10 March 2006

Fifth Committee Continues Consultations on Budget Implications of Proposed Human Rights Council

NEW YORK, 9 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon was informed that more consultations were needed on the programme budget implications of the proposed Human Rights Council.

By the terms of draft resolution A/60/L.48, the Assembly would establish a 47-member Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, in replacement of the Commission on Human Rights, to address violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and promote effective coordination and the mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system.

According to the programme budget implications contained in document A/C.5/60/28, total additional requirements for the biennium 2006-2007 would total some $4.5 million, but part of that amount would be met from the resources already approved and offset by income from staff assessment.  The balance of about $4.33 million would be subject to the procedures governing the use of the contingency fund.  In that connection, the Assembly may recall that, in its resolution 60/248, it noted that a balance of $4.97 million remains in the contingency fund.  Texts on the item were introduced on 6 March (see Press Release GA/AB/3720 for more background information).

At the outset of today's meeting, the Chef de Cabinet of the General Assembly President, Lars Hjalmar Wide, reminded the Committee that a plenary meeting of the Assembly on the draft resolution was scheduled for tomorrow.  However, the delegates were still consulting regarding the programme budget implication in connection with that resolution, and that more time was needed.  The President's Office would stay in close contact with the Chairman of the Fifth Committee, with a view to scheduling a new meeting as soon as possible.

Reporting to the Committee on the outcome of informal consultations, their coordinator, Sarah McGrath (Ireland), said that the Committee had held two informal meetings on the programme budget implications of the Human Rights Council.  Initially, one delegation had requested additional time.  Today, the Committee had been informed that more time for consultations was needed.

The representative of the United States confirmed that, indeed, his delegation needed more time for consultations on the important matter under discussion.

South Africa's representative, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said the Group had been ready to adopt the programme budget implications since Monday in order to facilitate the adoption of the draft resolution that would finalize the establishment of the Human Rights Council.  The Group was ready to endorse the request for $4.53 million, of which some $4.33 million would be charged to the contingency fund.  The Committee was unable to take action today due to the lack of instructions on behalf of one delegation.  Her Group supported the reform of the United Nations, including its human rights machinery.  Action was needed to ensure that the human rights machinery would carry out its functions without interruption.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Austria said the Union supported the programme budget implications.  In fulfilling its mandate, the Fifth Committee worked on a basis of consensus and discussions on the budget implications were still ongoing.  The President of the General Assembly had advised the Committee that a formal meeting on the item could be postponed.

Mexico's representative said the Secretary-General's report on the programme budget implications for draft resolution L.48 was clear and the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) was even clearer.  He favoured the adoption of the reports' conclusions.  The Fifth Committee had already fulfilled its task to carry out an examination of the draft resolution's budgetary consequences.  He had heard no objections to the technical and financial implications the Secretary-General had proposed and supported adoption of the draft resolution.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at a date to be announced.

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