Press Releases

    GA/AB/3723
    16 March 2006

    Budget Committee Informs General Assembly Human Rights Council Will Require Additional Appropriations $4.3 Million

    Also Takes Up Budget Implications of Peacebuilding Support Office

    NEW YORK, 15 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning decided on the resource requirements for the Human Rights Council and considered revised programme budget estimates regarding the establishment of a Peacebuilding Support Office to assist the work of the newly established Peacebuilding Commission.

    By consensus, the Committee decided to inform the General Assembly that, should it establish a Human Rights Council by adopting draft resolution A/60/L.48, an additional appropriation of some $4.3 million net would be required, subject to the procedures governing the use and operation of the contingency fund.

    The representative of the United States dissociated his country from that consensus, as it intended to vote against the resolution in the plenary meeting of the Assembly.  He said the United States sought to defend some fundamental principles in the negotiations that reflected its commitment to the advancement and support of human rights around the world.  The text of the draft resolution fell short of that objective.  However, his country intended to work with Member States to make the Human Rights Council as effective as possible.

    South Africa's representative, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that the adoption of the programmed budget implications statement by the Committee would now facilitate the adoption of the draft resolution by the plenary, thereby finalizing the establishment of the Human Rights Council.  The decision of the Fifth Committee would ensure that the human rights machinery of the United Nations would be able to function without any interruption.

    Turning to the issue of a Peacebuilding Support Office, the Committee considered a report of the Secretary-General on the revised estimates to the programme budget for the biennium 2006-2007.  According to the report, total requirements for the Office for 2006-2007 would amount to some $5.6 million.  Some $2.79 million out of that amount -- corresponding to eight posts -- would be met through redeployment or through secondment of staff from other organizations of the United Nations system.  It was proposed that the remaining requirements be accommodated through the utilization of the provision for special political missions of the 2006-2007 budget.

    Introducing the report, Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for International Partnership, said the Peacebuilding Support Office would provide to the Peacebuilding Commission support for:  financing for peacebuilding; planning; and policy and analysis.  The Office would also oversee the management of the Peacebuilding Fund.  The Office would be headed by an Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding, responsible for the overall management of the office and for representing it in its interaction with key interlocutors such as international financial institutions and regional organizations.  He would also assist the Secretary-General in galvanizing the United Nations system to contribute to the development of common and coherent peacebuilding strategies.

    In the ensuing discussion, speakers stressed the importance of providing the Office with adequate resources.  The Office should be staffed by qualified experts, who would assist and support the Peacebuilding Commission and draw from the best expertise available from within the Secretariat, speakers said.

    The representative of Austria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union accepted that the requirements for the Office were accommodated through the provisions appropriated in the budget for 2006-2007 for special political missions.  However, the provisions for special political missions should only be used for activities of limited duration.  For the 2008-2009 budget, different funding arrangements should be explored.

    Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the representative of South Africa noted that more than half of the staffing needs of the Office would be met either through redeployment of existing resources or through secondment of staff from other organizations within the system, and asked for an indication of the impact redeployment might have on programme delivery in the releasing section or department.  Stressing the importance of ensuring the international character of the United Nations in the recruitment and selection of staff, she said the Peacebuilding Commission would benefit from drawing on the expertise of nationals from developing countries and regions that were affected by the type of challenges that the Commission had been mandated to address.

    Norway's representative said his country, in its support for peacebuilding, had contributed $30 million to the Peacebuilding Fund.  A vital part of its strategy, in that regard, was to ensure women's involvement in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  Women were, in many instances, excluded from peace and reconciliation processes and there was still a long way to go before the significance of gender equality was fully understood and gender perspectives were fully integrated in efforts to promote peace, security and development.

    The representative of the United States said her delegation was deeply disappointed that the Secretary-General in his proposal had failed to meet the mandate entrusted on him by the Summit Outcome document, which called for the establishment of a small support office from within existing resources.  Despite the fact that five posts would be accommodated through redeployment and another three posts through non-reimbursable secondment of staff from other organizations in the United Nations system, she was deeply concerned that the Secretary-General had not been able to identify the remaining seven posts for what was one of his most promising reforms stemming from the World Summit.

    In other business, the Committee decided, by acclamation, to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of Gordon Eckersley (Australia) as a member of the Committee on Contribution, until 31 December 2007.

    The Committee also took note of the information contained in a note by the Secretariat on an introduction of a cost-accounting system.

    The representatives of Cuba, Canada (also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand), Japan, Republic of Korea, United Republic of Tanzania, India, Egypt, Nigeria and Argentina also spoke.

    The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Rajat Saha, introduced his Committee's reports on issues discussed.  Mr. Dossal and Sharon Van Buerle, Director ad interim of the Programme Planning and Budget Division answered questions.

    The Fifth Committee will meet again on Monday, 20 March, to consider special political missions and administration of justice.

    Background

    This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) was expected to continue its consideration of the programme budget implications of the resolution on the establishment of the Human Rights Council, take up appointments for the Committee on Contributions (see document A/60/102/Add.1), and discuss costs associated with the establishment of the Peacebuilding Support Office.

    Within the framework of the implementation of the outcome of last year's World Summit, the Committee had before it a report (document A/60/694), which contains updated information on the status of the establishment of the Peacebuilding Support Office, including information on resource requirements of the Office, and the proposed arrangements to meet those requirements.  The report takes into account the feedback, comments and advice received in the context of consultations with expert bodies of the United Nations, Member States and senior officials in the United Nations system.

    In resolution 60/180 at the end of December, the Assembly reiterated its request that a small peacebuilding office be established, to be staffed by qualified experts to assist and support the Commission, and recognized that such support could include gathering and analysing information relating to the availability of financial resources, relevant United Nations in-country planning activities, progress towards meeting short- and medium-term recovery goals and best practices with respect to cross-cutting peacebuilding issues.

    The total requirements for the Peacebuilding Support Office for 2006-2007 amount to some $5.6 million.  Some $2.79 million out of that amount -- corresponding to eight posts -- would be met through redeployment or through secondment of staff from other organizations of the United Nations system.  It is proposed that the remaining requirements in the amount of some $2.8 million, be accommodated within the overall resources approved for 2006-2007, through the utilization of the provision for special political missions of the 2006-2007 budget.

    The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in a related report (document A/60/7/Add.36) recommends that the Assembly note that 5 of the 15 posts requested for the Peacebuilding Support Office would be accommodated through redeployment and that a further three posts would be provided through non-reimbursable secondment by other United Nations system organizations.  Suggesting some savings, it further recommends that the proposed charge against the provision for special political missions of some $2.81 million be reduced by some $1.23 million.  The total charge against the provision for special political missions corresponding to costs associated with the establishment of the Peacebuilding Support Office would thus amount to about $1.57 million.

    The ACABQ also notes that the Secretary-General's proposal that the amount of some $2.81 million be accommodated within the overall resources approved for 2006-2007 through the utilization of the provision for special political missions does comply with the Assembly's request that the establishment of the Office be accommodated from within existing resources.  However, while at present a balance of $52.6 million would remain available from within the appropriation of $356 million for special political missions if current proposals were to be approved, future requirements for special political missions will clearly exceed the original appropriation, should there be no significant changes that would streamline existing activities and foster synergies.

    Moreover, the provision for special political missions was intended to be used for activities of limited duration that may be replaced by other activities during a biennium.  In the opinion of the Advisory Committee it is important, wherever possible, to maintain this principle.  A practical problem thus exists in terms of how to speedily establish the Peacebuilding Support Office while pursuing budget transparency and respecting the intent of the Assembly to accommodate requirements within existing resources.  Under the circumstances, the ACABQ does not object, for the time being, to charging the provision for special political missions for the cost of up to seven positions as a provisional and exceptional measure, and on the understanding that efforts to provide staff through secondment or redeployment would continue.

    The Advisory Committee also comments on the fact that, while paragraph 28 and annexes I and II of the Secretary-General's report provide an outline of the structure and functions of the Office, no detailed description of the functions of the requested posts has been given.  The staffing needs of the Office, including grade levels, should be reviewed within one year after the Commission starts its work.  The results of the review, including additional efforts to meet staffing requirements through secondment and redeployment, should be submitted as a separate analysis during the consideration of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2008-2009.  At that time, the Secretary-General should also propose a funding arrangement that will promote budgetary transparency.

    The programme budget implications (document A/C.5/60/28) for the establishment of the Human Rights Council by draft resolution A/60/L.48 was introduced on 6 March (see Press Release GA/AB/3720 ), together with the related report of the ACABQ (document A/60/7/34).  The issue was further considered on 9 March (see Press Release GA/AB/3721 ).

    Human Rights Council

    At the opening of the meeting, Coordinator of informal consultations on the programme budget implications of the establishment of the Human Rights Council, SARAH McGRATH (Ireland), orally introduced a draft decision, by the terms of which the Committee would inform the General Assembly that should it adopt draft resolution A/60/L.48, an additional appropriation of some $4.3 million net would be required, subject to the procedures governing the use and operation of the contingency fund.

    ERIC WOLF (United States) said that the delegations had been working hard to establish the Human Rights Council, and he appreciated the efforts of General Assembly President Jan Eliasson and many countries to create an improved and more effective human rights body.  The United States sought to defend some fundamental principles in the negotiations that reflected its commitment to the advancement and support of human rights around the world.  The United Nations had an especially important role in that effort.  The text in L.48 fell short of that objective and his delegation intended to vote against it in the General Assembly.  Consequently, today, his delegation had to dissociate from the consensus on the Fifth Committee decision on the programme budget implications related to that resolution.  The United States intended to work with Member States to make the Human Rights Council as effective as possible.

    The Committee then adopted the oral decision without a vote.

    Speaking in explanation of position after the adoption of the decision, KAREN LOCK (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said that the adoption of the programmed budget implications statement by the Committee would now facilitate the adoption of draft resolution A/60/L.48 by the plenary, thereby finalizing the establishment of the Human Rights Council by the Assembly.  The Group had been ready to take action on the Secretary-General's request since Monday, 6 March, but it had responded favourably to requests by a delegation that was seeking further instructions to delay action.  The Group was committed to listening to the views of each and every Member State and to finding consensus solutions.

    The Group was pleased that all Member States had been able to endorse the additional human and financial resources that would be required to ensure effective functioning of the Human Rights Council as soon as it was established by the Assembly, she said.  She regretted, however, that all Member States had not been able to join the consensus.  The decision of the Fifth Committee would ensure that the human rights machinery of the United Nations would be able to function without any interruption.  The Group of 77 remained committed to the reform efforts to strengthen the United Nations, including its human rights machinery.

    PABLO BERTI OLIVA (Cuba) was concerned that the required resources were funded from the contingency fund and not from additional resources, as a consequence of which the resources of the contingency fund would be greatly diminished during the first quarter of the biennium programme budget.  He hoped that lack of resources in the fund would not be a reason for preventing actions that might arise from new resolutions to the detriment of developing countries.

    Committee on Contributions

    The Committee then decided, by acclamation, to recommend to the General Assembly the appointment of Gordon Eckersley (Australia) as a member of the Committee on Contributions, beginning on the date of the appointment by the Assembly until 31 December 2007, in order to fill the unexpired portion of the term of office of David Dutton (Australia), who had resigned from the Committee.

    Peacebuilding Support Office

    AMIR DOSSAL, Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, introducing the report contained in document A/60/694, said the report reflected the concerns raised by the Fifth Committee.  The Peacebuilding Support Office would provide to the Peacebuilding Commission:  financing for peacebuilding support; planning support; and policy and analysis support.  The Office would also oversee the management, coordination and decision-making aspects of the Peacebuilding Fund.

    He said the Office would be headed by an Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding, responsible for the overall management and direction of the Office.   The Assistant Secretary-General would report directly to the Secretary-General and would represent the Office in its interaction with senior-level key interlocutors, including international financial institutions, regional organizations, United Nations missions and other relevant actors.  The Assistant Secretary-General would also assist the Secretary-General in galvanizing the United Nations system to contribute to the development of common and coherent peacebuilding strategies, and in ensuring that all parts of the system were performing adequately within the framework of the agreed strategies.

    The Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, RAJAT SAHA, introduced that body's report.

    ENNO DROFENIK (Austria), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, underlined that the Union considered it essential that the Office needed to be provided with adequate resources and considered the ACABQ report to be a good basis for the Committee's discussions in that regard, bearing in mind that the resource needs of the Office, including staffing, would be reviewed within one year.  Requirements for consultants and travel that might materialize until then could be reported in the performance report.

    The resource request in front of the Committee represented a substantial improvement to the proposal contained in document A/60/537, he continued, commending the Secretary-General for his efforts to accommodate the staffing needs of the Office through redeployment and the use of staff seconded to the Secretariat on a non-reimbursable basis.  He hoped that those efforts would continue in the future.  The Union accepted that the requirements for the Office were accommodated through the provisions appropriated in the budget for 2006-2007 for special political missions.  He also concurred with the observations of the ACABQ that the provisions for special political missions should only be used for activities of limited duration.  For the 2008-2009 budget, different funding arrangements should be explored, which would provide budgetary transparency.  The Union looked forward to a review of the needs of the Office within one year.

    He added that the Office needed to be located in such a way as to ensure its integration with the Secretariat and the necessary interaction with relevant departments and other actors.  He understood that the Office would not possess direct operational capacities, but would be staffed by qualified experts, who would assist and support the Peacebuilding Commission and draw from the best expertise available from within the Secretariat.  It was crucial for the Office to have a strong gender advisory capacity.  The Union would like to hear the views of the Secretariat on that question and, if appropriate, the possibility for seconding staff with the necessary expertise.

    KAREN LOCK (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, reaffirmed the Group's commitment to ensuring that the Peacebuilding Support Office receives adequate human and financial resources to effectively support the work of the newly established Peacebuilding Commission.  She said the Group would appreciate more specific information on the proposal to finance the resource requirements for the Office as a charge to the provision for special political missions, and not as a revised estimate to section 3 of the Programme Budget.

    Noting that more than half of the staffing needs of the Office would be met either through redeployment of existing resources or through secondment of staff from other organizations within the system, she said the Group would appreciate more information as to whether the redeployment would be done from the Department of Political Affairs or from other departments.  She also asked for an indication of the impact redeployment might have on programme delivery in the releasing section or department.

    Regarding the reduction of $1,234,100 that might arise on the proposal's approval by the Assembly, she said the Group believed that careful consideration should be given to the impact that any reduction in the proposed resource level might have on the overall function of the Peacebuilding Support Office.  It was not clear if the Office would be able to undertake its functions through using other forms of communication, such as videoconferencing.  Videoconferencing might, at times, offer a poor substitute for direct interaction with staff on the ground in the areas that ought to be the focus of the Peacebuilding Commission's work.

    She said the Group was also interested in the rationale behind the proposal that the Office be headed at the level of an Assistant Secretary-General.  She stressed the importance of ensuring that the international character of the United Nations was respected in the recruitment and selection of staff for the Office.  The Peacebuilding Commission would benefit from drawing on the expertise of nationals from developing countries and regions that were affected by the type of challenges that the Commission had been mandated to address.

    SHANNON-MARIE SONI (Canada), also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), said that the Peacebuilding Support Office was a top priority for CANZ Governments.  She supported the proposals by the Secretary-General and noted that his approach technically met the requirements laid out by the Heads of State and Government that resources for the Office be from within existing resources.  The delegations she represented had been among those urging the Secretariat to redouble its efforts to resource that Office through internal redeployment of posts and secondments from partner organizations.  It was clear that the Secretariat had made a genuine effort to do so.  She urged continuation of those efforts.

    At the same time, she acknowledged the constraints reported in the redeployment of posts and supported the proposal that seven of the new positions be funded from within the provisions for special political missions.  The CANZ saw merit in the argument for using the special political missions' provisions during the Office's start-up phase, given the close connection between the peacebuilding function and the mandates of many special political missions.  The recommendation also provided a useful vehicle for ensuring that the Office's establishment could proceed in a timely fashion.  Failure to do so would hamper, she feared, the effectiveness of the new Peacebuilding Commission -- something none of the delegations could afford.  At the same time, members of CANZ were of the view that the provisions for special political missions should not be viewed as a permanent funding mechanism for the Office.  She, therefore, concurred with the ACABQ that the suitability of that funding arrangement should be re-examined during the next budget cycle, in light of experience.

    The creation of the Peacebuilding Commission was an essential institutional reform, she continued. It needed to begin its work with adequate Secretariat resources in place to ensure its success. The Secretary-General's proposals in that regard were modest, in light of the task. There was inherently a generic quality to aspects of the presentation, because the full breadth of the Office's workplan could only be developed in the light of the tasks conferred on it by the Peacebuilding Commission. The review recommended by the Advisory Committee provided an opportunity to recalibrate it in a year, in light of experience.

    MELANIE ATTWOOLL (United States) said that her delegation was deeply disappointed that the Secretary-General, in his proposal on the establishment of the Office, had failed to meet the mandate entrusted on him by the Summit Outcome document, which called for the establishment of a small support office from within existing resources.  The effort had been made to accommodate five posts through redeployment and another three posts through non-reimbursable secondment of staff from other organizations in the United Nations system.  While that was clearly a step in the right direction, she was deeply concerned that the Secretary-General had not been able to identify the remaining seven posts for what was one of his most promising reforms stemming from the World Summit.

    The report of the Secretary-General called for the remaining post and non-post costs totalling some $2.81 million to be charged against the provision for special political missions already approved for the current biennium.  It was apparent, as was pointed out by the ACABQ, that given the current level of funding in the special political missions account, further resources would be needed to meet the requirements of all special political missions in 2006, even without financing the Peacebuilding Support Office from that account.  Consequently, she questioned the notion that the charge would be from "existing resources".

    The United States had continuously emphasized that Member States intended the Peacebuilding Support Office as a small office, staffed out of existing resources.  As defined in the report, it would not have a direct operational capacity, but rather should provide support for the Commission, including through collation and analysis of information related to strategies and financing for peacebuilding; preparation of analytical reports on cross-cutting peacebuilding issues; and recording of the Peacebuilding Commission's discussion for distribution.  The Office would not undertake policy analysis and formulation of strategies, policy guidelines or recommendations to finance peacebuilding activities.  She also believed that the proposed Peacebuilding Support Fund should be managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which had clear expertise in that area.  The Peacebuilding Support Office could be effectively led at the Director level and should not be staffed at a level higher than a D-2.  Both the level and the size of the Office, as proposed by the Secretary-General, potentially infringed upon the prerogatives of the prospective members of the Peacebuilding Commission.

    The United States, like others, hoped for the timely establishment of the Peacebuilding Support Office, she said.  However, her delegation firmly believed that the efforts to meet the mandate of the Office should not be disregarded to meet an artificial time line.  As such, she looked forward to working constructively with her colleagues of the Committee to find a way to meet the staffing requirements of the Office, at the appropriate level, while fully respecting the mandate of Member States.

    ARNE B. HONNINGSTAD (Norway) said his country, in its support for peacebuilding, had contributed $30 million to the Peacebuilding Fund.  A vital part of its strategy was the fulfilment and advancement of the provisions of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) to ensure women's involvement in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.  Women were, in many instances, excluded from peace and reconciliation processes.

    He said there was still a long way to go before the significance of gender equality was fully understood and gender perspectives were fully integrated in efforts to promote peace, security and development.  Full gender mainstreaming in United Nations operations would require that the Organization had the appropriate in-house competence.  He wished to pursue the issue further in consultations, including the issue of establishing a gender adviser position in the Peacebuilding Support Office.

    HITOSHI KOZAKI (Japan) said the language of the Summit Outcome had been clear:  establish a small Peacebuilding Support Office staffed by experts to support the Peacebuilding Commission.  He was not satisfied with the explanation in the report why all new post requirements could not be accommodated through redeployment and secondment.

    YOO DAE-JONG (Republic of Korea) said that his delegation attached great importance to the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission and its support office.  The report pointed out the grim statistics that made the Commission necessary:  50 per cent of countries emerging from war fell back into conflict within five years.  Considering that there had been 100 separate conflicts in the past 15 years, with 30 still active, that rate of failure was all the more daunting.  The costs of ignoring the problem were incalculable.  The cost of dealing with it should be intelligently managed, so that limited resources were used to the best possible effect.  It was in the spirit of strong support for an effective, efficient Peacebuilding Commission and Support Office that his delegation wished to address several issued raised in the Secretary-General's report.

    The structure of the Support Office, as reflected in annex I, seemed top-heavy.  The reduction in requested staffing from the original proposal of 21 to 15 had come entirely at the cost of Professional and General Service posts without any reduction at the Director level or higher.  In the light of the Assembly's decision that called for qualified experts, he wondered if it was really necessary to have so many posts at the top level.  He also wanted to know more about the posts that were to be filled through redeployment and by international organizations.  Which sections of the Secretariat would be providing the five staff members for redeployment?  Which international organizations would provide an additional three?  He also asked for detailed information about the administration of the Peacebuilding Fund, including staffing requirements.

    Continuing, he expressed concern about diversion of the funds earmarked for special political missions to support regular, recurring appointments to the Support Office.  Funding for special political missions was set aside specifically to pay for activities of limited duration that were needed to deal with unexpected circumstances.  As the ACABQ had pointed out, the use of such funds went against the principles of budgetary discipline.  A major goal of United Nations reform was to make the Organization proactive, rather than reactive.  Maintaining emergency funds was fundamental to achieving that goal.

    Regarding non-post requirements, he also shared the Advisory Committee's concern about the resources requested for outside consultants.  The whole purpose of the Support Office was to be a repository of expertise, staffed by experts available throughout the United Nations system.  Consultants should be requested and fully justified, when and if they were needed.

    On official travel, he added that the responsibilities of the Office primarily involved coordination and advising and there was no operational role envisaged.  He believed that the travel requirements of the Office should, therefore, be quite limited.

    JOHN J. NG'ONGOLO (United Republic of Tanzania) said he had taken note of the ACABQ recommendation in paragraph 8 of its report that a practical problem existed in terms of how to speedily implement the decision of the Assembly with regard to the establishment of the Support Office, while pursuing transparency and respecting the intent of the Assembly to accommodate requirements within existing resources.  He also associated with the position of the Group of 77 and emphasized the need to establish the Office through additional resources.  He hoped that the proposed structure of the Office had duly taken into consideration the mandate of that body, despite its small size.

    JAIDEEP MAZUMDAR (India) said it was true that the Outcome document spoke about a Peacebuilding Support Office to be established from within existing resources, but it should also be acknowledged that the Secretariat had twice attempted to do so and had only partially succeeded.  Five posts would be staffed through redeployment and three through secondment.  He asked the Secretariat to inform the Committee regarding the practical difficulties it had encountered in filling the other posts.

    He said another issue was that the Support Office was supposed to support the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.  It was not envisaged to replace the work of other parts of the Organization.  Existing capacities should not be duplicated in the Office.  The Office was designed to bring the existing expertise within the United Nations together on issues the Peacebuilding Commission would address.

    YASSER ELNAGGAR (Egypt) said he understood that the mandate for the Peacebuilding Support Office was given by Member States, twice, on the provision it would be from within exiting resources.  The Secretariat had attempted to accommodate the requirements, but had not succeeded.  In that regard, he said that mandates given by Member States should be funded and given adequate resources for effective implementation.

    Regarding the method of funding, he agreed with those delegates who had expressed concerns about funding from special political missions.  He wondered why different funding mechanisms were applied for implementation of decisions stemming from the same resolution.  He asked for clarification of the relationship between the Peacebuilding Support Office and other United Nations entities working in peacebuilding and similar fields.  He agreed with previous speakers regarding the need to enhance recruitment on the basis of geographical distribution and gender representation, in particular from developing countries.  Regarding the level of posts proposed, he wondered how the level of posts proposed corresponded to the mandate given to the Peacebuilding Support Office.

    NONYE UDO (Nigeria) associated with the position of the Group of 77 and China and recalled that, a few months ago, the Assembly had decided to establish the Peacebuilding Commission as an intergovernmental advisory body.  The entire membership of the Assembly had pronounced its support for the Commission's crucial objectives with the unanimous adoption of resolution 60/180.  The machinery needed to set in motion that important mission, the peacebuilding support office, must, of necessity, be empowered to undertake its crucial task.

    Before the end of last session, the Secretary-General had submitted a request for resources to properly empower the Support Office to carry out its duties, she continued.  The Committee's response, initially, was that the Secretary-General should report accurately whether there were enough existing resources to undertake the Office's activities.  An accurate analysis of the facts had been presented in the Secretary-General's report before the Committee today.  The Group of 77 and China had eloquently stated its position, strongly endorsing the Secretary-General's request, which was modest and born out of the need to align it with the resolution.  Nigeria, however, saw great merit in the ACABQ's reflection that it was necessary to keep the staffing of the Office under review.

    She was, nevertheless, concerned about the Advisory Committee's comment in paragraph 12 of its report and would request some clarification from the Secretariat as to how else it would effectively and efficiently discharge its responsibilities in a distant and detached manner, as suggested.  Nigeria had equally taken note of the ACABQ's comment underscoring the important role that the Office must play in support of the Commission.  The Peacebuilding Commission needed the critical support of the Office to implement its mandate.

    On actual staffing, it was her expectation that every effort should be made to ensure equitable geographical distribution and gender balance in the Office. Finally, Nigeria believed that the time had come to demonstrate concrete support for the Commission by swift consideration of the request for the financing of the Support Office.

    ALEJANDRO TORRES LEPORI (Argentina), also speaking on behalf of Brazil and Guatemala, said that the Peacebuilding Commission was a central part of the reform process and, therefore, it was essential to provide it with a support office.  Adequate funding and staff should be provided for it.  He shared the concern of the ACABQ regarding the funding of seven posts and believed that it was necessary to avoid abusing the resources earmarked for special political missions.  He also agreed that the Office should have equitable geographical representation and gender equality.  As the representative of Norway had said, it must have more women in its administration.  And finally, he associated with what had been said by South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and would like the Secretariat to provide responses to its questions as soon as possible.  That would be fundamental to the conclusion of the negotiations.

    In response to speakers' comments, Mr. DOSSAL said he intended to provide answers to all questions raised during the informal consultations, which would follow adjournment of the meeting.

    Mr. MAZUMDAR (India), however, asked for an explanation during the formal meeting regarding practical difficulties met by the Secretariat in filling posts.

    SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director ad interim of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, said not all five posts to be redeployed had been identified yet.  One of the practical difficulties had been that Departments had only been provided information on the issue at the beginning of the year.  Departments concerned had to assess the impact on their work resulting from giving up posts.

    Ms. UDO (Nigeria) said that, according to what she had heard, it was not even sure that Secretary-General would be in a position to provide the five posts by redeployment and that additional resources would have to be found.

    Mr. ELNAGGAR (Egypt) said that he shared the understanding of Nigeria that there was no identification of the five posts that would be redeployed.  There was 

    also a sense of prioritization, taking into account that the Assembly had already decided that four posts would be established through redeployment.  Last year, some Departments and regional commissions had to identify two posts each for redeployment.  His understanding was that those posts were supposed to go back to those entities and new identification would take place in the framework of the 2006-2007 budget.  Answers to those questions should be provided in an open meeting.

    Ms. VAN BUERLE said that, indeed, the posts that had been identified for redeployment by the offices had reverted to their homes as of January.  Now, the offices would be contacted to see if posts could be redeployed on a permanent basis, including for the Peacebuilding Support Office.  Another aspect of the issue was that the offices that had identified posts to be redeployed had done so at lower levels of P-2 and P-3.  It was the 38th floor's intention to ask if offices would be able to identify posts at a higher level.

    The Committee then took note of the information on a cost-accounting system contained in document A/60/714.

    At the conclusion of the meeting, Ms. LOCK (South Africa) asked for clarification regarding the use of notes by the Secretariat.  A number of notes that came to the Fifth Committee requested action by the Assembly and contained requests for additional resources.  A common understanding of notes and their use was needed, including when and for what purposes they were used.

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