General Assembly, on Fifth Committee’s Recommendation, Adopts Raft of Texts on 2014-2015 Biennium Budget Appropriations, Common System, Peacekeeping
Additional Main Committee Drafts Adopted
Taking up the reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this evening, the 193-member General Assembly adopted a wide range of texts, including 16 resolutions and two draft decisions that, among other things, revised upwards the 2014-2015 biennium budget, and addressed the United Nations common system, human resources management and financing for peacekeeping operations.
The General Assembly, as part of reforms begun in 2009 aimed at making the Organization’s work force more efficient, increased the mandatory age of separation to 65 for staff recruited before 1 January 2014 together with a request that the International Civil Service Commission review that proposal by the Assembly’s seventy-first session and return a recommendation on its implementation date. The Commission was also requested to review the staff compensation package.
Also adopted today was a resolution encouraging the Organization’s internal and external oversight bodies to enhance cooperation through joint work-planning sessions, with a goal to ensure that all recommendations of the Office of Internal Oversight Services be fully implemented and brought to the attention of relevant managers.
Intensive work in the Fifth Committee on the 2014-2015 budget cycle had resulted in, among other things, adoption by the Assembly of a resolution approving a $34.72 million net increase in the appropriations approved, and $9.1 million in the estimates of income, for the current biennium. Although the merit of maintaining the so-called re-costing exercise came under close scrutiny during the session, today, the Assembly agreed to maintain the established re-costing methodology for the 2016-2017 budget cycle and to invite the Secretary-General to prepare the budget for that period on the basis of a preliminary estimate of $5.56 billion at revised 2014-2015 rates.
The Assembly also approved $480.26 million to maintain the Organization’s 35 special political missions, as well as a charge of $435.09 million net, corresponding to the undistributed balance in the provision for those missions for the 2014-2015 biennium.
Although all texts before the Assembly were adopted without a vote, delegations did call for a vote regarding a section in the draft resolution on questions relating to the programme budget for the biennium. Grappling with the inclusion in the text of the principle of “responsibility to protect”, the Assembly retained the relevant section by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 9 against (Bolivia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Iran, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sri Lanka, Venezuela), with 10 abstentions (Belarus, Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Morocco, Oman, Zambia, Zimbabwe). The resolution as a whole was then adopted without a vote.
In other business, the Assembly adopted two draft texts based on the recommendations of two of its Main Committees. It first adopted, by a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 15 against, with 35 abstentions, a draft resolution titled “Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes”. It then adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar.
The Assembly also adopted, by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 1 against (Turkey), with 3 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador, Venezuela), a draft resolution on Oceans and the Law of the Sea. Acting without a vote, it adopted a draft resolution on Follow up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, as well as a draft decision on dates for the meetings in connection with the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-20l5 development agenda. It postponed action on a draft decision on modalities for that process.
Delivering statements were representatives of Bolivia (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Turkey, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Côte d’Ivoire, Belarus, Russian Federation, Cuba (also on behalf of Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador), Iran, Rwanda, Syria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Congo.
The General Assembly will meet again at a date and time to be announced.
The General Assembly met this evening to consider outstanding draft texts, including some contained in the reports of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) and Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary). Included in its programme of work were items on integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields; follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit; Oceans and Law of the Sea; investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him; external debt sustainability and development; and human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives.
Action on Draft Resolutions
Taking up its agenda item on the integrated and coordinated implementation and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields, the Assembly first decided to postpone action on a draft decision on Modalities for the process of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda (document A/69/L.46).
It then adopted, without a vote, a draft resolution on the Follow up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit (document A/69/L.43), as well as a draft decision on Dates for the meetings of the process of intergovernmental negotiations on the post-20l5 development agenda (document A/69/L.44).
The representative of Bolivia, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, welcomed the draft texts just adopted and voiced the group’s expectation that “L.46” would be adopted as soon as possible. She stressed that the intergovernmental negotiation process must be Member State-driven. It was highly significant to establish ownership of the process, and she was convinced that the co-facilitators would do their best in that regard. She urged a coherent approach to formulating the post-2015 development agenda, which should reinforce the international community’s commitment to sustainable development goals, among other things. The agenda should be broader than the Millennium Development Goals and developing countries must fully and effectively participate in negotiations.
Turning to a draft resolution on Oceans and Law of the Sea (document A/69/L.29), the Assembly adopted the text, as orally revised, by a recorded vote of 153 in favour to 1 against (Turkey), with 3 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador, Venezuela).
Following the vote, the representative of Turkey said her country had voted against “L.29” for the same reasons it had not joined the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Turkey had supported international efforts to establish a regime of the sea that was acceptable to all States. However, the Convention had some shortcomings, among them, a failure to provide special safeguards to certain countries.
The representative of Colombia said his country had abstained in the vote on “L.29”, as it contained statements that could not be considered or interpreted in a way that implied that provisions applied to those non-States parties to the 1982 Convention. In the spirit of cooperation, Colombia had abstained.
The representative of Venezuela said her country was not a party to the Convention and that instrument should not be the only one regulating sea-related issues. The current text, she added, should be changed to reflect emerging issues. For those and other reasons, her country had abstained on “L.29”.
Turning to a draft resolution on the Investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him (document A/69/L.42), the Assembly adopted the text, as orally revised, without a vote.
Moving onto a report on External debt sustainability and development (document A/69/466/Add.3), recommended by its Second Committee (Economic and Financial), the Assembly took up a draft resolution contained therein on modalities for the implementation of resolution 68/304, titled “Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes”.
It adopted the draft resolution by a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 15 against, with 35 abstentions.
Argentina’s representative highlighted all those in the “Group of 77” and China that had taken part in the debate in a truly democratic manner, which, the speaker said, reflected the values that should be part of future discussions.
The representative of Côte d’Ivoire said restructuring of sovereign debt was necessary to enable the stability of the country. However, so-called “vulture funds” should be a concern for the international community, he said, noting that his country had voted in favour of the draft text.
The representative of Bolivia, speaking for the “Group of 77” and China, urged all countries to contribute to discussions on debt restructuring. The draft resolution gave Member States a mandate for action, she said, adding that the General Assembly had an obligation to discuss those and related issues.
Based on the recommendation of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), the Assembly then took up a report on Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/69/488/Add.1), containing a draft resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar, adopting it without a vote.
The representative of Belarus said country-specific resolutions unfairly targeted States and hers wished to be disassociated from the above draft.
MATTHIAS DETTLING (Switzerland), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), introduced that body’s reports. For background, see Press Release GA/AB/4144.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan), Vice-President of the General Assembly, informed delegations that, as the Fifth Committee had just finished its work, the reports were only available in English now, but would be issued in all languages as soon as possible.
Action on Drafts
The Assembly considered the report titled Financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/69/688), adopting without a vote the text contained therein (document A/C.5/69/L.17).
The Assembly then turned to the report, Pattern of conferences (document A/69/695) and adopted without a vote the draft resolution contained therein (document A/C.5/69/L.24).
In explanation of position after the action, the delegate of the Russian Federation said that he deeply regretted the absence of the draft resolutions in all official languages. That was a violation of the United Nations Charter and of many General Assembly resolutions on multilingualism. The practice was not acceptable, and he expected that it would not happen in the future.
Next, the Assembly adopted, also without a vote, the resolution (document A/C.5/69/L.12) contained in the report on the United Nations common system (document A/69/683).
Also acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted a draft decision on Administrative and budgetary coordination of the United Nations with the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (document A/C.5/69/L.23) contained in document A/69/694, adopting it without a vote
A draft resolution on the Report on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Service (document A/C.5/69/L.18) contained in a report by the same name (document A/69/689) was adopted without a vote.
The draft resolution (document A/C.5/69/L.19) contained in the report on Review of the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 48/218B, 54/244, 59/272 and 64/263 (document A/69/690) was also adopted without a vote.
The Assembly also had before it a report on Financing of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Genocide and Other Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of Rwanda and Rwandan Citizens Responsible for Genocide and Other Such Violations Committed in the Territory of Neighbouring States between 1 January and 31 December 1994 (document A/69/691). It adopted the draft resolution contained therein (document A/C.5/69/L.20) without a vote.
Regarding the report, Financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 (document A/69/692), the Assembly adopted without a vote the related draft resolution (document A/C.5/69/L.21).
Turning to the report, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document A/69/693), the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution contained therein (document A/C.5/69/L.22).
Also acting without votes, the Assembly adopted draft resolution “L.13” contained in the report, Financing of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) (document A/69/684); draft resolution “L.14” contained in the report on Financing of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) (document A/69/685); draft resolution “L.8” contained in the report on Financing of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) (document A/69/682); draft “L.15” contained in the report on Financing of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) (document A/69/686); and draft resolution “L.16” contained in the report on Financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document A/69/687).
The Assembly then took up the report titled Programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015 (document A/69/702). It contained two draft resolutions and one draft decision.
On draft resolution I, Questions relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015, or “L.26”, a vote had been requested on that text’s section IV concerning the principle of the responsibility to protect.
In explanation of position on section IV before the vote, the representative of Cuba, also speaking for Nicaragua, Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador, said he regretted, once again, the inclusion in that section relating to the responsibility to protect. That principle, he said, lacked an agreed definition and scope of application. Section IV also contravened General Assembly 63/308 and successive relevant resolutions. He thus called for a recorded vote.
The representative of Iran, also speaking before the vote, said that, although he supported the activities of the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, the issue of the responsibility to protect, including its definition, was still under consideration by the General Assembly. He, therefore, opposed the allocation of limited financial resources to fund posts for which there was no mandated definition and would vote against the text.
The representative of Rwanda voiced her support for the inclusion in the resolution of the principle of the responsibility to protect. No legal principle or sovereignty should ever be allowed to shield genocide, crimes against humanity or mass human suffering. However, without implementation, declarations rang “hollow” and without actions, promises were meaningless. Recalling the 2005 World Summit’s outcome document on the principle and its three pillars, she noted that the Secretary-General, in his annual report, included ways and means to translate that principle. Regarding the work of the Special Adviser and Special Representative on the implementation of the three pillars, it was the international community’s collective duty to ensure that the Offices were fully operational in carrying out their mandate in the face of crises and mass atrocities happening around the world. As Co-Chair of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, she would vote in favour of section IV.
The Assembly then adopted section IV by a recorded vote of 137 in favour to 9 against (Bolivia, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ecuador, Iran, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sri Lanka, Venezuela), with 10 abstentions (Belarus, Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Kiribati, Morocco, Oman, Zambia, Zimbabwe).
The Assembly then adopted draft resolution I as a whole, without a vote.
The Assembly turned to draft resolution II, “L.27”, titled Programme budget for the biennium 2014-2015, adopting it without a vote.
Also contained in “L.27” was the draft decision, titled United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, which the Assembly adopted without a vote.
In explanation of position after the action, the representative of Iran disassociated his delegation from the part of the resolution that allocated resources to the Panel of Experts of the Sanctions Committee against Iran. He said that the Security Council’s sanctions against Iran were unlawful, targeted a civilian population, were based on unfounded allegations and derived from the political motivations of some.
The representative of Syria, regarding section IV, said he had voted in its favour, but with reservations concerning the allocation of resources. The text was not in line with General Assembly resolution 63/262 and in violation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004) on the relationship between two sovereign States, Lebanon and Syria, and also an issue with Israel. He supported the resolution on the Human Rights Council, but retained reservations on resolution 25/23 which has budgetary implications.
The representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic said he had voted “yes” on section IV, but had meant to vote “no”. He wanted that to be reflected in the record.
Concerning “L.26”, the representative of Congo said that the delegation had abstained in section IV, but had meant to vote in its favour.
Next, the Assembly took up the report, Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations (document A/69/703), adopting, without a vote, resolution “L.28” contained therein.
The Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft decision, titled Questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/69/L.29).
At the conclusion of its consideration of the Fifth Committee’s reports, the Vice-President of the General Assembly informed delegations that the following items remained opened on the agenda of the sixty-ninth session: 9, 10, 12 ,13 (a) and (b), 14, 17 (c), 18, 19 (a), (c) and (h), 20, 28 to 30, 32 to 36, 38, 39, 41 to 47, 52, 62 (a) and (b), 63, 69 (a) to (c), 108, 111 (b), 112 (a), (b) and (d), 113 (b), (f), (g), (i) and (j), 114 to 122, 124 to 126 and 129 to 167.