FACT SHEET: Passage of the Fifth Committee Regular Budget for the 2012-2013 Biennium

New York, NY
December 29, 2011


The United States is proud to have negotiated, alongside our international partners, a strengthened, more efficient, and more effective United Nations budget that saves the American taxpayers millions of dollars and sets the United Nations on the path of real fiscal discipline and continued reform. Highlights of the 2012-2013 biennium budget include:

· A 5% overall cut in the size of the UN budget. The total budget of $5.153 billion represents the first time in 14 years – and only the second time in the last 50 years – that the General Assembly has approved a regular budget level below the previous biennia’s final appropriation ($5.41 billion in 2010-2011). When factoring in the difference between the likely budget level based on historic patterns and the budget approved last week, this budget represents a savings to American taxpayers of as much as $100 million.

· Introduced the concept of administrative pay freezes to the UN system. Previously, salaries for UN professional staff—though based on those for U.S. federal employees—were adjusted on the basis of changes in cost of living in individual duty stations, regardless of whether a pay freeze was in effect for U.S. federal employees. This meant that there was no way, aside from staffing reductions, to check the growth of personnel costs in any of the UN system organizations. In most of these organizations, personnel costs represent both the largest share of the budget and the largest driver of budget growth. As a result of provisions in the UN common system resolution adopted on Christmas Eve, the International Civil Service Commission is now tasked with finding ways to reflect pay freezes for U.S. federal employees, including the statutory pay freeze in effect through next year, within the UN salary system for professional staff system-wide.

· Initiated a process to address “recosting” implications. Took the first step toward reforming the “recosting” process that, in part, has had the effect of eroding budget discipline. Recosting, which allows the UN to seek additional funding for exchange rate variances, inflation, and other variances, has led to Member States receiving an additional bill even after the initial budget is passed. In the past, there have been no corresponding decreases in other parts of the budget to cover these costs. Most of the expected “recosting” bill for this biennium has been deferred until later in the biennium in order to assess what is really needed and give the Secretary General the opportunity to find further savings, which he has pledged to do, to offset any recosting increase that may be required later.

· Advanced UN transparency efforts. Instituted public coverage of all UN Committee formal meetings through webcasting and secured a pledge by Member States to consider in March 2012 a proposal by the Office of Internal Oversight Services to publish their internal audit reports publicly. .

· Strengthened the UN’s oversight and accountability capabilities. Approved a senior-level post (Assistant-Secretary General) in the Office of Internal Oversight Services to ensure effective coordination amongst the various divisions of the Office as well direct and manage the Executive Office. This will allow the head of the office to focus on strategic and cross-cutting issues that will enhance the work of OIOS and ensure its relevance within the United Nations.

· Defended the role of the Secretary General. Maintained the Secretary General’s existing authorities to govern the United Nations effectively and protected his prerogative to manage the overall envelope of resources at his disposal despite efforts to condemn proposed reductions by the Secretary General and curtail his authority. Further secured a pledge by the Secretary General to continue to work to bring costs down over the next two years.


PRN: 2011/323