Home » Industry » General Assembly Approves $3.07 Billion Programme Budget as It Adopts 22 Resolutions, 1 Decision to Conclude Main Part of Seventy-Fourth Session

Delegates Grant Larger Amount than Secretary-General Requested, Passing Texts on Special Political Mission Funding, Human Rights Issues

Concluding the main part of its seventy-fourth session, the General Assembly adopted 22 resolutions and one decision recommended by its main Committees, including a $3.07 billion regular budget for the Secretariat in 2020, some $200 million more than the amount requested by the Secretary-General.

The budget � contained in a package of 19 draft resolutions submitted by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), which concluded its work earlier in the day � marks the Secretariat's return to single-year fiscal cycles after more than four decades of biennial budgets.

Among the texts the Assembly adopted was one relating to $710.2 million for 39 continuing special political missions authorized by the Assembly and/or the Security Council for 2020. It also adopted a text entailing $1.42 million for the share of special political missions enveloped in the 2020 budget of the Regional Service Centre at Entebbe, Uganda.

The Assembly also approved $17.81 million in funding for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011, created by the Assembly's adoption of resolution 71/248 on 21 December 2016.

Delegates rejected oral amendments proposed by the Russian Federation and Syria by recorded votes after their delegates said that the Assembly lacked the authority to establish the Mechanism and that it was constituted without Syria's consent.

The Assembly also decided to defer several issues, including questions relating to the Capital Master Plan and human resources management, until March, when the Fifth Committee is expected to begin the first part of its resumed seventy-fourth session.

At the outset, the Assembly took up three drafts that had been pending due to their budget implications. From its Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), it adopted a resolution expressing grave concern about reports of serious human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 9 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 28 abstentions. By that text, it urged the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to advance its work swiftly and requested that the Secretary-General extend the appointment of his Special Envoy on Myanmar.

Myanmar's representative, speaking in explanation of position, described the draft as yet another classic example of double standards and selective application of human rights considerations. The text also grossly mischaracterizes the complex issue of Rakhine State, he added, noting that his country's Government is preparing to put suitable conditions in place for the safe and voluntary return of verified displaced people from Bangladesh.

The Assembly adopted another Third Committee draft � Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes � by a recorded vote of 79 in favour to 60 against, with 30 abstentions. In doing so, it decided to establish an open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on that subject.

The Russian Federation's representative said the text aims to create a negotiating platform, under United Nations auspices, to begin work on a convention dealing with cybercrime, taking into account the work of the intergovernmental expert group that is due to submit its report in 2020.

However, the representative of the United States said the resolution would stifle global anti-cybercrime efforts and prejudges the outcome of the expert group's work. It is wrong to make political decisions on a new treaty before hearing advice from cyber experts, she added.

Acting without a vote, the Assembly also adopted a resolution requesting that the Secretary-General reappoint the Eminent Person investigating the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic 18 September 1961 death of Dag HammarskjAlld, then Secretary-General, and members of the party accompanying him in an airplane crash in what is today Zambia.

Tijjani Muhammad Bande (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, delivered closing remarks, saying the proposed programme budget for 2020 not only provides the necessary resources for the United Nations to implement its various tasks, but also prepares the Organization for its entry into the decade of action for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In other business, the Assembly appointed Hungary to the board of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns for a term beginning on 16 September 2019 and ending on 15 September 2021.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Syria and Qatar.

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

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly first resumed its consideration of the report of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural), Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives (document A/74/399/Add.3) with a view to taking action on draft resolution IV, Situation of human rights of the Rohingya Muslims and other Minorities in Myanmar (document A/C.5/74/L.17, Section A).

By that text, the Assembly expressed grave concern about continued reports of serious human rights violations � as well as violations of international humanitarian law � against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar. It called upon that country's security and armed forces to end all violence immediately and to ensure the human rights of all persons in Myanmar, including Rohingya Muslims and persons belonging to other minorities, are protected. It also urged the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to advance its work swiftly and requested that the Secretary-General extend the appointment of the Special Envoy on Myanmar. The draft's budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/74/609).

The representative of Myanmar, speaking in explanation of position, described the draft as yet another classic example of double standards and selective application of human rights considerations. It grossly mischaracterizes the complex issue of Rakhine State and fails to recognize the efforts of Myanmar's people and Government as they struggle with multiple challenges inherited from previous Administrations, he said, warning that the text will only result in greater alienation of Myanmar's people from the international community. The General Assembly must not justify the Human Rights Council's blatant breach of its mandate, he emphasized, noting that the Government of Myanmar is preparing to put suitable conditions in place for the safe and voluntary return of verified displaced people from Bangladesh.

The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the draft acknowledges that the gravest human rights violations have been perpetrated in Myanmar. It is part of broader efforts to ensure justice and accountability, he said, recalling such recent developments as the Gambia's filing of an application in the International Criminal Court. The resolution is not against Myanmar, he said, stressing that the European Union will continue to help that country's democratic transition. The draft acknowledges that the Government has taken some positive steps, but also reminds the international community that much more must be done, he added.

The representative of Saudi Arabia stressed that a solution to the problem of the Rohingya people must acknowledge their right to return and to a dignified life. He called for interfaith dialogue in Myanmar and requested that the country's religious leaders encourage national unity through dialogue.

The Assembly then adopted draft resolution IV by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 9 against (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Philippines, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe), with 28 abstentions.

Taking up another report of its Third Committee � Countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes (document A/74/401), containing the eponymous draft resolution (document A/C.3/74/L.11/Rev.1), the Assembly decided to establish an open-ended ad hoc intergovernmental committee of experts, representing all regions, to elaborate a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes. In so doing, the Assembly would take into full consideration the existing global instruments and efforts to combat the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes � including, in particular, the work of the open-ended intergovernmental expert group to conduct a comprehensive study on cybercrime. The draft's budget implications, as considered by the Fifth Committee, are contained in a related report (document A/74/610).

The representative of Finland, speaking for the European Union, cautioned that negotiations on a new treaty concerning international cybercrime would be highly divisive at present. Furthermore, those asking to start negotiations on a new treaty do not seem to agree on the nature and scope that such an instrument should have. Launching negotiations in the absence of consensus would create further problems, he said, adding that a treaty that succeeds under such circumstances would have lower standards, thereby enhancing the digital and economic divide. Good progress is being made in regional forums, he noted, calling for broadening the exchange of best practices. There is also the risk of duplicating existing work, he added.

The representative of the United States said her delegation would vote against the text, saying it would stifle global anti-cybercrime efforts. The draft would also prejudge the outcome of the expert group's work before it completes its workplan, she added, emphasizing that it is wrong to make political decisions on a new treaty before hearing advice from cyber experts.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the draft aims to create a negotiating platform, under United Nations auspices, to begin work on a convention dealing with cybercrime. It takes into account the work of the expert group, which is due to submit its report in 2020 and begin its substantive work in 2021. The era of club agreements must give way to a democratic negotiating process that is open, inclusive and transparent, he emphasized, urging delegations to vote in favour of the draft.

The representative of China, describing the United Nations as the world's only representative, universal and authoritative organization, stressed that the proposed convention would fill a legal vacuum and benefit developing countries in particular. It would also guarantee inclusiveness in future negotiations, he said, expressing his delegation's support for the draft and its hopes that others will do the same.

By a recorded vote of 79 in favour to 60 against, with 30 abstentions, the Assembly adopted the resolution.

Taking up the draft resolution 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/74/L.20), the Assembly requested that the Secretary-General reappoint the Eminent Person initially appointed pursuant to Assembly resolution 72/252 to continue to review information made available by Member States � including by individuals and private entities � to assess its probative value and to draw conclusions from investigations already conducted. It also called upon those Member States mentioned in the Eminent Person's report (document A/72/252) to cooperate with and assist the Eminent Person fully, including by appointing, without delay, independent high-ranking officials to determine whether relevant information exists within their security, intelligence and defence archives. The draft's budget implications are contained in a related report (document A/74/611).

The Assembly adopted the resolution without a vote.

YARON WAX (Israel), Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), introduced that body's reports and provided an overview of its work. (For more information, see Press Release GA/AB/4350).

The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation would be submitting oral amendments to the reports contained in documents A/74/614 and A/74/612.

The Assembly first adopted the draft resolution contained in the report Financial reports and audited financial statements, and reports of the Board of Auditors (document A/74/603) without a vote.

It went on to adopt the draft contained in the report Programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019 (document A/74/606), also without a vote.

The Assembly then took up the report Programme planning (document A/74/612) containing an eponymous draft resolution.

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in explanation of position, proposed an oral amendment to the latter draft by deleting paragraph 17 bis. Describing the creation and inclusion of mechanisms in the draft regular budget as a blatant violation of international law and General Assembly rules, he said that including that paragraph is an attempt to endow illegitimate mechanisms with legitimacy, emphasizing that his delegation does not recognize it.

The representative of Syria expressed support for the Russian Federation's position.

The representative of Switzerland said his delegation will vote against the Russian Federation's proposal because the reasons for including the paragraph have been explained several times in the Committee. The Assembly has repeatedly confirmed its intention to finance the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism, he added.

The representative of Myanmar said his delegation does not recognize the Mechanism and will dissociate itself from paragraph 6 on programme planning.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the draft is invalid, stating that his delegation will not recognize the Mechanism and dissociates itself from any part of the resolution making reference to it.

The Assembly then rejected the proposed oral amendment by a vote of 92 against to 18 in favour, with 48 abstention.

It went on to adopt the draft resolution in its entirety by a recorded vote of 148 in favour to 2 against (Kazakhstan, Syria), with four abstentions (Gabon, Lesotho, Mauritania, Zambia).

Acting without a vote, the Assembly then adopted the draft resolution Pattern of conferences (document A/74/602).

The Assembly went on to adopt the draft resolution Enhancing accessibility for persons with disabilities to conferences and meetings of the United Nations system, contained in the report Joint Inspection Unit (document A/74/613).

Taking up the report Human resources management (document A/74/615), the Assembly then adopted the draft Seconded active-duty military and police personnel, contained therein, without a vote.

The Assembly then adopted two draft resolutions contained in the report United Nations common system (document A/74/600), also without a vote.

Acting once again without a vote, the Assembly then adopted the draft contained in the report Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations: Report on the activities of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) (document A/74/604).

The Assembly then adopted the draft contained in the report Review of the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 48/128B, 54/244, 59/272, 64/263 and 69/253 (document A/74/605), also without a vote.

It went on to adopt, again without a vote, the draft contained in the report Administration of justice at the United Nations (document A/74/433).

The Assembly then adopted the draft contained in the report Financing of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (document A/74/601) without a vote.

Next, it adopted the draft contained in the report Financing of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (document A/74/608), again without a vote.

It went on to adopt, once again without a vote, the draft contained in the report Financing of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operations in Darfur (document A/74/607).

The Assembly then took up texts contained in the report Proposed programme budget for 2020 (document A/74/614): draft resolution I on Questions relating to the proposed programme budget for 2020; draft resolution II on Special subjects relating to the proposed programme budget for 2020; draft resolution III on Programme budget for 2020; draft resolution IV on Unforeseen and extraordinary expenses for 2020; and draft resolution V on Working Capital Fund for 2020.

The representative of the Russian Federation proposed an oral amendment to draft resolution I, seeking the removal of all references to the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011. He said resolution 71/248 was thrust upon the Assembly without Syria's consent, adding that criminal investigations are not among the Assembly's functions.

The representative of Cuba proposed an oral amendment to section XVIII of draft resolution II so that, among other things, the text would recall that the General Assembly has reached no decision on the concept of responsibility to protect.

The representative of Syria expressed his delegation's support for the Russian Federation's proposed oral amendment, emphasizing that it does not recognize the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism. The Charter of the United Nations gives the Assembly no authority to establish any judicial or investigative body, he noted, asking whether the Secretary-General or any Member State expects Syria to accept evidence collected outside its borders by an entity established without its approval or consultation.

The representative of Nicaragua, expressing support for the Russian Federation's proposal, said the Mechanism violates the sovereignty of the Syrian people and the principle of non-interference. He also voiced support for Cuba's proposed oral amendment, agreeing that resources should not be provided for the Special Rapporteur on the responsibility to protect.

The representative of Belarus also supported the proposed oral amendments, pointing out that responsibility for establishing international platforms for the criminal investigation of serious crimes rests with the Security Council.

The representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, requested a vote on both proposed oral amendments. He said the Russian Federation's proposal would lead to the absence of any funding for the Mechanism, in direct violation of the Assembly's decision.

The representative of Iran, reiterating his delegation's statement in the Fifth Committee, said it would vote in favour of the two proposed amendments.

The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said his delegation supports Cuba's proposal, saying there is no consensus on the responsibility to protect. It is a variant of the concept of humanitarian intervention, which the international community has rejected in the past, he added.

The representative of the United States said the Russian Federation's proposed amendment seeks to undermine the critical work of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism and urged delegations to vote against it.

The Assembly then rejected the proposed oral amendment to draft resolution I by a recorded vote of 86 against to 19 in favour, with 54 abstentions.

It then adopted the entire draft resolution without a vote.

The Assembly went on to reject the proposed oral amendment to draft resolution II by a recorded vote of 84 against to 18 in favour, with 55 abstentions.

It then adopted draft resolution II without a vote.

Acting again without a vote, the Assembly then adopted draft resolution III, as technically updated in the Fifth Committee, as well as draft resolutions IV and V.

The representative of Venezuela said his delegation joined the consensus on resolution L.22, but that does not imply tacit recognition of draft resolutions approved by the Human Rights Council (document A/74/529) dealing with budgetary issues pertaining to the human rights situation in Venezuela. He dissociated his delegation from any reference to those decisions of the Human Rights Council.

The representative of the Philippines emphasized the need for the General Assembly to exercise prudence and to take judicious decisions in view of the current financial crisis affecting the United Nations. She added that her delegation rejects resolution L. 22, believing its decision to allocate resources is misguided, and disassociates itself from its references to the promotion and protection of human rights.

The representative of Myanmar expressed his delegation's support for the draft resolution but disassociated it from the General Assembly's decision to allocate resources to the Mechanism.

The representative of Iran said that financing the Mechanism contravenes the United Nations Charter, adding that his delegation would dissociate itself from any mention in the draft of the approved budget for the Mechanism.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation dissociates itself from financing for the Mechanism and does not recognize it with respect to Syria.

The representative of Syria said his delegation dissociates itself from any references in the text to the budget or financing for the Mechanism.

The representative of Qatar said the draft is dealing with administrative questions rather than political ones. The Syrian regime is making statements that have nothing to do with the text because it enjoys impunity for severe crimes against humanity, including the use of chemical weapons against its own people, he added.

The representative of Turkey said she does not recognize the person sitting in Syria's seat, adding that his remarks do not require any explanation on her part since his voting patterns speak for themselves.

Right of Reply

The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said the regime in Qatar is pro-terrorist and will be punished for supporting Al-Nusra Front in Idlib. He added that Turkey's history in the Middle East is a dirty one and that country no longer has friends in the region.

The representative of Qatar said the Syrian regime always makes accusations that have no basis in reality. Responsible countries cannot stand idly by in the face of threats to international humanitarian law, he stressed.

The representative of Syria said that the Qatari regime, acting on orders from the United States, is spending billions of dollars to sponsor terrorists. Stories about chemical weapons and barrel bombs are completely fabricated with the aim of internationalizing the fight against terrorism in Syria, he added.

Closing

Finally, acting without a vote, the Assembly adopted the draft decision Questions deferred for future consideration, contained in the Review of the efficiency of the administrative and financial functioning of the United Nations (document A/74/616).

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, congratulated all Fifth Committee delegates on the successful completion of their work, noting their flexibility in constructively engaging with each other on complex issues. Commending the Chair as well as the Bureau and the Secretariat, he expressed gratitude for everyone's patience, noting that the Committee's work affected holiday plans. The proposed programme budget for 2020 not only provides the necessary resources for the United Nations to implement its various tasks, it will also prepare the Organization for its entry into the decade of action for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, wishing delegates a Happy New Year.

Turning to other business, the Assembly appointed Hungary to the board of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns for a term beginning on 16 September 2019 and ending on 15 September 2021.

Source: United Nations

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