Wednesday 31 March 1993
UNITED NATIONS: SECRETARIAT REFORM MUST RESPECT PROGRAMME MANDATES
Geneva March 30 (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Any restructuring and reform of the secretariat of the United Nations "must respect the programme mandates", decided by the UN General Assembly and which "constitute an obligatory legal reference", the Group of 77 has said in New York in comments on the secretariat restructuring proposals presented by the UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros- Ghali.
The G77 views were presented at the fifth committee Monday by the Chairman of the Group of 77, Amb. Louis Fernando Jaramillo of Colombia. The text of the speech was made available to the SUNS by the G77.
While viewing Boutros-Ghali proposals as having "some constructive elements", the G77 position presented by Jaramillo made clear that respect for, and maintaining unaltered, the programmatic mandates and priorities agreed to by the UN General Assembly implied, inter alia, "the need to guarantee the provision of substantive support to the intergovernmental machinery and the strengthening of technical cooperation".
Jaramillo said that the G77 deemed it essential that agreements to be arrived concerning issues addressed in his statement should be reflected both in the resolution to be adopted at the end of the negotiations (in the fifth committee) as well as in the Budget Programmes for 1994-1995. On the basis of these, the General Assembly would be able to adequately consider the proposals of the Secretary-General in such a manner that the constructive elements there could be applied.
The G77, like the ACABQ (the Assembly's advisory committee on administrative and budgetary questions), sought clarifications on the rationale behind the abolition of the post of Executive Director of Habitat and the Boutros-Ghali "decision" to downgrade the post of the head of the International Trade Centre (ITC), jointly run by the GATT and the UN/UNCTAD.
On this last, where the G77 in UNCTAD as well as the very overwhelming membership of the Contracting Parties have opposed the Boutros-Ghali decision, the G77 chair told the fifth committee: "Given the outstanding work that the ITC carries out in the promotion of the exports of the developing world, the position of the Director of the Center must be maintained at the level of the Assistant Secretary-General. These considerations lead the Group of 77 to request that the Secretary-General appoint as soon as possible, the Director of the Center, given that the vacancy is over two years old (and) the Centre has remained acephalus."
Sources among Third World contracting parties to the GATT said in Geneva that not only had the post remained vacant, with the UN Secretary-General somewhat adamant on the level and ranking of the post, but that he had also sought to abolish one more post, that of a deputy at the ITC. An institution whose head would need to be constantly travelling to raise funds and other extra- budgetary contributions would have been left without a senior administrative head too at the headquarters, one Third World source said.
Some of the G77 sources in Geneva noted in this connection that there was not even some consistency in the budget-cutting exercise, in that a post of Assistant Secretary-General had been created at the Geneva Centre for Human Rights division, while the ITC head had several divisions under him. The sources also said that according to their information, an ASG post was also being created or had been at the Office of Public Information in New York.
Jaramillo told the Fifth Committee in New York that the G77 comments on the Secretary-General's reorganization proposals, had been prepared as a result of a detailed study by the G77 who considered that "the complete and efficient implementation of programmes agreed on by the General Assembly must be the criterion for examining the proposals of the Secretary-General to reform the Secretariat in the economic and social sectors."
The resolution of the UN General Assembly (46/232) whereby the Assembly had confirmed that the reform must respect the programme mandates constituted an obligatory legal reference. Among these the medium term plan and the International Strategy for the Fourth Development Decade were of "paramount importance". The reform should also be consistent with the Assembly's decisions on the revitalization of the intergovernmental machinery in the social and economic spheres, recently reflected in resolutions 45/284 and 46/235, the G77 Chair added.
"The Group of 77 deems it necessary, within the context of the assessment of the Secretariat's reform, to maintain the programmatic mandates and priorities agreed to by the General Assembly unaltered. Respect for the programme mandates implies, inter alia, the need to guarantee the provision of substantive support to the intergovernmental machinery and the strengthening of technical cooperation."
Within this "binding framework", Jaramillo said, the G77 found "various constructive elements" in the Secretary-General's proposals that would allow strengthening of those units of the secretariat responsible for economic and social fields, "given a division of labour which is more specialized and clearer than that applied last year under the unified direction of the Department of Economic and Social Development.".
While some aspects of the proposals had been clarified to the G77 in several informal consultations as well as in the formal presentation of the document, "nevertheless, there are still several outstanding queries that the Group of 77 considers it necessary to examine," Jaramillo said.
Some G77 queries and concerns referred to the implications the reform would have on the full implementation of the programme mandates and others endeavour to guarantee that the mandates would not suffer modifications in the secretariat reform exercise.
On the implementation of programmes, the G77 made several points:
The G77 also presented other observations on the reform proposals seeking "to ensure the programmatic permanence" of the decisions adopted by the General Assembly. The resolution to be adopted on the reform proposals for the Secretariat, the G77 added, must take into account some additional elements:
"The treatment which the General Assembly has established for countries with economies in transition," the G77 chair added, "is of a completely different nature. Therefore any action which is forthcoming from the new reform must take into account these decisions."
Amb. Jaramillo said that the proposed functions of the Department of Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis were "cause of great concern" to the G77.
"The possibility that this Department, within the 'monitoring and assessment from a global perspective of economic and social policies and trends', begins a process of 'analysis of efficient domestic macroeconomic management might imply a violation of the sovereignty Member States," the G77 said. "It is necessary to reformulate this function of the Department, strictly respecting the limits imposed by the Charter and the General Assembly."
"The Secretary-General's initiative for designating 'United Nations Representative' (to member States) digresses from the functions agreed to for the field representation structure in our countries," Jaramillo declared on behalf of the G77. "According to current legislation, the Resident Coordinator is the head of this structure at the national level and his/her role does not include political representation functions.
"The United Nations is not a state; it is the expression of the will of all Member States. Therefore it is not pertinent to suggest a political representation of the Organization in this context. Furthermore, recent intergovernmental negotiations have reflected persistent substantive disagreements regarding the socalled 'unified approach at the country level'."