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:

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

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

Youth and Decent Work: A Review of Today’s Facts, Challenges and Possible Solutions

Britain in and out of the EU

Agreement on EU instrument supporting border management and common visa policy

“Two Pack” approved: Is democracy chased away from Brussels?

9 climate tipping points pushing Earth to the point of no return

Altruism can be good for business, as these companies show

Parliament mobilised to channel EU funds to those affected by Coronavirus pandemic

More answers from Facebook ahead of Parliament hearing today

Close to final agreement on the EU Banking Union

EFSF/ESM boss tells half truths about Troika’s doings

UN highlights profound implication of population trends on sustainable development

Australia urged to evacuate offshore detainees amid widespread, acute mental distress

3 ways blockchain can revolutionize global supply chains

Keep Africa’s guns ‘from firing in the first place’, UN political chief urges

Norway initiates WTO dispute complaint against US steel, aluminium duties

Refugee crisis update: Commission is struggling alone with little help from EU or G7 leaders

The representatives of the regions and the cities know better what the EU needs on migration, trade, poverty and taxation

UN rights experts ‘gravely’ concerned at spike in civilian casualties in north-west Myanmar following internet shutdown

Innovations for Content Professionals at the DCX exhibition 2018 in Berlin, in association with The European Sting

EU migrant crisis: Germany, France and UK to show the way. Will the rest of the EU follow?

One billion people have preventable eye conditions, increasingly linked to lifestyle choices: UN health agency

‘New tech’ business model threatens decent work conditions, warns UN

Defence: European Commission paves the way for first joint industrial projects under EU budget

7 key challenges for the future of ASEAN – and how to solve them

Localized microfactories – the new face of globalized manufacturing

Eurozone’s credibility rock solid

Manufacturers Get Smarter for Industry 4.0

Tackling obesity would boost economic and social well-being

The Ukrainian crisis to destabilize Europe and the world for a long time

Is a 3-day split week the way to get people back to work?

The metamorphosis of the categorical imperative in medical students

Member States’ compliance with EU law in 2019: more work needed

The Future of Balkans: Embracing Education

It’s time for global businesses to accept local responsibility

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

Strong EU trade enforcement rules enter into force

Not enough resettlement solutions for refugees worldwide, says UN

Mankind’s first tool to fight malaria also kills

Connect 4 Impact – a virtual journey around the globe WSA Global Congress 2021 – March 22-24

What if nature became a legal person?

COVID-19: MEPs free up over €3 billion to support EU healthcare sector

Black historical figures who shook the world, from a warrior queen to a Mexican president

High-flyers: China is on top of the world for skyscraper construction

Services are the hidden side of the US-China trade war

Antimicrobial resistance: how can an intersectoral approach between society and healthcare professionals be developed and applied?

How digital entrepreneurs will help shape the world after the COVID-19 pandemic

Protecting refugees in Europe: UNHCR calls for a ‘year of change’

The use of mobile technologies in Radiation Oncology: helping medical care

Climate change helped destroy these four ancient civilisations

We need to talk: UN gears up for 75th anniversary with Global Conversations

Climate change will be sudden and cataclysmic. We need to act fast

Companies that put employees first perform better

How Japan and Singapore are reinventing old age

EU Commission says falling labour remuneration leads to deflation and damages growth prospects

President von der Leyen’s State of the Union Address: charting the course out of the coronavirus crisis and into the future

How climate change exacerbates the refugee crisis – and what can be done about it

Around 52 million in Near East, North Africa, suffering chronic undernourishment, new UN food agency report reveals

A climate scientist explains what the melting Arctic means for the world

UN programme to help spare millions from child marriage, extended to 2023

How global tech companies can champion ethical AI

More Stings?

Advertising

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