Practices of the Fifth Committee when taking action on reports

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The Fifth Committee has developed different practices when taking action on reports submitted by different individuals or bodies. The below is adapted from a working document maintained by the Secretariat of the Fifth Committee.

Reports of the Secretary-General

When the General Assembly “takes note” of reports of the Secretary-General or recommendations contained in these reports this means that the Assembly neither agrees nor disagrees. The General Assembly traditionally either “takes note”, or “takes note with appreciation” or “welcomes” reports of the Secretary-General. By doing so the Assembly is effectively indicating that it has seen these reports and that they are no longer on the list of documents to be considered by the Assembly.

Reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions

It is the practice of the General Assembly to “endorse” the recommendations contained in the reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), usually “subject to the provisions of the present resolution”. This effectively means that the Assembly agrees with all of the observations and recommendations contained in bold in the Advisory Committee’s reports, and where it does not agree the resolution will contain language specifying which particular recommendations they do not endorse. Since the report of the Advisory Committee is endorsed overall, when the Assembly “takes note” of a particular paragraph of the Advisory Committee’s report, this indicates that the Assembly does not agree with its content and therefore the recommendations contained therein should not be implemented.[1]

Reports of the Office of Internal Oversight Services

When the General Assembly “takes note” of an Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report, which contains the comments of the Secretary-General, the Assembly is effectively requesting the Secretary-General to implement the recommendations of OIOS, taking into account the comments of the Secretary-General’s. As a result, “takes note” is equal to “endorsement” of the report but any departure from the comments of the Secretary-General would need to be clearly articulated in the resolution.

Recommendations of the Board of Auditors

The General Assembly usually “accepts” the financial report and audited financial statements of the Board of Auditors (BOA) and normally “approves” the recommendations and conclusions contained in the Board’s reports, in their entirety. In cases where the Assembly cannot reach agreement on specific recommendations of the BOA, rather than single out these specific sections, it has been the practice of the General Assembly to recall previous relevant resolutions relating to the substance of the issue under discussion (for example on human resources). It is then the understanding that the Secretary-General should not implement those recommendations. The General Assembly does not make direct requests to the BOA. In accordance with article VII, regulation 7.7 of the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions may request the BOA to perform certain specific examinations and issue separate reports on the results. Therefore the General Assembly may request the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions to request the BOA to undertake particular action.

Reports of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee

It is the understanding of the Fifth Committee (see Summary Records of 28th meeting of the sixty-third session – (A/C.5/63/SR.28) that if the Committee “takes note” of recommendations of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC) related to the Office of Internal Oversight Services it agrees with these recommendations and will then further request the Secretary-General to implement them.

In the case of recommendations of the IAAC related to subjects other than the Office of Internal Oversight Services then the Committee considers these in the context of General Assembly decision 55/488, whereby “takes note” indicates that the Assembly neither agrees nor disagrees.

It is the understanding of the Committee that observations and recommendations of the IAAC relating to the review of the mandate of the Office of Internal Oversight Services will be “endorsed” and, if modified by the Fifth Committee, this will be “subject to the provisions of the present resolution”. As with reports of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, where the Committee does not agree with a recommendation of the IAAC the resolution will contain language specifying which particular recommendations they do not endorse by using “takes note” of a particular paragraph. This indicates that the Assembly does not agree with its content and therefore the recommendations contained therein should not be implemented.

In the case of recommendations of the IAAC related to the budget of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, these will be submitted through the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Committee will decide on these recommendations in the context of the ACABQ’s recommendations on the proposals.

Reports of the Joint Inspection Unit

Annual report and programme of work of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU)
The Annual Report of the Joint Inspection Unit along with its programme of work for the coming year is presented annually to the General Assembly at the Fifth Committee’s first resumed session (resolution 61/260). The Assembly “takes note (usually with appreciation) of the JIU’s annual report.
Reports of the JIU
According to Article 11.4 (d) of the Statute of the JIU, the Secretary-General can present his comments in an addendum to the JIU report, where he will indicate how he intends to address the recommendations. In cases where recommendations of the JIU require policy decisions by the General Assembly these will require action in the relevant resolution to “request the Secretary-General to implement.”

Reports of the International Civil Service Commission

When considering the reports of the International Civil Service Commission (ICSC), the General Assembly “takes note” of the report and of any decisions that are within the competence of the Commission (such as to keep under its review particular questions). Any decisions or recommendations of the ICSC that require action by the General Assembly, for example regarding remuneration or increases to allowances, the General Assembly, if it agrees, will “approve” the ICSC’s recommendations.

Reports of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board

The General Assembly “takes note” of the report of the Pension Board (UNJSPB) and the information it contains. In the case of proposals or recommendations by the Board that require decision of the Assembly, such as any proposed changes to regulations or provisions of the Pension Fund, the General Assembly will “approve”.

In addition, the Secretary-General prepares a report on the administrative and financial implications of any decisions by the UNJSPB. This report is considered by the ACABQ and the General Assembly will therefore also “endorse” the conclusions and recommendations of the Advisory Committee (see above).

Reports of the Committee on Contributions

The General Assembly will consider the reports of the Committee on Contributions in its preamblular part i.e. “having considered”. Where there are specific observations or recommendations in the Committee’s report that the General Assembly approves, it will “endorse” the relevant section or paragraph in the report.

Reports of the Committee for Programme and Coordination

The General Assembly “endorses” the conclusions and recommendations of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) contained in each chapter of its report. If the Assembly does not agree with any recommendation or conclusion of the Committee this will be reflected in the resolution (for example further changes to the Strategic Framework – see the Annex to resolution 61/235). Any additional requests or decisions by the Assembly will be contained in the text of the draft resolution.

See also

References

  1. There have been a number of instances in which the General Assembly has disagreed with all conclusions and recommendations of the ACABQ by taking note of entire ACABQ reports, including resolution 61/251 on the Capital Master Plan and 64/241 on ASHI