15 December 2005
Budget Committee Takes up Financing Estimates for Implementing 2005 World Summit Reforms
Secretary-General's Report Says Cost of Recommendations Amounts to $73 Million with Increase of 200 Posts
NEW YORK, 14 December (UN Headquarters) -- Hearing for the first time a formal presentation of revised budget estimates resulting from the wide-ranging decisions of the 2005 World Summit Outcome, speakers in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning stressed the need for Member States to abide by their commitments by appropriating the necessary funding for implementing the ambitious reform package agreed to by Heads of State in September.
Commenting on the Secretary-General's report on the programmatic and financial consequences of the actions mandated by the Summit, which, the report notes, would amount to $73.37 million, including an increase of 200 posts, many speakers agreed with the view of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) that the intense pressure under which the report was prepared resulted in a document that appeared to be "a catch-all for various types of proposals". Speakers also agreed that, while some of the estimates related directly to the Summit Outcome, other estimates related to activities that were still subject to modification as a result of further action by the Assembly.
Japan's representative, emphasizing the need for Secretariat and management reform, said that some of the crucial first steps in the reform must be achieved by the end of 2005. The strengthening of the OIOS was also a matter of urgency, and he fully endorsed the Secretary-General's proposal on significantly strengthening the expertise and capacity of the OIOS. There was no way the Committee could leave that issue untouched until May. Resources to strengthen that Office should be reflected in the budget for the next biennium, and any necessary adjustment should be based on the outcome of the external review.
The United States representative said that the time for repeating the arguments in favour of reform was past. The time had come to make the United Nations more efficient, effective and accountable, which was in the interest of every Member State. Management reform would strengthen the Assembly's ability to provide oversight of United Nations operations and the Secretariat's ability to manage the Organization and its personnel with commensurate accountability.
The representative of the United Kingdom, on behalf of the European Union, agreed that the Assembly had been mandated to act on the decisions to strengthen the United Nations. While it was not possible to decide on each detail, it was crucial to demonstrate the will to move forward as soon as possible, so as to allow for early decision-making. That would mean swift decisions before the closure of the session. It was a tall order, but while much of the detail in the report had taken a while, the general principles had been discussed at great length for some time.
Cuba's representative, on the other hand, cautioned the Committee against making hasty decisions under strict time lines. In view of the importance of the issue before the Committee, enough time should be put aside to consider it. She was fully committed to adopting the biennial budget for 2006-2007 before the end of the year. As for the revised estimates, sufficient time was needed to adopt well thought-out and substantive decisions.
Jamaica's representative, on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said he shared the ACABQ's concern regarding the danger of not giving proper consideration to the proposals. He also noted with concern that some of the Secretary-General's proposals addressed issues not in the outcome document and related to old or existing mandates. The Group intended to examine only those proposals related to the Summit Outcome. Expenditures on the revised budget were not part of the budget itself, but should be viewed as a supplementary budget. The Group was willing to achieve the 19 December deadline set by the General Assembly President for completing deliberations on the Secretary-General's proposals. In that regard, he reiterated the Group's request for conference services for night and weekend meetings.
New Zealand's representative, on behalf of Australia and Canada, said the revised estimates enabled a comprehensive picture of resource requirements for the coming biennium. While the revised estimates and the proposed programme budget for 2006-2007 were procedurally separate, it helped to understand them in association with each other. In any event, the estimates were not the last word. Some issues in the Summit Outcome were more fully developed than others. Further budgetary revisions would need to be presented as soon as possible, in the light of decisions the Assembly would take on reform and other aspects of the Outcome.
Addressing the issue of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), Nigeria's representative reiterated the concern of the African Group that, while Africa's development was one of the Organization's priorities, it had not been adequately translated into action in the budget. In that regard, the proposal in the report before the Committee should be reviewed to demonstrate the Organization's commitment to addressing the special needs of Africa.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Norway, Iran, Switzerland, Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Syria and South Africa.
The United Nations Controller, Warren Sach, introduced the Secretary-General's report. Rajat Saha, Acting Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced that body's reports.
The Committee will meet again at a date to be announced.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning was expected to take up the programmatic and financial consequences of the actions mandated by the 2005 World Summit Outcome.
The Secretary-General's report (document A/60/537), outlines the main requirements involved, except for actions that would require further study or for which the Assembly remains seized, such as arrangements relating to the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission; reviews in relation to strengthening the Organization's oversight capacity; and outcome provisions relating to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The implications relating to those actions will be provided when the decisions are taken or related reports submitted to the Assembly in 2006.
Additional requirements arising from the decisions that do not require further study are estimated at some $75.49 million, but the overall impact of these proposals, as reflected in changes to the already submitted budget proposal for 2006-2007 would amount to $73.37 million, including an increase of 200 posts. For the support account, additional Summit Outcome requirements are estimated at some $2.12 million for the period from 1 July 2005 to 30 June 2006, and an increase of 27 posts is proposed. This requirement stems from the concept of a standing police capacity to provide a coherent start-up capability, advice and expertise for peacekeeping missions.
The activities called for by the Summit are not reflected in the proposed budget for 2006-2007. The Secretary-General indicates that, pending the outcome of the review of all mandates older than five years, it is not possible to identify activities that could be terminated, deferred, curtailed or modified to accommodate the revised estimates.
A significant part of the total (over $24.22 million -- 93 new posts) would be dedicated to the measures to strengthen the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Also included in the report are the changes needed to strengthen the policy analysis capacity within the Department of Political Affairs and establish a mediation support unit (some $7.64 million); management reforms within the Secretariat (some $5.7 million); and reforms to improve the capacity of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its international counter-terrorism efforts ($828,000) and to build its criminal justice systems to support the rule of law ($193,500).
In accordance with the decisions of the World Summit, the audit and investigations resources of the OIOS will be significantly strengthened, "as a matter of urgency". In this connection, additional resource requirements of some $2.46 million are envisioned for internal audit; and $6.8 million for investigations. Other resource requirements described in the report include $3.8 million for the establishment of the ethics office; $1.17 million for an independent oversight advisory committee; some $7.11 million for conference-servicing requirements relating to the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council; and some $7.64 million for the establishment of a peacebuilding support office.
The recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in a related report (document A/60/7/Add.13), would entail a total reduction of some $25.49 million gross from the additional estimate of $73.37 million proposed by the Secretary-General.
Additional resource requirements to implement the outcome of the Summit might normally be subject to the provisions relating to the contingency fund, which has been approved in the amount of $27.2 million for 2006-2007. As the estimates exceed the level of the fund, the Assembly may either decide that procedures for its use shall be strictly applied, or that the Summit estimates are to be considered outside the established procedure, as proposed by the Secretary-General. In the first case, guidance should be provided by the Assembly on how the provisions of the contingency fund should be applied. Should an exception be made, it should be specifically stipulated that it will not create a precedent for the future.
The Advisory Committee states that the intense pressure under which the Secretary-General's report was prepared resulted in a document that is not totally coherent, appearing to be "a catch-all for various types of proposals". While some of the estimates relate directly to the Summit Outcome, there are also estimates for activities that are still subject to modification as the result of further action by the Assembly. Lastly, there are proposals that cannot be specifically tied to any particular decision reflected in the Summit Outcome, including at least one instance in which the Assembly has "endorsed" or "approved" an "intention" of the Secretary-General to do something; clearly, the initiative in such case is with the Secretary-General.
In this connection, the Advisory Committee refers to a report of the Secretary-General entitled "Implementation of decisions from the 2005 World Summit Outcome for action by the Secretary-General: ethics office; comprehensive review of governance arrangements, including an independent external evaluation of the auditing and oversight system; and the independent audit advisory committee" (document A/60/568 and Corr.1). In the report, the Secretary-General replaces his previous "intention" to establish an ethics office with a proposal to that effect. According to the Advisory Committee, proposals concerning an independent evaluation of governance, oversight and auditing in the United Nations and the establishment of an Independent Audit Advisory Committee appear to be in response to the requests contained in paragraphs 164 (b) and (c) of the Summit Outcome. Inasmuch as that report amplifies, and in some cases might even contradict, what is already included in the revised estimates, the ACABQ is of the view that it should have been given an opportunity to study the report and submit its views to the Assembly.
The Advisory Committee has consistently cautioned against such a piecemeal approach. Multiple reports on the same subject make the formulation of a clear path forward extremely difficult. A more comprehensive analysis or justification should be provided on certain matters. Under the circumstances, the Secretary-General should be requested to prepare a follow-up report, to be submitted no later than the main part of the sixty-first session, which should provide a comprehensive analysis and estimate of the resources needed to implement the Summit Outcome in the light of any subsequent decisions by the Assembly.
The ACABQ also points out that the methodology employed in calculating additional resources does not include any justification for the base level -- the proposed budget for 2006-2007. However, a case can also be made for using the revised estimates for 2004-2005 as the starting point, since the 2006-2007 proposed programme budget has yet to be adopted. The revised estimates lack convincing evidence that an effort has been made to accommodate new and expanded mandates through redeployment of resources. Also addressed in the report is frequent use of consultants to implement the Assembly's directives. The procedures adopted for the use of consultants require that full account be taken of existing expertise and capacity before outside assistance is sought.
The ACABQ makes recommendations on the requirements for the creation of an ethics office at some $3.8 million with proposed staffing of 16 posts, but on the understanding that they may be subject to further review and revision in the light of future action. It also points out that the activity being provided for is not new and should have been an integral part of the administrative structure of the Secretariat since its inception. The leadership and direction provided by the Secretary-General and the responsibilities he has under the Charter for the administration of the staff, as well as the obligations of staff under their oaths of office, make strict ethical conduct obligatory. The ACABQ requests that the Secretary-General describe, in his follow-up report, various ethics activities carried out within the Secretariat, laying out a plan for coordination among them and exploring the possibility for redeployment of resources to the ethics office, if needed.
On the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the report states that the proposal for $195,400 to meet the special needs of Africa appears to be inadequate. A comprehensive system-wide plan should be elaborated in response to the relevant paragraphs of the outcome document, incorporating not only the activities of the NEPAD, but other relevant United Nations entities, as well. The ACABQ requests that the Secretary-General report on such a plan no later than the main part of the sixty-first session. In the meantime, it recommends approval of the two posts requested and expects that urgent measures will be taken to fill the post of Special Adviser on Africa, which has been vacant since 1 July 2005.
On a "provisional" estimate of $1.17 million for an independent oversight advisory committee, the Advisory Committee again refers to the separate report contained in document A/60/568. It notes from that report that the proposed committee would serve in an expert advisory capacity to the Assembly. However, it is for the Assembly itself to decide upon such issues as the mandate, composition, selection process and qualification of experts of the new committee. Under the circumstances, it is premature to consider resource requirements for the committee until the requisite policy decisions have been taken, the ACABQ states.
In connection with the estimates for the OHCHR, the Advisory Committee recalls that in the Summit Outcome the Assembly resolved to strength the Office. The High Commissioner's plan of action was brought to the attention of the Assembly, but not for a decision -- the Assembly took note of the plan. Also, there is no discussion in the Secretary-General's report as to how the doubling of the resources of the OHCHR over the next five years is to be handled, nor is there a specific indication of the precise baseline against which future increases would be measured. Full details should be given for the Assembly to take an informed decision on the matter. Also, while recognizing the need for strengthening the capacity of the New York human rights office, the ACABQ is of the view that the proposal to establish an Assistant Secretary-General there should be considered when the OHCHR has a clearer picture of its structural needs and the functions for the New York office following a planned feasibility study.
On additional resources of some $7.11 million for conference management, mostly for meetings of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council, the Advisory Committee states that, as the legislative process in respect of those bodies is still not complete, it would be premature to consider resource requirements for them at this time.
The ACABQ further recommends approval of over $7.64 million to strengthen the Department of Political Affairs with regard to building capacity for peacebuilding, supporting democracy and combating terrorism; and some $3.63 million for an independent external evaluation of the Organization's auditing and oversight system, to be conducted within the context of the comprehensive review of governance arrangements. However, it also states that it would be prudent to await the results of that review before establishing an office of fraud prevention within the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Management. While recognizing the importance of dealing with fraud and corruption, the ACABQ points out that the establishment of the office is not directly called for in the Summit Outcome. Furthermore, some of the functions of such an office may overlap with activities of other existing bodies and the proposed ethics office.
While stating that a follow-up mechanism is in place to develop proposals for a full review of the budgetary, financial and human resources policies, regulations and rules of the Organization, the Secretary-General points out that an amount of $132,500 is included in the revised estimates to cover the cost of outside expertise for the review. In this connection, the Advisory Committee points out that reviewing budgetary, financial and human resources policies and rules is a basic responsibility of management, normally carried out on an ongoing basis, within existing capacity. If external support is required, the resources should be absorbed from existing provisions.
With an additional amount of $794,600 proposed for the Office of Human Resources Management, including $225,200 to undertake a review of the staff selection system, the ACABQ is of the view that the review should be completed in time for the Assembly's consideration of human resources management issues next year. On this understanding, it recommends approval of the requested amount.
And finally, the Advisory Committee is not convinced that the whole amount of $541,600 requested for the ethics training programme is necessary, since much of this work is already being undertaken. Accordingly, it does not recommend approval of the requested resources at this time and requests that the matter be further elaborated upon in the comprehensive follow-up report.
Also before the Committee was a letter to its Chairman from the President of the Assembly (document A/C.5/60/19) transmitting for the Committee's consideration the report of the Secretary-General on the ethics office; comprehensive review of governance arrangements, including an independent external evaluation of the auditing and oversight system; and the independent audit advisory committee (document A/60/568). The President of the Assembly requests that the recommendations of the Fifth Committee be transmitted to the plenary by 19 December 2005.
And finally, the Committee had before it a report of the ACABQ relating to the OIOS reform proposal (document A/60/7/Add.14). Noting that it expected a substantial revision to OIOS' proposal during the sixtieth session, the Advisory Committee does not see much utility in providing detailed comments on an initial budget proposal that is soon to be replaced. Pending a submission of the budget proposal for Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the ACABQ recommends that resources equivalent to the revised level of the 2004-2005 provision -- recosted for 2006-2007 -- be provided. This would involve a reduction of $338,900 from the estimate under section 29 of the 2006-2007 proposed budget. As a consequence, any action requiring legislative approval should not go forward until the new budget proposal has been acted upon.
The ACABQ also expects the new proposal to reflect a greatly improved results-based budgeting presentation, the report states. The OIOS should set the standard in that regard. Given the situation with regard to the status of the initial estimates and taking into account the fact that a comprehensive review of the OIOS is now under way, the Advisory Committee recommends that an equivalent of general temporary assistance for 39 positions be authorized, pending the consideration of a comprehensive budget proposal. Amounts requested for consultants should also be deferred.
Introduction of Reports
Presenting the revised estimates emanating from the Summit Outcome, WARREN SACH, United Nations Controller, said that a statement of programme budget implications had been provided to the Assembly at the time of the adoption of resolution 60/1, informing the Assembly that detailed estimates would be presented during the consideration of the budget. The preliminary estimate in the initial statement had amounted to some $80 million, but the revised figure before the Committee today stood at some $75.49 million. The overall impact of the proposals, as reflected in the changes to the already submitted budget proposal for 2006-2007, would amount to $73.37 million, including an increase of 200 posts.
The ACABQ reports were introduced by Rajat Saha, Acting Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).
BILL LONGHURST ( United Kingdom), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Union was committed to working with partners to approve a budget in the main session. It was essential that any budget included provisions for the various proposals of the Secretary-General contained in the revised estimates. In some cases, the ACABQ had recommended deferral on some items pending the submission of further information. The Assembly, however, had been mandated to act on the decisions to strengthen the United Nations. While it was not possible to decide on each detail, it was crucial to demonstrate the will to move forward as soon as possible so as to allow for early decision-making. That would mean swift decisions before the closure of the session. It was a tall order, but while much of the detail in the report had taken a while, the general principles had been discussed at great length for some time.
Mr. HALL ( Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Group appreciated the information provided and commended the ACABQ for its fine work. He shared the ACABQ's concern, however, regarding the danger of not giving proper consideration to the proposals. He noted comments in paragraph 7 that the document was not totally coherent. He also noted with concern that some of the Secretary-General's proposals addressed issues not in the outcome document and related to old or existing mandates. The Group intended to examine only those proposals related to the Summit Outcome.
Regarding revised estimates, the ACABQ provided two options in its report, he said. One was to abide strictly by the rules regarding the Contingency Fund. The second was to grant a one-time exception. The Group believed that expenditures on the revised budget were not part of the budget itself, but should be viewed as a supplementary budget. The Group expressed its willingness to achieve the 19 December deadline for completing deliberations on the Secretary-General's proposals. In that regard, he reiterated the Group's request for conference services for night and weekend meetings for that purpose. The only way to achieve the deadline was to have additional conference services.
PHILLIP TAULA ( New Zealand), speaking also on behalf of Australia and Canada, said the revised estimates enabled a comprehensive picture of resource requirements for the coming biennium. While the revised estimates and the proposed programme budget for 2006-2007 were procedurally separate, it helped to understand them in association with each other. It had been a difficult document for the Secretary-General to prepare in the limited time available. The ACABQ was right to focus, therefore, on "ripe" issues and to avoid prejudging the results of work still under way in the Assembly. In any event, the estimates were not the last word. Some issues in the Summit Outcome were more fully developed than others. As the ACABQ pointed out, further budgetary revisions would need to be presented as soon as possible, in the light of decisions the Assembly would take on reform and other aspects of the Outcome.
The revised estimates contained important proposals concerning ethical conduct and oversight, he said. While details would best be explored in informal consultations, he recorded his general support for the Secretary-General's approach. He also reiterated his support for the immediate establishment of an ethics office with the functions described by the Secretary-General. It was in the interest of all to ensure the highest ethical standards and that coordination of those efforts should be vested in an ethics office as a means of ensuring a common approach in the multifaceted Organization.
The revised estimates contained a variety of resource proposals, he said. Canada, Australia and New Zealand were broadly comfortable with the ACABQ's recommendations, with two main exceptions. He supported the Secretary-General's resource request for the establishment of the peacebuilding support office, which, he believed, did not hinge on whatever the Assembly decided as to the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission. The Standing Police Capacity proposal had been clearly mandated and developed in close consultation with the relevant experts in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping. He saw no reason to unnecessarily delay creation of that capacity. The enlargement of the capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was a priority which responded to one of the most precise mandates in the Summit Outcome. However, whether the baseline for the envisaged doubling of regular budget resources was 2004-2005 or 2006-2007 was for the Assembly to decide.
He strongly supported increasing the capacity of the OIOS and ensuring its operational independence. While he expected a comprehensive plan of action to flow from the external review of oversight, the immediate need recognized by the World Summit to bolster the audit and investigation capacity in the OIOS was pressing. The fraud and corruption functions proposed by the Secretary-General were important, even if not directly related to the Summit Outcome. It was important to get a clear idea of how work in that area would proceed. The question of how to finance the revised estimates was very important. The delegations of Canada, Australia and New Zealand were strong advocates of the discipline intended by the Contingency Fund rules contained in resolutions 41/213 and 42/211. The Secretary-General did say, however, that the Contingency Fund rules did not envisage the present circumstances. Generally, he thought the Secretary-General should have made greater effort to meet new requirements by reallocation and he was ready, therefore, to exhaust the opportunities in such an effort. His priority, however, was to put into effect the decisions of the world leaders, even if full absorption was not possible.
MARI SKAARE ( Norway) said her country was deeply committed to the United Nations reform agenda with a view to making the Organization more accountable, effective and credible. The 2005 World Summit took important decisions in that regard. It was now the responsibility of Member States to implement those decisions. Before Heads of State and Government had adopted the Summit Outcome, they had been informed that it would cost some $80 million to initiate the reforms. It was important that Member States now abide by their commitments and appropriate the necessary funding, including for strengthening the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OIOS, and the establishment of the ethics office and a support office for the Peacebuilding Commission. The lack of funding would only delay the reform process.
She encouraged Member States, therefore, to negotiate the revised estimates in a constructive manner with a view to obtaining an adequate 2006-2007 programme budget for the United Nations before the end of the year.
MOHAMMAD HASSANEJAD ( Iran) subscribed to the position of the Group of 77 and said that the consideration of multiple reports on the same questions made the formulation of a clear path forward extremely difficult. He also agreed with the ACABQ that some elements of the Secretary-General's report on the revised estimates would be overtaken by events and would have to be revisited later. In some cases, there was a need for further legislative actions or clarification on behalf of the Secretariat. He also concurred with the ACABQ opinion that, as the legislative process in respect of the Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council were still not complete, it would be premature to consider resources for them at this juncture.
On human rights, he said that the creation of posts was for fulfilment of specific functions. In the context of doubling resources in the area of human rights, 93 additional posts had been proposed. There was no need to remind the Committee that it was its prerogative and responsibility to appraise the functions to be implemented by those posts. That was in line with the results-based budgeting methodology. Indeed, mere augmentation of resources could tilt the scale in line with input budgeting, which had been dispensed with a long time ago. In the same vein, the Committee should ensure that the programme of work to be added to the existing proposal of the Secretary-General in section 23 was in line with approved mandates in such a sensitive area as human rights.
There were reasons to be cautious, however, on proper implementation of procedures. As an example, one could note that, in the fascicle, reference was made to the plan of action as one of the activities to be fulfilled by the High Commissioner during the biennium. He noted that the plan of action had not been endorsed by the General Assembly and, as rightly pointed out by the ACABQ, its status remained to be decided. Another example was the reflection of some reports of the Secretary-General that had not been endorsed by the Assembly and did not constitute a mandate for the High Commissioner, such as the role of the OHCHR in conflict prevention. The improvement of the work programme on human rights should be conducted through a balanced approach and should not concentrate on one field at the expense of others. Progressive balance should be pursued between budgetary and extrabudgetary resources on human rights and not necessarily through the increase of the regular budget. As for the establishment of the Assistant Secretary-General post for the New York office of the OHCHR, it should be considered in the context of the envisioned feasibility study and when the Office had a clearer picture of its needs.
Regarding the course of action to be taken on the Summit Outcome estimates, he suggested that the Committee should take the same course of action it had contemplated in considering the safety and security needs. Having a revised estimate for 2006-2007 required the adoption of the programme budget currently under consideration. He called on the delegations to reach agreement thereon by the end of the main part of the session.
KHUSHALI PARIKH SHAH ( United States) recalled the Secretary-General's statement last March that it was necessary to reshape the United Nations with boldness and speed. She fully agreed with that statement, which her country's Permanent Representative had reiterated last week. Her delegation had called for intergovernmental discussion of management reform, because it was essential to secure progress on the items agreed upon by the world leaders in September. The time for repeating the arguments in favour of reform was past. The time had come to make the United Nations more efficient, effective and accountable. That was in the interest of every Member State. Now was the critical moment in the implementation of the management improvements agreed upon in the Summit Outcome. Management reform would strengthen the Assembly's ability to provide oversight of United Nations operations and the Secretariat's ability to manage the Organization and its personnel with commensurate accountability.
She also noted the report on the plans to establish the ethics office, proceed with an independent evaluation of United Nations auditing and oversight system and create an oversight advisory committee. Supporting the proposal on the ethics office, she would appreciate a clarification from the ACABQ on why it wanted a reduction in connection with it.
ANJA ZOBRIST RENTENAAR ( Switzerland) said that the Organization was now at a stage, where the membership had to honour its commitment and approve the necessary funding. She shared the opinion of the Advisory Committee that the Secretary-General's report was not totally coherent and that it represented, to a certain degree, a piecemeal approach. That was inevitable in view of the need to meet the ambitious time line set by the Heads of State, and there was no feasible alternative in that regard. As for the ACABQ's comment on the lack of proposed redeployments for carrying out new functions in the present context, she stressed that her delegation's understanding had always been that resource implications arising from the Summit would not be met from existing resources, or be subject to the Contingency Fund.
While the ethics office should be established without delay, her delegation shared many of the views expressed by the Advisory Committee, she said. It should, however, be possible to find a middle ground in that regard. Her delegation could go along with the recommendations to defer consideration of additional resources for conference management of the proposed Human Rights Council and Peacebuilding Commission, pending the conclusion of the legislative process. The request for the $4 million for the Human Rights Council was not properly justified in the first place, and she wanted to receive some further information on how the sum had been arrived at. As far as the independent oversight advisory committee was concerned, she would prefer to adopt preliminary terms of reference and approve a corresponding provisional budget at this stage. Also, supporting the establishment of a light peacebuilding support office, she said that once the negotiations had been concluded, her delegation would be willing to consider the related resource requirements.
Continuing, she shared the ACABQ's opinion regarding the inadequacy of the proposal for NEPAD and agreed that a comprehensive system-wide plan on all activities pertinent to the special needs of Africa should be helpful for further deliberations on the matter. She could also go along with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee in relation to section 29, Human Rights. The strengthening of the New York Office of the OHCHR was a priority for her delegation, and she was awaiting with interest the result of the intended feasibility study and reconsideration of the proposal to establish an Assistant Secretary-General post in that context. She would like to see swift action on the independent external evaluation, including related budgetary requirements, in order not to delay the intended time line.
Regarding the OIOS, she recalled that the ACABQ had recommended to provide it with resources equivalent to the recosted revised 2004-2005 level, pending the resubmission of a new budget proposal. Although it was not the optimal way of proceeding, her delegation accepted that recommendation, taking into account the recent change at the helm of the Office and the fact that a comprehensive review of the OIOS was under way. She welcomed the ACABQ recommendation to approve the establishment of 39 additional temporary posts as an interim measure for strengthening the capacity of the OIOS in audit and investigation. As those positions were temporary in nature, she would advocate a certain degree of flexibility in terms of the post distribution within the OIOS.
HITOSHI KOZAKI ( Japan) said his delegation attached great importance to the expeditious and steady implementation of the Summit Outcome, which set out wide-ranging issues to be pursued by Member States. Some of the crucial first steps must be achieved by the end of 2005. Japan placed particularly high priority on Secretariat and management reform. The recommendations of the Advisory Committee entailed a total reduction of some $25.5 million. His delegation wanted to analyse individual resource requirements taking into account the status of implementation by respective offices and departments of the recommendations related to management reform, while fully aware of the need to ensure consistency with the Summit Outcome. His delegation had already submitted several paragraphs in the context of the proposed programme budget for 2006-2007 for the purpose of reflecting progress made by the end of 2005 on Secretariat and management reform in the budget of the next biennium. Among them were the establishment of the ethics office, significant strengthening of the expertise, capacity and resources of the OIOS, the establishment of the independent oversight advisory committee, a mechanism necessary for the Secretary-General to meet evolving needs, as well as proposals to give some guidance related to mandate review.
Regarding the strengthening of the OIOS, he said he supported a review of the OIOS. The strengthening of the OIOS was a matter of urgency, as it had been requested in resolution A/RES/60/1. There was no way the Committee could leave the issue untouched until May. His delegation did not see the external review of the OIOS as a prerequisite for the strengthening of the OIOS. Resources necessary to strengthen that Office should be reflected in the budget for the next biennium now, and any necessary adjustment should be based on the outcome of the external review. He fully endorsed the Secretary-General's proposal on significantly strengthening the expertise and capacity of the OIOS.
ALEJANDRO TORRES LEPORI ( Argentina), speaking also on behalf of the Rio Group, emphasized the importance of analysing the revised estimates for the 2006-2007 biennium. The report made reference to the creation of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council -- institutions that he firmly supported. The Group was mindful of the ACABQ's recommendations and would work with others to see that the reforms could become a reality without delay. As to the proposed ethics office, the Group recognized the urgent need to set up that office and to curb unnecessary expenditures. As to the Peacebuilding Commission support office, the Assembly must make available enough resources to help that Commission, particularly during its start-up phase. Measures must also be taken to cover the budget for the Special Adviser for Africa.
Concerning the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, he said he firmly backed the decision in the Summit Outcome to double resources over five years. The Secretariat's proposals were, by and large, well founded and a sound basis for attaining the goal of improving technical assistance. Resources must be provided, as necessary, to create a standing police force for peacekeeping operations, he added.
YOO DAE-JONG (Republic of Korea) said that his delegation shared the view of the ACABQ that the intense pressure under which the Secretariat had prepared the report had resulted in a document that was not totally coherent and appeared to be a catch-all for all kinds of proposals. That was all the more telling in the case of the OIOS, whose proposals would take into account the results of a mandated review to come. All that made the Committee's deliberations on revised estimates and the budget more difficult in terms of substance and timing. Delegations should show maximum flexibility and diligence in the face of those difficulties. The budget was a time-bound agenda item. He hoped the Fifth Committee would approve, together with the programme budget for 2006-2007, as many measures as possible to implement the outcomes of the September Summit, where consensus had been reached for the unavoidable task of United Nations reform.
The revised estimates coming from the Summit Outcome amounted to $75.49 million, with a more than 200 post increase, while the resource requirements for the Human Rights Council, Peacebuilding Commission, United Nations oversight capacity, including the OIOS, were pending due to discussions and decisions in the Assembly. The ACABQ had made recommendations entailing a reduction of some $25.49 million. As far as the level of resource requirements was concerned, he wondered whether a serious effort had been made to accommodate new and expanded mandates through a redeployment of resources, as the ACABQ rightly pointed out. Such an analysis should have been carried out on the basis of existing mandates and prior to the review of mandates older than five years.
Another issue was the use of the Contingency Fund, he said. The Secretariat had proposed in its report that the Assembly set aside the provisions of its resolution 42/211 that governs the use of that Fund for the purposes of implementing the Summit Outcome. He noted the observation of the ACABQ that there should have been a thorough analysis of the issue and options for dealing with the use of the Contingency Fund.
DULCE BUERGO RODRIGUEZ ( Cuba) said that her delegation supported the position of the Group of 77 and China. She also highlighted the importance of the issue before the Committee, saying that enough time should be put aside to consider it. Recognizing the pressure under which the work was being done, she drew the delegates' attention to the need to avoid making hasty decisions under strict time lines. That could affect the quality of decisions that the Assembly would arrive at. She was fully committed to adopting the biennial budget for 2006-2007 before the end of the year. As for the revised estimates, sufficient time was needed to adopt well thought-out and substantive decisions. Of course, in those cases where all the information had been presented, decisions should not be held up. Her delegation was ready to work to hammer out an agreement on the time-bound issues, but not all the issues had time limits.
Her delegation had a number of questions on the revised estimates, she continued. In particular, her delegation was concerned regarding the resources proposed on human rights. At the time of the adoption of the Summit Outcome, it had lodged reservations to paragraph 124 of that document, in particular in doubling of resources for the OHCHR. That, she felt, contradicted the resource scarcity at the United Nations. As to the proposal on how to use the Contingency Fund, her delegation would be in favour of taking an approach similar to what had had been taken when adopting the resources for safety and security issues last year.
DIEGO SIMANCAS ( Mexico) requested clarification on paragraph 48 of the ACABQ's report on the proposal for three P-3 posts to support the work of all six Geneva-based treaty bodies. What was to happen if the Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights, an additional body created by an Economic and Social Council resolution, was to be considered under that rubric? In human rights terms, that Committee would be considered a seventh such body.
He added that he could not agree more with the need for action and prompt reaction to the proposals before the Committee. Others had voiced the need for action and prompt reaction to proposals before the Committee. For that reason, he was surprised to see a report prepared on 3 November, document A/60/537, being brought before the ACABQ only very recently. If the Committee wanted to make headway, that kind of situation must not recur. The presentation of such proposals or the failure to present them also created uncertainty and did not help the situation.
NONYE UDO ( Nigeria) said the recently concluded high-level meeting would be a significant reference point in any study of the workings of the United Nations. She welcomed the opportunity, therefore, to consider the implication of the decisions contained in the Summit Outcome. Nigeria was committed to comprehensive reforms and would approach negotiations with that positive attitude.
She would have preferred to have more time to study such reports, but understood that the Committee was duty-bound to commence their consideration at the current time, she added. Regarding the United Nation support for NEPAD, she said the African Group had expressed concern that, although Africa's development was one of the Organization's priorities, that had not been adequately translated into action in the budget. More effort was needed to ensure that Africa achieved the goals of the Millennium Declaration. The proposal in the report before the Committee should be reviewed to demonstrate the Organization's commitment to addressing the special needs of Africa. Nigeria looked forward to working with all delegations for a speedy outcome of deliberations.
BRUNO BRANT ( Brazil) associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and China and stressed the importance his country attached to NEPAD and the doubling of resources for the OHCHR in the next five years. His delegation was prepared to participate actively and constructively in the negotiations on the matter before the Committee.
NAJIB ELJI ( Syria) supported the position of the Group of 77 and China and said that the proposals should be examined according to the outcome of the Summit. Thus, his delegation intended to focus on matching the proposals with its understanding of the decisions taken in September. He also made a point that, as the reports had been presented late in the session, the Committee now had no time to examine the proposals closely.
He added that some priorities of the Organization had not been met in preparing today's submission, including the priority goal of providing support for NEPAD. He also insisted that his delegation did not accept blackmailing the Organization by tying the budget to the decision on the reform. He would like to affirm that any appropriations must be in line with the conclusions achieved in relevant bodies. At this point, he saw no need to create an independent auditing commission and act on the conference service resources proposed for the Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council.
He also had questions regarding the proposal to double the budget of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. It was his understanding that balance had been achieved in the Summit Outcome through moving posts between budgetary and extrabudgetary resources. He had not expected new posts to be created within the budget and wanted to know what the justification for new posts was. Had new mandates been added? His understanding was that balance would be achieved through transferring resources and not appropriating new funds. Therefore, he questioned the need to ask for more resources and staff.
Responding to questions and comments, Mr. SACH first addressed queries on additional reports on the comprehensive plan to elaborate all elements of the Summit Outcome regarding NEPAD items. As things stood, the ACABQ's report requested the Secretary-General to report on the subject no later than the main part of the sixty-first session. There were annual reports mandated on NEPAD matters. On the question of absorption, he had noted observations with regard to the fact that the proposals had been put forward without accommodation of resources within existing requirements. While the Secretariat did look at the possibility of absorption whenever there were new requirements, at this point in the budget cycle there was very little opportunity for absorption. Having reviewed all existing programmes, there were no obvious resources to offset against additional requirements at the current stage. By and large, it was not a realistic expectation to find offsets against a newly prepared budget text. Doing so would have required under-resourcing existing mandates.
On human rights, he said there had seen some references in paragraph 42 of the ACABQ's report on the status of the plan of action, which was referred to in resolution 60/1. It was by way of cross reference. He did not think the status of the plan of action was a relevant factor in reviewing the proposed resource requirements for human rights, section 23.
On the Contingency Fund and how to handle the situation arising under the set of reviewed estimates, the ACABQ had made remarks about the need for more analysis from the Secretariat. It was largely a policy issue, not really rocket science, and an issue of what Member States wanted to do in that particular situation. His guidance was to find a formula that respected the spirit of resolutions 41/213 and 42/211, as it was an arrangement that had served the Organization well over the years.
In terms of the coherence of the revised estimates, he said the process was like trying to jump onto a moving train. The Secretariat had done its best to find order in a chaotic situation. As things moved forward, it should be possible for the Committee to find order out of chaos.
Mr. ELJI ( Syria) asked why the Secretariat had not proposed the transfer of posts from the extrabudgetary funding to resources from the regular budget within the framework of the section pertaining to human rights. Establishing balance came through transferring resources and not appropriating new ones. Also, what was the justification for requesting new posts?
Ms. UDO ( Nigeria) said she preferred to receive a report on NEPAD, as it would provide a holistic picture of the implementation of the decisions of the outcome document regarding Africa's development. The Committee would be receiving reports in the first quarter of next year.
KAREN LOCK ( South Africa) said she wished to put on record her concern regarding the resource proposals for the United Nations support for NEPAD. She fully supported Nigeria's proposal to look for time lines for the submission of additional reports for follow-up for Africa's development. She wanted to look at more measures during the current session to increase what had been proposed by the Secretary-General.
Mr. SACH replied that the posts proposed under section 23, Human Rights, were "a combination" of new posts and transfers in the areas where some extrabudgetary positions would be discontinued. It was not normal practice for the Assembly to take decisions on extrabudgetary resources -- it was the regular budget that fell under the scope of the Assembly. The proposals put forward in connection with this section were building upon paragraph 124 of resolution 60/1.
As for NEPAD, he would convey the comments by the representatives of Nigeria and South Africa to the substantive department concerned.
Mr. ELJI ( Syria) said that the area of construction to remove asbestos in front of Conference Rooms 5 and 6 should be properly sealed. In its current state, it posed a great hazard to the health of staff and delegations.
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