Office of the Special Adviser to fulfil its mandate in close cooperation with other United Nations entities. Member States of the European Union will vote against the proposed oral amendments.
The Committee then rejected the oral amendment to “L.20” by a recorded vote of 68 against to 24 in favour, with 48 abstentions.
The representative of Israel then proposed an oral amendment to section XVIII of “L.20” regarding the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth sessions and twenty-eighth special session. By its terms, the General Assembly would decide not to appropriate any resources for the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution S-28/1.
[Through that resolution, adopted on 22 May 2018 and titled “Violations of international law in the context of large-scale civilian protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, the Human Rights Council decided to dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.]
The representative of Kuwait, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, recalling grave human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories including East Jerusalem, requested a recorded vote on Israel’s proposed oral amendment.
The representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, urged Member States to vote against an oral amendment that would adversely affect the financing of the Council resolution on the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The Committee then rejected the oral amendment to Section XVIII or “L.20” by a recorded vote of 118 against to 4 in favour (Australia, Israel, Liberia, United States), with 19 abstentions.
The representative of Israel said that his country disassociates itself from the decision to appropriate resources to implementation of resolution S-28/1.
The Committee then approved “L.20” without a vote.
The representative of Venezuela, disassociated his delegation from the revised estimates for resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council. He reiterated Venezuela’s condemnation of resolutions, special procedures or other mechanisms on the human rights situation in specific countries. Cooperation and dialogue are the appropriate way to protect and promote human rights, he added.
The representative of Canada said his delegation is pleased that action taken today by the Committee enables the timely establishment of an ongoing independent mechanism for Myanmar. To have done otherwise would have tarnished the United Nations reputation in the eyes of the world. He added that Canada still has strong reservations about the commission of inquiry in Gaza, as Human Right Council resolution S-28/1 is one-sided and prejudged the outcome of the investigation. Those concerns were aired in Geneva and the Committee is not the place to revisit them, he said. For the United Nations to operate properly, the Fifth Committee must stay within its mandate and not discriminate against the funding of human rights mandates.
The representative of Myanmar said the three Human Rights Council resolutions contained in “L.20” are apparently politically motivated and infringe on her country’s sovereignty. She emphasized her country’s cooperation with the United Nations in various fields, including human rights. Political missions set up without the consent or cooperation of the country concerned will not produce any positive tangible results, she added.
The Committee then approved its report on the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/C.5/73/L.21), containing revised budget appropriations, revised income estimates and financing of the appropriations for the year 2019.
It also approved its draft resolution titled “Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations: Comparative assessment of human resources structures” (document A/C.5/73/L.14). By its terms, the General Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s related report, approving the proposal it contains. It would also endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the ACABQ report on the matter, emphasizing the necessity of ensuring regular and direct engagement between the Department of Operational Support and the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance.
Finally, the Committee approved a draft decision titled “Questions deferred for future consideration” (document A/C.5/73/L.22). That text would see the Assembly decide to defer consideration of several documents under the agenda item “programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019”. The Secretary-General’s report on the review of the experience of the utilization of the contingency fund and the related ACABQ report would be referred until the first part of its resumed seventy-third session.
By further terms, the Assembly would decide to defer until the main part of its seventy-fourth session consideration of the Secretary‑General’s report of the United Nations Office for Partnerships; sixteenth 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 2017; related report of the ACABQ; Secretary‑General’s fifteenth 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.
Ms. BIRD, Committee Chair, proposed that consideration of the agenda item on human resources management also be deferred, “for policy and practical considerations”, to the Committee’s resumed main session.
The representative of Egypt said his delegation would have preferred deferral to the first resumed session, bearing in mind that the Committee has exhausted most of the work related to the item.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that, during its main session, the Committee will be completely immersed in budgetary discussions. He proposed that delegations agree to deferral to the Committee’s first resumed session.
The representative for the European Union delegation said the main session of the seventy-fourth Assembly is the appropriate time to consider this important issue.
The Committee then approved “L.22” as orally revised to state that human resources management will be deferred to the main part of the Assembly’s seventy-fourth session.
Ms. BIRD, Committee Chair, said that she thought a lot had been achieved during a very busy session. “It is a marathon, not a sprint, in the Fifth Committee,” she said, expressing her appreciation for the camaraderie, cooperation, compromise and consensus that marked the spirit of the Committee’s work. She looked forward to those characteristics informing next year’s resumed session.
The representative of Egypt, on behalf of the Group of 77, said, regarding the scales of assessment, that this was an exceptional year with exceptional circumstances, with many developing countries seeing an increase in their assessments. The Group was pleased that the Committee reached consensus on the scales of assessment for both the regular budget and peacekeeping budget, and it also welcomes consensus on using assessed contributions for the resident coordinator system. He expressed disappointment that the Committee was unable to reach consensus on human resources management, a priority area for the Group, but stressed: “We must not lose momentum.” Going forward, he said the Group looks forward to a productive 2019 under the leadership of the State of Palestine.
The representative of Barbados, associating herself with the Group of 77 and speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), highlighted the importance of the 2018 consensus on scales of assessment for apportioning expenses in terms of regular and peacekeeping budgets to be implemented for the years 2019 to 2021. She noted that any future consideration of such items must be approached with the highest regard for the Member State driven intergovernmental negotiation process.
The representative of Uganda, associating herself with the Group of 77 and speaking on behalf of the African Group, expressed regret that the Committee was unable to provide policy guidance to the Secretary-General to improve the welfare and working conditions for United Nations staff. She also expressed regret over the lack of a pronouncement by the Committee on important issues such as equitable geographical representation and gender parity. Having adopted the scale of assessments in 2018, the African Group encourages all Member States to be guided by it in terms of paying their assessments on time, in full and without condition.
The representative of Japan expressed disappointment that no decision could be reached on human resources management despite long and thorough deliberations on that item. He welcomed consensus achieved on scales of assessment for both the regular and the peacekeeping budget, renewing Japan’s commitment to fulfilling its financial obligation in a faithful manner.
The representative of Pakistan, associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the agreement reached during negotiations on the scales of assessment for regular and peacekeeping budgets represents a painful concession based on maximum flexibility and the spirit of compromise. Moreover, he expressed regret that the Committee could not reach consensus despite months of deliberations, leading to a deferring of the human rights draft resolution and others.
The representative of China, associating himself with the Group of 77, said Committee’s work took place against the backdrop of universal support for multilateralism and a stronger role for the United Nations in international affairs. “We have covered a lot of ground with tremendous results,” he said. The achievements of this session will contribute to the implementation of the various United Nations mandates and secure the Organization’s central role in multilateralism and global governance. With the new scale of assessments, China will become the second-largest contributor to the regular budget. For a developing country of 1.4 billion people, that is not a small amount, he said, pledging that China will uphold its financial commitments. He appealed to other Member States, especially those with ample capacity to pay, to pay their assessments on time and in full. He also encouraged the Secretariat to make the best use of every penny of Member States’ taxpayers’ money.
The representative of Mexico emphasized the relevance of the scale of assessments for the regular budget and peacekeeping operations, as they underpin the Organization’s efforts to maintain international peace and security. Mexico is also pleased that the Committee approved the funding of the new resident coordinator system. He went on to recognize the huge effort that went into other major issues, such as the Umoja enterprise resource planning project.
JAN BEAGLE, Under-Secretary-General for Management, thanked delegates for their dialogue and for the decisions they took. She added that the Secretary-General will be pleased with the support voiced for his reform programme.