Concerned about Inadequate Voluntary Contributions, Speakers in Fifth Committee Support Proposed $2.9 Million Subvention to Operate Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone
Delegates at the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today urged the Assembly to deliver on the Secretary-General’s proposal to keep the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone running in 2023 with a $2.9 million subvention.
Delegates also urged the Assembly to create a long-term sustainable financing mechanism for the Residual Court in the face of persistent unpredictable voluntary contributions from the international community. The Court was created in 2010 to the carry out the essential functions of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which closed its doors at the end of 2013 after completing its mandates.
Pakistan’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, supported the Secretary-General’s proposal for an allocation of $2.9 million in 2023 to supplement voluntary financial resources. He said the Group is deeply concerned about the Court’s future financing and backed the creation of a long-term sustainable funding mechanism.
Uganda’s delegate, speaking for the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77, noted the Residual Court received just $40,000 in voluntary contributions 2022 and relies on subventions from the Organization’s regular budget. He commended its work in preserving the legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, such as the commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Civil War in Sierra Leone.
The representative of Sierra Leone noted the work of the Residual Court’s Witnesses and Victims Protection and Support Office, which monitors and supports 72 witnesses in Sierra Leone and others outside the country. He reiterated his call for a sustainable and predictable financing arrangement to preserve the Special Court’s legacy and its contribution to international criminal justice and peace and security in the sub-region of Africa.
Johannes Huisman, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division of Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance’s Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the matter, which contained the request for a $2.91 million subvention, as a temporary measure. The Secretariat, he noted, would continue to seek additional voluntary contributions.
Donna Marie Chiurazzi-Maxfield, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report. She recommended the Secretary-General deliver a subvention, as a bridging financing mechanism, of no more than $2.76 million for 2023.
The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 9 November, to discuss the pattern of conferences.
Subvention to Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone
JOHANNES HUISMAN, Director, Programme Planning and Budget Division, Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, introduced the Secretary-General’s “Report on use of the commitment authority and request for a subvention to the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (document A/77/352). The report contains the request for a subvention in 2023 to enable the Court to continue to carry out its mandate.
He said the Residual Court’s funding situation is seriously concerning for the United Nations, the Sierra Leone Government, the Court Principals and the Oversight Committee. Section VI of the report lays out detailed fundraising efforts that were undertaken to seek voluntary funds. This includes 83 bilateral fundraising meetings, mostly held virtually, since October 2021. Yet no pledges or contributions have been made for the 2023 fiscal year. As a result, the Secretary-General asks the General Assembly to approve a subvention for 2023 in the amount of $2.91 million, as a temporary measure, to address the Residual Court’s current financial situation as he continues to seek additional voluntary contributions for it.
DONNA MARIE CHIURAZZI-MAXFIELD, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the Advisory Committee’s related report (document A/77/7/Add.9) and noted the very limited results of fundraising efforts for voluntary contributions during 2022. She stressed the need to intensify efforts by broadening the donor base and develop more innovative fundraising approaches. She also re-emphasized that the subvention from the regular budget is a bridging financing mechanism.
Noting the Residual Court’s residual nature, the Advisory Committee believes a review of the Court’s security risk profile in Freetown should be carried out, she said. It also does not see the continued need for a dedicated liaison officer in New York and notes the consistent pattern of under-expenditure, related to the Residual Court’s judicial activities. She urged the Court to redouble its efforts to increase cost efficiency. The Advisory Committee recommends that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to seek alternative and sustainable financing arrangements for the Residual Court and that the Secretary-General be authorized to enter into commitments, as a bridging financing mechanism, in an amount not exceeding $2.76 million for 2023.
JIBRAN KHAN DURRANI (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Group supports the Secretary-General’s proposal for a commitment of not more than $2.9 million to supplement the voluntary financial resources of the Residual Court for the period from 1 January to 31 December 2023. The Group notes that the proposed resources will cover key activities related to judicial and non-judicial functions. This includes the protection of witnesses and victims; judicial and administrative proceedings; the supervision of the enforcement of sentences; assistance to national authorities and State cooperation. It also would cover the maintenance of archives and court management; the preservation of the Court’s legacy and outreach meant to raise its visibility.
The Group commends the Residual Court’s efficiency measures, including the return of unspent balances and limiting travel requirements, he said. However, et the Group is deeply concerned about the Court’s future financing, particularly that since 2015, it has not received sufficient voluntary contributions and must rely on subventions from the Assembly. Noting the unpredictable nature of voluntary contributions, the Group reiterates the need for a long-term sustainable funding mechanism for the Court.
MEDARD AINOMUHISHA (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Residual Court has not received sufficient voluntary contributions from the international community for its operations. It received just $40,000 in 2022 and relies on subventions from the Organization’s regular budget. As the Secretary-General stresses in his report, the African Group is equally concerned about the Residual Court’s future financing. Since 2015, the Court has not received sufficient voluntary contributions and no contributions have been received for the 2023 fiscal year. There are minimal prospects that more pledges will be made in the coming year. He said it is imperative that a sustainable financing mechanism be found as soon as possible.
He encouraged all Member States to provide voluntary support and encouraged the Secretary-General to redouble his efforts to seek voluntary contributions, including broadening the donor base. The African Group commends the Residual Court’s work in preserving and promoting the legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, especially commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the Civil War in Sierra Leone. This event was held at the Sierra Leone Peace Museum, the former location of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
ALHAJI FANDAY TURAY (Sierra Leone), aligning himself Group of 77 and China, and the African Group, said the Residual Court was established in 2010 through an Agreement between the United Nations and the Sierra Leone Government to carry out essential functions of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which completed its mandate and closed on 31 December 2013. Though some of its functions were affected by the pandemic, the Residual Court still supports witness protection, supervises the enforcement of sentences and monitors conditional early release. It also conducts ad hoc judicial and administrative proceedings. In addition, the Witnesses and Victims Protection and Support Office monitors and supports 72 witnesses in Sierra Leone and others outside the country. It maintains updated information on witnesses through regular contact. Its non-judicial functions include the preservation and management of archives; responding to requests for access to evidence by national prosecution authorities; requests for family visits to countries where convicts are detained; and answering requests by national authorities regarding compensation claims.
Yet its funding situation remains dire even after 58 fundraising bilateral meetings were held since 2021, he said, and there are minimal prospects for future voluntary contributions. He reiterated his call for a sustainable and predictable financing arrangement that will ensure the preservation of the Special Court for Sierra Leone’s legacy and its contribution to the development of international criminal justice and peace and security in the sub-region. He requested that the Assembly approve the $2.9 million subvention to cover expenses for non-judicial and judicial activities for 2023 for the Residual Court. He also expressed hope that any incoming voluntary contributions would reduce the use of the United Nations funding.