Press Releases

    GA/AB/3667
    4 April 2005

    UN Internal Investigative Capacity, Procurement Reform, Special Political Missions among Issues Addressed in Budget Committee Texts

    First Part of Resumed Session to Conclude Next Week

    NEW YORK, 1 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon made recommendations to the General Assembly on several items on its agenda, including the means for enhancing the investigative capacity within the Organization, procurement reform, outsourcing practices and financing of special political missions in Iraq and Bougainville.

    By one of the drafts approved without a vote today, it made recommendations to the Assembly on the means of enhancing the capacity of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) -- an internal body entrusted with investigation in the United Nations -- to conduct its mandated functions efficiently.  Among the issues addressed by the draft is the need to ensure protection against retaliation for staff who report misconduct and implement appropriate managerial, disciplinary or legal action in response to misconduct and criminal behaviour.

    While allowing the OIOS to entrust trained programme managers with conducting investigations on its behalf, the Assembly would decide that, in cases of serious misconduct and/or criminal behaviour, investigations should be conducted by professional investigators.  For handling minor forms of misconduct, it would decide to increase basic investigation training, develop written procedures and promote the concept of an independent investigation function within the United Nations.  Deciding that the results of investigation conducted by programme managers should be reported to the OIOS, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to establish a mandatory reporting mechanism, which would obligate programme managers to convey allegations of misconduct to the OIOS.

    By the terms of another three-part draft resolution, the Assembly would address the procurement reform recently initiated within the United Nations system, and the OIOS recommendations related to the audit of air safety standards in peacekeeping missions and the functioning of the Headquarters Committee on contracts.  Welcoming recent significant improvements made by the Secretary-General at Headquarters and in the field missions, the Assembly would call on the executive heads of the funds and programmes of the United Nations to continue their efforts to improve the efficiency of procurement by reducing duplication and harmonizing procurement procedures throughout the system.

    The Assembly would also note the efforts by the Secretary-General to increase procurement opportunities for developing countries and countries with economies in transition through simplification of vendor registration and sensitization of the business community to procurement opportunities within the United Nations system.  When applying the principle of “best value for the money”, the Secretary-General would be requested to continue safeguarding the financial interests of the Organization, consider best practices and ensure that adequate records are kept.

    By a draft resolution on outsourcing practices, the Assembly would request that in assessing whether an activity of the United Nations should be outsourced, programme managers satisfy the criteria of:  cost-effectiveness and efficiency; safety and security; maintaining the international character of the Organization; and maintaining the integrity of procedures and processes.

    On information and communication technology strategy, the Committee recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to develop cost-neutral measures to provide Member States with secure access to information currently accessible only on the Intranet of the Secretariat.  It would also request a more detailed analysis of the return on investment in information technology; the impact of such investment on the quality and timelines of service; and resource requirements resulting from information and communication technology projects.  The Secretary-General would be requested to continue his efforts to ensure that technological infrastructures fully supported Latin, non-Latin and bidirectional applications to enhance the equality of all six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish).

    The Committee also recommended that the Assembly:

    -- Appropriate an amount of some $81.17 million for special political missions in Iraq and Bougainville;

    -- Increase the annual salary of the members of the International Court of Justice and the judges of the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda Tribunals by 6.3 per cent, effective 1 January, as an interim measure, pending issuance of a comprehensive report on the matter during its sixty-first session;

    -- Take note of the reports on construction of additional office facilities in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), and endorse the Advisory Committee’s recommendations on the matter.  (Among other things, the ACABQ recommended that, given the unavoidable additional requirements for security, as well as the cost of delays experienced thus far, the building should be used to its maximum for the purpose for which it was initially intended.)

    In other action, the Committee recommended that the Assembly take note of several reports considered by the Budget Committee, including those on the review of the structure and functions of all offices in New York representing United Nations system organizations headquartered elsewhere; and standards of accommodation for air travel.  It would also defer to its sixtieth session consideration of the OIOS report on the review of the operations and management of United Nations libraries.

    The Assembly would consider, as a matter of priority, the Secretary-General’s report on the review of the regular programme of technical cooperation and the Development Account (not later than at its sixtieth session) and the question of strengthening the international civil service during its sixtieth session.

    Under “other matters”, the Committee revisited the issue of post announcements for the newly established Department for Safety and Security and the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate.  Rosemary McCreery, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, and John Almstrom, Acting Director of Regional Operations of the Safety and Security Department, responded to delegates’ questions on the matter.

    Following a last-minute introduction of a four-part draft resolution on the administration of justice –- one of the main items on the Committee’s agenda -- Ms. McCreery said that the Secretariat would not be in position to implement by the end of the fifty-ninth session the paragraph of the text that concerns the multiple functions of the Administrative Law Unit.

    Sharon Van Buerle, Director Ad Interim, Programme Planning and Budget Division, said that, due to the shortage of time, the Secretariat had had no time to consider financial implications of the draft.  However, preliminary review indicated that several provisions of the text would have programme budget implications, either for the current or the next biennium.

    The Committee will conclude its first part of its resumed session next week at a date to be announced.

    Other Matters

    Regarding questions raised on 30 March on announcing posts for the Department of Safety and Security and Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) after adoption of resolution 59/266 in December 2004, ROSEMARY McCREERY, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, informed the Committee of the current status.  For the Department of Safety and Security, 146 posts had been advertised, 19 of them at the professional or higher level and 127 in the security service category.  For the CTED, 26 posts for the professional level or higher had been advertised.

    The representative of India asked when notifications had been issued for the CTED posts and when the deadline for responding to them had expired.

    The representative of Egypt asked how the vacancy announcement process had taken place.  Regarding a note verbale received on 28 March, he asked why it had taken so long to send that note, as the resolution had been adopted in December.  He said that note referred to an earlier note of December 2003 regarding the recruitment process.  In that note the Secretariat had asked Missions if they liked to receive notifications in hard copy, and 18 Missions had answered in the affirmative.  The Assembly had the Secretary-General maintain circulation of hard copies of all vacancy announcements, except to those missions who had indicated otherwise.

    Jordan’s representative said his understanding was that printed copies of vacancy announcements should be circulated to all, unless a mission indicated otherwise.  The current practice seemed to be the opposite.

    Ms. McCREERY said that all vacancy notices for the CTED had been issued on 24 November 2004.  The closing date for general service posts was one month later, on 23 December 2004, and for professional posts two months later, on 23 January.

    She apologized for a possible misunderstanding of the wishes of the General Assembly.  In efforts to provide efficient service, she had interpreted the wishes to be to provide only Member States who wanted printed copies.  Missions who had not responded to the note verbale were assumed not to want printed copies.  That was a misunderstanding.  The note verbale had been sent out too late.  Seeing it had created confusion, for which she was responsible, she had instructed her office to ensure that all Member States would receive printed copies of all vacancy announcements, unless indicated otherwise.

    Egypt’s representative said he understood that, in some cases, the Fifth Committee adopted language that was hard to interpret.  In the current case, nothing could be done about posts that had already been filled, but he wondered how that situation could be rectified.  That issue should be addressed in the Committee.

    The representative of India said he was puzzled that vacancy notifications had been issued on 24 November, when the resolution had been passed on 22 December.  He asked if any posts had been filled before the 60 days had expired.

    Jordan’s representative said he was a bit uneasy about the misinterpretation of the language, which had been straightforward.

    Ms. McCREERY said the vacancies had been posted in advance of the resolution in order to expedite the process.  However, the announcements carried language that said the creation of the post was subject to the decision by the General Assembly.  None of the posts had been filled before 23 January.  The rate of recruitment had been relatively slow.

    The representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of “Group of 77” Developing Countries and china, expressed the Group’s regret that, at this stage, nothing could be done about the posts that had been announced.  She requested formally that all posts that had been advertised for the Department of Safety and Security be re-advertised for 60 days.  Regarding the posts for the CTED, she asked under which mandate they had been advertised before the relevant resolution had been passed.  She stressed that such practice should cease to exist under all circumstances.

    Ms. McCREERY said the practice of announcing posts before a resolution had been passed had been in place for some time.  Such announcements always carried the notification:  “subject to approval by the General Assembly”.  The only purpose of the practice was to expedite recruitment in those cases where new entities were being established.

    The representative of India said that paragraph 14 of resolution 59/277 requested the Secretary-General to recruit staff for the CTED in full compliance with Assembly resolutions.  He urged that the Secretariat follow Assembly mandates.  He asked if Ms. McCREERY could assure that the provisions of paragraph 14 were being followed.

    Ms. McCREERY answered that question in the affirmative.

    The representative of the United States asked if a legislative action was necessary for the proposal of Jamaica.  She also asked what the implications were for the effectiveness of the Department of Safety and Security if the proposal was adopted.

    Ms. McCREERY confirmed that a decision was required by the Assembly to re-advertise all posts for the Department of Safety and Security that had not yet been filled, as it was not in line with normal practices.

    As for the operational effects of the proposal, JOHN ALMSTROM, Acting Director, Regional Operations, Department of Safety and Security, said the Department wanted the senior management posts filled as soon as possible.  If there was a delay, work would have to be continued as best as possible with the expertise currently available, which would put some strain on the current staff.

    Egypt’s representative applauded efforts made by the current staff in the area of safety and security.  He asked if there had been a decision by the Assembly not to follow the mandates contained in the Assembly resolution.  Did the Secretariat have a certain mandate not to send hard copies of vacancy announcements to delegations?

    Ms. McCREERY, reiterated that there had been a misinterpretation of the wishes of the Assembly for which she had apologized.  The situation would be rectified.  Regarding the vacancy announcement for the CTED, she said the established practice had been followed.

    Following a short suspension of the meeting to allow for consultations on the proposal of Jamaica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China that posts that have not yet been filled be re-advertised, the representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, said that the proposal had some broad-ranging implications.  However, the Committee was scheduled to close its session today, and he proposed that the Committee act on drafts before it first and then return to other matters.

    That proposal was supported by representatives of Japan and the United States.

    Following an inquiry from Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) as to when the Committee would come back to the issue at hand, the Chairman of the Committee, DON MACKAY (New Zealand) proposed that the Committee proceed to act on the drafts before it.

    Jamaica’s representative asked that the session not be closed until the “other matters” issue had been resolved.

    Action on Draft Texts

    Review of Efficiency of Administrative and Financial Functioning of United Nations

    Under this agenda item, the Fifth Committee considered four draft resolutions.

    A draft resolution on strengthening the investigation functions of the United Nations (document A/C.5/59/L.40), is based on the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) -- an internal body entrusted with investigation in the United Nations (for summary of that report, contained in document A/59/706, see Press Release GA/AB/3661 of 9 March).

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would re-emphasize the principle of separation, impartiality and fairness of those with responsibility for the investigation function and note the need to enhance the capacity of the OIOS to conduct its mandated investigation functions efficiently.  It would also recognize that the Office has established an efficient mechanism to enable staff and other persons engaged in activities under the authority of the Organization to convey their allegations directly to the Office.

    Further by the text, the Assembly would decide that, while the OIOS may entrust trained programme managers to conduct investigations on its behalf, in cases of serious misconduct and/or criminal behaviour, investigations should be conducted by professional investigators.  As serious misconduct falling under category I, the Assembly would single out sexual exploitation and abuse.  It would also note that sexual harassment constitutes a serious concern to Member States.

    For the handling of minor forms of misconduct, the Secretary-General would be requested to implement the OIOS proposals to increase basic investigation training, develop written procedures for the proper conduct of investigations and promote the concept of an independent investigation function within the United Nations.  Deciding that the results of investigation conducted by programme managers should be reported to the OIOS, the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to establish an administrative mechanism for mandatory reporting by programme managers of allegations of misconduct to the OIOS.  By the terms of the draft, such a mechanism should not adversely affect the right of individual staff members to report misconduct directly to the Office.

    Where poor management is a contributory factor in cases of misconduct, the Assembly would address the need to ensure appropriate managerial action by the Office of Human Resources Management and request the Secretary-General to ensure protection of staff who report misconduct within the Secretariat against retaliation.  In cases of proven misconduct and/or criminal behaviour, the Secretary-General would be requested to ensure expeditious disciplinary or legal action in accordance with established procedures.

    Also by the text, Member States would be informed on an annual basis about all actions taken, and all staff of the Organization would be told of the most common examples of misconduct and criminal behaviour and their disciplinary consequences, including any legal action, with due regard to the protection of the privacy of the staff members concerned.  When conclusions of the OIOS are disputed by a programme manager, appropriate action would be taken to resolve the dispute.  Information thereon would be included in the annual report of the Office.

    The draft was approved without a vote.

    The Committee then turned to a three-part draft resolution on procurement reform (document A/C.5/59/L.44).

    By the terms of part A, the Assembly would welcome the progress achieved in addressing recent concerns and significant improvements made by the Secretary-General in procurement reform at Headquarters and in the field missions.  It would call on the executive heads of the funds and programmes of the United Nations to continue their efforts to improve the efficiency of procurement by reducing duplication and harmonizing procurement procedures throughout the system, in close cooperation with the Procurement Service of the Office of Central Support Services.

    Further by the text, the Secretary-General would be requested to encourage all the organizations of the UN system to further improve their procurement practices, among other things by participating in the UN Global Marketplace.  Noting efforts made by the Secretary-General to increase procurement opportunities for developing countries and countries with economies in transition, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to simplify the vendor registration process, taking into account access to the Internet, and take further steps to sensitize the business community to procurement opportunities within the UN system.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General, when applying the principle of “best value for the money”, to continue safeguarding the financial interests of the Organization, consider best practices and ensure that adequate records are kept.

    The Secretary-General would also be requested to implement measures to reduce the timeline associated with invoice payment.  The Secretary-General should further issue ethical guidelines for those involved in the procurement process and adopt a code of conduct for vendors.  He should also continue to ensure that consistent non-compliance and poor performance by vendors was recorded and that appropriate action was taken with respect to their inclusion on the list of vendors.  Noting the plan to provide purchasing cards to departments and offices for low-value items, the Assembly would request the Secretariat to develop strong internal control mechanisms.

    Addressing the increase in the number of ex post facto cases, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to take appropriate actions in order to minimize that practice to those cases which fully complied with the criteria of exigency.

    By the terms of the same draft, the Assembly would encourage the Inter-Agency Procurement Working Group to continue its efforts to produce comprehensive and generally applicable statistics on procurement activities of all UN entities.

    By part B, the Assembly would, as recommended in the report of the OIOS on the audit of safeguarding air safety standards while procuring air services for peacekeeping missions, request the Secretary-General to fully document the reasons for not following up on the recovery of liquidated damages for contracts and apply consistent methods to the collection of liquidated damages from vendors.  To ensure the highest level of air safety, he would also be requested to ensure compliance within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization regarding the chartering of civilian registered aircraft.

    Further by the text, the Assembly would note with concern the delay and difficulties in recruiting aviation safety officers in some missions and request the Secretary-General to fill all vacancies expeditiously.  In view of the limited number of site visits by aviation experts to operational bases of air carriers, he would be requested to ensure that experts are able to conduct the necessary technical assessment of vendors.  Also, noting with concern that occurrences attributed to specific vendors were not included in the vendor performance reports, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to ensure that such occurrences are reflected in appropriate documents.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations would be requested to communicate the information on vendor performance to all aviation offices involved, including the Procurement Service.

    Part C addresses the OIOS report on the audit of the functioning of the Headquarters Committee on Contracts.  By its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to review without delay options to better safeguard the independence of that Committee and examine the appropriateness of the current threshold for its review of procurement cases, taking into account the development of delegation of authority to the field offices as described in an Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) report on the matter.

    The representatives of the Russian Federation and Nigeria introduced an oral revision.

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

    Speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, the representative of Argentina, on behalf of the Rio Group, expressed concern that the Caribbean and Latin American region had not been sufficiently represented in the procurement activities and hoped that situation would be rectified in the future.

    Nigeria’s representative said that African countries hoped that procurement services would intensify the efforts to ensure that vendors from Africa were fully included in the procurement activities of the United Nations.  She also recalled that, during negotiations on the text, she had asked the Secretariat to clarify its understanding of operative paragraph 8 of the draft in relation to paper applications to be submitted by companies.  An answer had been provided in informal consultations that such applications would continue to be processed.  Now, she wanted to hear the Secretariat’s interpretation of paragraph 8 in that regard, for the record.

    CHRISTIAN SANDERS of the Procurement Division confirmed that the Procurement Service would continue to accept paper applications from vendors, either by fax or by mail.

    By the terms of a draft resolution on outsourcing practices (document A/C.5/59/L.45), the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to consider outsourcing actively in accordance with the guidance and goals mentioned in Assembly resolution 55/232 and to ensure that programme managers satisfy, in their assessment of whether or not an activity of the Organization could be fully, or even partially, outsourced, criteria of:  cost-effectiveness and efficiency; safety and security; maintaining the international character of the Organization; and maintaining the integrity of procedures and processes.

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

    Programme Budget for Biennium 2004-2005

    The Committee first took up a three-part resolution contained in document A/C.5/59/L.36.

    By the terms of part A, on estimates of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives by the General Assembly and Security Council, the Assembly would appropriate an amount of some $81.17 million for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Observer Mission in Bougainville.

    By part B, on information and communication technology strategy, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to develop and implement cost-neutral measures to provide, in the working languages (English and French) of the Organization, Member States with secure access to information currently accessible only on the Intranet of the United Nations Secretariat.  It would also request a more detailed analysis of the return on investment in information technology and the impact of such investment on the quality and timelines of service delivery and of the resource requirements resulting from information and communication technology projects.

    Taking note of ongoing efforts in the field of disaster recovery and security threats in the new Department of Safety and Security, as well as in the Information Technology Services Division of the Office of Central Support Services, the Assembly would encourage all decision-makers involved to elaborate a comprehensive approach in this matter.  It would also reiterate the need for further integration and compatibility of administrative platforms of the inter-agency network and request the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to ensure that technological infrastructures fully supported Latin, non-Latin and bidirectional applications so as to enhance the equality of the official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish).

    Part C, on conditions of service and compensation for officials other that Secretariat officials:  members of the International Court of Justice, judges of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and ad litem judges for the Tribunals, would have the Assembly decide, among other things, to increase the annual salary and pensions of the members of the Court and the judges of the Tribunals by 6.3 per cent, effective 1 January as an interim measure, pending issuance of a comprehensive report that would address such issues as proposals for a mechanism of remuneration, based on market exchange rates and local price fluctuations, that would limit such remuneration divergence from that of comparable senior-level United Nations officials; and protection of judges’ pensions.

    The Assembly would also decide that the conditions of service and compensation of the members of the ICJ and judges of the two Tribunals would next be reviewed at its sixty-first session.

    SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director ad interim, Programme Planning and Budget Division, provided the Committee with the Secretariat’s understanding of the draft resolution and information from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations regarding part A of the resolution.  Regarding paragraph 2 of part B, which concerns secure access for Member States to the Intranet (“iSeek”), she said the Secretariat understood that there was an existing process to make such information available to Member States.

    As for par C of the resolution, she said the programme budget implications would be $627,200.

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

    The Committee then turned to six draft decisions contained in document A/C.5/59/L.38, which were introduced by the Chairman of the Committee.

    By draft decision A, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (document A/59/170).

    Draft decision B, on construction of additional office facilities at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), would have the Assembly take note of the report of the Secretary-General in that regard (document A/59/144) and endorse the recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/59/572), including that, given the unavoidable additional requirements for security, as well as the cost of delays experienced thus far, the building should be used to its maximum for the purpose for which it was initially intended (see Press Release GA/AB/3659 of 7 March).

    By draft decision C, the Assembly would take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the review of the structure and functions of all liaison offices of representation in New York of organizations headquartered elsewhere funded from the regular budget (document A/59/572) and the related ACABQ report (document A/59/552).  For summary of the report, see Press Release GA/AB/3659 of  7 March.

    By draft decision D, the Assembly would defer to its sixtieth session consideration of the Report of the Internal Oversight Services on the review of the operations and management of United Nations libraries (documentA/59/373).  For summary of the report, see Press Release GA/AB/3659 of 7 March.

    By the text of draft decision E, the Assembly would consider, as a matter of priority, the Secretary-General’s report on the review of the regular programme of technical cooperation and the Development Account (document A/59/397).  For summary of the report, see Press Release GA/AB/3663 of 17 March.

    Draft decision F, on standards of accommodation for air travel, would have the Assembly take note of the Secretary-General’s and ACABQ’s reports on the matter (documents A/59/523 and A/59/573, respectively).  For summary of the report, see Press Release GA/AB/3659 of 7 March.

    The draft decisions were approved without a vote.

    Following action on the text, Nigeria’s representative thanked the coordinators of various items and recalled that the African Group had spoken on the review of technical cooperation programme and the Development Account.  She was very disappointed that the Committee had been unable to conclude its discussion during the first resumed session.  She trusted every effort would be made to resume during the second resumed session.

    United Nations Common System

    Under this item, the Committee approved, without a vote, a draft decision (document A/C.5/59/L.42), by the terms of which the Assembly would decide to consider, as a matter of priority, the question of the strengthening of the international civil service during its sixtieth session.  The text was introduced by the Chairman.

    Administration of Justice in United Nations

    The representative of Iran introduced a four-part draft resolution on the administration of justice at the United Nations, which was submitted following informal consultations before the final meeting of the Committee and will be issued as document A/C.5/59/L.46.

    By the terms of the text, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of an efficient and effective system of internal justice, which would ensure that individuals and the Organization are held accountable for their actions.  Recognizing that a transparent, impartial and effective system of administration of justice is a necessary condition for ensuring fair and just treatment of staff, important for the success of human resources reform in the Organization, it would regret that the present system of the administration of justice in the Secretariat continues to be slow, cumbersome and costly.

    The Assembly would decide to form a panel of external and independent experts to consider redesigning the administration of justice system within the United Nations.  That body would be tasked with proposing a model for a new system for resolving staff grievances that is “independent, transparent, effective, efficient and adequately resourced and ensuring managerial accountability”.  The model should involve guiding principles and procedures that clearly articulate the participation of staff and management within reasonable time frames and limits.  The panel would start its function no later than 1 February 2006 and present its findings and recommendations by the end of July that year.

    Among measures put forward by the text are the training of managers and implementation of a sound performance appraisal system as potential means of avoiding conflict.  The Assembly would also stress the link between managers’ ability to respond in the course of a proceeding with their own performance appraisal and affirm the need to ensure proper training for the participants of the administration of justice system.  It would note that Staff Rule 112.3 relating to the financial liability of managers has yet to be implemented and decide that the reduced time limits recommended by the OIOS for the appeals process will be mandatory no later than January 2006.

    The text addresses both measures to strengthen informal mechanisms of conflict resolution, such as the Office of the Ombudsman, and formal bodies, including the Panel of Counsel, the Administrative Law Unit, Joint Appeals Board and the United Nations Administrative Tribunal.  By its terms, the Assembly would recognize the need to strengthen the capacities of the Panels of Counsel, which would be encouraged to increase outreach activities, and invite the staff representatives to explore the possibility of establishing a staff-funded scheme that would provide legal advice and support to the staff.  The Secretary-General would be invited to consider appropriate incentives to be built into the system to encourage staff members to serve on the panels.

    Taking note that the Administrative Law Unit has multiple functions of administrative review, appeals, disciplinary matters and advisory services, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to present proposals to separate those functions to avoid conflict of interest, through redeployment of resources.

    Stressing that increased accountability of managers would contribute to the elimination of the backlog of appeals cases, the Assembly would decide that, as a means to facilitate early consideration of cases, staff members wishing to appeal an administrative decision should send a copy of their request to the executive head of their department.  The Administrative Law Unit should clarify with managers the requirements for the respondents’ reply, including time limits expected from managers.  The Secretary-General would be requested to ensure that written explanations by managers are submitted to the Unit within eight weeks with no possibility of extension.  Compliance with this responsibility would constitute part of the managers’ Performance Appraisal System (PAS).

    On the Tribunal, the Assembly would regret that steps were not taken to separate its secretariat from the Office of the Legal Affairs and endorse the Secretary-General’s proposal to transfer the resources of the Administrative Tribunal to a separate section of the budget, effective with the beginning of the 2006-2007 biennium.  It would also acknowledge the need for further strengthening of professionalism of the Administrative Tribunal by increasing membership by professional judges and amend the statute of the Tribunal to say, in part, that its Members “shall possess judicial experience in the field of administrative law or its equivalent within their national jurisdiction”.  The Tribunal would be requested to review the rules, practices and procedures of similar tribunals towards “enhanced effective management of caseloads”.

    Following the introduction of the text, Ms. VAN BUERLE said that due to the shortage of time, the Secretariat had had no time to consider financial implications of the draft.  However, preliminary review indicated that several provisions of the text would have programme budget implications, either for the current or the next biennium.  Further analysis of the situation was required.  Should the Assembly adopt the text, the Secretariat would report on the programme budget implications in the context of the second performance report for 2004/2005 and revised estimates for 2006/2007, to be submitted to the Assembly at its sixtieth session.

    Ms. McCREERY, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management, said that paragraph 30 of the draft resolution requested the Secretary-General to present proposals to separate the functions of the Administrative Law Unit in order to avoid conflict of interest, through the redeployment of resources, by the end of the fifty-ninth session, taking into account a number of needs.  As the Secretariat had indicated in informal consultations, it would not be in a position to implement that provision.  She informed Member States that the requested proposals could not be prepared in isolation, neither in the timeframe referred to, nor through redeployment of resources.  The needs listed in subparagraphs A through E went well beyond the functions of the Administrative Law Unit.  They concerned the whole system of internal justice.  The preparation of proposals would require extensive consultations with all the offices involved, including the Office of the Ombudsman, the Panel of Counsel, the Joint Appeals Board Secretariat, the Office of Legal Affairs, the Office of Internal Oversight Services, the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management, and the Executive Office of the Secretary-General.

    She added that the Secretariat would not be in a position to redeploy resources from the Administrative Law Unit, where there were only two posts financed by the regular budget, and two support account posts at the P level.  As explained in informals, the incumbents of those posts performed all the functions of the Unit interchangeably.  All four staff members were required to carry out the functions.  The Unit would not be able to discharge its responsibility for disciplinary cases with any reduction in staff.  The Secretary-General would welcome the views of the experts of the redesign panel on the way the functions of the Administrative Law Unit could be carried out in a new integrated system of administration of justice.

    The representative of Japan said his understanding was that the Committee had agreed on the draft text in informal consultations on the understanding that there would be no additional requirements for 2005.  The Comment from the Secretariat indicated that the resolution would have a cost implication for 2005.  He asked for confirmation of that understanding.

    The representative of the United States said that he understood paragraph 30(b) to be that the advice to the appellant would consist of stating the status of the case and the correct legal interpretation of the regulation.  He, furthermore, supported the statement made by Japan.

    Japan asked for confirmation of Committee Members that the understanding was that the resolution would have no additional cost implication in 2005, excluding the costs that could be absorbed within existing resources.

    The Committee’s CHAIRMAN confirmed the Committee’s understanding as stated by Japan.

    Japan’s representative said that, according to the explanations from the Secretariat, several paragraphs of the text involved additional costs in 2005, but by several of those paragraphs the Assembly would simply “recognize” something.  Paragraph 30 was just requesting to present a proposal -- not implement something.  He did not believe that would involve additional costs.  By several other paragraphs mentioned by the Secretariat, the Assembly would just move the budget from one section to another of the budget, effective with the beginning of 2006/2007.  He did not believe it would involve additional costs, particularly in the current biennium.  The language on the establishment of a panel clearly indicated that it was to begin its work in 2006.  Thus, there would be no additional costs in 2005.  He sought clarification in that regard.

    The representative of the Russian Federation said that, in violation of procedures, the draft had not been circulated in all official languages.  He also asked interpreters to stay, because the Committee had just a few drafts left.

    Responding to the query by Japan, Ms. VAN BUERLE reiterated that the Secretariat had not had sufficient time to fully analyse the financial implications of the text.  Under the existing rules of procedure, no resolution involving expenditures should be recommended, unless it was accompanied by a statement of programme budget implications.  The Secretariat had not been able to prepare one on the administration of justice text.  At the current stage, she could not say definitively whether some of the paragraphs she had indicated would have financial implications, or not.  She was only flagging the issues to the Committee.  Also, the Secretariat could only implement items for which it had resources.

    As, at 6:15 p.m., the interpreters left, the representative of Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China requested that the meeting be adjourned until interpretation facilities were available.

    During the following order debate, several speakers expressed disappointment that the meeting could not continue because of the unavailability of interpretation.  They stressed that important peacekeeping missions needed financing.

    The Chairman then adjourned the meeting, announcing the Committee would reconvene next week for one meeting.

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