6 - 7 September, New York, USA, hybrid seminar - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) office in New York successfully launched the Joint Swiss-UNITAR Briefing on United Nations Budgetary Matters training series on Tuesday, 6th September 2022. The four-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 kicked off at 9:00 am (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. 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.
H.E. Mr. Adrian Hauri, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations expressed his gratitude for the participants’ time and UNITAR’s effort in organizing this event. He emphasized the opportunity offered by the workshop to learn valuable first-hand knowledge.
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 tensions 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.
The Vice-Chair of the Fifth Committee, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Ismail Elmahs, and the incoming chair of the Fifth Committee, H.E. Mr. Philippe Kridelka 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 in 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 program of the Fifth committee, and the working methods of the Fifth Committee.
The last session was presented by Ms. Felista Ondari, Executive Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). She 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 Ms. Ondari 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 am (EST) on September 7th with a more detailed overview of the UN Budget Process. After Mr. Suazo welcomed the participants in joining the second day, he introduced the first speaker Mr. Johannes Huisman, Director of the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget for the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC) to the session.
Mr. Huisman covered fundamental topics namely the legislative framework, financial regulations and rules, the breakdown of budgetary cycle, sequencing and budget plan, terminology, overall budget level, monitoring and reporting,facilitation of intergovernmental deliberations and decision-making by the General Assembly. Mr. Huisman delivered a thorough and concise list of recommendations that should be implemented to increase budget decision-making efficiency, including the revision of recosting parameters, a better demonstration of plan and results and the inclusion of past reports in the General Assembly main session, to name a few.
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, putting emphasis on 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. Andranik Grigoryan, Second Secretary for the Permanent Mission of Armenia, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Ismail Elmahs, Second Secretary for the Permanent Mission of Egypt, Ms. Alexandra Jones, First Secretary for the Mission of Australia and Mr. Katlego Boase Mmalane, First Secretary for the Permanent Mission of Botswana to the United Nations.They discussed various means favorable to consensus-building during budgetary decision-making.