16 October 2001


NEW YORK, 15 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of this afternoon’s address by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly, introducing the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003:

Mr. Chairman, let me first thank you for your kind words and your congratulatory message. I think that the words of congratulations go to all of us. We were all honoured and I can assure you we in the Secretariat can do even better if the Fifth Committee cooperates with us.

As Secretary-General and Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations, I have the honour to present to you my proposed programme budget for the biennium 2002-2003.

I am proposing a budget totalling $2,519 million, which represents a 0.5 per cent real resource reduction, that is to say, virtually the same level, in dollars, as the last biennium. Of course, as is the practice, the proposed programme budget will be re-costed again before its adoption by the Assembly in December.

My proposals call for small but important increases in certain priority areas, such as international peace and security; the promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development; the development of Africa; the promotion of human rights; the coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts; the promotion of justice and international law; disarmament; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Internal oversight will also receive a modest increase. And we have made provision for expenditures for special political missions which will be extended or approved in the course of the next biennium.

As in previous programme budgets, resources have been included for learning and training programmes to ensure that staff and managers have the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs. And we shall continue making substantial investments to improve our information technology infrastructure and capacity, in order to make ourselves more effective in an increasingly connected world.

And money has also been allocated for activities relating to events which will be held in 2002, notably the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development. If properly managed, this Conference -- which will take place next March in Monterrey, Mexico -- could make a crucial difference to the achievement of our millennium development targets.

The budget also reflects the ongoing reform effort, including, for the first time, indicators of expected achievements, so that you will be better able to measure our success in delivering what we promise.

As you examine my proposals for the next biennium, I appeal to you to also consider, positively and without delay, my request for resources to implement the second phase of the peacekeeping reform process. I welcome the steps that have already been taken to respond to the recommendations of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations. But we must do more if we really want to make the Organization more effective in its primary task of keeping the peace.

Another fundamental requirement for the effective functioning of our operations is staff security -- a matter to which I personally attach great importance. I have presented you with a set of proposals. We have reached agreement on the cost-sharing formula, and I have given you the further information that you requested. I hope very much that you will now make a final decision on the security management system and related resources, including the appointment of a full-time Security Coordinator.

There is another appeal I would like to make today, and that is that you ensure that this Organization continues to have a home worthy of it. To refurbish this superb Headquarters complex, while meeting modern security standards -- whose urgency has, of course, been cruelly emphasized by the events of 11 September -- we will have to rely heavily on Member States' support. The conceptual design plan and cost analysis for the Capital Master Plan should be completed in February 2002, and I intend to submit a comprehensive report to you in the spring. I trust that these will help this Committee to determine on the best course of action for the creation of a safer and more efficient environment for the work of the Organization.

At the Millennium Summit last September, world leaders gave us a clear agenda. The priorities they set out are no less important today than they were before the tragic events of 11 September.

Over the past five years, I have striven to make the United Nations better able to achieve those objectives, and to respond to the increasing demands placed upon it.

We have streamlined management procedures, improved the structure of the Secretariat, introduced cabinet-style management, and greatly improved coordination among the members of the United Nations family -– particularly through the establishment of a common Development Assistance Framework at the country level.

The establishment of the Executive Committees, with respect to Peace and Security, Development, Economic and Social Affairs, and Humanitarian Affairs with Human Rights as cross-cutting factor, has also helped to ensure inter-agency coordination at all levels.

We will continue our efforts to equip the Organization to operate more efficiently and effectively. Human resources management reform, modernization of our procedures and processes, and more efficient use of information technology will remain our priorities.

We have done a lot, and I am committed to doing more. But we must also be realistic.

During the last six years, the United Nations has had absolutely no budgetary growth. Even in dollar terms, our total budget is lower today than it was in 1994-1995.

We have been able, so far, to absorb the effects of inflation and a large number of unfunded mandates, through careful management of resources and prioritization.

With various reforms, efficiency measures and new technologies, we have managed, to a large extent, to do more with less. Despite our difficulties in coping with stagnant budgets and late payment of dues, we have carried on serving you, the Member States, and the peoples of the world.

We can do more with less, but only up to a point. Sooner or later, the quality of our work must suffer.

Further budgetary constraints would seriously compromise our ability to deliver the services expected of us, particularly when Member States impose new mandates on us without new resources.

It is time to sit together and review carefully, in detail, our programme of work:

-- Are all the meetings you are holding really indispensable?
-- Don't some of the reports you are requesting duplicate others?
-- Are the resources allocated in the most productive way?
-- Could they not be applied more usefully to priorities in keeping with the Millennium Declaration?

Please ask yourselves whether all the mandates you have entrusted to us are really important.

Above all, please make sure that resources are available for what you consider to be high-priority areas.

To further facilitate the strategic redeployment of resources, I had proposed time limits or "sunset provisions" for new initiatives involving organizational structures or major commitments of funds. The General Assembly has not yet accepted this proposal. I urge you to give it serious thought.

This Organization must be capable of playing the role that the world's peoples expect of it. It must become a more effective instrument for pursuing the priorities outlined by our governments. The proposals I have presented to you are designed exactly for that aim.

We, in the Secretariat, will continue to do our best to serve your interests and those of your peoples with professionalism and efficiency. But ultimately, whether we have the strong organization that our peoples need depends on the willingness of our governments to give us the means to do what they expect of us.

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