SOUTH AFRICA PARTICIPATES IN AU TRADE MINISTERS’ MEETING

PRETORIA, Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, is in Niger where he will participate in the 4th African Union (AU) Ministers of Trade Meeting, which gets underway today.

Progress made in the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) negotiations will be among the issues that the two-day Ministerial meeting will consider, which gets underway in Niger’s capital Niamey.

Friday’s meeting in the West African country was preceded by the 8th CFTA Negotiating Forum and a meeting of Senior Trade Officials.

The CFTA negotiations were launched during the 25th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government on 15 June 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The decision of the summit constitutes an attempt to fast�track the establishment of the African Economic Community (AEC) and to harness the benefits of an integrated and fast-growing African market of more than one billion people.

The aim of the AEC is to promote economic, social and cultural development as well as African economic integration in order to increase self-sufficiency and endogenous development, and create a framework for development, mobilisation of human resources and material.

Meanwhile, the third meeting of the AU Ministers of Trade held in Niamey, Niger, in June 2017 adopted the Modalities for Tariff Negotiations and the Modalities for Trade in Services Negotiations.

Earlier, Minister Davies said this will facilitate the exchange of tariff and services offers, as well as the finalisation of the CFTA Agreement. The Minister also emphasised the importance of enhancing intra-Africa trade and investment, and regional economic integration through the CFTA.

Minister Davies reiterated that South Africa is committed to a coordinated strategy that will boost intra-Africa trade and build an integrated market in Africa that will see a market of over 1 billion people and approximately US$2.6 trillion.

President of Niger Issoufou Mahamadou was mandated, during the 28th Ordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government, to champion the process of the CFTA negotiations.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICA ALL SET TO SAY GOODBYE TO 2017 IN STYLE!

JOBURG, Joburg’s rich diversity of cultures will once again be on display when the annual Joburg Carnival and New Year’s Eve events take place on 31 December 2017.The City of Joburg says it is making this year’s festivities all about South Africa’s pop…

Amid Divisions over Jerusalem, Korean Nuclear Programme, General Assembly Hears Defence of Diplomacy, Dialogue to End Crisis, Put World on Sustainable Path

Secretary-General, Other Leaders Raise Alarm about Climate Change, Terrorism, Warning Safety of Millions Dependent on Robust Action, Funding

Convening for its seventy-second session amid a multilateral system overwhelmed by crises, the General Assembly heard world leaders defend diplomacy and dialogue while expressing a strong will to galvanize support to confront climate threats, resolve languishing conflicts and build a sturdy path towards sustainable development for all.

Along with a series of high-level events on some of those pressing matters, the Assembly convened in December a rare emergency meeting on the status of Jerusalem, during which it decided to ask nations not to establish diplomatic missions in the historic city of Jerusalem, as delegates had warned that the recent decision by the United States to do so risked igniting a religious war across the already turbulent Middle East and even beyond.

The Assembly declared null and void any actions intended to alter Jerusalem’s character, status or demographic composition, by the terms of the draft resolution Status of Jerusalem, adopted by a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 9 against (Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Togo, United States), with 35 abstentions. The Assembly also demanded that they comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions and work to reverse the negative trends imperilling a two State resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Addressing the general debate for the first time since taking office, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized that conflict was spreading, inequality growing and the climate changing while people around the world were hurting and angry. We are a world in pieces, he said. Trust within and among countries is being driven down by those who demonize and divide.

Furthermore, global anxieties about nuclear weapons were at their highest in decades, he went on to say. Condemning missile tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he urged that country to comply with Security Council resolutions and stressed we must not sleepwalk our way into war.

Raising a range of critical concerns, he said more must be done to address the threat of terrorism by examining the roots of radicalization, including high levels of youth unemployment. Political solutions were needed in South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and beyond. On climate change dangers, he said science is unassailable and it was time to act. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development served as a blueprint to solve challenges, including inequality in a world where eight men still held the same wealth as half of humanity.

Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia) said that in recent years, some 65 million people had been forced to flee their homes. In conflict, civilians rather than armed soldiers paid the heaviest price. And still, too much time and money was being spent reacting to conflicts and not enough on prevention.

The United Nations was not made for diplomats or dignitaries � it was made for people, he said. Indeed, the Organization would be tested by how it addressed the plight of millions. We cannot turn this into an exercise of bureaucracy, he said, adding that the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change could not be met without adequate financing. We cannot sit and wait patiently for trillions of dollars to materialize.

During six days of debate during which world leaders criticized both the United Nations and one another, some expressed concern over allegations levied against their countries. Many called for United Nations reform, stressed that climate change must be attributed to nations emitting dangerous levels of pollution and urged rich countries to help build a fairer world order. Meanwhile, in his first speech to the Assembly, the President of the United States struck a notably different tone compared to recent years.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States warned that if forced to defend itself or its allies against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, his country would have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. He condemned that country’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, saying that those weapons now threatened the entire world. President Trump also said it was far past time to address the threat posed by Iran, which continued to fund terrorism, support the Syrian regime and finance Yemen’s civil war. We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities, Mr. Trump said, characterizing the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme as an embarrassment. The United States would no longer enter deals from which it received nothing, he explained, pledging to always put America first.

Ri Yong Ho, Foreign Minister of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said that his country had a right to defend itself as outlined in the United Nations Charter. The possession of nuclear deterrence by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a righteous self-defensive measure intended to establish a balance of power with the United States, he explained, emphasizing that the United States would now think twice before launching a military provocation.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said it would be a pity if the Joint Plan of Action was destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics. Iran would not be the first to violate the pact, he declared, adding that his country would nevertheless respond decisively and resolutely to its violation. By violating the agreement, the new United States Administration would only destroy its credibility and undermine international confidence.

Against that backdrop, some Heads of State defended diplomacy and multilateralism, with Foreign Minister Margot WallstrAlm of Sweden saying the world was facing a critical and opportune time to come together. Unless countries grasped that chance, they would face the consequences. It was simple. Going it alone was not an option. This is the moment for multilateralism, not unilateralism. President Emmanuel Macron of France, while respectfully noting the decision of the United States to pull out from the Paris Agreement, emphasized that the accord was not up for renegotiation. Taking it apart would demolish the existing pact between States � and between generations, he added.

In similar vein, several Caribbean delegations described the death and destruction wrought by the 2017 hurricane season. Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said that half of his two-island nation had been completely decimated by Hurricane Irma. Two category 5 hurricanes hitting the Caribbean in just 12 days could no longer be dismissed as vagaries of the weather, he said. Echoing that sentiment, Deputy Prime Minister Louis Straker of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said that any attempt to disavow the Paris Agreement was an act of hostility and an insult to the intelligence of the peoples of island States.

President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia stressed that inequality � whether spurred by the destruction of the environment, greed, inequality � was immoral. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria added that many of the globe’s woes stemmed from widening inequalities between rich and poor countries that were also underlining root causes of competition for resources, and anger leading to spiralling instability. Urging wealthy countries to carry their share of the burden, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey called on the European Union to make good on its pledge to help his country feed, shelter and care for three million Syria refugees.

On the question of Palestine, President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt stressed that it is time to permanently overcome the barrier of hatred. While peace would eliminate one of the main pretexts used by terrorists in the Middle East, responsibility must be shared widely. We in the Muslim world need to face our reality and work together to rectify misconstrued notions which have become an ideological pretext for terrorism, he said.

The General Assembly also held several high-level events during that week. On 26 September and amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, ministers and representatives of 46 Member States, delegations, United Nations system and civil society took the floor to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Many called for firm political will to advance towards the total elimination of all nuclear weapons. The only world that is safe from the use of nuclear weapons is a world that is completely free of nuclear weapons, said Secretary General Guterres.

On 27 September, the Assembly endorsed the political declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Member States agreed to address factors that increased people’s vulnerability to trafficking, including poverty, unemployment, conflict and gender discrimination. It is so important to hear the voice of survivors, emphasized Grizelda Grootboom, a civil society representative from South Africa, as she described her emotional personal experience working in brothels and as a drug trafficker for her pimps. Secretary-General Guterres said tens of millions of people around the world were victims and that countless businesses in both the global North and South benefited from that misery.

As the main part of the session got under way, speakers continued to call for unity even as rifts between nations widened on several critical issues. Debate emerged during the Assembly’s second plenary meeting, with countries divided on whether to include a new agenda item on the concept of the responsibility to protect. Concerns about selectivity and double standards emerged as the Assembly considered the report of the Human Rights Council, Security Council reform and its own revitalization. While delegates welcomed historic indictments by the International Criminal Court and other judicial bodies, the latter part of the session was dominated by the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and by expanding political and humanitarian crises in the region.

Intense debate in the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) spanned a range of pressing issues, from divergent views over the newly adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to alarmed calls for action to address the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s testing activities. That crisis should serve as a wake-up call for Member States, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, said, with delegates agreeing that it illustrated the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its verification regime. Overcoming the languishing impasse in the disarmament machinery was also discussed, with representatives stressing that political will was the key to advancing gains. Towards that end, the Committee approved 58 draft resolutions and decisions on a broad range of concerns, from addressing chemical weapon threats to reigning in the illicit arms trade, including new texts on the role of science and technology in disarmament efforts and on further practical measures to prevent an arms race in outer space.

Underscoring sluggishness in global economic growth, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) focused on bolstering efforts to implement the ambitious 2030 Agenda. With development hampered by weak investment, low productivity, economic uncertainty and climate change, delegates noted that the international community had fallen behind in eradicating poverty, hunger and malnutrition. In tackling slow growth, they highlighted the need to reverse a decline in development financing, especially for least developed countries, tackle unsustainable debt, open up trade and reform the international financial system. Speakers also stressed the importance of South-South cooperation and innovative financing with outside partners, including the private sector. Pointing to the devastating effects of climate patterns, they urged financial institutions to make recovery financing accessible for middle-income countries. Addressing those and other vital concerns in meeting development goals, the Committee sent 41 resolutions to the General Assembly for adoption.

Unilateralism found many expressions in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), with States unafraid to stand alone throughout the substantive segment as they discussed social development, crime and drugs, women’s advancement, and the rights of children and indigenous peoples in the broader promotion of fundamental freedoms. Over eight weeks, the Committee produced 59 resolutions, most by consensus but several only after contentious votes on amendments to them, illustrating a general theme: while delegates might agree on larger, abstract goals, they were divided on the best path to achieve them.

Dozens of petitioners addressed the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), which held 28 formal meetings to consider topics including decolonization, Middle East questions, peacekeeping operations, special political missions, atomic radiation and questions relating to information. The Committee also held numerous interactive dialogues as well as a joint meeting with the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on outer space activities. The session culminated in the approval of 38 draft resolutions and two draft decisions for adoption by the General Assembly.

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) approved 15 resolutions and 2 decisions for adoption by the Assembly, including a $5.397 billion programme budget for 2018-2019 � 5 per cent less than the final budget approved for the 2016-2017 biennium and $193 million below the $5.405 billion proposed 2018-2019 budget unveiled by the Secretary-General. In doing so, the Committee reached consensus on across-the-board reductions in such areas as contractual services, furniture and equipment, consultants and travel, as well as reduced funding for special political missions. Examining the Secretary-General’s management reform package, it agreed that the Organization should adopt a yearly budget cycle from 2020 with a view to simplifying and streamlining its work. The Committee also approved draft resolutions for funding the newly-established Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate, plus texts on human resources, flexible workplace strategies at Headquarters, the Umoja enterprise resource management project and the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, among other topics.

While fiery discussions on the rule of law and the International Law Commission’s use of a recorded vote during its consideration of immunity tested the Sixth Committee’s (Legal) tradition of consensus, delegates also reaffirmed their commitment to international law education, tackled a wide-range of topics as diverse as international trade and protection of atmosphere, and analysed the best approach to support the fight against impunity. Those vigorous debates resulted in the Committee recommending 17 resolutions and 6 decisions to the General Assembly, all of which were adopted without a vote.

Plenary

The General Assembly opened its seventy second session � the first to begin under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ tenure � on 12 September. In opening remarks that day, Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia) said the session would see several historic events, including the negotiation of a new intergovernmental compact on migration and the signing of the recently negotiated Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Member States would also work to maintain momentum for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with support from the United Nations system. Welcoming the Secretary General’s reform efforts, some of which would be reflected in the Assembly’s own revitalization process, he declared: We must follow our commitments from yesterday with actions now, adding that the Assembly should contribute to maintaining a fresh outlook at the United Nations.

Despite those calls for unity of purpose, however, polarization on several key issues emerged on 15 September, during an organizational meeting convened to adopt the Assembly’s work programme and provisional agenda. Debate erupted over a proposed new agenda item � namely, the concept of the responsibility to protect, which would obligate States to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and could allow for United Nations action in situations where that obligation was not met. Favoured by some States, the item also drew strong condemnation, as delegates including those of Syria, Cuba and the Russian Federation warned that it could be easily manipulated to further countries’ own political goals. Other speakers, however, described the responsibility to protect as the cornerstone of the Secretary General’s new conflict prevention agenda. The Assembly ultimately voted to include the item on its agenda, with States voting by 113 in favour to 21 against, with 17 abstentions, to do so.

Calls for enhanced multilateralism dominated the Assembly’s annual high level debate, held from 19 to 25 September. On its closing day, however, President Lajcak acknowledged that not all remarks had been positive, with many officials having criticized both other States and the United Nations itself. Delegates also rebutted allegations, levied by others during the debate, that their Governments had violated human rights or sponsored terrorism. Myanmar’s delegate, recalling that some had accused his country of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, warned that such a term must not be used lightly. Venezuela’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, joined others in condemning United States President Donald Trump’s threats of war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, echoing former President Hugo Chavez’s famous 2006 declaration that the stink of sulphur had returned to the Assembly with President Trump’s arrival.

Among several historic bright spots over the course of the session was the Assembly’s consideration of the final report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, established in 1993 to prosecute serious crimes committed during the Balkan wars. Briefing the Assembly for the last time as the Tribunal prepared to close its doors on 31 December, President Carmel Agius recalled that it had brought to justice 161 individuals over its 24 years of work. Many delegates hailed the Court as having blazed a trail of remarkable firsts while also making significant contributions to international jurisprudence. The Tribunal’s two remaining cases, involving the accused war criminals Ratko Mladic, Jadranko Prlic and five of the latter’s associates � including Slobodan Praljak, who would later commit suicide by poisoning � were slated to be finalized before the end of 2017.

The Assembly also considered the reports of the International Court of Justice (28 October) and the International Criminal Court (30 October), with the latter’s President, Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, declaring: The Court is not perfect, but [] it is delivering. Since 2016, convictions or sentences had been issued against six persons, including Jean Pierre Bemba, former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Court had also delivered its first verdict regarding the destruction of cultural property, convicting a former Al Qaida affiliate group member of directing attacks against religious and historic sites in Mali. In the subsequent debate, many speakers welcomed reversals by the Gambia and South Africa of earlier decisions to withdraw from the Court’s Rome Statute, while calling on Burundi to do the same.

In three separate meetings, the Assembly � convening concurrently with, but separate from, the Security Council � struggled to fill five seats on the International Court of Justice. On 9 November, four of the five judges � Ronny Abraham (France), Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf (Somalia), AntAnio Augusto Cancado Trindade (Brazil) and Nawaf Salam (Lebanon) � were elected, having received the required absolute majority of votes in both the Assembly and the Council. However, in several rounds of voting on 9 and 13 November, the two bodies failed to reach an agreement on the final vacancy. The deadlock between the two remaining candidates � Dalveer Bhandari of India and Christopher Greenwood of the United Kingdom � was broken on 20 November following the withdrawal of Mr. Greenwood’s candidature. Mr. Bhandari, along with the four other elected members, would begin a nine year term on the Court on 6 February 2018.

On 1 November, longstanding political divisions took centre stage as the Assembly considered its annual resolution calling on the United States to lift its decades old economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba. Historically adopted by a vote, the text � by whose terms the Assembly reaffirmed the sovereign equality of States and the importance of free trade between them � was once again favoured by most States, with only the United States and Israel voting against it. That vote marked a departure from 2016, when the United States had chosen to abstain for the first time amid improved diplomatic relations between Cuban President RaA�l Castro and then United States President Barack Obama. The American people [] have chosen a new President, the representative of the United States said this year, referring to the reversal. In response, Cuba’s Foreign Minister said President Donald Trump lacked any authority to question Cuba, and described the blockade as brutal, illegal and obsolete.

Concerns about selectivity continued to emerge over the next few weeks as the Assembly considered the work of the Human Rights Council (2 November), reform of the Security Council (7 8 November) and revitalization of the Assembly itself (13 14 November). Following a briefing by Human Rights Council President Joaquin Alexander Maza Martelli (El Salvador), the representative of the European Union said the Geneva based body had addressed violations around the globe and given a voice to the most vulnerable. However, some delegates � including those of Syria, Iran and Israel � raised alarms over double standards in the Council’s work. Meanwhile, on 7 November, the Assembly heard expressions of frustration that a lack of political will on the part of an elite few continued to stymie efforts to transform the Security Council into a more modern, fair and representative body. As the Assembly turned to its own revitalization, representatives stressed that the organ must remain a forum for constructive dialogue and urged nations to resist drawing red lines or clinging to static positions in negotiations.

Member States considered issues related to nuclear energy on 10 November, as the Assembly considered the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s annual report. Echoing statements delivered at the Assembly’s 26 September high level summit on nuclear disarmament, many speakers said the peaceful use of nuclear energy could help achieve important development and environmental goals. Many expressed concerns over recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, calling on Pyongyang to immediately abandon such activities. Representatives also cited the IAEA’s certification that Iran was complying with its obligations under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. That country’s delegate stressed that the agreement � also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal � could neither be renegotiated nor unilaterally annulled at the behest of one of its signatories.

Taking up the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East on 29 and 30 November, the Assembly adopted six related resolutions, all by recorded votes. Among those was a text titled Jerusalem, by whose terms the Assembly stated that any actions by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Holy City were illegal and therefore null and void. Convening on the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations resolution that had partitioned Palestine with the aim of creating two separate States, the Assembly heard expressions of concern that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land continued to thwart that goal. The people of Palestine will not disappear, nor will they surrender to a dismal fate, said the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, emphasizing that Israel’s illegal settlement expansion, human rights abuses and refusal to heed the international community’s calls were seriously jeopardizing the pursuit of peace.

Meeting on 6 December � the same day President Donald Trump announced the United States’ intention to become the first country to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel � the Assembly adopted a resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) by a recorded vote. By its terms, the Assembly welcomed the OIC’s work in combatting violent extremism and terrorism. Syria’s representative, however, said the OIC’s host nation, Saudi Arabia, was in fact the chief sponsor of most terrorism around the globe. Citing the United States decision on Jerusalem as a historical turning point, he also asked: What is the OIC doing today on behalf of Jerusalem?, adding that Saudi Arabia had pushed OIC members to accept a communique welcoming the United States aggression against Syria.

On 1 December, States diverged in their interpretations of a new resolution titled Effects of terrorist acts directed against religious sites on the culture of peace. By the terms of the text � which was drafted in the wake of a 24 November terrorist attack against a mosque in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and adopted without a vote � the Assembly condemned terrorism directed against religious sites as well as any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted an incitement to violence. While many speakers welcomed the resolution’s strong message, some raised concerns over its fast tracked drafting, which had lacked any significant negotiation. Meanwhile, others expressed alarm over its use of unbalanced language and its omission of references to human rights.

During a rare emergency meeting 21 December, the Assembly decided to ask nations not to establish diplomatic missions in the historic city of Jerusalem, as delegates warned that the recent decision by the United States to do so risked igniting a religious war across the already turbulent Middle East and even beyond. By a recorded vote of 128 in favour to 9 against (Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Togo, United States), with 35 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the resolution Status of Jerusalem, by which it declared null and void any actions intended to alter Jerusalem’s character, status or demographic composition.

Calling on all States to refrain from establishing embassies in the Holy City, the Assembly also demanded that they comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions and work to reverse the negative trends imperilling a two State solution to the conflict between Israel and the State of Palestine, both of which call Jerusalem/Al Quds Al Sharif their capital.

America will put its embassy in Jerusalem, said Nikki R. Haley (United States). In addition, her country’s citizens would remember the countries that had voted on the draft resolution and had disrespected the United States.

Riad Al Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, said the United States’ decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital and to move its embassy there was an aggressive and dangerous move that could inflame tensions and lead to a religious war. The text’s adoption echoed the voice of the majority of the international community on the question of Jerusalem. The decision would have no impact on the Holy City’s status and compromised the role of the United States in the peace process.

Danny Danon (Israel) said Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the State of Israel and that his country knew the Holy City was sacred to billions worldwide and encouraged everyone to visit and pray there. However, one sided anti Israel resolutions had been pushing the Middle East peace process back for years and the newly adopted draft resolution only encouraged more violence and instability, he said, warning that the text sanctioned Palestinians to continue on a dangerous path.

First Committee

Despite differences on the way forward, delegates of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) expressed a common desire to achieve a nuclear weapon free world. During a session that heard 131 statements and approved 58 draft resolutions and decisions, 28 without a vote, many speakers stressed a need for a new approach to nuclear disarmament made all the more urgent by recent testing activities conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, cautioned that crisis should serve as a wake up call to Member States, as the world was facing unprecedented danger. With some delegates saying the situation illustrated the importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and its verification regime, the Committee approved a related draft that had the Assembly urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and all annex 2 States, to promptly sign and ratify the Treaty.

But, on the heels of the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at a United Nations conference in July, divergent views emerged. Non nuclear weapon States held up the instrument as a lightning rod for hope and some delegates pointed to awarding the 201 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons as validation of an increasingly powerful movement. Some nuclear weapon States said new language referring to the treaty had affected their vote on several draft texts, emphasizing that the Conference on Disarmament was the sole negotiating platform for such international instruments.

Other delegates, including Canada’s representative, remained unconvinced that the new instrument would be effective, asserting that the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons remained the cornerstone for progress. Meanwhile, many delegates said fresh efforts to improve arsenals compromised the non proliferation regime’s credibility and presented a real disarmament setback, with the Permanent Observer of the Holy See saying nuclear Powers were racing to modernize weaponry, making clear that atomic bomb use remained a real option.

Assessing new and emerging threats, several delegates expressed concern about cyberspace and the potential misuse of information and communication technology to the detriment of international peace and security. Without the proper governance in place, even the most positive technological advances could be repurposed with dangerous consequences, the Committee heard.

Such advancements at a time of global instability could lead to a potentially combustible situation, warned Ms. Nakamitsu. As the United Nations grappled with such challenges, she urged the Committee to pick up the pace of its work, stressing that the pace of technological innovation had outstripped the pace of international deliberations. Cross border terrorist threats, punctuated by regional tensions, ignited new fears about weapons of mass destruction. In that context, issues pertaining to the Middle East featured prominently in discussions, with recent reports on chemical weapon use in Syria central to the discourse. Consensus on a draft resolution condemning the use of such weapons eluded the Committee for a second year as contested language on Syria triggered a spirited exchange among Member States.

Delegates also traded views throughout the session on a host of other critical issues, including nuclear weapon free zones, fissile material, humanitarian challenges posed by improvised explosive devices and the detrimental effects of unregulated arms transfers. On the latter issue, a number of speakers underscored the need for major weapons exporters to join the Arms Trade Treaty. Citing the astronomical proportion of global defence budgets, Nigeria’s representative condemned the enormous resources devoted to nuclear arsenals by nuclear weapon States while some delegates expressed concerns about the burgeoning $1.7 trillion military expenditures surpassing development spending. The illusion of security that nuclear weapons provided must be exposed, otherwise other countries might be tempted to develop them, Brazil’s delegate said, adding that it was unacceptable that arsenals continued to play a key role in military strategies.

The Committee Chairperson was Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom (Iraq). Serving as Vice Chairs were Alfredo Fernando Toro Carnevali (Venezuela), Terje Raadik (Estonia) and Georg Sparber (Liechtenstein). Martin Eric Sipho Ngundze (South Africa) was Rapporteur.

Second Committee

As the international community geared up to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) focused on major obstacles in its path, including sluggish economies, persistent poverty, climate change and meagre resources.

Briefing the Committee’s general debate, Columbia University Economics Professor Arvind Panagariya hailed the global agreement on development goals, but noted that modes of reaching them remained in dispute. The international community must focus on rapid economic growth by expanding manufacturing, exports, services, urbanization and wages. Similarly, Liu Zhenmin, Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted that economic progress was far below needed levels to meet 2030 targets. Weak investment and low productivity had hampered development, compounded by high levels of economic uncertainty, declines in average income and extreme weather patterns.

Emphasizing that about 1.6 billion people still lived in multidimensional poverty, speakers said the world was also behind in eradicating hunger and malnutrition. The number of chronically undernourished people had increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.

Delegates repeatedly highlighted the need to increase development financing in tackling the global economic slowdown and natural hazards, especially in small, vulnerable countries. They also pointed to the imbalance between core (general) and non core (project specific) United Nations funding, which increased operational costs and fragmented the development system. Particularly challenged was the Group of Least Developed Countries, where total official development assistance (ODA) had declined from $41 billion in 2014 to $37.3 billion in 2015, speakers stressed. Also struggling was the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, where investments were urgently needed in transport, energy and communications � vital in reducing the high costs of trade.

With development financing on the decline, attaining development goals meant scaling up on alliances and partnerships, especially with the private sector, delegates argued. Moving from philanthropic funding to innovative financing � putting markets to work for sustainable development � would be critical in development planning. Compounding meagre resources were unsustainable developing country debt levels, the inequitable trading system and unilateral sanctions, they noted. Moreover, globalization had failed to bring sweeping benefits, as several middle income countries were now suffering from the so called megatrends of labour market shifts, rapid technological advances and climate change.

Hazardous climate patterns plunged 26 million people into poverty each year, delegates stressed, with annual average loss in less developed countries more than 20 per cent of social expenditure. Efforts had been made to combat the phenomenon, they agreed, but those endeavours would fail unless the world changed production and consumption levels, promoted renewable energy and protected oceans. Middle income nations were particularly hard hit by natural hazards, as they were unable to access concessional financing for rebuilding, speakers said. It was unthinkable that States reduced to abject poverty within hours of a hurricane were barred from accessing needed funding, forcing them to borrow at market rates.

As in previous sessions, delegates also expressed concern about Israel occupation and natural resource exploitation in the occupied Palestinian Territories and the Syrian Golan, which continued to hamper social and economic development. In tackling 2030 Agenda roadblocks, the Committee approved 41 resolutions, including texts focused on liberalizing trade, strengthening multilateral finance, avoiding unsustainable debt and boosting commodity trade. Other drafts sought to bolster transport links, agricultural technology and climate efforts as well as open up funding for middle income nations, increase ODA and expand South South cooperation.

The Second Committee Bureau was chaired by Sven Jurgenson (Estonia), with Cristiana Mele (Italy), Menelaos Menelaou (Cyprus) and Kimberly Louis (Saint Lucia) serving as Vice Chairs, and Theresah Chipulu Luswili Chanda (Zambia) as Rapporteur.

Third Committee

Unilateralism found many expressions in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), with States unafraid to stand alone throughout the substantive segment as they discussed social development, crime and drugs, women’s advancement, and the rights of children and indigenous peoples in the broader promotion of fundamental freedoms. Over eight weeks, the Committee produced 59 resolutions, most by consensus, but several only after contentious votes on amendments to them, illustrating a general theme: while delegates might agree on larger, abstract goals, the were divided on the best path to achieve them.

Votes on those drafts, and States’ occasional dissociation on consensus resolutions, revealed issues that continued to garner agreement and others that sheared individual nations off their regional and political blocs. The consensus eventually reached on four texts � rights of the child, persons with disabilities, youth and the girl child � papered over divisions on the role of parents and guardians, particularly in sexuality education. All four faced amendments passed by recorded votes, forcing changes before their approval.

The willingness to stand alone was expressed in familiar refrains, with Sudan’s delegate suggesting three separate amendments to remove references to the International Criminal Court from texts on children’s rights, internally displaced persons and torture. All three proposals failed in recorded votes. States’ appetite to go it alone was also seen in calls for votes on texts usually approved by consensus, including one on drinking water and sanitation, which Kyrgyzstan rejected following the defeat in recorded votes of two amendments it had proposed.

The United States, meanwhile, bucked the trend on several occasions, requesting a vote on a draft on the World Summit for Social Development, which it opposed along with Israel, while 170 others voted in favour. Expressing regret over that request, China’s delegate said the United States was too sensitive and must learn from Beijing’s commitment to compromise.

The United States also stood out by disassociating from references to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in a draft on the protection of migrants. On a draft aimed at strengthening the United Nations role in enhancing elections and promoting democratization, the United States helped to stymie three amendments put forward by the Russian Federation that would have altered language around national electoral bodies and observer missions. In other action, the United States and Ukraine voted against a text introduced by the Russian Federation on combating the glorification of Nazism, after Washington’s copious proposal to change sections deemed dangerous to freedoms of speech, thought, expression and association was narrowly rejected.

Delegates hued to more traditional positions on all four country specific drafts � on the situations in Myanmar, Iran, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with the latter passing by consensus and several questioning the merit of targeted drafts. Myanmar’s delegate called the resolution related to his country discriminatory and procedurally unwarranted, as the issue was under the purview of the Human Rights Council.

The draft nonetheless passed on 16 November by a vote of 135 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Vietnam and Zimbabwe) with 26 abstentions, following a 25 October update by the Special Rapporteur on the situation, who pressed authorities to allow the Council’s fact finding mission access to the region and to let the Rohingya population know they were welcome to return.

In other cases, the Committee found consensus where it previously had none. A text on human rights defenders � a hard fought showdown in 2015 � was approved by consensus with nary an explanation of vote save Estonia’s delegate, on behalf of the European Union, expressing concern about qualifying language. Approval of a draft on the Human Rights Council report � by an overwhelming recorded vote of 117 in favour to 2 against (Belarus and Israel) with 66 abstentions � was less dramatic in 2017 than a year earlier, when the text faced both substantive and procedural opposition.

The Committee also found consensus on other weighty issues such as drugs and crime, approving without a vote two separate omnibus drafts titled International cooperation to address and counter the world drug problem and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, respectively. Other areas of convergence included texts on albinism, the safety of journalists and a text designating 21 August as the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.

In all, the Committee heard from 10 treaty body representatives, 35 Special Rapporteurs, 6 Independent Experts and 6 Working Group Chairs, as well as the Special Representatives on Children and Armed Conflict, and on Violence against Children. It also held dialogues with the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the High Commissioner for Refugees, and the President of the Human Rights Council.

The Third Committee Bureau was chaired by Einar Gunnarsson (Iceland), with Nebil Idris (Eritrea), Alanoud Qassim M. A. Al Temimi (Qatar) and Dora Kaszas (Hungary) serving as Vice-Chairs and Andres Molina Linares (Guatemala) as Rapporteur designate.

Fourth Committee

Many petitioners and delegates called for upholding the rights of indigenous populations over those of colonizers, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) held its annual debate on decolonization against the backdrop of preparations for a historic referendum in New Caledonia and concerns over environmental degradation, immigration and militarization in Guam.

In relation to the decades old dispute over Western Sahara, several petitioners called for a renewed spirit of compromise in negotiations on the self determination of that Non Self Governing Territory. Eric Jenson, former Head of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), recalled that the Secretary General had issued an unusually comprehensive and compelling report on that issue in April. Radically, its proposals included agreement on the form and nature of a self determination exercise, he said, pointing out that the Secretary General had appointed a new Personal Envoy to help restart the talks.

Moreover, delegates from several African countries called for greater regional cooperation for a peaceful resolution of the dispute over Western Sahara. Senegal’s representative noted that a settlement in Western Sahara could potentially lead to the resolution of other regional challenges, including terrorism, organized transboundary crime and irregular migration, among others.

Amid commemoration of the landmark Outer Space Treaty’s fiftieth anniversary, and in a break with traditional practice, the Committee took up the question of peaceful uses of outer space in a joint meeting and panel discussion with the First Committee. Officials briefing the joint session agreed that transparency on security in space as well as confidence building measures could help to reduce mishaps, misinterpretations and miscalculations in that realm.

Thomas Markram, Deputy High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, acknowledged that some aspects of the legal regime covering outers space remained largely undeveloped, including the lack of a common understanding on applying the right of self defence in accordance with international law while avoiding severe long lasting consequences. He observed that the Outer Space Treaty was not designed to resolve comprehensively all possible challenges to outer space security, adding that concerns about the weaponization of space had been left for future deliberations.

By the conclusion of its session on 10 November, the Committee recommended 38 draft resolutions and two draft decisions for adoption by the General Assembly, having tackled, in addition to those topics, its other regular agenda items: questions relating to information; United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories; peacekeeping operations; special political missions; mine action; and atomic radiation.

Alongside Rafael Dario Ramirez CarreAo (Venezuela), Committee Chair, the Fourth Committee Bureau comprised Vice Chairs Ahmed Abdelrahman Ahmed Almahmoud (United Arab Emirates), Ceren Hande Ozgur (Turkey), Yasser Halfaoui (Morocco) and Angel Angelov (Bulgaria), Rapporteur.

Fifth Committee

With a new reform minded Secretary General in place, and under pressure to rein in spending, the Fifth Committee approved 15 draft resolutions and 2 draft decisions, including a $5.397 billion budget for the 2018 2019 biennium � 5 per cent less than the final budget approved for 2016 2017, and $193 million below the proposed 2018 2019 budget which the Secretary General put before the Committee on 11 October.

The reductions were due, among other things, to across the board cutbacks in such areas as contractual services, furniture and equipment, consultants and travel. The Committee also agreed to limit spending on 34 special political missions to $508.49 million, compared with the Secretary General’s request for $636.6 million.

The proposed 2018 2019 biennium budget could be the last of its kind, after the Committee � acting on the Secretary General’s management reform proposals � agreed that the Organization should, from 2020, shift to an annual budget period with a view to simplifying and streamlining its work. The change would be initially on a trial basis, pending a final decision that would be taken during the Assembly’s seventy seventh session.

Clearly the status quo is not an option, the Secretary General told the Committee on 4 December when he introduced two reports on shifting the management paradigm at the United Nations. He argued that, in order to take effective and timely action, managers must have the authority � under clear conditions � to make decisions closer to the point of delivery. He went on to ask Member States for a broader scope of commitment authority that would allow a swifter response to unforeseen development and human rights issues.

Tasked with overseeing the Secretariat’s financing and management, including pay and conditions for its nearly 40,000 staff, the Fifth Committee met 29 times between 5 October and 23 December. From the outset, delegates called for transparency and flexibility in tackling the new budget, while at the same time voicing their frustration over the perennial problem of delayed documentation.

The Committee agreed on financial and staff resources for the newly established Office of Counter Terrorism and the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate, asked the Secretary General to pursue the implementation of flexible workplace strategies at Headquarters, and approved $62.06 million for the ongoing implementation of the Umoja enterprise resource management project. It also reached consensus on staffing and financing requirements for the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINJUSTAH), as well as the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

During its meetings, delegates emphasized that cost of living adjustments must be applied consistently throughout the United Nations system, after several Geneva based organizations and staff associations disputed an overall post adjustment decrease of 4.7 per cent for staff in that city. The International Civil Service Commission (ICSC) had recommended the decrease following a cost of living survey. The Committee also discussed strengthening measures to protect whistle blowers from retaliation.

As in years past, representatives considered the state of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund. While its assets totalled a record $62 billion at the end of October, delegates expressed concern over the quality of service it was giving to its more than 200,000 participants, as well as its failure in 2016 to meet its 3.5 per cent return on investment target.

The Committee agreed to defer consideration of the $2.31 billion overhaul of Headquarters known as the Capital Master Plan until its first resumed session in March. It did, however, debate other major renovation and construction projects. Those included an upgrade to the Bangkok headquarters of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), a proposed $14.19 modernization of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) premises in Santiago, Chile, and a sweeping renovation of the historic Palais des Nations campus in Geneva.

Comprising the Committee’s Bureau were Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon) as Chair, with Abbas Yazdani (Iran), Julie O’Brien (Ireland) and Anda Grinberga (Latvia) serving as Vice-Chairs. Felipe Garcia Landa (Mexico) was Rapporteur.

Sixth Committee

Vigorous debates on legal subtleties punctuated the Sixth Committee’s (Legal) meetings during its seventy second session, as it discussed matters such as the scope and application of universal jurisdiction, the responsibility of international organizations, and the expulsion of aliens. In particular, the subject of rule of law provoked a heated discussion, with some speakers noting that definitions of the principle varied, while others warned against its politicization. During the course of that debate, delegates spotlighted country specific initiatives that put rule of law into practice and made its application more effective.

The representative of Colombia said that a new era was emerging in his country, which was working towards judicial reform with the passage of a law that permitted the reintegration of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Arm (FARC EP) members into society. The representative of Senegal, meanwhile, noted that his country had created houses of justice, which were provided free of charge and made the judicial process available to all.

However, despite such progress, several representatives offered a note of caution, with Indonesia’s delegate recalling violations of international humanitarian law in the State of Palestine. The rule of law at the international level would always be a fiction if the international community did not minimize its politicization, she said. Zimbabwe’s representative also weighed in, stating that the rule of law should not be an abstract concept in academic discourse. The issue should not exist in a vacuum, independent of the realities on the ground. That idea was also echoed by Ronny Abraham, President of the International Court of Justice, as he addressed the Committee on the judicial practice of the Court. The trust that States placed in the International Court of Justice was vital to the future of international jurisdiction, he said, underscoring that States were sovereign entities and in full freedom to consent and not consent to the Court’s jurisdiction. Outlining several complex and contentious cases, he called on delegates to ensure that the trust of States in the Court was strengthened.

During the Committee’s annual consideration of the International Law Commission report, delegations investigated the delicate balance between codification and the progressive development of law, with speakers praising the Commission’s hard work while reminding that body of the limitations of its mandate. Almost a dozen legal matters were considered during the seven day review. Among those topics was Protection of the atmosphere, with speakers parsing legal nuances while acknowledging the urgency of the issue. Chile’s delegate emphasized that it was not enough to address the protection of the environment alone. However, the representative of the Czech Republic noted that the Commission had no competence to tackle underlying issues such as the interaction between the oceans and the atmosphere, and the impact of human activities on the climate.

The Marshall Islands’ delegate, speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, pointed out that member nations of her group were among those who had contributed the least to global warming but were now most at risk of being obliterated by the phenomenon before the century was over. She and other delegates also called for the inclusion of a new topic in the work of the Commission: the legal implications of rising sea levels.

In a significant achievement, the International Law Commission had adopted a complete set of draft articles, Crimes against humanity, during its sixty ninth session. Georg Nolte, Commission Chair, pointed out that, among the three core international crimes, only crimes against humanity lacked a treaty focused on building up national laws, national jurisdiction and inter State cooperation in the fight against impunity. Several delegates applauded the emphasis on prevention in the draft preamble and praised the draft texts for being concise.

However, during the Commission’s consideration of Immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction, the proposed draft article 7 � which addresses crimes under international law in which immunity ratione materiae does not apply � had elicited strong divergent views, leading the Commission to depart from its tradition of consensus and to adopt the text by a recorded vote. China’s delegate called for caution and prudence, saying that the draft article had been hastily adopted without thorough discussion. Germany’s representative stressed that it was States, not the Commission, that created international law. The Commission’s mandates must not be blurred, she warned, while Greece’s delegate called for a balance between respect for the sovereign equality of States and the crucial need to combat impunity for the most serious crimes under international law.

As in past sessions, the Sixth Committee’s debate on the Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law highlighted its commitment to meeting the increased need for international law training and research materials. The Programme was stepping up to that task through regional courses and online resources. Its Audiovisual Library of International Law was hailed as a practical and living tool, reaching 1.5 million users from all 193 Member States, with lectures in Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian. Further, in order to reach users in countries with limited access to reliable high speed Internet, the Codification Division had begun to make audio files of the lectures available on the Library web platform.

The Regional Courses in International Law, funded through the United Nations regular budget, had been held in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Asia Pacific in 2016 and 2017. Expressing appreciation for the foundational knowledge in international law provided by those courses, Tonga’s representative pointed out that in his small island developing State, whose legal counsels were often inundated with domestic legal affairs, the Programme played a crucial role in legal education.

During the Committee’s annual deliberation on the report on relations with the host country, various delegations raised their concerns, ranging from the question of privileges and immunities and the issuance of entry visas to travel regulations and restrictions on certain Member States. During the debate, the Russian Federation’s delegate called attention to an unprecedented violation by the host country of the immunity of mission premises, spotlighting the 2016 seizing by United States authorities of a Long Island premise that had been part of the Russian Permanent Representation to the United Nations. Nonetheless, the representative of the United States said that property did not fall within its obligations under the Headquarters Agreement or the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The Committee also got a glimpse into the fast moving currents of international commerce during its debate on the report of United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The finalization and adoption of two legislative texts addressing electronic commerce and secured transactions marked a productive year for that international trade body. While the Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records and Explanatory Notes would bring about a number of benefits to commerce due to speed and security of transmission, the Guide to Enactment of the Secured Transactions Model Law would be of key assistance to legislators. Delegates exhorted the body to continue to keep pace with rapid technological advances and diversification of trade activities.

Chairing the Sixth Committee Bureau was Burhan Gafoor (Singapore), alongside Vice Chairs Duncan Laki Muhumuza (Uganda), Angel Horna (Peru), Carrie McDougall (Australia), and Rapporteur Peter Nagy (Slovakia).

Source: United Nations

Concluding Main Part of Seventy-Second Session, General Assembly Adopts $5.397 Billion Budget for 2018-2019, as Recommended by Fifth Committee

Plenary Drafts, Outstanding Texts from Other Main Committees Also Approved

Upon the recommendation of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the General Assembly wrapped up the main part of its seventy-second session today, adopting a $5.397 billion budget for the United Nations for the 2018-2019 biennium and switching the Organization, on a trial basis, to a year-by-year budget cycle.

Describing progress made thus far, Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia) recalled that success was not measured by the number of resolutions adopted but rather the impact made on people’s lives. Our work is not yet done, he said, citing the need to finalize the Global Compact on migration and continue apace on Security Council reform. We need to talk, and more importantly, listen to one another.

The headline budget figure was 5 per cent less than the final budget approved for the 2016-2017 biennium, and $193 million below the $5.405 billion proposed 2018-2019 budget unveiled by the Secretary-General on 11 October, due among other things to across-the-board reductions in contractual services, furniture and equipment, consultants and travel, as well as reduced funding for special political missions.

Overall, the Assembly adopted 15 Fifth Committee resolutions and three decisions. Among the highlights, it approved, as part of the Secretary-General’s ambitious management reform agenda, his proposal to change the United Nations budget cycle from a biennial to an annual budget period on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020, pending a final decision at its seventy-seventh session on whether to continue that practice. The Secretary-General’s proposal was aimed at simplifying and streamlining the Organization’s management.

The Assembly decided not to implement, at present, any changes regarding expansion of exceptional budgetary authorities, unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, or the Secretary General’s limited budgetary discretion. Nor did it alter the current level of commitment authority for additional resources requirements arising from Security Council decisions.

An omnibus text, Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017, was adopted after an oral amendment, proposed by Cuba’s delegate and focused on the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, was rejected by a recorded vote of 24 against to 76 in favour, with 44 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly approved $508.49 million for 34 special political missions authorized by itself and/or the Security Council. The Secretary-General, on 15 December, had requested $636.6 million.

The Assembly also approved financial and staff resources for the newly established Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate; asked the Secretary-General to continue with the implementation of flexible workplace strategies at Headquarters in New York; approved $62.06 million in resource requirements until 31 December 2019 for the ongoing implementation of the Umoja enterprise resource management project; and expressed with serious concern the need to address myriad shortcomings at the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.

Earlier in the meeting, the Assembly took action on outstanding reports containing drafts submitted by its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) and Third Committee (Social Humanitarian and Cultural), as well as three plenary resolutions.

Among the highlights was a Third Committee resolution on the human rights situation in Myanmar, requesting the Secretary-General to appoint a special envoy to the country and calling for an end to Government military operations against the Rohingya community.

Myanmar’s delegate, before the Assembly’s adoption � by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 24 abstentions � called the text subjective, politically motivated and intended to exert unwarranted political pressure on his country. It would not promote human rights or help solve the complex situation in Rakhine State.

Following up on the major migration issues which dominated 2016, the Assembly adopted a plenary text deciding that an intergovernmental conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, would be held in Morocco on 10 and 11 December 2018.

By the terms of another plenary resolution, the Assembly decided to convene a conference to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument � under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea � on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The conference would meet for four sessions of 10 working days each, with the first taking place in the second half of 2018, the second and third in 2019, and the fourth in the first half of 2020. The Assembly requested the Secretary General to convene the first session from 4 to 17 September 2018.

Recalling that their countries were not party to the Convention, the representatives of Colombia, Venezuela and Turkey said that neither their participation in negotiations nor the outcome of those discussions could affect their positions on that framework or related agreements.

The Russian Federation’s delegate meanwhile stressed that consensus had not been reached on any possible elements of a draft text for a legally binding instrument, citing an unwillingness to strike a balance between the importance of sustainable economic activity and marine conservation.

In other action, the Assembly extended the terms of three ad litem judges of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal, whose term expires on 31 December 2017, for another year, from 1 January to 31 December 2018: Rowan Downing (Australia), Alessandra Greceanu (Romania) and Nkemdilim Amelia Izuako (Nigeria). It also took note of the President’s appointment of Iraq and Nepal to the Committee on Conferences for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2018, as well as agenda items that remained open for consideration during the seventy-second session.

Also speaking were representatives of El Salvador, Sudan, Burundi, United States, Syria, Estonia (on behalf of the European Union), Iran, Nicaragua, Canada, Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Cambodia.

The General Assembly will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.

Action on Draft Resolutions

Acting without a vote, the Assembly first adopted a draft resolution submitted by its President, Modalities for the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (document A/72/L.9), deciding that a conference of the same name would be held in Morocco on 10 and 11 December 2018.

By other terms, the Assembly decided that the Global Compact would be adopted on Monday, 10 December 2018, and that two dialogues would be held in parallel with the plenary meetings, except during the latter’s opening and closing. They would be titled, respectively, Promoting action on the commitments of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, and Partnerships and innovative initiatives for the way forward.

The representative of El Salvador said his delegation would have wished to see greater political participation by all Member States in seeking consensus, and expressed hope of greater civil society participation in the Conference. He added that he would have preferred the Conference to be held in New York to facilitate the participation of all delegations, given the presence of permanent missions in the city. El Salvador advocated maintaining a political focus on the universality of migration and its links to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

He recalled that the agreed outcome would be concluded according to deadlines set for negotiation in New York in July 2018, following which it would be submitted to the Assembly President before the end of the current session in September, for the sole purpose of its adoption. El Salvador had joined the consensus on the understanding that countries lacking permanent representation in Morocco would benefit from the trust fund support cited in operative paragraph 19, he said, adding further that the word particularly in reference to least developed countries did not mean exclusively.

Third Committee Drafts

The Assembly then took up the report of its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) on the promotion and protection of the rights of children (document A/72/435), taking action on a draft amendment to draft resolution II, Rights of the child.

The representative of Sudan expressed serious reservations about references to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, saying that exploiting the resolution to exert unacceptable pressure on Member States to include such language jeopardized her country’s ongoing peacebuilding efforts aimed at safeguarding children’s rights. The Court had hampered all peace efforts with its malevolent interference, she said, emphasizing that, at its best, the Court was a threat to stability and peace in Sudan. It was not a United Nations organ, despite fervent attempts by some to paint it as such. Distancing Sudan from the Court, she referred to operative paragraph 16, calling for a vote on draft resolution II, and for the deletion of the words inter alia through the International Criminal Court.

By a recorded vote of 30 in favour to 89 against, with 31 abstentions, the Assembly rejected the amendment proposed by Sudan’s delegate.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution II in its entirety by a recorded vote of 162 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Palau).

By that text, the Assembly decided to take a number of measures, including to request that the Secretary-General submit a report on the rights of the child at its seventy-third session, with information on the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Among the instructions for special mandate holders, the Assembly requested that the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other child sexual abuse material, continue to submit reports to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council. They should contain information on field visits and progress in eradicating the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Turning to the report on human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (document A/72/439/Add.2), the Assembly adopted resolution XXI, Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights, by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 1 against (South Africa), with 58 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly reiterated that all States should take measures to deny all forms of support for terrorists and terrorist groups, particularly political, military, logistical and financial support. It emphasized the importance of technical cooperation, capacity-building and exchange of information and intelligence on counter-terrorism.

It then adopted, without a vote, draft resolution XXII, Twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

By its terms, the Assembly strongly condemned the targeting, criminalization, intimidation, torture, disappearance and killing of individuals, including human rights defenders, for reporting and seeking information on human rights violations and abuses. In that context, it decided to devote a high-level plenary meeting at its seventy-third session, in 2018, within existing resources, to the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration, requesting that the Assembly President consult with Member States to determine the scope and modalities for that meeting.

The representative of Burundi said her delegation had been unable to vote on draft resolution XXI and wished to vote in favour of that text.

Turning to the report on human rights situations and the reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/72/439/Add.3), the Assembly took up draft resolution V, Situation of human rights in Myanmar.

The representative of Myanmar strongly rejected as discriminatory and selective the application of overlapping actions taken unfairly against his country in the name of human rights. He added that he had voted against that approach in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) and would do so again today because the draft contravened universally accepted principles in addressing human rights in a Member State. Describing the resolution as subjective, politically motivated and intended to exert unwarranted political pressure on Myanmar, he said it would not promote human rights or help solve the complex situation in Rakhine State. Rather, it would only lead to escalating tensions among communities inside the country.

He went on to express concern over the demonization of the Government and security forces of Myanmar, saying it was aimed at tarnishing the integrity of the country’s leadership. Dramatized and unverified charges were sowing seeds of mistrust among religious communities, and such incitement, inflammatory rhetoric and biased media reporting on Rakhine State must cease, he stressed. While Myanmar had taken responsibility for addressing the complex situation, its efforts required international support. The Government had worked to solve immediate humanitarian, security and socioeconomic needs arising from the 25 August terrorist attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, he said, noting that the violence had ceased in certain areas and humanitarian assistance had been provided to all affected families. Furthermore, Myanmar had agreed on terms of reference to establish joint working group with Bangladesh, and repatriation would begin in January in a voluntary, safe and dignified manner, he said. Myanmar had also begun to implement recommendations by the Annan Commission as a road map to addressing the causes of violence.

More broadly, he said that Myanmar had cooperated with Human Rights Council special rapporteurs and other special mandate holders over three decades and continued to work with the Secretariat to establish constructive partnerships. The recent visit by the Special Representative on sexual violence in conflict was a clear sign of the Government’s desire to work with the United Nations. Underlining that only mutual respect and constructive cooperation would bring about positive results, he recalled that the Security Council had held eight meetings on the situation in Rakhine since March, while the Human Rights Council had adopted a resolution and appointed an international fact-finding mission. On 5 November, the Human Rights Council had held a special session and adopted another resolution, while the Third Committee had adopted its own text on the same issue.

Such efforts went beyond reason in promoting human rights in any one country, he said, adding that there were ulterior political motives behind them. Myanmar was not obliged to accept a resolution initiated by countries with malicious intent whose human rights records were far from perfect. The text was an attempt to impose their political agenda on Myanmar, he said, emphasizing that the Government and people of Myanmar were united in their resolve to address issues in Rakhine State and would not be deterred by external interference. He urged delegates to reject the draft.

The Assembly then adopted the resolution by a recorded vote of 122 in favour to 10 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Syria, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 24 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly called on Myanmar, among other things, to end ongoing military operations that had led to the systematic violation and abuse of human rights of persons belonging to the Rohingya community and other ethnic minorities and to hold perpetrators accountable; allow full and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance; ensure the voluntary and safe return of all internally displaced persons and refugees; grant full, unrestricted and unmonitored access for the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission; and grant full citizenship rights, in keeping with transparent due process, to Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State, including by reviewing the 1982 Citizenship Law. It also requested that the Secretary-General appoint a special envoy on Myanmar and offer assistance to that country’s Government.

Plenary

Turning next to plenary resolutions, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution titled, International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (document A/72/L.7).

By its terms, the Assembly decided to convene a conference to elaborate the text of such an instrument, with a view to developing that framework as soon as possible. Negotiations would address topics identified in the package agreed in 2011. The conference would meet for four sessions of 10 working days each, with the first taking place in the second half of 2018, the second and third in 2019, and the fourth in the first half of 2020. Requesting the Secretary General to convene the first session of the conference from 4 to 17 September 2018, the Assembly decided that the conference would hold an organizational meeting in New York, from 16 to 18 April 2018, to discuss preparations for a zero draft of the instrument, among other issues.

The representative of Colombia expressed thanks to the facilitators for establishing the modalities to create an internationally legally binding instrument. His country’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts were home to much biological diversity, whose health required coherent national management and the efforts of other countries which impacted those waters. Colombia was committed to the conservation, protection and sustainable development of oceans, carrying out policies, plans and programmes nationally and globally. It joined in asking for protection of areas beyond national jurisdiction, taking into account that such resources were threatened by human activities.

He stressed the importance of creating a legally binding instrument, recalling that participation in negotiations or results of those discussions could not affect the legal position of States not party to the Convention. Colombia had not ratified the Convention and its provisions could not be applied to it. On that premise, Colombia had decided to take part in negotiations for creating the instrument. The resolution and Colombia’s participation could not be interpreted in a way that would express its tacit acceptance of the Convention.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her country attached great significance to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. During the discussions, radical approaches had been voiced, which could undermine the existing legal regime established by the Convention. Her country’s doubts had only deepened with each round. During the process on biodiversity, there was a stark divergence of positions, lack of intent to find common ground, and an unwillingness to strike a balance between the importance of sustainable economic activity and marine conservation, all of which caused the collapse of the work of the Preparatory Committee, established by resolution 69/292, which failed to fulfil its mandate. Consensus had not been reached on any possible elements of a draft text for a legally binding instrument.

She expressed regret that the Preparatory Committee’s final document failed to reflect the principled approaches of the Russian Federation, and thus, saw no justification for convening a diplomatic conference. Rather, fully justified would be the pursuit of efforts by the Preparatory Committee to fulfil its goal of seeking consensus based elements that could serve as the basis for a future agreement. Uncertainties about the modalities of a future conference had been overlooked in the resolution, which was underpinned by procedural mechanisms that enabled a loose interpretation of their application, in turn undermining the process and potential results.

Also, she said the Assembly’s rules of procedure were not always uniform, which carried risk of abuse of the sensitive issue of adopting a resolution by consensus. The text’s provision to craft a legally binding instrument as soon as possible had not been subject to agreement in the Preparatory Committee. The Russian proposal to draft two resolutions to thoroughly discuss the underpinnings of the conference had been disregarded. Haste and reckless in that process only undermined trust. As such, she disassociated from consensus and called on all stakeholders to base their work on open, frank and inclusive dialogue.

The representative of Venezuela recalled that her country was not party to the Convention, which was why norms referred to in that instrument � particularly standards considered part of international customary law � could not be applied to Venezuela unless it recognized them in the exercise of its sovereignty. The Convention could not be considered the only legal framework governing oceans and seas. Other international instruments, together with Convention, formed the law of the sea.

She expressed support for efforts to use maritime areas in a sustainable manner in accordance with international law. Venezuela joined consensus on the resolution, taking into account operative paragraph 10, which recognized that participation in negotiations or the outcome of such discussions could not affect countries not party to the Convention or related agreements. Venezuela’s participation in a future conference could not be understood as a change of position on that matter.

The representative of Turkey expressed support for efforts towards efficient sustainable use of maritime spaces, in line with international law, and therefore supported the draft. Turkey’s participation in the negotiations envisaged in the framework of a resolution that could lead to a legally binding instrument could not be interpreted as a change in its position on the Convention, he said, pointing out that his country was not a party to the Convention, which it viewed as neither universal nor unified. The Convention was not the only legal framework regulating oceans and seas, he added, while welcoming the paragraph acknowledging that neither participation in negotiations nor their outcome could affect non parties to the Convention or related agreements.

The representative of the United States said the conference should operate by consensus, which was the best way to develop effective and lasting solutions. Unfortunately, the resolution did not require consensus decision-making in the conference, and while the United States was concerned about the potential of the conference operating on the decision making modality presented in the resolution, it did not object to the adoption of the resolution itself, she said, expressing hope for progress towards the sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond jurisdiction and urging all to work on the basis of consensus as the key to a lasting agreement.

First Committee Drafts

The Assembly next took up the report of its First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) on prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/72/407), adopting by a recorded vote of 108 in favour to 5 against (France, Israel, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States), with 47 abstentions draft resolution III titled, Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

By its terms, the Assembly decided that the newly established Group of Governmental Experts would operate by consensus, without prejudice to national positions in future negotiations, and hold two two week sessions in Geneva in 2018 and 2019. Further, if the Conference on Disarmament agreed on and implemented a balanced and comprehensive work programme that included negotiation of an international legally binding instrument on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, the Group of Governmental Experts would conclude its work and submit its results to the Secretary General for onward transmission to the Conference on Disarmament.

In the report on general and complete disarmament (document A/72/409), the Assembly took up an amendment to the twelfth preambular paragraph of draft resolution XXIII, titled Follow up to the 2013 high level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament, adopting the amendment by a vote of 97 in favour to 29 against, with 18 abstentions.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution, as a whole, by a vote of 114 in favour to 30 against, with 14 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly called for the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on effective nuclear disarmament measures, deciding to convene in New York, from 14 to 16 May 2018, a United Nations high level international conference on nuclear disarmament to review the progress made in that regard, and further, that the Secretary General or his designate would act as Secretary General of the conference. A one day meeting would be held in New York on 28 March 2018.

The representative of Syria said he wished to amend his vote on preambular paragraph 12.

The Assembly President responded that the Secretariat should be informed after the meeting of any voting corrections.

The Assembly then resumed consideration of its agenda item titled, Investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag HammarskjAlld and of the members of the party accompanying him, adopting without a vote a resolution of the same name (document A/72/L.19).

By its terms, the Assembly requested the Secretary General to reappoint the Eminent Person appointed pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/260 to continue to review potential new information to assess its probative value, in order to determine the scope that any further inquiry or investigation should take. It urged all Member States to release any relevant records and provide to the Secretary General relevant information, encouraging them also to ensure that any such records that remained classified, more than 50 years after the fact, were declassified.

Fifth Committee Drafts

The Assembly then took up the reports of its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) introduced by Felipe Garcia Landa (Mexico).

First, it took up document A/72/668, which contained two texts. The Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution on the programme budget for the biennium 2016 2017 , which is known as the second performance report, by which the Assembly resolved that the final budget appropriations for 2016 2017 totalling $5.68 billion should be increased by $62.56 million. The final income estimates totalling $539.18 million should be increased by $14.50 million.

Next, the Assembly adopted without a vote a draft decision titled, United Nations Office for Partnerships by which it took note of that Office’s annual report.

The Assembly then adopted a text titled Human resources management, contained in document A/72/667, by which it approved proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations and noted amendments to the Rules set out in the Secretary General’s report, subject to provisions of the present resolution.

By further terms, it decided that new Staff Rule 13.13 (c) proposed to implement the acquired right to normal retirement ages should read as follows: The mandatory age of separation of a staff member who reached the age of 60 or 62 on or prior to 31 December 2017 should not be reset to 65, including if such staff member was exceptionally retained in service beyond the mandatory age of separation of 60 or 62 beyond 1 January 2018.

Also by the text, the Assembly noted the commitment to review and simplify the regulatory framework and decided to defer any changes to Regulation 3.6 of the United Nations Staff Regulations and Rules.

Next, the Assembly adopted a text titled United Nations common system, contained in document A/72/666, by which it took note of the International Civil Service Commission’s (ICSC) 2017 report. Noting with serious concern that some common system organizations had decided not to implement the Commission’s decisions regarding the 2016 results of the cost of living surveys and mandatory age of separation, the Assembly called on those organizations and staff to fully cooperate with the Commission in applying the post adjustment system and in implementing its decisions without undue delay.

The Assembly, reminding executive heads and governing bodies of the common system that failure to fully respect Assembly decisions on Commission recommendations could prejudice claims to enjoy benefits of participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, asked the Commission to recommend appropriate measures to deal with non complying organizations and report by no later than the Assembly’s seventy fourth session. It also approved guidelines for the use of the National Professional Officer category as recommended by the Commission in paragraph 48(a) and annex II of its report.

The Assembly further approved proposed principles and guidelines for performance appraisal and management for recognition of different levels of performance, as recommended in paragraph 65 and annex VI of its report. Additionally, it approved, with effect from 1 January 2018, as recommended by the Commission in paragraph 97 of its report, the revised unified base/floor scale for staff in the Professional and higher categories, as contained in annex VII (A) and (B) to that report.

The Assembly then adopted a text on administration of justice at the United Nations, contained in document A/72/665. By its terms, the General Assembly endorsed the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), subject to the provisions of the present resolution. It noted that staff still appeared to have limited awareness of the system of administration of justice and encourage that system to continue its outreach and other awareness raising campaign efforts.

By further terms, the Assembly encouraged the Secretary General and Office of Human Resources Management to ensure staff had more understanding of the rules, regulations and instructions and administrative issuances dealing with human resources; urged the Secretariat to further strengthen and increase outreach to provide information on the role and functioning of the system and possibilities it offered; and stressed the importance of establishing an outreach and communication strategy for all staff covered under the formal and informal administration of justice system.

Noting the ongoing efforts to strengthen the policy on protection against retaliation, the Assembly also noted with concern Internal Justice Council observations related to protection against retaliation for staff members who lodged cases before the Tribunals or appeared as witnesses, requesting the Secretary General to present a comprehensive analysis of all existing policies and provide recommendations on ways to improve protection for such staff at its seventy third session.

Also by the text, the Assembly recognized the ongoing positive contribution of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance to the administration of justice system, decide to extend the experimental period for one year, from 1 January to 31 December 2018, and asked the Secretary General to provide further information on the implications of regularizing the voluntary staff funding mechanism in order to make a decision on financing of the Office at its seventy third session. It noted continuing high opt out rates from the mechanism and encourage the Secretary General to continue to strengthen such incentives, particularly in locations where the participation rate was low.

The Assembly further decided to extend the three ad litem judge positions and current incumbent judges as well as the extension of the six current temporary staff supporting those judges for one year from 1 January to 31 December 2018. It requested the Secretary General to provide further information regarding the implication of the establishment of three new permanent judges in the United Nations Dispute Tribunal so that a decision could be taken on that issue at the Assembly’s seventy third session.

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft on the financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, contained in document A/72/664. By its terms, the Assembly resolved that, for the 2016 2017 biennium, $98.06 million gross ($86.92 million net) approved in its resolution 71/268 for the financing of the Tribunal would be adjusted by $7.72 million gross ($6.36 million net), for a total of $105.78 million gross ($93.28 million net).

Further to the text, the Assembly decided, for the year 2017, to apportion among Member States, in accordance with the assessments scale applicable to the regular budget of the United Nations for the year, $28.95 million gross ($25.38 million net), including $3.90 million gross ($3.23 million net), being the increase in assessments.

The Assembly also decided, for the year 2017, to apportion among Member States, in accordance with assessment rates applicable to peacekeeping operations of the United Nations for the year, $28.95 million gross ($25.38 million net), including $3.90 million gross ($3.23 million net), being the increase in assessments.

The Assembly then adopted a draft resolution on the financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, contained in document A/72/669, by which the Assembly authorized the Secretary General to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $87.8 million gross ($80 million net) for the maintenance of the Mechanism for the one year period from 1 January to 31 December 2018.

It also decided that the total assessment for the one year period from 1 January to 31 December 2018 under the Special Account amounting to $84 million should consist of $87.8 million, being the amount of commitment authority for the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018, less $3.78 million, being the decrease in the final appropriation for the biennium 2016 2017, approved by the Assembly in paragraph 3 of section 1 of the resolution.

Concerning the financing of the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), contained in document A/72/671, the Assembly adopted a text by which it decided to abolish four posts and to redeploy 10 posts to the Political Affairs Section and the State and Liaison Offices as appropriate from the Khartoum Office. On the revised budget estimates for 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, the Assembly decided to appropriate to the Special Account for the Operation $910.94 million for the Operation’s maintenance, inclusive of $486 million previously authorized for the Operation for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2017 under the terms of its resolution 71/310.

The Assembly then turned to a draft on financing of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), contained in document A/72/670. By the terms of that text, on the budget estimates for 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, the Assembly decided to continue to use the Special Account established in accordance with resolution 58/311 for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, beginning on 16 October 2017. Further, the Assembly decided to appropriate to the Special Account for the Mission $88.11 million to establish and maintain the Mission from 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, inclusive of $25 million previously authorized by the ACABQ under the terms of section VI of General Assembly resolution 64/269.

The Assembly then turned to the report on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/72/681), which contained five draft resolutions recommended by the Fifth Committee.

The representative of Cuba, on section 22 of draft L.17 [Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016 2017] said there was no legal basis for carrying out responsibility to protect activities, as there was no negotiated agreement among States on the definition of that concept. Over 10 years, the Secretariat had not presented a legislative mandate, given by States, to make progress on that concept. Resources associated with the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect were mixed up with those requested for the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, whose functions Cuba supported.

Thus, the budgetary estimates and associated narrative for the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect should be removed, she said, and only considered once the Assembly took a decision on the concept, its implementation and scope. Reiterating Cuba’s request to introduce amendments to section 22 of the draft, she read out proposed changes to preambular paragraphs 1 and 2, and operative paragraphs 1 and 2. She asked delegates to consider those amendments and vote in favour of them.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Fifth Committee should refrain from political discussions. The mandate of the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide had been approved by Security Council resolution 1366 (2001) and it was the responsibility of the Fifth Committee to ensure its adequate funding. The proposed amendments would reduce the capacity of that office, hampering its collaboration with the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect. For that reason, the European Union would vote against the amendments.

The representative of Iran, on the proposed amendments, said his country supported effective and immediate United Nations response to prevent genocide and mass atrocities. However, there was no intergovernmental consensus on the responsibility to protect concept. It was unacceptable that limited resources be allocated to a post for which there was no agreed terms of reference for its functions, due to the absence of an agreed definition on the responsibility to protect. He would vote in favour of the amendments and encouraged others to do likewise.

The representative of Nicaragua said it was inappropriate to allocate resources for the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, as that concept had not garnered consensus. For that reason, Nicaragua would support the amendments.

The representative of Canada supported the call for a vote on the amendments, urging delegates to vote against them for all the reasons Canada had outlined in the Fifth Committee.

The representative of Syria said the principle of responsibility to protect was one of the most controversial issues in the United Nations, with the General Assembly having reached no agreement on its definition, scope, effects or possible means of implementation. Implementation of that concept constituted a flagrant violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, particularly the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and non interference in their internal affairs. Syria would vote in favour of Cuba’s oral amendments.

The representative of Belarus objected to conflating two unrelated mandates, which led to abuse in allocating funds for one mandate at the expense of another. He called for supporting the amendments.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea expressed support for the oral amendments to section 22 of L.17, as the responsibility to protect concept had not been agreed by all Member states and informal discussions were ongoing. It was unacceptable to discuss budget issues for the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect and mix them with those for the Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide. He would vote in favour of the amendments.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote draft resolution I, on questions relating to the programmed budget for the biennium 2018 2019, consisted of 12 parts. By that text, the Assembly, among other things, decided to reduce by 10 per cent resources for contractual services; furniture and equipment; consultants; supplies and material; and hospitality. It also decided to reduce by 5 per cent resources for general operating expenditures and other staff costs, reduce non post resources for information technology by 10 per cent, reduce the resources for experts by 15 per cent, reduce the travel of representatives by 25 per cent, and reduce resources for travel of staff by 10 per cent.

The Assembly approved one P 3 post in the areas of General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; as well as the proposed establishment, under international drug control, crime prevention and criminal justice, of three posts of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at the P 4 and P 3 levels to support the Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

It decided not to establish one D 1 post relating to overall policymaking, direction and coordination; one P 3 post under General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; or one P 3 and one Fixed Assets Management Officer-FS post under peacekeeping operations.

It also decided not to approve 18 new posts requested by the Department of Public Information, while under common support services it would approve one P 5 (Mental Health Officer) post under Medical Services Division, New York.

Under peacekeeping operations, it abolished one General Service post from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and decided not to approve the proposed acquisition of vehicles for that entity.

It decided to continue funding the post of Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and approve a request for a $750,000 subvention to that Institute from the regular budget. It also decided to retain, under international cooperation for development, the post of Social Affairs Officer (P-3) in the secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Under international justice and law, the Assembly authorized the Secretary General to enter into commitments not exceeding $1 million for the implementation of an enterprise resource planning system in the biennium 2018 2019. It also decided to reduce the resources for programme support by $200,000, and not to approve the proposed conversion of two posts from general temporary assistance positions.

Under human rights and humanitarian affairs, the Assembly decided to approve $3.75 million for the activities of the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic for the year 2018.

Next, the Assembly took up draft resolution II titled Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016 2017, which covered 28 topics.

The Assembly then rejected the oral amendment proposed by the representative of Cuba by a recorded vote of 24 against to 76 in favour, with 44 abstentions.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution II, as a whole, without a vote.

By its terms, with regard to the revised estimates relating to the Office of Counter Terrorism under section 3, Political affairs, section 29D, Office of Central Support Services, and section 36, Staff assessment, the Assembly approved the additional resources proposed in the amount of $1.1 million (net of staff assessment).

On the revised estimates relating to the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, section 29D, Office of Central Support Services, and section 36, Staff assessment, the Assembly approved the additional resources proposed in the amount of $612,500 dollars (net of staff assessment). The Assembly approved the establishment of posts, comprising one Assistant Secretary General, one P 4, one P 3 and one General Service (Other level) under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, for the period 1 January to 31 December 2018.

Regarding progress in implementing a flexible workplace at United Nations Headquarters, the Assembly reaffirmed that flexible workplace strategies should be aimed at improving the Organization’s overall productivity and efficiency, as well as the staff workplace environment. It asked the Secretary General to continue with the implementation of flexible workplace strategies in New York in 2018, with a maximum of 140 staff per floor, and to report thereon at the main part of its seventy third session. Noting the decrease in the current revised project costs, the Assembly asked the Secretary General to revisit his cost estimates for the project’s implementation and to review the methodology and underlying assumptions to arrive at a reliable cost estimate for the project, and to provide updates information in that regard in his next report. It also decided that project and swing space costs for 2018 would be absorbed within the proposed programme budget for 2018 2019.

Turning to the administrative expenses of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the Assembly welcomed the findings and recommendations in the report of the Board of Auditors on the Fund, and noted with serious concern the need to address all the shortcomings identified by the Board, including the need to ensure accurate data for the actuarial valuation, in particular the need to strengthen the internal control procedures, ensure the timely and accurate processing of benefits, and create a client grievance redressal mechanism. It also asked the Secretary General to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) with conducting a comprehensive audit of the governance structure of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund Board, to include a review of the checks and balances between the Board and the Pension Fund leadership, and to submit its report with key findings to the Assembly at its seventy third session to be considered within the context of the Fund. The Assembly also noted the progress made in the processing times of benefit payments in 2016, while expressing concern at the continued delays in the receipt of payments by some new Fund beneficiaries and retirees, and once again stressed the need for the Pension Board to take appropriate steps to ensure that the Fund addresses the causes of such delays.

Further, the Assembly approved the revised estimates of $174.96 million for 2016 2017 for the administration of the Fund, and approved expenses, chargeable directly to the Fund, totalling $169.47 million net for 2018 2019. It also approved $22.19 million as the United Nations share of the cost of the administrative expenses of the Fund for 2018 2019, of which $14.11 million would represent the share of the regular budget and the balance of $8.08 million would represent the share of the funds and programmes.

On the Enterprise resource planning project, Umoja, the Assembly, among other things, welcomed its implementation globally across more than 40,000 staff in 400 locations, and note that was a significant achievement. The Assembly also recognized the progress made in the implementation of Umoja since the previous progress report, and the effort of staff and managers in the implementation of Umoja Foundation and Extension 1 to date. Regretting the delay in full implementing Extension 2 of Umoja, the Assembly asked the Secretary General to continue to implement the project within the approved timeline and budget and to provide detailed information on the full implementation by the Assembly’s seventy third session. Noting the insufficient progress in developing a benefit realization plan, the Assembly stressed the need to establish a clear and transparent record of the realization of qualitative and quantitative Umoja benefits. It also recalled paragraph 43 of the report of the Advisory Committee, and welcomed the Secretary General’s proposals for the restructuring and gradual downsizing of the Umoja project team.

Further the Assembly also decided that the total project expenditure should not exceed $516.74 million by 31 December 2018. It also approved the resource requirements of the project until 31 December 2019 in the amount of $62.06 million. It also approved $9.31 million under the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget representing the regular budget’s share for the Umoja project costs, and would request the Secretary General to absorb $4.65 million of the regular budget’s share within the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

With regard to estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, the Assembly approved $508.49 for the 34 special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, including the commitment authorities for United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and $686,900 for the share of special political missions in the budget of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the biennium 2018 2019. It also approved a charge of $510.03 million, including $853,800 for the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Myanmar, against the provision for special political missions proposed under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Next the Assembly turned to draft resolution III titled Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018 2019, which included budget appropriations for the biennium 2018 2019; income estimates for the biennium 2018 2019; and financing of the appropriations for 2018.

The representative of Syria, explaining his vote on other sections of resolution L.17, said that while his delegation had voted in favour of section XXII � on special political missions � it had reservations on allocating resources to the special envoy on the implementation of Security Council resolution 1559 (2004), who, until he had resigned, had transcended the limits of his mandate outlined by that text. Unfortunately, the authors of the Secretary General’s report continued to apply the same approach through following up on bilateral issues between Syria and Lebanon � notably in paragraphs 80 and 82 on diplomatic relations and demarcation of boundaries. That violated their sovereignty and interfered in their domestic affairs. Such reports of the Secretary-General were biased towards Israel, and overlooked the terms of reference for resolution 1599, notably withdrawal from Lebanese territory.

On section XXIV, on the decision of the Human Rights Council, he expressed Syria’s reservation about allocating resources to resolutions 34/26 and 36/20 � on the human rights situation in Syria � as his country rejected the use of human rights situations in a selective, illegal and politicized manner to interfere in domestic affairs. On section IV � Office of Counter Terrorism � Syria had joined consensus from its position against terrorism, a scourge which obstructed peace, security and development. The United Nations should have active role in countering terrorism in strict respect of international law and the Charter.

He said the Office of Counter Terrorism should not be subject to political pressure and attempts at financial polarization by States working to improve their reputations. Some donations might seem noble but had ulterior motives to bring pressure to bear on the United Nations credibility. To prevent such interference, all funding of United Nations mechanisms should be part of the Organization’s regular budget. He reaffirmed that the Office should be exclusively funded through the regular budget with no extrabudgetary funding. Hence, Syria had reservations the involvement of one country well known for sponsoring terrorism in that Office, giving that Government privileges in the work of that body.

The Assembly adopted draft resolution III without a vote. By part A, on the budget appropriations for the biennium 2018 2019, the Assembly approved $5.397 billion for disbursement in the following categories: $745.49 million for Overall policymaking, direction and coordination (Part I); $1.37 billion for Political affairs (Part II); $98.10 million for International justice and law (Part III); $471.02 million for International cooperation for development (Part IV); $570.56 million for Regional cooperation for development (Part V); $378.8 million for Human rights and humanitarian affairs (Part VI); $177.36 million for Public information (Part VII); $564.73 million for Common support services (Part VIII); $39.97 million for Internal oversight (Part IX); $144.24 million for Jointly financed administrative activities and special expenses (Part X); $80.62 million for Capital expenditures (Part XI); $233.97 million for Safety and security (Part XII); $28.4 million for the Development Account (Part XIII); and $494.9 million for Staff assessment (Part XIV).

By part B, on revised income estimates for the biennium 2018 2019, the Assembly resolve to approve those estimates, totaling $552.31 million as follows: Income from staff assessment � $498.97 million; General income � $49.17 million; and Services to the public � $4.17 million.

The Assembly, by the text, also resolved, for part C, that for the year 2018, budget appropriations would consist of $2.84 billion, being half of the appropriation of $5.39 billion approved for the biennium 2018 2019 by the Assembly in paragraph 1 of resolution A above, plus $68.62 million, being the net increase in appropriations for the biennium 2016 2017 approved by the Assembly. The draft also states that there should be set off against the assessment on Member States their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of $257.42 million.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution IV on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses for the biennium 2018 2019. By that text, the Assembly authorized the Secretary General, with the prior concurrence of the ACABQ, to enter into commitments in the biennium 2018 2019 to meet unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising either during or subsequent to the biennium. Those commitments should be entered into if concurrence of the Advisory Committee was not necessary for such commitments not exceeding $8 million in any one year of the biennium 2018 2019 as the Secretary General certified related to the maintenance of peace and security; such commitments as the President of the International Court of Justice certified related to expenses.

By further terms, the Assembly decided that, for the biennium 2018 2019, if a Security Council decision resulted in the need for the Secretary General to enter into commitments relating to maintenance of peace and security in an amount exceeding $10 million, that matter should be brought to the General Assembly. If the Assembly was suspended or not in session, the Secretary General should convene a resumed or special session of it to consider the matter.

Next, the Assembly adopted draft resolution V on the Working Capital Fund for the biennium 2018 2019. By that draft, the Assembly established the Fund for 2018 2019 in the amount of $150 million, and Member States would make advances to it in accordance with their scale of assessments for 2018. Those should be set off against the following allocations of advances: credits to Member States resulting from transfers made in 1959 and 1960 from the surplus account to the Working Capital Fund in an adjusted amount of $1.03 million; and cash advances paid by Member States to the Fund for the biennium 2016 2017, in accordance with Assembly resolution 70/251 of 17 February 2016. Should credits and advances paid by any Member State to the Fund exceed that State’s advance under the provisions of paragraph 2 and above, the excess would be set off against the amount of contributions payable in respect of the biennium 2018 2019.

The Assembly then turned its attention to the report titled Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations, which contained a draft resolution and a draft decision.

By the draft resolution titled Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations, adopted without a vote, the General Assembly welcomed the Secretary General’s commitment to improving the Organization’s ability to deliver on its mandates through management reform. Emphasizing that reform initiatives should be integrated, coherent and mutually reinforcing, it approved the proposed change from a biennial to an annual budget period on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020, and requested the Secretary General to conduct a review of changes to the budgetary cycle in 2022, following the completion of the first full budgetary cycle. Further in that regard, the Assembly decided to review, with a view to taking a final decision, the implementation of an annual budget at its seventy seventh session.

In addition, the Assembly decided that the Proposed Programme Budget document would consist of three parts; dealing with the Organization’s long term priorities and objectives; the programme plan for programme and sub programmes and programme performance information; and post and non post resource requirements for programmes and sub-programmes. The first two parts would be submitted through the Committee for Programme and Coorindation, and the third through the Advisory Committee, for the Assembly’s consideration.

The Assembly went on to ask the Secretary General to assess the impact of changes to the budgetary cycle on the work of the Assembly’s subsidiary bodies, and reaffirmed that no changes would be made to budget methodology, established budgetary procedures and practices or financial regulations without prior review and approval by the Assembly.

The Assembly also decided not to implement, at present, any changes regarding any expansion of exceptional budgetary authorities, unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, and the Secretary General’s limited budgetary discretion, as well as the current level of commitment authority for additional resources requirements arising from Security Council decisions related to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Finally, again through text, the Assembly requested the Secretary General to undertake an assessment of the mechanisms and levels of discretionary managerial authorities that might be required in order to address unanticipated programmatic needs and to report thereon to the Assembly in its seventy third session. It also decided not to increase the level of the Working Capital Fund.

Next the Assembly adopted a draft decision on questions deferred for future consideration, by which it decided to defer until the first part of its resumed seventy second session consideration of the Secretary General’s report on review of the utilization of the contingency fund and the related report of the ACABQ.

By further terms, the Assembly decided to defer until the main part of its seventy third session consideration of the Secretary General’s fifteenth annual progress report on implementation of the capital master plan; Board of Auditors report on the capital master plan for the year ended 31 December 2016; Secretary General’s report on implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its reports for the year ended 31 December 2016 on the United Nations and on the capital master plan; related report of the ACABQ; Secretary General’s fourteenth annual progress report on implementation of the capital master plan; Board of Auditors’ report on the capital master plan; Secretary General’s report on implementation of recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its report on the capital master plan for the year ended 31 December 2015; related report of the ACABQ; Secretary General’s report on review of arrangements for funding and backstopping special political missions; and the related report of the ACABQ.

The representative of Iran disassociated from section XXII of L.17, allocating resources for the implementation of resolution 2231 (2015). He expressed concern about the overflow of human and financial resources into the capacity for implementing of that text. Taking into account legislative mandates, staffing, allocation of 11 positions and a significant amount for official travel � for such a small capacity � would be interpreted as waste of scarce resources. The General Assembly took its first step to rectify that problem by downgrading two P 4 positions.

While necessary, that was an insufficient measure and he encouraged assembly to take more measures to prevent a waste of resources and ensure resources were commensurate with mandated activities. He would interested learn more about performance information for the capacity and the justification for proposed assumption to examine accuracy of the resource requirement estimate. The Secretariat did not provide committee with requested info which was essential for carrying out mandate.

He expressed deep concern with non compliance with official travels with mandate related regulations, and provisions of paragraph 10 in the note from the Security Council President (document S/2015/44).

The representative of Cambodia expressed thanks to the Secretary General for efforts to secure funding for the extraordinary chambers in his country. Cambodia attached great importance to ongoing trials of top Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes committed during 17 April 1975 to 6 January 1979, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Cambodia supported the Secretary General’s request for the General Assembly to provide a subvention to the international component for 2018, which would enable the chambers to carry out their remaining judicial proceedings.

As had been done in recent years, Cambodia would contribute $4 million to the chambers’ national component in 2018, he said, accounting for 69 per cent of the proposed $5.8 million budget. Of that contribution, $1.65 million would cover operating costs; $2.75 million would pay for the first six months of national staff salaries. Cambodia would seek continued support from the United Nations to raise an additional $1.8 million from donors to cover payment of national staff salaries for second six months.

He then detailed substantial judicial progress of the chambers over 11 years since its inception, thanks to collaboration between Cambodia and United Nations, as highlighted in the Secretary General’s August 2017 report A/22/341.

The representative of Syria said that while his delegation had joined consensus on L.16, it had reservations on the allocation of financial resources to the Monitoring Mechanism. It believed it would have been better to use those resources to increase humanitarian assistance provided by international organizations working inside Syria in coordination and cooperation with the Government. He added that the Monitoring Mechanism represented a violation of the sovereignty and of States and interference in their internal affairs. He expressed regret that the General Assembly overlooked the root causes of the crisis in Syria, which was the emergence of terrorist groups supported by various Governments, and ignore that Syria provided for 75 per cent of humanitarian needs.

Source: United Nations

Push for More Women MPs Stymied in Malawi

BLANTYRE, MALAWI �In Malawi, the push for more women members of parliament was dealt a blow when the government said it would not consider a proposal to create 28 automatic seats for women. Malawi ranks among the countries within the South African Development Community and world where women are underrepresented in government.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu said the government removed the provision because it would be a disadvantage to women candidates in some constituencies.

He said the provision would also involve a laborious and complicated legal process, including amending constitutional provisions and other electoral laws.

Activists appeal

Proponents of the provision say its removal is unfortunate.

Esmie Kainja, a member of the Special Law Commission that came up with the proposal, told reporters the 28-seat idea was the best option among many that were intended to increase the number of women in parliament.

“There were many options [which were rejected],” she said. “There was an issue of taking quotas at [the] party level; there was another option of just taking one constituent per district to be attached to women that also did not work.”

She said although the proposed 28 seats might sound irrational, it gave an assurance that Malawi would achieve at least 30 percent female representation in parliament as required by the SADC Protocol, which the bloc adopted in 2008 with the goal of ensuring equal rights for women and an end to discrimination.

Out of 193 members in Malawi’s parliament, only 32 are women.

’50-50 campaign’

Emma Kaliya is the national coordinator for the NGO Gender Coordination Network, which has long headed Malawi’s “50-50 campaign” for equal gender representation.

“For the executive to remove that recommendation, now I am beginning to doubt if Malawi is really serious about achieving gender equality and women empowerment in the area of politics,” she said. “And it is very sad that it is happening to us in this way.”

Kaliya said Malawi should have learned from countries like South Africa, Mozambique and Uganda, where similar provisions have helped increase the number of women in decision-making positions.

“We need to impress on government that they have an obligation to make things work for everybody in Malawi on politics and outside politics,” she said. “And this is about gender equality.”

Gender activists say they are attempting to have the provision reconsidered.

Source: Voice of America

Fifth Committee Recommends $5.4 Billion Budget for 2018-2019 Biennium as It Concludes Main Part of Seventy-Second Session

The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) wrapped up the main part of its seventy-second session today, recommending that the General Assembly adopt a $5.397 billion budget for the United Nations for the 2018-2019 biennium and approve switching the Organization, on a trial basis, to a year-by-year budget cycle.

The headline budget figure was 5 per cent less than the final budget approved for the 2016-2017 biennium, and $193 million below the $5.405 billion proposed 2018-2019 budget unveiled by the Secretary-General on 11 October, due among other things to across-the-board reductions in contractual services, furniture and equipment, consultants and travel, as well as reduced funding for special political missions.

Overall, the Committee � charged with overseeing the Organization’s management and spending � today approved and forwarded to the Assembly 15 draft resolutions and 2 draft decisions.

It recommended that the Assembly approve, as part of the Secretary-General’s ambitious management reform agenda, his proposal to change the United Nations budget cycle from a biennial to an annual budget period on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020, pending a final decision at its seventy-seventh session on whether to continue that practice. The Secretary-General’s proposal was aimed at simplifying and streamlining the Organization’s management.

On the Committee’s recommendation, the Assembly would decide not to implement, at present, any changes regarding any expansion of exceptional budgetary authorities, unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, or the Secretary General’s limited budgetary discretion. Nor would the Assembly alter the current level of commitment authority for additional resources requirements arising from Security Council decisions.

An omnibus text, Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016-2017, was approved after an oral amendment, put forward by Cuba’s delegate and focused on the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, was rejected by a recorded vote of 71 against to 17 in favour, with 39 abstentions.

By its terms, the Committee recommended that the Assembly approve $508.49 million for 34 special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council. The Secretary-General, on 15 December, had requested $636.6 million.

The Assembly would also approve financial and staff resources for the newly established Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate; ask the Secretary-General to continue with the implementation of flexible workplace strategies at Headquarters in New York; approve $62.06 million in resource requirements until 31 December 2019 for the ongoing implementation of the Umoja enterprise resource management project; and express with serious concern the need to address myriad shortcomings at the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.

Other human resources texts would have the Assembly call on organizations and staff members to fully cooperate with the International Civil Service Commission in implementing its decisions stemming from its 2016 cost-of-living survey, and ask the Secretary-General for recommendations on ways to better protect staff whistleblowers against retaliation.

Other texts approved today would have the Assembly address the staffing and financing requirements of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), as well as the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

Finally, the Committee approved a draft decision whereby the Assembly would defer, until the first part of the Committee’s resumed seventy-second session in March 2018, consideration of a number of topics, including the Capital Master Plan and the Secretary-General’s report on review of the utilization of the contingency fund.

Michel Tommo Monthe (Cameroon), Fifth Committee Chair, made closing remarks.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the Russian Federation, Syria, Estonia (on behalf of the European Union), Nicaragua, Iran, Canada, Liberia, Ecuador (on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Angola (on behalf of the African Group), Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Turkey (speaking also on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia), Japan, China, Brazil, Pakistan, Mexico, United States, Paraguay and the European Union.

Action on Drafts

The Committee first approved without a vote a text on the programme budget for the biennium 2016 2017 (document A/C.5/72/L.11), which is known as the second performance report, by which the Assembly would resolve that the final budget appropriations for 2016 2017 totalling $5.68 billion should be increased by $62.56 million. The final income estimates totalling $539.18 million should be increased by $14.50 million.

Next, the Committee approved a text titled Human resources management (document A/C.5/72/L.10), by which the Assembly would approve proposed amendments to the Staff Regulations and noted amendments to the Rules set out in the Secretary General’s report, subject to provisions of the present resolution.

By further terms, it would decide that new Staff Rule 13.13 (c) proposed to implement the acquired right to normal retirement ages should read as follows: The mandatory age of separation of a staff member who reached the age of 60 or 62 on or prior to 31 December 2017 should not be reset to 65, including if such staff member was exceptionally retained in service beyond the mandatory age of separation of 60 or 62 beyond 1 January 2018.

Also by the text, the Assembly would note the commitment to review and simplify the regulatory framework and would decide to defer any changes to Regulation 3.6 of the United Nations Staff Regulations and Rules.

Next, the Committee approved a text titled United Nations common system (document A/C.5/72/L.9), by which the Assembly would take note of the International Civil Service Commission’s (ICSC) 2017 report. Noting with serious concern that some common system organizations had decided not to implement the Commission’s decisions regarding the 2016 results of the cost of living surveys and mandatory age of separation, the Assembly would call on those organizations and staff to fully cooperate with the Commission in applying the post adjustment system and in implementing its decisions without undue delay.

The Assembly, reminding executive heads and governing bodies of the common system that failure to fully respect Assembly decisions on Commission recommendations could prejudice claims to enjoy benefits of participation in the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, would ask the Commission to recommend appropriate measures to deal with non complying organizations and report by no later than the Assembly’s seventy fourth session. It would also approve guidelines for the use of the National Professional Officer category as recommended by the Commission in paragraph 48(a) and annex II of its report.

The Assembly would further approve proposed principles and guidelines for performance appraisal and management for recognition of different levels of performance, as recommended in paragraph 65 and annex VI of its report. Additionally, it would approve, with effect from 1 January 2018, as recommended by the Commission in paragraph 97 of its report, the revised unified base/floor scale for staff in the Professional and higher categories, as contained in annex VII (A) and (B) to that report.

The Committee then approved a text on administration of justice at the United Nations (document A/C.5/72/L.8). By its terms, the General Assembly would endorse the conclusions and recommendations contained in the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), subject to the provisions of the present resolution. It would note that staff still appeared to have limited awareness of the system of administration of justice and encourage that system to continue its outreach and other awareness raising campaign efforts.

By further terms, the Assembly would encourage the Secretary General and Office of Human Resources Management to ensure staff had more understanding of the rules, regulations and instructions and administrative issuances dealing with human resources; urge the Secretariat to further strengthen and increase outreach to provide information on the role and functioning of the system and possibilities it offered; and stress the importance of establishing an outreach and communication strategy for all staff covered under the formal and informal administration of justice system.

Noting the ongoing efforts to strengthen the policy on protection against retaliation, the Assembly would also note with concern Internal Justice Council observations related to protection against retaliation for staff members who lodged cases before the Tribunals or appeared as witnesses, requesting the Secretary General to present a comprehensive analysis of all existing policies and provide recommendations on ways to improve protection for such staff at its seventy third session.

Also by the text, the Assembly would recognize the ongoing positive contribution of the Office of Staff Legal Assistance to the administration of justice system, decide to extend the experimental period for one year, from 1 January to 31 December 2018, and ask the Secretary General to provide further information on the implications of regularizing the voluntary staff funding mechanism in order to make a decision on financing of the Office at its seventy third session. It would note continuing high opt out rates from the mechanism and encourage the Secretary General to continue to strengthen such incentives, particularly in locations where the participation rate was low.

The Assembly would further decide to extend the three ad litem judge positions and current incumbent judges as well as the extension of the six current temporary staff supporting those judges for one year from 1 January to 31 December 2018. It would request the Secretary General to provide further information regarding the implication of the establishment of three new permanent judges in the United Nations Dispute Tribunal so that a decision could be taken on that issue at the Assembly’s seventy third session.

Next, the Committee approved a draft on the financing of the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 (document A/C.5/72/L.7). By its terms, the Assembly would resolve that, for the 2016 2017 biennium, $98.06 million gross ($86.92 million net) approved in its resolution 71/268 for the financing of the Tribunal would be adjusted by $7.72 million gross ($6.36 million net), for a total of $105.78 million gross ($93.28 million net).

Further to the text, the Assembly would decide, for the year 2017, to apportion among Member States, in accordance with the assessments scale applicable to the regular budget of the United Nations for the year, $28.95 million gross ($25.38 million net), including $3.90 million gross ($3.23 million net), being the increase in assessments.

The Assembly would also decide, for the year 2017, to apportion among Member States, in accordance with assessment rates applicable to peacekeeping operations of the United Nations for the year, $28.95 million gross ($25.38 million net), including $3.90 million gross ($3.23 million net), being the increase in assessments.

The Committee then went on to approve a draft resolution on the financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document A/C.5/72/L.12), by which the Assembly would authorize the Secretary General to enter into commitments in an amount not to exceed $87.8 million gross ($80 million net) for the maintenance of the Mechanism for the one year period from 1 January to 31 December 2018.

It would also decide that the total assessment for the one year period from 1 January to 31 December 2018 under the Special Account amounting to $84 million should consist of $87.8 million, being the amount of commitment authority for the period from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2018, less $3.78 million, being the decrease in the final appropriation for the biennium 2016 2017, approved by the Assembly in paragraph 3 of section 1 of the resolution.

Concerning the financing of the African Union United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) (document A/C.5/72/L.14), the Committee approved a text by which the Assembly would decide to abolish four posts and to redeploy 10 posts to the Political Affairs Section and the State and Liaison Offices as appropriate from the Khartoum Office. On the revised budget estimates for 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2018, it would have the Assembly decide to appropriate to the Special Account for the Operation $910.94 million for the Operation’s maintenance, inclusive of $486 million previously authorized for the Operation for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2017 under the terms of its resolution 71/310.

The Committee then turned to a draft on financing of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) (document A/C/5/72/L.13). By the terms of that text, on the budget estimates for 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, the General Assembly would decide to continue to use the Special Account established in accordance with resolution 58/311 for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, beginning on 16 October 2017. Further, the Assembly would decide to appropriate to the Special Account for the Mission $88.11 million to establish and maintain the Mission from 16 October 2017 to 30 June 2018, inclusive of $25 million previously authorized by the ACABQ under the terms of section VI of General Assembly resolution 64/269.

The Committee then approved a draft decision submitted by the Chair of the Committee following informal consultations on programme budget implications relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018 2019 (document A/C.5/72/L.15), which contained implications for nine draft resolutions.

Per section A, concerning the rights of the child (document A/C.3/72/L.21/Rev.1), the Assembly would approve one P 5 post under section 1 on Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018 2019. The adoption of that resolution would also give rise to additional resources amounting to $664,800, comprising $517,800 under section 1, and $147,000 under section 29D, Office of Central Support Services of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per section B on the follow up to the 2013 high level meeting of the General Assembly on nuclear disarmament (document A/C.1/72/L.45/Rev.1), resources totalling $236,200 would be required under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($234,300), and under section 4, Disarmament ($1,900), of 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per section C, the approval of the text on the situation of human rights in Myanmar (document A/C.3/72/L.48) would require an extra $853,800 net of staff assessment from 1 January to 31 December 2018 for the Office of the Special Envoy on Myanmar. Those requirements would be charged against the provision for special political missions included under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per section D, concerning the twentieth anniversary and promotion of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (document A/C.3/72/L.50/Rev.1), $97,700 would be required under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($32,000), and under section 24, human rights ($65,000), of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per section E, on the Modalities for the Intergovernmental Conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (document A/72/L.9), $656,100 would be required under section 1, overall policymaking, direction and coordination ($73,000), under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($518,800), and under section 28, Public information ($64,300), of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per section F, containing the text on the international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (document A/72/L.7), $2.16 million would be required under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($1,929,800), and under section 28, Public information ($131,400), and under section 34, Safety and security ($94,300), of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per Section G, by the text on the investigation into the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag HammarskjAlld and of the members of the party accompanying him (document A/72/L.19), $321,600 would be required under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination ($221,500) and under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($100,100), of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per section H, regarding further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space (document A/C.1/72/L.54), $80,500 would be required under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($530,100), under section 4, Disarmament ($450,000), and under section 29F, Administration, Geneva ($14,200), of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

Per section I, approval of the text on the effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights (document A/C.3/72/L.49/Rev.1), resources amounting to $80,500 would be required under section 2, General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management ($32,200), and under section 24, Human rights ($48,300), of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

The representative of Russian Federation, said that in reviewing L.15, his delegation had made a whole range of comments on the financial implications of section F titled International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. He noted with regret that those comments had not been taken into account in the final text. Therefore, the Russian delegation, although not objecting to the approval of the draft decision, was compelled to distance itself from the consensus.

The Committee then turned to a draft on questions relating to the programmed budget for the biennium 2018 2019 (document A/C.5/72/L.16), which consisted of 12 parts. By that text, the Assembly would, among other things, decide to reduce by 10 per cent resources for contractual services; furniture and equipment; consultants; supplies and material; and hospitality. It would also decide to reduce by 5 per cent resources for general operating expenditures and other staff costs, reduce non post resources for information technology by 10 per cent, reduce the resources for experts by 15 per cent, reduce the travel of representatives by 25 per cent, and reduce resources for travel of staff by 10 per cent.

The Assembly would approve one P 3 post in the areas of General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; as well as the proposed establishment, under international drug control, crime prevention and criminal justice, of three posts of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer at the P 4 and P 3 levels to support the Mechanism for the Review of Implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

It would decide not to establish one D 1 post relating to overall policymaking, direction and coordination; one P 3 post under General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and conference management; or one P 3 and one Fixed Assets Management Officer-FS post under peacekeeping operations.

It would also decide not to approve 18 new posts requested by the Department of Public Information, while under common support services it would approve one P 5 (Mental Health Officer) post under Medical Services Division, New York.

Under peacekeeping operations, it would abolish one General Service post from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and decide not to approve the proposed acquisition of vehicles for that entity.

It would decide to continue funding the post of Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) and approve a request for a $750,000 subvention to that Institute from the regular budget. It would also decide to retain, under international cooperation for development, the post of Social Affairs Officer (P-3) in the secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Under international justice and law, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary General to enter into commitments not exceeding $1 million for the implementation of an enterprise resource planning system in the biennium 2018 2019. It would also decide to reduce the resources for programme support by $200,000, and not to approve the proposed conversion of two posts from general temporary assistance positions.

Under human rights and humanitarian affairs, the Assembly would decide to approve $3.75 million for the activities of the United Nations Monitoring Mechanism for the Syrian Arab Republic for the year 2018.

The text was approved without a vote.

The representative of Syria said that while his delegation had joined consensus on L.16, it had reservations vis A� vis the allocation of financial resources to the Monitoring Mechanism. It believed it would have been better to use those resources to increase humanitarian assistance provided by international organizations working inside Syria in coordination and cooperation with the Government. He added that the Monitoring Mechanism represented a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of States and interference in their internal affairs.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution titled Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016 2017 (document A/C.5/72/L.17), which covered 28 topics.

With regard to the revised estimates relating to the Office of Counter Terrorism under section 3, Political affairs, section 29D, Office of Central Support Services, and section 36, Staff assessment, the Assembly would approve the additional resources proposed in the amount of $1.1 million (net of staff assessment).

On the revised estimates relating to the Office of the Victims’ Rights Advocate under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, section 29D, Office of Central Support Services, and section 36, Staff assessment, the Assembly would approve the additional resources proposed in the amount of $612,500 dollars (net of staff assessment). It would also have the Assembly approve the establishment of posts, comprising one Assistant Secretary General, one P 4, one P 3 and one General Service (Other level) under section 1, Overall policymaking, direction and coordination, for the period 1 January to 31 December 2018.

Regarding progress in implementing a flexible workplace at United Nations Headquarters, the Assembly would reaffirm that flexible workplace strategies should be aimed at improving the Organization’s overall productivity and efficiency, as well as the staff workplace environment. It would ask the Secretary General to continue with the implementation of flexible workplace strategies in New York in 2018, with a maximum of 140 staff per floor, and to report thereon at the main part of its seventy third session. Noting the decrease in the current revised project costs, it would ask the Secretary General to revisit his cost estimates for the project’s implementation and to review the methodology and underlying assumptions to arrive at a reliable cost estimate for the project, and to provide updates information in that regard in his next report. It would also decide that project and swing space costs for 2018 would be absorbed within the proposed programme budget for 2018 2019.

Turning to the administrative expenses of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund, the Assembly would welcome the findings and recommendations in the report of the Board of Auditors on the Fund, and would note with serious concern the need to address all the shortcomings identified by the Board, including the need to ensure accurate data for the actuarial valuation, in particular the need to strengthen the internal control procedures, ensure the timely and accurate processing of benefits, and create a client grievance redressal mechanism.

The Assembly would also request the Secretary General to entrust the Office of Internal Oversight Services with conducting a comprehensive audit of the governance structure of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund Board, to include a review of the checks and balances between the Board and the Pension Fund leadership, and to submit its report with key findings to the Assembly at its seventy third session to be considered within the context of the Fund. The Assembly would also note the progress made in the processing times of benefit payments in 2016, while expressing concern at the continued delays in the receipt of payments by some new Fund beneficiaries and retirees, and once again stress the need for the Pension Board to take appropriate steps to ensure that the Fund addresses the causes of such delays.

Further, the Assembly would approve the revised estimates of $174.96 million for 2016 2017 for the administration of the Fund, and approve expenses, chargeable directly to the Fund, totalling $169.47 million net for 2018 2019. It would also approve $22.19 million as the United Nations share of the cost of the administrative expenses of the Fund for 2018 2019, of which $14.11 million would represent the share of the regular budget and the balance of $8.08 million would represent the share of the funds and programmes.

On the Enterprise resource planning project, Umoja, the Assembly would, among other things, welcome its implementation globally across more than 40,000 staff in 400 locations, and note that was a significant achievement. The Assembly would also recognize the progress made in the implementation of Umoja since the previous progress report, and the effort of staff and managers in the implementation of Umoja Foundation and Extension 1 to date. Regretting the delay in full implementing Extension 2 of Umoja, it would ask the Secretary General to continue to implement the project within the approved timeline and budget and to provide detailed information on the full implementation by the Assembly’s seventy third session. Noting the insufficient progress in developing a benefit realization plan, the Assembly would stress the need to establish a clear and transparent record of the realization of qualitative and quantitative Umoja benefits. It would also recall paragraph 43 of the report of the Advisory Committee, and would welcome the Secretary General’s proposals for the restructuring and gradual downsizing of the Umoja project team.

Further the Assembly would also decide that the total project expenditure should not exceed $516.74 million by 31 December 2018. It would also approve the resource requirements of the project until 31 December 2019 in the amount of $62.06 million. It would also approve $9.31 million under the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget representing the regular budget’s share for the Umoja project costs, and would request the Secretary General to absorb $4.65 million of the regular budget’s share within the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

With regard to estimates in respect of special political missions, good offices and other political initiatives authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, the Assembly would approve $508.49 for the 34 special political missions authorized by the General Assembly and/or the Security Council, including the commitment authorities for United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and $686,900 for the share of special political missions in the budget of the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, Uganda, for the biennium 2018 2019. It would also approve a charge of $510.03 million, including $853,800 for the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General on Myanmar, against the provision for special political missions proposed under section 3, Political affairs, of the 2018 2019 proposed programme budget.

The representative of Cuba proposed oral amendments to section 22 of L.17, saying there was no legal basis for the implementation of activities relative to the responsibility to protect because there was no legal mandate as defined by Member States. Also, for more than 10 years, the Secretariat had been unable to present a legislative mandate given by Member States to advance the implementation of that concept. Resources related to the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect seemed to be mixed up with those required of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, whose functions her delegation fully supported. Cuba believed firmly that the budgetary estimates and associated narrative regarding the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect should be removed, and should only be considered once the General Assembly had decided on that concept, its implementation, its scope of application and other matters.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, requested that the proposed amendment be put to a vote.

The representative of Nicaragua said it was inappropriate to appropriate resources for the Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect and to mix them with those of the Special Advisor of the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide. The concept of the responsibility to protect did not attract consensus in the General Assembly, and for that reason Nicaragua would support the amendment proposed by Cuba.

The representative of Iran said his delegation would support Cuba’s proposed amendment.

The representative of Canada supported the European Union’s call for a vote. Speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, he said that the position of Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect was a tangible product of the 2005 World Summit. Each year, the General Assembly reaffirmed support for that mandate with renewed funding. Each year, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the General Assembly had voted by a large margin against the oral amendment being proposed, he said, adding that it was not the Committee’s role to relitigate political mandates. He encouraged all Member States to vote against the oral amendment.

The representative of Syria said the principle of responsibility to protect was one of the most controversial issues in the United Nations, with the General Assembly having reached no agreement on its definition, scope, effects or possible means of implementation. Implementation of that concept constituted a flagrant violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, particularly the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and non interference in their internal affairs. Syria would vote in favour of Cuba’s oral amendment.

The Committee then rejected the oral amendment submitted by the representative of Cuba by a recorded vote of 71 against to 17 in favour, with 39 abstentions.

The representative of Liberia said his delegation meant to abstain from the vote, and asked that that be recorded.

Next the Committee approved, without a vote, a three part resolution titled Proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018 2019 (document A/C.5/72/L.18), which included budget appropriations for the biennium 2018 2019; income estimates for the biennium 2018 2019; and financing of the appropriations for 2018.

By part A, on the budget appropriations for the biennium 2018 2019, the Assembly would approve $5.397 billion for disbursement in the following categories: $745.49 million for Overall policymaking, direction and coordination (Part I); $1.37 billion for Political affairs (Part II); $98.10 million for International justice and law (Part III); $471.02 million for International cooperation for development (Part IV); $570.56 million for Regional cooperation for development (Part V); $378.8 million for Human rights and humanitarian affairs (Part VI); $177.36 million for Public information (Part VII); $564.73 million for Common support services (Part VIII); $39.97 million for Internal oversight (Part IX); $144.24 million for Jointly financed administrative activities and special expenses (Part X); $80.62 million for Capital expenditures (Part XI); $233.97 million for Safety and security (Part XII); $28.4 million for the Development Account (Part XIII); and $494.9 million for Staff assessment (Part XIV).

By part B, on revised income estimates for the biennium 2018 2019, the Assembly would resolve to approve those estimates, totaling $552.31 million as follows: Income from staff assessment � $498.97 million; General income � $49.17 million; and Services to the public � $4.17 million.

The Assembly would, by the text, also resolve, for part C, that for the year 2018, budget appropriations would consist of $2.84 billion, being half of the appropriation of $5.39 billion approved for the biennium 2018 2019 by the Assembly in paragraph 1 of resolution A above, plus $68.62 million, being the net increase in appropriations for the biennium 2016 2017 approved by the Assembly. The draft also states that there should be set off against the assessment on Member States their respective share in the Tax Equalization Fund of $257.42 million.

The Committee then approved a draft on unforeseen and extraordinary expenses for the biennium 2018 2019 (document A/C.572/L.19). By that text, the Assembly would authorize the Secretary General, with the prior concurrence of the ACABQ, to enter into commitments in the biennium 2018 2019 to meet unforeseen and extraordinary expenses arising either during or subsequent to the biennium. Those commitments should be entered into if concurrence of the Advisory Committee was not necessary for such commitments not exceeding $8 million in any one year of the biennium 2018 2019 as the Secretary General certified related to the maintenance of peace and security; such commitments as the President of the International Court of Justice certified related to expenses.

By further terms, the Assembly would decide that, for the biennium 2018 2019, if a Security Council decision resulted in the need for the Secretary General to enter into commitments relating to maintenance of peace and security in an amount exceeding $10 million, that matter should be brought to the General Assembly. If the Assembly was suspended or not in session, the Secretary General should convene a resumed or special session of it to consider the matter.

Next, the Committee approved a draft on Working Capital Fund for the biennium 2018 2019 (document A/C.5/72/L.20). By that draft, the Assembly would establish the Fund for 2018 2019 in the amount of $150 million, and Member States would make advances to it in accordance with their scale of assessments for 2018. Those should be set off against the following allocations of advances: credits to Member States resulting from transfers made in 1959 and 1960 from the surplus account to the Working Capital Fund in an adjusted amount of $1.03 million; and cash advances paid by Member States to the Fund for the biennium 2016 2017, in accordance with Assembly resolution 70/251 of 17 February 2016. Should credits and advances paid by any Member State to the Fund exceed that State’s advance under the provisions of paragraph 2 and above, the excess would be set off against the amount of contributions payable in respect of the biennium 2018 2019.

Having then adopted all the draft resolutions contained in its report, as well as draft decisions, the Committee then approved its report on the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/C.5/72/L.21).

The Committee then turned its attention to the draft resolution titled Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations (document A/C.5/72/L.22). By its terms, the General Assembly would welcome the Secretary General’s commitment to improving the Organization’s ability to deliver on its mandates through management reform. Emphasizing that reform initiatives should be integrated, coherent and mutually reinforcing, it would approve the proposed change from a biennial to an annual budget period on a trial basis, beginning with the programme budget for 2020, and request the Secretary General to conduct a review of changes to the budgetary cycle in 2022, following the completion of the first full budgetary cycle. Further in that regard, the Assembly would decide to review, with a view to taking a final decision, the implementation of an annual budget at its seventy seventh session.

In addition, the Assembly would decide that the Proposed Programme Budget document would consist of three parts; dealing with the Organization’s long term priorities and objectives; the programme plan for programme and sub programmes and programme performance information; and post and non post resource requirements for programmes and sub-programmes. The first two parts would be submitted through the Committee for Programme and Coorindation, and the third through the Advisory Committee, for the Assembly’s consideration.

The Assembly would go on to ask the Secretary General to assess the impact of changes to the budgetary cycle on the work of the Assembly’s subsidiary bodies, and reaffirm that no changes would be made to budget methodology, established budgetary procedures and practices or financial regulations without prior review and approval by the Assembly.

The Assembly would also decide not to implement, at present, any changes regarding any expansion of exceptional budgetary authorities, unforeseen and extraordinary expenses, and the Secretary General’s limited budgetary discretion, as well as the current level of commitment authority for additional resources requirements arising from Security Council decisions related to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Finally, again through text, the Assembly would request the Secretary General to undertake an assessment of the mechanisms and levels of discretionary managerial authorities that might be required in order to address unanticipated programmatic needs and to report thereon to the Assembly in its seventy third session. It would also decide not to increase the level of the Working Capital Fund.

The draft was approved without a vote.

The Committee then approved a draft decision on questions deferred for future consideration (document A/C.5/72/L.23), which would have the Assembly decide to defer until the first part of its resumed seventy second session consideration of the Secretary General’s report on review of the utilization of the contingency fund and the related report of the ACABQ.

By further terms, the Assembly would decide to defer until the main part of its seventy third session consideration of the Secretary General’s fifteenth annual progress report on implementation of the capital master plan; Board of Auditors report on the capital master plan for the year ended 31 December 2016; Secretary General’s report on implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its reports for the year ended 31 December 2016 on the United Nations and on the capital master plan; related report of the ACABQ; Secretary General’s fourteenth annual progress report on implementation of the capital master plan; Board of Auditors’ report on the capital master plan; Secretary General’s report on implementation of recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its report on the capital master plan for the year ended 31 December 2015; related report of the ACABQ; Secretary General’s report on review of arrangements for funding and backstopping special political missions; and the related report of the ACABQ.

Closing Remarks

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the Committee had successfully worked to ensure adequate resources for the programme budget of 2018-2019. Member States must provide the United Nations with sufficient resources so the Organization could perform its role as key enabler of the development agenda. She also welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to improve the Organization’s ability to deliver on its mandates through management reform.

The representative of Angola, speaking on behalf of the African Group, commended the Chairman for successfully conducting this year’s session. Reaching a fruitful conclusion had seemed like a dream at the beginning, but the Committee had achieved it. His colleagues had worked in a spirit of goodwill and camaraderie to come up with those results.

The representative of Barbados, associating herself with the Group of 77 and speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, expressed concern over delayed issuance of documents, which had seriously affected the Committee’s timeframe. Pointing to achievements of the session, she said they included the proposed programme budget for 2018-2019, which reaffirmed the importance of the Samoa Pathway, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other intergovernmental agreements.

She expressed disappointment that the Committee had been unable to complete consideration of the proposed regional restructuring of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She also expressed support for the mandate of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, noting the importance of an adequately financed and resourced peacekeeping mission.

The representative of Turkey, speaking also on behalf of Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and Australia, expressed appreciation for the Chairman’s leadership and tireless efforts in achieving a successful end to the main session. She commended the Committee for coming up with a management reform agreement and ensuring the United Nations had the necessary resources to achieve its mandates.

The representative of the European Union said the Committee had made important progress on several resolutions defining the management and administration of the United Nations. He was convinced the Organization had the necessary means to effectively manage its mandates during 2018-2019. The Committee had also approved a resolution shifting the Organization’s management paradigm and decided to change the programme budget cycle.

The representative of Japan said he expected that consensus reached among Member States on management reform would serve as a solid basis for the Secretary-General’s efforts in that direction. He said the Committee might also need reforming, noting that the item on Umoja had been introduced on 19 December. The late introduction of official documents was a matter of concern, as it left only a short time for Member States to negotiate.

The representative of China noted wide participation in the Committee from all delegations, the democratic nature of consultations and flexibility of negotiations. In a short time, the Committee had completed an arduous job, including documents on management reform, the programme budget and other items related to administrative and budgetary aspects of the Organization.

The representative of Brazil, associating himself with the Group of 77, said the session had been challenging, ending with a historically significant decision on management reform. Such reform was as important to Member States as to the Secretariat. The resolution just adopted meant real change for the United Nations and would also assist in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of Pakistan, associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the Committee had adopted numerous resolutions and approved the annual budget. He stressed that management reform was urgent if the Organization was to become more responsive. Endorsement of management reform was a vote of confidence aimed at increasing the efficacy of the United Nations.

The representative of Mexico underscored the importance of the Committee’s approval of the programme budget for 2018-2019, financing for special peacekeeping missions and approval of resolutions for construction projects, Umoja and the United Nations pension system. He welcomed the fact that sufficient resources had been allocated to peacekeeping missions in Latin American countries. He also noted that adoption of a resolution on management reform was the first step in that process.

The representative of the United States said there had been significant decisions taken during the session, including one to adopt a responsible 2018-2019 budget. The Committee had taken important steps towards putting the United Nations on a sound and sustainable fiscal path. The budget had been adjusted in peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Darfur following careful review. The Committee had also bolstered the independence of the Organization’s internal oversight body and justice system.

The representative of Paraguay, noting that it was the last time she would be addressing the Committee, expressed gratitude to it and recognized the outstanding work performed by her colleague from Ecuador as Chair of the Group of 77.

MICHEL TOMMO MONTHE (Cameroon), Fifth Committee Chair, noting that the meeting was to adjourn, said this is the time to give back baby to Mama. He and the members of the Bureau wished the Committee, members of the Secretariat, technicians and interpreters well for the coming year.

Source: United Nations

S KOREA EXPORTS DAIRY CATTLE’S SEMEN TO MALAYSIA, UGANDA

SEOUL, S.Korea — South Korea’s agricultural cooperative said Wednesday it has exported Korean dairy cattle’s semen to Malaysia and Uganda for artificial insemination, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported. NongHyup Agribusiness Group under the Nat…

9 Stories that will Drive the Global Agenda in 2018

Will the Security Council Stay Unified on North Korea? (And If Not, Will A Nuclear War Become More Likely?)

North Korea’s nuclear provocations escalated sharply in 2017, including several missile launches and a powerful nuclear test in September. The Trump administration turned to the Security Council to mount a response and the council delivered with the strongest set of sanctions ever imposed. The first sanctions were leveled in August, after a ballistic missile test, and then in September following a nuclear test explosion. In each case, the Trump administration lead in the drafting of these resolutions and secured the unanimous vote of the entire council. This was a worthy achievement that demonstrated international unity in confronting this crisis diplomatically.

In 2018 the degree to which that unity can be preserved will be a function of the degree to which the United States still seems determined to find a diplomatic solution to this crisis. Pugilistic tweets from President Trump have so far undermined efforts to engage Pyongyang, including those undertaken by his own secretary of state. Meanwhile, there is a growing chorus inside the beltway that is willing to accept a military solution to this stand-off, despite the hundreds of thousands of people that could perish.

UN officials have warned that a lack of communication between North Korea and the United States increases the prospect of confrontation or miscalculation. Because of these heightened tensions and the unpredictable nature of President Trump and Kim Jong Un, the risk of a military confrontation on the Korean peninsula�or even the US homeland�is distressingly real.

� Mark Leon Goldberg

A Global Agreement on MigrationWith or Without the United States

2018 will see the finalization of the Global Compact for Migration, the first international agreement to address migration in all its forms. Following the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in September 2016, the UN has hosted numerous consultations to gather governmental information and viewpoints on the issue. Now in September, UN member states will meet for the final negotiations at the annual opening of the General Assembly.

Progress towards a global compact recently hit a roadblock when President Trump announced the US would not participate. Although this complicates the process, migration has become a pressing global issue and other countries are unlikely to halt the progress that has been made in the past two years.

The final compact will not be legally binding on states, but represents a unified statement of principles that is desperately needed as countries in every region of the world struggle to cope with increased migrant numbers. Advocates hope the final compact will help address controversial policies currently in effect, such as Italian aid to the Libyan coast guard, the EU-Turkey agreement, and Australia’s offshore detention policies. With the such high stakes and the recent revival of the primacy of sovereignty, the final negotiations will likely be contentious as countries struggle to come to a compromise on one of the most pressing issues of the century so far.

� Kimberly Curtis

A Big Year for UN Peacekeeping

2017 was both a year of profound successes and painful losses for UN Peacekeeping. The missions in Liberia and Cote D’Ivoire wound down after more than a decade in operation, which was a demonstration that Peacekeepers successfully worked themselves out of a job. The mission in Haiti has also concluded, though with record more mixed than UN Peacekeeping’s undeniable success in west Africa. But 2017 also brought tremendous hardship to UN peacekeeping. In December, 15 peacekeepers were killed in an attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was the worst single attack on UN peacekeepers in decades. Meanwhile, Mali continues to be a particularly deadly mission for UN Peacekeepers�over 80 have been killed there since 2013. In all, by the end of 2017 there were nearly 107,000 personnel serving in 15 peacekeeping operations around the world.

These successes and challenges will provide the backdrop for negotiations that will occur in 2018 over how UN member states will divvy up the costs of paying for deploying UN Peacekeepers across the globe. These negotiations occur every two years at the UN and decide what percentage of the entire UN Peacekeeping budget every member state must contribute. The United States is currently the largest single contributor to UN peacekeeping, paying about 28% of the $8.7 billion price tag. This rate was agreed to by the Obama administration, which recognized the value to UN peacekeeping and the relative bargain it provides to the us. (The average cost of deploying one peacekeeper per year is $17,000. The average cost to deploy one US troop for one year is $2.1 million.) The Trump administration is intent on cutting the US share, meaning these negotiations have the potential to be yet another venue in which the Trump administration will clash with other UN member states. The results of these negotiations will have a profound effect on the effectiveness of Blue Helmets to protect civilians and end conflicts around the world in 2019.

� Mark Leon Goldberg

Local Governments Go Global

One trend of the past year that is likely to continue is the growing involvement of local governments in global issues. Several cities have already incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals into their city planning. But cities and other local governments are getting more directly involved in a host of other global issues, from migration to climate change.

One key example in the coming year is the Global Climate Action Summit in California this September. Similar to a local government version of the annual Conference of Parties that resulted in the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, the summit will bring together local governments, corporate leaders and NGOs from around the world to work on approaches to climate change.

A similar trend is emerging when it comes to migration. Shortly after President Trump announced the US would not participate in the upcoming negotiations on a Global Compact for Migration, several mayors from American cities announced their intention to participate instead. They joined a petition signed by more than 130 mayors from around the world requesting a formal role in the negotiations. With the majority of the world’s refugees living in urban areas and cities being natural magnets for all forms of migration, including city leadership in the negotiations makes sense. It is unclear whether the UN will allow formal participation, but it is just the latest example of local governments tackling the same complex global problems that states are wrestling with.

� Kimberly Curtis

A Big Deadline Looms for the Paris Agreement

2018 will be a big year for the Paris Agreement. Although the broad outlines of it were hammered out in 2015 and affirmed in 2016, countries have yet to write the specific rulesgoverning how the agreement will function in practice. That includes guidelines for how the UN will determine whether countries are keeping their climate promises, and how countries’ pledges will ratchet up, yielding the steeper emission cuts needed to keep the world within 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the agreement’s goal. The deadline for the Paris Agreement rulemaking process is the end of 2018.

The strength of those rules, and the signals countries send while laying them out, will determine if the agreement will be effective in the face of the US’s weird one-foot-out-the-door status, which remains the elephant in the room is nearly every international climate discussion. In addition to writing the agreement’s rulebook, diplomats will also be looking for countries to continue to increase their ambitions. EU member states � Germany in particular� are under pressure to deliver steeper emission cuts. Diplomats will also be watching to see how China reconciles its forward-thinking climate change policies � including its enormous, newly launched carbon-trading market � with its growing economy, which caused an uptickin global emissions this year.

� John Light

Expect New Political Crises in the Great Lakes Region of Africa

In the coming year, it’s likely that the constitutional and electoral crises of the Great Lakes region of Africa will resurface as key priorities on the global agenda.

Within the past few years, these crises have made international headlines as presidents in the region came up with creative ways of staying in power. In Rwanda, Paul Kagame, president since 2000, ran for a third term in 2017 after the constitution was changed to drop the two-term limit. Many Rwandans in and outside the country criticize Kagame’s restrictions on freedom of speech and political dissent. In the Republic of Congo, a widely opposed referendum was held in 2015 which scrapped constitutional two-term limits for President Sassou Nguesso. Protests were met with brutal crackdowns. In Burundi, unrest followed the third-term election of the president in violation of the Arusha peace agreement.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Kabila was supposed to step down in 2016 at the end of his second term, as constitutionally mandated, but retains his position as elections continue to be postponed. In Uganda, presidential term limits were eliminated in 2005 and last year President Museveni, in power since 1986, was re-elected in highly contested elections. On December 20, parliament voted to eliminate the constitutional age limit for the presidency so that Museveni can run again in 2021.

The countries of this region have inter-connected conflicts and politics, which makes it more likely that instability in one will spread to others. These tense political situations have fallen under the radar recently, but it’s only a matter of time before people lose their patience with the status quo. 2018 could be the year they really make their voices heard.

World Food Program Funding Crunch Portends More Hunger

In 2017, northeast Nigeria, Yemen South Sudan, and Somalia were at risk for famine. The UN reported that over 20 million people were at risk for starvation and desperately needed aid to avoid a massive humanitarian crisis. Though the initial panic over this hunger crisis has ebbed in 2017, this issue is likely to rear its head again in 2018. Though a lack of sustainable food sources is a problem in this Eastern African region, the hunger crisis this year was largely man-made. In South Sudan, for example, the ongoing and ever escalating civil war is ripping the government apart while also endangering the lives of its citizens. Conflict creates instability but also prevents millions of people from getting much needed aid. In early 2017, the United Nations estimated that 100,000 South Sudanese were starving, and that 5 million more � 42% of the country’s population � have such limited access to proper food that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

In 2018, the likelihood is that this hunger crisis will remain acute in Yemen, South Sudan, and parts of Nigeria and Somalia. The World Food Program has already said it does not have enough funds to address all of the hunger needs, and this lack of funding is likely to continue into the new year.

� Coby Jones

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is going to get worse

The last decade has been the story of common antibiotics slowly losing against the most frequent bacterial infections. Pneumonia, Staph A, Tuberculosis, Gonorrhea � they’re all getting harder to treat. In fact, all bacterial infections are getting harder to treat, as bacteria develop resistance and then share their resistant genes with each other. 2018 is going to be no exception. We’re going to see things keep getting worse.

We have already seen gonorrhea that can only be treated with a toxic last-resort drug in ten countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Japan, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Next year, we can see that kind of gonorrhea in the US, too, and probably India.

Tuberculosis resistance will also get worse. Right now, 9.7% of people who have drug-resistant tuberculosis have extensively drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB), which is very difficult and expensive to treat. In 2018, that number will go up to at least 12%. XDR-TB has been identified in 104 countries to date; in 2018, it will get to 110.

Finally, one positive prediction. Drug companies have identified both the problem and profit potential of antibiotic resistance; they are slowly increasing their research efforts for new ways to fight bacteria. In 2018, we’ll also see a promising new treatment for bacterial infections, possibly through new combination therapies that involve pairing existing antibiotics with other drugs to overcome bacterial resistance. There are also three new antibiotics that are very close to market; at least one should come to market new year. Omadacycline is a new drug in the tetracycline family which has shown promise for treating pneumonia. Lefamulin is another new antibiotic; it was developed for skin infections and is also being tested on pneumonia. The last candidate, Solithromycin, has been shown effective against skin infections; but was not approved by the US FDA because of concerns about liver damage. The company that developed it is now collecting more data to address those risks.

� Alanna Shaikh

The Syrian Civil War Whimpers On

The conflict in Syria was huge news at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 when the devastation in Aleppo made international headlines. Over the year, though, the conflict in Syria has receded from international attention, even as the humanitarian catastrophe grinds on. Recently, though, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria. This announcement, coming in the last month of 2017, will have a significant impact on the situation in Syria in 2018. It was, after all, Russia’s intervention in 2015 that turned the tide of conflict in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. President Putin says his work is done in Syria and is ready to help broker peace, but with millions of people still displaced and living as refugees in foreign countries, hundreds of thousands dead from the conflict and countless wounded, there is so much more work to be done. Time will tell if peace will come to Syria in 2018, but it will take generations for the people of Syria to recover from this conflict.

Source: UN Dispatch

‘Every Day Africa’ Project Aims to Undermine Stereotypes

WASHINGTON When schoolchildren in Washington, D.C. are asked to say the first thing that comes to mind about Africa, they use words like hot, desert, sand, poverty, hunger, war and Ebola.

These are all accurate things to say about that part or the world � but they reflect an “incomplete” picture, says writer Austin Merrill, who together with photojournalist Peter DiCampo has set out to document African reality beyond common stereotypes.

They are the founders of Every Day Africa, an Instagram community of photographers who strive to capture ordinary moments of life, such as children picking flowers in a field, or girlfriends chatting at a coffee shop. Their Instagram following has topped 370,000.

In addition to the Instagram feed, the book “Every Day Africa, 30 Photographers Re-Picturing the Continent,” recently hit bookstores in Europe, the United States and certain countries on the African continent. The book is filled with images documenting life in Africa that aim to shatter misconceptions often found in Western media.

Readers see a teenager rollerblading in the streets of Dakar, a DJ playing music in Lagos, a couple looking at the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town. The book displays the full diversity and visual richness of African life.

Both DiCampo and Merrill invited a diverse community of photographers from all over the continent to contribute to the Instagram project and the book. Some are professionals, while others are skilled amateurs.

Ethiopian-American writer Maaza Mengiste prologues the book in an essay focusing on the power of the ordinary. We sometimes forget that no matter what is happening in our lives, ordinary moments find a way to move forward,” Mengiste writes.

Normality

Peter DiCampo and Austin Merrill, both Americans, met while serving with the Peace Corps in Ivory Coast. In 2012, they received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington to cover the aftermath of Ivory Coast’s civil war.

While they were interviewing refugees and soldiers, Merrill remembers that around them the vast majority of life was pretty normal, but that wasn’t coming through in the story that we were trying to put together.

We were seeing all these other moments, that were much sort of truer to our daily life experience in that part of the world, says DiCampo.

So, they took their cellphones and started to photograph what was around them. They felt, says Merrill, that the normal, everyday scenes of life might be the most important thing we had to tell about that place, about that moment, instead of the crisis story.

Media organizations tend to focus on breaking news, often triggered by an evolving crisis. Africa has many of those; but, as Di Campo puts it, It’s quite difficult to have a global understanding when all you see of other parts of the world are really extreme stories.

This is the gap that the “Everyday Africa” book is trying to fill; to look at the continent from the inside and from different perspectives.

DiCampo and Merrill, with the support of the Pulitzer Center, have also created media workshops that train elementary school students in the United States on how to document their lives and recognize stereotypes.

We use the story of how we we created Every Day Africa, said DiCampo, to engage the students in a discussion of how media representation affects them, their lives and their communities and we use our photography to teach basic photography lessons, so that by the end of the workshop, they have an everyday project for their own school or community.

This social media model has hit a nerve. The Every Africa platform on Instagram may very well be the biggest visual library of the continent, writes Ghanaian photographer Nana Kofi Acquah.

To task African photographers with the burden of changing how the continent is perceived, might be overwhelming, writes Acquah; but, he adds, a picture of the real Africa is slowly emerging.

Source: Voice of America