Note: As the reconvened meeting is mainly concerned with administrative issues, this blog entry summarises the discussions rather than providing the usual detailed account of every intervention and statement.
On Thursday 7th December, the meeting opened with a joint session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) – mainly to discuss and agree the operating budget for UNODC for 2018 and 2019. UNODC presented two reports for this segment – the budget proposal and report, and a report on gender and geographical representation of UNODC staff. Presenting the budget, UNODC highlighted that income was projected to increase for this two-year period, including a 31.2% increase in technical assistance income. However, the “general purpose” (un-earmarked) funding from member states continues to fall, and will account for less than 1% of the total budget for 2018-2019. It was agreed that Spain and Egypt would co-chair the Standing Committee on Financial and Governance of UNODC (“FINGOV”) going forward.
Each of the regional groups then intervened first, followed by a series of country statements. Overall, the statements were critical of UNODC for the late presentation of the budget (this was meant to have been received by member states one month before). Many member states also queried the proposal to withdraw “general purpose” funding for the UNODC Research, Data and Analysis Branch, and to allocate the bulk of “Programme Support Costs” to Vienna rather than the regional and country offices. Iran, speaking on behalf of G77 and China, stated that the financial structure must not hinder country presence. Argentina, speaking on behalf of GRULAC, highlighted that there was now no Latin American among the highest levels of management at the UN. Estonia, on behalf of the EU, called for greater transparency, and Ecuador noted that UNODC remains far from balanced in terms of its staffing and “the time has come to close the divide”. Brazil expressed concern about the projected reliance on “extra-budgetary resources” in 2018-2019 and the impact this will have on UNODC’s core functions. The USA raised concern that UNODC has not fully evaluated the challenges of moving to full cost recovery. The UK expressed their desire to make the UN better, and not necessarily cheaper, with improvements across four areas: leadership, efficiency, accountability and performance. China noted that very few UNODC staff are from Asia, which has two-thirds of the world’s population.
The afternoon was then used for informal negotiations as member states sought to finalise and agree the resolution approving the UNODC budget.