Press Releases

    GA/AB/3612
                                                                                             5 April 2004

    Concluding First Resumed Session, Budget Committee Approves Nine Draft Texts; Debates Issue of Domestic Partnership, Staff Entitlements

    Drafts Include Texts on Peacekeeping Financing, Joint Inspection Unit, Human
    Resources, Extrabudgetary Activities, Capital Master Plan, International Tribunals

    NEW YORK, 2 April (UN Headquarters) -- At the conclusion of its first resumed session this morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved six draft resolutions and three draft decisions on several items on its agenda, including those on peacekeeping financing, the work of the Joint Inspection Unit, human resources management and support costs related to the Organization’s extrabudgetary activities. All the texts were approved without a vote.

    The issue that attracted the most attention during the session, however, related to a staff bulletin issued by the Secretary-General at the beginning of the year to clarify the family status of staff for the purpose of United Nations entitlements. At issue was paragraph 4 of the bulletin, according to which “a legally recognized domestic partnership contracted by a staff member under the law of the country of his or her nationality will also qualify that staff member to receive the entitlements provided for eligible family members”.

    Numerous speakers in a heated debate that took most of the Committee’s open meeting time said there was no consensus among Member States on the term of domestic partnership and that the Secretary-General’s bulletin on the matter was not consistent with the existing rules and regulations of the United Nations. Insisting that it was a prerogative of Member States to amend those rules, many members of the Committee supported the position of Egypt, whose representative objected to the use of his country’s dues to the United Nations to pay the benefits for something that was against its culture.

    Several other delegations, on the other hand, said that the document dealt with an administrative matter within managerial purview of the Secretary-General as the Organization’s chief administrative officer. The issue, from their point of view, was not whether Member States agreed or disagreed with any particular family model or relationship, but rather the need to continue the long-accepted practice of determining personal status for the purpose of entitlements by reference to the law of staff members’ nationality.

    The outcome of intense consultations on the matter was a draft resolution, by the terms of which the General Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to reissue the bulletin in question, taking into account the views and concerns expressed by Member States. In particular, the Assembly would note the absence of terms contained in paragraph 4 of the bulletin in the context of the existing Staff Regulations and Rules and decide that the inclusion of those terms shall require the consideration of and necessary action by the Assembly.

    By the same text, the Assembly would reaffirm the Secretary-General authority as a chief administrative officer and note the Organization’s practice of determining personal status for the purpose of entitlements by reference to the law of nationality of the staff member concerned.

    Acting on what many had described as the main item at the opening of the session on 10 March -- the review of the statute and working methods of the Joint Inspection Unit (JUI) -- the Committee approved a draft resolution welcoming the internal reform process undertaken by the Unit, including its strategic framework and internal working procedures, and urge it to continue those efforts.

    The Committee has returned to the preliminary review of the JIU -- the only systemwide external oversight body aimed at improving efficiency, management and coordination –- three times during the fifty-eighth session. Commenting on a report, which highlighted the areas requiring the Assembly’s approval, speakers during the March debate stressed the importance of swift action on the JIU reform to make the Unit a more effective body. Among the issues that needed to be addressed, they mentioned the Inspectors’ selection process and the need to establish collective responsibility for the Unit’s work.

    By today’s text, the secretariats of all participating organizations would be requested to facilitate the Unit’s work, and their executive heads would be asked to facilitate follow-up to the Unit’s reports. The Assembly would also decide to revert to the issue at its fifty-ninth session.

    Having received clarifications to the suggestions of the JIU on support costs related to United Nations’ extrabudgetary activities, the Fifth Committee today provided recommendations to the Assembly on the matter. By the draft approved today, the Assembly would endorse the recommendations contained in the JIU report, to the extent that they applied to the United Nations. Heads of various agencies would be invited to consider the Unit’s recommendations, which address the need to precisely define the role of extrabudgetary financing in the overall structure of the United Nations, to refine approval and control mechanisms, and explain the role of extrabudgetary financing in relation to core programme activities. Among other questions addressed by the text is the need to ensure consistent application of rules, provide clear justification of exceptional support-cost rates, and improve the efficiency of administrative services.

         Given the immediate cash shortages faced by the Organization, the Committee –- by another draft resolution -- recommended that the Assembly postpone until  30 June the repayment to Member States of some $84.4 million representing the remaining 50 per cent of the cash balances from closed missions, which under the terms of Assembly resolution 57/323 were to be paid by 31 March.

         Such a proposal had been made by the Secretary-General following an extraordinary acceleration in United Nations peacekeeping, including new and possible missions in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan, Haiti and Burundi, as well as the expansion of the operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and possible extension of the East Timor mission. Other factors that had led to a cash shortage included cross-borrowing to sustain operations of several open missions and the International Tribunals, as well as the time lag between the approval of assessments and the collection of contributions.

         Responding to a request for a subvention for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Committee also recommended that the Assembly –- as an exceptional measure -– provide an amount not to exceed $16.7 million to supplement the financial resources for the Court for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2004. [Although the Court was established on the basis of voluntary financing, the request for a subvention was made after it encountered serious financial difficulties in the second year of its operations.]

         By the same draft, the Assembly would, as a matter of urgency, appeal to Member States to make voluntary contributions for the Court. Expected to complete its work by the end of 2005, the Court would be invited to adopt a completion strategy and review its structure in order to minimize the cost of completing its work.

         By other texts approved today, the Assembly would: take note of the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the review of the Office of the Prosecutor at the Rwanda and former Yugoslavia Tribunals; defer to the next session its consideration of several items on its agenda, including reports on the participation of United Nations volunteers in peacekeeping operations, on strengthening investigation functions in the United Nations, on the implementation of the Oversight Office recommendations on the Investment Management Service of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, and on the United Nations common system services at Geneva. It would also decide to postpone consideration of financing of the Capital Master Plan to the second part of its resumed session in May.

         Action on Drafts

         By the terms of draft resolution A/C.5/58/L.58, having received during the resumed session clarifications to the recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) on support costs related to United Nations organizations’ extrabudgetary activities, the Assembly would concur with the observations and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the matter and endorse the recommendations contained in the JIU report, to the extent that they applied to the United Nations.

         [In the light of frozen or falling core resources, effective use of extrabudgetary resources in support of mandated programmes has become increasingly important. The original JIU report (document A/57/442 and Add.1) reviewed formulation and application of extrabudgetary support-cost policies within the United Nations system and proposed measures to harmonize a wide range of arrangements in various programmes and financial management structures of the Organization.]

         Recognizing that most recommendations are directed at executive heads of various agencies, the Assembly would further invite them to consider those recommendations.

         [Joint Inspection Unit recommendations address the need to precisely define the role of extrabudgetary financing in the overall structure of the United Nations, to refine approval and control mechanisms, and explain the role of extrabudgetary financing in relation to core programme activities. Also supported by the Unit is consistent application of rules, clear justification of exceptional support-cost rates and improved efficiency of administrative services.]

         Taking note of recommendation 1, which advocates integrating extrabudgetary and core resources in budget presentations, subjecting them to legislative approval and aligning them with the main priorities of the Organization, the Assembly would agree with the JIU that governing bodies should take steps to ensure that extrabudgetary resources are accepted for purposes that are consistent with programme priorities and approved mandates.

         The text also addresses recommendation 4, in accordance with which legislative bodies would consider permitting various organizations to retain the interest earned on extrabudgetary resources contributed to multi-donor activities, where donor-specific accounting is not possible. In this connection, the Assembly would draw attention to the practice of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) of retaining interest earned on supplementary resources and of using this income to offset support costs, and invite legislative organs to consider its applicability or relevance to their organizations.

         Taking note of recommendation 9, which calls for harmonization of the policy principles upon which support-cost rates are established, the Assembly would agree with the Unit that legislative organs should enact support cost policies to ensure effective mobilization and deployment of extrabudgetary resources in order to further mandated activities in developmental, humanitarian and other substantive areas. It would also agree that those policies should be straightforward, transparent and easy to administer, providing a consistent and equitable approach to special arrangements.

         The draft was approved without a vote.

        The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the Special Court for Sierra Leone (document A/C.5/58/L.65), by the terms of which the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General, as an exceptional measure, to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $16.7 million to supplement the financial resources for the Court for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2004. Any regular budget funds appropriated for the tribunal would be refunded to the United Nations upon liquidation of the Court, should sufficient voluntary contributions be received.

         The Secretary-General, in concert with the Management Committee, would be requested to redouble efforts to raise voluntary contributions for the Court and report at the fifty-ninth session on the progress made in that respect. As a matter of urgency, the Assembly would also appeal to Member States to make voluntary contributions in support of the Court and to honour existing pledges.

         Noting that the Court is expected to complete its work by the end of 2005, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to invite the Court to adopt a completion strategy. The Management Committee would be requested to review the structure of the Court with a view to minimizing the cost of completing its work, without adversely affecting the implementation of the legal agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone.

         The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

         The United States representative expressed pleasure at the approval of the draft on the Sierra Leone Court, saying that her country had been a leading proponent of the Court, which had made commendable progress towards achieving its goal of bringing to justice those bearing the greatest responsibility for the terrible crimes committed in Sierra Leone. It was imperative that the Court had sufficient funding to continue its important work, particularly at such a crucial time when trials were set to commence.

         She welcomed the decision to authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments up to $16.7 million to supplement the financial resources of the Court for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2004 and looked forward to the supplemental information that the Court would provide to the ACABQ and the Committee, which would allow them to consider the remaining portion of the subvention needed for the Court’s operations in 2005. She reiterated her delegation’s appeal to Member States to contribute voluntary funds to the Court and honour their existing pledges to provide resources for the important cause of justice in Sierra Leone.

         Japan’s representative reiterated that his Government considered subvention as an exceptional measure that would not be considered as a precedent for other cases. His delegation looked forward to receiving the completion strategy as mentioned in the resolution.

         By another draft decision (document A/C.5/58/L.61), the Assembly would decide to postpone consideration of financing of the capital master plan to the second part of its resumed session in May, requesting the Secretary-General to submit during that time all outstanding reports on the matter.

        The decision was approved without a vote

        By the terms of the draft resolution on human resources management (document A/C.5/58/L.64), the Assembly -- reaffirming that the Secretary-General, as the Organization’s chief administrative officer, shall provide and enforce staff rules consistent with the broad principles of personnel policy for the Secretariat’s staffing and administration, and that all provisional rules and/or amendments to the Staff Rules shall be consistent with the intent and purposes of the Staff Regulations and should be reported to the Assembly in accordance with regulation 12.3 –- would note the Organization’s practice of determining personal status for the purpose of entitlements as are set out in the Staff Regulations and Rules by reference to the law of nationality of the staff member concerned.

         The Assembly would, by further terms, invite the Secretary-General to reissue the Secretary-General’s bulletin ST/SGB/2004/4 after reviewing its contents, taking into account the views and concerns expressed by Member States. It would also note the absence of terms referred to in paragraph 4 of the bulletin in the context of the existing Staff Regulations and Rules and decide that the inclusion of these terms shall require the consideration of and necessary action by the Assembly.

         [Paragraph 4 of the bulletin states that a legally recognized domestic partnership contracted by a staff member of the law of the country of his or her nationality will also qualify that staff member to receive the entitlements provided for eligible family members.]

         Speaking before action on the text, the representative of Syria said the draft resolution did not contain all of the points put forward in informal consultations and official meetings on the issue regarding the Secretary-General’s misinterpretation of the freeze of General Service staff language posts. His delegation had put the matter forward since the fifty-seventh session, noting the special nature of the Arabic language, in particular, for the Arabic Web site. The special features of the Arabic language required greater resources. Not dealing with the point represented a mistaken signal regarding the importance given to the Organization’s official languages.

         He said he regretted the irresponsible conduct of the Committee’s bureau, which had resulted in wasted financial resources and time in dealing with the item. The bureau was not a small General Assembly. Its role was to facilitate the Committee’s work and not enter into substantial debate. The bureau had not dealt responsibly on the matter, by not devoting an additional meeting to the item, as requested by a number of delegations. The Committee’s work was not transparent. Syria, out of a constructive spirit, would demonstrate sufficient flexibility in joining the consensus on the draft in order to support the ultimate objective and make progress in the Organization’s work.

        The draft was then approved without a vote.

        The representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that she appreciated the efforts made by all delegations to arrive at a consensus on the matter. The long and complex negotiations in the Committee reminded her of a poem about building a house by her compatriot Seamus Heaney, which illustrated that no matter how difficult the work had been, it was possible to cooperate until the work was done.

        Upon approval of the draft, she wanted to make the following brief remarks, she said. The resolution did not infringe on the authority of the Secretary-General, the chief administrative officer of the United Nations. The long-established principle that matters of personal status were determined by reference to the law of nationality of the staff member concerned would continue to apply. The resolution before the Committee was a compromise, and the solution found was very far from all initial positions, but by adopting the text the Committee had put an end to a lengthy and difficult discussion, while preserving the working procedures of the Fifth Committee.

    Canada’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, thanked all those who had helped to achieve consensus on the draft, saying that the delegations he represented supported the long-standing principle of determining the entitlements of staff members with reference to their national law. That practice was the best way of recognizing the diverse social, cultural, social and religious backgrounds of United Nations staff. The delegations he represented also held a strong view that the Secretary-General should be allowed to manage his staff without undue interference from Member States.

    He expressed appreciation for the transparency shown by the Secretariat in publishing the bulletin and the intention of the Secretary-General to ensure that the Staff Regulations and Rules were interpreted according to current legal standards throughout the membership. He believed that following the adoption of the resolution, the Secretary-General should continue to determine the staff members’ eligibility for entitlements on the same basis as was provided by the law of nationality of staff members. He trusted that the Secretary-General would reissue the bulletin to make that clear for all staff members and delegations.

    Brazil’s representative, also speaking on behalf of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominical Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela, said that the bulletin dealt with the principle of turning to national legislation for determining the family status of staff members. That policy was fully consistent with the nature of the Organization, which respected the cultural, social and religious diversity of the United Nations. The countries she represented had joined the consensus on the draft, on the understanding that reaffirming the Secretary-General’s authority as the highest administrative officer of the United Nations, the resolution did not undermine his authority. The principle of national law for determining the status of family status should be upheld, and it was necessary to preserve the neutrality of the United Nations. She expressed satisfaction at the flexibility of delegations during negotiations and their efforts to reach a consensus.

    Kenya’s representative emphasized that domestic partnerships and same-sex partnerships were illegal and punishable under penal laws of her country, which recognized the marriage as a union between a man and a woman. That position had been recently reaffirmed at a national conference to review the Constitution. The new provision of the Constitution provided, in explicit terms, that the family was a fundamental unit of society and the necessary basis for social order. A person could not marry a person of the same sex.

    She added that many social ills could be traced to the disintegration of the family. Marital and familial instability worldwide was reaching epic proportions. That instability now exerted a devastating effect on social health, including increased poverty, crime, illiteracy and disease. Current research also highlighted the high costs associated with the breakdown of family. Her delegation believed that domestic partnerships, that is, same-sex marriages, would aggravate family instability and finally destroy the only source of human resources that were vital and crucial for the advancement of the human race.

    She said she could foresee a very grim situation and a looming danger to the realization of the goals of international cooperation in solving problems of an economic, social, cultural and humanitarian character, as stipulated in the United Nations Charter. The effects of the problems she had mentioned had been known to lead to political instability and conflicts, and the resultant negative impact and escalation of costs associated with maintenance of international peace and security. That was clearly reflected in the United Nations peacekeeping budget.

    Some of the countries that had legalized same-sex unions also promoted smaller families with fewer children through their national family-planning policies, she said. The same countries were now registering alarmingly low fertility rates with a resulting increase in the number of older people and a reduced population. Those unfortunate developments should be of great concern to those countries, because an increasing number of young people gravitated towards same-sex relationships. It was a known fact that more than 95 per cent of same-sex partners had no interest in having children through adoption or otherwise. She wondered what that portended to the future of humanity. That presented food for serious thought.

    The peoples of the United Nations had a duty and moral responsibility to preserve the human race, she said. The answer was in preservation of a family as a union between a man and a woman. She appealed to affected countries to critically re-examine their national policies on the institution of the family and marriage and join the pro-family nations.

    In conclusion, she said her delegation had not stood in the way of the consensus on the draft, although it had reservations on its operative paragraph 1. She hoped that any interpretation of the paragraph by the Secretariat would not in any way go against the purpose and spirit of the institution of the family as stipulated in the Organization’s Staff Rules and Regulations.

    The United States representative said her country welcomed the review by the Secretary-General of the personnel benefits policy announced in bulletin ST/SGB/2004/4. The United States was concerned, however, that without more consultation with Member States the policy could be divisive. The views and concerns expressed in the Fifth Committee and the General Assembly by delegations should be taken into account in establishing policy in that area.

    The representative of Tunisia asked that changes be made to the French text, saying that the text should read “statut personnel” rather than “situation de familie”.

    Pakistan’s representative said the institution of the family and marriage as a union between man and women were sacrosanct concepts. He greatly appreciated the flexibility shown by all partners in the discussion. Pakistan’s position was that the terms that did not enjoy consensus should not be universalized through administrative measures such as the bulletin. He had joined the consensus on the understanding that the reissued bulletin would not include controversial terms that did not join consensus and that it would not be kept under review indefinitely.

    Qatar’s representative supported the representative of Syria regarding the need to support the United Nations Web sites in the Arabic language. He would follow the item very closely at the next session, as it was of crucial importance.

    The representative of the Bahamas said his delegation had been satisfied that the Secretary-General had acted within his authority and had been happy to accommodate requests to debate the issue. The exchange of views had been useful. The text represented a significant compromise. However, the adoption of the draft should not imply that the Secretariat should stop using national law for the determination of personal status, as it was the only practical approach to ensure that the rights of United Nations staff were respected on an equitable basis.

    Jordan’s representative said his delegation failed to understand what the text set out to accomplish. Looking at the document, he noted that it did not satisfy or cater to any one position. Commenting on the work of the Committee, he said there had been a digression in the discipline of the Committee’s work. The Committee had gotten into the habit of requesting more meetings under the pretext of coming up with better resolutions. The Committee requested more documents then complained about the number of documents. The Fifth Committee should be at the forefront of reform. Before any delegation spoke of reform in abstract terms, Committee members should put their money where their mouth was, by drafting resolutions that were implementable.

    The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said that the January bulletin also contained a date when it would be implemented. His delegation did not stand in the way of adoption of the draft on the understanding that the implementation of the bulletin, which was to be reissued, should await the General Assembly’s consideration of the matter, if it was seen to contain any amendments to the Staff Rules and Regulations of the United Nations.

    Nepal’s representative said that his delegation had joined the consensus on the matter despite serious concern over the definition of the family according to national law. However, he appreciated the efforts of his colleagues to arrive at the consensus and had joined that consensus in the spirit of accommodation in the hope that the Secretary-General would take into account the opinions expressed by Member States.

    The representative of Syria said that he reserved his right to make a statement before the Assembly later. The text of the draft resolution, in Arabic, had some language mistakes, which he would convey to the Secretariat.

    Nigeria’s representative said that like other delegations she had followed the item closely. Nigeria valued and cherished the institution of the family. Many efforts were devoted by her Government for the promotion of the family, and she had supported the draft in that spirit. She hoped that the Secretary-General, as the chief administrative officer, would continue his work on the understanding that Member States should make amendments to Staff Rules and Regulations.

    The draft clearly stated that the bulletin would be reissued after reviewing its contents, taking into account the concerns by Member States, she said. The Assembly would also clearly note the absence in the staff rules of the term “domestic partnership”, to which paragraph 4 of the bulleting referred. Its inclusion constituted an amendment to those rules. Consequently, it was only under that condition that Nigeria had joined the consensus today. Any future action that would include non-consensual language would require consideration by the Assembly. She hoped the document would be reissued in a timely manner, with all the seriousness it deserved.

    ROSEMARY MCCREERY, Assistant Secretary-General, Office of Human Resources Management, said that acting on the invitation contained in operative paragraph 2 of the draft, the Secretariat would carefully review the views and concerns expressed by Member States and would reissue the bulletin promptly after the review had been completed. In accordance with operative paragraph 1, the Secretariat would continue to determine the personal status of staff members concerning their eligibility for United Nations entitlements by reference to the law of their country of nationality.

    Claims received from individual staff members as to their personal status for purposes of eligibility for entitlements would be submitted to their permanent missions, she said. Upon verification by the mission that his or her personal status was valid and recognized for purposes of benefits and entitlements under the law of the country concerned, the Secretariat would take action in accordance with that verification.

    Venezuela’s representative associated himself with the delegations who had congratulated the coordinator of the negotiations on the matter. Having listened to the explanations by the Assistant-Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, he understood that the reissued bulletin would be published by the Secretary-General, and the Fifth Committee would not have to reconsider it, because it would be issued according to practice. Substantive issues were not under purview of the Fifth Committee. He urged the delegations not to analyse the bulletin in the Fifth Committee again to avoid getting into another bothersome situation.

         The representative of Ghana thanked delegations for their kind words, as well as the bureau and the Committee Secretariat for their support.

         Egypt’s representative said the consensus on the draft had been a delicate one, reflecting the strong desire to deal with some of the concerns expressed by a significant number of Member States. He thanked the Secretariat for explanations on the bulletin’s reissuance. His delegation would follow up on the question until it was completely reassured that its opinions had been taken into consideration. One of the Assembly’s best features was that it served as a world parliament. One or a number of countries, therefore, could not impose on the rest when discussing questions of interest to Member States.

         Syria’s representative said he understood that the review would not take place until a resolution was adopted by the General Assembly, so that positions of all Member States, either in the Assembly or the Committee, could be taken into account.

         According to the terms of the draft resolution on the reports of the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/C.5/58/L.62), the Assembly would take note of the JIU’s 2002 report, 2003 programme of work and preliminary listing of reports for potential inclusion in the 2004 work programme. It would further take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Unit’s recommendations, and take note with appreciation of the JIU’s active contribution to the review of its statute and working method.

         By further terms, the Assembly would welcome the internal reform process undertaken by the Unit, including its strategic framework and its internal working procedures, and urge it to continue those efforts. The Secretariat of the United Nations and those of all participating organizations would be requested to facilitate the Unit’s work, in particular, through offering full access to all required information, and request executive heads to take necessary steps to facilitate action on the system of follow-up to the Unit’s reports. The Assembly would decide to revert to the issue of the JIU’s reform at its fifty-ninth session.

         The draft was approved without a vote.

    Nigeria’s representative expressed appreciation to the representative of South Africa for her tireless efforts on the draft.

    Having considered the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the review of the Office of the Prosecutor at the Rwanda and former Yugoslavia Tribunals, the Committee then took up a draft resolution on the matter (document A/C.5/58/L.60), by the terms of which it would take note of that document.

    The draft was approved without a vote.

    Approving, also without a vote, a draft resolution on the implementation of paragraph 3 of General Assembly resolution 57/323 (document A/C.5/58/L.63), the Committee then recommended that the Assembly postpone until 30 June the return of the remaining 50 per cent (some $84.45 million) of the amount available for credit to Member States as of 30 June 2002 from cash balances of several closed peacekeeping missions. The Assembly would also decide that credits or disbursements to individual countries may be made at the discretion of the Member States concerned as from 1 July 2004. Member States owed credits for closed missions would be encouraged to apply those credits towards their outstanding assessed contributions.

    The Committee then approved, also without a vote, a draft decision contained in document A/C.5/58/L.59, by the terms of which the Assembly would defer to its fifty-ninth session consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the participation of United Nations volunteers in peacekeeping operations and a related report of the Advisory Committee.

    United Nations volunteers in peacekeeping operations and a related report of the Advisory Committee.

    By the terms of draft decision A/C.5.58/L.66 on questions deferred for future consideration, the Assembly would decide to defer to its fifty-ninth session consideration of items on the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on strengthening investigation functions in the United Nations; implementation of the Oversight Office recommendations on the Investment Management Service of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund; and the United Nations common system services at Geneva. It would also decide to defer the Secretary-General’s reports on the composition of the Secretariat and the list of United Nations Secretariat staff.

         Nigeria’s representative requested that the Secretary-General submit at the fifty-ninth session a conference room paper document on the distribution of seats under review of efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations.

         The representative of South Africa said that on 15 March 2004 on the formal introduction of item 127, the African Group had focused on three areas, namely, geographical distribution of posts at the decision-making levels, retirement, and gender mainstreaming, including the under-representation of African women. The Group had received some statistical information. The Committee’s work programme was such that time could not be allocated for consideration of the agenda item. The Group was studying the information and would return to the issue during the fifty-ninth session. She requested the Secretariat to submit them as conference room papers.

         Egypt’s representative said he also looked forward to receiving that information by the fifty-ninth session.

         The draft decision was then approved without a vote.

         Statements of appreciation were then made by the representatives of Iran, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Brazil, on behalf of the Rio Group, Ireland, on behalf of the European Union and associated States, Qatar, and Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group.

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