Statement by Hon. Joseph H. Melrose, Ambassador, on Programme of Work of the First Resumed Session of the Sixty-Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, before the Fifth Committee

Ambassador Joseph H. Melrose, Jr.
Senior Advisor to the United Nations 
New York, NY
March 7, 2011




AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The United States welcomes the opportunity to discuss the six important issues on the Committee’s program of work for this brief resumed session.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation looks forward to discussion of the Secretary-General’s eighth annual progress report on the implementation of the Capital Master Plan along with his report on required 2011 associated costs, as well as the ACABQ report on both Secretary-General reports. The annual report notes the significant progress made in implementing the CMP including the relocation of 5,788 UN staff, the completion of the North Lawn Building, the closure and commencement of construction on the Secretariat and Conference Buildings, and the temporary relocation of the Security Council. We continue to be concerned that the current projected cost is $1.96 billion or $80.1 million over the approved budget of $1.88 billion. We look forward to learning more about planned efficiencies to offset the budgetary shortfall. We also share the ACABQ’s concerns that it may be difficult to absorb the associated costs from within the CMP approved budget and look forward to learning the Secretary-General’s plans for mitigating this risk as well as possibly reducing costs.

During this session we will consider the Secretary-General’s report containing the analysis of travel for the 2009/2010 biennium, including the number of exceptions approved by the Secretary-General to permit business class travel in special circumstances during the biennium, and analysis of trends in such travel over the last ten years. We will also consider the JIU’s report on “Review of travel arrangements within the UN system”, that examined travel arrangements and best practices across the system, and the ACABQ report on this subject. We look forward to discussion in the informal sessions of the rising costs and increasing number of exceptions approved by the Secretary-General. We also look forward to hearing the Secretariat’s thoughts on the recommendations proposed by the JIU.

With regard to the revised estimates resulting from entry into force of International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances, we would like to know more about the new posts required and the implications for the 2012-2013 biennium budget.

Mr. Chairman,

The United States continues to recognize the importance of the UN’s peacebuilding efforts in Burundi and looks forward to an orderly transition from the UN Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) to the UN Office in Burundi (BNUB) as recently established by the Security Council in resolution 1959. We look forward to working with other delegations to ensure that BNUB is properly configured and adequately resourced to achieve its mandate.

We also welcome the discussion of compensation for full-time members of the ICSC and the Chair of the ACABQ. We believe that these officials should be appropriately compensated for the essential services that they provide to the Organization. We also recognize that the compensation for these officials has not kept pace with increases for the UN’s most senior officials. However, we are also acutely aware that civil servants in many Member States, including the United States, are experiencing pay freezes or reductions during the current fiscal crisis. We will be anxious to work with other delegations to define an equitable compensation package that is appropriate for the current fiscal environment.

Finally Mr. Chairman, we will discuss the work of the Joint Inspections Unit for 2010. We welcome the completion of 10 reports during the year, but at the same time we continue to be concerned with the low rate of implementation of the many recommendations from previous reports. This and other questions raise fundamental issues of the effectiveness and usefulness of the JIU in its present form. In this respect, the report raises the issues not only of additional resources but of possible reform of the Unit.

Mr. Chairman, It is clearly in the United States and global interest that the United Nations be effective and affordable in achieving the Member States’ mandates and providing the greatest possible return on Member States’ investment. The United States remains committed to working constructively with other Member States to reach consensus on programs that are prudent and responsible while responsive to the needs of the Organization.

Thank you.

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PRN: 2011/077