BUDGET RESOLUTIONS ON HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT, UNITED NATIONS ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE APPROVED, AS FIFTH COMMITTEE CONCLUDES SESSION
New Justice System to Be Operational 1 July 2009; Common System,
Development Activities, Tribunal Financing Among Issues Addressed by Other Texts
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) concluded its session on Wednesday morning, following an all night meeting, by approving a 13-part draft resolution on human resources -– the main item of the current “personnel” session -– as well as a resolution that paves the way for a new system of justice for the United Nations, and a wide range of texts on such issues as oversight, pensions and development activities.
The human resources draft addresses the issues of human resources management reform; harmonization of conditions of service; recruitment and staffing; national competitive examinations; accountability; performance appraisal; mobility; career development; equitable geographical representation; gender; consultants, individual contractors, gratis personnel and retired staff; report of the Ethics Committee; and other matters.
In a major shift from the current system of contracts, which, according to the text, “lacks transparency and is complex to administer”, the Assembly would approve new contractual arrangements consisting of temporary, fixed-term and continuing appointments, which would come into effect under a single set of Staff Rules, effective 1 July 2009. However, no appointments to continuing contracts would be made before 1 January 2010.
The Assembly would encourage the Secretary-General to ensure a judicious mix of career and fixed-term appointments, to achieve an appropriate balance between institutional memory, long-term commitment and independence and the ability to bring in fresh insights and expertise, and to dismiss non-performing staff. It would also acknowledge the need to centrally manage the conversion from fixed-term to continuing appointments on a competitive and transparent basis, and emphasizethe need for strategic workforce planning.
Recognizing the importance of pre-screened rosters, the Assembly would note that existing rosters have design flaws and have not been utilized widely to fill vacancies. It would also express concern over the lack of credibility and effectiveness of the current performance management system, stressing the need for it to accurately reflect a full range of performance, to reward staff for excellent performance and impose sanctions for underperformance, while also strengthening the link between performance and career progression.
On the administration of justice at the United Nations, the Committee recommended adoption of the statutes of the United Nations Dispute and Appeals Tribunals, which will become operational as of 1 July 2009. Emphasizing that all possible use should be made of the informal system of justice in order to avoid unnecessary litigation, the text also deals with the functioning of the Office of the Ombudsman.
By the terms of the draft, the current justice system would continue to function until the end of the transition period, and all necessary measures would be taken to reduce the backlog of cases. The Joint Appeals Boards and Disciplinary Committees would be abolished as of 1 July 2009, and the United Nations Administrative Tribunal would not accept new cases as of that date. The Tribunal itself would be abolished as of 31 December 2009.
The Committee also acted on the latest recommendations of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), recommending approval, among other things, of a revised base/floor scale of salaries for Professional and higher categories of staff; an adjustment of the education grant for 10 zones; flat rates for boarding; revised children’s and secondary dependent’s allowances, in the amounts of $2,686 and $940, respectively; and a 5 per cent increase in the hardship, mobility and non-removal allowances.
By another text, the Assembly would commend the Board of Auditors for superior quality of its reports, and take note of the improvement in the implementation rate of its recommendations, reiterating its request to the Secretary-General and executive heads of funds and programmes to ensure their full and prompt implementation and to hold programme managers accountable for it. In the future, an explanation for delays would be requested, as well as information on the priorities for the implementation and office holders to be held accountable.
On a report of another oversight body, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the Committee recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to prepare standardized and consolidated rules and procedures applicable to all investigations in the Organization other than those conducted by the Office and to ensure they are made available to all United Nations personnel.
Regarding the Procurement Task Force of OIOS, the Assembly would recognize that its commitment to preventing and deterring fraud and malfeasance within the United Nations could not be sustained in the long-term by an ad hoc body. It would also note the Secretary-General’s intention to transfer the Task Force’s remaining caseload to the Investigations Division of OIOS at the beginning of 2009, and request the Secretary-General to ensure that OIOS has the expertise and capacity within its approved structure to effectively investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct in procurement.
Acting on the United Nations pension system, the Committee recommended endorsing several recommendations of the United Nations Pension Board; admitting the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as a new member of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund; and increasing the Fund’s 2008-2009 budget by $2.2 million. While welcoming the efforts to diversify the Fund’s investments between developed and emerging markets, under current market volatility, the Assembly would ask for caution in making investments in any country, fully taking into account the criteria of safety, profitability, liquidity and convertibility.
The Committee also approved a six-part draft resolution on information and communications technology (ICT)/enterprise resource planning (ERP)/security, disaster recovery and business continuity, recommending the establishment of the Office of Information and Communication Technology, headed by the Chief Information Technology Officer; approval of the proposed governance framework of the ERP project, as well as an amount of $20 million for the implementation of the system; and an amount of $7.15 million for the establishment of a new primary data centre on the North Lawn.
By another draft, the Assembly would stress the importance of a coherent vision of the Secretariat’s role in the global development architecture, and encourage the Secretary-General to enhance coordination of the United Nations development system to ensure greater effectiveness and coherence in the delivery of its social, economic and development mandates. It would also decide to establish 91 posts in several development-related entities of the system and decide not to abolish the post of the Special Adviser on Africa at the Under-Secretary-General level.
The Committee also acted on the proposals to strengthen the Department of Political Affairs, providing recommendations on the establishment of the Middle East and West Asia Division and the composition of the Division of the Americas. However, it recommended against the establishment of a proposed Policy, Partnerships and Mediation Support Division and Special Political Missions Support Unit at this point, requesting the Secretary-General to resubmit his proposals.
By the draft resolution on the pattern of conferences, the Committee provided recommendations to the Assembly on the Organization’s calendar of conferences and meetings; utilization of conference-servicing resources; impact of the Capital Master Plan on meetings held at Headquarters; integrated global management; documentation and publications; and translation and interpretation-related matters.
On documentation –- an issue of great importance for the Committee -- the Assembly would express its deep concern at the unprecedented high level of late submission of documents by author departments, which has a negative impact on the functioning of intergovernmental bodies. It would request the Secretary-General to report on urgent measures taken to improve timely submission and to elaborate more effective accountability measures to ensure that both authors and their senior managers provide for the timely issuance of documents in six official languages.
Recognizing the critical importance of retaining highly-skilled and specialized staff in two International Tribunals in order to successfully finish all proceedings and meet the courts’ completion strategies, the Assembly would -- by another text -- request the Secretary-General to use existing frameworks to offer contracts to staff, in line with dates of planned post reductions, in order to remove uncertainty with regard to future employment. By two separate drafts, it would also approve a revised appropriation of some $305.38 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and $376.23 million for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for the current biennium.
In other action, the Committee provided recommendations to the Assembly on:
-- a revised budget appropriation for the current biennium in the amount of about $4.87 billion;
-- an assessment of about $449.86 million for the first six months of 2009 for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID);
-- the treatment of unpaid contributions of the former Yugoslavia;
-- the provision of $429.5 million for 27 special political missions;
-- pensions of the members of the International Court of Justice and judges of International Tribunals;
-- the $4.87 billion budget outline for 2010-2011 and first performance report for 2008-2009, as well as the level of the contingency fund at $36.53 million;
-- revised estimates for the construction of additional facilities and modernization at the United Nations Office at Nairobi;
-- the establishment of several posts for the Rule of Law Unit;
-- a commitment authority in the amount of $5 million under the budget for 2008-2009 for the design work for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) integrated compound in Baghdad;
-- a revised $37 million budget of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), following the termination of its mandate; and
-- deferral of several items to future sessions.
Most drafts were approved by consensus, but a vote was required on the statements of programme budget implications of the First Committee’s (Disarmament and International Security) draft entitled “towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”, which was approved by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 21 abstentions. (See Annex I.)
Similarly, a programme budget implications statement on a Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) text on the preparatory work for the April 2009 Durban Review Conference was approved by a vote of 112 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, United States), with 28 abstentions. (See Annex II.)
By a recorded vote of 86 in favour to 50 against, with 4 abstentions ( Cameroon, Malawi, Panama, Timor-Leste), the Committee decided to adopt an amendment by Lebanon to part XI on special political missions of a 14-part draft resolution on the questions relating to the 2008-2009 budget. (See Annex III.) By the amendment, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General “to revise the narrative and the logical framework of the budget of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004) taking into account recent developments and the concerns raised by Member States, and to submit a report thereon to the General Assembly before the first part of its resumed sixty-third session”.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Committee adopted its draft report for the session.
Action on Drafts
The first draft text before the Committee was a draft resolution on the financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/C.5/63/L.8), by the terms of which the Assembly would accept the financial reports and audit opinions of the Board of Auditors on the organizations of the United Nations system and endorse the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) in that regard. It would also emphasize that the Board shall be completely independent and solely responsible for the conduct of the audit. The Assembly would decide to consider further the Board reports on the International Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia under respective agenda items relating to those courts.
Commending the Board of Auditors for superior quality of its reports, in particular with respect to its comments on the management of resources and improving the presentation of financial statements, the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s reports on the implementation of the recommendations of the Board for the biennium ended in December 2007, while also taking note of the improvements in the implementation rate. In that connection, the Assembly would reiterate its request to the Secretary-General and executive heads of the funds and programmes of the United Nations system to ensure full implementation in a prompt and timely manner and to hold programme managers accountable for non-implementation of the recommendations.
A full explanation for delays would be requested, in particular, in relation to those recommendations that are two or more years old. In his future reports on the implementation of the recommendations, the Secretary-General would also be asked to indicate the priorities for their implementation and the office holders to be held accountable.
Also by the text, the Assembly would recall its previous resolution, which reiterated that the issue of outstanding assessments was a policy matter of the General Assembly and urged all Member States to make every possible effort to ensure payment in full and on time. It would also stress that employment of staff shall continue to be carried out in strict accordance with the Charter and in line with relevant provisions of its resolutions.
The Committee approved the draft resolution, as orally corrected, without a vote.
The Committee then turned to a five-part draft resolution on the pattern of conferences (document A/C.5/63/L.15) covering the calendar of conferences and meetings; utilization of conference-servicing resources and the impact of the Capital Master Plan, strategy IV (phased approach) on meetings held at Headquarters during its implementation; integrated global management; documentation and publication-related matters; and translation and interpretation-related matters.
By its terms, the Assembly would approve the draft revised calendar of conferences and meetings of the United Nations for 2009 and authorize the Committee on Conferences to make any adjustments that may become necessary.
On the utilization of conference-servicing resources, the draft would have the Assembly note that the overall utilization factor at the four main duty stations remained in 2007, as in 2006, at 83 per cent and above the established 80 per cent benchmark. Recognizing that late starts and unplanned early endings seriously affect that utilization factor due to time lost, the Assembly would further invite various bodies to avoid such situations.
The Assembly would, by further terms of the text, recognize the importance of meetings of regional and other major groupings of Member States for the smooth functioning of the sessions of intergovernmental bodies, and request the Secretary-General to ensure that, as far as possible, all requests for conference services for such meetings are met. It would also acknowledge with appreciation the improvement in the percentage of meetings held by regional and other major groups of Member States that were provided with interpretation services at the four main duty stations -- from 76 per cent in 2006 to 84 per cent in 2007 -- and request the Secretary-General to employ innovative means to address the difficulties in this regard.
The Assembly would once again urge intergovernmental bodies to spare no effort at the planning stage to account for such meetings, making provisions for them in their work programmes and to notify conference services, well in advance, of any cancellations so that resources may be reassigned. The text also addresses the utilization of conference facilities at the United Nations Office in Nairobi and the Economic Commission for Africa.
The Assembly would also, by the text, call upon the Secretary-General and Member States to adhere to the guidelines and procedures for the use of United Nations premises for meetings, conferences, special events and exhibits, and emphasize that these events must be consistent with the Organization’s purposes and principles. Expressing regret for the voting incident in the seventh meeting of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), the Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to ensure prompt and effective communication between the Secretariat and members of its General Committee. He would also be requested to report on measures taken to avoid the recurrence of such situations in his next annual report on conference patterns.
The Assembly would further request the Secretary-General to ensure that implementation of the Capital Master Plan, including the temporary relocation of conference-servicing staff, will not compromise the quality of conference services in the six official languages, and the equal treatment of the language services. He would also be requested to provide adequate information technology support for conference services, within the existing resources of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, to ensure their seamless operation throughout construction. On integrated global management, the text would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to include in his next report information about the financial savings achieved through implementation of the integrated global management projects.
On documentation and publication-related matters, the Assembly would express its deep concern at the unprecedented high level of late submission of documentation by author departments, which, in turn, has a negative impact on the functioning of intergovernmental bodies. It would request the Secretary-General to report on urgent measures taken to improve overall timely submission at its sixty-fourth session and to elaborate more effective accountability measures to ensure that both authors and their senior managers provide for the timely issuance of documents in all six official languages.
The Secretary-General would also be requested to enhance his efforts to address these documentation problems, particularly concerning late issuance of the documentation considered at the second resumed session of the Fifth Committee this year, including convening the task force to study this matter. A report on the results of actions taken to solve this problem should be provided through the Committee on Conferences at its organizational session in 2009, in order for the Fifth Committee to consider the report at its second resumed session next year.
Recognizing the increase of the workload of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the growing volume of reports and other documents before it, the Assembly would, by further terms, decide to authorize the Advisory Committee to meet for two additional weeks in 2009, on an exceptional basis, inviting the Advisory Committee to continue considering how to better address its workload. It would also decide to discuss the number of weeks in a session of the Advisory Committee in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011.
On translation and interpretation-related matters, the text would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to seek a more effective strategy to fill current and future language post vacancies at all duty stations in a timely manner. He would also be requested to continue exploring the possibility of introducing a traineeship programme in order to attract and train young professionals for a career in the language services of the United Nations.
The draft resolution was approved without a vote.
Approving, without a vote, a draft resolution on the unpaid assessed contributions of the former Yugoslavia (document A/C.5/63/L.14), the Committee recommended that unpaid assessments, in the amount of about $1.25 million, be apportioned among the successor States of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- Croatia, Slovenia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia -- taking into account respective dates on which each of them informed the Secretary-General that it had ceased to exist as part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After taking into account the remaining advance of $26,000 to the Working Capital Fund, the net balance of the unpaid dues to the account of the former Yugoslavia in the amount of some $14.82 million would be charged against respective fund balances.
The issue of unpaid contributions of the former Yugoslavia would be considered to be finally resolved upon receipt by the Secretary-General of the information from successor States regarding their respective shares of the outstanding amounts and credits.
Making a general statement, the representative of Serbia expressed satisfaction that the resolution would finally solve the outstanding problem of unpaid assessments. It was a just and fair solution fully in keeping with regulations and norms of the United Nations. He recalled that deliberations on the contribution amounts referred to in operative paragraph 3 would be held among the five successor States. He put on record that his delegation considered the decision on how to charge the net balance of the unpaid assessed contributions laid out in operative paragraph 2 simply as accounting practices.
The 13-part draft resolution on human resources management (document A/C.5/63/L.22) deals with the issues of human resources management reform; contractual arrangements and harmonization of conditions of service; recruitment and staffing; national competitive examinations; accountability; performance appraisal; mobility; career development and support; measures to improve equitable geographical representation; gender representation; consultants, individual contractors, gratis personnel and employment of retired staff; report of the Ethics Committee; and other matters.
By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm its commitment to the implementation of human resources management reforms and stressthe importance of a constructive dialogue between staff and management on human resources issues. In that connection, it would express concern that staff representatives from New York and Geneva have withdrawn from participation in the Staff Management Coordination Committee and reiterate its call to the staff representatives and management to intensify the efforts to overcome their differences and to engage in a consultative process. The Secretary-General would be requested to take advantage of existing mechanisms for conflict resolution and mediation and to present proposals to review the staff-management mechanism for addressing human resources issues.
Stressing the need for rationalizing the Organization’s current system of contracts, which lacks transparency and is complex to administer, the Assembly would approve new contractual arrangements (temporary, fixed-term and continuing), under one set of Staff Rules, effective 1 July 2009, but request that no appointments to continuing contracts be made before 1 January 2010, pending its consideration of additional information concerning the implementation of those contracts.
On the new contract system, the Assembly would decide that temporary appointments should be used for seasonal or peak workloads and specific short-term requirements for less than one year, but could be renewed for up to one additional year, when warranted by surge requirements and needs related to field operations and special projects with finite mandates. Staff on temporary contracts would only be eligible to receive post adjustment; rental subsidy; hazard pay; hardship; DSA portion of the assignment grant; leave (depending on the length of contract); home leave (per classification of duty station); and limited shipment allowance.
Field staff serving on 300 series appointments of less than 4 years who are not performing temporary functions would be given mission-specific fixed-term contracts until such time as they have gone through a competitive process subject to the review of a central review body. Fixed-term contracts under similar conditions would also be given to temporary staff on 100, 200 and 300 series contracts serving in locations other than peacekeeping operations and special political missions for a cumulative period of more than one year. The Secretary-General would be requested to present draft regulations that could implement a streamlined system of contracts to the Assembly’s resumed sixty-third session.
The Assembly would encourage the Secretary-General, in accordance with legislative mandates, to ensure a judicious mix of career and fixed-term appointments, so as to have an appropriate balance between institutional memory, long-term commitment and independence and the ability to bring in fresh insights and expertise, and to dismiss non-performing staff. It would also acknowledge the need to centrally manage the conversion from fixed-term to continuing appointments on a competitive and transparent basis. It would decideto revert at its sixty-fifth session to the proposal of the Secretary-General to create a cadre of civilian career peacekeepers in light of the lessons learned from the implementation of the new contract arrangements.
On the harmonization of the conditions of service, the Assembly would decide to designate, effective 1 July 2009, existing established missions as family ones and existing special missions as non-family missions. All staff appointed to non-family missions should be installed in accordance with conditions of the common system, without the special operations approach. The Assembly would decide to keep the issue of the conditions of service in the field under review and ask the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to do the same. It would also approve the introduction of a rest and recuperation scheme to include travel time, appropriate to location, but no payment of travel for international recruited field staff, to replace the occasional rest break, effective 1 January.
Noting that the upcoming demographic transition of United Nations staff will present organizational challenges in terms of staff continuity and possible loss of institutional knowledge, as well as opportunities to rejuvenate the Organization, the Assembly would emphasizethe need for strategic workforce planning to proactively support its human resource needs. The Secretary-General would be urged to pursue efforts in this area as a matter of priority and to ensure that outreach activities cover positions both at Headquarters and in the field. It would also recognize the importance of speeding up recruitment and staffing, to ensure that staff are diverse, multi-skilled and versatile. The Assembly would also underline that the upgraded electronic staff selection system of the United Nations must be clear, simplified, user-friendly and accessible to potential candidates and that regular monitoring must be in place to ensure transparency and non-discrimination.
By other terms of the text, the Assembly would recognize the importance of pre-screened rosters, but note that existing rosters have design flaws and have not been utilized widely to fill vacancies. It would also emphasize the importance of the participation of staff representatives in the work of central review bodies and reaffirm the role of national competitive examinations. In this connection, the Secretary-General would be requested to submit, at the sixty-fifth session, a feasibility study to determine whether the broadening of the scope of national competitive examinations would serve to further strengthen the Organization’s capacity for programme delivery. It would also note with concern that a large number of candidates who have passed competitive examinations remain on the roster for years. The Secretary-General would be requested to report on the implementation of Joint Inspection Unit recommendations aimed at reducing the length of the examination process and improving roster management, as well as setting time frames for its completion.
The Assembly would further stress the Secretary-General’s accountability for the implementation of relevant human resources mandates, and emphasize that robust and proactive monitoring is essential at all levels. It would request the Secretary-General to ensure that the Office of Human Resources Management continues to strengthen its monitoring of delegated authority for human resources management, including compliance with geographic and gender targets and prompt filling of vacancies. It would also urge the Secretary-General to implement measures to adequately address the performance of senior managers.
Expressing concern over the lack of credibility and effectiveness of the current performance management system, the Assembly would stress that it needs to accurately reflect a full range of performance, in order to be able to reward staff for excellent performance and impose sanctions for underperformance, while also strengthening the link between performance and career progression. It would also note the Secretary-General’s intention to begin utilizing 360-degree performance appraisals and request him to report, at its sixty-fifth session, how those can be further implemented. The Secretary-General would also be requested to review the current performance appraisal system, in consultation with staff.
The Assembly would regret that the Secretary-General’s mobility policies failed to achieve their intended purposes and note his intention to suspend managed mobility upon completion of the D-1/D-2 exercise, in order to undertake a review, including on the maximum period of occupancy of posts, and lessons learned, with a view to developing proposals on mobility, taking into account recommendations from the Human Resources Management Task Force, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. In the context of the review, the Secretary-General would be requested to present proposals to encourage voluntary mobility of staff, without prejudice to the needs of duty stations and the field. The Assembly would also emphasize that the scope of mobility should be well defined.
The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to continue his ongoing efforts to attain equitable geographical distribution; to take all necessary measures to ensure, at the senior and policymaking levels of the Secretariat, equitable representation of Member States, especially those with inadequate representation; to ensure proper representation of troop contributing countries in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support; and to reduce, to the extent possible, the number of unrepresented and underrepresented Member States in the Secretariat by 30 per cent by 2010, compared to the level in 2006.
The Assembly would also request the Secretary-General to increase his efforts to attain the goal of gender parity in the Secretariat, in particular, at senior levels, and to ensure that women, especially those from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, are appropriately represented within the Secretariat.
Noting with appreciation the contributions of the Ethics Office to promoting integrity within the Organization, the Assembly would also welcomethe establishment of the United Nations Ethics Committee. It would requestthe Secretary-General to clarify the roles of the Ethics Office, Office of the Ombudsman, Office of Internal Oversight and related offices, and to report its findings, as well as the measures taken to avoid overlapping of mandates. The Secretary-General would also be asked to discuss with executive heads of specialized agencies, funds and programmes areas of possible cooperation and cost-savings on ethics-related matters.
The draft was approved, as orally corrected, without a vote.
The Committee then took up a draft resolution on the United Nations common system (document A/C.5/63/L.10), by the terms of which the Assembly would express appreciation for the work of ICSC and take note of its report for 2008, encouraging ICSC to continue to coordinate and regulate the conditions of service of staff of the common system, bearing in mind the limitations imposed by Member States on their national civil services.
On the conditions of service, the Assembly would approve, with effect from the school year in progress on 1 January 2009, the adjustment of the education grant maxima for 10 zones (Austria, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and the United States dollar area), as well as the flat rates for boarding for all zones. The separate zone for Finland would be subsumed into the United States dollar area; special measures would be maintained for China, Indonesia and the Russian Federation and introduced with regard to Hungary, Bulgaria and two bilingual schools in Paris.
Further by the text, the Assembly would request the Commission to work closely with organizations to identify workable means of rewarding performance and welcome its work in benchmarking innovative performance management practices, requesting it to submit an updated performance management framework for its consideration.
Noting that the margin between net remuneration of the United Nations staff at grades P-1 to D-2 in New York and United States federal civil servants in comparable positions in Washington, D.C ., is estimated at 114.7, having stood at 112.9 for the past five years, the Assembly would reaffirm that the range of 110 to 120 should continue to apply, on the understanding that it would be maintained around the desirable midpoint of 115 for a period of time. With effect from 1 January 2009, the Assembly would approve the revised base/floor scale of gross and net salaries for staff in the Professional and higher categories contained in annex IV to the ICSC report.
Among other things, the Assembly would also approve, with effect from 1 January 2009, revised children’s and secondary dependent’s allowances, in the amounts of $2,686 and $940, respectively. For those duty stations where the current levels of the allowances are above the proposed ones, transitional measures would be introduced and phased out over the next two review cycles.
Recognizing the hardship conditions under which staff members are often required to perform and the personal disruption that operationally required mobility may impose on staff, it would also approve, with effect from 1 January, a 5 per cent increase for the hardship, mobility and non-removal allowances. The Assembly would welcome the intent of the Commission to review whether the mobility/hardship scheme continues to fulfil the purposes for which it was established and encourage it to further refine it.
The Assembly would note with disappointment insufficient progress with regard to the representation of women, in particular, their significant under-representation at the senior level, and ask the Commission to make recommendations on practical steps to improve the situation. On the conditions of service in the field, the Assembly would welcome the decision of ICSC to undertake a global staff survey to complement the findings of its studies and invite it to conduct similar surveys periodically.
In an effort to strengthen the international civil service, the Assembly would request the Commission to closely monitor the developments in the organizations of the United Nations common system to ensure effective regulation and coordination of the conditions of service. It would also request ICSC to monitor the envisaged redesigning of the senior management programme, reporting thereon at the sixty-fourth session.
The draft was approved without a vote.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on the United Nations pension system (document A/C.5/63/L.7), by the terms of which the Assembly would approve an increase of $2.2 million in the budget of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, noting that the revised estimates for 2008-2009 would amount to a total of $153.2 million. It would also admit the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as a new member of the Fund, effective 1 January 2009, and take note of the status of implementation of resolution 62/241 regarding a one-time exceptional payment to retirees residing in Ecuador.
In connection with benefit provision, the Assembly would endorse the decision of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board that spousal entitlement to pension benefits should be determined in accordance with the personal status of a participant as reported to the Fund by his or her employing organization, with the final verification by the Fund at the time of granting such benefits. It would also approve changes to streamline the application of provisions governing family or former family members, as well as an amendment, which would allow a participant’s period of disability to be counted as contributory service, without requiring contributions for that period.
The Assembly would also approve the clarification by the Pension Board that the elimination of limitation of the right to restoration based on years of prior service covers not only those participants who received a withdrawal settlement, but also those who elected a deferred retirement benefit, as long as no periodic benefit payments had been made.
Further by the draft, the Assembly would welcome the information that all the committees of the Fund had been presented, and the Board had approved, a declaration of conflict of interest, which covered the status, conduct and accountability of the members of the Investments Committee, the Committee of Actuaries and the Audit Committee.
Welcoming continued efforts to diversify the Fund’s investments between developed and emerging markets, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure that, under the current volatile market conditions, decisions concerning investments in any country are made very cautiously, fully taking into account the criteria of safety, profitability, liquidity and convertibility.
It would also approve the inclusion of contractual settlement provisions in the agreement with the Global Custodian of the Fund, under the terms and conditions that would maximize the protection of the Fund’s legal interests. [That would mean that, in circumstances where a trade fails to settle owing to a delay in transferring funds, the Investment Management Service would lend the required amount to the Fund at the standard bank interest rate, so that the trade could happen on the contracted date.]
The draft resolution was approved without a vote.
The Committee then approved, without a vote, a two-part draft resolution on the reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services on its activities (document A/C.5/63/L.28), as orally corrected. By its terms, the Assembly would stress the importance of full implementation of accepted recommendations of that Office and request the Secretary-General to ensure that complete information is provided on their implementation and, in cases where full implementation has not been achieved, detail why. The Secretary-General would also be requested to ensure that all relevant resolutions, particularly peacekeeping resolutions related to cross-cutting issues, are brought to the attention of relevant managers and that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) takes them into account.
The Assembly would also take note of the recommendations contained in the related section of the annual report of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee in respect to OIOS (document A/63/328 section III, parts A, B and C) and request the Secretary-General to ensure their full implementation.
Regarding investigations and the Procurement Task Force of OIOS, the Assembly would recognize that its commitment to preventing and deterring fraud and malfeasance within the United Nations cannot be sustained in the long-term by an ad hoc body and recall the Task Force’s ad hoc nature. It would note the Secretary-General’s intention to transfer the Procurement Task Force’s remaining caseload to the Investigations Division of OIOS at the beginning of 2009, and request the Secretary-General to ensure that OIOS has the expertise and capacity within its approved structure to effectively investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and misconduct in procurement.
The Secretary-General would also be requested to prepare, as soon as possible, standardized and consolidated rules and procedures applicable to all investigations in the Organization other than the investigations conducted by OIOS, and to ensure they are made available to all United Nations personnel.
The representative of the Russian Federation said that his delegation was pleased that the Committee had been able to reach agreement on the draft, including the parameters on the closure of the Procurement Task Force. The Russian Federation attached great importance to the functioning of oversight bodies and strict implementation of rules and procedures of the United Nations, including in the area of human resources management. Unfortunately, one of the Board of Auditors’ recommendations, relating to the incorporation of the skills of the Procurement Task Force in OIOS, was not in keeping with existing rules on human resources management and could not be implemented. He was pleased the Committee had not agreed with that recommendation and believed that the staff of the Procurement Task Force would not be “incorporated” in OIOS, in violation of existing procedures.
The Committee then turned to a draft resolution on administration of justice at the United Nations (document A/C.5/63/L.17), by which the Assembly would reaffirm its previous resolutions on the establishment of the new system of internal justice at the United Nations and, regretting delays in filling posts established by resolution 62/228, request the Secretary-General to fill those posts as a matter of priority, in particular, the Executive Director of the Office of Administration of Justice.
On the scope of the new system, it would recall its decision to establish an Ad Hoc Committee and decide to revert to the issue at its sixty-fifth session with a view to ensuring that effective remedies are available to all categories of United Nations personnel, with due consideration given to the types of recourse that are the most appropriate to that end. It would also decide that interns, Type II gratis personnel and volunteers (other than United Nations Volunteers) shall have the possibility to ask for an appropriate management evaluation, but would not have access to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal or the United Nations Appeals Tribunal.
While commending the role that volunteers have traditionally played in representing employees in dispute resolution, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to make proposals for incentives to encourage current and former staff to assist others in that regard. The role of professional legal staff in the Office of Staff Legal Assistance shall be to assist staff members and their volunteer representatives in processing claims through the formal system of administration of justice. The Assembly would decide to revert to the mandate and functioning of that Office, including the participation of current and former staff as volunteers, as well as the possibility of staff associations to file applications before the Dispute Tribunal, at its sixty-fifth session. Also during that session, the Secretary-General would be requested to report on proposals for a staff funded scheme that would provide legal assistance and support to staff.
Emphasizing that all possible use should be made of the informal system of justice in order to avoid unnecessary litigation, the Assembly would further decide that all persons who have access to the Ombudsman under the current system shall have also access to the new informal system. For the sixty-fifth session, the Secretary-General would be requested to make proposals for providing incentives for employees to submit disputes to mediation under the auspices of the Office of the Ombudsman. He would also be requested to report on the revised terms of reference for the Ombudsman, and to make sure that terms of reference and guidelines for the mediation division are promulgated as soon as possible. The Assembly would also emphasize that the role of the Ombudsman is to report on broad systemic issues that he or she identifies, as well as those that are brought to his or her attention, in order to promote greater harmony in the workplace.
The text further contains a request that the Secretary-General take advantage of existing mechanisms for conflict resolution and mediation, as deemed useful and appropriate, in order to facilitate a renewed dialogue between staff and management.
In connection with a formal system of justice, the Assembly would adopt the statutes of the United Nations Dispute and Appeals Tribunals, which shall be operational as of 1 July 2009. The statutes would be reviewed during the sixty-fifth session, in light of experience gained. The Secretary-General would be requested to submit the rules of procedure of the Tribunals as soon as possible, but no later than at the sixty-fourth session. Until then, the Tribunals would be allowed to apply the rules on a provisional basis. Also by the text, the Assembly would approve the proposed conditions of service of the Tribunals’ judges and ask for a new detailed proposal on delegation of authority for disciplinary measures, with full costing and a cost-benefit analysis. The Secretary-General would also be requested to further clarify the role of the Department of Management in the evaluation process, in order to ensure appropriate independence of the Management Evaluation Unit.
On transitional measures, the Assembly would decide that the current formal system of administration of justice would continue to function until the completion of the transition to the new system, and that all necessary measures should be taken to reduce the existing backlog of cases. The Joint Appeals Boards and the Organization’s Disciplinary Committees would be abolished as of 1 July 2009, and the United Nations Administrative Tribunal would not accept new cases as of that date. The Tribunal would be abolished as of 31 December 2009. All cases pending before the Joint Appeals Boards, the Joint Disciplinary Committees and the Disciplinary Committees would be transferred, as from the abolishment of those bodies, to the United Nations Dispute Tribunal.
Under other issues, the Secretary-General would be requested to pursue financial liability of managers when the situation justifies such action and to ensure that information concerning the details of the new system, in particular, options for recourse, is readily accessible to everybody covered. The Assembly would also invite Member States, when electing judges to the two new Tribunals, to take due consideration of geographical distribution and gender balance.
Prior to adoption, the agenda item’s coordinator noted that Member States had agreed to paragraph 11 under the assumption that it contained no programme budget implications.
The draft resolution was approved, as orally corrected, without a vote.
Acting again without a vote, the Committee then approved a draft resolution on financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994 (document A/C.5/63/L.13), by which the Assembly would decide on a revised appropriation for the Rwandan Tribunal of a total amount of $305.38 million gross ($282.6 million net) for the biennium 2008-2009.
The Committee then approved without a vote a draft resolution on Financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 (document A/C.5/63/L.16), by which the Assembly would decide on a revised appropriation Tribunal a total amount of $376.23 million gross ($342.3 million net) for the biennium 2008-2009.
Next, the Committee turned to a draft resolution on the comprehensive proposal on appropriate incentives to retain staff of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (document A/C.5/63/L.12), by the terms of which the Assembly would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the comprehensive proposal on appropriate incentives to retain staff of both Tribunals. It would also endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (document A/62/734), subject to the provisions contained in the present resolution, and take note of paragraphs 14 and 15 in that report, which recommend that the Assembly authorize, on an exceptional basis through an ad hoc decision and not on an amendment to the Staff Rules, the payment of a retention incentive, capped at five months’ salary for all staff members, to staff required to remain with the Tribunals until their services and posts are no longer needed.
By further terms, the Assembly would recognize the critical importance of retaining highly-skilled and specialized staff in order to successfully complete all trial proceedings and to meet the targets set out in the respective completion strategies of the Tribunals in a timely manner. The Secretary-General would be requested to use the existing contractual frameworks to offer contracts to staff, in line with dates of planned post reductions in accordance with the relevant prevailing trial schedules, in order to remove uncertainty with regard to future employment.
The draft resolution was approved without a vote.
Acting again without a vote, the Committee then approved a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) (document A/C.5/63/L.6), by the terms of which the Assembly would adjust the 2008/09 budget of the Mission, following its termination on 31 July, from $100.37 million approved under the terms of resolution 62/259 to $37.02 million, which would provide for the liquidation of the Mission.
The Committee then approved by consensus a draft resolution on financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document A/C.5/63/L.19), by the terms of which the Assembly would apportion among Member States the amount of $449.86 million for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2009, in addition to the amount of $919.4 million already apportioned among them by the terms of resolution 62/232 B, comprising $849.86 million for the maintenance of the Operation for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2008, $60.52 million for the support account for 2008/09 and $8.92 million for the United Nations Logistics Base for the same period.
Further by the text, the Secretary-General, upon the advice of the Controller, would be authorized to assess, as required, a further amount of up to $200 million for the maintenance of UNAMID for the period from 1 January to 30 June 2009.
JUN YAMAZAKI, Controller, said that the level of resources appropriated by the General Assembly in its resolution 62/232 B for the period of 1 July to 30 June 2009 amounted to $1.5 billion. Paragraph 5 provided for the apportionment of $449.86 million, resulting in a total of $1.299 billion for the maintenance of the Operation from 1 June 2008 to 30 June 2009. As the assessment level is $200 million below the appropriation, it needed to be assessed among Member States as provided in the draft text. In light of the reduced level of assessment, he urged Member States to make payments as expeditiously as possible.
Turning to the programme budget for the 2008-2009 biennium, the Committee then took up a consolidated statement of programme budget implications and revised estimates (document A/C.5/63/L.27), which contains eight draft decisions (Sections A through H).
By section A on the programme budget implications for the First Committee’s draft resolution entitled “towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms” (document A/C.1/63/L.39), the Fifth Committee would inform the General Assembly that its adoption of the draft resolution would lead to additional requirements of some $1.23 million in 2009 for the work of an open-ended working group, to be established to further consider the elements of an eventual legally binding treaty on the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. Additional appropriations would be considered in accordance with the procedures for the use of the contingency fund.
Section B concerns the programme budget implications statement of the Third Committee draft resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/63/L.33) and states that adoption of that draft by the Assembly would incur additional requirements of $753,200 net for a period from 1 January to 31 December 2009. Approval for these requirements would be sought in the context of the report on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the Assembly and/or the Security Council (document A/63/346/Add.1 and Corr.1).
Section C deals with the programme budget implications related to a Third Committee text on the Committee on the Rights of the Child (document A/C.3/63/L.46/Rev.1), as orally revised. It states that, should the Assembly adopt the draft, additional appropriation of some $513,100 would be required for the current biennium. The appropriation would be considered in accordance with the procedures for the use of the contingency fund.
By Section D on the programme budget implications related to the Third Committee draft on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (A/C.3/63/L.53/Rev.1), the Fifth Committee would inform the Assembly that its adoption of the draft would incur additional requirements of $379,900, to be dealt with in accordance with the procedures for the use of the contingency fund.
Section E, on programme budget implications on Assembly resolution 63/3 on the request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on whether the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo is in accordance with international law, the adoption of the text would entail additional requirements of $435,000 in respect of translation, reproduction, documentation, security and media coverage for the Court. Efforts would be made to accommodate the requirements of $130,000 in 2009 within the budget for the biennium, and actual expenditures would be reported in the second performance report for the same biennium. The remaining requirements of $305,000 for 2010-2011 would be considered in the context of the budget proposal for that biennium.
According to section F on the programme budget implications of the Third Committee draft resolution on the rights of the child (document A/C.3/63/L.16/Rev.1), additional resources would be required in the amount of some $2.18 million gross, to be considered in accordance with the procedures for the use of the contingency fund.
Section G deals with the programme budget implications for a Third Committee text by which resources would be sought to support various working groups tasked with implementing the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, including preparatory work for the April 2009 Durban Review Conference (document A/C.3/63/L.51/Rev.1). By its terms, the Fifth Committee would inform the Assembly that should it adopt the draft, additional requirements totalling $570,400 would be needed, to be considered in accordance with the procedures for the use of the contingency fund.
Section H, which concerns the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: outcome document of the Monterrey Consensus review (document A/63/L.57), states that, should the draft be adopted, a detailed programme budget implications statement would be submitted to the Assembly by the Fifth Committee during its current session as soon as specific information on the format and modalities of the conference is made available.
Speaking following the introduction of the draft, the representative of the United States expressed concern in connection with section A on the allocation of resources to the conventional arms trade treaty. Regarding section B, she said that her delegation strongly supported the work of the Secretary-General in Myanmar. The United States disassociated from consensus on section C. In general, her delegation did not support resolutions calling for additional meetings because of cost implications. On that particular resolution, the cost implications were substantial, with the additional meeting time expected to cost some $4 million over the next few years in order to reduce the backlog of reports. Nevertheless, she hoped that the section’s provisions would help the Committee on the Rights of the Child review incoming reports more efficiently, and that by the time the backlog was eliminated, an alternative funding source could be identified for the Committee’s work.
Turning to section D on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, she also disassociated herself from consensus. The United States did not support resolutions calling for additional meetings because of additional costs and, in that case, the implications were significant in order to reduce the backlog of reports. Nevertheless, the United States supported the goals of the Convention and the work of the Committee. She hoped that the allocation of additional time to eliminate the backlog would also allow to consider the working methods of the Committee in light of that persistent issue.
On section E, she said she endorsed the recommendations of ACABQ on the issue and was satisfied that the financial requirements associated with it would be able to be absorbed. She also underlined her delegation’s support for the International Court of Justice and emphasized that the United States recognized the importance that seeking an advisory opinion of the Court could have in appropriate cases. The United States also maintained its general support for a policy of “liberal inscription” of items on the General Assembly agenda.
Her delegation joined consensus on the rights of the child section to support the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. However, as raised during the Third Committee discussions on the item, she had concerns with the overall resolutions and the funding structure established for the Office. She had serious concerns on section G, but her delegation joined consensus on section H. In the light of concerns regarding section A, she called for a vote on that section.
The representative of Israel said that, unfortunately, his delegation could not join consensus on section G. In fact, Israel had called for a vote on the text in the Third Committee. At this point, it was clear that the Durban review would be a repetition of the first conference, showing intolerable expressions towards Israel and the Jewish people. Israel would not be participating in the review conference in Geneva.
A recorded vote was requested for Sections A and G.
Speaking in explanation of position before the vote, the representative of United States said that, regrettably, her delegation was voting against section A. As her delegation had said in the First Committee, it supported the goal of promoting responsibility in arms transfers and reducing destabilizing illicit trade, but it did not believe a global arms trade treaty would accomplish that goal. The only way to convince all major arms exporters to sign on to an arms trade treaty would be to weaken its provisions. Concluding a weak arms trade treaty would legitimize an international standard based on a lowest common denominator that would not address the problem of illicit transfers. Thus, she did not believe it would be prudent to allocate resources to that effort.
The Committee voted to approve section A, on the programme budget implications for the First Committee’s draft resolution towards an arms trade treaty: establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 1 against ( United States), with 21 abstentions. (For details of the vote, see Annex I.)
The representative of Costa Rica said her delegation was voting in favour of the draft, but for technical reasons, its vote had not registered.
The representative of Lao People’s Democratic Republic said that, due to a technical problem, he would like to disassociate from the vote.
The representative of United Kingdom also said that it must have been a technical problem that had shown is country as abstaining, since his delegation was strongly in favour of the draft and would be voting for it in the plenary.
The representative of Costa Rica said she wanted her vote to be registered.
Speaking before the vote on section G, the representative of United States said that her delegation would vote against it. Durban follow-up activities were duplicative of the vote in the Committee
Published on: 2008-12-24
Limited copyright is granted for you to use and/or republish any story on this site for
any legitimate media purpose as long as you reference 7thSpace and any source mentioned in the story above. Please
make sure to read our disclaimer
prior to contacting 7thSpace Interactive. To contact our editors, visit our online helpdesk
. If you wish submit your own press release, click here