Press Releases

    GA/AB/3661
    10 March 2005 

    Budget Committee Takes up Administration of Justice within UN System

    NEW YORK, 9 March (UN Headquarters) -- Speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning insisted that there should be no further delay in introducing changes to the administration of justice within the United Nations, with effective accountability and transparency required throughout the system.  That system includes the United Nations Administrative Tribunal and the Joint Appeals Boards (New York, Geneva, Vienna, Nairobi), among others.

    According to an Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report before the Committee, the main problems on the issue had been identified as far back as 1985.  Many issues were since tackled in resolution 57/307, which reaffirmed the need to ensure the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, as well as the principles of fairness and due process in the system of administration of justice within the Organization.  Among other things, that text authorized the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to conduct a management review of the appeals process and welcomed the establishment of the post of Ombudsman to strengthen informal mechanisms for conflict resolution.

    However, when the Committee again took up the matter last November, speakers once more referred to such problems as the slowness of the appeals process; the gap between the resources available to the appellants and the respondent; and what could be perceived as a conflict of interest, with the United Nations Administrative Tribunal dependent on the Office of Legal Affairs for its administration and budget.

    During today’s discussion, India’s representative noted “a certain lack of enthusiasm” on the part of the Secretariat, saying that the zeal for reform that was witnessed in other areas appeared to be markedly absent when it came to the reform of the administration of justice.  Reports had been late in issuance, the agenda item had been postponed from session to session, and OIOS recommendations had received only qualified acceptance by the Secretariat.

    The delays at each stage surely made a travesty of justice at the United Nations, he said.  “The paraphernalia of a justice system” existed in the United Nations, but could they be effective when it took a manager on average 448 days to respond to an appeal; when cases at the Joint Appeals Board meandered on for over three years; when the Panel of Counsel was composed of volunteer staff with no legal assistance; when the whole of the United Nations had only two General Service staff to present cases; and when members of the Tribunal received a dollar a year for their work?  The delays could be attributed not only to the lack of resources, but also to the apathy of managers -- apathy borne out of what had been termed a pervasive sense of impunity.

    Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Jamaica’s representative said that, in view of longstanding problems, there should be no further delay in improving the system.  The OIOS had made 18 recommendations, with some of which the Secretary-General had agreed.  He had stated, however, that the system did not need an overall overhaul and that delays were mainly the result of inadequate resources.  The Secretary-General’s proposals were limited in scope, focusing mainly on financial resources for clearing the backlog and for training.  The Group intended to consider the fundamental policy issues that needed to be addressed in order to ensure effective reform.

    Many speakers agreed that the administration of justice was an integral part of human resources management and expressed doubt that additional resources alone would be sufficient to provide solutions.  Many expressed disappointment that the Advisory Committee had decided to delay a comprehensive consideration of the issues, intending to resume its review of the matter under the programme budget for 2006-2007.

    Among those was the representative of Australia, who also spoke for Canada and New Zealand.  He said the scope of problems appeared to require a comprehensive response.  Each element of the machinery must be examined.  Among the issues that needed to be addressed, were the dynamics of staff-management relations and the frequency of frivolous appeals.  Initiatives to reduce appeals should be two-pronged:  educating managers about their responsibilities; and responding to decisions by the Tribunal that exposed management weaknesses or inappropriate behaviour by staff.  Greater efforts should be made to settle disputes informally.

    The representative of Belgium, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that, while some measures required swift action, other questions needed to be deeply analysed before more general political decisions were taken.  The Union was prepared to approve the transfer of resources for the Administrative Tribunal to a different section of the budget to ensure its financial independence.  It was also in favour of a swift approval of $462,100 to deal with a backlog in cases.  As for the themes of a more general nature, he recognized the importance of the ACABQ review and took note of the Advisory Committee’s decision in that regard.

    Statements were also made by representatives of Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), Cuba, the United States, Syria and South Africa.  The reports before the Committee were introduced by Vladimir Kuznetsov, Chairman of the ACABQ, and Antigoni Axenidou, Senior Legal Adviser of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management.  Ms. Axenidou also responded to questions from the floor, as did the Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Rajat Saha.

    The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 16 March, when it is scheduled to take up the financing of peacekeeping missions in Cyprus and Kosovo.

    Background

    The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to take up several reports on the administration of justice at the United Nations this morning.

    The Secretary-General’s report on administration of justice in the Secretariat (document A/59/706) contains cost implications of the recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services following its management review of the appeals process, issued in document A/59/408.  Recommendations included allocation of additional resources to the organization units involved in the appeals process.

    According to the report, the estimated resource requirements stemming from the recommendations for the biennium 2004-2005 include:  $177,800 for the Office of Human Resources Management for eliminating the current backlog in conducting administrative review and preparing respondents’ replies to the Joint Appeals Board; $240,800 for the Geneva and Nairobi Joint Appeals Boards for eliminating the current backlog in appeals; $13,500 for the Office of the Under-Secretary-General; and $30,000 for training.  The total cost of $462,100 will be accommodated from within existing 2004-2005 resources.

    Additional resource requirements for the biennium 2006-2007 amount to some $1.02 million, of which $57,000 is proposed to be accommodated from existing resources.  The requirements include:  one P-5 and one P-3 post for the New York Joint Appeals Board; one P-4 for the Panel of Counsel; one P-3 for the Administrative Law Unit in the Office of Human Resources Management; upgrading of a P-2 to P-3 post (Deputy Secretary) for the Geneva Joint Appeals Board; one P-3 for the Vienna Joint appeals Board; and 12 months of general temporary assistance for the Nairobi Joint Appeals Board.  The total additional resource requirements of $964,600 represent recurring requirements needed to keep cases current and within time limits.

    Commenting on the issue, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) in its report (document A/59/715) expresses its regret that the requested report (A/59/706) was not received until 18 February, although it had been requested on 24 November 2004.  Moreover, the current report did not fully respond to the Committee’s request for a clear justification of needs, as well as a full exposé of what would be achieved through the provision of additional resources.

    The report recalls that the Advisory Committee first raised the issue in its first report on the proposed programme budget for 1986-1987 and states that the Committee intends to revert to the issue when it takes up the proposed programme budget for 2006-2007.  The Secretary-General’s proposals will be considered in the wider context, including the reasons why staff seek recourse to the justice system on the one hand, and the reasons for the volume of cases under consideration on the other.  According to the Committee, the problems besetting the administration of justice in the Secretariat involve much more than a perceived lack of resources.  At the core of the matter lay difficulties with administrative processes and procedures and the culture of staff-management relations.

    The Committee’s examination would touch not only on the matter of the Joint Appeals Board, but would also include relevant activities of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of Legal Affairs, the Office of Human Resources Management, the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management, as well as the Administrative Tribunal.  The Committee intends to consult with other institutions, including the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

    In the meantime, the Advisory Committee recommends that the Secretariat be authorized to proceed with its effort to eliminate current backlogs, using existing resources, as proposed by the Secretary-General.  It expects a progress report when it next takes up the matter in spring/summer.  It trusts that proposals for the 2006-2007 programme budget will address the Committee’s concerns for full justification.

    The Secretary-General’s report on the possibility of the financial independence of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal (UNAT) from the Office of Legal Affairs (document A/59/78) recommends that the Assembly approve the transfer of resources related to the Administrative Tribunal from Section 8, Office of Legal Affairs, to Section 1, overall policy-making, direction and coordination, effective as of the biennium 2006-2007.  That action would result in the avoidance of any appearance of undue influence by the Respondent.

    The request for such action was contained in Assembly resolution 57/307 of 15 April 2003, by the terms of which the Secretary-General was requested to take steps to ensure the independence of the Administrative Tribunal and the separation of its secretariat from the Office of Legal Affairs, and to study the possibility of its financial independence.  Subsequently, in its budget resolution 58/270 of 23 December 2003, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit the report on the matter at its fifty-ninth session.

    The Tribunal was established by the General Assembly in 1949 as an independent organ competent to hear and pass judgement upon applications alleging non-observance of contracts of employment of staff members of the Secretariat of the United Nations or of their terms of appointment.  The Tribunal may also hear applications alleging non-observance of the regulations and rules of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.  For the biennium 2004-2005, the level of resources allocated to the Tribunal and its secretariat amounts to some $1.53 million, which provides for four posts (one P-5, one P-3, and two GS/OL) and various non-post items.

    Currently, the Tribunal secretariat is supported in its day-to-day activities by the Executive Office of the Office of Legal Affairs.  According to the report, without such service, the Tribunal “would need an entire administrative infrastructure of its own”.  The Secretary-General states that the Tribunal is financially independent from the Office of Legal Affairs insofar as separate budgetary provisions are made for its operation.  These are reflected under the heading “policy-making organs” of Section 8, Office of Legal Affairs, of the programme budget.

    Also according to the report, relocating the Tribunal to another section of the budget would not only address the request in resolution 58/270, but would also bring the Tribunal and its secretariat in line with comparable subsidiary organs of the Assembly, including the ACABQ, the Committee on Contributions, the Board of Auditors, and the Pension Fund, which are financially and operationally independent and the budgetary provisions for which are reflected under budget Section 1, overall policy-making, direction and coordination.

    Introduction of Documents

    ANTIGONI AXENIDOU, Senior Legal Adviser of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the administration of justice in the Secretariat (document A/59/706).

    VLADIMIR KUZNETSOV, Chairman of the ACABQ, introduced a related ACABQ report, recalling that the Secretary-General’s report had been issued in response to an ACABQ request for additional information on the cost requirements.  He regretted that the document had not been published until February.  It also did not fully respond to the requirements of the ACABQ for an analysis and justification of the financial resources necessary to achieve the objectives referred to in the main report.  In any case, provision of additional resources would not by itself provide a response to the problems in the administration of justice and staff-management relations.

    He added that, among other steps, it was also necessary to address the issue of frivolous suits.  The Advisory Committee had long ago raised the issue of the administration of justice, pointing out that specific steps were needed to simplify rules and procedures, identify the reasons for a high number of appeals and streamline the appeals process.

    On a related matter, the possibility of the financial independence of the Administrative Tribunal from the Office of Legal Affairs, he said that the transfer would be effective in the new biennium.  From the technical point of view, such matters would be best dealt in the context of the proposed budget, but, in any case, the matter required a policy decision from the General Assembly.

    NORMA TAYLOR ROBERTS (Jamaica) speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the issue of administration of justice at the United Nations and the deficiencies in the system had been on the agenda for many years.  Problems in delays and transparency were longstanding.  There should, therefore, be no further delay in improving the system.  Administration of justice was an integral part of human resources management.  The OIOS had made a number of recommendations, with some of which the Secretary-General had agreed.  He had stated, however, that the system did not need an overall overhaul and that delays were mainly the result of inadequate resources.

    She said the Secretary-General’s proposals were limited in scope.  The Group intended to consider the fundamental policy issues that needed to be addressed in order to ensure effective reform.  She was, therefore, disappointed that the ACABQ had decided to delay a comprehensive consideration of the issues.  The report of the Secretary-General focused mainly on financial resources for clearing the backlog and for training.  She requested the ACABQ to undertake a comprehensive review as soon as possible.  She called on the Committee to propose concrete actions to effect changes in the administration of justice.

    As for the independence of the Administrative Tribunal, she said that confidence of employees and management was critical to the system’s integrity.  Assembly resolution 57/309 had requested Secretary-General to take steps to ensure independence of the Tribunal.  While the Group supported the proposal to transfer resources of the Tribunal from the Office of Legal Affairs to another section of the budget, it expected the Secretary-General’s report to inform the Assembly on steps taken to ensure the functional independence of the Tribunal.

    KARL VAN DEN BOSSCHE (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that there was a certain feeling of urgency in dealing with the issue under discussion, since the Advisory Committee had drawn attention to the matter some 20 years ago.  While many issues had been tackled in resolution 57/307, much remained to be done.  A good justice system should be based on trust, and informal procedures played an important part in the initial stages of disputes.  For that reason, he attached great importance to good relations between the administration and staff and appreciated the establishment of the position of the Ombudsman.  He also believed that the quality of procedures depended on the quality of preparation of cases and prior interaction between management and staff.  It was important to strengthen the transparency within the Organization and ensure that everyone was responsible for their actions.

    Last autumn, he had highlighted the issues of importance to the Union, he continued, which could be divided into measures that required swift action and questions that needed to be deeply analysed before more general political decisions were taken.  The Union was prepared to participate in a constructive and open spirit in the consideration of the administration of justice in the Fifth Committee.  It was prepared to approve the transfer of resources for the Administrative Tribunal to a different section of the budget to ensure its financial independence.  He was also in favour of a swift approval of $462,100 to deal with a backlog in cases.  As for the themes of a more general nature, he recognized the importance of the ACABQ review and took note of the Committee’s intention to resume its review of the matter under the programme budget for 2006-2007.

    ALEJANDRO TORRES LEPORI (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group and associating himself with statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the Secretariat was the backbone of daily United Nations activities and it must, therefore, be ensured that staff members had the judicial guarantees that safeguarded their rights.  Strengthening the administration of justice was linked to accountability and transparency.  More resources had been requested, but strengthening and ensuring independence of the administration of justice did not necessarily involve creation of new posts.

    The OIOS report was an instructive study of the time taken to complete the appeals process, particularly in comparing the time taken between several duty stations, he said.  The report of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) had given a set of comparisons between the Tribunals of the United Nations and the International Labour Organization (ILO).  It seemed, however, to be premature to speak of creating a single system for the whole United Nations system, as more information and a cost-benefit analysis were needed.  Regarding the financial independence of the Administrative Tribunal, he reaffirmed the need to take any measure that would secure the independence of the Tribunal.

    DAVID DUTTON (Australia), also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the administration of justice within the Secretariat appeared to have some serious problems.  The dysfunction of the system was an impediment to ensuring a strong regime of accountability.  The deficiencies manifested themselves, among other ways, in a lack of confidence among both staff and managers.  The “absurdly” long time to resolve cases, a lack of means to dismiss frivolous appeals and perceived Secretariat conflicts of interest were among the problems facing the system.  In addition, some of the decisions of the Administrative Tribunal had attracted outside criticism.

    He said the scope of problems appeared to require a comprehensive response from the Committee.  Each element of the machinery must be examined.  It was a pity that the ACABQ had not been able to comment more fully on the system of justice.  He was interested to learn more about how the Organization assured that administrative decisions were well-informed, legally correct and fair.  The dynamics of staff management relations and the frequency of frivolous appeals also warranted attention.  Initiatives to reduce appeals should be two-pronged:  educating managers about their responsibilities; and responding to decisions by the Tribunal that exposed management weaknesses or inappropriate behaviour by staff.  Enough attention might not be paid to redressing problems in the regulations and rules that gave rise to frequent disputes and appeals.

    Greater efforts should be made to settle disputes informally, he said.  The creation of the Office of the Ombudsman had been a welcome step that was already showing results.  He did, therefore, not see merit in establishing new mechanisms or panels, or giving the Joint Appeals Boards more informal roles.  The OIOS had provided a sensible report on improving the efficiency of the current appeals system.  The Secretariat had accepted recommendations bearing on resources, but not those that called for tighter deadlines.  He doubted that more resources alone would be sufficient.  Processes needed to be tightened and managers needed to respond in a timely manner.

    He also believed that the quality of the Tribunal’s decisions could be improved.  Noting recommendations on harmonizing provisions of the Tribunal’s statute with those of the ILO, he said the proposal to increase the Tribunal’s power to grant compensation and specific performance warranted attention, but action on that and other proposals needed to be taken in conjunction with measures to strengthen the processes and qualifications for selection and appointment of Tribunal members.  The Committee should be prepared to make radical changes, if it concluded that they were needed.  It might even prove preferable to design a new system, rather than to try to fix the current one.

    JAIDEEP MAZUMDAR (India) said that it was, indeed, unfortunate that the Fifth Committee did not have the ACABQ’s considered views on all aspects of the item under discussion.  The Advisory Committee ascribed that to the inability of the Secretariat to present its report in time for the ACABQ to consider in detail -- a report that was all of four paragraphs and which had taken three months to produce and place before the ACABQ.  The Secretary-General’s report dealt with only one aspect of the issue, namely that of measures to reduce the delays in the appeals process.  Neither the Fifth Committee, nor the ACABQ, were strangers to the ills that beset the current system of the administration of justice.  The issues discussed in the report of the Secretary-General had been raised as far back as 1985.  To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of those observations by the Advisory Committee, the Fifth had before it, for the first time, a wealth of reports covering almost every aspect of the administration of justice system, including reviews conducted by the OIOS.  Therefore, he believed that the Committee had the information required to make many of the required decisions during its current session.

    Continuing, he noted “a certain lack of enthusiasm” on the part of the Secretariat on the issue.  The zeal for reform that was witnessed in other areas appeared to be markedly absent when it came to the reform of the system of the administration of justice.  Reports had been late in issuance, the agenda item had been postponed from session to session, and OIOS recommendations had received only qualified acceptance by the Secretariat.

    “The paraphernalia of a justice system” existed in the United Nations, he said.  There was the Panel of Counsel, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Joint Appeals Boards, the Disciplinary Committees, the Panel on Discrimination and Other Grievances, as well as the Administrative Tribunal.  But could all those be effective when it took a manager on average 448 days to respond to an appeal; when cases at a Joint Appeals Board stage meandered on for over three years; when the Panel of Counsel was composed of volunteer staff with no legal assistance; when the whole of the United Nations had only two General Service staff to present the cases of aggrieved staff; when appellants had to pay for outside legal assistance; and when members of the Tribunal received a dollar a year for their work?

    The delays at each stage surely made a travesty of justice at the United Nations, he said.  Those were not only on account of the lack of resources, but also on account of the apathy of managers -- apathy borne out of what had been termed a pervasive sense of impunity.  It was now 8 years since the Assembly had asked the Secretary-General, in resolution 51/226, to enhance managerial accountability with respect to human resources management.  No reform of the administration of justice would be complete without enhancement of management responsibility and accountability.  The culture of impunity had to change.  At the same time, it should not be replaced by allowing the staff to undertake frivolous appeals with impunity.

    The system as it existed today was riddled with conflicts of interest at various levels, he continued.  Member States had been told in the past that there was no conflict of interest in the Department of Management serving as both the respondent and taking final decisions on the recommendations of the Joint Appeals Board.  There were numerous instances when unanimous recommendations of the Board had been overturned by the Department of Management.  Fortunately, the OIOS had pointed out those obvious conflicts of interest, and he looked forward to addressing them.  Reform of the administration of justice was not only important to attract, retain and promote the best talent in the world, but also to have an impact on staff morale.  Consequently, it would have an effect on the productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations.

    Mr. BERTI OLIVA (Cuba) endorsed the position of the Group of 77 and China and said that ensuring the rights of the personnel through an impartial and objective system of justice would strengthen the Organization’s credibility.  The current situation should not be allowed to continue.  The reports before the Committee made it clear that, 59 years after the creation of the United Nations, there had never been a genuine system to deal with staff members’ appeals.  His delegation had repeatedly stated that human resources management reform was connected to the need to strengthen accountability and responsibility of programme managers and establish a real justice system.  Only in this way would the staff -- the main resource of the Organization -- have genuine incentives and work under the best conditions of service to implement the mandates given to the United Nations by Member States.

    He said that he would have preferred to consider the administration of justice jointly with human resources management during the regular session.  It was impossible to continue to strengthen the powers of the administration vis-à-vis staff, provided the current justice system remained in place.  The Organization supported the principles of equality and recognition of labour rights -- could those be just a dead letter?  The issue required the greatest attention and commitment from the Secretariat and MemberStates because of its impact on staff morale.  The delay in the issuance of documents was inadmissible, for the item had been postponed as a result.  His delegation would like the representatives of the Secretariat to explain the reasons for delays in detail.

    As the ACABQ had noted, the information provided by the Secretary-General was not new, for the problems described had persisted for many years, he continued.  Thus, he was surprised at the provisional nature of the ACABQ report before the Committee, which addressed only the financial aspects of the issue.  The report did not respond to the concerns by Member States, which had called for a substantive report on the matter.  It was necessary to look at the issues on their merit and not in their connection to the budget, as the ACABQ had done.  He wanted to know what arrangements would be needed for the Fifth Committee during the current session to have a real report from the Advisory Committee.  He fully supported the appeal by the Group of 77 that effective changes be proposed during the current session.

    THOMAS REPASCH (United States) said the reports before the Committee gave the detailed information needed to make informed decisions as soon as possible regarding improving the administration of justice through streamlined procedures, sufficient resource allocations and policy coordination of the United Nations’ two main administrative tribunals.  He supported most of the recommendations in the reports, but also concurred with the observation that cumbersome and lengthy processes and the poor state of staff-management relations were at the core of administrative justice reform.  United Nations management and staff unions should renew and begin discussions on training, transparency and mediation and submit joint proposals to the Assembly.  He supported the ACABQ’s intent to conduct its own comprehensive review of the issues and would seek clarification about the additional information it required from the Secretariat to conduct such review.

    Regarding the appeals process, the OIOS report contained 18 recommendations to shorten delays, he continued.  Noting that the Secretariat had accepted the majority of those recommendations, he urged their speedy implementation.  Time limits should not be made mandatory until staff and resources were in place.  Regarding the Secretary-General’s two options on the future role of the Panel on Discrimination and Other Grievances, he noted that the panels appeared to function in Geneva and Vienna, but not in New York.  Prior to choosing either option, he said, he would prefer to listen to the views of management and staff.

    He concurred with the Secretary-General’s recommendation to transfer resources related to the Administrative Tribunal from the Office of Legal Affairs.  Regarding harmonization of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal and the International Labour Organization’s Administrative Tribunal, he said a mechanism should be developed to enhance cooperation and dialogue among those two and other international administrative tribunals.

    NAJIB ELJI (Syria), aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the administration of justice had been of concern to the Assembly for many years.  There had been great delays in the issuance of documents throughout the years.  Today, the Committee was considering reports that should have been submitted at the fifty-eighth session.  The financial report requested by the ACABQ was also late.  He did not understand how such a short report could not have been published on time.

    He said the current system for the administration of justice was a lengthy and costly process involving two phases.  The administrative phase involved three stages and offices.  Staff members needed two to six years to have their grievances heard.  The three offices and stages also lead to a duplication of efforts.  He hoped that the administrative phase could be rationalized so that time lines could be reduced.  The role of the Ombudsman needed to be strengthened.  The second phase was the legal one, which also had problems, as members of the Tribunal were not real judges.  Opinions delivered by the Administrative Tribunal were sometimes contradictory.

    The recommendations of the Secretary-General and the ACABQ report were a major contribution to efforts to improve the administration of justice, he said, but more was required.  There was a need for a thorough reform of the administration of justice to make it simpler and reduce the time involved.  The system of justice did not promote the rights of staff members, nor was it beneficial to the Secretariat.  Reforming the administration of justice system would allow for greater freedom for staff members, enhance their morale and improve the working methods of the Secretariat and the Organization.  He called upon all sides to work in a constructive manner.

    Responding to questions, Ms. AXENIDOU said that the delay in the submission of document A/59/706 had resulted from the fact that the review of the cost implications of implementing OIOS recommendations had to wait until the review of the proposed budget, for it was necessary to identify existing resources from which additional amounts could be redeployed and avoid seeking additional resources under the zero-growth budget.  Another factor was that the review had taken place at the end of January-February, because all attention was on the new Department of Security.

    Vice-Chairman of the ACABQ, RAJAT SAHA noted interesting points in the discussion and said that, in paragraph 8 of its report, the Advisory Committee had presented its considered opinion that the problems besetting the administration of justice involved much more than perceived lack of resources.  As an interim measure to eliminate backlogs, as suggested by the Secretary-General, the Advisory Committee had made suggestions that the Secretariat be authorized to proceed with its efforts, using existing resources.  He also drew the delegates’ attention to the recommendation of the ACABQ at the end of paragraph 10 of its report, which noted linkages between the administration of justice and personal responsibility and accountability.  Also mentioned in the report was the need for the Secretariat to address the need for full justification of resources.

    All the delegates had referred to management responsibility and accountability, he added.  That had to be linked with resource requirements.  Speakers all agreed with paragraph 8 of the ACABQ report, where it referred to the need to put the issue in a wider context, including the reasons why staff sought recourse to the justice system on the one hand, and the reasons for the volume of cases under consideration on the other.  Those factors needed to be tackled in a comprehensive way.  It was imperative for the Advisory Committee to look at the activities of such bodies as the Office of the Ombudsman, Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management and the Administrative Tribunal.  The Committee would also like to gain better insight into how to study the internal justice systems in other organizations.

    Mr. BERTI OLIVA (Cuba) said he was struck by the reasons given for the delay, which he did not accept or understand.  Accountability and responsibility were obviously needed in this case.  The report, which was to be issued at the latest in December, had come out on 18 February.  The delegations were now told that it had happened because of the new security arrangements.  He failed to understand such a reason.  In the case of the ACABQ, he had asked what arrangements would be necessary for the information to be made available during the current session.  If that was impossible, the Assembly would have to take action directly.

    Ms. ROBERTS (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, inquired about the reference point for the statement that the report had to be prepared, taking into consideration zero growth in the budget.  Mandated activities needed to be financed.

    KAREN LOCK (South Africa) said she was under the impression that the budget outline was a preliminary estimate.  She was, therefore, not sure where the confusion regarding zero growth arose.

    Ms. AXENIDOU said her area was not really the budget.  The Secretary-General’s budget outline had been approved in December and was a preliminary outline.  Following that outline, a review had to be undertaken to find resources within the budget to ensure that no additional appropriations had to be requested.

    Ms. LOCK (South Africa) said she was still confused and suggested that an official of the budget division come to respond to the question.  It was her understanding that it was a preliminary estimate, on which basis the outline had been accepted.

    Mr. ELJI (Syria), associating himself with the comments made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, as the budget outline included only forecasts and estimates, the zero-growth approach was not a legislative mandate.  From 2002 on, the budget had risen by 30 per cent.  The concept of zero growth had clearly not been implemented.  He supported the proposal that a budget representative give the necessary information.

    Under “other matters”, he noted that judges of the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were paid less than the Chiefs of the Registry and the Attorneys General, an unfair situation.  He wondered in that regard if judges should get higher salaries.  He also addressed the lack of space in the United Nations complex.  During the past two weeks, the presence of some 6,000 representatives of non-governmental organizations for the Commission on the Status of Women had made it difficult for some Member States to use the building’s facilities.  He was concerned that, in case of an emergency, evacuation for United Nations staff would be impossible.

    * *** *