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GA/AB/4375
28 October 2021
Seventy-sixth Session, 6th Meeting (AM)

Fifth Committee Delegates Alarmed Ongoing Cash Crunch Could Threaten United Nations Effectiveness in Helping Developing World Recover from Global Pandemic

Delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) voiced their alarm over an ongoing cash crunch that could threaten the Organization’s effectiveness as a multilateral institution determined to help the developing world rebound from the global pandemic.

While temporarily eased this year by stringent cash conservation practices, the enduring liquidity crisis has hampered the Secretariat’s delivery of key mandates in development and peacekeeping.  Singapore’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the only lasting solution to interrupt this cycle is correcting the root cause:  persistent late payments of assessments. 

Namibia’s delegate said equally troubling is that most contributions are received during the latter part of the year, placing pressure on the Organization to fully use the approved budget by year’s end. 

Voicing the same concerns, the representative of Kenya, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that a global response to the COVID‑19 pandemic requires a United Nations equipped with reliable and predictable funding.

The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reiterated that budget management must be driven by programme delivery, not based on available cash.  The Group is extremely concerned that one Member State is responsible for more than three quarters of the current regular budget arrears.  “To compound matters, that Member State is benefitting from an artificially imposed ceiling on its contributions, that was premised on unfulfilled clearance of prior arrears,” he said, adding that natural fiscal cycles should not be used as an excuse for late payments, given the predictability of the United Nations budget cycle.

Echoing that sentiment, the speaker for Cuba said it was not morally justifiable that the country with the largest assessment, due to its excess capacity to pay, intentionally withholds payment.  “It is inadmissible and ethically condemnable that virtually 80 per cent of the UN’s historical debt in its regular budget is attributable to non-payments by the United States, despite being the world’s leading economic power,” he said.

The United States’ representative pointed out that his Government has contributed $2.1 billion in assessed contributions this year, $1 billion more than the next largest contributor.  The regular budget contributions of the United States occur at the beginning of its fiscal year and this payment cycle has been used consistently since the 1980s.

The United Kingdom’s delegate said it is evident that assessed contributions are not a guaranteed means for more predictable and sustainable funding.  To help correct concerns over the impact of unpredictable and late payment of assessed contributions, his Government will shift its payment pattern to align with the United Nations financial years, beginning in  2022.

Catherine Pollard, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, updated the Fifth Committee on the payments made since she laid out the Organization’s financial indicators at their 19 October meeting.  She noted that unpaid contributions had decreased to about $1 billion, down from $1.2 billion on 8 October.  Despite the liquidity challenges, the Secretariat is working diligently with available resources to effectively deliver the mandates.

Yet the ongoing liquidity crisis creates a long-term risk for the Organization.  “It puts the Organization in a precarious situation,” she said, adding:  “The budget will be driven by cash, rather than mandates.”

In other business, the Fifth Committee looked at the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2021 session and the conditions of service and compensation for full-time members of the International Civil Service Commission and the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

Johannes Huisman, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, speaking on behalf of Chandramouli Ramanathan, United Nations Controller and Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, presented the Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates stemming from the 2021 Economic and Social Council session.

Conrod Hunte, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee, introduced its report on the same topic.

Aruna Thanabalasingam, Director of the Administrative Law Division of Human Resources in the Department of Management, Strategy, Policy and Compliance, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on conditions of service and compensation for full-time members of the International Civil Service Commission and the Advisory Committee.

Also speaking today were representatives of New Zealand (on behalf of Canada and Australia), Guyana, Japan, Russian Federation, Lesotho, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines and Kuwait, as well as the European Union.

Improving the Financial Situation of the United Nations

CATHERINE POLLARD, Under‑Secretary‑General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, updated delegates since laying out the United Nations financial indicators for 2021 at the Fifth Committee’s 19 October meeting.  Her presentation on 19 October is now part of the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Financial situation of the United Nations” (document A/76/435).

She said that for the regular budget, the total number of Member States having paid in full for the regular budget has increased to 133, as a result of payments received from Tonga and Uruguay.  For peacekeeping operations, Malaysia, Namibia and Tonga have paid all peacekeeping assessments, which brings the total number of Member States having paid in full for peacekeeping operations to 53.  Namibia and Tonga have also made payments for the non‑mandated periods.  That brings to 27 the number of Member States that have paid in full for the period 1 July to 31 December 2021.  For the international tribunals, Namibia has paid in full bringing the total number of Member States to 113.  In addition, as indicated in paragraph 22 of the report, Namibia and Tonga are now fully paid for all categories.  This brings the total in the report to 49 Member States.  Malaysia has since paid in full for all categories.

The unpaid contributions for the regular budget have declined from $1.25 billion to $1.05 billion as a result of payments received since the cut‑off date of 8 October, from Belarus, North Macedonia, Panama, Tajikistan, Tonga, the United States and Uruguay, she said.  In addition, payments for peacekeeping operations have been received from the following Member States:  Dominican Republic, Oman, Panama, Portugal and Timor‑Leste.  On behalf of the Secretary‑General, Ms. Pollard thanked these Member States for their positive action.

BOUBACAR DIALLO (Guinea), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” and China, said finance is the foundation underpinning the Organization’s governance.  To fulfil its mandates, the United Nations must be funded adequately in a predictable manner.  While the cash position has improved compared to a year ago, the unpredictability in the pattern of collections keeps leading to extraordinary measures, such as the slowdown in hiring and controlled spending, which impact mandate delivery.  The Group reiterates that budget management must be driven by programme delivery, not based on available cash.  The Group is extremely concerned that more than three quarters of the current regular budget arrears can be attributed to a single Member State.  “To compound matters, that Member State is benefiting from an artificially imposed ceiling on its contributions, that was premised on unfulfilled clearance of prior arrears,” he said, adding that natural fiscal cycles should not be used as an excuse for late payments, given the predictability of the United Nations budget cycle.

Regarding peacekeeping, he said the Group is encouraged that the measures approved in Assembly resolution 73/307, namely the cross‑borrowing mechanism and the inclusion of the full estimated budget for the entire peacekeeping fiscal year in assessment letters, have helped make more timely payments of liabilities to troop‑ and police‑contributing countries.  The Organization’s ability to settle its liabilities is fully contingent on payments being made.  It is extremely concerning that the same Member State that accounts for 75 per cent of the regular budget arrears currently owes more than half of all outstanding peacekeeping assessments as well.  Despite benefiting from a fundamental distortion in the determination of how the Organization is financed, this Member State continues to unilaterally withhold its contributions, while clinging to its special privileges in the Security Council.  He called on Member States who can to settle their arrears and pay their assessments in full, on time and without conditions to do so.  Moreover, actions should be taken to ease Member States’ payments of assessed contributions and Member States should not be prevented or hindered from honouring their legal and financial obligations to the Organization.

THIBAULT CAMELLI, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, noted that cash conservation measures have helped the United Nations avoid an operational shutdown, adding that such a solution is unsustainable and will fail to solve liquidity problems.  Expressing alarm that persistent liquidity shortages have led to programme cancellations, he said this “downward spiral” has negatively affected the Organization’s performance.  His bloc advocates for a sustainable solution to the liquidity crisis, he said, with Member States agreeing on a shared diagnosis, which would include an analysis of root causes.  Adding that the regular budget raises the most pressing concerns, he said his bloc will support more strategic management of both the budget and liquidity.

TSU TANG TERRENCE TEO (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted the liquidity situation for the regular budget has improved slightly, and the Organization has not yet had to borrow from the Working Capital Fund this year.  He commended the Member States that have made this possible by paying their assessments earlier in the year, despite financial constraints created by the pandemic.  Yet the regular budget still faces significant arrears, and while collections for the year have increased, the improved liquidity situation is a result of stringent cash conservation measures, imposed to reduce the risk of a disruption in operations.  ASEAN understands that these measures were necessary to stave off a short‑term liquidity crisis.

Unfortunately, these measures disrupt the Organization over the longer term, he said.  Vacant posts must be filled soon, as it is unrealistic that mandates will fulfil themselves without adequate manpower and expertise.  The only lasting solution to break the perpetual cycle of operating in a cash‑conservation mode is to address the root cause of the issue:  persistent late payments of assessments.  ASEAN calls on all Member States to fulfil their financial obligations in full, on time and without conditions.  Regarding peacekeeping, ASEAN is pleased that the measures approved in General Assembly resolution 73/307 have helped improve the financial situation.  “But let us be clear:  these measures merely alleviate the symptoms, rather than address the root cause of the issue,” he said.  The simplest yet most effective solution is for all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions.  This is a legal obligation enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, and a duty for all Member States who want multilateralism to succeed, he said.

CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia, noted that the unpredictability of United Nations funding has created a cycle of instability and uncertainty, which has created a “downward spiral”.  The Organization is being forced to operate on the directives of liquidity rather than strategic goals, he said, which is unsustainable.  His bloc has shown its full support and commitment to the United Nations by adhering to the legal obligations required of Member States to pay their assessments in full, on time and without conditions.  Calling on all Member States with outstanding assessments and arrears to pay their past dues as an urgent priority, he urged them to carefully consider proposals in the forthcoming Secretary‑General’s report to improve the Organization’s liquidity.

MIKE MARTIN AMMANN (Switzerland), stressing that the Secretary‑General should have more leeway in managing the Organization’s finances, said he should be allowed to reallocate, with full transparency, funding from one part of the budget to another.  Adding that lack of payment needs tangible consequences for Member States, he said his country will continue to honour its obligation by paying in full and on time, and strongly encouraged other nations to do the same.  The Organization has a central role in multilateralism, he emphasized, especially in meeting challenges like the current COVID‑19 pandemic.

JOSEPH MUSYOKA MASILA (Kenya), speaking on behalf of the African Group, called on the United Nations Secretariat to ensure that programmes funded from the regular budget are not delayed so that mandates can be successfully implemented.  Noting that progress has been made to resolve the liquidity crisis, he said late contributions are still delaying essential programmes.  The Group hopes that Member States make the necessary payments for hiring staff, he said, emphasizing that more cannot be done with less.  Furthermore, a global response to the COVID‑19 pandemic requires a United Nations equipped with reliable and predictable funding.

PATRICK KENNEDY (United States) said since the founding of the United Nations, the United States has been, and continues to be, the largest contributor to the Organization.  Already this year, the United States has contributed $2.1 billion in assessed contributions, $1 billion more than the next largest contributor.  He noted that the Government’s regular budget contributions occur at the beginning of its fiscal year.  The United States’ payment cycle has been consistent since the 1980s and it continues to support the United Nations, even though its fiscal years do not align with the Organization.  The United States recently contributed $200 million towards the regular budget.  It will make additional payments soon with the intention of paying its assessment in full, he said, adding that these payments should contribute towards restoring the Organization’s liquidity.

SHARMAYNE BALRAM (Guyana), aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said Guyana is very concerned with the deepening and persistent liquidity challenge faced by the Organization and the predicted low rate of budget implementation, especially regarding regular budget operations.  Guyana underscores that the payment of assessed contributions is a significant contributor to improving the liquidity outlook.  She urged Member States to pay outstanding contributions to ensure that the Organization has adequate resources to sustainably execute its mandate.

ABO AI (Japan) said her country has been fulfilling its obligation to contribute to the United Nations even under the impact of COVID‑19 and a severe domestic financial situation.  The liquidity of the regular budget has been improving compared with the last few years, she noted, thanks to the increased collection of contributions and the Secretariat’s continuous efforts to better manage liquidity.  Welcoming Member States who have been contributing more regularly, she encouraged them to continue efforts to bring the Organization back to complete normalcy.  Also noting the relaxation of hiring restrictions due to improved liquidity, she stressed the importance of setting realistic resource levels that are both necessary and sufficient for the delivery of the given mandates.  Expressing concern about continuing liquidity challenges in the regular budget, she said Japan is ready to discuss ways of addressing this matter openly and constructively.

DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) said late contributions by Member States to United Nations budgets negatively affect the Organization’s functioning and prevent it from achieving maximum results.  His country has noted the Secretariat’s efforts to actively engage with Member States in encouraging them to contribute in full as soon as possible.  The four monthly financial solvency and liquidity ratios — according to the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), which indicate the ratio of disposable cash to United Nations liabilities — are quite high, he said.  As of the end of September 2021, all ratios, in particular the cash ratio of the United Nations regular budget, were more than one.  The current situation clearly indicates the absence of a financial crisis in the United Nations, he said, adding that the Organization can be considered sound.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, shared other delegates’ deep concern that late payments and non‑payments of Member States’ assessed contributions continue to threaten and undermine the Organization’s operations.  It is crucial that all countries are treated equally and his delegation is frustrated by the trend that some Member States continue to pay amounts that are significantly below their assessed contributions.  All Member States should be concerned that contributions continue to decrease over the years and impact the delivery of mandates.  He is equally concerned that most of the contributions are received during the latter part of the year, placing pressure on the Organization to fully use the approved budget.  He urged Member States to pay their contributions as soon as they are due to support optimal budget planning and execution.  The ongoing financial turmoil forces the United Nations to borrow funds from closed peacekeeping operations in order to fund budget shortfalls.  “This situation is not acceptable and can be avoided if all Member States consistently pay their contributions on time and in full,” he said.

MAPHOKA NTSEKHE (Lesotho), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the current global health crisis instigated by the COVID‑19 pandemic has particularly crippled the economies of least developed and landlocked countries.  Commending those Member States who nonetheless continue to pay their assessments in full and on time, as well as those who make efforts to make partial payments, she urged those who have not honoured their obligations to do so, allowing the Organization to function at full capacity.  Considering the special situations faced by some developing countries, which hamper them from honouring their financial commitments, she reaffirmed Lesotho’s commitment to participate constructively towards resolving the financial difficulties of the United Nations.

ZHIQI GUO (China), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that on 25 October 1971 China’s lawful seat in the United Nations was restored.  The Chinese people have sought their own development and made major contributions to world peace and development.  China has performed its duties and responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council and safeguarded the core roles of the United Nations.  As the second‑largest contributor to the United Nations regular budget and peacekeeping operations, China has already paid all current assessments to support the United Nations with practical actions, she said.  A stable financial situation is important to guarantee the work of the United Nations and fulfil its mandates.  Tightened liquidity has brought many problems.  One Member State is responsible for much of the unpaid assessment, she said, stressing that this long‑standing and abnormal situation should not be ignored.  She called on all Member States, especially those with the capacity to pay, to do so on time.  The ceiling on assessments has only benefited one Member State, she said, adding that this situation needs to change.

NURUL SYAZA BINTI AZLISHA (Malaysia), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said Member States reaffirmed their commitments to pay their assessed contributions in full and on time last year, when they adopted the declaration of the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the Organization.  Yet one year later, the Organization’s financial situation has not improved, forcing it to manage expenditures based on liquidity, rather than on programme delivery.  “We believe Member States can do more,” she said, calling on Member States, particularly those that have the capacity to do so, to honour their financial commitments and pay their assessments, in full, on time and without conditions, to avoid disruption to United Nations operations globally.  “This is not a choice — it is a necessity, to enable our Organization to perform its mandate in the most effective and efficient manner possible,” she said, adding that Malaysia has consistently fulfilled this important obligation and is pleased to have been included in the honour roll for the past few years.

HIND JERBOUI (Morocco) said the United Nations depends on full payment of assessments from Member States to effectively implement established mandates.  Enhancing its financial situation is essential to invigorating multilateralism, she said, welcoming improved contributions in April, thanks to the Secretary‑General’s letter of appeal outlining the worsening of the Organization’s liquidity crisis.  Continued efforts are needed to ensure stability and predictability of funding, she said, calling on all Member States to fulfil their financial obligations under the United Nations Charter.

Mr. MILLS (United Kingdom) noted that the time and resources spent managing and mitigating the impact of liquidity shortages could be better spent enhancing delivery to achieve better results on the ground.  It is also clear that assessed contributions are not a guaranteed means for more predictable and sustainable funding for United Nations work, he observed.  To address concerns over the impact of unpredictable and late payment of assessed contributions, the United Kingdom will transition its payment pattern to align with the United Nations financial years as of 2022.  Recalling the positive impact past reforms have made on peacekeeping budgets, he looked forward to new proposals from the Secretary‑General to alleviate the liquidity challenges and address structural issues with United Nations budgets, in particular the regular budget.

HAROLD KENT HEREDIA (Philippines), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, observed that intrayear cash shortages persist, forcing the Organization to dip into its reserves as the fiscal year reaches its latter part.  Consequently, budget management is still being driven by cash on hand and not by mandates set forth by Member States.  Moreover, the unpredictable fluctuations of cash flow make it difficult for programme managers to strategically orient their mandate delivery beyond the current financial year.  Accountability is also undermined, as it is difficult to hold programme managers fully responsible for their programme delivery performance when they are not given the requisite resources to properly perform their mandates.  As such, he called on Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without precondition.

ABDULAZIZ A. M. A. ALAJMI (Kuwait), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the unprecedented damage caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic and its impact on health systems has led to the largest recession in more than 90 years.  The effectiveness of the multilateral system is needed now more than ever to allow developing countries to recover sustainably.  The Organization’s budget process has been caught in a cycle of liquidity shortages that impedes mandates and leads to the cancellation of certain activities.  The Organization’s financing must be adequate and predictable to avoid measures such as delayed hiring and controls on spending that restrict delivery of mandates, he said, adding that Kuwait is ready to pay its obligations and calls on other Member States to do the same.

PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, expressed concern that the Organization’s lack of adequate financial resources in recent years has seriously jeopardized its functions.  It is not morally justifiable that the country with the largest assessment due to its excess capacity to pay intentionally withholds payment.  “It is inadmissible and ethically condemnable that virtually 80 per cent of the UN’s historical debt in its regular budget is attributable to non‑payments by the United States, despite being the world’s leading economic power,” he said, adding that nearly 54 per cent of the total outstanding peacekeeping contributions is due to delayed payments by the United States.  The assertion of extrabudgetary contributions, intentionally directed to programmes of that country’s sole interest, is not valid and negates the Organization’s multilateral essence.  While all Member States should fully pay their contributions to the Organization on time and without conditions, some developing countries face special situations beyond their political will.  Cuba rejects the United States’ financial persecution manoeuvres and asset freezing against Venezuela, which have seriously impacted its ability to pay.  “This also constitutes a flagrant violation of the responsibilities that should be exercised by the Host country,” he added.

Ms. POLLARD said that despite liquidity challenges, the Secretariat is working very diligently with available resources to expand the effectiveness of mandate delivery.  The financial situation’s impact is that the budget is now evolving to work with available cash, rather than programme mandates.  There is now a low budget implementation rate of 90 per cent, the lowest rate in 10 years.  This does impact the liquidity crisis, as underexpenses are offset as credits and applied to the following year’s budget, creating a downward spiral that will seem to have no end.  “It puts the Organization in a precarious situation,” she said, adding:  “The budget will be driven by cash, rather than mandates.”  This creates a long‑term risk to the Organization.

Revised Estimates:  Due to Economic and Social Council Resolutions/Decisions

JOHANNES HUISMAN, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, speaking on behalf of Chandramouli Ramanathan, United Nations Controller and Assistant Secretary‑General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, presented the Secretary‑General’s report on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2021 session (document A/76/303), which provides information on the budgetary impact arising from Council resolutions 2021/18 titled “Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti”, and 2021/31 titled “Follow‑up to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement)”.

In its last report to the Council, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti highlighted some of Haiti’s complex political, security, socioeconomic and humanitarian challenges and gave a series of recommendations to help address them in line with its mandate of providing advice on the long‑term development strategy of the country.  Since the report’s publication, developments had included the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in August 2021, which resulted in more than 2,200 people killed and 12,700 injured.  In addition, Tropical Storm Grace led to widespread landslides, exacerbating existing acute humanitarian needs and structural impediments to sustainable development.  In 2022, the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti will require an estimated $47,900 to meet with international financial institutions and the Organization of American States, and to undertake a mission to Haiti.  Those funds are to be accommodated within the overall resources that would be made available for section 9, Economic and social affairs, of the proposed programme budget for 2022.

Turning to resolution 2021/31 relating to the Escazú Agreement, he noted it provides an institutional path to reshape public‑private cooperation, offering a glimmer of hope for sustainable and resilient recovery.  The budgetary impact for 2022 amounts to $500,400 over and above the current level of the proposed programme budget for 2022, and would require an additional appropriation of $454,300 under section 21, representing a charge against the contingency fund, and $46,100 under section 36, Staff assessment, offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment.

CONROD HUNTE, Vice‑Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced a related report (document A/76/7/Add.7), highlighting elements contained therein.  With respect to resolution 2021/18 on the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, he said the Advisory Committee has no objection to the proposal to accommodate the resource requirements of $47,900 within overall resources made available under section 9 of the proposed 2022 programme budget.

Turning to resolution 2021/31 on the Follow‑up to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, he noted the Secretary‑General’s proposal for an additional $454,300 under section 21, over and above the level of the proposed 2022 programme budget.  This would represent a charge against the contingency fund and would provide the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) with an adequate, stable and predictable resource base to carry out its mandated functions in support of implementation of the Escazú Agreement.  The implementation of the requests contained in resolution 2021/31 would require an additional appropriation of $46,100 under section 36 of the proposed 2022 programme budget, to be offset fully under income section 1 on income from staff assessment.  The Advisory Committee notes the challenges of securing stable and predictable voluntary resources and recommends approval of the Secretary‑General’s proposed amounts of $454,300, under section 21, and $46,100, under section 36.

Mr. DIALLO (Guinea), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said mandates approved by intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations must be given adequate resources to ensure their successful implementation, with the Fifth Committee taking its responsibility in this regard.  As such, the Escazú Agreement, having reached its required threshold to enter into force in April, must now be provided with the necessary means to carry out its mandate, with $500,400 in additional temporary resources to be made available to the Secretary‑General.  Turning to the resolution extending the mandate of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, he said its purpose is all the more important given the particularly difficult situation facing the country for the past months.  He underscored the importance of collaboration among mandated offices in Haiti and expressed support for the provision of the required resources to finance both Council resolutions.

JESÚS VELÁZQUEZ CASTILLO (Mexico) said the Escazú Agreement, which entered into force on 21 April, represents an institutional pillar for environmental protection in the region.  The Agreement seeks to guarantee full implementation of the rights of access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision‑making and access to justice in environmental matters.  Noting that the first Conference of the Parties will take place in April 2022, he said ECLAC needs resources to fulfil the Agreement’s mandate, expressing hope the region will receive funding to implement it in a timely manner.

Conditions of Service:  International Civil Service Commission/ACABQ Chair

ARUNA THANABALASINGAM, Director of the Administrative Law Division of Human Resources in the Department of Management, Strategy, Policy and Compliance, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Conditions of service and compensation for officials, other than Secretariat officials, serving the General Assembly:  Full‑time members of the International Civil Service Commission and the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions” (document A/76/303).  She noted that the Secretary‑General proposed no changes to the conditions of service of the full‑time members of the Commission and of the Chair of the Advisory Committee, and the annual net compensation of the three officials should be subject to a cost‑of‑living adjustment equivalent to the annual change in the midpoint net base salary of the most senior Secretariat officials.  These cost‑of‑living adjustments are reported in the context of the relevant performance reports, she said.

Mr. DIALLO (Guinea), speaking again for the Group of 77 and China, noted some improvements in entitlements and compensation for ICSC members and the ACABQ Chair including annual net salary, retirement benefits and pensionable remuneration, but cautioned much still needs to be achieved.  He expressed concern that the volume and complexity of the ACABQ workload has increased significantly in recent years.  As a consequence, the Advisory Committee met for 44 weeks this year.  Such operational requirements demand the full-time presence of ACABQ members in New York, however their conditions of service on "travel status" equates them to members of United Nations bodies that have annual meetings of only two to four weeks.  In addition, members of the ACABQ from developing countries do not rely on material support from their capitals and must work without access to medical insurance or education allowances.  If the General Assembly granted them such entitlements, it would enhance the work of the ACABQ and benefit the entire Organization.  Noting that the workload issue has been on the Fifth Committee agenda with no changes since its sixty-seventh session, he said the Group will once again propose that ACABQ be established as a standing committee, with members holding the status of officials.

MAPHOKA NTSEKHE (Lesotho), speaking on behalf of the African Group, commended the net salary improvements for members of the ACABQ, noting its critical role in delivering decisions of the Fifth Committee.  However, she also observed that its workload has increased, while employment conditions have remained the same.  The Advisory Committee met for a total of 44 weeks over the past year, she said, but members have no entitlements or benefits, including retirement provisions, and no system allowing official business travel away from Headquarters.  Stressing the need to establish a standing committee on this matter, she said all delegates should engage constructively for an agreement to enhance ACABQ working conditions this session.

For information media. Not an official record.