FACT SHEET: Plenary Adoption of Key Fifth Committee Resolutions in the First Resumed Session of the 67th General Assembly

New York, NY
April 12, 2013


The United States is pleased with the significant achievements in the First Resumed Session of the 67th General Assembly’s Fifth Committee. This session achieved notable progress on several major reform initiatives the United States has championed for many years. This resumed session has seen member states take responsible action across a range of issues toward making the United Nations more transparent and accountable, more efficient, and, critically, more fiscally responsible. The agreement adopted today does the following:

Agrees to make all of the internal audit reports of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) publicly available online beginning later this year. The United States has been a major advocate for OIOS and has worked for years for the audit reports the UN watchdog produces to be available to the citizens of the countries the member states represent. The decision by member states to authorize public disclosure of OIOS reports, on a trial basis, through December 2014 is a landmark victory for transparency and accountability, and should become a permanent fixture at the United Nations. Taxpayers and citizens around the world are demanding of their governments more transparency and accountability and this decision helps ensure the United Nations itself maintains the standards it helps promote around the world.

Adopts most of the Secretary General’s air travel reform proposals and more. Member states acted on the Secretary General’s proposals to address the UN’s ballooning air travel expenditures, a significant part of the overall UN travel budget that reached three-quarters of a billion dollars last biennium. The agreement includes:

Common sense restrictions on use of business class travel, which accounts for approximately 70% of the UN Secretariat’s airfare expenses. This includes abolishing business class travel for contractors, consultants, and all travel for training purposes and increasing the minimum journey time required for business class travel from 9 hours to 11 hours for multi-leg journeys.

Abolishing several egregious air travel policies and practices, such as paying per diem to UN staff during flight time, and providing extensive rest periods to business class travelers before reporting to duty.

Reducing the amount of payment that UN travelers are compensated through the wasteful “lump sum program” wherein UN staff can opt to be paid in cash to arrange their own official travel instead of having the UN arrange it. The Fifth Committee also commissioned a detailed study that asks the Secretary General to provide a comprehensive analysis on overpayments incurred through the lump sum program and to provide recommendations on how to reduce such waste of resources.

Shifting standard toward fiscal discipline by requiring the UN, when booking flights, to use the “most economical route” standard rather than the current “most direct route” standard. Insuring that cost – not just convenience – will now be the key consideration in making travel arrangements.

Embraces much needed human resources reform, including advancement of whistleblower protections. Among the critical actions taken today:

Commissioning a comprehensive review of the UN compensation package and the methodology used to determine it so that the United Nations can continue to attract and retain high-quality staff while at the same making sure that staff-related costs—a major contributing factor in the UN’s dramatic budget growth over the last 10 years—are sustainable.

Authorizing the Secretary-General to continue planning his staff mobility policy, which would give him the flexibility to move staff and to execute important UN mandates.

Reaffirming the importance of communication between UN management and staff on staff welfare issues while rejecting the need for “consensus” between them, which has negative implications for accountability and sound decision-making at the UN.

Requesting the Secretary-General to report annually on the impact of increases in UN staff compensation on the financial situation facing UN organizations. These increases are a primary reason budgets across the UN system continue to be squeezed.

Directing the Secretary-General to expedite the development of stronger whistleblower protections. The United States is committed to ensuring that those who come forward to report misconduct, fraud, and abuse are fully protected from retaliation.


PRN: 2013/051