Press Releases

    GA/AB/3658
    28 December 2004

    Budget Committee Recommends $53.63 Million for Secretary-General’s Plan for Strengthened UN Security, as It Concludes Current Session

    Additional Recommendations Address Wide Range of Issues, Including Human Resources Management, UN Oversight Bodies

    (Issued on 23 December 2004.)

    NEW YORK, 22 December (UN Headquarters) -- As it concluded its work for the main part of the session this evening, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) provided recommendations to the General Assembly on a wide range of matters, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal to strengthen and unify the Organization’s safety and security system, human resources management, the United Nations contingency fund, the Organization’s first performance report for 2004-2005, functioning of United Nations oversight bodies, and the recommendations of the International Civil Service Commission. The Committee acted on all outstanding items without a vote.

    Acting on what the Secretary-General had called one of the most important proposals -– if not the most important one -- of his term, the Committee recommended that the Assembly approve an additional appropriation of some $53.63 million from the regular budget for a strengthened and unified United Nations security system. It would establish the Department of Safety and Security and introduce 383 new security posts, 134 of them on a temporary basis.

    Introducing his unified safety and security plan earlier in the session, Mr. Annan had said that the United Nations could no longer rely on fragmented security structures, or on a small group of over-extended security advisers who tried valiantly to cope with the dangers. “In a new security environment, we need a new way of doing business”, he said.

    One of the most important texts of this year’s “personnel” session -- a 16-part draft resolution on human resources management -- addresses such important issues as recruitment of personnel, national competitive and “G to P” examinations, measures to improve equitable geographic distribution, post structure, gender parity, mobility, contractual arrangements, the staffing of field missions, the use of consultants, employment of retired former staff, availability of skills in local markets, measures to prevent discrimination, and staff-management consultations.

    By the draft, the Assembly would stress the need to ensure accountability of programme managers for the implementation of human resources policies, request the Secretary-General to continue to improve the effectiveness of human resources action plans and stress the importance of a meaningful dialogue between staff and management on human resources issues, calling upon both parties to intensify efforts to overcome differences and resume the consultative process. Among numerous provisions of the text, is a request to the Secretary-General to reconstitute the Accountability Panel, ensuring that it has the authority to hold managers accountable for their performance.

    Recognizing the value of a transparent process of recruitment, placement and promotion in the Organization, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to address all factors contributing to the delays in filling vacancies. He would be also requested to tackle “a range of weaknesses related to the Galaxy support tool”, making it more efficient and user-friendly. The Secretary-General would be asked to further develop screening mechanisms, making sure that all applications submitted to Galaxy are treated fairly, well-qualified candidates are given due consideration and that keywords outside of the vacancy announcements are not used to exclude qualified candidates.

    The Assembly would note with concern the decline of the proportion of nationals of developing countries at senior and policy-making levels and ask the Secretary-General to take all measures necessary to improve the situation. For a trial period of two years, he would be authorized to establish a special roster of candidates from unrepresented and underrepresented Member States for a number of posts at the P-4 and P-5 levels, until those countries are within the desirable ranges. The Secretary-General would also be requested to increase his efforts to attain gender parity, in particular at senior levels, and to ensure that women, especially from developing countries and countries in transition, are appropriately represented within the Secretariat. Recruitment targets, time frames and accountability measures should be developed towards that end.

    Approving a related text on the United Nations common system, the Committee recommended that the Assembly take note of the report of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), which contains that body’s latest recommendations on the Organization’s pay and benefits system, contractual arrangements and conditions of service of international staff. By the text, the Assembly would take note of several decisions of the Commission, including those to increase the level of hazard pay to locally recruited staff and to grant paternity leaves throughout the common system.  Among recommendations in respect of the education grant, it would approve increases in the maximum reimbursement levels for 15 countries.

    According to the ICSC report, as part of its ongoing review of the pay and benefits system, the Commission is considering new approaches to the way United Nations staff are paid, striving to link job requirements with desired competencies, learning and assessment of staff performance. If implemented, such initiatives as broad-banding and performance pay would be “the most significant departure from the traditional system of remuneration since the United Nations was established”.  On 1 July 2004, the Commission launched a three-year pilot study on broad-banding/performance pay, to be implemented in several volunteer organizations.

    By the text approved today, in its consideration of the pay and benefits system, the Commission would be requested to keep in mind the desirability of testing not just one, but all three pay-for-performance models. The Assembly would also decide not to undertake any new strategy on pilot projects in broad banding or pay for performance until the results of the pilot study now under way are reviewed. Recognizing that an effective and credible performance appraisal system is the key for possible introduction of a pay-for-performance system, it would request the ICSC to ensure that clear, effective and credible performance appraisal systems are developed in volunteer organizations, in full consultation with staff members.

    By a draft on programme planning, the Committee provided recommendations to the Assembly on the proposed strategic framework for 2006-2007, which had been prepared on a trial basis to replace the current four-year plan. By the text, the Assembly would take no decision on part one of that document, in view of the differences between Member States on its content. [The proposed strategic framework consists of a plan outline of the proposed strategic framework for the period 2006-2007 and a two-year programme plan.]

    The Assembly would decide on the main priorities for 2006-2007, on the basis of which, together with the biennial programme plan as adopted in the draft, the Secretary-General should prepare the budget proposal for the next biennium. The priorities include maintenance of international peace and security, sustainable development, development of Africa, promotion of human rights, coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts, justice and international law, disarmament, drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

    Similar provisions were included in the draft resolution on the budget outline for 2006-2007, also approved today, by which the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to reflect the Organization’s main priorities when presenting the proposed programme budget for the next biennium. The text would also contain the amount of the preliminary estimate for 2006-2007, which -- it was announced during the meeting -- amounts to some $3.621 billion.  Set at the level of 0.75 per cent of the preliminary estimate, the Organization’s contingency fund would total some $27.2 million.

    Acting on the Organization’s first performance report for the current biennium, the Committee recommended that the Assembly revise the regular budget for 2004-2005, taking into account inflation and exchange rate variations, as well as unforeseen and extraordinary items and additional mandates approved by the General Assembly and the Security Council. It approved a net increase of $172.85 million in the appropriation for 2004-2005 and a net increase of $9.41 million in the estimates of income for the biennium. Also by the draft resolution, the Assembly would approve a gross budget for the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) for the year of 2005 in the amount of $5.39 million.

    Approving a six-part resolution on the pattern of conferences, the Committee recommended that the Assembly approve a revised United Nations calendar of conferences and meetings for 2005 and addressed the issues of: achieving maximum utilization of conference-servicing resources and facilities; the performance of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM); documentation- and publication-related matters; translation and interpretation; and information technology.

    By the draft, the Assembly would stress that the ongoing reform of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management is aimed at improving the quality of documents and their timely production and delivery -- the problem “acutely felt during the main part of the 59th session” -- as well as the quality of conference services provided to Member States. The text includes provisions to ensure strict compliance with rules for documentation issuance, page limits and submission schedules, as well as the rules on simultaneous distribution of documents in all official languages.

    Also approved today were three texts related to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) -- the principal oversight body of the United Nations.  By those resolutions, the Assembly addressed the function and reporting procedures of the Office; follow-up to OIOS recommendations; the activities of the Office; coordination between United Nations oversight bodies; and findings of the Office’s investigations.

    By one of those drafts, the Assembly emphasized the importance of establishing real and efficient responsibility and accountability within the Organization and requested the Secretary-General to establish a high-level follow-up mechanism as soon as possible, in order to “feed” findings and recommendations of the OIOS, the Joint Inspection Unit and the Board of Auditors in the executive management processes.

    By the text on Joint Inspection Unit reports, the Assembly decided that the Unit should mainly focus on identifying means to improve management and ensure that optimum use is made of available resources. Requesting the Unit to take responsibility “in the exercise of its collective wisdom” with regard to all its reports, notes and recommendations, the Assembly decided that the Unit should collectively approve its programme of work, providing the rationale for choice of topics, as well as the relevance of the envisaged outcome.

    The Committee also adopted its report on the programme budget for 2004-2005, which contains the summary of its recommendations during the current session, and considered programme budget implications of resolutions before the Assembly, including texts on future operations of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers; human rights in Myanmar; and the rights of the child.

    In other action, the Committee recommended that the Assembly:

    -- Approve the budgets of the 25 special political missions authorized by the Security Council and the General Assembly, totalling some $174.75 million gross for the period up to 31 December 2005;

    -- Authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $20 million to supplement the financial resources of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, with effect from 1 January through 31 December 2005, under the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005, and request him to continue efforts to raise voluntary contributions for the Court;

    -- Take note of several reports it had considered during the session, including documents on the administrative arrangements for the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO;

    -- Request the Secretary-General to progressively increase regular budget contributions to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, with a view to full implementation of article 20 of its statute, under which administrative expenditures relating to the functioning of the Office were to be borne by the United Nations;

    -- Approve the terms for participation of the United Nations in the arrangements for the construction of additional conference facilities at the Vienna International Centre and entrust the Secretary-General to determine the cost-sharing arrangements for potential future costs sharing in the future bienniums; and

    -- Request the Secretary-General to submit proposals to support and enhance the United Nations Web site in all official languages within the budget proposal for 2006-2007.

    As it concluded its work for the main part of the session, the Committee was informed that its first resumed session would be held on 7 March to 1 April 2005, and its second resumed session from 2 to 27 May 2005.

    Action on Draft Texts

    Acting on outstanding issues, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon first took up a six-part draft resolution on the pattern of conferences (document A/C.5/59/L.23), by the terms of which the Assembly would approve the revised calendar of the Organization’s conferences and meetings for 2005 and address the issues of utilization of conference-servicing resources and facilities; reform of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management; documentation- and publication-related matters; questions related to translation and interpretation; and information technology.

    The Assembly would note that the overall utilization factor of conference services and facilities at the four main duty stations in 2003 had increased to 77 per cent, and encourage measures to meet the benchmark of 80 per cent.  To achieve the optimum utilization of conference-servicing resources, the Committee on Conferences (COC) would be encouraged to continue consultations with bodies that have consistently underutilized their allocations for the past three sessions, to make appropriate recommendations on the matter. The Secretary-General would be requested to conduct systematic follow-up regarding services utilization in order to identify the underlying causes for being unable to reach the benchmark.

    The Assembly would also welcome the efforts to improve utilization of conference facilities in Nairobi, reaffirming that all meetings of Nairobi-based United Nations bodies shall take place there, except as otherwise authorized by relevant bodies. It would also reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to continue to intensify marketing efforts by the Nairobi Office to attract more meetings to its facilities and ask him to ensure that conference management services there are in line with other duty stations. The text would strongly discourage any invitation to host meetings that would violate the headquarters rule, in particular for Nairobi and other centres with a low utilization level.

    Addressing the ongoing reform of the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management, the Assembly would stress that it is aimed at improving the quality, timely production and delivery of documents, as well as the quality of services provided to Member States, with a view to meeting their needs as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Noting the efforts towards the establishment of the integrated global management system, it would decide to consider current outcomes in the light of the Office for Internal Oversight Services’ report on the issue, at its next session. Also noted in the text would be the preliminary findings of a Secretariat task force to conduct a comprehensive study of workload standards and performance measurement. In that connection, the Secretary-General would be requested to pursue the study of workload standards and performance measurement, with a view to presenting a proposal for a comprehensive methodology from a full-system perspective.

    Also by the text, the Secretary-General would be requested to further develop the responsibility and accountability system within the Secretariat, including the establishment of an interdepartmental mechanism, in order to ensure timely submission of documents for processing and to report on the matter to the next session of the Assembly, through the COC.

    The Secretary-General would be asked to pursue the delivery of summary records -- a useful and vital tool for Member States -- in a more efficient and cost-effective manner, in full consultation with relevant intergovernmental bodies. He would be also requested to examine the option of setting a time frame for the publication of summary records and to present a pilot project to the sixtieth session of the Assembly. As another means of improving services to Member States, the Secretary-General would be requested to enhance the use of printing on demand for parliamentary documentation, on the basis of experience gained and lessons learned, keeping in mind special needs of developing countries.

    Emphasizing the paramount importance of the equality of the six official languages of the United Nations, the Assembly would note with concern the delay in the issuance of verbatim and summary records and request the Secretary-General to ameliorate the situation. The Secretary-General would also be requested to take urgent measures to ensure strict compliance with the six-week rule for the timely issuance of documentation in view of the impact of their late issuance on the functioning of intergovernmental and expert bodies, which had been acutely felt in the main part of the 59th session. The Assembly would also emphasize the need to ensure compliance with page limits, submission schedules, and the rules concerning simultaneous distribution of documents in all official languages with respect to both printed copies and the posting of parliamentary documentation on the Official Document System and the United Nations Web site.

    Requesting the Secretary-General to ensure the highest quality of interpretation and translation services in all languages, the Assembly would ask him to organize informational meetings on terminology and quality of services not once, but twice a year and in a more appropriate setting, with interpretation provided on an as-available basis. When recruiting temporary assistance in language services, the Secretary-General would be asked to ensure equal treatment, working conditions and resources for all the services, with full respect for the specificities of each language.  Further by the text, the Assembly would encourage efforts to explore new technologies, such as computer-assisted translation, remote and off-site translation and speech recognition.

    Expressing deep concern at the high vacancy rates in interpretation and translation services at Nairobi, and the chronic difficulty in staffing the Arabic Interpretation Unit, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to pay greater attention to succession planning and continue competitive examinations in all official languages to fill emerging vacancies in language services in a timely manner.

    The draft was approved without a vote.

    The Committee then took up a draft resolution on Reports of the Joint Inspection Unit (document A/C.5/59/L.24). The representative of South Africa submitted oral revisions.

    By the text, the Assembly would decide that the Unit should mainly focus on identifying means to improve management and ensure that optimum use is made of available resources and that, to that end, it would set out management criteria and methods for assessment of management performance and effectiveness. The Unit should undertake inspections with a sharp focus on those areas and should assess the development and application in participating organizations of the principle of accountability in its relevant reports.

    Further to the text, the Assembly would decide to discontinue the reporting requirement of the Secretary-General on implementation of the recommendations of the Unit.  It would request the Unit as a whole, to take responsibility “in the exercise of its collective wisdom” with regard to all its reports, notes and recommendations in order to improve its effectiveness. The Assembly would decide that the Unit’s programme of work should be collectively approved, providing the rationale for choice, as well as the relevance of the envisaged outcome to improving management and methods and at promoting greater coordination between organizations.

    The Committee approved the draft text as orally revised.

    The representative of the Russian Federation asked that the changes be reflected in the Committee’s report.

    In explanation of the vote after the vote, the representative of Cuba said that, regarding the phrasing “within existing resources” in operative paragraph 25, she reiterated that, if a mandate was granted, the existing resources needed to be granted as well. In that context, Cuba had joined consensus.

    The representative of Nigeria also made short remarks.

    The representative of India submitted oral revisions to a draft resolution entitled United Nations common system: report of the International Civil Service Commission (document A/C.5/59/L.26), by the terms of which the Assembly would take note of the ICSC report, which contains that body’s latest recommendations on the Organization’s pay and benefits system, contractual arrangements and conditions of service of international staff. The representative of Iran submitted oral revisions.

    By this text, the Assembly would note the information provided on the pilot study of proposed broad-banding of salaries and pay for performance system, simultaneously noting that, if all three pay-for-performance models were not tested, the value of the pilot project could be diminished. The Commission would be requested to keep that in mind in its further consideration of the Organization’s pay and benefits system, and volunteering organizations would be encouraged to test all three models.

    The Assembly would also decide that no new strategy on pilot projects in broad-banding or pay for performance should be undertaken until a review of the results of the pilot study on broad banding and pay for performance now under way. Recognizing that an effective and credible performance appraisal system is the key for possible introduction of a pay-for-performance system, the Assembly would request the ICSC to ensure that clear, effective and credible performance appraisal systems are developed in volunteer organizations, in full consultation with staff members.

    Further by the text, the Assembly would take note of several recommendations of the Commission, including the decision to increase the level of hazard pay to locally recruited staff to 25 per cent of the midpoint of the local salary scale, with effect from 1 June 2004, and the decision to grant paternity leaves of up to four weeks to staff members at Headquarters and family duty stations and up to eight weeks for staff at non-family duty stations or in exceptional circumstances, including death of the mother, inadequate medical facilities or complications encountered at time of pregnancy.

    It would also approve the increases in the maximum reimbursement levels for 15 countries, as well as other recommendations in respect to the education grant. In that connection, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the organizations of the common system to bring the matter of payment of the education grant to staff members living in their own countries to the attention of their governing bodies, with a view to harmonizing the staff rules and regulations along the lines of those of the United Nations.

    In reviewing and modernizing the system of grants and allowances, the Commission would be requested to attach priority to enhancing transparency and administrative simplicity. The Assembly would ask to be informed at its 60th session on which entities the Commission uses as comparators for the determination of entitlements such as leave and allowances, and to advise it on the merits and disadvantages of applying as a point of departure the practices of the civil service of the country used as comparator for salary purposes -- the United States.

    Also reaffirmed by the text is the need to continue to ensure the competitiveness of the conditions of service of the United Nations common system. Recalling that the ICSC was requested to continue its review of the relationship between the net remuneration of the United Nations staff in New York and that of the comparator, the Assembly would note that the margin between the remuneration of the P-1 to D-2 staff and the United States civil service employees in comparable positions in Washington, D.C. stood at 110.3. It would reaffirm that the range of 110 to 120 for that margin should continue to apply, on the understanding that it would be maintained around the desirable midpoint of 115 over a period of time. The Assembly would also approve, with effect from 1 January 2005, a 1.88 per cent increase to the current base/floor salary scale for the Professional and higher categories, through standard consolidation procedures, on a no-loss/no-gain basis.

    Also addressed in the text is the establishment of a Senior Management Service, regarding which Euginiusz Wyzner, Vice-Chairman of the ICSC, said on 27 October that the Commission had been surprised at the news that developmental work on the Service had continued and that the Chief Executives Board had approved its establishment in April 2004. While acknowledging the executive heads’ responsibility to enhance the managerial capacity, the Commission affirmed that it was the only body responsible for recommending to the Assembly the establishment of the common system of a separate category of staff or such an entity as a Senior Management Service.

    In this connection, the Assembly would recognize that measures to improve management capacity and performance among senior staff are highly desirable and affirm that the Commission is the only body responsible for recommending the establishment of a separate category of staff for the common system. The Commission would be requested to continue to monitor the project regarding the improvement of management capacity and performance among senior staff by the Chief Executives Board, and make recommendations to the Assembly, as appropriate. The Secretary-General, in his capacity as Chairman of the Chief Executives Board, would be requested to re-designate the “Senior Management Service” to reflect its character as a set of collaborative efforts to enhance the managerial capacity and performance of senior staff by respective executive heads and to report to the Assembly during its 60th session, clarifying the scope and content of such efforts.

    The draft was approved without a vote, as orally revised.

    The representative of the Russian Federation, in explanation of the vote, said the draft resolution in Section III made reference to the fact that a Senior Management Service had been established without consideration by the General Assembly. He was concerned that an Assembly resolution had been disregarded.  That was a serious matter. The Secretariat should draw attention to it and draw the relevant conclusions.

    The representative of Canada, also in explanation of the vote, said that the issue in connection with Section III had been discussed at great length in informal consultations. The issue of the improvement of the quality of management was a high priority in the United Nations system. The Executive Heads had the responsibility for improving the managerial skills of its staff.  The initiative undertaken in its present form was within the prerogative of the Executive Heads.

    Cuba’s representative supported the comments by the representative of the Russian Federation.  She similarly felt that Assembly decisions should be respected by the Secretariat and the study requested should be brought forward.

    The representative of Nigeria also addressed the part of the draft devoted to the Senior Management Service. In that connection, she recalled that, when the Assembly took note of any information placed before it, there was a very straight-forward understanding of what that meant. The Assembly had yet to pronounce itself on that policy. She also echoed the point that the Assembly supported improvement of management and would continue to do so. Her delegation also supported improvement of all staff. She believed that the ICSC had a responsibility to continue monitoring any effort undertaken to improve the managerial or staff competencies. It was in that connection that she viewed the document before the Committee. The Senior Management Service as put forward to the General Assembly had not been endorsed by the Assembly, which still had to consider its adoption and pronounce itself on it, one way or another.

    The Committee then took up one of the most important texts of this session -- a 16-part draft resolution on human resources management (document A/C.5/59/L.30). The draft addresses such important issues as recruitment and placement of candidates, national competitive and “G to P” examinations, measures to improve equitable geographic distribution, gender representation, post structure, mobility, contractual arrangements, appointments under the 100 and 300 series of the Staff Rules in the staffing of field missions, the use of consultants and individual contractors, employment of retired former staff, availability of skills in local labour markets, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, measures to prevent discrimination, and staff-management consultations.

    By the draft, the Assembly would stress the crucial importance of a transparent and timely flow of information from the Secretariat to Member States in matters related to human resources management reform, as well as the need to ensure that adequate mechanisms are in place to ensure the accountability of programme managers for the implementation of human resources policies. The Assembly would reiterate its previous request to the Secretary-General to enhance managerial accountability with respect to human resources decisions, including imposing sanctions in cases of demonstrated mismanagement and wilful neglect of established rules and procedures, while safeguarding the right of due process of all staff members.

    The Secretary-General would also be requested to continue to improve the effectiveness of human resources action plans, including with respect to equitable geographic distribution and gender representation, and to reconstitute the Accountability Panel, ensuring that it has the authority to hold managers accountable for their performance in achieving the objectives of human resources action plans. The Secretary-General would be further requested -- and staff representatives invited -- to engage in a consultative process with a view to resuming the participation of staff representatives in the work of the central review bodies.

    Recognizing the value of a transparent process of recruitment, placement and promotion in the Organization, the Assembly would further note the proposal to reduce the time required for advertising a vacancy from 60 to 45 days, and decide to revert to that issue at its 61st session. The Secretary-General would be requested to continue his efforts to reduce the period required to fill vacancies by addressing all factors contributing to delays in the process of selection, recruitment and placement and to report to the Assembly at its 61st session.

    The Assembly would reaffirm the need to respect the equality of the Secretariat’s two working languages and the use of additional working languages in specific duty stations, as mandated. In this regard, it would request the Secretary-General to ensure that vacancy announcements specify the need for either of the working languages, unless the functions of the post require a specific working language. The Secretary-General would also be requested to maintain a system of circulating printed copies of all vacancy announcements to all delegations.

    Expressing its concern over the deficiencies in the recruitment of international civilian staff in peacekeeping missions, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to rectify the situation and to report thereon at its 61st session.  In view of “a range of weaknesses related to the Galaxy support tool”, the Assembly would make a request that Galaxy be fully developed and made more efficient and user-friendly for the purpose of efficient recruitment. All applicants should be informed about the final result of their applications in a timely fashion. The Secretary-General would be requested to further develop screening mechanisms, making sure that all applications submitted to Galaxy are treated fairly, well-qualified candidates are given due consideration and that keywords outside of the vacancy announcements are not used to exclude well-qualified candidates.

    In connection with the G to P and national competitive examinations, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to appoint to posts not subject to geographic distribution at the P-2 level up to seven successful candidates each year. Up to three successful candidates from each year could be appointed to P-2 posts in duty stations with chronically high vacancy rates when no successful candidates from the national competitive examination are available. The Secretary-General would also be requested to make special efforts to appoint to relevant vacant posts successful candidates from unrepresented and underrepresented Member States who have passed the national competitive examination; and to ensure expeditious placement of as many candidates as feasible who have been placed on the roster following successful completion of national competitive examinations.

    Noting with concern the decline in the proportion of nationals of developing countries in posts at the senior and policy-making levels of the Secretariat, the Assembly -- among other provisions to improve equitable geographical representation at the United Nations -- would ask the Secretary-General to take all measures necessary to improve the situation. It would also authorize the Secretary-General, for a trial period of two years during which the procedures would be fully developed, to establish a special roster of candidates from unrepresented and underrepresented Member States for a number of posts at the P-4 and P-5 levels, until such Member States are within the desirable ranges, and requests the Secretary-General to report thereon to the Assembly at its 61st session.  Noting the number of overrepresented countries under the system of desirable ranges, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide it with analytical information on this issue.

    Further by the text, the Secretary-General would be requested to increase his efforts to attain and monitor the goal of gender parity in the Secretariat, in particular at senior levels, and to ensure that women, especially those from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, are appropriately represented within the Secretariat. Towards that end, the Secretary-General would be requested to develop and implement recruitment targets, time frames and accountability measures.

    On the post structure, the Secretary-General would be requested to make proposals to reform the post structure with a view to considering a possible increase in the proportion of P-2 and P-3 posts, taking advantage of the opportunity provided by the retirement of many senior staff in the coming years.

    When implementing mobility policies, the Assembly would stress that the Secretary-General should ensure that mobility does not negatively affect the continuity and quality of services and the institutional memory and capacity of the Organization; that it does not lead to the transfer or abolition of posts as a result of vacancies; that it has a positive impact in filling high vacancy rates at some duty stations and regional commissions; and there be a clear differentiation between mobility within and across duty stations, the latter being a more important factor in career development. Mobility would be encouraged for all posts in the Professional and higher categories.

    The text was approved without a vote.

    The representative of Yemen, in explanation of the vote, said that previous resolutions had been adopted that provided for opening up of opportunities for citizens of developing countries.  Nevertheless, the situation continued unabated. Posts at the United Nations continued to be the purview of a closed club.  Appointments in many cases continued to be non-competitive, particularly in higher positions. The time had come to take effective and practical measures to break up the prevailing monopoly on appointments in the Organization.  He hoped that the draft text would lead to a palpable and concrete change, reflecting transparency and equity in appointments.

    The representative of the United States expressed disappointment that a long-term viable solution had not been reached on contractual arrangements. “We cannot continue to be remiss in ensuring that staff members are recognized for their contribution to the Organization”, he said.  He looked forward to further consideration of that matter.

    Nigeria’s representative said that her delegation had expressed several concerns in connection with the text -- one of them on the recruitment process and the use of the Galaxy tool. The Secretariat had indicated that efforts were under way to improve its functioning, and she hoped improvements would be implemented expeditiously. She looked forward to a report that would indicate what had been done in that respect.  Her delegation also had concerns about recruitment of women in the Secretariat, particularly women from Africa. Current statistics were disturbing in that regard, and she hoped to see an improvement in the near future.

    During consultations, she had also raised concerns about mobility and high vacancy rates in some duty stations, particularly in Africa, she said. In paragraph 16 of the resolution, the Assembly would take note with concern of paragraph 91 of the Secretary-General’s report and request the Secretary-General to reassess the situation. She invited the Secretary-General to take specific note of that paragraph. She hoped that, in considering the human resources management report next time, an improvement would be seen in all areas highlighted. Her delegation had also expressed its desire to consider the report on possible discrimination in the Secretariat in the context of the administration of justice agenda item, and she was glad that had been reflected in the text.

    The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on programme planning (document A/C.5/59/L.20). The representative of Iran submitted oral revisions in light of the letter from the President of the Assembly, forwarding Programme 19, Human Rights, as revised by open-ended informal consultations of the Third Committee (document A/C.5/59/26).

    He said, addressing the representatives of the Office of Programme Planning and Budget, that he had witnessed that the programme managers received instructions from the Office of Programme Planning prior to approval of the Plan. Changes after adoption of the Plan were not duly taken into account.  In order to avoid that difficulty in the future, the representatives of the Office for Programme Planning and Budget should tell the Programme Managers when they see that parts of the plan were not included.

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would note that the proposed strategic framework for 2006-2007 constitutes the first proposal presented after the approval of its resolution 58/269 on programme planning.

    [Constituting the Organization’s principal policy directive, the framework consists of a plan outline, reflecting longer-term objectives, and a two-year programme plan.  By the terms of General Assembly resolution 58/269, the strategic framework has been prepared on a trial basis, to replace the current four-year plan, which is to end in 2005.  A final decision on the matter is to be made at the Assembly’s 62nd session, following a review of experiences gained.]

    By the draft before the Committee, the Assembly would decide to take no decision on part one:  plan outline of the proposed strategic framework for the period 2006-2007, in view of the differences between Member States on its content.  In that connection, the Secretary-General would be requested to prepare a plan outline, reflecting the longer-term objectives of the Organization and a biennial programme plan in the context of the strategic framework for 2008-2009.  Such an outline should be prepared using intergovernmentally agreed terms and expressions and would be based on the longer-term objectives consistent with all the relevant legislative mandates in all areas of the United Nations activities; outcomes of international conferences and summits; and inputs from programme managers.

    The Assembly would further decide on the main priorities for 2006-2007 on the basis of which –- together with the biennial programme plan as adopted in the draft -- the Secretary-General should prepare the budget proposal for the next biennium.  Those include maintenance of international peace and security, sustainable development, development of Africa, promotion of human rights, coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts, justice and international law, disarmament, drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

    Also by the text, endorsing the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) on the biennial plan for 2006-2007 as contained in the CPC report and as recommended by the Main Committees regarding relevant programmes, the Assembly would outline its comments and introduce changes to the 26 programmes constituting the plan.  It would also take note of the Secretary-General’s report on programme performance of the United Nations for 2002-2003.  The Secretary-General would be requested to ensure that future such reports provide more detailed information on the reasons for less than full implementation of programmes’ outputs, as well as their postponement or termination.  Also addressed in the draft are the conclusions of the CPC on strengthening the role of evaluation findings in programme design, delivery and policy directives and means of improving the working methods and procedures of the Committee for Programme and Coordination within the framework of its mandate.

    The text was approved without a vote, as orally revised.

    In explanation of the vote after action, the United States’ representative said that he did not accept the definition of the right to development as it was used in the United Nations context.  In joining consensus on the text, he understood that term to mean that each individual should enjoy the right to develop his or her intellectual or other capabilities to the maximum extent possible, through the exercise of the full range of civil and political rights.

    The Committee then turned its attention to the Programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005, and had before it a document entitled consideration of special subjects (A/C.5/59/L.25), containing 12 draft texts.

    By draft resolution A, on administrative arrangements for the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO, the Assembly would take note of the reports of the Secretary-General, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the OIOS on the matter and would request the Secretary-General to expeditiously implement the recommendations contained in the OIOS report.

    Draft resolution B, on progressive implementation of article 20 of the statue of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to include in the programme budget proposals for progressive increases for contributions from the regular budget to the Office with a view to the full implementation of article 20 of the Office’s statute.  [According to article 20 of the statute of the Office of the High Commissioner, unless the Assembly decided otherwise, no expenditure, other than the administrative expenditures relating to the functioning of the Office of the High Commissioner, was to be borne by the budget of the United Nations, and all other expenditures relating to the activities of the High Commissioner were to be financed by voluntary contributions.]  The Assembly would call on the Office to keep its support costs under review in order to reduce them as a percentage of total budget expenditure.

    Draft resolution C was a text on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council at its substantive and resumed substantive sessions of 2004.  By that text, the Assembly would take note of the reports of the Secretary-General and the related reports of the ACABQ on the matter, on the understanding that necessary appropriations, not exceeding $573,600, would be requested by the Secretary-General in the context of a consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates.

    Draft resolution D, on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, by which the Assembly would approve the request to change the ceiling to $200,000 for unforeseen and extraordinary expenses that may be certified by the President of the International Court of Justice without prior concurrence of the ACABQ in connection with the designation of ad hoc judges, and the proposal to maintain an amount of $400,000 in the regular budget to accommodate the recurring requirements for ad hoc judges.

    Draft resolution E, on a request for a subvention to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research resulting from the recommendations of the Board of Trustees of the Institute on the programme of work of the Institute for 2005, would have the Assembly approve the requested subvention of $227,600, to be recosted, for 2005 from the regular United Nations budget, on the understanding that no additional appropriation would be required under the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005.

    Draft resolution F on construction of additional conference facilities at the Vienna International Centre, recommends that the Assembly approve the terms proposed by the Secretary-General for participation of the United Nations, along with the other organizations located in the Centre, in the arrangements for the proposed new conference facility, and to entrust him to determine the cost-sharing arrangements for potential future costs sharing, on the understanding that the relating financial requirements will be dealt with within the context of the proposed programme budget for the respective bienniums.

    Draft resolution G, on strengthening the department of Public Information, within the existing capacity, in order to support and enhance the United Nations Web site in all official languages of the Organization:  Status of implementation, would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to submit proposals in that context within the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007.

    Draft decision H, on revised estimates and programme budget implication:  effects of changes in rates of exchange and inflation, would have the Assembly approve the adjustments to revised estimates and statements of programme budget implications in the Secretary-General’s report and the oral statement of the Chairman of the ACABQ, as applicable, subject to approval of related amounts for individual revised estimates and statements of programme budget implications.

    Draft resolution I, on the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005, by which would have the Assembly approve a net increase of $172.85 million in the appropriation approved for the biennium 2004-2005 and a net increase of $9.41 million in the estimates of income for the biennium, to be apportioned among expenditures and income sections as indicated in the report of the Secretary-General and amended to reflect the recommendation of the ACABQ.  The Assembly would decide to approve a gross budget of the Joint Inspection Unit for the year of 2005 in the amount of $5.39 million.

    On the need to strengthen the Office of the President of the General Assembly, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure full and expeditious implementation of paragraph 10 of Assembly resolution 58/126 in that regard.  It would also request the Secretary-General to fill expeditiously vacant positions for Web site assistants in all official languages from external candidates utilizing general temporary assistance.

    Draft resolution J, on estimates in respect to special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, would have the Assembly approve the budgets of the 25 special political missions as presented in the Secretary-General’s report (document A/59/534), totalling estimated requirements in the amount of some $174.75 million gross ($162.61 million net) for the period up to 31 December 2005 and decide to appropriate the necessary funds.

    By the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General, in preparing the next budget proposals for the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, to consider streamlining the structure and level of positions, as well as its relationship with the Department of Political Affairs.  It would also request him to recruit staff for the Directorate in full compliance with Assembly resolutions and decide that the use of experts and consultants for the Security council Committee established pursuant to Council resolution 1540 (2004) [on proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons] should also be in full compliance with those resolutions.

    The Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $20 million to supplement the financial resources of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, with effect from 1 January through 31 December 2005, under the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005, and request him to continue efforts to raise voluntary contributions in support of the Court.

    Draft resolution K, on financial viability of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, would have the Assembly, taking note with concern of the observations and conclusions of the Board of Trustees in document A/59/271, request the Secretary-General to submit, as a priority, at the beginning of the Assembly’s 60th session, a comprehensive report on all aspects of the financial situation of the Institute, including proposals addressing the long-term, sound and predictable funding of rent and maintenance costs.  It would decide to consider the outcome of that report in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007.

    By draft decision L, on administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations contained in the report of the International Civil Service Commission for 2004, the Committee recommended to the Assembly that it take note of the statement submitted by the Secretary-General (document A/59/429) on the matter, as well as of the related ACABQ report (document A/59/522).

    The Committee approved the texts in the document without a vote.

    Syria’s representative, in explanation of the vote, addressed section G of the document on the strengthening of the United Nations Web site in all official languages of the Organization.  In that connection, he drew the Committee’s attention to the need to support the Web site, particularly in Arabic, in view of that language’s specificities and the fact that it used other than Latin characters.  He requested that the vacancy at the P-3 level be filled as soon as possible to allow the Arabic section to implement its mandate.  Resources should be allocated to fully realize parity among all official languages.  It was also necessary to appoint candidates to ensure that the Department of Public Information had appropriate staffing capacity in all official languages.

    The Committee also had before it a draft resolution (document A/C.5/59/L.32) to which the representative of Syria made oral revisions.  By the terms of the text the Assembly would approve an additional appropriation under the regular budget in the amount of some $53.63 million for a strengthened and unified United Nations security system.  Providing that amount, the Assembly would recognize the need for a clearer presentation of security spending by each organization of the United Nations system, and request the Secretary-General, as Chair of the Chief Executive Board, to inform the General Assembly at its 60th session on that issue.  The Secretary-General would also be requested to examine the possibility for further integration and rationalization of the security management system and to report thereon to the 61st session.  At the 60th session, the Secretary-General would be required to submit a report on the implementation of the plan.

    The Assembly would decide to establish the Department of Safety and Security.  On an exceptional basis, and without setting any precedent, the Assembly would also decide that the Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security shall serve for one term non-renewable and not exceeding 5 years.  Also to be established would be a D-2 post as a Deputy to the Under-Secretary-General, which would be reviewed in the context of the implementation report to be submitted to the General Assembly by the Secretary-General at its 60th session.

    The Assembly would also establish 383 new security and safety officer posts within the General Service and related categories, of which 249 would be established posts and 134 are on a temporary post basis. The Secretary-General would be urged to preserve the international character of the Organization in the recruitment of relevant categories of safety and security staff.

    Recognizing that that United Nations security management requires clear lines of authority and accountability at all managerial levels at Headquarters and in the field, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to present at its 60th session an accountability framework for the United Nations security management system as a whole which would update the report on field security contained in document A/57/365; make clear the role of each responsible official; and provide information on how non-military lines of security-related authority lead to the head of the security Department.

    The Assembly would defer consideration of some parts of the Secretary-General’s plan to improve safety and security, including his proposal on the Global Access Control system, pending the receipt of a detailed report on the matter.

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

    In explanation of the vote after the vote, Norway’s representative said that he was very disappointed that Member states had not been able to provide the funding that had been requested for strengthening the safety and security system of the United Nations.  He was also disappointed with the decision to keep the present cost-sharing arrangements between the United Nations funds, programmes and other entities.  Norway’s position continued to be that the cost-sharing should be abolished.  A strengthened security system should not depend on voluntary contributions provided for development assistance.  It should indeed be a shared responsibility for Member States to provide such funding.

    The representative of Mexico said that his country placed the greatest importance on the issue of safety and security.  All United Nations bodies must share the responsibility in that area within the scope of their competence.

    As he had stated in the general debate, Mexico had promoted the adoption of the resolution on safety and security in the Council.  The political commitment of his Government to the question of safety and security of the United Nations premises and staff was resolute.  It was up to the Fifth Committee to give the United Nations the necessary tools to establish a strengthened and unified security management system.  He welcomed the fact that compromise had been reached on the issue.

    He added that his delegation would have liked to play a more active role in the negotiations, but there were many ways to keep a constructive attitude during the negotiations, and his delegation had acted according to that principle.

    Under-Secretary-General for Management, CATHERINE ANN BERTINI, said the Secretary-General, when presenting the proposal, had said it was arguably the most important proposal he had ever made to the Assembly.  She was, therefore, pleased that a substantial part of the proposal had been passed and thanked all those who had made the resolution possible, including the staff of the Secretariat.  Implementing the resolution was a large challenge, and the Secretariat would diligently work towards implementation.

    Presented to the Committee in a single document (document A/C.5/59/L.21), introduced following informal consultations, were five draft decisions related to programme budget implications of other bodies’ texts.

    Draft decision A related to a programme budget implications statement arising out of the decision by the Sixth Committee (Legal) to establish a working group to finalize the text of a United Nations declaration on human cloning.  The proposal was made on the basis of draft resolution A/C.6/59/L.26.  The working group would meet on 14, 15 and 18 February 2005, and the Sixth Committee would meet in the afternoon of 18 February 2005 to consider its report.

    Having considered the statement, the Fifth Committee would decide to inform the Assembly that no additional appropriation would be required to service the five-day session of the working group in February 2005 and that the requirements, if any, relating to the formal meeting of the sixth Committee anticipated for 18 February should be considered in the context of the second performance report for 2004-2005.

    By draft decision B, the Committee would inform the Assembly that adoption of draft resolution A/C.3/59/L.31 on the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families would not give rise to any additional requirements under the programme budget for 2004-2005. Moreover, actual savings resulting from the reduction in conference servicing requirements would be reported to the Assembly in the context of the second performance report for 2004-2005.

    By the Third Committee text, the Assembly would welcome the establishment of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers, as well as the report of its first session.  Paragraph 8 of that report states that the Committee decided to hold two week-long sessions in 2005, one in July and one in October.  This arrangement would replace a three-week session, which had been programmed before the establishment of the Committee, only for 2005.

    Draft decision C deals with programme budget implications of draft resolution A/C.3/59/L.49, by the terms of which the Secretary-General would be requested to continue to provide his good offices and to pursue his discussions on the situation of human rights and the restoration of democracy with the Government and the people of Myanmar; to give necessary assistance to enable his Special Envoy for Myanmar, as well as to the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, to discharge their mandates; and to report to the Assembly at its 60th session and to the Commission on Human Rights at its 61st session on the progress made on the implementation of the resolution.

    By the text, the Fifth Committee would inform the Assembly that the adoption of the draft would entail additional appropriations for 2004-2005 in the amount of $246,200 under section 3, Political affairs, and an amount of $42,500 under section 34, Staff assessment, to be offset by the corresponding amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment.

    By the terms of draft decision D on future operation of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), the Committee would inform the Assembly that should it adopt, as an exceptional measure, a related draft resolution by the Third Committee (document A/C.3/59/L.26), additional requirements of some $1.09 million would arise under section 9 of the programme budget for 2004-2005.

    By the terms of that Third Committee text, the Assembly would decide to provide its full support to the current efforts to revitalize INSTRAW and ensure that the Institute would be able to continue functioning for a period of at least one year (from 1 January 2005 to 31 December 2005).  Appropriated against the contingency fund, the amount in question would be used, should there be a shortage of voluntary contributions for the functioning of INSTRAW in 2005. The Secretary-General would be requested to report to the Assembly as a matter of priority, early during the main part of its 60th session, on the overall financial situation of INSTRAW.

    Also, draft decision E concerns a programme budget implications statement on resolution A/C.3/59/L.29/Rev.1, entitled “Rights of the Child”.  Among other things, that resolution would propose that the Committee on the Rights of the Child work in two chambers for a period of two years to clear the backlog of reports of States parties.  It would also request the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to continue to submit reports to the Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights.

    The Fifth Committee would inform the Assembly that implementation of those terms would entail additional resource requirements of some $1.62 million under the 2004-05 budget. That would represent a charge against the contingency fund.  A staff assessment of $120,000 would be offset by the same amount under income section 1:  Income from staff assessment.  The Committee would also decide to revert to the issue of financing for 2006 in connection with the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in the context of the proposed budget for 2006-2007.

    All decisions were adopted without a vote.

    In explanation of position, the representative of the United States said his country had always been supportive of the Rights of the Child.  It opposed, however, the manner in which the idea was promoted and opposed any provisions with financial implications.

    The representative of Uganda said he had joined the consensus on the understanding that the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict would produce accurate reporting in the future and that the Secretary-General would address concerns about the Office’s leadership.

    The Committee also approved a draft decision contained in document A/C.5/59/L.27 by which it would inform the Assembly that, should it adopt draft resolution A/C.5/L.20 on programme planning, the budget for 2004-05 would be modified, and that an additional amount of $500,000 would be required under section 29B, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, subject to the procedures for the use of the contingency fund.  The Assembly, noting the possible substantial costs related to implementation of a cost-accounting system, would request the Secretary-General to provide a full presentation of the financial implications of such a system at the 60th session.

    The programme budget implications statement in this regard concerns several paragraphs of the Committee for Programme and Coordination’s report (document A/59/16).  In particular, by the terms of paragraph 349, the Secretary-General would be requested to develop improved tools for identifying the cost of activities and outputs.  Such a request would necessitate a feasibility study in 2005, additional requirements for which were estimated at $500,000.

    Cuba’s representative said that her delegation had agreed to the approval of the draft without a vote on the understanding that the Committee would return to analyse the matter when the study had been carried out.  Of particular concern to her delegation was reference to the considerable financial cost.  While not opposed to consideration of various systems, she believed that such systems should allow the Organization to be more effective and efficient.  They should be considered from the point of view of cost.

    WARREN SACHS, Director, Programme, Planning and Budget Division, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the contingency fund:  consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates, contained in document A/C.5/27.  According to the report, the available balance in the contingency fund for the biennium 2004-2005 is $11.74 million.  The consolidated amount of new and potential charges of $3.89 million at revised 2004-2005 rates detailed in the report is, therefore, within the available balance of the contingency fund.

    VLADIMIR KUZNETSOV, Chairman, Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, presented the Advisory Committee’s views on the report.  The report was a routine one and reflected consolidations of programme budget implications.

    The Committee recommended that the Assembly note that a balance of $7.85 million remained in the contingency fund.

    The Secretariat informed the Committee that, in draft resolution document A/C.59/59/L.25 two paragraphs were missing.  Those paragraphs would be reflected in the document to be submitted to the Assembly.

    The Committee also approved the draft report of the Fifth Committee (document A/C.5/59/L.33), as submitted by the Committee’s Rapporteur DENISA HUTANOVA (Slovakia).  Part VI of that report contains the recommendations of the Fifth Committee.  All sections of draft resolution I, entitled “Questions relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005” had been adopted at the meeting.

    Draft resolution II, entitled “Programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005” was divided in three sections:  A) revised budget appropriations for the biennium 2004-2005; B) revised income estimates for the biennium 2004-2005; and C) financing of the appropriations for the year 2005.

    Without a vote, the Committee approved draft resolution II.

    The Committee then adopted the draft report of the Fifth Committee on the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005 contained in document A/C.5/59/L.33 parts I and II without a vote.

    A Secretariat representative informed the Committee that in draft resolution A/C.5/59/L.29 the figure in paragraph 6 should be $3.62 billion.  The figure in paragraph 10 should be $27.2 million.

    The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the proposed budget outline for the biennium 2006-2007 (document A/C.5/59/L.29), by the terms of which the Assembly would request the Secretary-General, in view of his preliminary indicative estimates contained in the proposed budget outline, to reflect the Organization’s main priorities -- also outlined in the draft resolution on the proposed strategic framework for 2006-2007 (document A/C.5/59/L.20) -- when presenting the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007.

    Also by the text, the Assembly would decide that the contingency fund for unexpected and extraordinary purposes would be set at the level of 0.75 per cent of the preliminary estimate for the biennium and that its amount would be in addition to the overall level of that estimate.  Once finalized, the amount of the preliminary estimate for 2006-2007 would also be included in the text.

    The text was approved without a vote.

    Turning its attention to the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) -- the principal oversight body of the United Nations, the Committee took up a draft resolution on Reports of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (document A/C.5/59/L.17), by which the Assembly would endorse relevant recommendations of the OIOS regarding improvement of internal controls in management, accounting and reports of assets of all United Nations field missions.  In particular, it would request the Secretary-General to codify appropriate procedures for purchasing and utilization of vehicles and other equipment by United Nations field missions to ensure compliance with the procedures.

    By the text, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to ensure that the OIOS continues to provide internal oversight of the entire claims process of the United Nations Compensations Commission.  It would request him to ensure that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees develops and utilizes comprehensive policy guidelines for the management of consultants to ensure transparency and objectivity, and to make greater efforts to ensure geographical balance in the use of consultants.

    Noting with concern the annual OIOS report’s remarks on the management and control of United Nations Laissez-Passer, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure the development of appropriate Organization-wide rules, policies and procedures in that respect.

    The draft was approved without a vote.

    The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said she was puzzled to see how the word “endorses” had crept into paragraph 7.  She had not been aware that it had been agreed upon and strongly disagreed with paragraph 7. The Committee always recommended that the Assembly take note of OIOS recommendations and not endorse.  The rules of procedures stated that the Assembly should merely take note of reports that did not require a decision of the Assembly.

    The Committee also approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on the Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (document A/C.5/59/L.18), by which the Assembly would note with concern the findings of the Office on investigations, including those related to allegations of fraud in United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  It would also note that some of those findings reflected serious managerial problems and lack of control.  The Assembly would stress the crucial importance of establishing an effective system of accountability throughout the Secretariat to prevent such problems and to make programme managers accountable.

    By the text, the Secretary-General would be requested to ensure strict conformity with the highest standards of quality when recruiting staff to fill language posts and also to ensure that OIOS continued to provide internal oversight of the entire claims process of the United Nations Compensation Commission.

    Taking up a draft resolution on the implementation of Assembly resolutions 48/218B and 54/244 (document A/C.5/59/L.28), the Committee addressed the function and reporting procedures of the OIOS.

    By the draft, the Assembly would decide to maintain the reporting procedures for OIOS in full compliance with Assembly resolutions on the matter and request the Secretary-General to ensure that the Office’s annual and semi-annual reports contain titles and brief summaries of all OIOS reports issued during the reporting period.  Original versions of the OIOS reports not submitted to the Assembly should, upon request, be made available to any Member State.  Where access to a report would be inappropriate for reasons of confidentiality or the risk of violating the due process rights of individuals involved in investigations, reports may be modified, or withheld in extraordinary circumstances, at the discretion of the Under-Secretary-General for Oversight.

    Affirming its primary role in the consideration and actions on the reports presented to it, the Assembly would further decide that OIOS reports should be submitted directly to the Assembly as submitted by the Office and that the comments of the Secretary-General may be submitted in a separate report.

    Noting that no mechanism has been established for the follow-up of OIOS recommendations, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of establishing real, effective and efficient mechanisms for responsibility and accountability.  It would regret that, despite previous information provided by the Secretary-General on the establishment of accountability mechanisms, including the accountability panel, such mechanisms are not in place, thereby affecting the efficient and effective functioning of the Organization.

    To effectively “feed” findings and recommendations of the OIOS and two other oversight bodies -– the Joint Inspection Unit and the Board of Auditors –- into the executive management processes, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to establish a high-level follow-up mechanism as soon as possible and report on the results achieved in the context of a newly requested annual report on the review of efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations.

    Reaffirming the role of the Board of Auditors and the Joint Inspection Unit as external oversight bodies, the Assembly would also affirm that any external review, audit, evaluation or investigation of the Office can only be undertaken by those bodies, or those mandated to do so by the Assembly.  The Assembly would also emphasize the importance of effective coordination in the implementation of oversight bodies’ respective mandates.  It would stress the vital importance of the evaluation function of the OIOS and request the Secretary-General to better reflect related objectives, expected accomplishments, and performance indicators in future programmes and budgetary submissions of the Office.  The Secretary-General would also be requested to report to the next session on ways of guaranteeing full operational independence of the OIOS.

    The draft resolution was approved without a vote.

    In explanation of the vote after action, the representative of the United States said he was deeply dissatisfied with the process and the outcome of negotiations on draft resolution A/C.5/59/L.17.  He did not agree with the word “endorses” in operative paragraph 7 of that text and regretted that the error had not been corrected.  However, he had agreed to move forward.  He emphasized that the reporting and recommendation procedures of the OIOS would remain the same, in spite of the word “endorses”.

    The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, aligned himself with the statement made by the representative of the United States, and expressed distress about the process.  The draft text had been adopted despite the fact that it had not been approved in consultations.  He regretted the position that had been taken by some delegations in order to force agreement at the late stage.  During informal consultations, it was vital that delegations worked on the basis of trust and integrity.  The Union felt let down in that regard and did not accept the word “endorse” in paragraph 7.

    The representative of Switzerland supported the position of Australia, United States and the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, saying that she strongly disagreed with the language in paragraph 7 of draft resolution A/C.5/59/L.17 and had never knowingly agreed to that paragraph.  She wanted to make it clear that her delegation would be very vigilant in the future to make sure that such resolutions would not be adopted.  She believed the paragraph in question should not set a precedent.

    Japan’s representative fully supported preceding speakers.

    Cuba’s representative said that her delegation deeply regretted that the session was drawing to a close with the statements just made.  She rejected the comments regarding tactics.  Her colleagues knew that Cuba always behaved in good faith and on the basis of full respect for other delegations.  It also believed in equity in negotiations, where all negotiators were on equal footing.  It had participated with others in consultations on the matter.  In view of allegations that her delegation had acted in bad faith, it had the right to defend its position.  She regretted that she had had to intervene with such a statement at the closing of the session, which should have been a period of renewed solidarity. Her delegation would also make its position known in the plenary tomorrow.

    Syria’s representative said that he was surprised the matter had been raised now.  He had been among the delegations seeking amendments that had been agreed to.  He was concerned over the attempt of some delegations to submit amendments after agreement had been reached.  That was against the consensus practice of the Committee and undermined trust.  The paragraph had been adopted in good faith.  That was a new practice for the Assembly to participate in evaluating the OIOS.

    The representative of India said he was distressed by some of the comments made.  Every delegation had acted in good faith and with integrity during negotiations on all resolutions.  He hoped such comments would not be repeated.

    The representative of Turkey, associated himself with the statements made by the representative of the United States, the European Union, Switzerland and Japan.

    The Committee was then informed that part one of the resumed session would take place from 7 March to 1 April, and the second part from 2 to 27 May.

    Finally, the Committee approved, without a vote, a text (document A/C.5/59/L.31), by which the Assembly would decide to defer 10 issues under agenda item 108:  “Programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005”, and 11 items under agenda item 120:  “Administration of justice at the United Nations” to its resumed session.

    In concluding remarks, the Committee’s Chairman, DON MACKAY (New Zealand) thanked all colleagues for the huge amount of work.  He said he had been impressed with the level of commitment and professionalism in the Committee and the support provided by the Secretariat.  He also thanked the Advisory Committee.  The process had been tough and had put pressure on all, and a huge amount of work had been accomplished.  It was, therefore, inevitable, when working under the pressure of time and volume at the end of the session, that there would be misunderstandings.  Those misunderstandings were to be regretted and would not impact on the future work of the Committee.

    The representatives of Qatar (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Panama (on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean States Group), Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), Romania (on behalf of the Eastern European Group) and Japan also made concluding remarks.

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