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Concluding Resumed Session, Fifth Committee Approves 5 Texts on Accountability, After-Service Health Insurance, Special Political Missions

Concluding the first part of its resumed seventy-third session, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today approved five draft resolutions, including one regarding efforts to foster a strong culture of accountability across the United Nations system, but it withdrew another text on a new model of delivering administrative services to Secretariat staff worldwide after failing to reach consensus on the matter.

The five drafts, all approved without a vote, have been forwarded to the General Assembly, which is scheduled to take action on them on 15 April.

By the terms of the text on strengthening the United Nations accountability system, the Assembly would welcome progress thus far and ask the Secretary-General to include in his next report information on how the newly established Business Transformation and Accountability Division has provided support to the Secretariat in monitoring, assessment and reporting on programme performance; as well as details on the effectiveness of the senior managers' compacts and the status of implementing the Board of Auditors' recommendations and other actions to address fraud risk management.

A text on special subjects dealt with the 2018 2019 programme budget for the organizational resilience management system, health insurance for United Nations retirees, two special political missions and the United Nations monitoring mechanism for Syria.

By its terms, the Assembly would welcome advances thus far in implementing the organizational resilience management system and ask the Secretary-General to submit a report on progress, as well as the actual cost of the system no later than the first part of the Assembly's resumed seventy-sixth session.

Regarding after-service health insurance, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to further explore options to contain costs and present comprehensive proposals to be applied after January 2022, while deciding to maintain the pay-as-you-go funding of the health insurance obligation.

For the special political missions, the Assembly would approve $1.9 million (net of staff assessment) for the Panel of Experts on Somalia from 14 November to 31 December, and authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments of up to $17.64 million to fund the United Nations Mission to support the Hodeidah Agreement from 1 April to 30 June. In addition, $2.93 million net would be approved for the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for Syria for 2019.

The text on the global service delivery model would have had the Assembly express regret about the lack of transparency in the process leading to the current proposals and request the Secretary-General to put forward a new proposal. Under the current proposal, the Secretariat's fragmented administrative structures would be consolidated into four Global Shared Service Centres in different time zones � Nairobi, Shenzhen, Budapest and Montreal � in a bid to improve the responsiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability of service delivery.

The representative of Uganda, who withdrew that text, said her delegation welcomes the Secretary-General's initiative and is convinced of the benefits this reform will bring. However, the process of negotiations has not been transparent, she said.

In closing remarks, the representative of the United States expressed regret that the Committee was unable to decide on a key reform to establish an appropriate number of shared service centres. The United States will continue to push for this reform and for the realization of the associated efficiencies and cost savings, she said. Her delegation also regrets that the Committee failed to reach consensus on improving the Organization's travel policies which perpetuate the outdated practice of first-class air travel for several officials. First class travel has no place at the United Nations, she stressed.

China's representative also expressed regret that the Committee was not able to agree on the Secretary-General's global service delivery initiative, among several other matters. Consultations are not a zero-sum game and must be conducted in the spirit of cooperation in the interests of all Member States and the United Nations, he said.

The Committee also approved texts on the Joint Inspection Unit and the construction of a new facility for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Arusha branch.

Lastly, the Committee asked the Assembly to defer to the seventy-fourth session consideration of the reports of the Secretary-General and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) regarding the global service delivery model, as well as the review of the experience of the utilization of the contingency fund.

Gillian Bird (Australia), Committee Chair, said that the spirit of cooperation has enabled the conclusion of the session within the allocated four weeks' time. Although consensus could not be reached on some items, the Committee continued to negotiate in good spirits, she added.

Also speaking today were the representative of Syria, as well as the State of Palestine (for the Group of 77 developing countries and China) and the European Union.

The Committee will meet again on 6 May to open the second part of its resumed seventy-third session.

Action on Drafts

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) took up a draft resolution titled Joint Inspection Unit (document A/C.5/73/L.26). By its terms, the Assembly � noting with appreciation the Joint Inspection Unit's report for 2018 and programme of work for 2019 � would stress the need for the Unit to continuously update and improve its medium- and long-term strategy for 2020-2029 and decide to consider any resources associated with implementation in the context of future programme budgets.

Further by the text, the Assembly would encourage the executive heads of participating organizations, and invite their legislative bodies, to effectively use the Unit's reports and meaningfully engage and implement its recommendations. It would also request the Secretary-General, as Chair of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, to intensify efforts to ensure that the United Nations system gives timely and due consideration to the Unit's recommendations and improve implementation rates.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then considered a draft resolution on the construction of a new facility for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Arusha branch (document A/C.5/73/L.24), by which the General Assembly would stress the importance of completing all outstanding works on time and within budget, and to that end request the Secretary-General to complete the construction, including the repair of defects relating to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, within the revised time frame and within the total budget of $8.79 million approved for the project.

By other terms, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in which the oversight body stresses that the United Nations should not bear responsibility for paying any direct or indirect costs resulting from design defects or delays and expects that the full amount of the related additional costs will be recovered.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on global service delivery model for the United Nations Secretariat (document A/C.5/73/L.25), by which the Assembly would express regret about the lack of transparency in the process leading to the current proposals, and request the Secretary-General to put forward a new proposal, for the consideration and approval of the Assembly at its seventy-eighth session, which retains and builds on the existing shared service centre of the United Nations Secretariat established in July 2010 by the General Assembly.

The representative of Uganda withdrew this draft it submitted, noting that his delegation still wishes to discuss this item further due to the lack of transparency in negotiations.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on special subjects relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/C.5/73/L.27), which comprised five parts. By Part I, on the organizational resilience management system, the Assembly, endorsing the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Advisory Committee's report, would welcome progress thus far in implementing the system and ask the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly a report on progress as well as the actual cost of the system no later than the first part of the Assembly's resumed seventy-sixth session.

By Part II, on managing after-service health insurance, the Assembly, endorsing the Advisory Committee's conclusions and recommendations, would request the Secretary-General to further explore options for improving efficiency and containing costs and present comprehensive proposals to be applied after January 2022, incorporating several elements. They would include further details about the proposed change of funding model for further recruitees; a mechanism that would associate the agency-paid part of the insurance premium and the staff member's period of service within the system as well as information on how much such an entitlement accrual mechanism would be applied to staff members; and projections regarding the proportion of staff in peacekeeping operations, who will be entitled to after-service health insurance benefits. It would also have the Assembly decide to maintain the pay-as-you-go funding of the United Nations after-service health insurance obligation.

Turning to Part III, concerning the Panel of Experts on Somalia, the Assembly would approve $1.9 million (net of staff assessment) for the Panel for the period from 14 November to 31 December 2019; decide to appropriate, under the procedures provided for in paragraph 11 of annex I to resolution 41/213 of 19 December, an additional $1.9 million (net of staff assessment) under section 3 of the 2018-2019 programme budget; and also decide to appropriate $62,700 under section 36, Staff assessment, to be offset by a corresponding amount under income section 1, Income from staff assessment, of the 2018-2019 programme budget.

On Part IV, concerning the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement, the Assembly request the Secretary-General to intensify his ongoing efforts to ensure the expeditious filling of vacant positions, and authorize him to enter into commitments for the Mission of up to $17.64 million for the period of 1 April to 30 June 2019.

On Part V, concerning the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for Syria, the Assembly would approve for the period January to December 2019 a total of $2.93 million net and appropriate an additional $2.7 million (net of staff assessment) under section 27, Humanitarian assistance, of the 2018-2019 programme budget.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of Syria expressed a reservation to provide financial resources to the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for Syria, describing it as an illegal mechanism, and violates the principles of sovereignty and non-interference enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

The Committee then took up a draft resolution on progress towards an accountability system in the United Nations system (document A/C.5/73/L.28), by which the Assembly would welcome the efforts of the Secretary-General towards a strong culture of accountability throughout the Secretariat, and endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the related ACABQ report. Noting the establishment of the Business Transformation and Accountability Division, the Assembly would ask the Secretary-General to include in his next report information on how the Division has provided support to the Secretariat in monitoring, assessment and reporting on programme performance.

Further by the text, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to provide in his next progress report details on progress made towards embedding risk ownership and management in Secretariat entities under the new system of delegation of authority; information on the effectiveness of the senior managers' compacts; and details on the status of implementing recommendations of the Board of Auditors and other actions taken to address management of the risk of fraud.

The draft was approved without a vote.

Next, the Committee considered a draft decision on questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/73/L.29), by which the Assembly would defer until its seventy-fourth session consideration of the Secretary-General's reports on the global service delivery model for the United Nations Secretariat and on the review of the experience of the utilization of the contingency fund, as well as the related ACABQ reports on these subjects.

The decision was approved without a vote.

Closing Remarks

MAJED S. F. BAMYA, observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, thanked all groups and Member States for their flexibility and constructive engagement, which enabled the Committee to reach consensus on several items. He expressed regret, however, at the failure to reach consensus on other items. Recalling that the 2018 second resumed session was particularly challenging due in part to an extremely heavy agenda and the late introduction of items, he said the Group expects relevant documents to be issued in a timely manner.

CAROLINE MAGAMBO (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Group, which engaged on all agenda items, is grateful that all items agreed by the Fifth Committee were done so by consensus, including those concerning the construction of a new facility for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Arusha branch), the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement in Yemen and the Somalia Panel of Experts. It looks forward to engaging in the same spirit of consensus-building in the second resumed session.

JAN DE PRETER, European Union, voiced regret that the Fifth Committee could not grant the Secretary-General's request on the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism in Syria in full. That should in no way be interpreted as lack of support for the Mechanism. We regret that the debate got unnecessarily politicized by a small group of delegations, he said, calling on all delegations to ensure that the United Nations has the means to continue cross-border humanitarian operations throughout all agreed border crossings, including Jordan, and in accordance with Security Council resolution 2449 (2018).

He added that the European Union's member States continue to believe that the global services delivery model remains an important element of the Secretary-General's reform agenda. Emphasizing the need to maintain momentum, he said the bloc looks forward to discussing the item during the main session of the seventy-fourth General Assembly. He added that the European Union continues to support the Secretary-General's efforts to drive a more strategic approach to procurement, and that it continues to attach great importance to a strong accountability framework and its effective implementation under the Organization's new management paradigm.

CHERITH NORMAN-CHALET (United States) recalled that at the outset of this session, her delegation highlighted the opportunity before the Fifth Committee to make the United Nations a more nimble, responsive and accountable Organization that can better deliver on its mandates. Unfortunately, it was unable to achieve consensus on all matters and the United States looks forward to continuing those discussions at the appropriate time. Emphasizing that effective implementation of reform is not possible without a robust internal accountability system, she said the Committee reaffirmed its commitment to a strengthened accountability system while also encouraging participating organizations to meaningfully engage with the Joint Inspection Unit and its recommendations.

She expressed regret, however, that the Committee was unable to decide on a key reform to establish an appropriate number of shared service centres. The United States will continue to push for this reform and for the realization of the associated efficiencies and cost savings, she said. Her delegation also regrets that the Committee failed to reach consensus on improving the Organization's travel policies which perpetuate the outdated practice of first-class air travel for several officials. First-class travel has no place at the United Nations and the United States looks forward to correcting that measure. She regretted that the Committee failed to grant in full the Secretary-General's request for the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism in Syria, but emphasized that the funding shortfall should not in any way be interpreted as a lack of support for that Mission. Looking ahead to the second resumed session and the resourcing of peacekeeping operations, she encouraged the ACABQ to continue to take a technical approach to the Secretary-General's proposals and produce its reports as expeditiously as possible.

FU DAOPENG (China) welcomed positive outcomes achieved during the session but expressed regret that the Committee was not able to agree on several matters, including the Secretary-General's initiative to introduce a new global service delivery model. Consultations are not a zero-sum game and must be conducted in the spirit of cooperation in the interests of all Member States and the United Nations, he said. His delegation looks forward to positive outcomes at the second part of the resumed session.

Ms. MAGAMBO (Uganda), speaking in her national capacity, said that her delegation welcomes the Secretary-General's initiative on the global service delivery model and is convinced of the benefits this reform will bring. However, the process of negotiations was not transparent, and therefore Uganda looks forward to further engagement during the seventy-fourth session. Her delegation understands the intentions of the Secretary-General to save costs and achieve efficiency by choosing low-cost areas located near clients.

FABIO ESTEBAN PEDRAZA-TORRES (Colombia), outgoing Vice-Chair of the Committee, said that since the establishment of a special political mission in his country, he has taken a keen interest in budgetary matters, and expressed appreciation to his colleagues in the Committee Bureau.

Source: United Nations

https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/gaab4318.doc.htm