Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions

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The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) is an expert body of 16 members appointed by the General Assembly to assist the General Assembly, through its Fifth Committee, with its consideration of proposals with administrative or budgetary implications. In 2021, the membership will expand to 21 members.

Mandate

The ACABQ was proposed by the Preparatory Commission and established by the General Assembly in 14 (I) of 13 February 1946 to perform the following functions:

(a) to examine and report on the budget submitted by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly;
(b) to advise the General Assembly concerning any administrative and budgetary matters referred to it;
(c) to examine on behalf of the General Assembly the administrative budgets of specialized agencies and proposals for financial arrangements with such agencies;
(d) to consider and report to the General Assembly on the auditors' reports on the accounts of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies.

The appointment, composition and functions of the ACABQ are set out in what are currently rules 155 through rule 157 of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly.

Membership

Members of the Advisory Committee serve in their personal capacity, though many are simultaneously members of their national civil or diplomatic services. As such, they are referred to by their names and not by their country of nationality.

The ACABQ originally had nine members[1], though this was subsequently expanded to twelve in resolution 1659(XVI), thirteen (of which three were to be "financial experts of recognized standing") in resolution 2798 (XXVI), sixteen in resolution 32/103 and 21 in resolution 74/267.

The process by which ACABQ members is selected is covered in rule 156 of the rules of procedure as amended in resolution 32/103:

The members of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, no two of whom shall be nationals of the same State, shall be selected on the basis of broad geographical representation, personal qualifications and experience and shall serve for a period of three years corresponding to three calendar years. Members shall retire by rotation and shall be eligible for reappointment. The three financial experts shall not retire simultaneously. The General Assembly shall appoint the members of the Advisory Committee at the regular session immediately preceding the expiration of the term of office of the members or, in case of vacancies, at the next session.

In current practice, the seats are distributed amongst the regional groups as follows:

  • African Group: 3
  • Asia and Pacific Group: 4
  • Eastern Europe Group: 2
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: 3
  • Western Europe and Others: 4

Under resolution 74/267, which takes effect on 1 January 2021, the representation will be as follows:

  • African Group: 5 (+2)
  • Asia and Pacific Group: 5 (+1)
  • Eastern Europe Group: 3 (+1)
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: 4 (+1)
  • Western Europe and Others: 4

Chair

The Chair and Vice Chair of the ACABQ are chosen each term by the members of the ACABQ.

Under resolution 3188 (XXVIII), the Chair of the ACABQ is an Official other than Secretariat Official and enjoys the associated privileges and immunities. The compensation of the Chair is subject to a cost-of-living adjustment pegged to changes in the net base salary of Under-Secretaries-General and Assistant Secretaries General[2]. The conditions of service of the Chair of the ACABQ is reviewed every four years; the most recent review took place during the 72nd session of the General Assembly[3].

Secretariat

The ACABQ is supported by a professional secretariat led by a Secretary at the D-2 level.

Process

The ACABQ convenes in three sessions each year: a fall session, a winter session and a spring session.

Most reports of the Secretary-General containing administrative and budgetary proposals are considered by the ACABQ prior to consideration by the Fifth Committee. The conclusions and recommendations of the ACABQ are contained in reports that are reviewed by the Fifth Committee at the same time as it considers the proposals of the Secretary-General.

ACABQ meetings

The ACABQ holds a number of different types of meetings: hearings, executive and drafting. It also occasionally has administrative meetings to discuss internal working methods and house-keeping issues.[4]

ACABQ consideration of a report of the Secretary-General begins with one or more hearings, which begin with the introduction of the report by the Secretary-General or one of his representatives, which is followed by questions and answers, which can be provided verbally or in writing. Once the questions have been exhausted, the ACABQ meets in an "executive meeting" to deliberate in advance of the drafting of the report containing its conclusions and recommendations to the General Assembly. Decision-making by the ACABQ is based on a subjective standard of the "preponderance of views" as determined by the Chair, as opposed to either consensus or majority vote.

ACABQ recommendations

The conclusions and recommendations of the ACABQ are reflected in bold text in ACABQ reports. The general practice of the Fifth Committee is to use these conclusions and recommendations as the starting point of its deliberations. As such, most resolutions originating in the Fifth Committee contain an operative paragraph by which the General Assembly "endorses the conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, subject to the provisions of the present resolution". When such a paragraph exists in a resolution, all conclusions and recommendations in the ACABQ report are understood to be endorsed except when (1) the General Assembly takes note of a paragraph containing bold text, in which case those specific conclusions and recommendations are understood to not be endorsed, or (2) if the resolution contains language qualifying or contradicting any conclusions or recommendations in the ACABQ report.

See also

References

  1. The Preparatory Commission originally proposed establishment of an ACABQ with seven members
  2. General Assembly resolution 65/268, section III
  3. A/72/366 Conditions of service and compensation for officials, other than Secretariat officials, serving the General Assembly: full-time members of the International Civil Service Commission and the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions
  4. https://twitter.com/foeniculum/status/1230987786683060224