26 March 2021

Concluding First Resumed Session, Fifth Committee Approves Texts on Special Subjects, Joint Inspection Unit, Common System

Action on Human Resources Management Deferred until October-December Session

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) concluded the first part of its resumed seventy-fifth session today, sending — without a vote — three draft resolutions and one draft decision to the General Assembly for adoption, but failing to reach agreement on the longstanding issue of human resources management.

Through the draft resolution titled “Special subjects relating to the programme budget for 2021” (document A/C.5/75/L.27), the Assembly would, among other things, appropriate $494,000 from the contingency fund to address the deteriorating conditions and limited capacity of conference service facilities at the United Nations Office at Nairobi.  It would appropriate an additional $15.50 million from the 2021 programme budget to supplement the voluntary financial resources of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.  It would also request the Secretary-General to make more efforts to encourage all individuals who qualify for first-class or business class air travel funded by the Organization to voluntarily downgrade from their entitled class.

Through the draft resolution titled “Joint Inspection Unit” (document A/C.5/75/L.25), the Assembly would take note of the Joint Inspection Unit’s report for 2020 and programme of work of 2021.  It would also stress the need for the Unit to continuously update and improve its strategic framework for 2020-2029, taking into account dynamics and challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Organization’s ongoing reform efforts.

Through the draft resolution titled “United Nations common system” (document A/C.5/75/L.26), the Assembly would, among other things, request the Secretary-General to provide, in his next report, updated information on the divergence of jurisprudence of the common system’s two tribunals on matters relating to the International Civil Service Commission, together with an assessment of its impact on the common system.

Through the draft decision titled “Questions deferred for future consideration” (document A/C.5/75/L.28), the Assembly would defer, to the second part of its resumed seventy-fifth session, consideration of 41 reports from the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions dealing with human resources management, some of which date back to its seventy-third session.  It would also defer consideration of the Secretary-General’s reports on active-duty military and police personnel and on the review of the experience of the utilization of the contingency fund.

Carlos Amorín (Uruguay), Committee Chair, said that during the resumed session, delegations sought to tackle some of the problems which prevented the Committee on reaching decisions on some priority issues in the past.  Hopefully, the next resumed session will make headway on human resources management, he added.

The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Committee managed to adapt its work to the virtual methods forced upon it a year ago by the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, vital face-to-face contact remains necessary when seeking to achieve delicate balances in negotiations.  Welcoming the consensus reached on some items, including the conditions of service for judges, the programme of work of the Joint Inspection Unit and standards of accommodation for air travel, he expressed concern that less progress was made on several other critical matters.  For example, the United Nations Office at Nairobi is still not receiving the same resources as others.  Little progress was also made on several human resources items, he said, noting that the constructive spirit demonstrated by many delegations was not enough to reach agreement.  “Under different circumstances, these could have been better outcomes,” he said, underlining the crucial need to better respect the principle of equitable geographic representation and leave behind outdated staffing frameworks.

The representative of Mali, speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that it was unfortunate that the Committee had failed once again to reach consensus on issues of paramount importance to the Group.  “This untenable situation should be addressed accordingly” so that the Committee can give the Secretariat sufficient guidance in the area of human resources management.  Going forward, the Group expects the Secretary-General to take steps to meet the target of appointing at least 50 per cent of staff from unrepresented and underrepresented Member States to posts subject to geographical distribution.  He also urged the Secretary-General to ensure that simultaneous interpretation is provided in all of the Organization’s official languages at future Committee meetings, especially those dealing with the peacekeeping budget.

The representative of the United Kingdom welcomed the Committee’s support for efforts to strengthen the United Nations culture of accountability.  However, he voiced regret that no consensus could be achieved on that item or on the question of human resource management policies and practices.  Recognizing that many of those issues are highly complex and delegations have strong views, he emphasized that it is nevertheless incumbent on Member States to “be realistic in their asks” and stand ready to embrace compromise.  Welcoming agreements reached on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, he spotlighted lack of consensus on the question of seconded personnel, which leaves many staff members in limbo.

The representative of the United States also expressed disappointment with the lack of consensus on human resources management issues.  She said her delegation was in favour of putting aside legacy reports, thus decreasing the number of documents under consideration.  Going forward, the United States will continue to act in a spirit of compromise, she added.

The Fifth Committee will reconvene on a date to be announced in the Journal.

For information media. Not an official record.