Several Delegates Criticize Proposals for More Funding as Fifth Committee Reviews Resource Requirements of Human Rights Council Mandates over Next Two Years
Several delegates in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today objected strongly to the Secretariat’s proposal to provide $21.44 million in additional funding in 2023 and 2024 to cover the work of the Human Rights Council.
Calling some of the Geneva-based Council’s investigations and subsequent resolutions politically motivated, a number of speakers said the extra spending is a waste of the Organization’s limited time and resources and defies the guiding principles laid out in the General Assembly text that established the Council in 2006.
Sri Lanka’s representative expressed his surprise over the “staggering” $3.40 million requested for 2023 to implement Council resolution 51/1 — on promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka — with an “exaggerated” estimated resource requirement of $2.13 million for 2024 and 16 General Temporary Assistance positions. Echoing other Member States’ serious concerns over this text’s budgetary implications, he said the unprecedented and ad hoc expansion of the Council’s mandate and the functions of a technical secretariat was never envisaged when that body was first created. The Committee is being asked to approve resources from a limited regular budget to implement a resolution rejected by the concerned country, he said, emphasizing that available resources and Member States’ contributions must be used in a more effective, impartial and transparent manner.
Iran’s delegate — in referring to the recently formed independent, international fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights violations in his country related to the protests that began on 16 September — said its creation is another patent example of the Council’s instrumentalization for political gains. Experience has demonstrated that financing such a political mission — which Iran does not recognize as it caters to the political agenda of a few — wastes the Organization’s limited time and resources. He asked delegates to disagree with the approval of any resources for its establishment.
Referring to Councils resolutions 49/1 and S/34/1 on the human rights situation in Ukraine stemming from Russian aggression, the speaker for the Russian Federation described them as the ultimate expression of the West and Ukraine against his Government. Moreover, Council resolution 51/25 — on the use of mercenaries as a means to violate human rights and impede people from exercising their right to self-determination — is another attempt to create a lever to exert pressure on his Government, he said. “Any State that has a sovereign policy that the West deems to be inconvenient to them and to their rules-based order can find themselves in Russia’s shoes,” he warned before categorically rejecting the funding of these resolutions from the regular budget.
Turning to Council resolution 51/27 on the situation of human rights in Ethiopia, that country’s speaker said the Commission of Experts on Human Rights in Ethiopia, which is under discussion by the Committee, is a flagrant violation of the principles set out in Assembly resolution 60/251: universality, impartiality and non-selectivity to enhance the protection of all human rights. “For African countries like mine, this is anything but an original story,” she said, adding that is why no African country voted for the resolution that created the Commission, nor had several other developing countries.
Likewise, Uganda’s representative, speaking for the African Group, said that, during the Council’s fifty-first session, the Commission overstepped its mandate and produced a report that lacks the requisite evidentiary and investigation standards. Noting the main responsibility to ensure protection of human rights rests with the country concerned, he regretted the Commission rejected the Ethiopian Government’s offer to complement national efforts and the previous joint investigation.
Some speakers, however, supported the allocation of additional resources to ensure adequate funding of Council mandates. The representative of Uruguay — also speaking for Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru — said such funding is a key priority for these countries as they are firmly committed to multilateralism built on understanding and the protection of human rights. The Fifth Committee should present an alternative to consolidating funds and resources required for the Organization’s human rights pillar, he said, noting that the regular budget for this pillar remains limited.
Johannes Huisman, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division of the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance’s Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, presented the Secretary-General’s reports on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Council at its forty-ninth, fiftieth and fifty-first regular , as well as at its thirty-fourth and thirty-fifth special sessions, which are included in a separate document, in 2022. Juliana Gaspar Ruas, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced its related report.
In other business, the Committee considered the 2023 programme budget implications of Israeli practices, as contained in a Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) draft decision. Mr. Huisman presented the Secretary-General’s statement, which proposes $233,900 for 2023 under section 7 (International Court of Justice). Ms. Gaspar Ruas introduced that body’s related report.
Also speaking today were representatives of Syria and Venezuela.
The Fifth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 16 December, to discuss several 2023 proposed programme budget implications, the contingency fund and changes in exchange rates and inflation connected to revised estimates for the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.
Revised 2023 Estimates Due to Human Rights Council Resolutions, Decisions
JOHANNES HUISMAN, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, presented the Secretary-General’s reports on revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council at its forty-ninth, fiftieth and fifty-first regular sessions and at its thirty-fourth special session (document A/77/579) as well as its thirty-fifth special session (document A/77/579/Add.1), in 2022. The first report lays out the details of estimated additional resource requirements for 2023 of $21.44 million, net of staff assessment, relating to resolutions and one decision adopted by the Council during its forty-nineth, fiftieth and fifty-first regular sessions and at its thirty-fourth special session, in 2022.
During these sessions, the Council adopted 81 resolutions/decisions with resource requirements, of which 40 resolutions and one decision created the need for additional resource requirements, he said. As reflected in Annex 1, Table A.2 of report A/77/579, the texts produced total requirements of $64.95 million for 2023. Of this amount, $11.79 million relate to mandates of a perennial nature, already included in the 2023 proposed programme budget; and requirements of $31.72 million have been included as they are of a renewable nature approved into 2023 or previously extended for at least two years ($29.77 million) or are new one-time or annual mandates ($1.9 million) adopted in the March session of 2022. The remaining requirements for 2023 that total $21.44 million, including 18 new posts (12 P-4, three P-3, three General Service (OL)), are additional, and the Secretary-General asks the Assembly to approve this amount along with the requested posts.
Turing to report A/77/579/Add.1, he said this report explains the additional resource requirements for 2023 of $2.76 million, net of staff assessment, relating to Council resolution S-35/1, adopted during its thirty-fifth special session in 2022. The approach taken to prepare these revised estimates is in accordance with the Assembly decision, pursuant to resolution 76/245, to reflect requirements related to mandates of a renewable nature in the proposed programme budget. This approach gave the Committee early knowledge of requirements totalling $31.72 million for 2023, which would otherwise be communicated to delegates now in the context of these revised estimates reports, he explained.JULIANA GASPAR RUAS, Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the Committee’s related report (document A/77/7/Add.27) and recalled that the Secretary-General decided to include some resources as “frontloaded” in the 2023 proposed programme budget. The Advisory Committee remains concerned that resource estimates under the programme budget and 2021 and 2022 commitment authorities have consistently exceeded actual requirements and the expenditure level has consistently been below the already reduced amounts approved by the Assembly or agreed to by the Fifth Committee. She reiterated the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the Assembly ask the Secretary-General to ensure a realistic budgeting approach, based on real needs and previous expenditure patterns, and consider the staffing and operational requirements of each activity.
The Advisory Committee recalls its recommendation, endorsed by Assembly resolution 76/246 (section IX), that some functions pertaining to administrative support, human resources and archival support, security services, and information technology could be consolidated within core staffing capacity, she said. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is undertaking a related analysis, also considering using existing vacant staffing capacity, and the Advisory Committee will look for the results in the next proposed programme budget for section 24 or in the next revised estimates report. Further noting that several mandates require staffing within the area of expertise provided by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), which normally seconds and funds such functions, the ACABQ believes the related funding should be provided by UN-Women, not by the programme budget resources.
Noting the time necessary to complete recruitment, the Advisory Committee recommends a vacancy factor of 50 per cent for new positions with a duration of twelve months, she said. Also noting the limited tasks and short durations, of one or two months, of some general service positions, the ACABQ recommends against such positions and recommends using existing capacity. The body’s recommendations on non-post resources pertain to section 24, Human Rights, and section 28, Global communications, with reductions under consultants, travel of representatives, travel of staff, contractual services, furniture and equipment, and general operating expenses. The proposed amounts under section 29E, Administration, Geneva, and section 34, Security and safety (in connection with general temporary assistance), should be absorbed, she said.
FELIPE MACHADO MOURIÑO (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of a group of countries (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and his own country), said the countries are firmly committed to multilateralism built on understanding and the promotion and protection of human rights. He stressed that adequate funding of the United Nations mandates is a key priority for the group of countries. Regarding the methodology presented by the Secretary-General, he noted the front-loaded costs estimated for 2023 for the execution of 16 mandates approved by the Human Rights Council, independent of the Assembly’s allocation and those made available by the Fifth Committee.
He said the Fifth Committee should present an alternative to consolidating funds and resources required for the Organization’s human rights pillar. Human rights are one of the three pillars of the United Nations system, yet the regular budget for human rights is still very limited. The allocation of resources according to needs is one of the key principles to support and guarantee a better system for guaranteeing human rights, he stressed, adding that the group of countries supports making available additional resources to ensure adequate funding for the mandates approved by Council during the year.
MEDARD AINOMUHISHA (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the African Group, reaffirmed its high regard for multilateralism and its unreserved commitment to protect and promote human rights. The Group reiterates its conviction of the principles of independence, objectivity and non-selectivity and of eliminating double standards and politicization enshrined in General Assembly resolution 60/251, which established the Human Rights Council. Noting that the primary responsibility to ensure the protection of human rights lies with the country concerned, he regretted that the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission rejected the offer of the Government of Ethiopia to complement national efforts and the previous joint investigation.
As the Group noted at the Council’s fifty-first session, the Commission produced a report that lacks the necessary evidentiary and investigation standards and overstepped its mandate, he said. The Group appreciates the Ethiopian Government’s efforts, including its access to the joint investigation conducted by the Commission and OHCHR, he said, also commending the establishment of an interministerial task force to oversee the implementation of recommendations from the joint investigation report. In both Council sessions, African Member States voted to oppose this mechanism. “We regret the Commission chose an adversarial approach in its dealings with the Government of Ethiopia,” he said.
LEMLEM FISEHA MINALE (Ethiopia), said the Assembly resolution establishing the Council says it should be guided by principles of universality, impartiality and non-selectivity to enhance the protection of all human rights. Anything in defiance of these principles is the instrumentalization of human rights to advance a political goal, she said, stressing that the body under discussion - the Commission of Experts on Human Rights in Ethiopia - is a flagrant violation of the above principles and a political calculation to intensify political aims against Ethiopia. “For African countries like mine, this is anything but an original story,” she said, adding that is why no African country voted for the resolution that created the Commission nor had several other developing countries. Noting the Commission’s term was recently extended with a margin of two votes, she said her delegation hopes this will be its last term. She noted the Ethiopian Government’s efforts to engage in a constructive dialogue and cooperate with the Commission despite its fundamental opposition to the Commission’s establishment. Yet the Commission refused to work with the Government, she said, rejecting the Commission and its work. The Assembly has the authority and responsibility to make sure its scarce resources go to legitimate causes. “Funding this Commission is not one such cause,” she said.
JAVAD MOMENI (Iran) stressed that the promotion and protection of human rights for all are hardly achievable in a politically burdened environment where confrontation, political biases and negative stereotypes prevail. Establishing an independent, international fact-finding mission, he pointed out, is another patent example of the Human Rights Council’s instrumentalization for political gains. Iran does not recognize this political mission since the Organization’s scarce resources are being utilized to cater to the political agenda of a few. The mechanism, he continued, is established only because the proponents can prove it. With no intention or motive of advancing human rights issues, it is a prime example of the abuse of the multilateral human rights system and the hubris of the mighty, he said. Its proponents have widely violated the basic human rights of his country’s people; are committing “economic terrorism” through their systematic foreign inventions, unilateral coercive measures and sanctions; manipulate the Organization’s work; and promote and institutionalize neocolonial practices. Experience has shown that financing such a political mission results in nothing but a waste of the Organization’s limited time and resources, he noted as he requested delegates to disagree with the approval of any resources for its establishment.
VADIM N. LAPUTIN (Russian Federation), describing the adoption of Human Rights Council resolutions 49/1 and S/34/1 as the ultimate expression of the West and Ukraine against his Government, said their clear aim was to distract the international community from the crimes committed by that country. Since Ukraine’s war against the Donbas region, the Russian Federation has collected evidence of crimes and sent them to specialized international institutions, including the Council. Only after the start of a special military operation did that body and other human rights organizations “wake up” and shamelessly demonstrate their “cynical bias and partisanship”, including through the creation of a “so-called independent international commission”, he noted. As such, the Russian Federation does not recognize this structure and refuses to cooperate. Turning to the adoption of Council resolution 51/25, he pointed out that its text is based on the West’s well-known insinuations, has nothing to do with human rights concerns and is another attempt to create a lever to exert pressure on his Government. “Any State that has a sovereign policy that the West deems to be inconvenient to them and to their rules-based order can find themselves in Russia’s shoes,” he warned before categorically rejecting the funding of these resolutions from the regular budget.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) expressed his surprise over the “staggering” $3.4 million requested for 2023 to implement Human Rights Council resolution 51/1 with an “exaggerated” estimated resource requirement of $2.13 million for 2024 and 16 General Temporary Assistance positions. Echoing the serious concerns of other Member States on this resolution’s budgetary implications, its unprecedented and ad hoc expansion of the Council’s mandate and the functions of a technical secretariat which was never envisaged when that body was first established, he stressed, “there appears to be no respite in sight”, adding: “At a time when the global economy has been severely impacted due to various crises and Member States are adopting austerity measures, it is our responsibility to be extra vigilant and disciplined when engaging in making budgetary provisions.” The Fifth Committee, he continued, is being asked to approve resources from a limited regular budget to implement a resolution rejected by the concerned country. This demonstrates the Council’s divisive and political nature and the duplication of work already undertaken by competent domestic procedures. Available resources and Member States’ contributions must be used in a more effective, impartial and transparent manner, he emphasized.
ESSAM ALSHAHIN (Syria), rejecting the politicization of humanitarian matters, underscored the need to respect the principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-discrimination on human rights issues. Although the Assembly resolution creating the Council emphasized that all human rights should be addressed fairly, justly and on equal footing with the same importance, practice has shown that some Western countries have chosen politicization, selectivity and double standards. They focus on specific States and situations to serve their political goals while simultaneously ignoring other situations where blatant and systematic human rights violations are in full view of the international community. He then spotlighted several resolutions concerning his country as examples of the politicized mandates being created and supported with dedicated financial resources from the Organization to serve the interventionist agendas of those resolutions’ sponsoring States. These resolutions, he noted, are based on reports which do not account for the real causes of conflict, spread misinformation and are full of accusations against his Government. In rejecting the financing of Human Rights Council resolutions 27/49, 19/50 and 26/51 from the regular budget, he called on other States to refuse double standards and dissociate human rights matters from all political considerations.
ROBERTO BAYLEY ANGELERI (Venezuela) said that as a Human Rights Council member during the last three years his delegation has worked to strengthen the body’s institutionality and other mechanisms of the universal system, based on the need for the Council to work in a balanced and impartial fashion with cooperation and dialogue between States. He reiterated his delegation’s disassociation and rejection of mechanisms and instruments created without the consent of the State of Venezuela, such as is the case with Council resolution 51/29, which manipulates and politicizes human rights, creating documents without any methodological rigor and even using tertiary sources in order to add to an internal destabilization agenda that has been clearly and widely rejected by both the Venezuelan people and the international community. He stated his delegation’s conviction to promote and protect human rights and to work towards a progressive, robust United Nations system based on the principles of universality, objectivity, non-politicization and non-selectivity, as well as transparent dialogue and cooperation.
2023 Programme budget implications: Israeli Practices
Mr. HUISMAN, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget, Department of Management, Strategy, Policy and Compliance, presented the Secretary-General’s statement (document A/C.5/77/18) on the programme budget implications of draft decision A/C.4/77/L.12/Rev.1, titled “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”. Through this text, approved by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) at its 11 November 2022 meeting, the Assembly would request the International Court of Justice to urgently render an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from Israel’s violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967. To implement the requests in the draft decision, he said the Secretary-General proposes $233,900 for 2023 under section 7 (International Court of Justice). The Assembly is requested to approve an additional appropriation in this amount, which would represent a charge against the contingency fund, as well as $21,200 under section 36 (Staff assessment), to be offset by an equivalent increase under income section 1 (Income from staff assessment).
Ms. GASPAR RUAS, ACABQ Vice-Chair, introduced its related report (document A/77/7/Add.31). The Secretary-General, she noted, indicated that the total resource requirements until 2025 are $320,900 (including $233,900 for 2023), that no provisions have been made in the proposed budget for 2023 for the implementation of activities mandated in the draft resolution and that, at this stage, it is not possible to identify activities that could be terminated, deferred, curtailed or modified during 2023. Voicing the ACABQ’s encouragement for the Secretariat to absorb to the extent possible the additional requirements within the resources of the proposed 2023 programme budget, she said the Advisory Committee recommended the Assembly approve an additional appropriation totalling $226,600 (net of staff assessment), which would represent a charge against the contingency fund if it adopts the draft resolution. This reflects the recommendation of the Advisory Committee’s report for a reduction of 10 per cent ($2,000) under contractual services for external printing, 15 per cent ($600) under contractual services for security services and 15 per cent under each of the general operating expenses for the rental of furniture and equipment ($3,300) and supplies and materials ($1,400).