29 October 1997



Introductory remarks

In the context of the ongoing open-ended consultations of the General Assembly Plenary on Agenda Item 157: United Nations Reform: Measures and Proposals, on 14 October 1997, the Group of 77 and China tabled its preliminary position on the Report of the Secretary General: Renewing the United Nations: A Programme for Reform (A/51/950).

In its submission, the Group emphasized the following general principles:

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.

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

Following the Secretariat's response to comments and queries issued on 21 October 1997, the Group of 77 and China has prepared its preliminary position on a number of actions as listed below. This preliminary position should be read in conjunction with the Group's earlier position paper issued on 14 October 1997.

Action 1

The SMG can be in principle a good idea. While acting in an advisory capacity, the SMG can play a very important policy role. Since a handful of countries over the years have occupied some key posts, and thus will land by definition in SMG, it is necessary that the Secretary General provides further assurance to the Group of 77 that there will be non-permanence of representation and that the membership of that group would be drawn on the basis of the principle of equitable geographical representation. The Group of 77 would also like assurances that SMG's actions will not impinge on the decision-making role of member states as stipulated in the Charter.

Furthermore, the Group reiterates its earlier position that the SMG should not lead to another bureaucratic layer of decision-making in the Secretariat and its role should avoid duplication of the functions which are carried out in the various departments and offices of the United Nations system

Action 2

The Group of 77 notes the proposal of the Secretary General to create a SPU. In view of the importance of its role, the Group of 77 is of the view that the unit should be sufficiently big to allow for equitable geographical representation of member states. Furthermore, the Group will want to be assured that the people in SPU would be of the highest technical competence drawn from the widest spectrum of views reflecting the diverse membership of the Organization. Further clarification on this proposal is thus required.

Action 3

The Group of 77 and China generally concurs with the action relating to the phasing out of gratis personnel. In this context, the Group reiterates that General Assembly resolution 51/243 should be fully implemented in all its aspects, including the submission of all the relevant reports as requested in that resolution.

Action 7

(a) The Group of 77 and China generally supports the proposal to establish a substantive ECOSOC Secretariat. However, the normal procedure of examining the financial implications by the Fifth Committee should be followed before its implementation.

(b) While the Group sees merit in the review of DESA and UNCTAD with a view to reinforcing complementarities, however the distinctive contribution of these two bodies, as well as their legislative mandates should be preserved.

Action 8

Following the Secretary General's clarification in the Secretariat's informal paper entitled, "Secretariat Responses to Comments and Queries", of October 21, 1997, the Group of 77 can support the suggestion that, "The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs will continue to operate as separate bodies, pending a decision of member states on the Secretary General's proposals recommending the merger of the two Commissions".

Action 9

(a) The Group of 77 and China reiterates its support for the proposal to create- UNDG with provision for the participation of other relevant intergovernmental funding organizations.

(b) The Group reiterates its position that arrangements for counterpart mechanisms at country level should be the responsibility of host countries. The clarification given by the Secretariat on this matter is not clear.

Action 10

(a) The Group of 77 and China reiterates its support for UNDAF.

(b) While the Group of 77 and China recognizes the need for coordination of the United Nations activities at the country level under a Resident Coordinator, the Group reiterates its position that circumstances are not ripe for the elevation of the diplomatic status of the Resident Coordinator. This may require further consultations.

Action 11

(a) The Group of 77 and China is waiting for the Secretary General's proposals on the mobilization of funding for core resources for financing development and technical cooperation in developing countries. However, the Group reiterates its earlier position that the burden-sharing arrangements should apply only to traditional donors.

(b) The Group of 77 and China maintains its support for the creation of the Office for Development Financing and that this should not be linked to the issue of the establishment of the Office of the DSG.

Action 12

The Group of 77 and China generally supports the Secretary General's proposal to strengthen UNEP and HABITAT. The Group, however, reiterates its position that the development of new measures for strengthening these two organizations should be broadened to include the recommendations of HABITAT II and UNGASS, 1997. Furthermore, the clarification made in the Secretariat paper of 20 October 1997 is unclear on the issue of UNEP's funding role. In this regard, the Group reiterates its position that the Secretary General should provide clarification reaffirming UNEP's funding role.

Action 13

The Group of 77 and China reiterates its request for further clarification from the Secretary General as to how the functions of the DHA will be redistributed within the UN system.

Furthermore, the Group notes that in view of the fact that UNDP will assume some of the operational activities of the DHA, this should not affect the development activities being undertaken by UNDP. In particular, it should be ensured that the funding for DHA activities is additional to those given for UNDP activities.

Moreover, the Secretary General should clarify his proposal on the designation of a lead agency at the country level, particularly the criteria to be applied.

The comments made by the Group of 77 on this Action should be read in tandem with the position of NAM on issues relating to human rights, peacekeeping operations and Security Council in the context of humanitarian assistance.

Action 18

The Group of 77 reiterates its position that the implementation of these measures must take fully into account the relevant resolutions and decision of the General Assembly, as well as rules and regulations of the Organization. Furthermore, the results of the Task Force should be made available to the Member States as soon as possible.

Action 19

The comments made on Action 18 also apply to this Action.

Action 20

In the implementation of this Action, the Secretary General should ensure that the principles of transparency and equitable geographical representation, as well as consultations with member states on these appointments are fully adhered to.

Action 21

The Group of 77 and China supports, in principle, the idea of development dividend. However, the Secretary General should provide the CRP promised in his circular of 21 October 1997 to clarify on important issues relating to the mobilization of resources and their allocation for this purpose. The Group stresses that the relevant Committees of the General Assembly should be involved in the discussions on this issue. Furthermore, it should be made clear that the Development Dividend Fund should be sizeable and it will be used to finance development activities in the developing countries. The reference of the use of this fund for economic and social issues as reflected in the report is unclear. The issue of the total amount to be mobilized for this fund should also be discussed with a view to increasing the resources needed for this purpose. Furthermore, the Group of 77 would like to be assured that the resources envisaged to be raised within the specific context of this proposal would be linked to the mobilization of financial resources for long-term development objectives. Further clarification is thus necessary.

Actions 25 and 26

The Group can support these actions on the basis of the comments made in the paper containing the Preliminary Position of the Group of 77 and China on reform of October 14, 1997.

Action 27

The Group of 77 and China supports this Action with comments made in the paper containing the Group's Preliminary Position on reform dated October 14, 1997.