Approving Work Programme, Delegates Highlight Annual Budget Cycle Format
Delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today emphasized the need for both timely payments by Member States and budgetary discipline by Secretariat officials if the Organization is to effectively carry out the mandates laid out by the General Assembly.
Several delegates used the opening session of the seventy-seventh session to urge each other to pay their assessments in full to maintain the Organization’s financial stability and avert a liquidity crisis. Speakers were also eager to assess the effectiveness of the Organization’s shift to an annual budget cycle in 2021, while others were adamant that the mandates set by the Assembly should determine the 2023 budget proposals.
Pakistan’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reiterated the Group’s long-standing position that mandates, as translated into the Organization’s strategic framework and approved by the Assembly, should determine budget proposals and not the other way around. The Assembly must approve a level of resources commensurate with all mandated programmes and activities in order to ensure their full, effective implementation. He added that the Committee for Programme and Coordination plays a critical role in the Organization and its role should be strengthened rather than weakened.
Echoing those points, the representative of Bangladesh said that, more than ever, the United Nations needs adequate financial resources and a well-planned budget that reflects Member States’ priorities and conforms to mandates, with Member States driving the budget proposal process. He asked the Secretariat to continue to strengthen budgetary performance, improve internal control and rigorously enforce financial discipline, while keeping Member States informed and maintaining transparency in its reporting.
Several speakers stressed the need to continue the annual budgeting format, now in its third year, and not revert to a biannual budget. The representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the use of the annual budget cycle can help the Organization deliver its mandates more efficiently and that he looked forward to hearing Secretariat updates as the third year of the annual budget trial period ends.
Likewise, the representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said an annual budget cycle enables more accurate mandate resourcing, improves implementation, empowers programme managers and increases accountability and intergovernmental oversight. He said the Committee should also explore new ways to fund peacebuilding, including through assessed contributions.
Endorsing that view, the representative of the United Arab Emirates underscored the importance of providing adequate, sustainable and predictable financing to the Peacebuilding Fund, after the Committee failed to reach a consensus on that topic during its seventy-sixth session. Special attention must also be paid to the financing of special political missions, which are an important tool for maintaining international peace and security, a point echoed by Nigeria’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group.
Rwanda’s representative said the Organization’s work is more critical than ever as the international community navigates multiple crises around the world. As it considers the Organization’s 2023 programme budget, the Committee must ensure it has sufficient resources to implement its mandate, especially in the global South.
At the outset of the meeting, Philippe Kridelka (Belgium), Chair of the Fifth Committee, urged the delegates to keep striving for consensus, as they have for decades. “Much trust and cohesion are needed to take such decisions,” he said. “Still, I am confident that that spirit of collegiality and teamwork for which the Fifth is known will help us to again reach successful and timely outcomes.”
Also today, the Committee considered the scale of assessments. Bernardo Greiver, Chair of the Committee on Contributions, introduced that body’s report on the topic, which covered its eighty-second session held in June. He said the Committee recommends that the Assembly encourage Member States in arrears, under Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, to consider submitting multi-year payment plans. Regarding Article 19, he added, the Committee concluded that the failure of Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe and Somalia to pay their assessments in total was due to conditions beyond their control, and recommended that they be permitted to vote in the Assembly until the end of the seventy-seventh session.
Chandramouli Ramanathan, Assistant Secretary General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary General’s report on multi-year payment plans and said the Secretariat is ready to assist any Member State wishing to implement a plan.
During the afternoon session, the Committee consider the financing of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Weiyi Xiao, a representative of the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance’s Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, speaking for Mr. Ramanathan, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on revised estimates of the 2022 programme budget related to UNAMA. Patrick A. Chuasoto, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee, introduced its eponymous report.
Also speaking today were representatives of Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Switzerland (also on behalf of Liechtenstein), Mexico, Japan, China, Armenia, United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Uruguay, Mongolia, Norway and Djibouti.
The Fifth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 4 October, to hear an address by General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary) and consider several agenda items.
Opening Remarks by Fifth Committee Chair
PHILIPPE KRIDELKA (Belgium), Chair of the Fifth Committee, said that for decades, the Committee has strived for consensus. When negotiation goals diverge, consensus requires flexibility. “Much trust and cohesion are needed to take such decisions,” he said. “Still, I am confident that that spirit of collegiality and teamwork for which the Fifth is known will help us to again reach successful and timely outcomes.” He said his first priority as Chair is to help build bridges between regional groups and all Member States. He hoped the recently published Fifth Committee Manual would create a better understanding of the issues facing the delegates and enable inclusive, transparent collaboration. The Committee faces a full agenda with many critical items, he said, and drew delegates’ attention to two documents: Allocation of agenda items to the Fifth Committee (document A/C.5/77/1) and the Status of preparedness of documentation for the main part of the session (document A/C.5/77/L.1).
Organization of Work
JIBRAN KHAN DURRANI (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Group is committed to thoroughly considering all agenda items. While noting that a significant percentage of the reports are now available for detailed deliberations, he urged the Secretariat to finalize reports as early as possible, as delays keep the Group from thoroughly considering the issues. All reports from the Secretariat and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) must be issued in all official languages in a timely fashion. Stressing that the Fifth Committee considers critical issues facing the Assembly and the Organization, he said the Group will actively engage in deliberations on all issues.
Regarding the 2023 proposed programme budget, he reiterated the Group’s long-standing position that mandates, as translated into the strategic framework and approved by the Assembly, must determine budget proposals and not the other way around. The Assembly must approve a level of resources commensurate with all mandated programmes and activities in order to ensure their full, effective implementation. He reaffirmed the critical role of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, which should be strengthened rather than weakened. He reminded Fifth Committee members that implementation of resolution 76/236, paragraph 16, is vital to ensure an effective, efficient outcome of the overarching programme budget negotiation. The five programmes of the proposed 2023 programme budget, which do not have conclusions and recommendations from the Programme and Coordination Committee, should be reviewed by the plenary or the relevant Main Committee responsible for those mandates in a timely manner, so that the Fifth Committee can discuss and approve the related budget. He reiterated that consideration of an annual budget creates additional time constraints for thorough discussion of other agenda items. He trusted the Fifth Committee would adequately consider all agenda items and would negotiate in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.
THIBAULT CAMELLI, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, reiterated his support for reforms, including on the budget. An annual budget cycle facilitates more accurate mandate resourcing, improves implementation, empowers programme managers and increases accountability and intergovernmental oversight, he emphasized. The Committee should also explore new ways to fund peacebuilding, including through assessed contributions, he added. Warning that there cannot be an effective United Nations without a budget, he expressed regret that consensus was not achieved on five outstanding programmes. He looked forward to addressing them in the Committee and indicated he would pay particular attention to the adequate resourcing of all mandates.
The 2023 proposed programme budget, he continued, still does not provide a comprehensive picture and requires a variety of add-ons, including on funding construction at United Nations headquarters and duty stations. Expressing concern over ACABQ recommendations on funding for the Human Rights Council’s recurring mandates, he expected adjustments to avoid unintended consequences that would result in the unprecedented defunding of mandates. On the United Nations Youth Office, he saluted the Secretary General and pledged constructive engagement to ensure the initiative’s sustainability. Turning to the United Nations activities on mitigating global food insecurity, he reiterated his full support while condemning the Russian Federation for its unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine.
MITCHELL FIFIELD (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, expressed support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called on the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its forces. The Russian Federation’s invasion has security, economic and humanitarian ramifications for Member States, and puts the United Nations under immense strain, he noted. As the switch to an annual budget has allowed greater financial agility, more concrete results and improved accountability, especially in responding to the COVID 19 pandemic and the current war in Ukraine, he urged a continuation of the annual budget. He then expressed support for the Secretary General’s proposal to “frontload” resource requirements for ongoing Human Rights Council mandates. Voicing dismay that the ACABQ has put $35 million in human rights funding at risk by recommending against the proposal, he noted his concern over the chronic underfunding of the United Nations human rights pillar.
Turning to the General Assembly’s resolution on peacebuilding financing, he shared his stance that some assessed funding for the Peacebuilding Fund would be helpful in delivering on the United Nations core mandate of conflict prevention. While the list of competing demands for regular-budget funding continues to grow, the Committee must consider each proposal on its own merits. Moving 95 posts from extrabudgetary to regular-budget funding is a large request, he noted. As the Committee looks to ACABQ for critical advice on budgetary matters, he emphasized the need for it to remain a technical and transparent body. In referencing its conditions of service, he called for a review of ACABQ’s work, working methods and expert qualifications. On the liquidity situation, he urged all Member States with outstanding assessments to prioritize their payments and advise the Secretariat on timing. The later Member States pay, the less likely the money can be committed and the less likely the United Nations can deliver on its mandates, he emphasized.
ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77, recognized that certain factors, such as the pandemic, have been beyond Member States’ control and have affected their financial situation. He commended those States that have met their obligations to the Organization and called on all Member States to pay their contributions in full and on time. He supported the transition to greater in-person meetings with the improvement of the public-health situation. The use of the annual budget cycle, which is concluding its third year of implementation, can help the Organization deliver its mandates more efficiently. He looked forward to hearing Secretariat updates as the third year of the annual budget trial period ends. Programme planning is essential to ensure the budget remains in line with the Organization’s programmes, he added.
He said ASEAN is committed to the productive discussion of agenda items, which includes many important issues, such as the proposed programme budget for 2023, review of the annual budgetary cycle, the United Nations common system, the pension system, Umoja, the review of progress in management reform and property management. The Fifth Committee is facing much work and he looked forward to fruitful discussions that are open and transparent. He said ASEAN will work with all delegations to find common ground and conclude the consideration of agenda items on time.
RICCARDA CHRISTIANA CHANDA (Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said that the human rights pillar is central to achieving the United Nations goals, including sustainable development and the maintenance of international peace and security. “That is why it is essential that we ensure that this pillar receives the necessary resources from the regular budget so that it can fully fund and implement all its mandates,” she said. She also thanked Member States for their commitment to support the strategic heritage plan. That important project is not only a building and heritage conservation project, but also “an investment in multilateralism” that will guarantee a modern, effective and efficient Organization. She went on to say that face-to-face meetings will hopefully help the Committee carry out its work in a collegial and productive manner, so as to reach consensus.
TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, underscored the importance for all delegations to participate in deliberations, negotiations and decision-making processes. To that end, Member States must be provided with proper interpretation services in the working language that is best suited to each. In referencing the effect late reports have on the Committee’s work and consideration of agenda items, he repeated the request to address pending reports as a matter of priority. He then spotlighted several agenda items of importance, including the annual budget cycle, Board of Auditors’ reports, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, among others.
On special political missions, he called for their adequate financing to ensure the execution of the mandates. As the most effective international tool for maintaining peace, special political missions serve as early warning mechanisms for potential political conflict. The more adequate the resourcing, the less is needed for peacekeeping operations, he stressed. Turning to the scale of assessments, he called for an expedited decision on granting exemptions to Member States under Article 19, to enable them to fully participate in the General Assembly’s work.
JESÚS VELÁZQUEZ CASTILLO (Mexico), in referring to the General Assembly’s decision on the annual budget cycle, the recommendations of ACABQ and the Committee for Programme and Coordination, and the increase for the 2023 budget, reiterated his support for management reforms. The budget must be geared to programmes and allocate resources appropriately to achieve results. To that end, the Committee should ensure that programmes have realistic, balanced and necessary resources to implement their mandates and approve them without recommendations. He then spotlighted the financing needs of construction projects, the Human Rights Council and United Nations Youth Office. In noting the upward pressure of new demands on the budget, he shared that his country would pay particular attention to the 38 special political missions as they account for 22 per cent of the regular budget. On the persistence of different adjustment rates in Geneva, he called for a discussion on safeguarding against a fragmentation of the United Nations common system. Turning to the Peacebuilding Fund, he emphasized balance and perspective in ensuring proper financing. The Committee should also discuss food insecurity, administration of justice, and oversight and audit bodies, among other topics, he added.
YAMANAKA OSAMU (Japan) said the Committee should strive to be even more efficient, effective and adept, in order to tackle the immense and immediate tasks ahead of it, taking advantage of lessons learned from the COVID 19 pandemic and improving its working methods. The world today is facing many challenges, including the situation in Ukraine, soaring prices and food insecurity, as well as COVID 19. “We should strive to strengthen and enable this Organization to address evolving global needs, working out a nimble, responsive and accountable budget,” he said, adding that Japan would, during this session, continue to call for budgetary discipline, which is fundamental for the United Nations to operate and deliver its mandate properly, effectively and sustainably.
YANNICK TONA (Rwanda) said that during the last session, the Committee made important decisions to strengthen the United Nations and its programmes to be more effective and efficient. “Unfortunately, we have some areas where we did not make as much progress as we should have,” he said, adding that the Organization’s work is more critical than ever as the international community navigates multiple crises around the world. As it considers the 2023 budget, the Committee needs to ensure the Organization has sufficient resources to implement its mandate, especially in the Global South. He agreed with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China that “mandates, as translated into the strategic framework, must determine budget proposals and not the other way around”. He said this was vital for the Organization’s successful work. “I cannot emphasize it enough,” he added. The Committee would also consider other important issues. He would closely follow discussions on Africa’s key priorities, as well as issues important to Rwanda, such as the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. This was especially important given the beginning of the trial of Félicien Kabuga, who had launched the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
DAI BING (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and stressing that financial stability underpins the Organization’s central role in international affairs, called on all Member States to shoulder their financial responsibilities. Despite repeated calls for action, one major contributor still has not fully paid their dues. “This is the main cause of the Organization’s liquidity crisis,” he noted. China has fully paid its assessments to the regular budget, he said, calling on all Member States to pay their dues on time and in full to ensure the implementation of the Organization’s mandates. He called for strengthening the function of the Committee for Programme and Coordination and for stronger budget discipline by the Secretariat. Departments should concentrate on their core functions. Turning to the annual budget, he said the budget modalities should be scientific and reasonable and improve budget performance. He supported an analysis of the Organization’s use of the annual budget.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said the Fifth Committee’s work is very important to ensure the Organization can capably and promptly deliver amid the rapidly evolving challenges across the world. Member States’ timely fulfilment of their financial obligations is key for the Organization’s financial health. Armenia is among the Member States who pay their regular budget assessments in full, within the first 30 days of the year. Pointing out this session’s agenda includes many items, such as the annual budget cycle, that can potentially impact the Organization’s future work, he said he hoped constructive negotiations would lead to results that reflect the Secretariat’s priorities to make the budget cycle more flexible. During the discussion on programme planning and the 2023 proposed programme budget, the Committee should ensure adequate financing is given to areas that require urgent responses, such as human rights protection, conflict prevention and support for countries in special situations. Regarding the Committee’s increasing workload, he urged the Committee to keep improving its working methods and use time more efficiently within normal working hours, as well as online platforms to facilitate discussions in certain cases.
CHRISTOPHER P. LU (United States) said that the Committee’s work this year will not be business as usual, due to the Russian Federation’s unprovoked war on Ukraine and its impact on the Organization’s work. On the Secretary General’s proposal to shift to the regular budget several expenditures now paid for by extrabudgetary resources, he said that such proposals should be well justified and kept to a minimum. He looked forward to the Chair of ACABQ explaining that body’s rationale behind its recommendations on the funding of Human Rights Council mandates and the financing of international staff salaries for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). He also expressed concern about the continuation of two different post adjustment multipliers to organizations that are part of the same United Nations common system. Turning to procedural issues, he emphasized that while the United States is open to improving the budget process, the Organization cannot revert to a biennial budget. Moreover, improving the work of the Committee for Programme and Coordination requires political will on the part of its members, not further changes to its programme of work.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) said that in these difficult global economic times, the United Nations must demonstrate that it is using its resources efficiently and effectively, and that it can deliver results that make a real difference to those in need. The United Kingdom wants to see a United Nations that can deal with the fallout from the Russian Federation’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and that can help to get the Sustainable Development Goals back on track. He said that his country looks forward to engaging on, among other issues, special political missions, conference facilities in Nairobi and safeguarding the integrity of the United Nations common system. He added that the Committee should continue to make the best use of its time and keep out-of-hours work to a minimum.
EMAN AL MUBARAK (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, underscored the importance of providing adequate, sustainable and predictable financing to the Peacebuilding Fund, after the Committee failed to reach a consensus on that topic during its seventy-sixth session. Special attention must also be paid to the financing of special political missions, which are an important tool for maintaining international peace and security. She looked forward to discussing the revised estimates for the United Nations Youth Office, especially as her country pays particular attention to young people’s role as future leaders in finding solutions to global challenges.
OH HYUNJOO (Republic of Korea) said the core responsibility of the Committee is to enable the United Nations to deliver in an efficient, effective and accountable manner. She noted the annual programme budget’s practicality and effectiveness in responding to crises. As an annual budget process contributes to management reform continuity, she looked forward to forthcoming discussions. On the growing demand for regular budget allocations, she said the solution is to alleviate this burden by relocating financial resources from non-core projects to priority ones. The Committee must also ensure predictable and sustainable financing for peacebuilding activities. Turning to ACABQ, she called for a constructive discussion on its conditions of service and working methods.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) thanked ACABQ for its reports that enrich the Committee’s discussion. Noting that the 2023 programme budget will be an important issue for discussion, he said the Committee must also explore the advantages and drawbacks of using an annual budget cycle and make decisions on funding after hearing from Member States. He supported increasing the number of formal and informal meetings to be held in person. He asked for the simultaneous issuance of documents in the six official languages and for discussions to be as inclusive as possible. Turning to other speakers’ comments regarding Ukraine, he said some of these States have created security threats. Expressing hope the discussions in the Committee will be de-politicized and professional, he said his delegation stands ready to have productive discussions on all issues.
CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, commended the agreement achieved in resolving the long-standing issue of reimbursements for countries that contributed to completed peacekeeping missions. As this practice has unloaded liquidity issues unfairly on a number of developing countries in the past, future solutions must share the financial burdens amongst all members. In calling for budgetary discussions and allocations to be guided by mandates, he spotlighted the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), humanitarian law issues, peacekeeping operations and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), among others. Special political missions, including in Colombia and Haiti, should be financed through a separate account based on the scale of operations, he emphasized. He then commended the Committee for Programme and Coordination for its programme agreements in 2022, while pointing to the lack of consensus on five of them to underscore the need for a mechanism to resolve programme considerations with all Member States.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, acknowledged the Secretariat and ACABQ for the early issuance of reports. In spotlighting the cumulative effects of the COVID 19 pandemic, climate change and conflict, he described the United Nations experience as a “wake-up call reminding us about the need for keeping up provisions for emergency responses”. Sound financial health is key for the Organization’s smooth functioning and efficient and timely mandate delivery. To that end, the United Nations must now more than ever have adequate financial resources and a well-planned budget that reflects Member States’ priorities and conforms to mandates, he emphasized. As mandates must determine budget proposals, Member States must drive the process as a whole. He then requested the Secretariat to continue to strengthen budgetary performance, improve internal control and rigorously enforce financial discipline. The Secretariat should utilize its resources in a cost-effective, efficient and rational manner, keep Member States informed and maintain transparency in its reporting.
ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia), endorsing the statement of the Group of 77 and China, expressed his strong support for the Secretary-General’s reform agenda. As the successful implementation of mandates, reforms and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development require sustainable and predictable funding, the Committee must ensure adequate funding and the proper functioning of mandates. To that end, Member States must meet their financial commitments in a timely manner. Timely payments not only address the United Nations financial situation but can also enhance the role of special political missions by improving their existing financial arrangements, he noted. He then spotlighted the proposed programme budget for 2023, scales of assessment, construction and property management, and the financial situation of the Organization, among other issues, and urged the Secretariat and ACABQ to issue their reports on time.
MONA JUUL (Norway), in expressing strong support for the Secretary-General’s reform initiatives, highlighted the Fifth Committee’s work in solving global challenges through providing the necessary tools for strengthening and improving the United Nations. As a streamlined, modern organization would better serve the people of the world in both certain and uncertain times, she urged better funding through core budgets for the vital tasks of the United Nations, including the human rights system, Resident Coordinator system and peacebuilding. A successful United Nations entails a strong culture of transparency, effectiveness and efficiency, whose development and maintenance are dependent on the Fifth Committee and all Member States, she emphasized.
YOUSSOUF ADEN MOUSSA (Djibouti) said he was very pleased with the return of ideal working conditions that will let the Committee conclude its substantive work on time. Lessons can be drawn from the pandemic and the Committee should adopt measures needed to deal with future pandemics. His delegation is ready to carry out measures to ensure the Organization has adequate financial resources, he said, stressing that the peacekeeping missions must be supported so they can carry out their mandates and personnel do not suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic. Stressing the importance of multilateralism, which is based on multilingualism, he said all Member States must have receive the Secretariat documents on time and in all six official languages. Consensus should not be undermined even when there are enormous gaps in agreement on issues, he stressed. Welcoming the statements made today, he expressed hope that Member States will build on the good will and work together to reach consensus on the Organization’s budget. He urged all delegations to avoid going down the tortuous path that will go around consensus or paths that lead to budgetary cutbacks. All issues, he said, should be addressed with maximum transparency and inclusivity.
ABDALLAH BACHAR BONG, Chair of ACABQ, taking the floor to respond to Member States, expressed his view that the Advisory Committee’s observations and recommendations are not unfounded nor less technical than usual. He said ACABQ always bases its recommendations on the Secretary-General’s report, as well as mandates, proposal relevance, clarifications, links with preceding recommendations and recommendations of the Board of Auditors. While recommendations will not always satisfy Member States, he assured the Fifth Committee that ACABQ recommendations try to be as technical and nuanced as possible. Echoing the view of his predecessor, he stressed that it is the General Assembly who takes a stance on ACABQ recommendations. To that end, ACABQ would provide clarifications to the Fifth Committee’s questions. On working methods, he noted the great progress made by ACABQ and cited the timely submission of its report on special political missions, a first since the Committee’s inception.
Scale of Assessments for Apportionment of United Nations Expenses
BERNARDO GREIVER, Chair of the Committee on Contributions, presented the report of that body’s eighty-second session (document A/77/11) from 6 to 24 June. The next triennial scale of assessment, he noted, would have more complex challenges due to COVID 19, economic difficulties, volatile exchange rates and inflation, which alters the result, affects income, increases interest rates and worsens external debt. He recalled that when it adopted the current scale of assessments, the Assembly requested that the Committee review the methodology used to calculate the scale and make recommendations in order to reflect the capacity of Member States to pay. Noting that the income measure is the first approximation of a Member State’s capacity to pay, he said the Committee recommends that the scale of assessment be based on the most current, comprehensive and comparable data available for gross national income. It supported efforts by the Statistics Division to enable Member States to submit national accounts data on a timely basis. It reaffirmed its recommendation that national currencies be converted on the basis of market exchange rates, except in those cases where that would cause excessive fluctuations and distortions in the gross national income of some Member States expressed in United States dollars. Income data expressed in United States dollars must be averaged over a designated base period, he said, adding that there are advantages in using the same base period for as long as possible.
The debt-burden adjustment has been an element of the scale methodology since 1986, but while Committee members have divergent views on this aspect, and with data now available on public external debt and repayments, the Committee decided to further consider this question at its future sessions in light of guidance from the Assembly, he said. The Committee also considered options for revising the low per capita income adjustment, with members expressing different views on various alternatives. It agreed that an alternative approach for setting the threshold could be the world average per capita debt-adjusted gross national income, rather than the current unadjusted per capita gross national income. It also agreed that another alternative approach could be an inflation-adjusted threshold. It decided to consider further the low per capita income adjustment considering the Assembly’s guidance. The Committee also decided to further consider the maximum assessment rate — currently 22 per cent, with a maximum rate for least developed countries of 0.010 per cent and a minimum assessment rate of 0.001 per cent — in light of guidance from the Assembly, he said.
He went on to say that the Committee recommends that the Assembly encourage Member States in arrears under Article 19 of the United Nations Charter to consider submitting multi-year payment plans. With regard to Article 19, he added, the Committee concluded that the failure of Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, and Somalia to pay their assessments in total was due to conditions beyond their control, and recommended that they be permitted to vote in the Assembly until the end of the seventy-seventh session.
CHANDRAMOULI RAMANATHAN, Assistant Secretary-General for Programme Planning, Finance and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, and Controller of the United Nations, introduced the Secretary General’s report on multi year payment plans (document A/77/65). He said that, since the introduction of the system in 2002, six Member States have successfully implemented multi-year payment plans, which lets them pay their assessed contributions in full. The report’s remaining plan was submitted by Sao Tome and Principe in 2002 and it contains the status of its implementation, as of 31 December 2021. No new payment plans have been submitted in recent years although several Member States have indicated they were considering the issue under Article 19. In laying out the arrangements for the multi-year payment plan system, the Secretariat recognized that due consideration should be given to the economic position of Member States. The submission of a plan is voluntary as not all Member States may be able to submit a plan, he noted, adding that the Secretariat is ready to assist any Member State wishing to implement a multi-year payment plan.
Mr. DURRANI (Pakistan), speaking again on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the Group is concerned with the Organization’s ongoing cash deficit, which is currently endangering the fulfillment of mandates. During the seventy sixth session, the Fifth Committee agreed to credit some of the Working Capital Fund to manage the liquidity crisis as a one-time measure. Yet, this is not a long-lasting solution to manage the Organization’s financial issues. He reaffirmed the Group’s position that all Member States should fulfill their legal obligations to bear the Organization’s expenses, in accordance with the Charter. “All Member States should pay their assessed contributions in full, on time and without conditions,” he said. Pointing out that some developing countries face special and genuine difficulties that temporarily prevent them from meeting their financial obligations, he welcomed the Committee on Contributions’ recommendations to extend relief to States requesting exemption, under Article 19, and agreed they should be allowed to vote until the end seventy-seventh session’s end.
The Group reiterates its position that the current methodology to prepare the scale of assessments reflects changes in the relative economic situation of Member States, he said. It affirms the “capacity to pay” principle as the fundamental criterion in the apportionment of the expenses of the United Nations. “We reject any change to the elements of the current methodology for the preparation of the scale of assessments aimed at placing an unfair burden on developing countries by increasing their contributions, which are already on the rise,” he said. He noted that applying the current methodology to the upcoming scale cycle will lead to substantial increases of many developing countries’ contributions. The Group emphasizes that the core elements of the current methodology of the scale of assessments — such as base period, gross national income, conversion rates, low per capita income adjustment, gradient, floor, ceiling for least developed countries and debt stock adjustment — must be kept intact and are not negotiable. The Group welcomes the Committee’s recommendation to consider payment of a portion of contributions in currencies other than United States dollars for the years 2022, 2023 and 2024. In addition, organizations with an enhanced observer status at the United Nations, giving them the rights and privileges usually only applied to observer States, should have the same financial obligations to the United Nations as observer States. He urged the Assembly to consider a decision on an assessment for such organizations.
FUJINUMA ATSUYUKI (Japan), noting that his country is a major financial contributor to the United Nations, stressed the basic principle of each Member State paying its assessed contributions according to their capacity to pay. Given the changing global economy, an improved methodology — based on the most current, comprehensive and comparable data available — is required so that assessments better reflect each Member State’s real capacity to pay in a more equitable manner. Turning to the application of Article 19 of the United Nations Charter, he said that Japan fully endorses the recommendations and observations of the Committee on Contributions regarding exemptions to the application of that Article. In addition, those Member States with significant arrears in contributions should be encouraged to submit multi-year payment plans, he said.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
WEIYI XIAO, a representative of the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance’s Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, speaking on behalf of Mr. Ramanathan, introduced the report on revised estimates relating to the programme budget for 2022, with respect to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)(document A/76/6 Sect.3/Add.9) He said the revised 2022 proposed budget was formulated after adoption of Security Council resolution 2626 (2022) in March. It reflects revised staffing and financial resources to effectively carry out the Mission’s renewed and adapted mandate. The proposed resource requirements for the 12-month period of 2022 amounts to $133.6 million, a decrease of $3.3 million, or 2.4 per cent, compared with the approved budget for 2021. The reduction relates primarily to staff costs, specifically the application of a higher vacancy rate of 14 per cent for international staff, and 9 per cent for national staff, in the 2022 budget, versus vacancy rates of 6 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively, in 2021. This is offset partly by increases under operational costs, primarily air operations, other supplies, services and equipment, and medical costs, he explained.
The Assembly is requested to approve the personnel and operational costs and to appropriate $133.6 million under section 3, Political affairs, and $10.96 million under section 36, Staff assessment, of the 2022 programme budget. The latter amount will be offset by a corresponding amount under Income Section 1, Income from staff assessment.
PATRICK A. CHUASOTO, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee, introduced its eponymous report on revised estimates for UNAMA (document A/76/7/Add.41). Recalling Assembly resolution 76/246 of 2021 which authorized the Secretary-General to enter into commitments, with assessment, up to $107.64 million for the period from 1 January to 31 October 2022, he stressed that every effort should be made not to exceed the amount provided. As Security Council resolution 2626 (2022) adopted changes to and extended UNAMA’s mandate until 17 March 2023, the Committee was informed that new and expanded areas of work would require an increase in funding specifically on staffing costs. Unless there are major changes in the operational environment, a period of stability for UNAMA’s organizational structure is required, he said. He noted that the proposed revised resource requirements of $133.61 million for 2022 (net of staff assessment) would provide for salaries and common staff costs ($89.56 million) for 1,200 positions, one military observer ($24,600) and operational costs ($44.03 million).
Turning to staffing resources, he recommended the abolishment of two vacant positions proposed for reassignment, namely one Electoral Affairs Officer (P-4) and one Political Affairs Officer (P-4). Pending an independent review of mine action in peacekeeping operations and the conclusion of a new memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the Advisory Committee recommended the establishment of the Senior Programme Management Officer (Mine Action Service) (P-5) as a general temporary assistance position. On the proposed conversion of 30 national United Nations Volunteer positions from extrabudgetary to regular budgetary funding, the Advisory Committee recommended the conversion of 20 positions. In acknowledging the valuable technical and professional skills and work experience the national youth project has provided to female United Nations Volunteers, he hoped the project would continue its efforts to obtain additional extrabudgetary funding. On operational costs, he recommended a reduction of $2 million under air operations, communications and information technology and other supplies, services and equipment.
Source: United Nations