THE COMMITTEES: ‘All roads lead to the Fifth’

MINUSMA/Marco Dormino A peacekeeping officer during a patrol in the streets of Gao, Mali, performed daily by United Nations Police (UNPOL) Officers from MINUSMA and Malian National Guard Officers. 7 November 2018.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

At the United Nations, there is a popular saying – all roads lead to the Fifth – the “Fifth” here is the General Assembly’s main Administrative and Budgetary Committee, where all financial and programme matters concerning the UN system, are discussed. In this feature series on the work of the General Assembly, the UN body made up of all 193 Member States, UN News gives you an inside look at the critical work of the Fifth Committee.

Ambassador Gillian Bird, the Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN and the current chair of Fifth Committee, explained the unique role of the Committee to UN News in an exclusive interview.

“The Committee is responsible for all of the administrative and budgetary matters of the UN, every year it considers and approves the Organization’s budget,” she said.

Given the enormity of the issues it has to consider – from reports of the Board of Auditors and overseeing the UN’s expenses and human resource management, to financing UN peacekeeping operations – delegates and staff often find themselves in UN Headquarters at weekends and burning the midnight oil on week nights.

Ambassador Bird, who earlier in her diplomatic career served as a delegate to the Fifth Committee, said that her priority as the chair is to try to move away from this stressful 24/7 work schedule.

“I think we all work better if we are not working around the clock and on weekends.”

During its current, 73rd session, the Fifth Committee successfully concluded the main part of its work on 22 December, having started on 9 October.

Late last month, the General Assembly plenary acted on the recommendations of the Fifth, adopting 16 resolutions, including two resolutions on the scale of assessments, one for the regular budget and another for peacekeeping. Details can be found here.

The Assembly also approved $651.24 million for the UN’s special political missions, a recommendation that came straight from the Fifth Committee.

What is ‘scale of assessments’?

The scale of assessments is the share each UN Member State is obliged to pay to the regular and peacekeeping budgets of the Organization.

The term “scale of assessments” refers to the amount of money that the General Assembly determines should be assessed to finance the approved appropriation, divided among Member States, to pay expenses.

The “scale of assessments” is considered in depth every three years. It is determined based on the recommendations made by the Committee on Contributions to the General Assembly, for the body’s final approval.

Peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) partner with local organizations to provide medical and nutritional care to orphaned and otherwise vulnerable children in North Kivu province.

Working by consensus to find common ground

Another unique characteristic of the work of the Fifth Committee, is that it strives to make all its decisions by consensus. This working style is not a firm rule, but more of a tradition and a practice at the Fifth, and at times the discussions move into so called “informal informals”.

Chairperson Bird explains: “Delegations discuss in a really informal setting, for example the nearest available sofa, to try to find common ground.”

The negotiation process, is not easy, as Member States might have quite different positions or views on particular topics”. So, it does require a lot of patience and perseverance on the part of delegates, as well as a sense of creativity and the common desire to reach an outcome,” she said, noting that there are sometimes vote, but not many.

“Working by consensus sometimes makes negotiation more challenging but it does seem to create a sense of collegiality among delegates that I haven’t really seen in other committees or processes, it also leads to outcomes where everyone shares ownership”, added Ms. Bird.

For intrepid readers who want to know more about the fine details, go here: The Process of Informals in the Fifth Committee.

Heavy workload

While the main part of the Fifth Committee’s work concludes before the end of the year, because of its heavy workload, delegates get together once again in March and for a second resumed session to deal with administrative and budgetary aspects of UN Peacekeeping.

In addition to topics above, the agenda of the Fifth Committee this year includes reviewing the administrative and financial functioning of the UN; the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019; improving the UN’s overall financial situation; the pattern of conferences; the UN pension system; administration of justice at the Organization; and the administrative and budgetary coordination of the UN with the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Full list and related documents here.

MONUSCO’s medical personnel celebrated International Human Rights Day with free medical consultations at Kabare Prison, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 10 December 2018.

Officials and the secretariat

Alongside Ms. Bird as the Chair, are three vice chairs, elected by the Committee. This year, the vice chairs are Fabio Esteban Pedraza-Torres (Colombia), Andre Lipand (Estonia), and Haseeb Gohar (Pakistan). Hicham Oussihamou (Morocco) is the current Rapporetur, tasked with preparing the Committees report.

The officers are supported by a team of UN Secretariat staff, serving as the secretariat to the Fifth Committee. The current Committee secretary is Sharon Van Buerle.

Find resources, navigating the UN system, to reach Fifth Committee resources

The Fifth Committee, like other Main Committees, uses UN PaperSmart, the Organization’s online platform providing delegates access to core documents. For delegates, Committee information, speaker lists, requests (and other resources) are all available through the e-deleGATE portal.

On the UN Official Document System, Fifth Committee documents are numbered using the pattern “A/C.5/<session number>/<document number>.” For example, the document A/C.5/73/1, contains the agenda items allocated to the Committee. All official documents are issued in the six main languages.

Official and open meetings of the Committee are carried live in UN Web TV.

Additional information can be found at the Committee’s website here.

You can read our other in-depth explainers on the crucial work of the General Assembly Committees below:

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Charlie’s tragedy energized deeper feelings amongst Europeans; back to basics?

Changing for the change: Medicine in Industry 4.0

The unique role of business in building social good

UN forum spotlights cities, where struggle for sustainability ‘will be won or lost’

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Apparently the EU Digital Single Market passes necessarily from China’s Digital Silk Road

Further reforms will promote a more inclusive and resilient Indonesian economy

More bank bailouts at taxpayers’ expenses

Paris is building the world’s greenest business district. What can other cities learn from it?

Financial Transaction Tax: More money for future bank bailouts?

FROM THE FIELD: Finding refuge in the ‘beautiful game’

India is a latecomer to AI. Here’s how it plans to catch up

An FTA between EU-US to hurt South Korea

A European Discovers China: 3 First Impressions

Sudzha gas metering station at Russian-Ukrainian border (Copyright: Gazprom, 2015 / Gazprom’s website, Media)

Gazprom starts suspending gas contracts with Ukraine as Brussels fears limited transit to Europe

EU Leaders’ meeting in Sofia: Completing a trusted Digital Single Market for the benefit of all

The banks first to benefit from the new euro trillion ECB plans to print

EU Youth Conference in Riga concludes with recommendations for ministers

Deal on faster exchange of non-EU nationals’ criminal records

Poverty data never tells the whole story

UN expert ‘shocked’ by Egyptian reprisals against human rights defenders she met

Open, inclusive and diverse cities are better for business and economic growth

ILO warns of widespread insecurity in the global labour market

Conflicts and extreme climate change threatens access to food in 39 countries – UN agriculture report

At last a good price for the Greek debt!

New skills agenda for Europe needs real investment

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Transport Industry Drive for Improved Energy Efficiency and Electro-Mobility to Stem High Growth of Emissions

Amending Guatemala ‘reconciliation law’ would lead to unjust amnesty, warns Bachelet

Climate change and its adverse impacts on health

Ercom, cutting-edge Telco solutions from Europe

European Confederation of Junior Enterprises hosts in Geneva the Junior Enterprise World Conference

African cities will double in population by 2050. Here are 4 ways to make sure they thrive

Consumers suffer three defeats

The Junior Enterprise concept: Business & Education

Trump rejects Europe’s offer for zero car tariffs; he had personally tabled that idea in July

The time is up but the game is still not over for Greece: negotiations continue in anticipation of a new deal

UN chief condemns killing of ‘blue helmets’ in DR Congo, as violence erupts prior to elections

Guatemala Dos Erres massacre conviction welcomed by UN human rights office

Four major resources for new European young entrepreneurs

Capital Markets Union: Making it easier for smaller businesses to get financing through capital markets

Financiers can turn the world into a dirty and dangerous place

Parliament approves €500 million for schooling of refugee children in Turkey

Businesses can lead a revolution in disability inclusion

Stricter rules and tougher sanctions for market manipulation and financial fraud

EU readies for eventual annulment of the Turkish agreement on immigrants-refugees

YouTube stars get creative at UN, to promote tolerance

International World Summit Award calls for outstanding digital applications with impact on society from 178 UN member states

The Future of Balkans: Embracing Education

European Business Summit 2014: The role of youth entrepreneurship education in EU’s Strategy for Competitiveness

UN chief condemns student abductions in north-west Cameroon

Autonomous vehicles could clog city centres: a lesson from Boston

EU responds to terror fallout by eroding borderless Europe and molesting the refugees

Germany and Europe prepare for Trump’s America

In Washington D.C., Guterres signs pact with World Bank, meets US President Trump

A new proposal breaks the stalemate over the Banking Union

‘Favour dialogue’ over violence, UN chief urges all parties following clashes in Mali’s capital

India’s economy is growing fast, but its poorest areas lag behind. Here’s why this could be about to change

These countries have the highest minimum wages

EU summit: Are the London Tories planning an exit from the EU?

UN rights chief calls for international inquiry into Kashmir violations

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s