STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. SONDRA CHEONG, FIRST SECRETARY OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 135: PROGRAMME BUDGET FOR 2020: CONDITION OF SERVICE: JUDGES, AT THE FIRST RESUMED PART OF THE 74TH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New york, 2 March 2020)
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 135: programme budget for 2020, in particular on the conditions of service and compensation for officials other than Secretariat officials: members of the International Court of Justice and President and judges of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.
2. At the outset, the Group would like to thank Ms. Martha Helena Lopez, Assistant Secretary- General, Office for Human Resources Management, as well as Mr. Abdalla Bachar Bong, Chairperson of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing the respective reports on this agenda item.
3. The Group continues to value the work of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. We believe these entities are essential to the work of this Organization and the fulfillment of its mandates within a framework of justice, reliability and impartiality.
4. The Group welcomes the report of the Secretary-General on the reviews of the conditions of service which is being submitted to General Assembly pursuant resolution 71/272/A, by which the Assembly decided to undertake at its seventy-fourth session a comprehensive review of the conditions of service and compensation for members of the International Court of Justice and President and judges of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, and also requested the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive proposal on options for a pension scheme.
5. The Group notes that, in the current report, the Secretary-General proposes that no changes be effected in the remuneration system and other conditions of services of the judges. This proposal is also corroborated by the ACABQ in its corresponding report.
6. The Group notes that since the last time this Committee had addressed this agenda item, during the 71st Session, a few changes have been implemented, improving the overall conditions of service of the members of the ICJ and the judges of the International Residual Mechanism. To name a few, the Group highlights that the revised education grant scheme for staff members in the Professional and higher categories has been extended to members of the ICJ and to the President of the International Residual Mechanism. Also, the General Assembly decided to update the language of the travel and subsistence regulations applicable to the members of the Court of Justice and the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, making them in line with the new relocation package for staff in the Professional and higher categories.
7. With respect to the issue of the pension scheme, which is now being put under consideration of the General Assembly after its own request in resolution 71/272 A, four alternative options are being presented for the perusal of the Committee. This comes as a result of an update of a previous comprehensive review. The Group of 77 and China notes that the update was conducted mainly with in-house expertise, and we take this opportunity to stress that we value and encourage the resource to in-house expertise whenever possible.
8. As for the actual substance of the four pension scheme options presented by the Secretary-General in his report, the Group will be interested to learn further details of the options and the impact they might have on the Organization, the Tribunals, the judges and Member States. The informal consultations will be a valuable opportunity for such a productive debate.
9. In conclusion, the Group of 77 and China would like to reaffirm our support to the key principles enshrined in the statutes of the ICJ and the Tribunals that salary and allowances of the judges shall be fixed by the General Assembly. We are also of the view that equality among judges is a basic principle of the system of international adjudication of disputes among States. The Group will actively and constructively engage to address this agenda item with a view to conclude our deliberation in a timely manner.
I thank you, Mr. Chair.