7 April 2005
Budget Committee Recommends Increased Financing for Peacekeeping Missions in Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Kosovo
Also Recommends Formation of Panel to Propose Model for Redesigning UN Justice System
NEW YORK, 6 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon recommended that the General Assembly increase the budget of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), bringing it to almost $1 billion for 2004-2005, as it suspended its first resumed session.
The amount of $991.7 million (inclusive of the apportionment for the Support Account and the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy) would provide for the deployment of an additional 5,900 personnel and implementation of the Missions expanded mandate by the Security Council last October, including deployment in the key areas of potential volatility to promote the re-establishment of confidence, discourage violence and allow United Nations personnel to operate freely, particularly in the eastern part of the country.
To be appropriated by one of the 6 drafts approved without a vote today, an additional $245.64 million for the maintenance of the Mission in the 12 months ending on 30 June would include $49.95 million previously authorized by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, in addition to $746.07 million dollars appropriated by the terms of resolution 58/259 B.
By another text, the Assembly, regretting that the administration of justice in the Secretariat continues to be slow, cumbersome and costly, would form a panel to consider redesigning the United Nations justice system. Composed of external and independent experts, that body would be tasked with proposing a model for resolving staff grievances that is independent, transparent, effective, efficient, adequately resourced and ensuring managerial accountability. The panel would start its work no later than 1 February 2006 and present its findings and recommendations by the end of July the same year.
The four-part 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. Among the measures put forward by the text as potential means of avoiding conflict, are training of managers and implementation of a sound performance appraisal system. 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 in the administration of justice system. It would decide that the reduced time limits recommended by the Office for Internal Oversight Services for the appeals process will become mandatory no later than January 2006.
By two other drafts, the Committee acted on requests for additional financing for peacekeeping missions in Cyprus and Kosovo, whose budgets for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005 were initially approved last June. Additional appropriations were required due, in part, to changes in subsistence allowance rates, revised salary scales and currency fluctuations between the euro and United States dollar.
By the terms of a draft resolution on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Assembly would provide an amount of $30 million, in addition to some $278.41 million already appropriated for the maintenance of that Mission through 30 June 2005.
Following the Secretary-Generals request for some $1.9 million in additional financing for UNFICYP, the Assembly would decide to keep the matter under review during its current session and urge Member States in arrears to pay their contributions to the Force. In that connection, it would take note of the fact that, by 28 February, outstanding dues for the mission amounted to $24.1 million. Also by the text, the Assembly would invite voluntary contributions to the Force.
As the additional request relates mostly to an unexpected relocation of the Forces military personnel from their current accommodations, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to expedite negotiations with the Government of Cyprus on the issues surrounding this matter, in accordance with the provisions of the 1964 host country agreement.
In view of the fact that printed copies of vacancy announcements for the newly-established Department of Safety and Security had not been distributed to delegations as required by Assembly resolution 59/266 of 23 December 2004, the Committee also approved a draft decision, recommending that three D-2 posts and one D-1 post should, on an exceptional basis, be re-advertised for 30 days. Processing of recruitment actions already under way would continue, in the meantime. The Assembly would also decide that the deadline for receipt of applications for the 14 P-3 to P-5 posts, for which vacancy announcements had been issued between 3 and 31 March in the Galaxy system, but not distributed in printed copy, would be extended by 15 days, also on an exceptional basis.
And finally, the Committee recommended to the Assembly that it defer for future consideration a number of reports on several of its agenda items, including the implementation of the capital master plan and measures to strengthen the international civil service.
With a new item allocated to its agenda by the General Assembly on 29 March, the Budget Committee will take up Financing of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Wednesday, 13 April.
The Committee had before it a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) (document A/C.5/59/L.39) which addressed the Secretary-Generals request for some $1.9 million in additional financing (see Press Release GA/AB/3662 of 16 March). By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would decide to keep the matter under review during its current session and urge Member States in arrears to pay their contributions to the Force, taking note of the fact that, by 28 February, only 41 Member States had paid their assessments in full. As of that date, outstanding dues for the mission amounted to $24.1 million. Also by the text, the Assembly would invite voluntary contributions to the Force in cash and in the form of services and supplies, as appropriate.
[The budget of UNFICYP for 2004-2005 was approved in June 2004, but additional appropriations were requested, mostly due to an unexpected relocation of military personnel from their current accommodations. Other reasons for a revised request included substantial changes in the cost parameters, including subsistence allowance rates, revised salary scales for staff and currency fluctuations between the euro and United States dollar. Additional requirements would be needed despite anticipated savings from the downsizing of the Force from 1,230 to 860 military contingent personnel, subsequent to Security Council resolution 1568 (2004).]
Emphasizing that all peacekeeping missions should be given equal and non-discriminatory treatment and provided with adequate resources to effectively discharge their mandates, the Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to ensure that the Force is administered with maximum efficiency and economy. In particular, it would reiterate its request that fullest possible use be made of facilities and equipment at the United Nations Logistics base at Brindisi, Italy, in order to minimize the costs of procurement for the Force; and that efforts continue to recruit local General Service staff.
Endorsing the observations and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to ensure their full implementation.
[In its report, the Advisory Committee recommended that any additional requirement be reported in the performance report of the mission. However, it stated that it only made such a recommendation in view of the relatively minor amount being requested, as requests for revised appropriations should be made exclusively in exceptional circumstances.
While recognizing the obligation of the United Nations to provide safe and sanitary accommodation for troops, and the necessity of transferring them from their current dilapidated premises, the ACABQ pointed out, however, that the military contingent of the mission would move from accommodations provided by the Government of Cyprus to facilities to be financed by the mission. Intensive contacts and discussions on the question of accommodation for troops had been maintained with the host country, and the mission had yet to receive a formal reply from the Government of Cyprus.]
In that connection, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to expedite negotiations with the host Government on issues surrounding the relocation of the missions personnel, in accordance with the provisions of the March 1964 agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Cyprus.
The draft was approved without a vote.
The representative of Argentina, speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, reaffirmed his concern about safety and security of UN staff and reiterated it would follow closely the negotiations with the Government of Cyprus. He hoped they would bear fruit soon.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) (document A/C.5/59/L.41).
By the terms of the draft, the Assembly would appropriate an additional amount of some $245.64 million for the maintenance of the Mission for the period from 1 October 2004 to 30 June 2005, inclusive of the amount of some $49.95 million previously authorized by the ACABQ and taking into account the total amount of $746.07 million already appropriated and apportioned for the 2004-2005 period by the terms of resolution 58/259 B.
Also by the text, the Assembly would take note of the status of contributions to MONUC as at 15 March 2005, including the contributions outstanding in the amount of $309.4 million, and note with concern that only 45 Member States have paid their assessed contributions in full. The Assembly would urge all other Member States, in particular those in arrears, to ensure payment of their outstanding assessments.
In an oral amendment, an extra paragraph was inserted, which reads as follows: Emphasizes that every effort should be made to introduce strict budgetary discipline and enforce adequate controls over budget implementation, bearing in mid the complexity of the Mission and the dangerous and highly volatile environment in which it operated as well as the problems related to the size of the country and lack of infrastructure.
The draft was approved without a vote.
The representative of Nigeria, speaking in explanation of the vote that after the vote, said the African Group had made a detailed statement on 24 March. The Group reiterated the statement and highlighted the fact it still had reservations expressed during informal consultations. She trusted that the ACABQ and the Secretariat would take those reservations into account.
By a draft resolution on financing of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) (document A/C.5/59/L.37), the General Assembly would decide to appropriate an additional amount of $30 million for the maintenance of that Mission from the period 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005. A total amount of $278.41 million had already been appropriated for the Mission for the same period under resolution 58/305.
In his report, the Secretary-General had asked an additional appropriation for the Mission of $37.4 million, some $3.6 million of which could be met through reprioritization of funds. Those appropriations were necessary because of the increase in subsistence allowance rates effective 1 May 2004, revised salary scales for national staff effective 1 March 2004, currency fluctuations and a new air-operations contract effective 15 September 2004 (for more background information, see Press Release GA/AB/3662 of 16 March).
JAMES MUTISO, Chief of the Finance Management and Support Services, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said that a key vendor, Aviation Assistance, had filed for bankruptcy protection and discontinued its operations, which included four Beechcraft 200s, resulting in the withdrawal of B-200 fixed-wing aircraft operations in UNMIK from May 2004. A new service had been contracted with another vendor, NAC, in September 2004 at a rate of $2,354 per flight hour -- double the rate charged by Aviation Assistance. That had led to additional requirements for UNMIK for the current financial period. Other missions affected by the withdrawal were the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the United Nations Operation in Côte dIvoire (UNOCI) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The Office of the General Legal Division had received a letter from the Danish bankruptcy court, which confirmed Plesners identity as the receiver of the estate of the Aviation Assistance. Based on discussions in the Office of the Legal Division, for the protection of the Organization, an indemnity would be sought to protect the United Nations and make sure that unnecessary losses were avoided.
The draft was approved without a vote.
The representative of Venezuela asked when the report on steps being taken by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would be issued.
Mr. MUTISO said the case was now with the Office for Legal Affairs. The Department would offer a report once a resolution had been arrived at, probably within a couple of months.
The Committee then turned to a four-part draft resolution on the administration of justice at the United Nations, (document A/C.5/59/L.46). By 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 other measures put forward by the text as potential means of avoiding conflict are training of managers and implementation of a sound performance appraisal system. 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 in 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 8 weeks with no possibility of extension. Compliance with this responsibility would constitute part of the managers performance appraisal system.
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-Generals proposal to transfer the resources of the United Nations 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 United Nations 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.
The representative of Iran, introducing the draft, made an oral amendment at the end of paragraph 53 which reads as follows: Decides that activities requested in the operative paragraphs above that would give rise to additional resource requirements during the biennium 2004-2005 should be included in the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007.
SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director ad interim, Programme Planning and Budget Division, recalled that, in her previous statement on the matter, she had indicated that, due to the limited time available, the Secretariat had been unable to conduct all necessary consultations, but preliminary estimates indicated that several provisions of the text would have programme budget implications. Following extensive consultations with the substantive offices concerned and bearing in mind the clarifications sought in the last two days during informal informals, she could say that there would be no financial implications, taking into account the new paragraph just introduced.
Since certain paragraphs were of concern, she also wanted to make some clarifications, she said. In paragraph 8, for example, the Secretary-General was requested to explore the implications of an option of putting in place a new jury system and report on the matter to the Assembly in the context of his annual report on the administration of justice. A jury system was a radical change from the current system and consideration of the matter would require outside expertise. In addition, the study would take effect throughout the system. Extensive consultations would need to identify the most appropriate course of action. As the annual report to the sixtieth session had already been submitted for translation, it was the intention of the Secretariat to submit to the Assembly the implications of the jury system no later than its sixty-first session. If any additional requirements arose, they would be presented in the context of the revised estimates for the 2006-2007 budget.
As for paragraphs 10, 25 and 37, she said that, bearing in mind the original amendment to the draft, the Secretariat would proceed with the implementation of their provisions, where capacity existed. Activities that would give rise to additional requirements would be included in the revised estimates for 2006-2007.
Regarding paragraph 30, she said that, following the clarification that the Secretary-General would submit proposals to separate the functions currently performed by the Administrative Law Unit by the end of the fifty-ninth session and that no implementation was required before such a report was submitted and considered by the General Assembly, there would be no budgetary implications for 2005. Any additional requirements arising from the decision of the Assembly would be considered in accordance with existing procedures.
On paragraph 46, she added that, at present, little horizontal dialogue existed between the international administrative tribunals and the United Nations Administrative Tribunal. Undertaking that would require obtaining and analysing a significant amount of information from other tribunals, including their statutes and rules and recent jurisprudence. A detailed questionnaire would need to be drawn up and distribution and analysis of answers would be required. In order to obtain the necessary results, informal and formal contact would need to be established. It was anticipated that the United Nations Administrative Tribunal would be in a position to commence implementation action in 2005 and identify the appropriate person to carry out the review. On that basis, there would be no budgetary implications for 2005. However, any resource requirements relating to the comparative analysis to be undertaken would be considered in the context of revised estimates for the next biennium. As already indicated, other paragraphs could give rise to additional requirements in the next biennium. Those would also be taken up in the context of the 2006/2007 budget.
The draft, as orally revised, was then approved without a vote.
In explanation of vote after the vote, the representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the Group was satisfied with the draft. The issues would contribute to improving the administration of justice within the United Nations. He regretted, however, the delay in issuance of the required documents. In the future the issue would be considered again, with a view to bring about improvements to make the administration of justice within the United Nations balanced, rational, holistic and efficient. Regarding the work to be done by the Panel to be created by the resolution, he said that the Group understood that it would work on the basis of existing structures.
Also in explanation of the vote, the representative of India said that, during introduction of the item, his delegation had expressed the view that there appeared to be a wide divergence within the Committee. He was, therefore, satisfied with the outcome of the draft, as he did not expect that the administration of justice within the United Nations could be revolutionized in one session. He was glad that during preliminary deliberations, roadblocks to the draft had been removed.
The representative of China, speaking in explanation of the vote after the vote, emphasized that the existing administration of justice within the United Nations must be improved and strengthened. He hoped the text would bring the administration of justice within the United Nations to a new height.
Under other matters, the Committee approved a draft decision regarding recruitment (to be issued as document A/C.5/2005/L.47) in view of the fact that printed copies of vacancy announcements had not been distributed to delegations, as required by Assembly resolution 59/266 of 23 December 2004, with respect to the establishment of the Department of Safety and Security. The matter had arisen during the last meeting and during the following informal consultations.
By the decision, the Committee recommended that the Assembly would decide that three D-2 posts and one D-1 post should, on an exceptional basis, be re-advertised for 30 days, while the process of recruitment actions already under way would be continued. The Assembly would also decide that the deadline for receipt of applications for the 14 P-3 to P-5 posts, for which vacancy announcements had been issued between 3 and 31 March in the Galaxy system, but not been distributed in printed copy, would be extended by 15 days, also on an exceptional basis.
To a question asked by the representative of Nigeria, whether United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations offices worldwide had copies of the post announcements, ROSEMARIE McCREERY, Assistant Secretary-General, Human Resources Management, said that, in any UNDP office or United Nations office with access to the United Nations Web site, the announcements were accessible through the Galaxy system. Applications would go through the Galaxy system.
DIANE RUSSLER, of the Department of Safety and Security, conveyed the Departments deep disappointment with the development. She had hoped that the Department would be fully staffed by 1 September. Because of the impact of the decision, senior staff would not be on board until 1 August. By the time they had reviewed other posts, it would be 1 January. That would have a direct impact on the Committees work, as it would be impossible to provide the Committee with reports before the sixty-first session of the Assembly.
The representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, stated her deep disappointment as well, but not with the fact that the action had been taken, but with the fact that there had been lapses in the procedures.
Following adoption of the draft, the representative of Norway said that it had been difficult for her delegation to join consensus on the draft. The General Assembly had decided to establish the Department and recognized the need for urgent implementation of a unified safety and security system. Member States were reminded daily of the need to strengthen safety and security within the United Nations. She regretted that the Committee had taken a decision that would delay recruitment and hamper the work of the Department. Consideration of the matter had also led to a delay in adoption of important resolutions before the Committee.
Cubas representative said that it was a source of disappointment for him to have to intervene on an issue that the Fifth Committee should not even have to deal with. He regretted that the situation had occurred. However, it showed yet again that a real accountability system was needed. It also showed that decisions by the Assembly must be respected and complied with, without any interpretation applied. Any departure must be checked with Member States first.
He also regretted the statement by the representative of the Department, he said. He could not say he thanked the Secretariat for that statement. Member States were the ones that had suffered from the wrong interpretation of their decisions. In December, the Department of Safety and Security had been created following difficult consultations. Those nights and evenings spent on the resolution should be respected.
Costa Ricas representative echoed what had been said by Jamaica. He deeply regretted that the Committee should have had to take such a decision today. The Secretariat should have taken appropriate steps to comply with the mandate handed down by the General Assembly.
Indias representative aligned himself with the representative of Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and supported statements by Cuba and Costa Rica. He also regretted that the Committee had had to take the decision. Also, until today, he had thought that there was unity within the Secretariat and that it had collective responsibility for implementing the decisions of the General Assembly. One department should not blame another, saying it could not carry out the General Assembly mandate.
The representative of Mexico asked assurances from Ms. Russler that the points made today would be brought to the attention of the relevant departments.
The representative of Argentina endorsed the statements made by the delegates of Jamaica, Cuba, Costa Rica and India, saying the motivation of the statement made by Ms. Russler was inappropriate. The Secretariat should not be judging what decisions the Assembly took. He regretted what had occurred.
The representative of Nigeria, sharing the points raised by her colleagues, raised another issue, namely the coverage of Press Release GA/AB/3667 of 1 April of part B of draft decision A/C.5/59/L.38 on construction of additional office facilities at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). According to the Press Release, the draft decision 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).
She said she could not find that recommendation in the aforementioned report. That report had one recommendation contained in paragraph 10 [which recommended that clear understandings be reached in advance with the various United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and other entities, in order to allow priority-oriented planning and to ensure the most efficient and realistic allocation of space. Information in this regard should be included in the next report]. The matter mentioned in paragraph 8 had been resolved and had been based on a misunderstanding. The African Group did not agree with the observation made in that paragraph.
She did not blame the Press Officers responsible for the press release, however, as the report was not clear. Usually, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had its recommendations printed in boldin its reports. She understood the confusion, as paragraph 8 had, indeed, been printed in bold, although it was not a recommendation. She wanted, however, to put on record, and have it reflected in the current press release, that the Committee did not endorse paragraph 8.
The representative of Mexico said the issue addressed earlier under financing for MONUC did not bear just on MONUC but had a broader reach. It was a cross-cutting issue. He understood that cross-cutting issues would be considered during the second part of the Committees resumed session.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, an orally revised draft decision contained in document A/C.5/59/L.43, by which the Assembly would defer for future consideration a number of reports on several of its agenda items, including the implementation of the capital master plan and measures to strengthen the international civil service.
Suspending the work for the first part of the resumed session, the Committees Chairman, DON MacKAY said that the Committee had been able to accomplish a lot. It had taken action on a number of large items, in addition to the Committees regular workload. That would facilitate the Committees work during its second resumed session in May.
He also drew the Committees attention to the fact that the Assembly, at its 84th plenary meeting on 29 March, had allocated to the Fifth Committee the financing of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan. Accordingly, a formal meeting of the Committee would be held on 13 April, immediately following the adoption of the Fifth Committee reports by the General Assembly.
Closing statements were also made by Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) and Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group).
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