Seventy-seventh Session,
21st Meeting (AM)

Delegates Voice Concern about Decreased Resources in 2023, as Fifth Committee Reviews $79 Million Budget Proposal for Criminal Tribunals’ International Residual Mechanism

Delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today considered the Secretariat’s proposal to allot nearly $79 million for the 2023 activities of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals as it winds down its work investigating crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

In introducing the reports of the Secretary-General, Johannes Huisman, the Director of Programme Planning and Budget Division of the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance’s Office of Planning, Finance and Budget, said the $78.99 million request is a $10.7 million decline of 11.9 per cent compared with the 2022 appropriation.  The reports presented include the Secretary-General’s report on the financial performance on the Mechanism’s budget of for 2021 (document A/77/488) and the proposed budget for 2023 (document A/77/528).

Mr. Huisman said only two main cases remain before the Mechanism in 2023:  the Stanišić and Simatović appeal, expected to conclude in June 2023, and the Kabuga case, expected to end in 2024.  The proposed 2023 resources for the Kabuga case, he pointed out, reflect the judicial decision taken in June 2022 to try that case in The Hague.  That decision was made after the Trial Chamber determined this was the best way to swiftly commence and conclude the trial, given Mr. Kabuga’s age and fragile and unpredictable health condition.

Several delegates voiced their concern with the request for decreased resources for 2023 and the continued diversion of resources from Arusha to The Hague to handle a case generated during the conflict in Rwanda.

The representative of Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that when established, the Mechanism was envisioned as a small, temporary, efficient structure whose functions would diminish over time.  He expressed the Group’s concern that the Kabuga case is being handled in The Hague as the Mechanism’s statute states that the Arusha branch has a mandate regarding the meetings and trials of all criminal cases involving fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

[With the adoption of Council resolution 1966 (2010), the Council mandated the Mechanism to perform the remaining essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda after their respective closures in 2015 and 2017.  The Mechanism has two branches:  in The Hague, Netherlands and Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania.]

Pakistan’s delegate said he expected the under-expenditures experienced by the Chambers in Arusha and The Hague, as well as the Prosecutor’s Office, will not occur in 2023 as the Mechanism’s activity increases as the pandemic eases.  The Group is also concerned with the return of $10.2 million in surplus, as a credit against the 2023 assessments to Member States, due to these under-expenditures and the cancellation $3 million in commitments, as reported in the audited financial statements for the year ending 31 December 2021.  He appreciated the constructive inputs of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the matter.

Noting the Mechanism’s important work, the representative of Uganda, speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the allocation of adequate resources is a major part of the Group’s collective interests.  The Group is concerned with the $10.67 million decrease in proposed resources for 2023, compared with 2022, as well as the Secretariat’s proposal to allocate some resources to The Hague that are now mandated for Arusha.

He said the Group agrees with the Advisory Committee’s observations that there are no justifications for the proposed redeployment of resources from Arusha to The Hague.  The Group will examine the implementation of previous decisions related to staffing and recruitment, particularly adherence to the guidelines of staff allocations between the two branches.

The United Republic of Tanzania’s delegate, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, commended the Mechanism for its work despite the challenges created by the pandemic.  Worried about the decline in the financial resources proposed for 2023, he said his delegation, as in previous years, is also concerned that some resources assigned to The Hague are being diverted from the Arusha branch.

Mr. Huisman said that after thoroughly reviewing the needs for temporary staffing and opportunities to outsource business processes, the proposed resources for 2023 reflect a reduction of 50 temporary posts and 93 general temporary assistance positions, the planned closure of the Sarajevo field office and the United Nations detention facility and the library in Arusha.

The Assembly is also asked to approve the return of a 2021 surplus of $10.2 million (gross) [$9.79 million (net of staff assessment)] as a credit against assessment to Member States for 2023.  This surplus resulted from under-expenditure of $7.17 million (gross) and the cancellation of commitments pertaining to 2020 and $3.03 million of revenue.

Patrick Chuasoto, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee, introduced that body’s related report (document A/77/626).  Noting the completion of most judicial activities of the Mechanism, the Advisory Committee urges the Secretary-General to ensure the Mechanism makes every effort to promptly conclude its remaining work.  After a staffing review, the Mechanism proposed downsizing 143 posts and positions; streamlined operations by closing the Sarajevo field office, detention facility and library in Arusha; and plans to increase reliance on outsourced administrative support services.  Its review of the Organization’s service providers, including the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe and the United Nations Office at Nairobi, should increase efficiency.  The next budget proposals should reflect further efficiencies and appropriate resource requirements commensurate to the progressive completion of its work, he added.

Turning to the staffing proposals for 2023, he said the Advisory Committee recommends approving the abolishment of 50 temporary posts, and also recommends against the redeployment of two temporary P‑4 posts from Arusha to The Hague.  Acknowledging the reduction of 93 general temporary assistance positions by the end of 2023, the Advisory Committee asks the Secretary-General to consider earlier reduction of some of these positions.  The Mechanism should help staff find future employment, he encouraged.  On non‑post resources, the Advisory Committee recommended adjustments under staff travel by 5 per cent ($69,100); contractual services by 10 per cent ($813,400); general operating expenses by 10 per cent ($853,100); supplies and materials by 10 per cent ($57,000); premises improvement by 15 per cent ($17,000); and grants and contributions by 10 per cent ($181,300).

Regarding cooperation with other entities, such as the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Mechanism should provide more detailed information on cost recovery arrangements, he said.  It should also explore options to continue the provision of library services to the public in Arusha, within existing resources and with restricted operations.

The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 13 December, to discuss the programme budget implications of draft resolutions on ammunition stockpiles, the arms race in outer space and outer space activities.

For information media. Not an official record.