Fifth Committee Approves Secretary-General’s proposed $3.12 Billion Programme Budget for 2022, Concluding Main Part of Seventy-Sixth Session

Delegates Agree on 2022-2024 Scale of Assessments, Yet Argue Over Financing for Independent Mechanism Investigating Serious Crimes in Syria

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) wrapped up the main part of its seventy-sixth session on 23 December by approving resources of $3.12 billion for the 2022 regular budget, the Organization’s third annual budget in 50 years.  

While not prompting a vote on the budget as it did last year, the decision to include financing for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria in the regular budget again drew opposition from some Member States, as it did in 2020 and 2019.  The Committee rejected a draft resolution — by a recorded vote of 88 against to 22 in favour, with 45 abstentions — proposed by the Russian Federation to delete all references to the Mechanism from the 2022 programme planning resolution.

The Russian Federation’s delegate said the inclusion of the Mechanism is a blatant violation of international law, the Charter of the United Nations, the Assembly’s financial matters and its adopted rules and regulations regarding programme planning.  He stressed that the Mechanism receives sufficient money through the voluntary contributions that cover its expenses.

Calling for a vote, the representative of Switzerland regretted that the text compromises the Assembly majority’s desire to finance the Mechanism through the regular budget.  Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Syria said the non-consensual creation of the Mechanism is a violation of Article 12 of the Charter and Syria had not asked the Assembly for any technical assistance to create the Mechanism.

The approved 2022 budget number was the same as the $3.12 billion budget unveiled by Secretary-General António Guterres in mid-October.  That proposal, he said on 13 October, was a reduction of 2.8 per cent from the 2021 budget despite additional activities and mandates.  With the start of the 2020 fiscal year, the United Nations Secretariat shifted from a biennium to an annual budget cycle for the first time since 1973.

The Committee took up another crucial financing issue for the Organization when it approved, without a vote, two resolutions regarding its scale of assessments.  The scale is a complex methodology used to calculate how much each Member State pays into the United Nations regular and peacekeeping budgets.  The Committee considers how and whether to adjust the complex methodology for each area of the budget every three years.  Earlier this year, many Member States said the capacity to pay must remain the core principle that determines how much each Member State must pay into the budgets, but they differed on how to best readjust the scales.

Regarding the regular budget, the Committee decided that the scale of assessments for the period from 2022 to 2024 shall be based on specified elements and criteria.  It then approved a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the United Nations peacekeeping operations and decided that as of 1 January 2022 the rates of assessment for peacekeeping should be based on 10 levels of contribution and parameters.

The Committee also addressed the way in which thousands of the Organization’s employees around the globe are paid and compensated by sending the Assembly a draft resolution on the United Nations common system.  The resolution, approved without a vote, reaffirmed the International Civil Service Commission’s authority to establish post adjustment multipliers for duty stations in the common system.

It also asked the Assembly to have the Commission present, at its eighty-first session, a comprehensive assessment and review of the compensation system, including a detailed analysis on its cost effectiveness, attractiveness and how it impacted the workforce.  The Secretary-General would be requested to each year give Member States, starting at the seventy-eighth session, comprehensive data on system-wide compensation costs for all staff categories.

The Fifth Committee also approved a wide-ranging 24-part resolution called “Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for 2022”.  It addressed renovation and improvement projects at United Nations offices around the world, including in Nairobi and Geneva; the seismic mitigation retrofit for the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific premises in Bangkok; the ongoing renovation of Africa Hall at the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa; and the North Building at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile.  It also gave the green light for funding for the enterprise resource planning project called Umoja, and revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its forty-sixth, forty-seventh and forty-eighth regular sessions, and at its thirtieth, thirty-first and thirty-second special sessions.

The massive resolution also included estimates for the special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the Assembly and/or the Security Council.  It included approved budgets totalling $585.63 million for the 37 continuing special political missions authorized by the Assembly and/or the Council, along with $1.82 million for the share of special political missions in the budget of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for 2022.  It also recommended the Assembly let the Secretary-General enter commitments, with corresponding assessments, not exceeding $107.66 million for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for the 10-month period from 1 January to 31 October 2022.

The Committee also sent the Assembly texts on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services; the administration of justice system; and financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, among other things.  The Committee adopted its draft report on the proposed programme budget for 2022 and noted that it had a balance of $3.51 million remaining in the contingency fund for 2022.

In closing remarks, the representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said 2021 has been a difficult year for the international community and the Organization.  While the lack of in-person negotiations had hampered its workflow, the Fifth Committee had successfully completed negotiations on highly complex items, including the scale of assessments, programme planning and the budget.  The Group of 77 continued its traditional focus on the development pillar, which lets the Organization promote that agenda.

The representative of Japan said that despite constraints imposed by the pandemic, the Fifth Committee had dealt with pressing and complex agenda items, including the programme budget, special political missions and the scale of assessments.  The adoption of a programme budget will let the United Nations deliver its mandates more effectively and efficiently.  He welcomed the Member States’ consensus on the scale of assessments for the regular budget and peacekeeping budget, despite their various positions.

The representative of Cameroon, speaking for the Africa Group, said the Group is frustrated that the outcome on special political missions makes up a skeletal paragraph.  For the second year in a row, this neglect sends a political signal that important mechanisms for peace and security can function without particular attention or guidance from Member States.  Any consideration other than providing adequate resources for men and women on the brink of chaos should be kept out of Committee discussions on the budget for special political missions.

Also speaking were the representatives of Qatar, Cuba, Belarus, Nicaragua, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania, Slovenia, Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Venezuela, Bolivia, South Africa, Lesotho, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Australia, United States, Albania, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Mexico, Brazil, Bahamas, Indonesia, Botswana and the United Kingdom, as well as a representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer.

Action on Drafts

The Fifth Committee first approved, with a vote, a draft on the financial reports and audited financial statements of the Board of Auditors (document A/C.5/76/L.7).

By its terms, the General Assembly would take note of the audit opinions and findings and endorse the recommendations contained in the reports of the Board of Auditors as well as endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  The Assembly would also decide to consider further the Board’s report on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals under the agenda item related to the Mechanism as well as the Board’s report on the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund under the agenda item related to the Pension Fund.

Next, the Committee took up a draft resolution titled “Programme planning” (document A/C.5/76/L.5) by which the Assembly would decide to delete all narratives and references regarding the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 from programme 6, Legal affairs, of the proposed programme budget for 2022.

Introducing the draft, the representative of the Russian Federation said it is opposed to the inclusion of the Mechanism concerning Syria in the 2022 regular budget.  The inclusion of the Mechanism in the draft documents is a blatant violation of international law, the Charter of the United Nations, the Assembly’s financial matters and its adopted rules and regulations regarding programme planning, he said.  The Mechanism is receiving sufficient money through the voluntary contributions that cover its expenses.  The reason for including it is not a lack of funding, but the intention of the Secretary-General to being drawn into a political adventure by Member States, he said, adding that the Secretary-General is endowing the Mechanism with a certain legitimacy.

The representative of Switzerland expressed regret that the presentation of this text compromises the will of the Assembly, including a broad majority of Member States, to finance the Mechanism through the regular budget.  Regretting that a small group of countries is defying the majority, he called for a vote on the resolution and said Switzerland will also vote no on the text entitled “Proposed Programme Budget for 2022:  Section 8. Legal Affairs” (document A/C.5/75/L.6).

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Syria said the non-consensual creation of the Mechanism is a violation of Article 12 of the Charter.  The Assembly shall not make recommendations unless required by the Council as the issue is the prerogative of the latter.  For the Assembly to interfere is a violation of the Charter.  Syria has not asked the Assembly for any technical assistance to create the Mechanism and the Government cannot accept to have evidence based outside its borders used to establish the Mechanism without its consent, he said, stressing that the burden of financing this illegitimate body, which is not subject to any norms, should not fall on the United Nations.  He called on Member States to vote in favour of the draft and to have no engagement with the Mechanism or its funding.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said the Fifth Committee should not discuss matters coming under the auspices of other United Nations bodies.  The Mechanism concerning Syria was approved by a General Assembly resolution, he said, and his bloc is committed to ensuring its provisions are respected and executed.  His group will vote against the draft resolution, as it goes against decisions taken in the Assembly.

The representative of Qatar emphasized that the Mechanism should be funded from the regular budget so that it can fulfil its mandate on a stronger financial basis.  Qatar will support the draft resolution, voting in favour.

The Committee then rejected “L.5” by a recorded vote of 88 against to 22 in favour, with 45 abstentions.

The Committee then turned to a resolution titled “Programme planning” (document A/C.5/76/L.3), by which the Assembly would recommend the Committee for Programme and Coordination provide recommendations on all programmes of the proposed programme budget.  Further, it would request the Secretary-General to identify possible measures to enhance and support more effective work of that Committee and decided that its sixty-second session will be extended to 5 weeks.  It would also endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on the proposed programme plan for 2022 and programme performance for 2020, and on evaluation, contained in its report on the work of its sixty-first session, and requested the Secretary-General to ensure the timely implementation of the recommendations.

Further terms would approve, on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent, for programmes 3, 7, 14, 20 and 23 of the 2022 proposed programme budget, a programme narrative composed solely of the list of mandates at the programme level and the objectives approved in Assembly resolution 71/6 and the deliverables for 2022 at the subprogramme level.  Also on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent, the Assembly would approve for programmes 1, 4, 24 and 28, a programme narrative comprised solely of the list of mandates at the programme level and the objectives approved by in Assembly resolution 75/243 and the deliverables for 2022 at the subprogramme level.

By other terms, the Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination on the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2020, on United Nations system support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Qatar proposed an oral amendment, by which a paragraph would be added to the draft.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country would vote against the amendment.

The amendment was then approved by a recorded vote of 92 in favour to 16 against, with 40 abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Belarus said his country supported the amendment.  The interpreter then said he was unable to continue due to rapid speech.

The representative of Cuba said his country supported the draft resolution but is strongly opposed to its inclusion in the Mechanism.  Syria has not given consent to the Mechanism, he said, adding that Cuba supports no measures without a country’s consent.

The representative of the European Union, speaking in its capacity as observer, expressed support for the Mechanism, stressing that it is key to achieving accountability for the most serious crimes in Syria.

The representative of Syria said his country has not consented to the Mechanism and does not support a body that will be collecting evidence 1,000 miles away in Geneva.  Adding that Syria is proud of its security measures, he said the country possesses the capacity and will to establish its own mechanism for justice and reparations.

The Committee then approved without a vote draft resolution “L.3” as a whole, as orally amended.

The Committee then adopted “L.3” as orally amended.

The representative of Syria disassociated himself from the reference to the Mechanism in the 2022 programme budget.

Likewise, the representative of the Russian Federation disassociated himself from the provision of the resolution concerning the Mechanism.

The representative of Nicaragua also disassociated himself from the references to the Mechanism against Syria.

The representative of China voiced concerns about the work of the Mechanism and disassociated himself from the references concerning it in the text.

The representative of Cuba disassociated himself from all references to the Mechanism in the text.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea joined previous speakers in disassociating from the paragraph relating to the funding of the Mechanism.

The representative of Iran also disassociated himself from the references to the Mechanism, followed by the representatives of Venezuela, Belarus and Bolivia.

The representative of Lebanon, speaking in explanation of vote, said his delegation wished to change its vote from abstention to against.

The representative of Jordan made a clarification concerning his vote.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Pattern of conferences” (document A/C.5/76/L.4), adopting it without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly would approve the draft calendar of 2022 United Nations conferences and meetings, as submitted by the Committee on Conferences, and would authorize it to make any adjustments that may become necessary as a result of Assembly actions and decisions at its seventy-sixth session.  It would also express concern regarding the recurring extension of the work of the Fifth Committee during the second part of the Assembly’s resumed session and the impact of such an extension on the services provided by the Secretariat, including the availability of conference rooms and language services.

Regarding the utilization of conference-servicing resources, the Assembly would commend the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management of the Secretariat for ensuring continuity of the conference services during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, also noting with concern the impact of the measures in response to the liquidity situation and COVID-19 on the provision of language services and the management of meetings, including the impact on the recruitment of new staff to fill vacant posts in the six official language services.  It would request the Secretary-General to continue to make efforts to ensure that multilingualism, as a fundamental value of the Organization, is not undermined by these measures.  The Assembly would ask Committee on Conferences to consult those bodies that have consistently utilized less than the applicable benchmark of their allocated resources for the past six years, with a view to making appropriate recommendations to achieve the optimum utilization of conference-servicing resources, and would welcome the efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General to increase the utilization of conference-servicing resources, and in this regard encourages the Secretary-General to enhance the efficiency of conference servicing and to report thereon to the Assembly at its seventy-seventh session.

In terms of enhancing integrated global management, leveraging technology and measuring the quality of conference services, the draft would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to continue to seek evaluation of the quality of the conference services provided by the Secretariat through meetings held at least once a year, but not exceeding twice a year, guaranteeing that Member States are able to present their evaluations and seek information equally in any of the six official languages of the United Nations on any conference-related or language-specific matter.

In documentation and publications, the Assembly would emphasize the paramount importance of the equality of the six official languages of the United Nations and would underline that all the initiatives on the evolution of working methods, including those introduced on a trial basis, shall comply with the principle of parity among the official languages of the Organization, with a view to preserving or enhancing the quality and scope of the services provided by the Secretariat.  It would note with concern that only 75 per cent of the author departments reached the compliance rate of 90 per cent in the timely submission of their reports to the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, and reiterate its request to the Secretary-General to enforce the slotting system more rigorously through a dedicated focus, such as the interdepartmental task force on documentation, and to report thereon to the General Assembly at its seventy-seventh session, urge author departments to fully adhere to deadlines for document submission, and request the Secretary-General to continue to report on concrete measures taken.

Further, the Assembly, recalling its resolution 75/244, would request the Secretary-General to entrust the Department of Global Communications with presenting a proposal for the digitization of important older United Nations documents stored at the United Nations Headquarters Dag Hammarskjöld Library for consideration by the General Assembly through the Committee on Information no later than at the main part of its seventy-seventh session.  It would express concern that the anticipated lengthy digitization project may jeopardize the retention of historical knowledge and information in view of the delicate state and risk of breakage of many of the related documents, and would request the Secretary-General to seek additional voluntary contributions for the digitization of important older United Nations documents, including by broadening the donor base.

The Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue to improve and strengthen his initiatives related to training and replenishing the language capacity of the Organization, including through the outreach programmes, to ensure sufficient capacity to address the interpretation and translation requirements of the Organization.  It would also request the Secretary-General to ensure that all language services are given equal treatment and are provided with equally favourable working conditions and resources, with a view to achieving the maximum quality of services, with full respect for the specificities of the six official languages and taking into account their respective workloads.

The Committee approved without a vote a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations (document A/C.5/76/L.8).   By its terms, the Assembly would decide that the scale of assessments for the period from 2022 to 2024 shall be based on specified elements and criteria.  It would also, recognizing that the current methodology can be enhanced, request the Committee on Contributions to review and make recommendations on the elements of the methodology of the scale of assessments in order to reflect the capacity of Member States to pay.  The Assembly would also set out the scale of assessments for the contributions of Member States to the regular budget of the United Nations for 2022, 2023 and 2024; urge all Member States to pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without imposing conditions; and further urge all Member States currently in arrears to settle the same promptly and in full.  The text would also have the Assembly resolve that the Secretary-General shall be empowered to accept a portion of Member State contributions for the calendar years 2022, 2023 and 2024 in currencies other than the United States dollar, and call upon the Holy See and the State of Palestine to contribute towards the Organization’s expenses for those years at specified notional assessment rates.

Next, the Committee turned to a draft resolution on the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations peacekeeping operations (document A/C.5/76/L.9), approving it without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly would reaffirm that the determination of the scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations peacekeeping operations shall remain the prerogative of the General Assembly.  It would also reaffirm the general principles underlying the financing of such peacekeeping operations, including that it is the collective responsibility of all Member States.  In addition, it would decide that, as from 1 January 2022, the rates of assessment for peacekeeping should be based on 10 levels of contribution and parameters.  It would also recall its decision that, at any time during the scale period, a Member State may make a voluntary commitment to contribute at a rate higher than its current rate by informing the General Assembly through the Secretary-General.

The Chair confirmed that on an exceptional basis for 2022-2024 scale period, only three countries in “Level B” — Bahamas, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia — will be afforded discounts of 7.5 per cent to their assessment rates which shall be borne on a pro-rata basis by the permanent members of the Security Council.

The Committee then approved without a vote the draft resolution titled “United Nations common system” (document A/C.5/76/L.14), by which the Assembly would reaffirm the authority of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) to establish post adjustment multipliers for duty stations in the common system.  It would request the Commission to conduct a study on the feasibility and impact of establishing a separate post adjustment index and General Service salaries for Berne.

By other terms, the Assembly would request the Commission to present for its consideration at its eighty-first session this comprehensive assessment and review of the compensation system, including a detailed analysis on its cost effectiveness, attractiveness and impact on the workforce, proposals for updating parameters and comparators.  The Secretary-General would be requested to provide to Member States on an annual basis starting at the seventy-eighth session comprehensive data on system-wide compensation costs for all staff categories.

On conditions of service of staff in the Professional and higher categories, the Assembly would approve, with effect from 1 January 2022, as recommended by the Commission in paragraph 24 of its report, the revised unified base/floor salary scale and updated pay protection points for staff in the Professional and higher categories, as contained in annex IV to the report.

Again acting without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution titled “Report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services” (document A/C.5/76/L.15), which would have the Assembly reaffirm the Office’s primary role in the consideration of and action taken on reports submitted to it, as well as its oversight role and the role of the Fifth Committee in administrative and budgetary matters.  The Assembly would further reaffirm the independence and the separate and distinct roles of the internal and external oversight mechanisms, recognizing the important roles and operational independence of the oversight bodies, including the Office, in improving in the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of the Organization.

Against that backdrop, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to ensure that the annual reports of the Office continue to include a brief description of any impairment of its independence.  It would encourage United Nations internal and external oversight bodies to further enhance cooperation with one another, such as through joint work-planning sessions, without prejudice to the independence of each, and take note of the Office’s report covering the 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 period.

Next, the Committee approved, without a vote, the draft resolution titled “Administration of justice at the United Nations” (document A/C.5/76/L.12), which would have the Assembly request the Secretary-General to continue to ensure a strong culture of accountability throughout the Secretariat, with proactive and transparent application of the three-pillared approach to the management of misconduct through prevention, enforcement and remedial action.  He would be requested to ensure access to effective remedies for all categories of personnel.

Further, the Secretary-General would be requested to hold managers accountable when their decisions have been established to be “grossly negligent” according to the applicable United Nations Staff Regulations and Rules and have led to litigation and subsequent financial loss, and to report thereon to the Assembly at its seventy-seventh session.  Recognizing the informal justice administration system is an efficient and effective option both for staff seeking redress of grievances and for the participation of managers, the Assembly would urge full-time judges in the Dispute Tribunal not to hold any other employment so as to ensure credibility and efficiency of the internal justice system.

In addition, the Secretary-General would be requested to include his views on the recommendation of the Internal Justice Council for the appointment of a President for a seven-year term and to report thereon in his next report, and to continue to track the number of cases received by the Management Evaluation Unit and the Dispute Tribunal in order to identify emerging trends.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution “Financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals” (document A/C.5/76/L.16), by which the Assembly would decide to appropriate to the special account for the International Residual Mechanism $89.69 million gross ($81.38 million net) for 2022.  It would further decide that the total assessment for 2022 under the special account amounting to $77.44 million consist of $89.69 million, being the estimated appropriation approved for the period — less $8.74 million, being the credit of the cancellation of prior period obligations/commitments corresponding to the biennium 2018-2019, and other revenue; and less $3.51 million, being the surplus resulting from the final expenditure for the budget for the year 2020.

Also by the text, the Assembly would decide to apportion $38.72 million gross ($35.13 million net) among Member States according to the scale of assessments applicable to the United Nations regular budget for 2022.  Further, it would decide to apportion $38.72 million gross ($35.13 million net) among Member States according to the scale of assessments applicable to United Nations peacekeeping operations for 2022.

The representative of Cameroon, speaking for the African Group, said his delegation takes this agenda item “very seriously” and is a strong advocate of the mandate, as outlined in resolution 1966 (2010).  Perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity must face justice “no matter who they might be,” he stressed, which is why the Mechanism must pursue its work despite the COVID-19 pandemic and be provided sufficient human and financial resources, commensurate with its mandate.

Stressing that genocide and other war crimes must never go unpunished, he said the African Group will continue to request that the Secretary-General support the Mechanism so that survivors and victims can see justice served.  At the same time, he pointed to a trend of abolitions, assignments, reassignments and reclassifications of posts in both Arusha and The Hague, which raises questions.  The current budget proposal just adopted also calls for the same abolitions, reclassifications and reassignments, and thus, raises serious concerns.  He therefore called on Secretary-General to undertake an independent investigation into human resources management under the Mechanism.

The representative of Rwanda, speaking in his national capacity, underscored the importance of the Mechanism in seeking justice for survivors of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in his country and ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice.  The Mechanism must have the necessary resources to implement its mandate, he said, especially given the upcoming trial of Felicien Kabuga, a mastermind of the violence.  The Mechanism also must have the resources necessary to bring to justice the fugitives still at large.  “What is at stake is justice for the survivors,” he asserted.

The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, associating with the African Group, emphasized the call for a special investigation related to the Mechanism’s personnel.

Next, the Committee approved without a vote the draft resolution titled “Financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur” (document A/C.5/76/L.11).  By the text, the Assembly would approve the donation of assets of the Operation, with an acquisition cost of $145.46 million and a net book value of $55.29 million to the Government of Sudan.

The Committee then took up a draft decision tiled “Programme budget implications relating to the programme budget for 2022” (document A/C.5/76/L.13), which contains implications for nine draft resolutions, submitted by the Secretary-General.

Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution titled “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/76/L.44), $146,900 in additional resources would be required under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, representing a charge against the contingency fund.

If the draft resolution titled “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/76/L.47) is adopted, $403,200 in additional resources would arise under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management.

Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution titled “Reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours” (document A/C.1/76/L.52), $647,200 in additional resources would be required for 2022, comprising $595,000 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; $43,800 under section 4, Disarmament, and $8,400 under section 29E, Administration, Geneva, of the proposed programme budget for 2022.

Next, the Committee turned to the draft resolution titled, “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/76/L.53), which — if adopted by the Assembly — would require $66,000 in additional resources under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management.

Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution titled “Promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/76/L.55), no additional resources would be required.

If the draft resolution titled “Countering disinformation for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms” (A/C.3/76/L.7/Rev.1) is adopted, $89,800 will be required, comprising $27,100 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, and $62,700 under section 24, Human rights, of the proposed programme budget for 2022.

Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution titled “A global call for concrete action for the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action Programme (document A/C.3/76/L.61/Rev.1), this would give rise to the following:  approval of the establishment of one P-3 post (Human Rights Officer) in 2022, under the proposed programme budget’s section 24, Human rights, effective 1 January 2022; and $94,100 in additional resources, also under section 24, Human rights.

Should the Assembly adopt the draft resolution titled, “Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic” (document A/C.3/76/L.31/Rev.1), $64,700 in additional resources would be required for 2022, comprising $27,100 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, and $37,600 under section 24, Human rights.

Finally, if the Assembly adopts the draft resolution titled “Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on the work of its fifty-fourth session” (document A/C.6/76/L.10), this would give rise to the following:  Approval of the establishment of three temporary posts (one P-3 Legal Officer, one P-2 Associate Legal Officer and one GSOL Administrative Assistant) under section 8, Legal affairs, effective 1 January 2022; and $583,200 in additional resources, comprising $356,800 under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management, and $226,400 under section 8, Legal affairs.

The draft decision was adopted without a vote.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Syria joined the consensus on the programme budget implications.  Yet it was disturbed by implications regarding certain committees and had reservations on issues concerning human rights on Syria discussed in the Third Committee and put to a vote in November of this year.  These issues regarded hostile political agendas and perpetuated lies.

Next the Committee took up a draft resolution titled “Proposed Programme Budget for 2022: Section 8. Legal Affairs” (document A/C.5/76/L.6).  By its terms, the Assembly would decide to delete all narratives and references regarding the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in Syria since March 2011 from the proposed programme budget for 2021.  It takes note of paragraphs III.55, III.57, III.58, III.60, III.61, III.62, III.63 and III.66 of the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and decides not to approve any resources for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism.

The representative of the Russian Federation refused to fund this Mechanism from the regular budget.  The Mechanism lacks a mandate and the resolution is invalid.  The Assembly has illegally replaced the role of the Council.  This runs in contravention to the Charter and the non-interference in the affairs of Member States.  Syria did not consent to this type of experiment.  It is politically motivated.  It has nothing to do with justice.  The Russian Federation does not recognize the Mechanism.

The representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, deeply regrets the introduction of this resolution.  The Fifth Committee is entrusted with budgetary matters.  It must ensure the mandates of the Organization are adequately resourced.  If the resolution is adopted, the Mechanism could not follow up on its mandates.  It calls on all to vote against it.

The representative of Qatar said the Fifth Committee had adopted its programme of work, which includes the adoption of the regular budget.  It is going to vote in favour of this resolution.

The representative of Syria said those behind this Mechanism have created a dangerous precedent that is based on a controversial principle.  It is a negative principle.  It can be used to interfere in the affairs of any Member State.  It urges Member State to vote in favour of this resolution and to dissociate itself from this illegitimate mechanism.

The draft was rejected by a recorded vote of 20 in favour to 86 against, with 49 abstentions.

First, the Committee considered a draft resolution titled “Questions relating to the proposed programme budget for 2022” (document A/C.5/76/L.10), which contains 13 parts comprising Assembly decisions pertaining to each section’s budget proposal.  By the text, the Assembly would emphasize the importance of promoting sustainable development at global and regional levels in a balanced and integrated manner so as to tackle current challenges and accelerate post-COVID-19 recovery.  It would request the Secretary-General to report in the next budget performance report on the impact of COVID-19 on the programme budget for 2021, detailing the recorded budget variances and flexible working arrangements, and to factor lessons learned for the working methods of the Secretariat, without prejudice to the work of intergovernmental bodies, into the next proposed programme budget.

By other terms, the Assembly would decide that a vacancy rate of 10 per cent for Professional staff and 9.2 per cent for General Service staff would be used as a basis for the calculation of the budget for 2022, and further, that the staffing table for 2022 would be as set out in the annex to the present resolution.  Similarly, the Assembly would decide to reduce resources for consultants by 10 per cent, reduce resources for staff travel by 5 per cent, reduce resources for General Operating Expenses by 0.1 per cent — and, while taking note of paragraph XI.20 of the ACABQ report — decide to reduce the provision under Section 33 for the United Nations Office at Geneva by 5 per cent.  It would also decide on a non-recurrent increase for the Development Account for 2022 by $1 million.

The representative of the European Union, speaking in its capacity as observer, proposed an oral amendment providing for full funding of the Mechanism concerning Syria, allowing it to fully deliver on its mandate to prosecute the most serious crimes committed in that country.

The representative of the Russian Federation requested a recorded vote on the amendment.

The representative of Syria, stating that his country does not accept the amendment due to its unchanged position against the Mechanism, supported the Russian Federation’s request for a recorded vote.

The Committee then approved the amendment in a recorded vote of 90 in favour and 18 against, with 44 abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Iran said the amendment is discriminatory and highly unacceptable, stressing that the Committee should have engaged in discussions to find more compromising language.  Considering that his country cannot join consensus, he suggested an oral amendment directed at language related to Iran.

The representative of Slovenia expressed regret over the introduction of Iran’s amendment and requested a recorded vote on it.  The Committee should avoid arbitrary decisions, he said, calling on all to vote against the amendment.

The Committee then rejected the proposed amendment in a recorded vote of 16 in favour to 70 against, with 64 abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Iran, noting the absence of approval for the amendment, requested a recorded vote on the entire resolution.

The Committee then adopted the draft resolution in a recorded vote of 159 in favour to none against, with 8 abstentions (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Madagascar, Namibia, Syria).

The representative of Israel voiced strong opposition to the creation of the Commission of Inquiry established against her country.  The Chair interrupted her to clarify that it was time for explanation of votes.

The representative of Iran said that while consensus is a common practice in the Fifth Committee, the discriminatory treatment towards his country in the newly adopted resolution is unacceptable.  Time constraints should not force Member States to disrespect other States, he stressed.

The representative of the Russian Federation voiced support for the budget but disassociated himself from the references to the Mechanism concerning Syria.

The representative of Cuba disassociated himself from the mentions related to the Mechanism concerning Syria.  Also expressing concern about those provisions that are discriminatory to Iran, he underscored that human rights mechanisms should not be used to destabilize countries.

The representative of Syria said the use of the human rights situation to interfere in the internal affairs of countries runs counter to the Charter.  His country abstained from the proposed budget due to many concerns, including the references to the Mechanism, he said, adding that Syria will fulfil its financial obligations to the Organization on this basis.

The representative of China supported the adoption of the resolution but stressed that resolutions should not be forced through.  He disassociated from the content concerning the Mechanism against Syria and expressed regret that the amendment proposed by Iran was not adopted.

The representative of Belarus voiced support for the budget and the amendment presented by Iran’s delegate.  His delegation is against country-specific resolutions, he said, disassociating himself from the mention of the investigative mechanism against Syria and the provisions pertaining to Iran.

The representative of Nicaragua disassociated herself from those elements that have to do with the illegal mechanism against Syria as well as the harmful provisions on Iran.  She stressed that human rights should not be politicized.

The representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina clarified that his vote should be in favour of the resolution.

The representative of Iran took the floor a second time to disassociate himself from the budgetary issue of the Mechanism concerning Syria.

The representative of Venezuela voiced support for the resolution but disassociated himself from everything that has to do with the Mechanism against Syria and expressed support for the oral amendment proposed by the delegate of Iran.

The representative of Bolivia voiced opposition about the appropriation of budget resources for the Mechanism against Syria as well as the references to Iran.

The representative of Israel disassociated herself from consensus on paragraph 53 in “L.10”, as well as from recommendations set forth in section 26 of the first report for 2022, paragraphs VI-43, VI-56, and from the recommendation for a review in paragraph VI-55, as outlined in document A/76/7.  She also disassociated herself from the budget proposal in section 26, paragraphs 26-136, 137, 138 and 139, of document A/76/6.

She said that over 10 years, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has upgraded the grade levels and functional titles of 36 of 158 posts funded from regular budget, while maintaining a high vacancy rate in order to offset the financial impact of the upgraded posts.  These unauthorized grade changes and the Agency’s “fixing of its books” were undertaken unchecked for the last decade, she said, without ever having received the Assembly’s requisite approval.  “This ongoing unauthorized use of United Nations funds in essence constitutes the mishandling of taxpayer money from around world,” she insisted.  UNRWA also knowingly upgraded the salaries of dozens of its employees, taking advantage of the fact that its computer system is not connected to the Organization’s main Umoja platform, allowing it to engage in unapproved acts under the Assembly’s radar.

Stressing that the Agency’s flawed methods are clearly in need of major reform, as reflected in paragraph 52 of the budget resolution, she said that beyond these “highly problematic” accounting methods, the Agency needs serious reforms in other areas.  For example, it has engaged in political advocacy and outreach that go far beyond its mandate, which is limited to providing humanitarian aid and services.  The United Nations must ensure that none of its regular budget funding is used for such unauthorized activities.  Israel will follow all reforms undertaken by UNRWA closely to ensure it improves and strengthens its internal governance and oversight, guarantees transparency and accountability, and undertakes necessary reforms, including to its overall educational system.  She called on other States to monitor these much-needed reforms. 

The representative of South Africa said his delegation wishes to amend its vote on the oral amendment on the Syria Mechanism to reflect an abstention.

The representative of Lesotho similarly said her delegation wishes to amend its vote on the Syria Mechanism programme planning.

The Fifth Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled “Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for 2022” (document A/C.5/76/L.17), which, in 24 parts, took up the following:  Financial performance report on the programme budget for 2020 (I); Revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the General Assembly at its seventy-fifth session (II); International Trade Centre (III); Addressing the deteriorating conditions and limited capacity of the conference services facilities at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (IV); Revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2021 session (V); Enterprise resource planning project, Umoja (VI); Seismic mitigation retrofit and life-cycle replacements project at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific premises in Bangkok (VII); Progress in the renovation of Africa Hall at the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa (VIII); and Revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its forty-sixth, forty-seventh and forty-eighth regular sessions, and at its thirtieth, thirty-first and thirty-second special sessions (IX).

It also included:  Estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council (X); Request for a subvention to the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (XI); Subvention to the international component of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (XII); Administrative expenses of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (XIII); Administrative and financial implications of the decisions and recommendations contained in the report of the International Civil Service Commission for 2021 (XIV); Progress on the replacement of office blocks A to J at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (XV); Progress on the renovation of the North Building at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile (XVI); Request for a subvention to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (XVII); and Strategic heritage plan of the United Nations Office at Geneva (XVIII).

Also:  Gross jointly financed budget of the Joint Inspection Unit (XVIII); Gross jointly financed budget of the International Civil Service Commission (XIX); Gross jointly financed budget of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (XX); Gross jointly financed budget of the Department of Safety and Security (XXI); Effects of changes in rates of exchange and inflation (XXII); and Contingency fund (XXIII).

By Section V, on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its 2021 session, the Assembly would acknowledge the entry into force of the Escazú Agreement, welcoming it as the first treaty concluded under the auspices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.  It would also appropriate an additional amount of $454,300 under a specified section of the proposed programme budget for 2022, which would represent a charge against the contingency fund.  

By Section VI, on enterprise resource planning project, Umoja, the Assembly would approve the resource requirements of $24.52 million for 2022 for the Enterprise Resource Planning Solution Division.  It would also approve resource requirements of $3.22 million for 2022 for business support resources.

By Section IX, on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at certain regular and special sessions, the Assembly would approve the establishment — effective 1 January 2022 — of 29 posts under a specified section of the proposed programme budget for 2022 to support the activities mandated by the Council in specified resolutions.  It would also appropriate an additional amount of $27.18 million, comprising specified sections of the proposed programme budget for 2022.

By Section X, on estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, the Assembly would decide not to establish a new duty station in Geneva for the United Nations Support Mission in Libya.  It would also approve the budgets in the amount of $585.63 million for the 37 continuing special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, along with $1.82 million for the share of special political missions in the budget of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for 2022.  Further, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General to enter into commitments, with corresponding assessment, in an amount not exceeding $107.64 million for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for the period from 1 January to 31 October 2022.  Additionally, the Assembly would appropriate an additional amount of $17.42 million for the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia and the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan.

By Section XIII, on administrative expenses of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the Assembly would approve the estimates of $121.82 million for the administration of the Fund for 2022.  It would also approve expenses, chargeable directly to the Fund, totalling $113.51 million net for 2022.

By Section XXIII, on contingency fund, the Assembly would note that, after a charge of $20.55 million, a balance of $3.51 million remains in the contingency fund for 2022.  It would also decide that the contingency fund for the year 2023 shall be set at the level of 0.75 per cent of the approved programme budget for 2022.

The representative of Cuba introduced an oral amendment to “L.17”.

The representative of Slovenia, speaking for the European Union in its capacity as observer, requested a recorded vote on Cuba’s proposed amendment, underscoring the Committee’s duty to ensure that mandates given by Member States can be executed and adequately resourced.  The Committee’s responsibility is to ensure that the Office of the Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide can implement its mandate and all its functions, he clarified.  The additional paragraphs under consideration would reduce its capacity to implement its mandate, and in particular hamper its ability to do so in close collaboration with the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect.  For this reason, he called on all delegations to vote against the amendment.

The representative of Canada agreed with the statement by Slovenia on behalf of the European Union and said his delegation would vote against the amendment.

Speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Nicaragua gave whole-hearted support for Cuba’s amendment.  There is a true danger of manipulation of the responsibility to protect doctrine by mass interventionists, which could lead to attempts to overthrow legitimate Governments.  Nicaragua will vote in favour of the amendment, she said.

The representative of Iran said there was no intergovernmental support for a special adviser and that his delegation supports the amendment of Cuba.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea supports Cuba’s amendment.  There has been no legal basis for this appointment and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reiterates the budgetary estimates allocated for the special representative should be deleted.

The representative of Venezuela said he would vote in favour of the amendment proposed by Cuba.  The responsibility to protect has become an instrument of colonial intervention and its use has been very selective.

The representative of Belarus said the concept of responsibility to protect does not have broad consensus.  There is a lack of legal framework behind it and a threat of it being exploited for political purposes.

The representative of Syria said he supports the amendment put forward by Cuba.  The concept of responsibility to protect is a controversial concept and there is no consensus.  The Assembly has not adopted a resolution on this to determine its scope.  This concept does not have a United Nations consensus.

The representative of Bolivia said he supports the amendment because mandates that have not been agreed on at intergovernmental areas cannot be supported.  It can be used against certain Governments for political purposes.

The oral amendment was rejected by a recorded vote of 22 in favour to 82 against, with 54 abstentions.

The representative of Israel requested an amendment on funding for the Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry, which it considers discriminatory and biased.  Noting that half of Council members opposed or abstained from creating the Commission, she said no such body has been created to investigate Hamas, despite its many rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians and infrastructure.  Moreover, this latest Commission has an indefinite time frame with broad budgetary implications and redundant staff, she said.

The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, called for a recorded vote on the amendment.

The representative of Saudi Arabia, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country favoured the guarantee of human rights and international law, but called on all to vote against the proposed amendment.

The representative of Jordan emphasized that Israel has an obligation to respect international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and occupied Syrian Golan, adding that global human rights are not superior to Palestinian human rights.

The Committee then rejected the amendment in a recorded vote of 8 in favour (Hungary, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, United States) to 125 against, with 34 abstentions.

The representative of Australia said he abstained from voting as his country is opposed to the anti-Israel bias.  The mandate for the Commission of Inquiry is excessively broad, one-sided, and open-ended, he said. 

The representative of the United States said his country voted in favour of the amendment, supporting Israel’s rejection of the open-ended Commission of Inquiry.  Adding that Israel has been unfairly singled out in the United Nations, he said the United States would continue to oppose the Commission.

The representative of Albania strongly supported a two-State solution in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, stressing the need to respect all relevant Security Council resolutions.  Regarding the current resolution, he said his country remains unconvinced on the mandate, duration and membership of the Commission.

The Committee then adopted “L.17” without a vote.

Speaking in explanation of position, the representative of Israel disassociated herself from the resolution and rejected any allocation of resources to fund the Commission of Inquiry against her country.

The representative of Canada, stressing the importance of providing adequate funding to the Human Rights Council, regretted the politicization of discussions on human rights budgets.  Also expressing concern about the Commission of Inquiry referenced by the representative of Israel, he said its scope is unprecedented.  There is a vast volume of reporting on the Israel-Palestine conflict, he said, adding that the expansive mandate of this commission risks hardening of positions.

The representative of Sri Lanka said the decision to allocate resources to implement this resolution is misconceived, noting that a domestic Commission was currently in progress pursuing the same objectives as contemplated by the Geneva programme.  Disassociating herself from the references pertaining to the resource allocation and Human Rights Council resolution 46/1 in the resolution under reference, she said that Sri Lanka remains committed to implementing its commitments under human rights treaties.

The representative of Syria said that while it joined the consensus on this text, his delegation has reservations about the allocation of financial resources for the situation of human rights in his country.  He rejected the instrumentalization of human rights for political ends.

The representative of Belarus said that his country is against the practice of selective creation of special country mandates.  Human rights in Belarus should be not considered “in some special way”, he said, adding that appropriations for the country resolutions have a negative effect.  He disassociated himself from any mentions of Belarus in the statement.

The representative of Iran said his delegation does not recognize the Human Rights Council resolutions that relate to human rights in his country.  The budget lines have been overestimated and there have been over-expenditures related to some Human Rights Council resolutions.  As such, Iran dissociates itself from these decisions relating to the resolution.

The Committee Chair then turned to draft resolution III, titled “Proposed Programme budget for 2022”, contained in document A/C.5/76/L.18.  He said the draft resolution is divided into three sections: Section A refers to budget appropriations for 2022; Section B refers to revised income estimates for 2022; and Section C refers to financing of appropriations for the year 2022.

By the text, Section A would have the Assembly appropriate $3.12 billion for the 2022 budget.  Section B lays out income estimates of $295.26 million for 2022, including $279.14 million from staff assessments and $10.36 million from general income.  Section 3 regards the financing of appropriations for the year 2022 and states that $3.03 billion would represent the assessment on Member States in accordance with the scale of assessment resolution.

The Chair said the technically updated version of draft resolution III will be circulated within one hour of the adjournment of the meeting.  The Committee then adopted draft resolution III, as technically updated, without a vote.

CATHERINE POLLARD, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, then addressed the Committee regarding the technical update.  She said the adoption of the oral amendment A/C.5/76/L.6 would result in an increase of $513,200 under section 8, Legal Affair, under the programme budget for 2022.  Therefore, the total appropriation for 2022 would be $3.12 billion.

The Committee then turned to draft resolution IV, titled “Unforeseen and extraordinary expenses for 2022” and contained in document A/C.5/76/L.19, and adopted the resolution without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary-General, with the prior concurrence of ACABQ and subject to the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations, to enter into commitments in the year 2022 to meet unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising either during or subsequent to the year.  It would also decide that, for the year 2022, if a decision of the Security Council results in the need for the Secretary-General to enter into commitments relating to the maintenance of peace and security in an amount exceeding $10 million in respect of the decision, that matter shall be brought to the General Assembly, or, if the Assembly is suspended or not in session, a resumed or special session of the Assembly shall be convened by the Secretary-General to consider the matter.

The Committee then turned to draft resolution V, titled “Working Capital Fund for 2021”, contained in document A/C.5/76/L.20, and adopted the resolution without a vote.  By its terms, the Assembly would resolve that the Working Capital Fund shall be established for the year 2022 in the amount of $150 million and Member States shall make advances to it in accordance with the scale of assessments adopted by the Assembly for Member States contributions to the 2022 budget.  By further terms, the Secretary-General would be authorized to advance from the Fund such sums as may be necessary to finance budgetary appropriations pending the receipt of contributions.

The Committee then adopted the draft report of the Fifth Committee on the proposed programme budget for 2022, (document A/C.5/76/L.21), as technically updated.

The representative of Iraq thanked all Member States, the Fifth Committee Bureau and the Secretariat for their work and counsel.  The Committee again adopted a budget, he said, adding that this has given the Organization a good example of the Committee working together.

The Committee then turned to the draft decision titled “Questions deferred for future consideration” (document A/C.5/76/L.22).  By its terms, the Assembly would decide to defer until the main part of its seventy-seventh session consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on the conditions of service and compensation for officials, other than Secretariat officials serving the General Assembly, full-time members of the ICSC and the ACABQ Chair, as well as the report of the Secretary-General and related ACABQ report on the review of arrangements for funding and backstopping special political missions.

Elections

The Chair informed the Committee that its Rapporteur, Megayla Austin (Guyana) of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, is completing her tour of duty at the Permanent Mission of Guyana on 31 December 2021.  Replacing her, the Committee elected Kavoy Anthony Ashley (Jamaica), also of the Group of Latin and Caribbean States, as its Rapporteur from 1 January 2022 to the end of the Assembly’s seventy-sixth session.

Closing Remarks

The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said 2021 has been a difficult year for the international community, commending the United Nations on making staff available to continue its vital work.  Adding that the Organization has performed in virtual mode for a second year, he said the lack of in-person engagement has hampered the Committee’s efficiency.  However, its results are to be celebrated, he said, as the Committee successfully completed negotiations on highly complex items, including scale of assessments, programme planning and the budget.  As is its tradition, his bloc focused particularly on the development pillar, enabling the Organization to promote that agenda.

A representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, commended the Fifth Committee for completing a heavy programme of work and expressed gratitude for the commitment of its Bureau and Secretariat.  “We work best when we work together,” he said, adding that the Union will continue to be vigilant for adequate financing the Organization’s human rights and development mandates.  Consensus needs to remain the fundamental creed of the Fifth Committee, he stressed, adding that the resolutions on programme planning or on the scales of assessment, which were approved at a timely moment, demonstrate the Committee’s capacity to find agreement even on complex technical issues with important political ramifications.

However, expressing concern about a growing trend in which the Committee is unable to bridge gaps between divergent views, he pointed to the adoption of so-called “skeletal resolutions” or “agreed language” which fail to provide political guidance to the Secretariat on the implementation of mandates.  “The quality of our decisions is anchored in our ability to understand each other and rally on reasonable compromise,” he stressed, adding that without this, the Fifth Committee risks turning into a technical expert subsidiary organ.

The representative of Cameroon, speaking for the Africa Group, highlighted discrimination in the Office of the Special Adviser for Africa, where high-ranking personnel, exclusively from his bloc, have been put on leave for the past five months.  Stressing that this has never happened in United Nations history, he said a delegation of African ambassadors met with the Secretary-General on the matter and drew his attention to a fact-finding panel’s discoveries of discrimination and harassment in the Office.  The Group is also frustrated that the outcome on special political missions constitutes a skeletal paragraph, despite its best efforts and continued engagements with stakeholders, he said.  For the second time in a row, this neglect is sending a political signal that important mechanisms for peace and security can function without particular attention or guidance from Member States.  Any consideration other than providing adequate resources for men and women on the brink of chaos should be kept out of Committee discussions on the budget for special political missions.  He also noted that late documentation continues to hinder the Committee’s capacity to deliver, expressing regret that multilingualism has been challenged this session, with simultaneous interpretation lacking for critical phases of its work. 

The representative of the United States noted that the Fifth Committee continues to struggle through late documentation, including several Secretary-General and programme budget implications reports, which negatively impact its ability to conclude in a timely manner.  Adding that the growing workload of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) further contributes to delays, he advocated a review of operational arrangements and conditions of service to improve ACABQ.  Also expressing concern over failure to reach early consensus on what historically have been uncontroversial agenda items, he urged the Committee to find common ground in making difficult decisions.  On the oral amendment proposed by Israel, he said that the United States supports that nation in rejecting the unprecedented open-ended mandate of the Commission of Inquiry, which perpetuates a practice of unfairly singling out a Member State.  The United States will work with the Human Rights Council in Geneva, where the debate over this Commission’s mandate belongs, to persuade Member States that it is inherently biased and an obstacle to the cause of peace, he said.

The representative of Egypt welcomed the granting of resources to the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) and the Economic Commission in Africa (ECA).  Highlighting the achievements in the programme planning resolution, especially on the role of the Committee on Program Coordination, he said he looked forward to the upcoming review of the annual budget’s trial period.  The scales of assessments should continue to be based on the principle of capacity to pay and the capacity to veto, he said, adding that the consensus in maintaining the current methodology for the scales’ preparation was the best decision at this point in time for the Organization and its membership.  He also noted that the Committee’s successful conclusion before Christmas could be attributed to the guiding principles of building bridges, finding landing zones and starting from “a place of reasonable to reach a place of more reasonable”.  In the darkest and latest hours in the session, when everything was at stake and hopes were low, the African Group showed exemplary leadership by inviting global powers to share ideas and find a way out on the resolution addressing special political missions.  This granted the Organization its required resources on time and without delays, he said.

The representative of Mexico, thanking the Bureau and the Secretariat, said the Fifth Committee has shown the work that can be done by pooling efforts.  Congratulating delegates for their significant achievement, he highlighted the approval of an ambitious programme budget which ensures that the Organization will have the necessary resources to implement the mandates given it by Member States.  Stressing that the scale of assessments as well as the regular budget and the peacekeeping budget is made up of contributions by Member States over the next three years, he noted that the Committee was also able to revise the common system financial estimates for Economic and Social Council decisions as well as budgets for special tribunals.

The representative of Japan noted that, despite constraints imposed by the COVID‑19 pandemic, the Fifth Committee dealt with pressing and complex agenda items, including the programme budget, special political missions and the scale of assessments.  The adoption of a programme budget will enable the United Nations to deliver its mandates in a more effective, efficient and nimble manner.  The transparency and predictability of future budget proposals will be improved regarding the so-called “add-ons”, including the revised estimates of the Human Rights Council, construction projects and others.  Highlighting the agreement on the scales of assessments for the apportionment of the regular budget and peacekeeping budget, he welcomed the consensus achieved, despite Member States’ various positions.  Turning to the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, he also welcomed the comprehensive governance reform plan agreed by the Pension Board, which included a more efficient structure and enhanced discipline through the establishment of an Ethics Policy.  The Fifth Committee must continue to review its working methods to facilitate more efficient and effective negotiations, he said, underlining the critical importance of its long-established practice of achieving agreement by consensus and calling upon all Member States to renew their commitment to negotiating constructively and in good faith.

The representative of Brazil, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said:  “We are glad to have avoided the unsound practice of implementing cuts for the sake of cutting.”  He also welcomed the increase of funds for the Development Account for the second year in a row.  Highlighting improvements to the framework by which relevant bodies of the General Assembly participate in the budgetary process, he noted the contribution of Committees in discussions, especially when consensus could not be reached by the Committee for Programme and Coordination.  The Committee’s decision, by consensus, to maintain the methodology of its scales of assessment, resulted in a fair and balanced system of apportionment of the expenses of the Organization.  However, he stressed:  “The scale of assessment of peacekeeping operations should not be used as a financial mechanism to impede the participation of developing countries as elected members in the Security Council.”  He said he looked forward to a review of the changes to the budgetary cycle in next year’s session and expressed hope that any decision in this regard will be the consequence of thorough analysis, aimed at the best interest of the Organization.

The representative of the Bahamas, while affirming support for the draft resolution on the scales of assessment, expressed alarm about proposals to shift the budgetary burden to lesser developed countries such as his; they are among the most economically impacted by the pandemic.  The decision to maintain the status quo and suspend the scales in place was welcomed.  On the peacekeeping budget, no developing country that is not a permanent member should be classified above Level C.  In addition, the Bahamas has had more than fivefold increase in its peacekeeping assessment over the past two decades, he said, underlining his support for the extension of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) mandate.  Rather than measuring progress through development, he called for a multidimensional vulnerability index to be used for a more comprehensive indicator of development level and need within the scales and contributions methodology.  The “ability to pay” concept is difficult to quantify, and the gradient of three to six years imposes a lag period that does not offer the flexibility to account for the pandemic’s impact on the economies of countries such as the Bahamas, which are dependent in the immediate to medium-term on tourism, import and foreign direct investment.  “Therefore, any formulation or alternative must be translatable, transferable and based on qualified economic realities,” he stressed.

The representative of Indonesia, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, expressed regret that the Committee for Programme and Coordination was unable to deliver its recommendations for all programme plans.  Turning to the peacekeeping operations budget, he affirmed Indonesia’s support for a collective effort to maintain the principles of capacity to pay in its scale formulation, permitting all Member States to fully take part in the Organization’s decision-making process.  “Therefore, the agreement to maintain the current methodology of the scale of assessments on both was a win-win achievement for all of us,” he stressed.  He went on to highlight successful deliberations on several agenda items, including revised estimates and program budget implications for resolutions, as well as the agreement on granting the proposal of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).  Noting that the timely conclusion of the agreement was enabled by Member States’ flexibility and less politicized deliberations, he expressed the hope that the practice would be replicated in future endeavours.

The representative of Botswana, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and the African Group, cited the approval of a $3.1 billion regular budget, along with resolutions related to the pattern of conferences, the administration of justice, the United Nations Pension Fund and its call for impact investing in developing and emerging markets among the Committee’s accomplishments.  He underscored Botswana’s interest in protecting the development account of the Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation, along with the budgets of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and the Department of Global Communications, among others.  He also welcomed the Assembly’s agreement to see the United Nations and Africa’s regional and subregional organizations engage in partnerships on the most pressing development, humanitarian and security issues on the continent.

The representative of China, thanking the Chair for his leadership and noting the tremendous work done by the Secretariat, praised the spirit of cooperation that prevailed during the session.  Although expectations on many agenda items have not been met, the Committee has approved the budget in a timely fashion and established the scales while accommodating various concerns.  The current gains are hard-won, he noted, voicing the hope that in the future, members will reduce politicization and continue with a constructive attitude.  As COVID-19 continues its surge, the Organization should support the economic development of countries and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development while responding to the concerns of developing nations.  Further, the Secretariat must make greater efforts for reasonable allocation and use of resources, he said, calling for stronger performance management and monitoring to “make good use of every penny of the Member States”.

The representative of the United Kingdom expressed disappointment that, on the scales of assessment, the Committee was unable to address technical flaws in the regular budget methodology, and that it persists with a Level C discount in the peacekeeping scale, though there is no justifiable evidence base for it.  “We continue to call on those who benefit from it to relinquish it,” he said.  Turning to Special Political Missions, he expressed disappointment about the lack of a negotiated outcome, pointing out that his delegation had proposed many compromises, alongside likeminded partners.  On the revised estimates for the Human Rights Council, he welcomed the agreement on funding.  Nonetheless, it was concerning that there were attempts to defund entirely a number of agreed mandates, which not only undermines the importance of human rights but the decisions of an elected United Nations body.  Noting that, although his delegation voted against the creation of the Commission of Inquiry in the Occupied Palestinian Territories due to concerns about the scope of its mandate, it agreed on funding for it.  Further, he expressed regret that funding for the important mandate of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism for Syria will have to be agreed upon by a vote.

Ms. POLLARD lauded the Committee’s strenuous efforts, flexibility and strong collaboration in making a budget agreement possible.  Reaching agreement before Christmas is an immense help to the Secretariat in planning for the next year, she said, ensuring its year end work can be accomplished in an unimpeded and efficient manner.

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