Press Releases

    15 December 2004

    Budget Committee Approves 2004-2005 Financing for Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda Tribunals

    NEW YORK, 14 December (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning recommended to the General Assembly revised financing for the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Tribunal for Rwanda. The Committee also considered the first performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005 and reports on the United Nations Web site.

    By the draft texts approved by the Committee, the Assembly would decide on a revised appropriation for 2004-2005 of $329.32 million gross ($298.44 million net) for the Special Account for the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal, and $255.91 million gross ($231.51 million net) for the Special Account for the Rwanda Tribunal. The revisions included changes with respect to exchange rates, as a result of the weakening of the United States dollar vis-à-vis the euro, and provision for the Tribunals’ Investigations Divisions for 2005.

    In both texts, the Assembly would urge Member States to pay their assessed contributions on time, as the “precarious financial situation of the Tribunal” and the levels of unpaid assessed contributions had resulted in a freeze imposed by the Secretariat on the Tribunals, which was having a negative impact on the completion strategies. It would request the Secretary-General to make every effort to ensure that areas critical to the successful completion of the mandate of the Tribunals were exempt from any freezes.

    The first performance report on the 2004-2005 programme budget, which was introduced by United Nations Controller Jean-Pierre Halbwachs, identifies adjustments for inflation and exchange rate variations, as well as unforeseen and extraordinary items and additional mandates approved by the General Assembly and the Security Council after the adoption of the budget. Such a report is normally submitted at the end of the first year of the biennium. The revised requirements under the expenditure sections amount to some $3.35 billion, an increase of $172 million vis-à-vis the appropriation level approved in June 2004 (or $190.3 million more than the initial appropriation approved in December 2003).

    Introducing a related report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), its Chairman, Vladimir Kuznetsov, said the Advisory Committee was disappointed with the apparent reluctance of the Secretariat thus far to comply with the Assembly’s directives in resolution 58/270 by which it was given greater flexibility, on an experimental basis, in redeployment of posts. Greater efforts should be made to utilize the flexibility given to the Secretary-General in implementing mandated programmes, rather than proceeding automatically to propose new posts.

    The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, noted that the initial appropriation for 2002-2003 had been about $2.63 billion and that, by the time the decision would be made next year for the next biennium, the Committee would be looking at proposals in the region of $3.7 billion. The delegations of the Union collectively paid 37 per cent of those costs and the $1 billion-plus increase in just four years was a significant challenge for them.

    He noted with concern the comments of the Secretariat that the freeze on General Service recruitment had led to a gradual increase in the realized monthly General Service vacancy rate and to difficulties in implementing planned programmes of work. That, of course, had not been the intention of the proposal, he said, which aimed at encouraging a reduced dependence on General Service staff across the board through better management and increased use of information and communication technology by Professional-level staff.

    Qatar’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted that, depending upon the outcome of considerations not reflected in the report, the budget might actually increase by as much as $312 million, while the report reflected an increase of $172 million.

    As the Committee turned to the report on the efforts to strengthen the United Nations Web site, several speakers agreed with the representative of the United States, who stressed that the site could be seen as one of the major accomplishments of the United Nations over the last years. It had been very useful to the Organization, the delegates and peoples around the world. Moreover, it had been accomplished on a relatively small budget.

    However, several delegates felt that more needed to be done to achieve the goals of multilingualism, and the representative of Cuba said that the Committee needed to take a decision that would truly contribute towards full and complete equality among the Organization’s six official languages.

    In that connection, Syria’s representative said that, despite all efforts, there was an imbalance in the capacity in all languages. There was stark difference in the quality of the Web site in the five official languages, compared to English. As it was particularly true in the case of the Arabic language, it was important to ensure the quality of that page. It was very clear from the report that, in the light of the Department’s inability to further redeploy posts, it was necessary to allocate staff to the Web site.

    Also speaking this morning were representatives of Nigeria (on behalf of the African Group), China, Tunisia, Japan and Canada.

    Responses to questions and comments from the floor were provided by the Director of the Programme and Budget Division, Warren Sach.

    The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 15 December, to take action on two draft texts and to consider the programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005.

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