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    UNIS/GA/1777
    22 December 2000
     

    Fifth Committee Approves Seven Consensus Texts
    For Presentation to General Assembly

    NEW YORK, 21 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved seven texts without a vote, in a short meeting this afternoon. It plans to continue work on the rest of the items on its agenda, including the two scales of assessments, in informal consultations this evening.

    The Committee approved a draft resolution on safety and security of the United Nations personnel, by the terms of which the Assembly would appropriate $2.21 million, for the Secretary-General to take immediate measures to strengthen the security management system, under the regular budget for 2000-2001. The Secretary-General would be also asked to develop an effective cost-sharing mechanism for United Nations security in the field in coordination with the United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes.

    By other terms, the Assembly would state that future costs should be included in the regular budget, to be managed by the United Nations, contingent upon a formal arrangement with other bodies of the United Nations system for participation in funding and reimbursement to the United Nations for services provided. Proposals in that respect should be submitted to the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session. In the meantime, the Assembly would decide that cost-sharing arrangements would remain in place until the General Assembly decides otherwise.

    Acting on the proposed programme budget outline (a preliminary estimate of resources) for the next biennium, the Committee approved a draft resolution by the terms of which the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to prepare his proposed programme budget for 2002-2003 on the basis of a total preliminary estimate of $2.5153 million.

    Reaffirming that the outline should provide a greater level of predictability of resource requirements and promote greater involvement of Member States in the budgetary process, the Assembly would further decide that provision should be made in the budget outline for expenditures for special political missions (some $93.7 million) and that the contingency fund would be set at 0.75 per cent of the preliminary estimate ($18.9 million).

    By the terms of another draft resolution approved by the Committee today, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General's first performance report on the programme budget for the current biennium (2000-2001) and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.

    It would note the higher than expected vacancy rates and ask the Secretary-General to take all appropriate measures to rectify them. It would also approve a net decrease of over $34.64 million in the appropriation for the biennium and a net increase of over $19.09 million, in the estimates of income for the same time, to be apportioned among expenditure and income sections.

    On the proposed refurbishment of the United Nations Headquarters buildings, the Committee recommended that the Assembly, without prejudice to a final decision on that matter, authorize the Secretary-General to proceed with a comprehensive design plan and detailed cost analysis for the capital master plan, appropriating an amount of $8 million for that purpose.

    Acting on the proposed draft resolution on the United Nations common system, the Assembly would endorse the use of the International Civil Service Commission's newly elaborated integrated framework for human resources management as the basis for the future work developing human resources policies and procedures. Also by this four-part text, the Assembly would address various aspects relating to the conditions of service of both categories of staff and the ways of strengthening the international civil service, including the proposed standards of conduct, review of the pay and benefits system, recognition of language knowledge and revised base scale of salaries for Professional and higher categories of staff.

    Also this afternoon, the Committee approved a draft resolution on the critical financial situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). If the Assembly adopts the draft, it will advance the Institute up to $800,000 for the year 2001 on an exceptional and emergency basis. That amount, less voluntary contributions received, would be considered a one-time only subvention, and the Assembly would emphasize the need for the Institute, as a voluntarily financed programme of the United Nations, to actively pursue the expansion of its donor base.

    And finally, the Committee recommended that the Assembly authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments not exceeding $856,400 to implement the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2000 substantive session.

    Speaking in explanation of position on this draft decision were the representatives of Israel, the United States, Syria, Sweden (on behalf of the European Union) and Cuba. The representative of Canada introduced an oral amendment to the draft on the first performance report for the current biennium. The texts before the Committee were introduced by its Chairman, Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala), Michiel Crom (Netherlands) and Manalan Ahounou (Cote d'Ivoire). All decisions were taken without a vote.

    The Committee plans to hold its final meeting at a time to be announced tomorrow, 22 December.

    Committee Work Programme

    As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this afternoon, it was scheduled to take action on the items remaining on its agenda.

    The Committee had before it a draft decision submitted by the Chairman on the critical situation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW): programme budget implications of the draft resolution contained in document A/C.3/55/L.16/Rev.1 (document A/C.5/55/L.27). By the terms of the text, the Fifth Committee would decide to inform the Assembly that the adoption of that draft resolution would give rise to additional requirements up to $800,000 under section 9, economic and social affairs, of the programme budget for 2000-2001, on the understanding that the provision of the regular budget funds to the Institute would constitute a one-time exception to the provisions of the Institute's statute.

    Also by the terms of the text, the Assembly would decide to advance the Institute up to $800,000 for 2001, pending receipt of voluntary contributions, on a one-time, exceptional and emergency basis. If voluntary contributions are insufficient to meet the Institute's requirements for 2001, this advance, less voluntary contributions received, will be considered a one-time only subvention. Resources utilized under the terms of this subvention will be reported in the context of the second performance report on the programme budget for 2000-2001. The Assembly would emphasize the need for the Institute, as a voluntarily financed programme of the United Nations, to pursue, as a priority activity, the expansion of its donor base.

    On the United Nations Headquarters capital master plan, the Committee had before it a draft resolution (document A/55/C.5/L.28), by the terms of which the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General, without prejudice to a final decision by the General Assembly on this issue, to proceed with the preparation of a comprehensive design plan and detailed cost analysis for the capital master plan. For that purpose, it would decide to appropriate an amount of $8 million under section 31, construction, alteration, improvement and major maintenance of the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001. The Secretary-General would be requested to submit a report on the outcome of the comprehensive design plan and detailed cost analysis to the General Assembly as soon as possible, including details of measures designed to protect the Organization from cost overruns. The Assembly would also call on the Secretary-General to ensure that the preparation of the comprehensive design plan and cost analysis would identify all viable alternatives in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.

    The Committee had before it a draft resolution submitted by the Chairman on the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 (document A/C.5/55/L.24), by the terms of which the Assembly would take note of the first performance report and the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). Noting the higher realized vacancy rate compared with the budgeted rate approved by the General Assembly in resolution 54/259, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to take all appropriate measures to rectify the situation in an expeditious manner. The Assembly would also approve a net decrease of $34.64 million dollars in the appropriation approved for 2000-2001 and a net increase of about $19.1 million in the estimates of income for the biennium, to be apportioned among expenditure and income sections as indicated in the report of the Secretary-General.

    In connection with this item, the Committee also had before it a report of the Secretary-General, containing a consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates for the contingency fund (document A/C.5/55/34).

    In its resolution 53/206 of 18 December 1998, the General Assembly decided that the level of the contingency fund for the biennium 2000-2001 should be set at $19.1 million. The balance of the contingency fund for the biennium 2000-2001, as indicated in Assembly resolution 54/251 of 23 December 1999, is $16,362,700. The consolidated amount of $16,138,400 is therefore within the available balance of the contingency fund. The Fifth Committee may recommend to the General Assembly the appropriation of the required amounts under the relevant budget sections.

    According to the report of the Secretary-General on recosting of outstanding statements of programme budget implications and revised estimates (document A/C.5/55/35), the revised estimates and statements of programme budget implications for which the Fifth Committee had yet to take action were not taken into account in the programme budget for 2000-2001. Since the Fifth Committee has approved these items, they have now been recosted, as a result of which the total of increases and decreases in requirements for relevant sections of the programme budget would amount to $90,700, to be offset by income from staff assessment, in the amount of $40,400. The Secretary-General states that the Fifth Committee may wish to note this recosting and to reflect the adjustment in the revised appropriation for the current biennium.

    Another draft resolution before the Committee contains recommendations of the Fifth Committee concerning the United Nations common system (document A/C.5/55/L.17), based on the report of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC). By the terms of this four-part text, the Assembly would address various aspects relating to the conditions of service of both categories of staff and the ways of strengthening the international civil service.

    The Assembly would welcome with appreciation the work of the ICSC and endorse its conclusions, requesting the Commission to use the newly elaborated integrated framework for human resources management as a guide for the future. The organizations of the United Nations common system would be encouraged to do the same.

    The Assembly would further urge those organizations to reach consensus on draft standards of conduct to enable the Commission to finalize the text, emphasizing that proposed standards should uphold the principles of integrity, impartiality and independence. It would also take note of the work of the Commission in respect of the review of the pay and benefits system and of its decision to address the issue of recognition of language knowledge.

    Taking note of the ICSC decisions regarding the education grant, the Assembly would approve increases in the maximum reimbursement levels in five currency areas and other adjustments to the management of expenses under the grant. It would also urge the organizations of the common system to harmonize their rules to ensure that the education grant is a benefit payable to internationally recruited staff with expatriate status only.

    On the conditions of service of staff in the Professional and higher categories, the Assembly would reaffirm the need to ensure the competitiveness of the United Nations common system and take note of the grade equivalency study undertaken by the Commission with the United States federal civil service. It would further address the evolution of the margin and base-floor salary scale, approving the revised base scale of gross and net staff salaries. It would also take note of the Commission's decision with regard to the methodology, rationale and scope of the dependency allowances, approving an increase of 11.89 per cent in the children's and secondary dependant's allowances.

    Regarding the conditions of service of the General Service and other locally recruited categories, the Assembly would take note of the results of the salary surveys in New York and Montreal and of the decision with regard to the treatment of the language factor.

    Also before the Committee was a draft resolution submitted by the Chairman on the proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2002-2003 (document A/C.5/55/L.25). By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would endorse the ACABQ's recommendation that provision should be made in the budget outline for expenditures for special political missions related to peace and security expected to be extended or approved in the course of the biennium. The Assembly would therefore decide that the preliminary estimate of resources for the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003 should include a provision for special political missions in the amount of $93.7 million at revised 2000-2001 rates, which should be reflected in the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003, and that additional requirements should continue to be treated in accordance with the provisions of General Assembly resolution 41/213.

    Also by the draft, the Assembly would note that the Secretary-General's preliminary estimates did not include provision for the implementation of the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations. Those requirements remain under discussion by the Assembly. Requirements pertinent to the regular budget should be reflected in the programme budget for 2002-2003, subject to approval by the General Assembly. The Assembly would also note the Secretary-General's preliminary estimates for the proposed programme budget did not include provision for the 2002-2003 requirements for safety and security of personnel. Those requirements should also remain under discussion by the Assembly and should be reflected in the programme budget for 2002-2003, subject to the Assembly's approval.

    Further to the text, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to prepare his proposed programme budget for 2002-2003 on the basis of a total preliminary estimate of $2.5153 billion at revised 2000-2001 rates. The Assembly would decide that the priorities for 2002-2003 should include maintenance of international peace and security; promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development; development of Africa; promotion of human rights; effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts; promotion of justice and international law; disarmament; and drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

    Also according to the draft, the Assembly would decide that the contingency fund shall be set at the level of 0.75 per cent of the preliminary estimate, namely at $18.9 million, and that this amount is in addition to the overall level of the preliminary estimate.

    The Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the safety and security of United Nations personnel (document A/C.5/55/L.30), by the terms of which the Assembly would endorse the related report of the ACABQ, subject to several provisions. The Assembly would decide to consider the reclassification of the post of Deputy Security Coordinator from the D-1 to the D-2 level in the context of its review of the 2002-2003 proposed programme budget. The Assembly would further decide to establish, effective 1 January 2001, eight additional Professional posts (two P-5 and six P-4) in the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator at Headquarters. It would also decide to establish, effective 1 January 2001, eight additional security officer (Field Service) posts (four P-4 and four P-3) and 16 additional local level posts.

    For the Secretary-General to undertake the immediate measures for the strengthening of the security management system, the Assembly would also decide to appropriate $2.21 million under section 30, Special expenses, and $238,400 under Section 32, Staff assessment, to be offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment, of the programme budget for 2000-2001. In his capacity as Chairman of the Administrative Committee on Coordination, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to develop, in coordination with executive heads of the United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes, an effective mechanism for cost-sharing arrangements.

    Further according to the draft, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure that in future costs be included in the regular budget, to be managed by the United Nations, contingent upon a formal arrangement with agencies, funds and programmes for participation in the funding and reimbursement to the United Nations for services provided. He would be requested to submit proposals thereon to General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session through the ACABQ. In the meantime, the Assembly would decide that established cost-sharing arrangements between the United Nations, the specialized agencies, funds and programmes will remain in place until the General Assembly decides otherwise.

    Before the Committee was a draft decision on revised estimates of resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 2000 (document A/C.5/55/L.31). By the terms of the decision, the Fifth Committee would recommend that the Assembly take note of the reports of the Secretary-General of the revised estimates contained in document A/C.5/55/25 and Corr.1. Regarding the related recommendations of the ACABQ, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments not exceeding $856,400 for the purpose of implementing the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2000 substantive session for activities approved. The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to report to the Assembly at its fifty-sixth session in the context of consideration of the second performance report.

    The Committee also had before it a draft decision on the biennial programme of work of the Fifth Committee for 2001-2002 (document A/C.5/55/L.33). According to the decision, the General Assembly would approve the Fifth Committee's 2001-2002 programme of work, which covers various aspects of the United Nations activities. The Committee's 2001 programme of work would include the proposed programme budget for 2002-2003, improving the financial situation of the United Nations, the scale of assessments for the apportionment of expenses and financing of United Nations peacekeeping operations. The 2002 work programme would include financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors, the programme budget for 2002-2003, programme planning, the pattern of conferences, reports of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services and human resources management.

    Also before the Committee was a draft decision on action taken on certain items (document A/C.5/55/L.34), by which the Assembly would decide that the Fifth Committee should continue its consideration of certain agenda items at its resumed fifty-fifth session. Agenda items for the resumed session include: financial reports, audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors; the programme budget for 2000-2001; human resources management; the United Nations common system; the report of the Secretary-General on activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services; and financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. At its resumed session, the Fifth Committee will also consider the financing of United Nations peacekeeping missions.

    Action on Drafts

    First, the Committee took up a draft resolution on the United Nations Common system: report of the International Civil Service Condition.

    MANLAN AHOUNOU (Cote d'Ivoire) introduced the draft.

    The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

    The Committee then turned to the proposed budget outline for the biennium 2002-2003. Introducing the draft, MICHIEL CROM (Netherlands) recommended that it be approved without a vote.

    The Committee approved the draft resolution without a vote.

    Turning to the text on safety and security of United Nations personnel, the Chairman GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala) introduced the draft resolution before the Committee and recommended that it be approved without a vote.

    The text was then approved without a vote.

    The CHAIRMAN then introduced the draft resolution on the capital master plan.

    The draft was approved by the Committee without a vote.

    The Committee turned to revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2000 substantive session.

    RON ADAM (Israel), speaking in explanation of position before action, said that the resolution adopted by Human Rights Commission in Geneva contained the most extreme accusation against his country in recent times. Israel rejected the Economic and Social Council resolution. He reminded the Committee that 19 members of the Economic and Social Council had voted against the Commission of Inquiry in November. He also regretted that funding for that Commission of Inquiry had been linked to funding for the Forum on Indigenous Issues -- an initiative which Israel supported. Israel disassociated itself from the decision.

    THOMAS REPASCH (United States) said that the United States also disassociated itself from the draft decision. Funding the Commission of Inquiry represented a questionable use of United Nations resources. Moreover, it would duplicate the fact-finding committee at Sharm el-Sheik. It would also detract from the negotiations currently taking place in Washington, D.C. He supported renewal of dialogue rather than actions that could hinder a satisfactory outcome. The considerable amount of money -- some $750,000 -- would be spent for a purpose that lacked foundation. The United States disagreement related only to that portion of funds in the draft designated for the Commission of Inquiry, and not to the Forum on Indigenous Issues. He regretted that funding for two diverse activities had been combined in that way.

    The CHAIRMAN said that he understood those two statements as observations that did not prevent reaching a consensus in the Committee, and he asked if the Committee was ready to approve the text.

    The decision was then approved without a vote.

    ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) said that the language of the draft had been unclear. Informal consultations had been constructive in reaching a clearer formula. The decision before the Committee, which included the financing for the Commission of Inquiry, was an important one. That inquiry must examine into the numerous martyrs in the occupied Palestinian territories. The international community could not stand by with folded arms and ignore events in the occupied territories. The international community must inquire into violations by the occupying Power. He supported the financing of the Commission of Inquiry.

    MAGNUS LENEFORS (Sweden), speaking on behalf of European Union, in explanation of position, said that the European Union had voted against the decision by the Human Rights Commission and the decision by the Economic and Social Council. The Union's position not to regard the Fifth Committee as a forum for political discussions was well-known. With that in mind, the Union had joined the consensus in the decision.

    EVA SILOT BRAVO (Cuba) said that Cuba was prepared to support the financing of the Commission of Inquiry and was convinced of the cause of the Palestinian people.

    The Committee next turned to the text on the critical situation of INSTRAW.

    Introducing the decision, the Chairman asked if it could be adopted by consensus.

    The decision was then approved without a vote.

    The Committee then took up the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001. Mr. CROM (Netherlands) introduced the draft resolution.

    JOHN ORR (Canada) said that paragraph four of the text should read "higher than budgeted vacancy rate".

    The Committee approved the draft resolution as orally amended without a vote.

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