18 September, New York, USA - On 5 - 7 September, The JOINT SWISS-UNITAR BRIEFING ON UNITED NATIONS BUDGETARY MATTERS is a three-day training programme, co-organized with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, caters to the needs of the incoming delegates of the United Nations General Assembly’s Fifth Committee. The training received more than 100 delegates joining the sessions each day.
The first day of the training started at 9:00 a.m. (EST). The introductory session covered the responsibilities and key players of the Fifth Committee. Mr. Marco Suazo, Head of the UNITAR New York Office delivered his welcoming remarks at the beginning of the session. He highlighted the importance of deepening one’s knowledge and understanding of budgetary matters to make more efficient and sensible final decisions, despite the difficulty of achieving an agreement when it comes to measure implementation.
Furthermore, he emphasized the importance for new delegates to comprehend the role of the Fifth Committee, a specialized committee within the General Assembly, and its pivotal involvement in the policy-making procedures of the UN Budget System. This understanding aids in navigating the intricate landscape of the UN Budget System, allowing delegates to contribute effectively to budget-related discussions and decisions. He encouraged delegates to take advantage of the training series as a great resource to get familiar with the real-life challenges to prepare them for their work in the Fifth Committee
Mr. Suazo then welcomed the keynote speaker, Mr. Chandramouli Ramanathan, Controller, Assistant Secretary-General for the Programme Planning, Finance, and Budget in the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC). He explained that budgetary matters-related committees are opportunities to address questions of substance and have been the subject of a lower amount of tension overtime. For future committees, Mr Ramanathan called for increased focus on investment (physical infrastructure, building management, cybersecurity, etc.) and encouraged further informal briefings, field visits and hybrid meetings to ensure best work efficiency. He also mentioned that the spirit of negotiation is very important, and to create and manage budget distribution to intercept all the world issues.
The Vice-Chair of the Fifth Committee, H.E. Mr. Philippe Kridelka, and the incoming chair of the Fifth Committee H.E. Mr. Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek Mahmoud both briefly shared the responsibilities and expectations related to the Fifth Committee work. The Committee has to overcome its challenges related to budget planning and approval to ensure efficient decision-making. Furthermore, it is essential to focus on bridge-building between key actors to ensure further cooperation to achieve common objectives.
Mr. Lionelito Berridge, Secretary of the Administrative and Budgetary Committee continued the session with his presentation on the key players of the UN Budget. He broke down his session into three parts: an overview of the Fifth Committee, the work programme of the Fifth Committee, and the working methods of the Fifth Committee.
The last session was presented by Mr. Hesham Afifi, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). He explained the supportive role of ACABQ in the Fifth Committee’s decision-making process, after reviewing its functions, expansion, meetings procedure, and general process. Once Mr. Afifi concluded, Mr. Marco Suazo closed out this first day’s session by opening up the floor for any questions. Once questions were properly addressed, the day’s session was closed
The second day of the training continued at 9:00 a.m. (EST) on September 6th with a more detailed overview of the UN Budget Process. After Mr. Suazo welcomed the participants joining the second day, he introduced the first speaker Mr. Jose Piedade, Chief, of Policy Coordination Unit in the Programme Planning and Budget Division, Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC) to the session.
Mr. Piedade covered fundamental topics namely the legislative framework, financial regulations and rules, the breakdown of the budgetary cycle, sequencing and budget plan, Concepts and terminology Overall Budget Level Monitoring and Reporting Facilitation of intergovernmental deliberations and financial and budgetary Decision-making by the General Assembly. Mr Piedade delivered a thorough and concise list of recommendations that should be implemented to increase budget decision-making efficiency, including the revision of reposting parameters, a better demonstration of the plan and results and the inclusion of past reports in the General Assembly main session.
The session moved on to the second speaker, Ms Unis Valencia Williams, the Chief of Service, Deputy Director for Budgets of Development Pillar and Human Rights from the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC).
She explained the resolution process, emphasizing the exercise of drafting budgetary resolutions for the Fifth Committee. Ms. Williams started her presentation by briefly explaining the legislative framework, before discussing the evolution of a resolution document, the structure and the importance of language when it comes to writing a resolution.
The second day ended with an innovative “Ted Talk” session with seasoned delegates of the Fifth Committee, moderated by Ms. Gina Schmied, Counselor for the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations. Guest speakers who were invited to share their experience while working in the Fifth Committee were Mr Carlos Manuel Videche Guevara, Minister Counsellor, Costa Rica Mr. Katlego Boase, Counsellor, Botswana Ms. Inga Dalin, First Secretary, Norway Mr. Basiel Bogaerts, First Secretary, Belgium. They discussed various means favourable to consensus-building during budgetary decision-making.
Mr. Sejong Lee, Executive Secretary of, the Board of Auditors (BoA), introduced a PowerPoint and explained how the BOA performs external audits of the accounts of the UN and its funds and programme. It reports its findings to the General Assembly The BOA supports the UN in its development of strategic thinking, improved governance, accountability and transparency, and in the delivery of its services on the ground.
The floor was then passed to Ms. Eileen Cronin, Inspector, Joint Inspection Unit (JIU), who explained the Oversight mechanism of the United Nations. She explained that the (JIU) is the only independent external oversight body of the United Nations system mandated to conduct evaluations, inspections and investigations system-wide. Its mandate is to look at cross-cutting issues and to act as an agent for change across the United Nations system
After the break, Ms. Regina Pawlik, Executive Secretary of the United Nations International Civil Service (ICSC) presented an Overview of the UN International Civil Service Commission (ICSC). She mentioned that the ICSC makes recommendations to the executive heads of the organizations; these include human resources policy issues. Then, Mr. Remo Lalli, Secretary of the High-level Committee on Management (HLCM) and Director of the Geneva Office of the CEB Secretariat spoke about the UN System Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB).
Finally, the session ended with Ms. Catherine Pollard, USG for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance as she did the closing remarks and opened the floor for question and answer for delegates and participants.