Press Releases

    GA/AB/3503
    18 March 2002

    FIFTH COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THAT GENERAL ASSEMBLY
    AUTHORIZE ONLY PART OF RESOURCES NEEDED FOR
    FOLLOW-UP TO DURBAN RACISM CONFERENCE

    Approves Four Draft Texts on Financing of Special Political Missions,
    New Office Space at Addis Ababa


    NEW YORK, 15 March (UN Headquarters) -- Acting on miscellaneous items on its agenda on what was supposed to be the last day of its first resumed session, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon decided to conclude its work on Monday, 18 March.

    Approving the programme budget implications of the Third Committee resolution on the implementation of the outcome of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, the Committee decided to recommend to the General Assembly neither to approve fund requested for expenses related to regional meetings, nor the related proposed changes in the narrative of section 22 of the budget on human rights. Also by the terms of the text, the Committee decided to inform the Assembly that adoption of the text would lead to expenditures yet to be determined. The Committee recommended that the Secretary-General enter into corresponding commitments on the understanding that actual requirements would be dealt with during the fifty-seventh session of the Assembly.

    The text was approved without a vote, as orally amended by the representative of Spain (on behalf of the European Union and associated States).

    The representatives of Cuba (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), the United States, Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Syria, South Africa and Israel took the floor in the discussion regarding this text, introduced by the representative of Argentina who coordinated informal consultations on the matter.

    Following its adoption, the United States, Israel, Canada and Australia dissociated themselves from the decision. The representative of Canada said that his delegation stood by the strong reservations it had stated in Durban and in the Third Committee, objecting to all references to the Middle East and those encouraging the implementation of those provisions of the Declaration and the Programme of Action adopted at the Durban conference.

    Statements in explanation of position were also made by the representatives of Cuba, New Zealand and Australia.

    In other action, the Committee recommended that the Assembly approve:

    • some $7.71 million for the construction of office space facilities at the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa (to be financed within the available balance of the construction-in-progress account);
    • the use of some $5.63 million of interest accrued under the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) Fund to update the system;
    • and the charge of some $41.46 million (inclusive of the previously approved $11.11 million) for 19 special political missions mandated by the Security Council, against the provision for special political missions within the programme budget for 2002-2003.

    (In related action, the Committee took note of the fact that an allocated balance of $34.3 million remained against the provision of $98.34 million for special political missions for 2002-2003.)

    By another draft resolution approved today, the Assembly would adopt the draft regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of non-Secretariat officials and experts on missions, as well as those of the Secretary-General.

    The texts before the Committee were also introduced by its Vice-Chairmen, John Orr (Canada) and Durga Bhattarai (Nepal), its Rapporteur, Santiago Wins (Uruguay) and the representative of Sweden, Magnus Lenefors, who conducted informal consultations on various items.

    The Committee is expected to conclude its session at 3 p.m. Monday, 18 March.

    Background

    This afternoon, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to conclude the first part of its resumed session, acting on all the remaining drafts before it.

    The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the construction of office space facilities at the Economic Commission for Africa (document A/C/5/56/L.43), according to which the Assembly would decide to approve some $7.71 million for the construction project to be financed within the available balance of the construction-in-progress account. The Secretary-General would be asked to report annually to the Assembly on the progress of the additional office facilities, bearing in mind the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the matter.

    Having considered the reports of the Secretary-General on the proposed regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of non-Secretariat officials and experts on missions, as well as regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of the Secretary-General, the Committee also had before it a draft resolution on the matter (document A/C.5/56/L.45). By this text, the Assembly would adopt the draft regulations governing the status of those officials, together with explanatory commentary contained in the annex to the report of the Secretary-General (document A/56/437), subject to certain modifications provided in the draft.

    The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) (document A/C/5/56/L.46). By the terms of the text, the Assembly would endorse the ACABQ's recommendations on the matter and decide to approve the use of some $5.63 million of interest accrued under the IMIS System Fund from the investment income available at 30 June 2001, to meet the requirements of IMIS relating to the activities detailed in the Secretary-General's report. The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to report -- in the context of the proposed programme budget -- on progress in the implementation of IMIS, including ways in which the System had reduced administrative processes, and to submit a concise update in non-budget years.

    By further terms of the text, the Assembly, recalling its resolution 56/239 of December 2001 on information technology, would note that IMIS must be an integral part of the comprehensive strategy for the development and implementation of information technology. The Secretary-General would be asked to submit a single report on the subject to the Assembly at its fifty-seventh session, including a schedule for the introduction and implementation of IMIS in peacekeeping missions and the International Tribunals.

    Regarding the estimates in respect of matters of which the Security Council is seized, the Committee had before it a draft resolution contained in document A/C.5/56/L.48. By its terms, the Committee recommends that the Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s reports on the matter and concur with the ACABQ recommendations in that regard. For the 19 special political missions mandated by the Security Council, the Assembly would approve the charge of some $41.46 million, inclusive of the amount of $11.11 million already approved in resolution 56/255 of 24 December, against the provision for special political missions requested under section 3, Political affairs, of the programme budget for 2002-2003.

    In this connection, the Committee had before it a note by the Secretary-General (document A/C.5/56/39) on the use of the provision of some $98.34 million for special political missions under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2002-2003 programme budget approved by the Assembly in December 2001. In December 2001, in a series of resolutions, the Assembly approved charges totaling some $33.7 million for special political missions. During the first resumed fifty-sixth session, the Assembly will have approved some $30.34 million for special political missions. The Committee may wish to take note that an unallocated balance of some $34.30 million remains against the provision of some $98.34 million for special political missions for 2002-2003.

    The Committee also had before it a draft decision (document A/C.5/56/L.49), submitted by Venezuela on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/56/L.84/Rev.1, on the implementation of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

    By the text, the Committee would inform the Assembly that the adoption of the draft would lead to expenditures not exceeding $1.074 million under section 22, Human rights, of the budget, and $103,900 under section 32, Staff assessment (to be offset by an equivalent amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment). The Committee would recommend that the Assembly authorize the Secretary-General to enter into corresponding commitments, on the understanding that he would report on the actual requirements and that those requirements would be dealt with in accordance with the established procedure during the fifty-seventh session.

    Action on Drafts

    The Committee first took up a draft resolution (document A/C.5/56/L.45) on proposed regulations governing the status, basic rights and duties of officials other than Secretariat officials and experts on mission.

    John Orr (Canada) introduced the draft resolution, which was approved by the Committee without a vote.

    The Committee then took up a draft resolution (document A/C.5/56/L.43) on construction of office space facilities at the Economic Commission for Africa.

    Santiago Wins (Uruguay) introduced the draft resolution, which the Committee approved, also without a vote.

    The Committee then turned to a draft resolution (document A/C.5/56/L.46) on the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS).

    The draft was introduced by Magnus Lenefors (Sweden).

    Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft text.

    Turning to items under the 2002-2003 programme budget, the Committee took up draft resolution A/C.5/56/L.48, on estimates in respect of matters of which the Security Council is seized.

    Durga Bhattari (Nepal) introduced the draft resolution, which the Committee approved without a vote.

    The Committee decided to take note of the fact that an unallocated balance of some $34.3 million remained against the provision of $98.34 million for special political missions for 2002-2003.

    The Committee next turned its attention to draft decision A/C.5/56/L.49, on the programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/56/L.84/Rev.1 on the comprehensive implementation of the outcome and follow-up of the World Conference against Racism, which had been introduced by the representative of Cuba on behalf of the Group of 77 this morning's meeting.

    GUILLERMO KENDALL (Argentina) said the Committee had not yet agreed upon a text.

    The representative of Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, requested that action be taken on the draft decision.

    The representative of the United States asked whether an amendment by the European Union had been included in the draft text before the Committee.

    The representative of Spain, on behalf of the European Union, recalled that the Union had indeed presented an amendment to the text in informal consultations this morning. On what basis was the Committee to take action?

    The Committee Chairman said that draft decision A/C.5/56/L.49 was under consideration.

    The representative of Cuba asked for the European Union’s amendment to the text in writing.

    The representative of Spain then asked to suspend the meeting to prepare the text in writing.

    The Committee CHAIRMAN reminded the Committee that it would not have conference services past 6:10 p.m.

    The representative of Syria said that the Secretariat was taking delegates hostage to its whims. He found that objectionable. It was unacceptable for meetings to take place without interpretation. It was a man-made situation which he found suspicious.

    The representative of Cuba said that the European Union amendment could be presented orally to save time. Regarding the suspension of conference services for this evening, she did not understand why the Committee had to find itself in such a critical situation.

    The representative of Spain then provided the amendment orally, which would read: "decides to recommend to the General Assembly neither to approve funds requested for expenses related to regional meetings as described in paragraph 3 (a) i and c of A/C.5/56/38, nor the related proposed changes in the narrative of section 22". The last sentence of the first paragraph would read: "…endorses the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, subject to the provisions of this decision at the end of the chapeau".

    He asked that the figures be left blank so that the Secretariat could calculate them.

    The representative of the United States then introduced an amendment to the text whereby the Committee would defer action on the text pending submission of an (Office of Internal Oversight Services) OIOS report on a review of Human Rights Section budget practices.

    The representative of Cuba said that agreement on the amendment had not been reached during informal consultations. She asked that the United States amendment be withdrawn.

    The representative of the United States said that given the discussion and the limited time available, the United States could not withdraw its amendment.

    The representative of Cuba asked that action be taken on the draft resolution with the European Union amendment, but without the United States amendment. She asked for a vote on the United States amendment.

    The representative of the United States said it was the Committee’s practice not to vote but to achieve consensus. He asked that action on the item be suspended until a fuller discussion could be held.

    The representative of South Africa said the issues discussed in Durban had been very difficult for many delegations. He thanked the European Union for the amendment to the text, which was done in the spirit of trying to move on the item. The United States amendment, however, was a surprise. He opposed any postponement of the issue.

    The representative of the United States then withdrew the United States amendment.

    The Committee then approved the draft decision, as orally amended.

    The representative of the United States said that to reach a harmonious solution to the matter he had not called for a vote. The United States dissociated itself from the consensus, and reserved the right to make a statement before the item was considered by the General Assembly.

    The representative of Israel said Israel dissociated itself from the consensus. Israel had also decided not to vote on the issue so as not to block the resolution.

    The representative of Canada said his delegation stood by the strong reservation it had expressed in Durban and in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), objecting to all references to the Middle East and those encouraging the implementation of those provisions of the Declaration and the Programme of Action adopted in Durban. Canada dissociated itself from the decision.

    The representative of Cuba said she was pleased to see that the spirit of consensus had made it possible to adopt the draft resolution.

    The representative of New Zealand said that if the regional meetings proceeded as part of the Durban programme of action, she wished to place on record the understanding that participation by Member States in the regional meetings should match the membership of the regional commissions.

    The representative of Australia said Australia did not support the provision of resources for the full implementation of outcome of the Durban Conference. Australia had been excluded from the preparatory process for that Conference. He supported the recommendation that resources for regional meetings and associated costs be deleted. Australia was concerned at duplications of mechanisms for racism, and dissociated itself from consensus on the decision just adopted.

    * *** *