Excerpts from the G-77 position on the recommendations of the Secretary-General on UN reform


Introductory remarks

Reform proposals and measures must be fully consistent with the Medium-Term Plan which constitutes the principal policy directive of the Organisation. The main objective of the reform measures and proposals should be to enable the United Nations to implement fully all mandated programmes and activities.

Any reform measures which do not require General Assembly approval should be implemented within the framework of the existing legislative mandates. Action on any measures and proposals in document A/51/950, unless decided otherwise, shall be implemented without prejudice to existing resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly or of other intergovernmental bodies.

Financial implications of any reform measure or proposal on which the General Assembly shall take action should be considered in accordance with rule 153 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly.

Proposals for any change in financial and staff rules and regulations required as a result of the implementation of the reform measures and proposals should be submitted to the General Assembly by the Secretary-General for its consideration and approval.

Restoring Charter-based division of functions

In view of the role of the Secretary-General and the Secretariat as stipulated in the Charter, the group cautions against attempting to create an artificial division of labour between the General Assembly and the SG/Secretariat. Differences between the SG/Secretariat and the General Assembly, e.g., on personnel, administrative and budgetary matters, planning, priorities, etc., must be solved through dialogue on a regular basis.

Items on new leadership and management structure, increasing administrative effectiveness and efficiency, streamlined structure for greater effectiveness are of general nature. Therefore, it is difficult to focus on them in terms of financial and administrative implications. More concrete and therefore relevant items are as follows:

Deputy Secretary-General

The Group of 77 and China is of the view that the creation of the post of the Deputy-Secretary-General is important and welcome measure for the UN Secretariat and increasing the effectiveness of the Office of the UN Secretary-General. However, it is important to know what Deputy-Secretary-General’s functions will be. The Group suggests that development issues should be the main responsibility of the Deputy-Secretary-General. Furthermore, the overall functional powers of the Deputy-Secretary-General should be clarified especially his political role of deputizing when the Secretary-General is away.

In case of a political decision on the establishment of the post and pending a decision on the functions to be performed, the grade level, conditions of service, etc., the size of the office, and related resources should be considered in the Fifth Committee. This proposal should however be considered in the overall context of streamlining of the Secretariat and of the financial situation of the Organisation.

Reform of the subsidiary bodies

  • The Group of 77 and China stresses that the issue of reform of the four ECOSOC subsidiary bodies, namely the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of Energy and Energy for Development , the Committee on Natural Resources, the Committee on Science and Technology for Development and the Committee for Development Planning, should be discussed in accordance with General Assembly resolution 50/227. It should further be recalled that the Group of 77 and China stated its position regarding the reform of these four bodies at the 1997 ECOSOC substantive session in Geneva. Summary of the Group’s position on each of these bodies is as follows:

  • Concerning the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of Energy and Energy for Development - there is a need to retain this body, basically because its approach to the question of energy is more holistic and comprehensive. To place CNRSEED under Commission on Sustainable Development will restrict its mandate and scope of its work especially in the area of new and renewable sources of energy, such as solar energy, hydro-electric power and energy from biomass etc. which are critical for developing countries.

  • Regarding the Committee on Natural Resources - water resources issue will be discussed under the special dialogue mandated by the United Nations General Assembly Special Session aimed at building a consensus on the necessary actions in order to consider initiating a strategic approach for the implementation of all aspects of the sustainable use of freshwater. CNR could be retained with a focused mandate on mineral resources issues but the Group is flexible to consider a proposal for alternative arrangements to handle this issue within the United Nations system. (In this context, the CNR could be subsumed in the CNRSEED).

  • Concerning the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the Group of 77 and China reiterates the need to retain it on the grounds that its mandate broadly covers the sectoral and cross-sectoral dimensions of science and technology. Hence subsuming it in any one United Nations body will reduce the scope of its work in this area. The Group further supports efforts to strengthen CSTD in order to increase its efficiency and effectiveness including focusing its work more on transfer of technology and capacity building in developing countries. In this regard, the UNCTAD Secretariat should continue to provide substantive servicing of the CSTD. The idea of double reporting is not acceptable to the G-77 and China. CSTD should maintain its status as a functional Commission of ECOSOC.

  • The Group does not accept the proposal to discontinue the Committee for Development Planning. Specialized Ad Hoc panels suggested in its place would not provide the necessary continuity and would not have an integrated vision that the CDP can provide. Such panels should be an additional subsidiary mechanism while CDP should be strengthened so as to continue its independent analysis of macro-economic issues.

  • Concerning the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting, the Group of 77 and China supports the proposal to maintain it as an expert body reporting through UNCTAD. It should, however, maintain its identity as a subsidiary body of ECOSOC.

  • The Group of G-77 and China also supports the proposal to review the work of the Ad Hoc Group of Experts in ITM after the completion its present mandate under GA 50/227 process.

  • The proposal to merge the functions of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs into a Single Commission under arrangements that will fully preserve the treaty-based functions entrusted to the latter, cannot be supported by the G-77 and China due, inter alia, to lack of clarity on how the functions of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice will be dealt with in the new body being proposed. The G-77 is of the view that the scope of issues covered by the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is quite broad and its merger with the Commission on Narcotics Drugs implies prioritizing the issue of Narcotics Drugs over other issues requiring crime prevention and criminal justice such as money laundering etc.

  • In view of this, the G-77 feels that for now, the two bodies should maintain their distinctive mandates, subject to intergovernmental discussions on how the different mandates could be comprehensively addressed under a single body, in future. Meanwhile, it would be appreciated if the Secretariat would clarify further, this proposal to merge the two Commissions.

  • Concerning the proposal that the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights report to the Economic and Social Council through the Commission on Human Rights, the G-77 and China stresses that the present arrangement for reporting directly to ECOSOC should be maintained and that since the issues addressed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are of interest to all countries, the General Assembly should continue discussing them yearly, under a specific agenda item.

Regional Commissions and the reform process

The Group of 77 and China notes that the review of regional commissions is already taking place in accordance with the GA Resolution 50/227. Furthermore, further clarification is needed particularly on the aspects of the evaluation of ”the most appropriate division of labour with regard to both standard-setting and technical cooperation activities and prospects for further rationalization and consolidation.“ The Group needs assurances that the proposed measures would not interfere with the mandates of existing regional organizations. Moreover, the role of the UN regional commissions in the technical assistance field should be strengthened.

Reform of the Secretariat

(a) The Group of 77 and China generally supports the proposal to establish a substantive ECOSOC Secretariat subject to approval of budget estimates by the 5th Committee and further clarification by the Secretary-General, particularly on how the new Secretariat would specifically improve services and coordination with ECOSOC and its subsidiary machinery.

(b) The Group of 77 and China recognizes the need for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and UNCTAD to undertake a review of their activities in the macro-economic policy analysis area in order to strengthen their cooperation and enhance United Nations work in this area. The Group, however, cannot support the aspect of ”rationalization“ of the work of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and UNCTAD because this might weaken intellectual pluralism which is beneficial to Member States. Furthermore, the review should be aimed at reinforcing and better focus the activities of United Nations to ensure that the issues of development in both economic and social spheres are placed at the centre of the UN activities (the phrase ”...its leadership in meeting priority information needs of the world community,“ should be dropped in view of its ambiguity). The recommendations to be presented to the Secretary-General on this matter should be made available to Member States as soon as possible.

Development Cooperation

(a) The Group of 77 and China supports the proposal to create a United Nations Development Group (UNDG), involving UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA, with provision for participation of other intergovernmental funding organizations such as WFP.

(b) The G-77 and China is of the view that the proposal that the Executive Committee of UNDG should develop counterpart arrangements at country level is unclear. In particular this would have implications for interference in the internal affairs of Member States which have full responsibility to designate counterpart institutions at the country level. The Secretary-General may wish to clarify further this proposal.

The financing of development and technical cooperation

(a) The G-77 and China supports the proposal to increase core resources for financing development and technical cooperation in developing countries. However, the notion of burden-sharing should be clarified to underline that it applies to traditional donors and not from so called ”eligible/emerging donors“ including some developing countries.

(b) The G-77 and China supports the creation of the Office for Development Financing, notwithstanding the functions of the Deputy-Secretary-General.

Environment, habitat and sustainable development

The G-77 and China notes with concern that UNEP and Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya, have been undergoing a major crisis including financial pressures and organizational problems. In this regard, the Group welcomes the Secretary-General’s proposal to strengthen UNEP and HABITAT. Apart from GA Resolution 2997 (XXVII) and 32/162, and taking into account the decisions and recommendations of the Governing Council of UNEP and the Commission on Human Settlements, the development of new measures for strengthening these two organizations should also be based on the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) held in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996 and UNGASS, 1997. Furthermore, G-77 and China cannot accept the proposal to replace UNEP funding role with UNDP.

Development Account

Reallocation of "dividend" to economic and social activities is a laudable suggestion. The Secretary-General's aim to deliver "dividend for development" merits favourable consideration. In this context, the following points should be taken into account:

a) Reduction in administrative costs should not affect the full implementation of mandated programmes and activities.

b) The General Assembly should be apprised of the means to achieve overhead administrative reductions as well as the areas where savings are being achieved for its consideration and appropriate action. To this end, the Secretary-General is invited to present a detailed report for consideration and appropriate action by the General Assembly, by which, among other things, he should provide a sound and technical justification of his conclusion that the regular budget of the organisation comprise 38 per cent non-programme costs and how he intends to reduce it to 25 per cent. Therefore, Actions 21 and 22 should not be implemented by the Secretary-General until the General Assembly has considered and acted on the above report.

For the full text of the G-77 proposal on UN reform, click here.